Archive for July, 2012

In and Around Massachusetts

Wherever you live or if you are planning to move to Massachusetts, you should know what is happening around you.  Getting to know the area around you and being part of the community is part of what makes it feel like home.  Here are a few events in different locations around Massachusetts:

8/3 and 8/4  Salem Maritime Festival

7/28 – 8/4  Woods Hole Film Festival

8/4 & 8/5 Great New England Air Show (Chicopee)

7/29 – 8/5 Yankee Homecoming Festival (Newburyport

8/2 – 8/5 98th Feast of the Blessed Sacrament (New Bedford)

8/2 – 8/6 Annual Nantucket August Antiques Show

8/6 – 8/10 Maritime Adventure Week (Plimoth Plantation)

8/31 – 9/2  Family Fun Day (Old Sturbridge Village)

There’s lots more to do and see all over Massachusetts- something for everyone, all ages and all interests.

Enjoy your community – Massachusetts is a great place to live!     

Joan Parcewski   Woods Real Estate   978-376-3978

Hot Days in the Summertime – guest blogger Annette Presseau

 Comment – Whether we are just enjoying the summer, preparing to sell our home, or searching for a home, staying healthy is important.  It helps you to have the energy for all those things and more.    Thanks to our guest blogger (Annette Presseau)  for reminding us how to stay safe and healthy —Joan Parcewski  Woods Real Estate 

Well summer is here and we definitely are having some very hot summer days it’s great to be able to be outside and enjoy this beautiful weather.  What do you like to do in the summertime?  Do you have a specific thing that you do that brings you joy?  Summertime can mean a time to head out to the beach, grab a spot on the sand and pick up a new book or get outside and play summer activities like biking, roller skating, tennis, swimming just to name a few or just plain walking.  What do you like to do for summer activities?  I love to pick blueberries and eat fresh fruit in the summer.  Always remember to put suntan lotion on before you go out in the sun.  After being out in the summer sun you just might need a cool drink of water or maybe a sports drink to avoid dehydration.


Sports Drinks – which one works best for you?

Isotonic sports drinks are essential for active lifestyles. When the body sweats, it loses water and nutrients that it needs to stay healthy. With this loss also comes the loss of energy, which could cause you to feel drained. Isotonic sports drinks can help – and give you the edge you need to maximize your workouts.

Balancing Electrolytes

The body needs water of course, and that is the main ingredient of most isotonic sports drinks. Dehydration can occur when the body loses more fluids than it gains. If you sweat even a minimal amount, water may not be enough to replenish fluids you have lost. Isotonic sports drinks provide the body with both fluids and electrolytes, including sodium to help absorb and retain those fluids.

Increasing Energy

Your body needs carbohydrates (sugars) to stay energized and sports drinks provide the right amount to continue with exercise without a sugar crash. By replacing carbohydrates, you can complete your activity without fizzling out due to exhaustion. The sodium in these drinks also allows for the body to replenish its fluids faster, delivering the energy and endurance to finish a workout without having to push yourself too hard.

Now that you have read your book and went outside to play and taken your sports drink how about something to eat?

What Should I Eat After a Workout?

Carefully choosing what you eat after you work out can magnify the benefits of exercising.

Your post-workout nutritional needs include fluids, carbohydrates and protein. This is true not just for the endurance athletes and serious bodybuilders but for the general exercise enthusiast also. Each provides distinct benefits:

Fluids. Hydration helps restore fluids lost from sweating.

Carbohydrates. Carbs help restore glycogen, which provides fuel that muscles need for continued training.

Protein. Protein and amino acids help rebuild muscle tissue.

You can satisfy your post-workout nutritional needs by eating a meal or a snack, or you can choose a protein shake that also contains carbohydrates. The Mayo Clinic lists yogurt and fruit, cheese and crackers or a peanut butter sandwich as snacks that can meet your post-workout nutritional needs.

But for those who don’t want to eat after exercising, protein shakes are one of the best options for post-workout nutrition and in my opinion everybody can benefit from protein shakes besides being good for you they can enhance athletic performance and endurance, and help the body recover and repair.

Post-Workout Nutrition

Dozens of brands of protein shakes are available; they vary in the types and amount of protein and carbohydrate levels they contain. Milk, soy, whey and casein are some of the protein sources in shakes. Soy protein is as effective as other sources of protein but has the added benefit of containing antioxidants that are beneficial to health.

Soy protein increases muscle mass, reduces fatigue and burns fat for increased energy.

Nutritional studies have found that soy protein can lower total cholesterol levels and lower the “bad” cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This important benefit, while not necessary for post-workout nutritional needs, may lead some people to choose soy over other proteins for their shakes.

If your nutritional drink has the combination of protein and carbohydrates it will enable the body to store more glycogen for your muscles.

The top priority for post-workout nutritional needs is replacing fluids lost during exercise in order to prevent dehydration, and water generally is considered the primary way to replace fluids. But intense workouts lasting an hour or more require a sports drink for better hydration.

Summer Glowing Skin

Wouldn’t you like to have a summer glowing skin and still get some sunshine? A painful sunburn isn’t how you want to remember a day at the pool. Unfortunately, getting sunburned is much more common that it ought to be. It would be great to be out in the sunshine and still have soft smooth skin that glows.

A recent survey conducted by the Skin Cancer Foundation found that 42% of people get sunburn at least once a year. But besides the stinging sensation, the peeling and blistering, what’s the harm in getting burned? Research shows that a person’s risk for melanoma — the most serious form of skin cancer — doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns. Anyone can get skin cancer, but some factors put you at higher risk, including:

• lighter natural skin color

• personal history of skin cancer

• family history of melanoma

• exposure to the sun through work and play

• history of sunburns early in life

• skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun

• blue or green eyes

• naturally blond or red hair

Here are some Golden Rules for a Golden Glow

1. Slather on. With an SPF of 45+, even the fairest of beach bums all can hang out in the sun for a couple of hours without reapplying.

2. Cover up. When you’re not in the pool, call in reinforcements for extra protection. Floppy hats, large umbrellas and beach cover-ups can really do the trick. I find it fun to wear different hats and keep a few in my car to wear at the beach.

3. Fake out. Don’t lie in the sun purposefully seeking a tan. This is not only damaging to your skin in the long term, but you’ll likely burn the first few times you try it. Take time to be in the sun go for 15 minutes at a time and did you know that you can tan even in the shade?  You can increase the time you spend in the sun as the days or weeks go by.

Know the Lingo

Terminology on sunscreen labels can be confusing. SPF actually isn’t an ingredient in sunblock or sunscreen. It stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a number that indicates how well a product blocks UVB rays.

A product with an SPF higher than 15 is called a sunblock. Anything lower is called a sunscreen. To estimate out how long you can stay in the sun with a given SPF, you can use this equation: # of minutes you typically take to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time.

However, you should always err on the side of caution. Most people tend to use less sunscreen than the amount used in testing, which will throw things off. If you’re going to be outside for a while, bring sunscreen with you and reapply often.

Supplement your Skin Care

To maximize skin health for a youthful glow that lasts year-round, be sure to add skin lotions in your beauty regimen. Find a skin lotion that will benefit from an exclusive combination of potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and essential fatty acids that work to combat environmental damage, slow the aging process and nourish your skin at the cellular level.  At night add skin lotion before you go to bed or early in the evening so that your skin will have time to absorb it.

School is out now what to do with the kids?

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the pools are open. It’s summer! But as the school year comes to an end, parents know they’ll soon hear the pitter patter of little feet scampering through the house again. Or worse yet, “I’m bored!” Don’t worry. These tips will keep your little ones happy, healthy and entertained all summer long!

Get Growin’

Plant a garden. Homegrown produce saves you money and is less likely to have food safety issues. Kids will enjoy digging, watering and running outside each day to check on the progress.

Try this all summer long! Add your freshly grown fruits and veggies to a delicious smoothie!

Get Thinkin’

School’s out, but you can still challenge your kids with some at-home critical thinking activities.

Try this at the pool! For those days when the kids wake you up and they’re already in their swimsuits, dive into hands-on experiments with H2O. Get together various objects from around the house, and ask kids to predict which ones will sink and which will float. Ask them why. Then toss them in!

Grab containers of various sizes and shapes and a measuring cup. Then ask kids how many cups they think each one will take to fill. These activities teach lessons in counting, measurement and the conservation of volume.

Get Cookin’

Ask your young one to be your chef for the day. Spending time together in the kitchen provides the perfect opportunity to talk about nutrition and how various types of foods contribute to our health, growth and overall well-being.

Try this in the kitchen! For a sweet snack, make homemade fudgesicles.

Remember to give your children nutritional supplements to deliver key nutrients essential to the development of a child’s brain, eyes and nervous system. Give your kids a healthy start with nutritional supplements or vitamins or come up with ideas to make vegetables more appetizing.

The Health Benefits of Soy

Soy is one superfood that continues to gain attention for its many health benefits. Studies have illustrated soy’s ability to improve bone health, alleviate menopausal symptoms and reduce risk of some diseases.

Recent scientific breakthroughs have uncovered even further benefits of soy for cardiovascular health, weight loss and skin care.

1. Lunasin is nutritional “magic” for cardio health.

In 1999, the FDA approved a health claim that “25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” This claim was based on research findings that soy-based diets reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.

However, it wasn’t until recently that science uncovered the nutritional “magic” behind soy’s cholesterol-lowering abilities. Studies show lunasin, a naturally occurring peptide found in soy, is largely responsible. Lunasin works to lower cholesterol in two ways:

·disrupts the production of cholesterol in the liver

·improves the liver’s ability to clear LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream

2. Protein and peptides are heavy hitters for weight loss.

For many years, dieters have relied on the mighty soybean to aid in weight loss efforts. It made sense because soy is high in protein and fiber for satiety, while also low in fat. But a study showed that soy also packs a powerful one-two punch for weight loss by addressing both food intake and calorie burning.

3. Antioxidant promotes supple skin.

Studies suggest the combination of consuming soy and applying it topically may provide a host of skin benefits. Soy’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can reduce the redness caused by acne and sun exposure. It also helps promote the synthesis of collagen and improves skin elasticity. Soy even improves the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Skincare products with soy can help reduce wrinkles, skin discoloration and inflammation when used over time.


Tips for healthy aging

Challenge Your Brain. The saying “use it or lose it” applies to your brain. People often stop challenging their brains after retirement. Challenge your mind with the sudoku or crossword puzzle in the newspaper. Forcing those neurons to work in a fun way keeps you focused and alert. Do some extra challenging Saturday morning crosswords.

Laugh Often. Laughter reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins — “feel good” hormones — in the brain. Laughing with others strengthens relationships, and studies have shown that strong friendships can increase your longevity.

Eat More Fat. Who would have thought anyone would tell you to add fat to your diet? Good fats like Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to keep your bones strong, reduce the effects of inflammation and contribute to healthy skin. Omega-3’s are found in foods like fish, pine nuts, and avocados.

Getting a good night’s sleep

Do you get a good night’s sleep?  We all have trouble sometimes getting to sleep at night.  How much sleep do you need?  Some people don’t need a lot of sleep while others need 8 to 10 hours of sleep.  Research tells us that uninterrupted, deep sleep contributes to good physical health and emotional well-being at any age.

Statistics show that one out of every two adults struggle with some degree of insomnia, which means over 13 percent of our population is not sleeping well. Here are some simple tips you may have heard before so put them into practice now and you may sleep like a baby once more.

1) A bed fit for a king (or queen!).

Create an environment that invites a good night’s rest. You could purchase a luxurious sized mattress — at least a queen if you’re single, king sized for couples — or consider adjoining mattresses that can sit one box-spring if your partner is a restless sleeper. Add a goose down comforter and extra fluffy pillows and you have a great beginning to a good night’s rest.

2) Some like it hot. Some like it cold.

Creating an inviting sleep environment isn’t just about the mattress. It includes setting the proper room temperature, air flow and humidity level. The Rule of thumb is if you have a partner who likes it cold, the room has to be kept on the cool side. It’s much easier to add layers to warm up than deal with being overly hot.

3) The sounds of silence.

Next is the ambiance. How about a white-noise machine — the kind found in therapists’ waiting rooms or the ones that create waves, rain or bird chirping sounds – which is more conducive to sleep than complete quiet.

4) Dim, dark or in-between.

Find out the amount of light most suitable for your sleep and keep this type of lighting constant even as the sun comes up. Use black out shades if you like it dark, or a night-light if you prefer it dim.

5) Electronics must snooze too.

Televisions, radios, iPods, iPads, computers and even cell phones need to be out of reach so that you can disconnect — literally and psychologically. You may be surprised how the awareness and availability of stimulation keep us from falling deeply asleep. Removing that option to connect to lets us stay relaxed right through the night.

6) Keep your brain asleep.

So what happens if you awaken unexpectedly? Do not let your brain wake up completely as you adjust your body, your bedding, not even as you find your way to the bathroom. Keep one eye closed, using only the other eye half open to guide you. Do not turn on a light. Do not look at your clock to check the time. Do not send the signal to your brain that it needs to wake up. If you trick your body and brain that it is still in a sleep state you are more likely to get back into deep sleep more easily.

7) Bedtime rituals

Lastly, find what works for you and stick with it. Take a bath, read a book or snuggle with your mate. But, whatever your ritual is, use it routinely to fall asleep.

Put these changes into practice and see if they help you get a better night rest.

Want to read more on this subject then check out the website:

Gluten Free or not . . . .

Over the past decade, gluten-free diets have moved from a relatively unknown concept to a mainstream way of life. Even Oprah went gluten-free for a while – and if she’s doing it, you know it’s only a matter of time before everyone is. But even with an increasing awareness of gluten and the FDA’s recent gluten-free labeling guidelines, many people are still confused about gluten. Consult your doctor to make sure you have an allergy to Gluten and unless you have an allergy to it you shouldn’t start a gluten-free diet.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Most notably, gluten causes inflammation of the intestines in those with celiac, a genetic disease. People with celiac disease, gluten allergies or even gluten sensitivity can experience intestinal discomfort, diarrhea and unhealthy weight loss. The protein can even cause reactions in the skin, mouth and lungs of people with a gluten allergy. The best way to alleviate these symptoms is to simply avoid foods containing gluten.

Gluten-Free Risks

Nutritionists do not recommend eliminating gluten from your diet unless you absolutely must. This is because eliminating wheat and related grains can mean missing vital nutrients. Unless these vitamins and minerals are replaced through other foods or nutritional supplements, a gluten-free diet can be risky. These nutrients include:

Calcium – necessary for bone density and prevention of osteoporosis.

Folate – contributes to healthy blood glucose and blood pressure levels and helps the body ward of fatigue.

Iron – necessary for many body functions such as oxygen transport and metabolism.

Niacin – shown to help the body maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Riboflavin – necessary for normal cell function, growth and energy production as well as cognitive function.

Thiamin – involved in numerous body functions, including nervous system and muscle functioning.

You can substitute wheat flour with rice or corn flour. Also try incorporating gluten-free grains quinoa and amaranth into your diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to avoid fiber deficiency as well.


Summer-proof your workout…..

When temperatures rise, it’s easy to let your workout fall to the wayside. But fret not, workout buffs. These tips will summer-proof your workout.

1. Hydrate. Hydrate properly throughout the day — if you’re thirsty, you may already be dehydrated! When you sweat, your body loses important electrolytes. Add the sizzling summer heat and you’re at serious risk for dehydration. After a workout, water alone probably won’t meet your needs. Instead, reach for an isotonic sports drink with at least 50mg sodium and 30mg potassium per serving as well as a carbohydrate such as fructose to boost energy production.

2. Plan Ahead. Heading out for a long run at noon on the hottest day of the year isn’t smart. Instead, plan your workouts around the sun — head out in the morning or evening when the sun is the weakest. Make the best of a rainy day and enjoy a refreshing jog. If you do workout during peak sun time on a clear day, avoid reflective surfaces like sand that will attract reflect UV rays.

3. Protect. When planning your summer workout, don’t forget about the largest organ of your body — your skin. Suntans are so last year! Now, proper skin protection is all the rage. When you head outside, use a sweat proof sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

4. Dress-Up. Jogging in sweat-soaked cotton clothing can make even a leisurely jog feel like boot camp. Avoid this pitfall by donning moisture wicking workout gear that pulls sweat away from your skin. Dark colors will protect you from harmful UV rays, and don’t forget to protect your scalp with a hat!

5. Avoid Heat Stroke. Here are some signs to look for:

● Hot, flushed skin and a lack of sweat

● Headache

● Disorientation

● Trouble breathing

Follow these tips and you won’t melt like a Popsicle in the sun this summer!

Fruit as a smart summer snack

The nectarine is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fruit of the month for July – and they’re a great source of nutrients necessary for optimal health!  Other fruits are also great to eat in the summertime like Blueberries and they are very healthy for you so mix it up but don’t overdo it because you will be spending your time in the bathroom!  Nectarines have these ingredients.

Vitamin A. This retinoid plays a key role in cellular growth and vision.

Vitamin C. This antioxidant is necessary for the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels. It also has been shown to prevent or reduce the duration of the common cold.

Fiber. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, dietary fiber promotes longevity by decreasing risk of cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases. Fiber’s widespread benefits also include aiding digestion and promoting weight loss.

Niacin. This B vitamin helps convert carbohydrates into usable energy and plays an important role in the nervous system, digestive system. It also promotes skin, hair and eye health. Many studies show niacin may even increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Tips for adding to nectarines to your day:

Snack on the go.Grab a nectarine and a handful of nuts for a quick bite with plenty of fiber and protein.

July is Park & Recreation Month…..

Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month. If you like to go camping check out parks in your area and have fun in the sun! Did you know that 70 percent of people have a park or recreation facility within walking distance of their home? These areas are the center of
communities where people play, relax, and grow. They are where dreams are born and creativity flourishes.

Parks provide many recreation activity programs, athletic leagues, special events, arts programs, and environmental education programs, ensuring that all Americans have access to safe, affordable physical activity opportunities. From walking, biking, or hiking in a park to paddling a canoe or enjoying a healthy picnic with family and friends – there are dozens of fun and easy ways for you to enjoy parks and recreation facilities in your own community.

July is National Ice Cream Month (Yummm!)

Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month in 1984. He also named the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day. Reagan recognized the popularity of ice cream in the United States (90% of the nation’s population consumes ice cream) and stated that these two events should be observed with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”  About 9 percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, contributing significantly to the economic well-being of the nation’s dairy industry.

July is also National Blueberry Month…. (double Yummm!)

Since 1999, July has been National Blueberry Month! The United States Department of Agriculture decided that the blueberry was worthy of having its own month of celebration, and July seemed like the perfect choice because that is when they are at the height of their harvest.

So, why do blueberries deserve their own special month? What is so special about them? Well, to begin with, these berries are grown throughout a good percentage of the United States. Over 90% of all of the blueberries in the world are produced in our country, in thirty-five states.

And the nutritional value of blueberries cannot be beat by any other fruit or vegetable. Blueberries are full of antioxidants, which have been scientifically proven to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. They are also excellent sources of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Plus, they are low in calories-one cup of berries is only about 80 calories. And were you aware that blueberries are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free?

Fresh blueberries can usually be found at grocery stores and farmer’s markets from about mid-April through October.

You can also make your own blueberry pie filling with fresh berries.

Fresh or frozen, blueberries can be used in hundreds of ways. Add them to muffins and pancakes to make breakfast a little more special or make a blueberry pie. Toss them in the blender with some milk and ice to make a smoothie. The options are endless!


Have a wonderful July get outside and enjoy everything that is offered and protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun.  I’m off to sit out in the sun with my book and my snack


Annette Presseau      Reliv

Is Your Electrical Panel Labeled Correctly – guest blogger Dave Cobosco

Have you ever looked at the electrical panel diagram that is supposed to be labeled and either nothing was labeled or it hadn’t been updated recently so that the information is incorrect.  Many of us have had this experience.  Thanks for reminding us how important this is.    Joan Parcewski  Woods Real Estate Billerica

It is important that homeowners undertake the job of identifying electrical circuits in their homes.  This effort will save valuable time in the event of an emergency situation or even when performing normal home maintenance.  Even if the panel circuits have been previously labeled, it is best to double check to be sure of proper identification.  This is a great project to do with one of your children who is home for the summer and is complaining about being, “bored.”




How to identify the electrical circuits


  1. Assign a number to each circuit breaker in the electrical panel.
  2. Draw the floor plan of your home recording the location of outlets and light switches.
  3. Solicit the help of one of your children or a friend to assist you so you can remain at the electrical panel and your assistant moves throughout the house.  The ability of the two people to communicate easily (cell phone, text)  will greatly reduce the time required.  One person can do this job, but it requires a lot trips to and from the electrical panel.  Good exercise, but time consuming.
  4. Start by checking whatever labeling might already be done.  For example if a circuit breaker is labeled kitchen, have your assistant go to the kitchen and verify all lights and outlets work.  A night light is a good way to verify outlets.  Once everything is verified, turn off the circuit breaker and ask your assistant what no longer works.  Record a description of what lights and outlets are controlled by that circuit breaker.
  5. Repeat step 4 for each circuit breaker until all outlets and lights are accounted for.




Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at Or contact:




Dave Cobosco




409 Middlesex Turnpike


Billerica, MA  01821


C:  508-479-1773


O:  866-313-7732

July’s Hot Time in the Summertime – guest blogger Annette Presseau

Welcome once again to guest blogger Annette Presseau from the Billerica Garden Club.   Gardening and making our homes stand out from the rest is a year round activity….  And every once and a while take a break from your garden to enjoy the Farmer’s Markets (Billerica’s Farmer’s Market is every Monday from 3pm to 7pm Rain or Shine on the lawn of the Billerica Senior Center thru October 22nd)  Joan Parcewski  Woods Real Estate 


Summer has arrived!

As I look around my flower garden I see a lot of weeding to do and usually I do this early in the morning because it is the coolest time of the day or late in the evening when things cool off I save the afternoon to be in air-conditioning!  My flowers are coming up beautifully.  In my flower garden I’m constantly changing things around especially if they are in pots sometimes it will look better in another part of my garden instead of where it is.  That’s the beauty of having plants in pots its fun to change them around the garden!


I like to check out the Farmers Markets this time of year too they have all sorts of stuff at Farmers Markets especially fresh vegetables grown by local farmers.  Now is also a good time also to check out farms in the area it is a great time to pick blueberries.  Last year I went to Parlee Farms here in Massachusetts and picked a whole bunch of blueberries and they were great so check out the farms in your area to see what fruits are ready for picking.



If you didn’t put something in place for watering like soaker hoses you need to water your plants on a regular basis.  Water deeply and thoroughly as needed this is very important if you want beautiful plants and also water first thing in the morning or late in the evening not in the middle of the day.  One of the more damaging, and wasteful, practices of summer is watering for a few minutes every few days. Light irrigation promotes a shallow root system which can easily be injured by summer drought. Apply water slowly over a longer period of time to allow the soil to be wetted to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. This will promote a deeper, more extensive, healthy root system. Physically check the soil next time you water to find out how deep you are watering. This will also help you to water less often.


Also, this is a great time to put in a water garden or even maybe just a water fountain for effect.  I usually place a small water fountain in the front of my yard and I love to watch the birds drink from it or take a bath in it.  Use your imagination it’s surprising what you can add to a garden to give it that special effect.  You can visit some botanical gardens to get some ideas.
House Plants


This is a great time to take your house plants outside and watch them grow.  I just put out a few of my house plants yesterday.  Some house plants like being outdoors just check on your particular plant to make sure it will survive outdoors.  This is also a good time to repot your houseplants and put them into bigger pots and to fertilize them.



Container gardens and Hanging Baskets

Containers and hanging baskets dry out faster than plants in the ground and require daily watering as plants grow larger and if the weather is hot and windy.

One thing to note that frequent watering to the point where water runs out of the drain holes in containers will leach out fertilizer and plants may start to have yellow or purplish foliage and fewer flowers.  It is a good idea to use a water soluble fertilizer at ½ the label rate every week to keep container gardens and hanging basket plants growing and healthy.

Flower Gardens

Annual and perennial flower plants are available at garden centers all summer and new plants can be added to fill in bare spots or add color at any time or to even replace a plant that has died.  Add compost or peat moss to planting areas to help hold water and water new plants regularly until they are established.

Deadhead large flowered plants such as geraniums, daylilies and lilies to prevent seed formation, encourage re-bloom and keep plants more attractive


Don’t allow weeds to go to seed.  Mulch will help control weeds, keeps soil cooler and add organic matter to the soil as it breaks down.


Garden beds can be edged with a sharp spade or power edger. Grass can be prevented from creeping into gardens with a carefully applied application of Roundup herbicide. Roundup will damage any green plants and needs to be applied very carefully on a calm day.


Stake tall, floppy plants such as delphiniums, balloon flower and dahlias otherwise you will not be able to enjoy the beautiful display of flowers that the plant produces.


Monitor plants for insect pests such as aphids and control large infestations with insecticidal soap.


Don’t be afraid to cut flowers for indoor bouquets and arrangements.  Cutting flowers actually encourages re-bloom in some species.


Trees and Shrubs

July is a good month to prune maples and birch and other trees that bleed when pruned in late winter.

Both evergreen and deciduous shrubs may be shaped or informally sheared to keep plants full to the center and stay within available space. Woodchip or bark mulch will help control weeds and gradually improves the soil as it breaks down.  I often see too much mulch piled up under a tree note that you only need a few inches of mulch not 12” of it if you put too much mulch it will harm the tree and will cause the bark to rot.


Garden Centers


Check garden centers for markdowns and start planning your fall garden.  You can get some great deals on perennials for next year.


Other flowers


Summer blooming perennials (like mallow hibiscus) and annuals can be induced to bloom more if you will remove flowers as they fade. The plant’s energy required to ripen seed will be then be redirected to produce new flowers for your enjoyment.

Butterfly Gardens

To attract a variety of butterflies to your garden you need a mixture of spring and summer nectar producing flowers for them to feed on. Butterflies lay their eggs on plants that the newly hatched caterpillars will eat. Here are some of the plants that butterflies like.

  • Herbs: Sage, Hyssop, Thyme, Dill*,      Catnip, Lavender, Parsley*, and Common Rue*.
  • Wildflowers: Queen Anne’s Lace*, Bee Balm,      Goldenrod, Red Clover*, Milkweed*, Purple Coneflower, and Butterfly Weed*
  • Vegetables (let flower): Cabbage*, Kale*,      and Broccoli*
  • Misc.      plants: Globe thistle, Yarrow, French      Marigolds, Sunset Cosmos, Mexican Sunflowers, Phlox, and Alfalfa*.      (*especially good)

Check for bugs


Always check to see if any bugs are on your plants especially Roses and make sure you deadhead your plants for two reasons one to promote more flowers and the other is the get rid of bugs that might be on them.


Gardens to check


Get out and check out the gardens that are in your area recently while on vacation I went to see the Botanical gardens in St. Louis, Missouri and I had a great time looking at all the flowers and plants.  In Massachusetts there is a place called “Garden In the Woods” that is a awesome place to visit so get out there and take some pictures and dream about your garden next year!


By the way July is National Ice Cream month wouldn’t it be great to have some fresh blueberries with vanilla ice cream?!


Happy Gardening!


Adding Value to Your Home with a Steel Building – guest blogger Paul Martin

 Yes there are people who don’t have garages.  This could be an alternative option.  Joan Parcewski   Woods Real Estate   

A carport is a home improvement that can also improve the good looks of your car or RV and adds value to your property. When a vehicle sits outside in the elements, it takes a toll on the paint and finish. Having a car parked outside can also be a nuisance, or even a hazard, during bad weather. Steel building carports are a simple, fast and inexpensive solution for creating shelter for your vehicle and upping your property value.


A regular garage has its advantages as well. A garage is enclosed all around and can double as a storage place for personal possessions, as well as a place to store the car. A garage can be locked and the contents are not visible to a passerby. If a house already has a garage, then no solution is needed, except maybe cleaning it up.


A homeowners who has a house that does not have a garage but would like a sheltered place for a vehicles, has a decision to make. They must consider the pros and cons of constructing a garage, or building a carport. Each type of structure has its place, and different people will be happiest with one or the other. It comes down to personal preference, personal needs and budget.


If storage space in the house is slim, or the homeowner also wants a little shop space for household projects, then a garage might be the best option. Construction of a regular garage can be expensive, however, and it will definitely take more time than the carport option. Steel buildings are increasingly popular as carports due to the low cost of the building, speed of construction and low maintenance costs. Depending on the size of your property, you may even want to consider something bigger. If you own farmland, something like a pole barn may be in order to protect equipment and livestock. Some companies can deliver steel barn kits for you to construct yourself or have them construct for a fee.


Steel carports come in ready to assemble units of many designs, sizes and colors. They can be built on top of a concrete slab, or over a gravel or dirt driveway area. A regular garage needs a slab and a foundation and this adds considerably to the expense.


Steel buildings are pre-engineered. This means that the company that sells and installs them already had the design checked for compliance with local building codes. Getting the plans and permits approved by the building department will be quicker as a result.


Steel buildings can also be manufactured to a customer’s specifications. For example, the pitch of the roof can be built to match the house, or, the back of the building can incorporate an enclosed space for a workshop or storage area while leaving the front and sides open for maximum ease of getting to the vehicle.


A steel building can also be used for an enclosed garage, although if the building has walls all around a foundation of some kind will be needed. If the temperatures are extreme, a steel building garage can have the interior walls insulated and finished with sheet rock for more temperature control. Steel buildings are very versatile and can be used both for a traditional garage or a carport.


If you are thinking about a carport or garage addition to your home, you might consider talking to a steel building manufacturer, or looking online. Simply searching online for the type of building you are looking for in addition to the area where you live can often yield good results. For instance, if I lived in Louisiana I might do a Google search for “carports Louisiana”. You might be surprised by how many possibilities exist. Because of the versatility of prefabricated metal buildings, they can be prove very useful to a homeowner and also help increase the value of your investment over time.

Paul Martin

Organizing, Hoarding & Having Too Much “Stuff” – guest blogger Karen Kenney

I know that I myself sometimes find myself wondering why I have saved some things.  Each year I clean out closets and drawers….and am always totally amazed.  There are many people who just never get that far.  They just keep collecting stuff.  This is a great reminder that we really do have too much stuff and should think about organizing and sorting through all of it.    Joan Parcewski   Woods Real Estate

As a professional organizer for the last 11 years, I have come to realize that most of us just have too much “stuff”. And depending on how much “stuff” you have and continue to bring in each and every day, without eliminating any of it leads to hoarding.

So many people I have worked with in the past hoard a variety of things: books, magazines, clothing, food, food containers, widgets, pens, collectibles, plants, dishes and the latest organizing gadget.

Much like an “anorexic person” who does not see their emaciated body in the mirror, people with a lot of stuff don’t see the big picture. They can maneuver around the house and the piles. Some of them have been doing it for years.

How much is too much, here are some examples:

If you can’t sleep on your bed because you have too much stuff, you have a problem

If you have 3 food pantries though out your house, you have too much

If the food pantry has expired food, you are wasting money each week shopping

If you cannot put away clean laundry and live out of laundry baskets, you have to many clothes.

The list is endless. Look around your home. What do you have too much of?

Hire a professional organizer today. And do not give the excuse that you don’t have the money or time to pay someone. You probably have both, what you lack is the will power to stop SHOPPING and COLLECTING STUFF.

If for the next 6 weeks you stop shopping, and only purchased your food (such as milk, bread, meat, eggs etc…) and gas for the car, you could save enough money to bring in an organizer to help. This means no coffee at Starbuck or Dunkin Donuts, no going out to dinner, no impulse shopping for shoes or books or whatever. What could you save?

Coffee shop, 1 cup of coffee x 6 weeks (42 days) = $5 cup x 42 days = $210

Dinner for a couple, say 3 times a week x 6 weeks = $50 per dinner x 18 = $900

Impulse shopping say 3 times a week x 6 weeks = $30 impulse shopping x 18 = $540

These figures could be higher or lower depending how often and how much you actually spend.

Grand total is $1650.00. The average profession organizer hourly rate is $50.

$1650 divided by $50.00 = 33 hours, average session is 3 hours. 33 divided by 3 =11 organizing sessions or 11 weeks, you could be on your way to recovery. Most people could find 3 hours a week to work on organizing. If not you hire a professional who can organize for you 3 hours a week.

But you have to practice self-control and give up “shopping” for a while. Finish the following statement. “If I were more organized I could:

-Have my family over for dinner or friends in for barbecue

-Take those piano classes (sewing, or karate) I have always wanted to take

-Let my kids have a sleep over

-Find my missing “items” within the house

-Spend more time in the garden or with my kids

-Go back to school and get my degree

-Eliminate my embarrassment (or self loathing) and realize I can stay organized.

The possibilities are endless. Get started today call Karen Kenney at OrganizingWORKS!

Contact her at 781-275-8915, or

Reminders on Boating Safety – guest blogger Tony Lucacio

We all look forward to the summer months and all those outdoor activities, including boating.  Wha we all need to remember is to play safe – and guest blogger Tony Lucacio from Merrimack Valley Insurance – reminds us how important this can be.   (Joan Parcewski  Woods Real Estate)

Boating is a great summertime event; it is very fun to do but it is also very important to be safe on the water. Everyone knows drinking and driving is very bad, but something just as bad is driving a boat under the influence. It is just as important to be safe on the water as it is to be safe on the land. Boating under the influence can cause accidents on the water and if that happens you want to make sure that your boat is covered with Massachusetts Watercraft Insurance. You want to avoid those accidents on the water and here are some facts about the dangers of drinking while operating a boat.

  • A boat operator can become impaired more quickly than the operator of a motor vehicle.
  • Boating under the influence is just as serious as driving under the influence. Some of the penalties can be large fines and serious jail time.
  • One third of all boating fatalities come from the use of alcohol on boats.
  • Usually operators are not as experienced driving as they are operating a boat so it becomes even more dangerous because the boat driver is not as sure of themselves driving a boat.
  • Alcohol causes loss of coordination and due to the movement of the water while operating a boat; this can cause the driver to fall overboard.
  • If a person who is under the influence falls into the water they can have difficulty distinguishing up from down and if they are in freezing water they may not be able to get out before hypothermia sets in.
  • Some tips to avoid hurting others because of a boating accident are: Bring along non-alcoholic drinks, if you are going to drink before operating a boat wait at least one hour per drink before operating again, be careful of passengers drinking they can go overboard as well, bring plenty of food and snacks, the best way to stay safe is to not drink while driving a boat.
  • Stay safe and have a great summer!

Anthony Lucacio    Merrimack Valley Insurance

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