Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eco-Friendly on Chicago's North Shore

Did you know that Evanston residents use nearly 25 million plastic bags each year? In an effort preserve the beauty of Chicago’s North Shore, community members met last night to discuss whether a bag ban should be put into effect in this North Shore community. While there are pros and cons to each argument, there is no doubt that when only a small amount of plastic bags are recycled (only 1.5%), nature and wildlife on the North Shore are impacted.

While there is still a decision to be made as to whether Evanston businesses will be forced to stop supplying plastic and paper shopping bags to North Shore residents, whatever law is mandated will go into effect January 1, 2012. Until then, all of us North Shore residents can do our part to cut down on plastic and paper bag use by making small changes in our everyday lives. The more we conserve and recycle now, the more the North Shore will thrive and remain a wonderful place to live, work and play.

The next time you visit your local North Shore grocery store, take along a few reusable shopping bags. Healthy Green Goods in Evanston sells ChicoBag reusable shopping bags that you can use over and over again without harming the environment. Cut down on paper lunch bag use by purchasing a reusable lunch box and a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter for pure water on the go.

Notice Accessories for Living is another North Shore boutique offering eco-friendly alternatives to everyday products. Their Mini Max Reusable Tote is great because it folds into its own zippered pouch for easy storage in the car for last-minute shopping trips.

Another boutique to decorate your North Shore home in eco-friendly products is A Green Horizon in Evanston. With lunch items like reusable bamboo utensil sets, lunch sacks, chemical-free cleaning products and even planet-friendly pet products, this store has it all for helping you maintain a green lifestyle on Chicago’s North Shore.

If you’re dreaming of relocating to Chicago's North Shore, I can help you find the perfect home. If you need to relocate from Glencoe, Deerfield, Winnetka, Wilmette or the surrounding area for any reason, I can help you sell your North Shore home quickly and at a fair price. Please contact me to get started!

Janie Bress

Your North Shore Real Estate Expert

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Home Remedies for Cleaning Your North Shore Home

It happens to all of us: A carpet stain right before expecting guests at your North Shore home. What do you do when you’re in a bind without any carpet cleaner? This is when home remedies for general upkeep around the house come in handy! Luckily, there’s a good chance you have something to fix (or at least disguise) problems like this that come up in your North Shore home.

1.) Carpet stains
There are several ways to remove a carpet stain, but arguably the easiest is to mix dish washing detergent with water and blot out the stain. White vinegar is great for getting coffee stains out of carpet, and white wine can help remove an old red wine stain. No carpet cleaner needed! Try these tips the next time you find yourself in a rush to tidy up your North Shore home.

2.) Streaky windows
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, traditional glass cleaners wil
l leave streaks on your windows and mirrors. When you want to impress North Shore home buyers visiting your home, try mixing 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 cups of warm water. Spray onto any glass surface and clean with crumpled up newspaper instead of a paper towel for a lint-free finish.

3.) Carpet dents
When staging your North Shore home for an open house, it’s likely you’ll need to rearrange some furniture. What about those dents heavy furniture leaves in your carpet? Banish them quickly with an ice cube. Simply place an ice cube in the indented part of the carpet. Once it melts, blot dry and vacuum over the area. When the carpet fibers absorb the water, it
makes them full again. The vacuum will pull the carpet fibers back to an upright position.

4.) Dusty furniture
As the weather gets warmer and you keep your North
Shore home’s windows open, it can be difficult to keep up with dusting the furniture. Keep your Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Northbrook or Deerfield home looking fresh with a dust repellent. Mix one part vinegar with two parts water and use it to clean dust off of almost any surface area.

The next time you’re in a bind and need a quick, inexpensive remedy for home upkeep, look in your kitchen cabinets! Any of these tips will be great last minute fixes before an open house if you’re selling your North Shore home. If you’re leaving the North Shore or are planning to relocate here, please contact me to help make the selling or buying process go smoothly. As a North Shore real estate expert, I’m always here to help!

Janie Bress

Your North Shore Real Estate Expert

North Shore Real Estate
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

10 Tips for Creating a Beautiful North Shore Garden!

Chicago’s North Shore spring is in full swing, and with the above average temperatures this week, we’re reminded that summer is just around the corner! The warm months brings about a buzz of activity throughout the North Shore communities of Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Northbrook, Deerfield and the surrounding areas. Throughout the spring and summer, there are a wide variety of events, concerts, festivals and much more that make living in Chicago’s North Shore even more enjoyable.

Many North Shore residents are in the midst of their spring “to do” lists and taking care of their gardens and enhancing their curb appeal is on the top of their list. If you are hoping to sell your North Shore home this spring, creating a welcoming environment from the moment buyers see your home can make a large difference in the sale of your home.

Below are 10 tips for creating your beautiful North Shore garden and overall curb appeal.

1. Bulbs- Want full, rich colors in your yard? Begin planting bulbs of dahlia, lily, gladiolus and tuberous begonia.

2. Annuals- Now is the time to plant hardy annual such as petunias, dianthus, snapdragons and pansies. If you’re worried about front, simply cover the plants with plastic at night. You can also opt for hanging mixed baskets filled with fuchsias, geraniums and impatiens which can easily be moved inside if threatened by a frost.

3. Perennials- As you begin to see these return, be sure to give these plants some fertilizer to ensure they’re fed for the season.

4. Lawn care- Now is the ideal time to assess the needs of your lawn if you haven’t already done so. Begin cleaning away weeds and debris that settled during the winter. Begin fertilizing grassy areas and do any trimming to give a well manicured appearance.

5. Vegetables- Before you begin planting, consider the timing of your plants as well as who makes the best neighbors. Plant hardier veggies such as lettuce or potatoes now and wait until it’s consistenly 60 degrees before planting the more delicate plants. Beans, celery and cucumbers are happy to be planted near each other, but be sure to keep bean plants away from aromatic vegetables such as garlic.

6. Planting- Buy new plants along with replacements of those that may not have made it through the Chicago winters.

7. Fertilizing- This is key to keeping your plants well fed and growing all season. Don’t forget to give your well-loved plants their food! Be sure that you don’t “over-fertilize” as it can kill the plants or cause “leaf burn.”

8. Pruning- Pruning needs vary by climate zones. Be sure to check on more details of pruning for the Chicago area.

9. Weeding- No one likes to do it, but weeds need to be nipped in the bud before they get out of control. Spraying weed killer is a great option, just be sure to spray on a warm day with limited wind.

10. Preparing Your Patio- With Memorial Day just around the corner, you’ll want to make sure your patio is spruced up and the furniture is cleaned and in good working order.

If you’re wondering where you can find great plants and flowers for your North Shore garden, you’ll find a wide variety at our Chicago Botanic Garden this weekend! The 45th Annual Bloomin’ Sale is taking place this Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15 and is a fun event for everyone. Below is more information about the festival!

A Bloomin' Festival at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

May 14 - May 15

- At the center of the Bloomin' Festival is the 45th annual Bloomin' Sale - the Midwest's premier plant sale. Sponsored by the Woman's Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society, this event offers plants that are particularly well suited to the Chicago area, reviewed by the Garden's director, Kris Jarantoski, and a team of Garden horticulturists for their ability to perform well in local growing conditions. The sale includes more than 25,000 annuals, ferns, fruit and vegetable plants, geraniums, herbs, native wildflowers, ornamental grasses, perennials, roses, shade perennials, shrubs, and vines.

I hope you’re able to get out and enjoy the North Shore this weekend and can take advantage of this Chicago Botanic Garden event! If you are sprucing up the exterior of your home in order put it on the North Shore Real Estate market and have questions about selling your home; please let me know! As a North Shore Real Estate agent for over twenty years, I have experience in selling North Shore homes and would love to help you each step of the way.

Feel free to contact me today to get started!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert

North Shore Real Estate
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Clean Your Finances Before Buying a North Shore Home!

Last week I talked about five key tips you’ll want to keep in mind when buying a home in Chicago’s North Shore. It can be a very exciting time, especially with spring’s vibrant North Shore Real Estate market! There are many beautiful homes from which to choose and with ideal home prices and low mortgage rates, it’s a great time for the North Shore home buyer.

While you take on your spring cleaning this season, why not take the time to clean up your finances as well? If you are considering buying a North Shore home this season, having your budget, credit and other financials in order will help ensure a smooth home buying process.

Recently, financial writer Gabriela Islas of Quicken Loans pointed out six things you’ll want to do to clean up your finances. I thought these were worth sharing with you and feel these are imperative to do prior to buying a North Shore home.

1. Check your credit report and fix any errors- 
By law, consumers have the right to a free annual credit report. Sites like will allow you to get a free credit report, no string attached! Take advantage of getting a free credit report, but always be sure to check out its accuracy. Many times, there are errors or may contain outdated information, which could affect your score negatively. If you do find a mistake, make sure you contact the corresponding credit bureau in order to dispute the errors.

2. Review your budget- 
It’s helpful to make time to sit down and check your monthly budget. If you are saving to buy a house, for example, periodically reviewing your budget will help you get rid of unnecessary expenses allowing you to save more.

3. Review your monthly withholdings - There is no reason for you to give an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam! By reviewing your monthly withholdings you may be able to put more money in your pocket or savings account every month. Of course, consult with your tax advisor before making any changes to your withholdings in order to avoid owing money to the IRS at the end of the year.

4. Review your financial emergency plan - Planning for unexpected events can give you peace of mind. A good rule of thumb is to have six months worth of expenses saved in an emergency fund. Think about your monthly expenses (like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, car payments, insurance, credit card payments, etc.) and figure out how much you would need to have in a savings account in order to pay for these items for six months. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to build up your emergency fund, ANY amount is better than no savings at all. Also, make sure that if you become incapacitated, there is someone you trust to handle your finances.

5. Sign up for paperless statements - Signing up for paperless statements and paying your bills online will help keep your mail under control while saving trees at the same time. A lot of banks and credit unions offer online bill pay services for free. Take advantage of this and join the “green” movement.

6. Consolidate accounts- 
When you’re budgeting, sometimes it’s helpful to separate accounts. For example, if you are trying to save for a special purchase or an emergency fund, you may have your employer deposit a portion of your paycheck directly into your savings account. But having many accounts can make keeping track of them difficult. When that becomes the case, it’s time to consolidate your accounts. Before making this decision, check with your financial institution to make sure there aren’t any penalties or fees for canceling an account.

Whether you plan on buying a home this spring or not, making sure you have these things in order and taking the time to “spring clean” your finances each year is imperative in case something unexpected arises.

If you are in the beginning stages of hunting for your new North Shore home and have questions regarding the North Shore Real Estate market, or would like to view the homes currently available in the North Shore, please let me know! I’d be happy to answer your questions and help you find a home in Chicago’s North Shore that fits your needs and lifestyle.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert

North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
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