Holidays+Food=Recipe Secrets Fm Lake Oswego To You

manicotti aOk, so, it’s the holidays, and the Realtors are all running around serving their clients with Christmas trees on their car roofs… well, at least I am! Or was, earlier today. I visited another real estate office and noticed that I’m not the only one juggling real estate business and “extra” holiday activities and errands… and frankly we all are right now. So, I was thinking- What am I going to write about in the Property Blotter this time?  I’ve got to take care of my clients and go shopping for Manicotti ingredients, champagne, Martinelli’s and all manner of other Christmas Party necessities. What will I write about?   Food comes to mind of course.

I confess, I have been overextended into giving away some of my cooking secrets, and other hopefully interesting tidbits for the sake of expediency! What has the world come to? Anyway, here are a few little things I usually do not pass on to people… but for YOU??? Our Property Blotter reader? Here you go:

Manicotti:  I make a killer Manicotti. It’s a well-known fact if I do say so myself, which is due to my dear Grandmother’s guidance and recipe… and which I am NOT giving you (she’d come after me from the afterlife!). So, you’ll have to come up with your own sauce and blend of cheeses, but I WILL tell you the biggest secret of all: ~How To Stuff Manicotti Noodles~ Basically, you stuff them while they’re hard. Using a pastry tube is something I incorporated last year and it worked much better than the “old country” method my Grandmother and I used, which was little by little with teaspoons. You stuff the noodles, line them up in a buttered pan till its filled with one layer, and pour your sauce over them all. Here comes the secret part: You then pour hot water… about 3/4 cup of it, around the edges of the pan, cover tightly with foil and bake according to your directions. The water steams the noodles, and your sauce retains the consistency you intended. Voila! (oops… not an Italian expression)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup:  There is a restaurant in Portland called Old Wives Tales that is famous for this soup. I used to drive all the way there and take home large cartons of it. “Anything else, Miss?” “No. Just the soup please.” One day I experimented till I came up with nearly the same flavor. Sophisticated cooks will balk at this part, but I use 2 large cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup from the store. I then add several cloves of garlic (at least 5) chopped, at least a cube of butter, a 16 oz. carton of sour cream, 3 cartons of fresh sliced mushrooms from the produce section, one can of milk, and several tablespoons of paprika. Ta da! Secret, easy Hungarian Mushroom Soup.

Brussel Sprouts: For this I am going to give you a link to a great local cooking blog. A lot of people like to serve brussel sprouts during the holidays, and I believe there is some kind of superstition having to do with good luck when you eat them on New Year’s Eve. Anyway, this recipe is so good I can hardly describe it. The way you cook them is easy, involves lots of heavy cream and freshly squeezed lemon juice at the end. This method takes some of the “bite” our of them, and ends up sending you back for more till there are no leftovers. It’s that good (if you like brussel sprouts that is… and if you don’t, I’d suggest trying them this way to see if you change your mind). Here’s the link: Creamy Braised Brussel Sprouts

Ok, Addendum- Check.  Closing Coordination- Check. Research- Check. Repair schedule- Check. Update Clients- Check. Documents Emailed- Check… Off to decorate the tree!

Happy Holiday Cooking to each of you.

Very Best,


Oh, To Be Thankful

ThanksgivingThis week we get to take a  step back from our daily routine… usually we take a few days to kick back & enjoy family, friends, and good food… and at the very minimum, we enjoy a few extra moments or hours to reflect on all we have to be grateful for.

This has been quite a year. I don’t think there are many who have not been affected, or had a loved one affected by the roller coaster ride that has been our economy. Now that things are starting to turn, and we hear “the recession is over”, we may or may not be seeing big changes in our own lives yet, but we can look around, and take stock. Do we have shelter? A roof over our heads, warmth and food? Do we have family? And if so, do we remember to tell them each and every day that we love them? Do we have friends… real friends? If so, do we remember to let them know that they make our lives richer just by being themselves? Do we have a job? & If so, do we think about all the ways that job enriches our lives, providing goods and/or services to others and supporting our family? Do we have beauty in our lives? Do we remember to actually look at those hanging baskets in downtown Lake Oswego, or the beautiful lights and holiday dressing the town takes on this time of year? Do we see the beautiful little things that cross our paths everyday… often escaping our notice? Ok, I’ll stop, but hopefully this gets you thinking a bit. Maybe this year would be the year to start a Gratitude Journal. I have a friend who records everything that happened that day for which he is grateful every night before bed. He swears that it has turned his life around! Maybe this year we might start a new tradition with our children, and have them fill out two lists… one being everything for which they are thankful, and the other being, well, you know… the one that goes to the North Pole (make sure to address it to City Hall/North Pole this year though : )

I am grateful for so many things, and I know I speak for Dianne and I both when I say we are so thankful for our Property Blotter readers & clients. You make it all worthwhile.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes to start your holiday season off just right:

“Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in.” –Phillips Brooks

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
—Melody Beattie

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” –Cicero

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” –W.T. Purkiser

“Serenely full, the epicure would say, Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.”
–Sydney Smith

Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Events in Lake Oswego

turkeyThere is a wonderful assortment of Holiday Events coming up here in Lake Oswego. It is a great time of year and the community comes together to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Adult Community Center Thanksgiving Luncheon

November 25, 11:30am, at the Adult Community Center.  Enjoy a holiday feast with friends.  Call 503-635-3758, to make a reservation.

Holiday Tree Lighting

November 27, 5pm.  Kick off the holiday season with the lighting of the giant sequoia tree at Fifth Street and A Avenue.  Enjoy free coffee and cocoa and listen to choir members from local high schools.  Then, walk to Millennium Plaza Park to enjoy more caroling, refreshments, live music, and several characters to entertain the kids.  Donations of non-perishable, canned food for the Oregon Food Bank and unwrapped toys are encouraged.

Gingerbread House Building

November 30, 6:30 to 8:30pm.  West End Building, 4101 Kruse Way.  Everything you need to build a beautiful gingerbread house is included.  Ages 18 and older. $47 per family/house.  Register at (#4327200)

5th Annual Lake Oswego Holiday Market

December 5th & 6th, 9am to 4pm, Millennium Plaza Park.  A traditional European Holiday Market where you can shop for unique treasures:  crafts, greenery, eats and treats.  Local musicians will provide a background of Holiday music.  A family-friendly shopping experience.

Holiday Gift Workshop

December 12, 10am to 12pm, West End Building.  Spend a morning making holiday gifts for family and friends, snack on treats, and enjoy a special guest/entertainer.  For children ages 6 to 12.  Cost is $22.  Register at (#4267100)

Carriage Rides

December 6, 12, & 19, 11am to 3pm, Millennium Plaza Park.  Get into the holiday spirit and enjoy a memorable carriage ride through the streets of beautiful downtown Lake Oswego.  The horse drawn carriage will pick you up at the entrance to Millennium Plaza Park.  Adults $3 and children under the age of 10, $1.

Christmas Ship Parade Viewing

December 19th, 6pm, Foothills Park.  Experience the sparkle of the ships and their reflections from the shore of the Willamette River at Foothills Park while enjoying hot chocolate and a warm fire.  For more information, go to

Adult Community Center Holiday Luncheon

December 23rd, 11:30am, at the Adult Community Center.  Celebrate the season with food and music.  Call 503-635-3758 to make a lunch reservation.

Adult Community Center New Year’s Luncheon

December 30th, 11:30am, at the Adult Community Center.  Honor the last of 2009 and welcome 2010 with friends.  Call 503-635-3758 to make a reservation.

The above information is brought to us courtesy of Hello L.O., the official newsletter of the City of Lake Oswego.  Happy Holidays!

Selling or buying a home during the holidays

I am frequently asked if the winter, and specifically the holidays, are a good time to be selling or buying a home. My answer is yes. There are several advantages to selling or buying at this time of year.

First, a home that is warm and decorated for the holidays is extremely inviting. There is such a contrast from being outside and coming in. It really makes the home embrace the buyer. However, this means that you need to make that extra effort to create this experience. Keep the house heated properly. Homes where the heat is turned down, or even left off if the house is vacant, can actually be colder inside than out. When this happens both the buyer and the Realtor will be in a hurry to leave and get warmed up back in the car. Also, turn on every light in the house and open every curtain or blind. Buyers want a house that has lots of light. Because so many of our days are gray, it is important that you create the best light possible. I have recently shown several homes to clients that were great values and in great condition, but ruled out because they gave the impression of being too dark.

Be on top of the holiday decorations. They can enhance the look of the house, but don’t over do it and allow the house to look cluttered or small because it is filled with too much stuff. Also, take them down in a timely fashion.

There are several advantages to the quality of buyers who are out looking at this time of year. While there are fewer of them, those who are looking are serious. People are busy at the holidays so a person who is taking the time to look at houses is a person who really needs to move. In addition, many corporations have fiscal years that match the calendar year. This means that they are trying to move their transferring executives before December 31st. This is a great time of year to be marketing executive quality homes. (I’d would characterize those as being homes priced at $400,000 or greater).

What about buying at this time of year? I think there are four pretty strong advantages. 1) Interest rates are historically at their lowest in the winter. As the market picks up in the spring, interest rates trend up. 2) There aren’t many buyers looking so sellers will really jump through hoops for you. You may be the only game in town and they will work very hard to sell you their home. 3) If a house looks good in the winter, it is going to be spectacular in the summer. You can really get an idea of the actual house in terms of the light it has and the condition of the property. And 4) this is the time of year when a home inspector can most easily find water issues. If the basement leaks, you’ll more likely learn about it in the winter.

It is completely understandable if you feel like you want to get the holidays behind you before selling or buying a home. But if you do need to move, you have quite a few strong reasons why this time of year can work to your advantage.