Lea Cohen | Brookline Real Estate, Newton Real Estate, West Roxbury Real Estate


Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

After a long day at work or running errands, wouldn't it be nice to walk in the door and have a healthy and hot meal waiting for you? Even better -- how about a meal that can be cooked in one pot, so that cleanup is a breeze?

This macaroni and cheese slow cooker dish is that meal. It's very easy to make. You won't even have to boil the pasta ahead of time. All you'll need to do is toss everything into a crock pot and allow the macaroni and cheese to slowly cook for approximately three to four hours. This is a perfect recipe if you work near your home and can stop by on your lunch break to get this meal started.

And while most people really love a good homemade macaroni and cheese, we do understand that it can feel a bit sinful and heavy at times. That’s why we prefer this lighter, healthier version that still gives you all the warm, cheese-y goodness found in tradition mac and cheese.

Some of the healthier changes we've made to this recipe to include using a mixture of cauliflower florets and high-fiber elbow macaroni in place of regular pasta. When slow cooked in a crockpost, the cauliflower florets develop a texture that is very similar to pasta. Do you have vegetable-phobic eaters in your family? No worries. Your picky eaters may not even notice the mild-tasting cauliflower since it will be enveloped in cheese.

This recipe makes approximately six servings.

Ingredients:

12 ounces high-fiber elbow macaroni

1 cup finely chopped cauliflower florets

3 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 1/2 cups low-fat milk

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

Directions:

  1. Add the pasta, florets, half the cheese, the milk and evaporated milk into a crock pot.
  2. Stir the ingredients until well mixed.
  3. Set your crock pot on its low setting and allow the ingredients to cook for approximately three to four hours. If you will be home, you may want to give the ingredients a stir at about the two-hour mark.
  4. Check your macaroni and cheese after three hours to see if most of the liquid is absorbed. If so, sprinkle the rest of your cheese over the top of your dish.
  5. Allow the mixture to cook for another 15 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Optional: If you prefer your macaroni and cheese to be spicy, you can add the sliced jalapenos for a bit of a zingy pop.


If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future there are several financial prerequisites that you should aim to meet. Ideally, you’ll want a sizable down payment, a verifiable income history, and a good credit score.

It takes time to build credit. For most people, it can be several months or even years before they see a double-digit change in their credit score. However, if you have a low credit score and want to give it a quick boost, there are ways you can make a big difference.

But first, why should you focus on your credit score?

Credit scores and mortgages

When you apply for a mortgage there are several factors that your lender will take into consideration. One of their top concerns will be your credit score. This score is like a snapshot of your financial reliability. It tells lenders how much risk is involved in lending to you.

As a result, lenders will increase your interest rate if you are high risk and lower it if you are lower risk. To be a low risk homeowner, you’ll want your score to be in the high range, (usually 700 or above).

Credit change potential

Depending on your financial history, it can be more difficult to raise your score in a shorter period of time. If you are young, don’t have a long credit history, or haven’t had many bills to pay in your lifetime, your score will be more malleable than someone who has had low credit for years due to late payments.

In the United States, you have to be eighteen to open up a credit card or take out a loan by yourself (this is different from getting a loan co-signed by a parent or guardian).  You can also ask your parents or guardians to add you as an authorized user of their credit cards. This will let you build credit without having to settle for the high interest rate credit cards you would be eligible for.

If you happen to have a low score (anywhere between 300 - 600), the good news is you can achieve a larger change over a shorter amount of time than someone who already has a high score.

So, how do you achieve that change?

Credit errors

One of the easiest ways to quickly improve your score is to check for errors in your credit report. You can get a free report each year from the three main credit bureaus--Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

Look out for bills that have been mistakenly put under your name and for collections that shouldn’t be on your account.

Avoid new credit

One thing that can do short-term harm to your credit score is opening or attempting to open new lines of credit. That can be a store card, a loan, or getting your credit checked by a lender.

If you want to build credit quickly, making several inquiries could land you with a lower score than where you started.

Pay your regular expenses with credit

A good way to gain credit points in a few months is to pick a monthly expense to use your credit card for. Pay off your full balance at the end of each billing cycle to earn the most points while avoiding building up too much interest.



Water features aren’t just limited to the outdoors, anymore. You can bring the calming serenity of a soft stream into your home to give a more relaxing atmosphere. They can also be used as room dividers, conversation pieces, or as a simple decoration.

Wall Fountains

One of the most common ideas for indoor water features is the wall fountain. They add a soothing, bubbling sound and make the room appealing without consuming too much floor space. Most times, wall fountains work well in homes with rich, natural textures like natural stone walls and native, wood flooring and evoke a luxurious style without breaking the bank.

Indoor Water Streams

A water stream running through the floor can give your home a sophisticated edge. Moving water also comes with a calming effect. This type of water feature requires a vast amount of surface area so movement isn’t obstructed. One option to preserve your floor space is to cover the stream with glass.

Indoor Waterfalls

Another good indoor water feature idea is an indoor waterfall. With an indoor waterfall, you can transform an ordinary room into a beautiful and classy setting. It is best to place indoor waterfalls close to accent walls and close to natural lighting to ensure that you get all the beautiful, glistening effects from the water.

Indoor Ponds

With an indoor pond, you can make a perfect spot to relax and unwind. You can place indoor ponds in your entry, your sunroom, or any other central area in the home as long as it doesn’t obstruct the walkway.

Free-Standing Water Features

You can add a beautiful water feature, even in the smallest of rooms, in the form of a table-top or wall mounted fixture. A free-standing water feature is available in a variety of styles and sizes, and it can be set up without the hassle of remodeling.

Best Places to Install an Indoor Water Feature

Indoor water features bring elegance to your bedroom, living room, hallway, bathroom, or kitchen. Ponds, streams, and waterfalls are great for the living room where many people can admire them. Under the staircase is another ideal place to install a waterfall in your home if it happens to be open. If you are buying a free-standing water feature, make it a focal point so that it occupies center stage.

Water features can be a significant improvement to your home, increasing its buyer appeal and sale value. Need a little assistance in finding the right feature for your home? Contact me, and I’ll point you in the right direction.


This Condo in Boston, MA recently sold for $735,000. This Rowhouse style home was sold by Lea Cohen - William Raveis R.E. & Home Services.


24 Forbes, Boston, MA 02130

Jamaica Plain

Condo

$749,000
Price
$735,000
Sale Price

4
Rooms
2
Beds
2
Baths
In bustling Hyde Square this open and sunny, 14 yr young two bed, two bath home sets itself apart from all the others with a brand new, 400 sq ft expansive private roof deck with views of the city skyline, an open floor plan, abundant closet space and another private balcony off the kitchen.The spacious master bedroom offers a closet with built-ins and a 4 piece spa size master bath. Just as you’d expect there is central air conditioning and in-unit laundry.The condo also offers a massive, private storage room in the basement and deeded off-street parking for 2 full size vehicles. The living room overlooks the lovely Forbes St. Community Garden.Jamaica Plain’s Hyde Square is filled with restaurants, pubs and a Whole Foods market. Bucolic Jamaica Pond is a very short walk or bike ride away.Conveniently close to the Longwood Medical Area, universities & museums. Nearby public transportation options are the Orange Line or #39 bus route. Be part of the vibrant Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

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If you're getting ready to put your house on the market, your mind is probably flooded with dozens of unanswerable questions. Much of your uncertainty may revolve around the marketability of your home and how quickly a qualified buyer will come along.

Although there are factors over which you have little control, there are several things you can do to tip the scales in your direction.

Other than sprucing up your home and yard to maximize their visual appeal, choosing a top-notch real estate agent is the single most important step you can take. It's not only crucial to select an agent who is both experienced and proactive, but you'll also want to find a professional with whom you have a good rapport. You can usually get a pretty good idea of their experience and sales history from online profiles, but the only way to know whether they're a good fit for your needs and personality is by meeting with them face to face.

If you have the time and inclination, it can also be to your advantage to interview more than one candidate. The agent you ultimately choose will have a direct bearing on virtually all aspects of the sales process. By choosing a professional who is dedicated, knowledgeable, and easy to work with, you'll be taking a big step toward getting your house sold within the shortest period of time. A good agent will keep you motivated, informed, and focused on keeping your home in marketable condition. They'll also help you with everything from pricing and negotiating to problem solving and setting up appointments.

There are several other things you can do to increase the chances of attracting potential buyers and offers. Creating as much curb appeal as possible can go a long way toward making a great first impression. The concept of curb appeal can encompass many different elements, but the battle is half won when your lawn, bushes, and trees are kept neatly trimmed at all times. Weather permitting, displaying colorful potted flowers and hanging baskets is another way to add a lot of eye appeal to your home. Simple improvements like painting your front steps, sealcoating your driveway, or touching up the paint on window shutters or porch railings can also help enhance your home's curb appeal.

Although interior painting can be time-consuming and a bit messy, it's often one of the most cost-effective ways to make a positive impression on potential buyers. If your walls are looking scuffed, faded, or otherwise neglected, a fresh coat of neutral, beige, or grey paint can often make a huge difference in the eye-appeal of your home. Making sure your carpets are clean, counter tops are immaculate, and your windows are crystal clear are other ways to put your best foot forward when house hunters are scheduled to visit your home.




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