Archive for the 'Everything Else' Category

Nest Thermostat

This Nest thermostat caught my eye on tour in Cambridge

This Nest thermostat caught my eye on tour in Cambridge

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to thermostats – I love my classic round Honeywell thermostat.  Designed by Henry Dreyfuss in 1953 it’s non-programmable and works perfectly for my needs.

Perhaps it was the similar size and shape of the Nest thermostat that clicked with me when we were touring a house in Cambridge. The very cool display that came on when we walked by certainly caught my eye.  I liked it enough to snap the photo at right.

The New York Times had an article about the Nest thermostat today – in the Business section, not the Home section.  Turns out the thermostat is even cooler than it looks.

It’s the ultimate in smart programming – the thermostat can determine when nobody is home and turn itself down.  It also “learns” your patterns over the course of a week and adjusts accordingly.

Best of all, for people like me with very unpredictable schedules that don’t jibe with regular programmable thermostats, there are apps to allow for remote control of the Nest thermostat.  Aaah – to come home to a warm house this winter – that’s living!

The Nest thermostat sells for $250 and can be purchased online at nest.com.

 

Nest thermostats

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Hurricane of ’38 in Cambridge

A tree fell on 44 Union Street in Keene NH during the Hurricane of '38

A tree fell on 44 Union Street in Keene NH during the Hurricane of '38

74 years ago people all over New England were greeted by scenes likes the one at right.  The Hurricane of ’38 slammed into New England on September 21, 1938.  The devastating storm killed over 700 people in New York and New England and town after town, including Cambridge, suffered enormous damage from the violent storm.

My dad grew up on Brookline Street in Cambridgeport near the B.U. Bridge.  He and other neighborhood boys, aged about 7 – 12, were outside in the early part of the storm, gathered by the Stop and Shop on Brookline Street.

When a large tree fell in the field that’s now the site of the Morse School, the policeman outside the Stop and Shop advised the kids to head home.

Not five minutes later the enormous Stop and Shop sign blew off, hitting the policeman, who barely survived his injuries.

Shortly after he arrived home my grandmother asked my dad to look outside and see if there was any damage in the front yard.  Leaves filled the window when my dad looked out – a large maple tree in the front yard had fallen on the house.  Not long after a poplar tree in the back yard fell on Billy Harris’s house at 1-3 Rockingham Place.  Both houses survived unscathed.

Not so for the Keene, New Hampshire house I lived in during the 1990s.  That’s it in the photo above.  The woman I bought it from described cowering in the pantry with her parents during the 1938 hurricane which caused extensive damage in Keene and nearby towns.  The tree at the corner of the yard fell on the house, knocking off the chimney and part of the second floor.  The house across the street was split in half by another large tree and similar scenes could be found all over town.

If you were in New England 74 years ago chances are your memories of the Hurricane of 1938 are still vivid.  If you missed the big hurricane you can still get an idea of power of the storm from images on old postcards, newspapers, booklets and scrapbooks that you’ll come upon in local antique stores.  I discovered the photo of my 44 Union Street house in a booklet about the hurricane I found at an antiques shop.

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Blue Houses for a Blue Moon

In honor of the beautiful blue moon tonight I’ve put together a slide show of blue houses from Cambridge and nearby.

What’s a blue moon?  It’s official definition is the third full moon in a season with four full moons (instead of three). It’s also been defined as the second full moon in a month.  There was a full moon on the first day of August and now we have another on the last day.  We won’t have another blue moon until 2015.

Blue houses aren’t too common either in our neck of the woods but over the years I’ve found a number.  Here, in a variety of architectural styles, are some blue houses for a blue moon:

Blue House slideshow

Elizabeth Bolton is a real estate agent in Cambridge, MA and a lover of houses in all styles and colors.

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Gothic Revival Houses in the Globe

The On the Block column in today’s Boston Globe Magazine featured one of my favorite house styles – the Gothic Revival.  The three houses in the magazine are extraordinary.  Want to see inside?

The Gothic Revival architectural style was popular in the US from 1830 to 1875.   The style featured steep gables, often with decorative trim, and motifs that included trefoils, quatrefoils and Tudor arches.

The houses in today’s paper are every bit as exquisite inside as out.  I had already fallen in love with the house at 20 Chestnut Street in Taunton after it turned up in a “serendipity search” in MLS.  7 High Street in Westborough and 19 Irving Street in New Bedford are new to me – though I’m going to search through my bookshelves since the Globe reports that Irving has been on the cover of two books on architecture.

Here are the Gothic Revival houses from the Globe in all their glory.  Click on the small photo for a photo showcase with interior views and more information.

Elizabeth Bolton is an old house enthusiast and real estate agent in Cambridge MA.

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New Cambridge and Somerville Properties on Tour

It felt like we were in New Orleans yesterday on our weekly tour – awesomely hot and humid.  Though it’s mid-summer the real estate market continues to hum and we had a great selection of new to the market Cambridge and Somerville properties on tour.

Two of my favorites:

A recently built single family house at 16 Churchill Ave in Cambridge was a real surprise.  We don’t get to see many new construction single family houses in Cambridge.  Buyers will appreciate the open floor plan, gorgeous kitchen, first floor bedrooms, and direct access garage.  The house sparkles – even the garage floor gleams.  16 Churchill Ave is newly listed by Bill Patterson for $874,900.

The location of 12 Elston Street in Somerville can’t be beat – smack dab in Davis Square and just down the street from Porter Square.  It’s a two-family with really nice original features and a third floor that’s been  opened up with vaulted ceilings.  12 Elston Street Somerville is listed by Terry Drucker for $895,000 and sure to be popular.

Wondering about how to navigate this market as a buyer or seller?  Give me a call – I’d love to help.  Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny,  Cambridge – 617-504-1737.

Here’s what we saw on tour yesterday.  To get more info about these newly listed Cambridge and Somerville properties click on the small photo:

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Upgrade Your Smoke Alarm Batteries

Looks like lithium smoke alarm batteries are selling well at Tags in Porter Square

Looks like lithium smoke alarm batteries are selling well at Tags in Porter Square

Upgrade your smoke alarm batteries the next time you change them.

A beeping smoke alarm has to be one of the more aggravating noises we’re subjected to at home.  A responsible, organized homeowner is encouraged to replace the smoke alarm batteries twice a year with the time change in spring and fall often suggested as the best time to change those batteries.  But many of us just wait for that obnoxious beeping before dragging out the ladder (after going room by room trying to figure out which dratted alarm is screeching).

If you want a more long term solution there are now long life lithium batteries available.  I spotted them at Tags in Porter Square the other day. 

The batteries are supposed to last for ten years and cost just $8.50 each.  The regular smoke alarm batteries aren’t cheap so $8.50 seemed like a bargain to take this task off the to-do list for a decade.  The sign at Tags suggests you’ll save $50 in smoke alarm battery expense over the life of the battery but peace of mind and fewer hassles is worth even more I think.

The next time that blankety-blankin’ beeping starts up I’m heading to Tags to stock up on lithium batteries.

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Art House In Arlington

Art car owner has an art house in Arlington

Art car owner has an art house in Arlington

Don’t miss today’s Boston Globe which, in a cover story in G titled “House of Mirth: Quirky by Design”, profiles an amazing house in Arlington, MA. Turns out, owner Rebecca Perlo, whose art car I’ve spotted more than once, has an art house.

The Jason Heights mansard Victorian, known locally as “the purple house” according to the Globe,  is awash in art, color, and quirkiness – it’s awesome. More than a dozen photographs accompany the article and I’ll bet twice as many wouldn’t be enough to document the delights that await inside the purple, red and green house. From the Where the Wild Things Are murals to the fishtank toilet, the house is a wall to wall celebration of creativity.

Nowadays, when almost every house looks like the next, and decorating cliches abound, Perlo’s house is a rare treat.  And since I’m firmly in the camp of more is more this is my kind of house. Pick up a copy of the Globe and be prepared to be amazed.

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Raised Garden Beds Talk at the Somerville Garden Club

Raised Garden Beds in a Community Garden in Cambridge

Raised Garden Beds in a Community Garden in Cambridge

Raised garden beds are popular with backyard farmers and gardeners in Somerville and Cambridge.  In a talk at the Somerville Garden Club on Wednesday evening, Jesse Banhazl will talk about raised garden beds as well as other options for growing produce in limited space – on roofs, on porches, or in small urban backyards.

Jesse Banhazl is owner and co-founder of Green City Growers, a Somerville-based business that helps to bring organic produce gardens to homes, schools and businesses.

The Somerville Garden club meeting and lecture is free and open to the public.  There is parking available or you can take the T to Davis Square and walk up Holland Street.

What: Raised Garden Beds Talk at the Somerville Garden Club meeting

When: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Where: Tufts Administration Bldg., 167 Holland St, Somerville MA

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