Ode to Thanksgiving
What did the Pilgrims eat on Thanksgiving?
It is commonly believed that the first actual celebration of the harvest and blessings from God took place in Plymouth in 1621. The festivities lasted three days and included feasting, entertainment, and competitions. For more about the holiday’s history!
Who Doesn’t Love a Parade?
The first annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in 1924. That first year, it was known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade. It was created to launch the holiday shopping season. Today, the parade is attended by an estimated three million people each year. Approximately 44 million people around the country watch the parade on television.
Other large parades which commemorate the holiday are the IKEA Thanksgiving Parade in Philly, McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago, and the UBS Parade Spectacular in Stamford.
Find holiday-themed wallpaper or screensavers here!
Want some holiday music to enhance your gathering? Get free, fast downloads of 30+ songs.
“If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.” …. Gerald Good
Thanksgiving Around the World
Thanksgiving is essentially a harvest related festival. It celebrates communal harmony.
Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in the month of October.
India also has a number of harvest related festivals in different regions.
Other Thanksgiving traditions around the world.
Money-saving tips for Thanksgiving–something we would all be thankful for!
2. Keep it simple. Cut down on the number of side dishes you have. A festive table doesn’t have to be extravagant.
3. Serve boxed wine or large bottles of soda. Cans and individual bottles are far more expensive.
4. Use natural items for decorations–leaves, fruit, squash, gourds, pumpkins, and dried flowers from your garden. A large candle and colorful fruit make a lovely centerpiece. Visit a dollar store for inexpensive holiday items.
5. Check store ads for sales and coupons before you shop for Thanksgiving Day goodies.
6. If time and your schedule allow, bake it yourself. Baking all your pies at one time will also save energy costs.
“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”
~ Burton Hillis
Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated festivals globally and is no longer viewed as a purely religious holy day. It is now a time enjoyed by people of many countries and faiths, and there are numerous universally recognized icons which we associate with the yuletide. In fact, these symbols have become so commonly associated with the celebration of Christmas that when we see Santa riding on a reindeer, a mantle hung with stockings, coniferous green trees decorated with tinsel and ornaments, or houses festooned with evergreen wreaths and mistletoe, we know that the magic spirit of the season is upon us.
The tradition of the Christmas stocking dates back to approximately 250B.C. in Asia Minor. There Nicholas, rich man who became a very generous Christian priest and a saint, is said to have secretly filled the stockings of three poor sisters with gold, thus giving them a dowry and allowing them to marry. Legend has it that after that “miracle,” neighbors of the fortunate women followed suit with their stockings, and the tradition slowly spread across the globe. Children throughout the world now hang stockings–or even put out shoes–to be filled with small gifts and food by Santa (Saint) Claus (Nicholas). Many people create their own stockings, personalizing them for themselves or for others and often providing a family activity that is fun for all. Find instructions for making your own Christmas fireplace stockings.
Along with the Christmas holly, laurel, rosemary, yews, boxwood bushes, and, of course the Christmas tree, mistletoe is an evergreen displayed during the Christmas season and symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation that will occur in spring. But perhaps more than any other of the Christmas evergreens, it is a plant of which we are conscious only during the holidays. One day we’re kissing under the mistletoe, and next day we’ve forgotten all about it (the plant, that is, not the kisses).
Chester. 14.69 acres with camp on site. Fish in your own Brook; electric and existing septic for 2 bedrooms. Walk to VAST Trail. Views of Wymans Falls Road and possible views with clearing! Private, yet close to town. $139,900.
Maple Hill is one of Vermont’s most beautiful venues. Although only 7 minutes from Jackson gore, this property offers serenity, privacy and splendor. The 4-bedroom, 4-bath Georgian Ranch fits right into the 18.63 acres which include a pond, a pool, exceptional landscaping and majestic mountain views. A great room features a Rumford fireplace abd the kitchen has granite countertops and commercial-grade appliances. The master suite includes the bedroom, a sitting room, a fireplace and a whirlpool. With a full, walk-out lower level, this home’s 5,200 s.f. will comfortably and elegantly accommodate your family and friends. More land is available – making a total of approximately 65 acres – so bring the horses! There are wonderful meadows for riding, hiking, cross-country skiing and communing with nature’s best in beautiful southern Vermont. Offered for: $1,295,000.00
This 4 bedroom, 3 bath, mint condition house comes on 21.46 acres with it’s own Covered Bridge, Pond and approx 1500′ of frontage along Mill River. There is a barn, sugar house, shed. The barn is 40×90 with electric throughout. Aside from a fireplace and woodstove, you will also find a Great Room and Family Room – Plenty of room for the family and all the friends. Close to Jackson Gore and Okemo, across from the Green Mountain National Forrest and minutes from the VAST Trail. For Pictures please go to http://isellvermontrealestate.com, if you want a tour of the land, e-mail: [email protected]
Offered for $650,000 – including the bridge and pond.
Space and Sunshine
Chester – Fabulous 3 bedroom, 2 bath, open floor plan contemporary in one of Vermont’s favorite towns. Many upgrades within past year including: kitchen, baths, flooring and all new windows and doors. Close to skiing – beat the Sunday traffic home from Okemo! $385,000.00
One man’s loss is another man’s gain and right now buyer’s have everything to gain. It was only a few short years ago that sellers controlled the market and were calling the shots. In order to buy a home, buyers were paying over the asking price, foregoing home inspections and paying all their own closing costs. Okemo Mountain home buyers were jumping through any and all hoops.
Now the market has shifted. The strong sellers’ market is a thing of the past and it is the sellers who are jumping through hoops. Buyers are calling the shots with offers that include home inspections; requests that closing costs, homeowner association fees and inspection fees be paid by the seller; decorating allowances; home improvement; and prices far below the asking price.
So why are Okemo Mountain home buyers hesitating? Fear of a tanking economy, falling home prices and job instability are concerns for many potential home buyers. But if you are financially stable and plan to stay in a home for at least five years, there are 5 top reasons to buy an Okemo Mountain home in 2009:
1. Homes are affordable.
According to the National Association of Realtors‘ housing affordability index, homes were more affordable in December than at any other point since the group started the index in 1970. The affordability index is a measure of the relationship between home prices, mortgage interest rates and family income.
A recent report from Moody’s Economy.com predicted that house prices will stabilize by the end of this year. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s Web site has a house price calculator that can help. Visit the calculator.
2. There are lots of homes to choose from.
The slow down in the housing market has caused homes to stay on the market longer, creating a huge inventory. There was a 9.6-month supply of unsold existing homes in January given that month’s sales pace, according to NAR.
A large inventory gives buyers more selection, driving down prices. As buyers start to jump back into the market, the inventory will shrink and cause prices to start going back up. The time to get the best deal is before most buyers buy.
3. Builders are offering perks.
New home builders are offering price reductions, free upgrades and other perks such as free appliances, homeowners’ fees being paid, lower interest rates decorating allowances. Once their inventory shrinks, these perks will go away.
4. Interest rates are at historical lows.
Lenders are not lending as freely, but if you have good credit and the needed down payment, mortgage interest rates are historically low and hovering around 5 percent.
5. There is an $8000 tax credit
If you are a first-time Okemo Mountain home buyer, you will qualify for an $8000 federal tax credit if you buy before December 1, 2009. Unlike the previous tax credit offered in 2008, this does not have to be repaid. Extra money comes in handy when buying a home.
Trying to decide if buying an Okemo Mountain home in 2009 is right for you? Give me a call. I’m glad to review your situation with you.
If you have a home that only you can love, you will benefit for these low cost fixes to getting your Okemo Mountain home sold quickly. We don’t live in a house the way we sell a house. Buyers aren’t interested in seeing dirty socks lying around or dirty dishes in the sink. Below are a list inexpensive things, from Realtor Magazine, that you can do to make buyers fall in love with your Okemo Mountain home.
1. Move it.
Simply rearranging the furniture can reenergize a room. Add and remove furniture, lamps, rugs, and accessories from other parts of the house to create a whole new look. Mirrors are particularly useful when it comes to updating a room. Try one out in different rooms to see where it fits best. Even just moving a mirror to a different wall can create a more welcoming feel.
2. Plant it.
Houseplants are a generally undervalued design component that can add texture, warmth, and color to any room. Just drop plants in their store containers into decorative planters. Small plants can be moved easily and regrouped to change a room’s look, while larger ones make a statement on their own.
Group plants together of differing heights, fullness, and color for the most dramatic effect. It’s important to have plants that are well maintained and in tip-top condition.
3. Paint it.
Paint is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make a substantial change. Use dramatic colors in powder rooms and dining rooms, and more neutral colors in living spaces. When selecting colors, “be sure to ask, ‘What am I trying to do? How do I want this to feel?'” And always, always do a test before you paint the whole room.
4. Organize it.
Clutter just happens. So neaten up! A variety of organizing tools can make a space feel polished while maintaining utility. Hooks and shelves inside the door give people a place to hang coats and keys, while canvas bins or natural baskets help contain magazines and mail. Just a row of hooks pre-attached on a board is so easy to install. And shelves are a great way to neatly display collectibles.
5. Hide it.
Have a banged-up wall? It may be easy to camouflage. Paintable wallpaper will smooth out an uneven wall or hide minor dents and dings. Adventurous home owners can even try a simple two-step painting process for a more complex finish. A apply a solid base coat, then a glaze.
Your intent should never be to mislead buyers; be sure to disclose flaws that would affect home value.
6. Replace it.
Cabinet handles, switch plates, and other small pieces of housing hardware can update a home for just a few dollars a piece. Scan each room to see what looks worn or outdated and then replacing it. Inexpensive quick-connect faucets can make upgrading the look of your bathroom a snap. Just be sure to measure before you go to the hardware store. Some sinks are drilled for an eight-inch spread. Others require just four inches.
And don’t forget the toilet seat. Fresh towels and a new toilet seat go a long way toward making a bathroom feel clean and new.
7. Light it.
Lighting can have a major impact on a home’s look and feel. Whether a room seems dark or too bright and harsh, try “layering” the lighting by adding accent pendants and lamps. Make sure they have independent controls, so that you can turn them on and off at will.
Light is such a mood setter. You can create a cozy feel just by turning down the lights. Add dimmers in the dining room, bathrooms, kitchen, and even the hallways for less than $4 each. Then adjust the lighting to create the mood you want.
8. Clean it.
Turn a critical eye to the flooring to make sure it’s up to snuff. Scrub grout and seal natural stone. Rub out scratches and nicks on wood floors with scratch cover. Get down on your hands and knees and detail the floors. It takes a little elbow grease, but the results are well worth it. Vinyl flooring is a bit harder to spruce up but usually can be replaced easily and inexpensively.
Interested in selling your Okemo Mountain home? Give me a call, I’m glad to help!
Is My Okemo Mountain Second Home Tax Deductible?
This is the season when Okemo Mountain second homeowners are wondering just what second home expenses can be deducted on their federal income taxes. The best way to share this information with you is to share with you an article from Kiplinger.com. This should answer all Okemo second homeowner questions:
Mortgage interest. If you use the place as a second home — rather than renting it out as a business property — interest on the mortgage is deductible just as interest on the mortgage on your first home is. You can write off 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1.1 million of debt secured by your first and second homes and used to acquire or improve the properties. (That’s a total of $1.1 million of debt, not $1.1 million on each home.) The rules that apply if you rent the place out are discussed later.
Property taxes. You can deduct property taxes on your second home, too. In fact, unlike the mortgage interest rule, you can deduct property taxes paid on any number of homes you own.
If you rent the home. Lots of second-home buyers rent their property part of the year to get others to help pay the bills. Very different tax rules apply depending on the breakdown between personal and rental use.
If you rent the place out for 14 or fewer days during the year, you can pocket the cash tax-free. Even if you’re charging $5,000 a week, the IRS doesn’t want to hear about it. The house is considered a personal residence, so you deduct mortgage interest and property taxes just as you do for your principal home.
Rent for more than 14 days, though, and you must report all rental income. You also get to deduct rental expenses, and that gets complicated because you need to allocate costs between the time the property is used for personal purposes and the time it is rented.
If you and your family use a beach house for 30 days during the year and it’s rented for 120 days, 80% (120 divided by 150) of your mortgage interest and property taxes, insurance premiums, utilities and other costs would be rental expenses. The entire amount you pay a property manager would be deductible, too. And you could claim depreciation deductions based on 80% of the value of the house. If a house is worth $200,000 (not counting the value of the land) and you’re depreciating 80%, a full year’s depreciation deduction would be $5,800.
You can always deduct expenses up to the level of rental income you report. But what if costs exceed what you take in? Whether a loss can shelter other income depends on two things: how much you use the property yourself and how high your income is.
If you use the place more than 14 days, or more than 10% of the number of days it is rented — whichever is more — it is considered a personal residence and the loss can’t be deducted. (But because it is a personal residence, the interest that doesn’t count as a rental expense — 20% in our example — can be deducted as a personal expense.)
If you limit personal use to 14 days or 10%, the vacation home is considered a business and up to $25,000 in losses might be deductible each year. That’s why lots of vacation homeowners hold down leisure use and spend lots of time “maintaining” the property. Fix-up days don’t count as personal use. The tax savings from the loss (up to $7,000 a year if you’re in the 28% tax bracket) help pay for the vacation home. Unfortunately, holding down personal use means forfeiting the write-off for the portion of mortgage interest that fails to qualify as either a rental or personal-residence expense.
We say such losses might be deductible because real estate losses are considered “passive losses” by the tax law. And, passive losses are generally not deductible. But, there’s an exception that might protect you. If your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $100,000, up to $25,000 of such losses can be deducted each year to offset income such as your salary. (AGI is basically income before subtracting your exemptions and deductions.) As income rises between $100,000 and $150,000, however, that $25,000 allowance disappears. Passive losses you can’t deduct can be stored up and used to offset taxable profit when you ultimately sell the vacation house.
Tax-free profit.Although the rule that allows home owners to take up to $500,000 of profit tax-free applies only to your principal residence, there is a way to extend the break to your second home: make it you principal residence before you sell. That’s not as wacky as it might sound.
Some retirees, for example, are selling the big family home and moving full time into what had been their vacation home. Once you live in that home for two years, up to $500,000 of profit can be tax free. (Any profit attributable to depreciation while you rented the place, though, would be taxable. Depreciation reduces your tax basis in the property and therefore increases profit dollar for dollar.)
But Congress is clamping down on this break for taxpayers who convert a second home into a principal residence after 2008. A portion of the gain on a subsequent sale of the home will be ineligible for the home-sale exclusion of up to $500,000, even if the seller meets the two-year ownership and use tests. The portion of the profit that’s subject to tax is based on the ratio of the time after 2008 when the house was a second home or a rental unit to the total time you owned it.
So if you have owned a vacation home for 18 years and make it your main residence in 2011 for two years before selling it, only 10% of the gain (two years of non-qualified second home use divided by 20 years of total ownership) is taxed. The rest qualifies for the exclusion of up to $500,000.
Learn about how you can buy an Okemo Mountain second home by visiting ISellVermontRealEstate.com.
Everyday life can get crazy at times, many people fantasize about running off to their own personal retreat right here at Okemo. But how do you know which Okemo vacation home is best for you?
Do you want to be in the middle of a all the activity, or enjoy the peace and quiet of a secluded location? Is a condo at the mountain your cup of tea or a farmhouse tucked away in the woods? Whichever environment you prefer, here are some things you should consider:
Regular upkeep is more difficult with a vacation home than with your primary residence, but no less important. The value of the home, both as an investment and as a place you enjoy visiting, depends on good maintenance.
If your primary residence is not far from Okemo, you may want to make weekly visits to mow the lawn, water the garden, clean the gutters or shovel snow. If doing it yourself is impractical, consider hiring a vacation property management company to provide maintenance services during the times when you’re not using the home.
Visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com to learn more about Okemo and buying a vacation home or give me a call for more personal service.