Favorite Halloween Traditions of the Past and Present

Here’s a treat for you: a look back at frightful Halloween trends and customs through the years.

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

No matter how many great political or lion-eating-dentist costumes we’ll see this year, being an adult at Halloween can be a bit of a bummer. Between obligatory “clever” costumes and the egregious lack of candy at most adult-themed Halloween parties, there’s not a lot of giddiness left in the holiday for the grownups.

In honor of the bygone days of candy-trading and itchy wigs, we rounded up a few of the fun, quirky, nostalgic spooky traditions of yore — some of which are alive and well today.

Maybe we can’t trick or treat anymore, but we can delight in remembering the highlights of our childhood Halloweens.

Trick or treating

Ah, door-to-door sweets retrieval from strangers. It’s the day every kid looks forward to all year, but how on earth did this tradition come about?

Frankenstein and friend, circa 1974-1978. © Larry Racioppo Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library .

Turns out trick-or-treating actually has a couple of sources. One is the early Celt tradition of dressing up like demons at the end of the year — the idea being, if you ran into one, he’d think you were part of his posse.

The other is a later practice from the Middle Ages known as “souling,” in which poorer members of the community would go to wealthier homes on All Souls Day and offer prayers for their dearly departed in return for “soul cakes.”

Over the centuries, soul cakes gave way to Snickers and prayers gave way to tricks, but the practice of going house-to-house remains.

The classic witch costume

Before TV and movies made vampires and werewolves and witches ridiculously attractive, there was the classic witch, made famous in “The Wizard of Oz” and beloved as everyone’s last minute go-to costume.

Hallowe’en postcard, circa 1910. Published by Raphael Tuck & Sons. Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library.

All you needed was a broom, which your parents were no doubt super happy to surrender for a night, and maybe a pointy hat — which, as it turns out, wasn’t actually associated with witches until the 18th century. Bonus points for green facepaint and nose warts.

Front lawn graveyard

Let’s be honest. We’ve all been secretly terrified by this. Maybe you passed the yard while out on a jog, maybe you were a kid trick or treating, but at some point, those bones sticking out of a well-manicured lawn took you by surprise.

Halloween decorations in the front yard of a house on Halloween.; Shutterstock ID 132523844; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Halloween decorations in the front yard of a house on Halloween.; Shutterstock ID 132523844; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Yearning to re-create this childhood favorite in your own yard? If you can’t get your hands on plastic gravestones, there’s always the classic “dead body in the front yard” thing. Just make sure everyone knows it’s fake, unless you want the cops to show up. Seriously.

The Monster Mash

Okay, so maybe it’s not “cool” to dance to, and you still regret that time you chose it at karaoke, but you gotta hear this song at least once in October, right?

Inspired by ’60s dance records and the simultaneous horror movie craze, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash” actually topped the charts when it was released in 1962 — and again in 1973. How about a 2015 revival? Put it on repeat at your Halloween bash and see if it catches on.

The Singing Ghost

The mask with a knife; Shutterstock ID 2276447; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The mask with a knife; Shutterstock ID 2276447; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

 

Speaking of Halloween music: Once motion activation got going, you couldn’t trust any doorway.

Things have gotten a little more sophisticated since, but step under any awning on Halloween night in the ’90s and there was a solid chance you were going to hear this “eerie” tune.

The ‘Scream’ mask

Ah, “Scream.” It brought Neve Campbell back to the silver screen, knocked off Drew Barrymore in the first scene (spoiler alert?), and gave teenage dudes everywhere the perfect Halloween costume to terrify and annoy their friends from 1996 to this very day.

The Addams Family

Whether you watched the show in the ’60s or the movies in the ’90s (ideally both), the Addams are the iconic “all together ooky” Halloween family you know and love — and fear. (Unless, of course, you were a fan of “The Munsters,” instead.)

Bonus points to the mysterious and spooky gang for offering a huge variety of fun Halloween costumes, most of which are relatively easy to pull off —except for, say, Cousin It. Nobody wants that much hair in their Halloween candy.

Jack-o’-lanterns

Believe it or not, the reason we all have to struggle with these kits every October is because of an Irish folk legend about “Stingy Jack.”

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

This Jack dude apparently tricked the Devil — twice! — and wasn’t allowed to go to Heaven or Hell upon his death. Instead, he was doomed to roam the earth forever with a coal lantern which, for some reason, he put into a turnip. Fast forward a few centuries and “Jack of the Lantern” becomes jack-o’-lantern, pumpkins take over for turnips, and Stingy Jack, for all we know, is still wandering around, turnip in hand.

What Halloween decorations, costumes, and traditions are you looking forward to this year?

Posted by Zillow Team on Zillow

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Fall Cleaning Checklist

Fall is upon us and what a great time to get some quick cleaning done that we often forget. Getting this tasks completed can easily be done every couple of weekends when the weather starts getting cooler and we are stuck inside. Use this checklist to get you started on your fall cleaning schedule.

Posted by HomeZada

General Manager Retires From House of Brokers

Let’s give a big congratulations to Lola Carey on her upcoming retirement and to Dawn Daly on her move to the new position of Director of Operations! Lola will still be with the brokerage as a consultant after she retires. We wish Dawn luck in her new position, and we know she will be great! These ladies are truly valued members of our team!

 

 

2 Easy DIY Projects for a Total Kitchen or Bathroom Refresh

Get a big impact with minimal effort when you tackle these basic home improvement tasks.

Remember how during last year’s holiday dinner, you optimistically offered your home to host the entire family for the next big get-together?

Fast-forward through the endless winter, the trees blooming again, and back into fall — you’re now only about a month out from Turkey Day. If you’ve been delaying a giant kitchen update or bathroom refresh, the next few fall weekends are the perfect time to make these spaces ready for the upcoming influx of guests (and for your personal enjoyment, too!).

All you need to complete either room upgrade is two big-impact, yet entirely basic DIY, projects: painting cabinetry and changing out your faucet fixtures.

1. Color your cabinets

The beauty of kitchen cabinets truly lies in the eye of the beholder. So if those selected by a previous homeowner still appear in good shape, but just aren’t quite your style, don’t waste big bucks on replacements. Instead, with just a bucket of paint and a free weekend or two, you can give your cabinets a total makeover for very little money.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

First, remove all of the hardware — door pulls, hinges, and knobs — and pull out any drawers, doors, or adjustable shelves to be painted separately. Then wipe down all surfaces twice: once with warm soapy water, followed by a clear rinse to remove any dirt, grit, or grease.

Once the cabinets dry, scuff them up with fine, 120- or 140-grit sandpaper to help the primer adhere, and vacuum up all the leftover sawdust.

Next, brush a coat of primer onto all surfaces, and allow it to dry completely. Lightly sand the primer with 400-grit sandpaper, wipe off the dust, and spread on a thin first coat of paint.

Take a two-day break to allow the paint to dry completely, then repeat: sand, wipe, and paint a second coat.

Once that top coat has dried thoroughly, reattach the hinges and hang the doors. Finally, screw in the old hardware or, for a full transformation, add new knobs and pulls to complete the makeover.

2. Swap out old sink fixtures

Nothing dates a kitchen or bathroom more than an unfashionable faucet — or worse, one that leaks. Simply swapping out this fixture can give your sink or vanity a fresh face while also saving water, thanks to today’s models with built-in aerators that cut water usage by up to one-third.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Lucky for you, it’s one project that’s easy enough to pick up on your own. When you’re ready to replace the faucet, shut off the water supply via the valves under the sink. Disconnect the supply lines from the faucet using an adjustable wrench or, for better reach, a basin wrench.

Then undo the left rod, remove the nuts from under the faucet, and unscrew the slip nut on the trap. Slide a bucket underneath your plumbing to catch any water that drains out, and unscrew the drain flange from the tailpiece.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for installing the new faucet through the mounting holes in the sink. Then, reconnect the drain: Screw the drain nut all the way down on the drain body, and push the gasket over it.

Apply a small amount of silicone under the flange, and position the drain body on the bottom of the sink, making sure that the pivot hole is facing the back, and then screw the flange on from the top. Tighten the nut and gasket underneath.

Install the drain rod by unscrewing the pivot nut on the drain body and inserting the horizontal rod through the hole in the stopper; replace the nut. Push the horizontal rod down, and secure the lift rod to the strap with the screw.

Finally, reconnect the supply lines to the faucet and give it a go, turning on the hot and cold water for about a minute. While the water is running, check all the connections for leaks and tighten any, if necessary.

Then wash your hands of all the hard work, and relax knowing that your home is guest-ready.

Check out more kitchen and bathroom design inspiration.

Posted by BobVila.com on Zillow

 

This Is the Scariest Open House Ever (Good Thing It’s Fake)

A lot of strange things have happened at open houses—agents have found voodoo dolls and naked couples, among many other odd sights. But how many times have mirrors cracked, microwaves sparked with static electricity, and pictures randomly dropped to the floor at an open house?

Renee Lee/iStock

At least once, at an open house at an infamously frightening setting: the home used as the setting for the first “Paranormal Activity” film. Marketers for the next film in the franchise, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” staged the faux haunted open house as a promotional stunt and posted a video of it to YouTube, to get some Halloween traction for the movie. (Guess it worked—we got sucked in.) They brought real people in and gave them a tour of terrifying shakes, sparks, and cracks that sent them screaming and scrambling out of the house.

How authentic was it? The open house–goers are suspiciously good-looking, and a few seem to be suppressing smiles. One assumes they had an idea that some kind of unusual activity was on the docket. Maybe they just weren’t expecting it to be paranormal.

As for as we know, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home isn’t actually up for grabs.Our records show it was sold in February for $760,000.

Posted by Lisa Davis on realtor.com

5 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

The days may be getting shorter, but the home-shopping benefits are growing.

Real estate markets ebb and flow just like the seasons. The spring market starts hopping when the sun comes out, flowers bloom and winter is over. Conversely, fall signals the beginning of a slower market, which could be good for buyers.

If you’re in the market for a home, here are some reasons why fall can be a great time to buy.

Leftover spring inventory may result in deals

Home sellers tend to go on the market for the first time in the spring. They often list their homes too high out of the gate, which could mean that a series of price reductions follow during the spring and the summer months.

These sellers have fewer chances to capture buyers after Labor Day. By October, buyers are likely to find desperate sellers and prices that may, in fact, be below a home’s true market value.

Fewer buyers are competing

Families who want to be in a new home by the beginning of the school season are no longer shopping at this point. These families have exited the market, which means less competition. That translates into more opportunities for buyers.

Taking out an entire segment of the housing market provides millennial, single, and baby boomer buyers some breathing room. You’ll likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, which could signal a great opportunity to make an offer.

Motivated sellers want to close by the end of the year

While a home is where an owner lives and makes memories, it is also an investment — and one with tax consequences. A home seller may want to take advantage of a gain or loss during this tax year.

Buyers might find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31st and get that tax benefit. Ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close before the end of the year.

Homes for sale near the holidays signal a motivated seller

As the holidays approach, the last thing a homeowner wants is for their sale to be dragging on and interrupting their parties and events.

If a home has not sold by November, and it’s still sitting on the market, that homeowner is likely motivated to be done with the disruptions caused by their home being listed for sale.

Many homes don’t show as well once the landscaping fades

The best time to do a property inspection is in the rain and snow, because the home will be truly exposed for buyers. The same holds true for fall, when flowers die, trees start to shed their leaves, and beautiful landscapes are no longer so lovely.

Scratching the surface of the pretty spring home season and fall reveals home flaws, making it a great time to see each home’s true colors. It’s better to see the home’s flaws before making the offer, instead of being surprised months after you close.

Posted by Brendon Desimone on Zillow

Five Things to Consider When Decorating A Room

When it comes to decorating a room, there are many factors that must first be considered before hanging up art pieces or adding decor on the mantle. To enhance the space and allow it to shine, there are several steps to take to ensure that everything flows and works together. For those who are beginning a new decorating project, it’s important to follow a few rules to enhance the style of the room.

The Size of the Space

It’s important to evaluate the size of the room that you’re planning on decorating to determine what pieces will fit in well and won’t appear too small or large. Look at the number of walls that are in the room and where there may be bare or empty spaces. Consider the types of items that can be used in certain
spaces that may be awkward instead of trying to just use what you already have.

Living rooms that are connected to kitchens can often feel empty with open floor plans, making it important to create different stations of the space that each serve a purpose. Consider adding a desk and chair in one corner while incorporating a bar cart that is in close proximity to the kitchen. Filling in the empty space will allow it to feel cozy and more at home for both the residents and guests.

The Color of the Walls

The color of the walls in the room will ultimately determine the tone of the environment and how large or small it feels. Lighter shades tend to make a room feel more spacious while darker hues can close a room in. If you can’t work with the paint that is already used on the walls, consider other shades that you like. The color of the walls should determine the color palette that you decide on using when decorating the room to ensure that everything flows well and is tied together. Some spaces can also have an accent wall, which will create a focal point in the area that draws the eyes to a specific part of the room.

The Furniture

For rooms that have furniture that is already in place, it’s important to take the style of the pieces into consideration before adding any new decor. It’s important to determine the room’s theme around the furniture pieces to ensure that nothing clashes. If the furniture is old or worn, it can easily be updated by retaining or painting the wood surface. For chairs or benches, the items can be reupholstered with modern or contemporary fabric that adds a refreshing touch to the room.

Special Features or Accents

From reading nooks to built-in bookshelves, there are often custom features that are installed in a room to enhance the design or functionality of the space. It’s important to highlight these special features and allow them to be some of the focal points of the room. Consider filling an empty fireplace with different sizes of candles. Add a decorative cushion to the reading nook by the window. You can even rest framed photos on a mantle for a modern and laid-back look. By working around the features of the room, it will allow the area to look complete and functional.

The Lighting

The lighting plays a large part in the decoration of the space. Consider relying on scented candles and using a floor lamp in a dim corner of a room. The lighting will spruce up the decor and allow certain areas of the room to be accentuated.

Posted by Jessica Kane on HomeZada