Archive for September, 2012

MassSave – Saving Energy & Reducing Costs

As we have all learned how important saving energy is to our environment and future generations, we are also looking for ways to reduce costs.

How many of you are familiar with MassSave

They do FREE energy assessments within your home (and business too).  They have rebates, incentives, a list of potential existing programs that people may use based on income.

Is it worth looking at their website – absolutely.  Can you benefit – nearly every one of us can.

If you do nothing else but get an energy assessment – this is quoted from their website

Your no-cost Home Energy Assessment includes: Personalized report outlining recommended energy efficiency improvements Installation of no-cost immediate savings measures such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), programmable thermostats, and water saving devices, as needed

  • Screening for eligibility for the ENERGY STAR® refrigerator rebate
  • Air Sealing and Insulation specification, if applicable
  • Infrared Testing, if applicable
  • Combustion Safety Testing

I tell all my clients to be sure to make the call and get an energy assessment done.  Help the environment and put money back into your pocket

Joan Parcewski             Woods Real Estate        978-376-3978



Trampolines Increase Insurance Risks – Reprint from

My thanks to James O’Connell from James O’Connell Insurance in Billerica for bringing this to my attention.  How many homes do you drive by that you find a trampoline in the yard.  I personally know of one down the street from my house.  Do people realize that it is an insurance risk.

While at a neighborhood barbecue this summer, I noticed a new trampoline. “How fun for the kids,” I mentioned to the homeowner. “Oh yes, just don’t tell my insurance agent,” was her quick reply.

Sounds like this neighbor did some homework, but certainly not enough. Trampolines, while fun for the family, are dangerous and will increase your insurance risk.

Trampolines Are Dangerous
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, backyard trampolines are responsible for 100,000 visits to the emergency room each year, making them more dangerous than backyard pools.

Trampolines Are Not Covered Under Some Homeowners’ Policies
As this neighbor knew, some companies might not insure your property if you have a trampoline, or they might have policy exclusions for any liability related to trampoline injuries. In fact, insurance companies can deny coverage or cancel a policy if a trampoline is not disclosed.

The complete article may be read at


Top Staging Props – guest blogger Perfectly Placed for You LLC


What are those items to keep aside when you are packing up and preparing your home for sale?

Here are 10 examples that top our list:

  1. Art that does NOT feature people. Landscapes, abstracts and botanicals are all great.
  2. Decorative trays will help create groupings on a variety of surfaces.
  3. Crisp linens and towels. Nothing is more inviting than a beautifully dressed bed, or a bathroom with fresh new towels and shower curtain.
  4. Attractive hardcover books will create interest and height in your groupings.
  5. Vases and pottery offer attractive options.
  6. Candles conjure up images of coziness or romantic evenings
  7. Decorative plates and stands offer vertical options on shelving or countertops.
  8. Service ware such as tea pots, coffee mugs and dinnerware to create the ultimate entertaining vignette.
  9. Pillows and throws soften and create a punch of color or a more intentional color palette.
  10. Area rugs will anchor furniture groupings, as well as soften any echo in a vacant property.

Remember accessories are like the icing on the cake when it comes to staging. Ask yourself if the items that you are displaying create an overall appeal or if they carry a message of welcome home to your potential buyers.


Start Singing In Bedford’s Community Chorus – Reprint

Whether you are considering moving to Bedford or already live there, it’s nice to find out what activities are available in the town that might fit your interests.

If you love to sing, but the idea of going through an audition to join a  chorus intimidates you, or you just want to sing for fun with others, then  Recreation Department has the perfect activity for you – the new Bedford  Community Chorus.

Katherine Parker, the music teacher at Davis Elementary School who has  previously directed music ensembles in the Norfolk Public Schools, will direct  it.

Read more: Start singing in Bedford’s Community Chorus – Bedford, MA – Bedford Minuteman

Community Farm Potentially in Lexington – reprint from

Whether you are considering a move to Lexington or currently live in Lexington, this may be of interest


The Lexington Board of Selectmen this week continued to hammer out the  details of a formal request for proposal (RFP) for an operator to manage a  planned community farm on the town-owned Busa Farm land in East Lexington.

The board voted in July to subdivide the nearly 8-acre parcel, carving  out space for four units of affordable housing along Lowell Street, with the  remaining land to be used for a community farm.

Read more: Plans taking shape for Lexington community farm – Lexington, MA – Lexington Minuteman

Autumn Senses – guest blogger Annette Presseau (Billerica Garden Club)

Autumn Senses



What a great time of year the air is crisp, the leaves are starting to fall and turn all sorts of colors and here in New England we see a quilt full of colors this time of year and we have a bonus of Indian summer to top it off!  I absolutely love apple pie or anything to do with apples this time of year because the apples are crisp, sweet and juicy my mouth is just watering thinking about them.  This is also a great time to start clearing up your garden weather it is a vegetable garden or a flower garden and get rid of anything that is past it time.  I love working in the yard this time of year too.


Gardening and Exercise.  Do you consider gardening as exercise?  I recently read an article that stated that this time of year there are a lot of injuries related to gardening like back pain and most gardeners spend hours weeding, digging, planting and clipping and they don’t think about stretching before working in the garden I know I never stretch before gardening.  Most gardeners don’t view a day in the yard as a workout but it is very much a workout.  A third to one half of all summer recreational injuries can be related to gardening and gardening can case repetitive-stress injuries from gardening without stopping.  When I garden I enjoy it so much that I forget to periodically take a break or change my position.  We need to approach gardening like a workout and stretch your muscles. Change position and activity, and after 15 minutes stand up stretch and switch what you are doing and exercise different parts of your body.  Also, the right equipment helps like using a bench or using long handles tools but use equipment that is comfortable.  If you start getting pains then limit your activity.  If gardening causes you too much discomfort then try container gardening and window boxes.  You might even try Yoga and read Gail Dubinsky’s “Yoga for Gardeners” book or “Gardener’s Yoga:Bend and Stretch, Dig and Grow” which outlines 21 yoga stretches that can help gardeners both prepare for and recover from a day playing in the dirt!

Leaves in the yard.  At one time I lived where it seemed that all the leaves in my neighborhood landed in my yard no sooner did I rake them all up the yard was full of leaves again now I use a mulcher mower and fortunately I don’t have a lot of leaves in my yard so my work is minimal! There are many gadgets out there that help with leaf cleanup besides a mulcher mower I use a bagger in the back of my lawn mower that picks up the excess and I can use it for compost next year so it works out very well. 


MosquitosMosquitoes need stagnant water to breed, and most mosquitoes stay around where they were born, so the easiest way to do this is after it rains, or after you use sprinklers and hoses, and thoroughly go around your property and empty any container containing water, but you do have to be thorough. Mosquitoes like water that sits for 4 or 5 days, but they can breed in as little as a tablespoon of water, as little as a bottle cap full, so you must be very thorough.  Places often forgotten about are the insides of old tires, all the various nooks and crevices in children’s toys, and gutters. If your gutters are not clean and water sits in them over time, that is prime mosquito territory. So clean your gutters.  Keep your pool and hot tub chlorinated and they will be fine. Your bird bath needs to have water changed regularly; you can also place agitators in your bird bath to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Your ponds or water features need to be well stocked with fish, and the fish will deal with the mosquitoes. If they aren’t, you need to add something that will kill them, such as mosquito dunks which are this bacteria that kills mosquito larvae in water, but doesn’t harm anything else, a good product. If you have a rain barrel make sure it is fitted with a secure mesh opening that prevents any bug entrance, and you can also use the mosquito dunks in it as well.

So remove the water you do not want, and maintain the water you do want, and you should be okay.

Pansies, Mums and Kale.  Now is the perfect time to plant Pansies, Mums and Kale which will bring great color to your yard and you can remove some of your summer flowers that are starting to look pretty bad.  Pansies can be planted in a pumpkin and all you do is scoop out the middle, make some holes in the bottom and take your plant add some soil and put in the pumpkin.  Pansies are the perfect autumn flower and they seem to just smile back at you and they also love this cool weather.  The more faded flowers you pick off the Pansies the more they will bloom.  Mums are really beautiful this time of year and flowering or ornamental Kale really gives a different color to the garden.


Moving plants indoors.  Stop fertilizing your plants and bring summer vacationing houseplants back indoors while the weather is still nice so that you don’t shock your plants. Check carefully for hitchhiking pests too.  Start fall clean-up in the flower beds, cutting back anything that has finished blooming or is diseased and remove any plants that have died.  Photograph your gardens and containers for a record of the year’s triumphs and frustrations and you can take some cuttings of your plants indoors so that you can have them next year or remove the seeds from your plants and grow them from seed next year.  Another great thing to do is to make some pressed flowers to save and maybe start a scrapbook album!  Make sure you divide and move perennials and dig and store tender bulbs like: dahlias, caladiums, cannas and tuberous begonias. Now is a good time to plant fall bulbs.  Irises and other early-blooming perennials still can be divided this month but make sure you give them plenty of water after replanting.  Take cuttings from geraniums, 2 to 4 inches, for indoor winter flowering.


Check out these pictures:


Christmas Cactus Care.  It’s scary to think that Christmas will be here in a few months and that we need to get our Christmas Cactus ready but this is a good time to do it.  If you want them to bloom on schedule, begin conditioning your Christmas Cactus to get ready for the upcoming holiday season. The key to getting Christmas cactus to flower during the holiday season is proper light exposure, correct temperatures and limited watering.


Because this plant is thermo-photoperiodic, it will set buds when day length is about equal to night length and when the temperature drops to 50 to 60 degrees F for several weeks.  Keep in a dark bathroom for the night. During the fall months, the Christmas Cactus should be placed in a spot where it receives indoor indirect, bright light during the daylight hours but total darkness at night (absolutely no artificial light). The Christmas Cactus requires long, uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 or more hours each night. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. Place the plants in a dark area from about 12 or more hours each night for 6-8 weeks or until you see buds forming. A closet or unused bathroom are ideal places.


From September and October, the Christmas Cactus should be kept in a cool room where temperatures will remain around 50 degrees, give or take a few degrees. Don’t expose the plant to freezing temperatures. Plants should be blooming for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November.

Be especially careful with watering at this time. Reduce the watering slightly. Do not soak the soil after a dry period; only moisten the top few inches, since buds, flowers and even leaves can fall off if the roots are suddenly saturated.

Prune the Christmas cactus about a month after blooming. This will encourage the plant to branch out, especially after a period of “rest” has been granted. It will not look very pretty after the blossoms have faded. Some people wait until March or so, when new growth begins, to prune the cactus.

Perennials.  Mark your perennials with permanent tags or stakes, or create a map showing their locations so you’ll know where and what they are when they die back at the end of the season.
This will help you so that you don’t accidentally dig up something you intended to keep when you work in the garden this fall and next spring.


Birdfeeders and other things.  Now is a great time to clean off birdfeeders; clean out and put away birdbaths for the winter.  Plant garlic for harvest next summer and sow wildflower seed for bloom next spring.  At this time you can harvest herbs, grasses and flowers for drying.


Rusted Garden Tools.  I have to admit that my tools are rusty so now is a good time for me to clean them up and what needs to be done is to put on gloves then Scrub rusty tools with a steel-wool pad that has been dipped in white vinegar. If the rust is heavier, you can soak the tools in a bath of distilled white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar helps to lift the rust and the steel wool works into the finer cracks and crevices. Rusty garden tools can be cleaned easily this way without harsh, expensive chemicals.

Fill a 5-gallon bucket 1/2 way full with sand and mix in some used motor oil. If you do not have used motor oil you can use some inexpensive baby oil for this job. Mix the oil and sand well and store your tools with their metal heads sunk in this bucket. The sand will act as an abrasive deterring future rust and the oil keeps your newly cleaned tools conditioned. This is also an effective way to store garden tools through the winter time. Mechanic’s tools can be cleaned and conditioned the same way.

Treat tools with significant rust damage — or damage you don’t feel like scrubbing free of rust — with a rust-inhibiting spray paint designed to protect metal. A rust-converting primer may also be necessary.



Fall Festivals.  Right now is a great time to go to country fairs and festivals so check out your local listings and see what is in your area and Farmers Markets are still going strong so you can still get many vegetables and flowers and some state fairs are happening now.


I’ll leave you with a thought about a beautiful autumn sunset where the sky turns a bright orange and the clouds are flowing over the beautiful blue sky while the moon is showing it’s brightness in the distance.  The next time you are gardening stop and feel the gentle breeze on your face and watch the hummingbird fly past and stop and wonder at all the beautiful things that are in your garden and just sit there and smile at the peace and beauty of what surrounds you.


Annette Presseau      Billerica Garden Club

Embracing September – guest blogger Annette Presseau

The summer is almost over and the fall is starting to come in but wait there is also what is called an Indian summer to come yet and the weather is just beautiful so get out and enjoy because before we know it the snow will be here!  What is Indian summer exactly?  According to Wikipedia “an Indian summer is a heat wave that occurs in the autumn. It refers to a period of considerably above normal temperatures, accompanied by dry and hazy conditions, usually after there has been a killing frost. Depending on latitude and elevation, it can occur in the Northern Hemisphere between late September and mid November.”  This time of year is great for taking walks and working in the yard and also getting apples at your favorite orchard a fresh picked apple can’t be beat!

School is back!  Eating a good breakfast can start your day off with energy and keep you going and children need something in their stomachs too but children can be very fussy I know I was a fussy eater when I was a kid and I didn’t like vegetables either but as I got older I learned to eat my vegetables and I really enjoy my vegetables now.  Think about a nutritional shake for your kids in the morning to get them started or maybe a smoothie for breakfast.  I am often stumped by what to have for breakfast and get quite inventive at times so experiment and see what works.  Lunches were always a challenge for me too because I’m not a sandwich eater so my lunches were different than the other kids even today I like to experiment with my lunches.

You are what you eat.  Fast foods have very little nutrition in them if any at all and they are not healthy for you but when I’m on the go I’m as guilty as anyone in buying fast foods so consider getting something that is nutritious at the fast food place like a salad you’re still going to have a lot of calories but at least you are eating healthier.  My rule of thumb is that if it tastes good than it probably is not good for you but we all need to splurge every now and then to keep our sanity.  Usually, when I splurge I tend to cut back for a few days during the week that way I don’t feel so guilty about when I eat the wrong foods.  Am I what I eat – probably but that’s ok because I’m working on changing my eating habits a little at a time.

Metabolic SyndromeAccording to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans now have Metabolic Syndrome.  What is Metabolic Syndrome?  It is excess weight, particularly around the waistline. Metabolic syndrome typically includes three or more of these symptoms:

  1.  waistline of 40+ inches for men or 35+      inches for women
  2.  high blood pressure, or on blood pressure      medication
  3.  high triglycerides
  4.  high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  5.  low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol

The solution is to balance blood sugar, lose weight and improve cholesterol.  In the past few years I have cut back on sugar quite a bit and I do feel a lot better.  I truly believe that sugar is addictive.  Check out the labels on food that you purchase you will be surprised at how much sugar is in what we eat.

High Blood Pressure.  Millions of Americans have high blood pressure despite treatment for it.  I recently developed high blood pressure and am taking medication for it and the medication has brought down my blood pressure to a normal reading.  In my opinion stress brings on high blood pressure it did for me.  It’s good to measure you blood pressure at home or at a pharmacy on a regular basis.  Blood pressure can be lowered by lowering your salt intake, losing weight and exercising daily.  Whatever you eat see if you can check the salt content you might be very surprised at how much salt is in the food that we eat.

September is National Preparedness month so would you be ready if there is an emergency?  I know that I am not ready but would like to be so here is what we all need to do.  Assemble an emergency supply kit with water (one gallon), non-perishable food, flashlight, battery powered radio or hand crank one, extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, multipurpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents, cell phone with chargers, family and emergency contact information, extra cash, emergency blanket and a map of the area.  You can find out more information at there is a whole list of things that you can add to the emergency supply kit depending on what your family needs are.

September is also World Alzheimer’s Month.  Wear purple on September 21st to show your support for Alzheimer’s or you can wear purple anytime after September 21st.  Alzheimer’s is such a terrible disease and affects one in eight older Americans if you would like know more on this disease check out this website:

September is also National Sewing Month so pull out those old sewing machines and begin a project or finish an old one or just take a beginner class who knows you might really enjoy learning how to sew!  National Sewing Month was started in 1982 by President Ronald Regan “In recognition of the importance of home sewing to our nation.”  You can start with a small project and see where it takes you.  I find it very satisfying to make something myself and it also makes me appreciate how much work can go into making something.  Also, it is great when people complement the work that you have done.

Fall foliage drives in New EnglandSeptember is a great time to see the fall foliage in New England and here are some great places to take a ride to:  Acadia Byway in Maine, Three Rivers Scenic Drive in New Hampshire, Mohawk Trail Drive in Massachusetts, Rhode Island 77 in Rhode Island and Route 100 in Vermont just to name a few.  I’m sure every one of you has a favorite place to go and see the foliage in New England!

I cannot leave out Apple picking because to me the apples are best in September and I look forward to picking apples every year.  There are many fall festivals this time of year too.  My favorite apple is a Courtland apple what is your favorite apple?  Did you know that the flavor of the apples comes from the soil and that the seed is the same no matter where it is planted?  I go to Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro Mass. to get my apples and they have many activities for the kids too.  Also, do you remember the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?”  So eat more apples!

Pumpkins are also available this time of year and are quite fun to cut out or draw faces on them.  Check out this website for a number of ideas to cut up your pumpkins:

Red wine for better health.  Did you know that moderate alcohol consumption has been proven to reduce coronary heart disease risk?  Yes, it is true but in moderate amounts.  Red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health.  The best wines to reduce coronary heart disease are Cabernet Sauvignon, followed closely by Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir. Both Merlots and red zinfandels have fewer flavonoids than their more potent predecessors. White wine had significantly smaller amounts of flavonoids than the red wine varieties. The bottom line is the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids. Dryer red wines are your best bet for a flavonoid boost.  So have a four ounce glass of red wine every now and then and drink to your health!

Eye Health at any age.  Have you had your eyes checked lately?  Are you having trouble reading or seeing things then it is time to have your eyes checked.  For me it is better to see an ophthalmologist because I have a history of Macular Degeneration in my family but there are many optometrists out there too.  My mother struggled with Macular Degeneration and was very blind and I can still her say “I wish I could see”.  Women are more affected by eye disease and other eye conditions than men and two thirds of blind people are women but this doesn’t mean that men don’t get eye problems they do. Cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and even dry eyes are all more common in women than in men.  Hormonal fluctuations and fertility treatments can cause dry and puffy eyes, leading to increased eye sensitivity. Breast cancer treatments can cause bleeding in the eyes, dry eyes, and cataracts. Diabetes and autoimmune diseases–both of which women are more susceptible to than men–can cause light sensitivity, vision loss, and dry eyes.

Your eyesight is such a precious thing so don’t forget to protect your eyes and get a checkup.  A friend of mine just got a checkup and a Macular hole was found and now he needs surgery which will prevent him from going blind so remember to get your eyes checked.

Colds and Remedies.  Colds this time of year sometimes happen because we get cool weather and then warm weather and I just got a head cold and was able to fight it off with Reliv Innergerize (a sports drink that opens up your cells) chicken noodle soup (my favorite when I have a cold) and orange juice and of course as much rest as I possibly can get and my cold only lasted a few days and I’m feeling great again.  Cold and flu season will be starting soon so think about what you can do to help prevent getting a cold or the flu maybe get more rest or bring a extra sweater or jacket or maybe just carry some hand sanitizer with you.  You could also eat more apples!

Pretty soon it will be time to rake leaves and the air will be colder and the wind will blow more often and snow will come but until then take time to go and play in the leaves with the kids, be with family and friends and relish the moment because this autumn time won’t last forever.  I’m off to enjoy this beautiful weather and go pick some apples!

Annette Presseau          Reliv Distributor 




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