Fall Weekend Guide to Napa Valley

Fall Weekend Guide to Napa Valley

The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing into beautiful shades of red and orange and wine country is calling. Fall is one of the best seasons to plan a weekend trip to see all that Napa Valley has to offer. This area has hundreds of wineries that attract millions of visitors each year. Still, this region of California has more to offer than wine. There are plenty of outdoor adventures, relaxing spas and shopping areas to make for a busy trip.

Visitors to Napa Valley can leave the car behind and try an alternate way of getting around. The Calistoga Bike Shop offers both rentals and tours of the area. People looking to go on their own adventure can look to the shop for advice on which places to check out. Rentals start at $28, and helmets, locks and rack bags are included. Ride through Sonoma County on horseback for a unique way of experiencing the natural features of the area. Stables pair riders with gentle horses for trips all year long. One option is riding through wine grapes, apple trees and towering oak groves at Rollin F Ranch. Or people can take the seaside route, riding past the sand dunes along the Sonoma coastline.

People can get a taste of history while traveling through the region on the Napa Valley Wine Train. The rail cars on the train have been restored to their original glory dating back to the early 1900s. Couples can plan trips with an intimate dinner as the stars shine overhead. Or people can put their sleuth caps on and solve the murder mystery dinner. The Santa Train is also a family favorite. Leave the ground behind altogether and tour Napa Valley through a hot air balloon ride. Imagine rising up above the vineyards as the fog clears and the sun rises just over the hills. If this sounds like a perfect start to the day, then make a reservation for this unique tour. Many companies offer champagne mimosas and breakfast after the trip as well.

Take a night and enjoy live music or a film on the big screen. Silos Jazz Club is an intimate space where visitors can listen to rock and blues while sipping local wines. This venue has performances nearly every night. Upcoming acts include the Second Street Band, jazz pianist Mike Greensill and surf rocker John Wheeler. The Cameo Cinema is an elegant theatre that shows both independent and studio-released films. This theatre dates back to 1913, and it has since seen serious upgrades both in 1996 and in 2009. Visitors rave about the theatre’s sound system and seriously cheap popcorn.

Those looking for heart-pumping action should head to the Sonoma Raceway for NASCAR. This track hosts one of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, which takes place on a road course. Other events at the raceway include the Verizon IndyCar series, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series and motorcycle races by the American Federation of Motorcyclists. Video game enthusiasts might recognize the track. The track first appeared in “NASCAR Racing” in 1994 and has since shown up in several other racing games.

At least a half-day of the weekend trip in Napa Valley should be dedicated to a quick Sacramento trip. Just an hour’s drive away, the city dates back to the rough and tumble Gold Rush era. Visit Old Sacramento for a taste of history from the Wild West. Sacramento is the capital of California, and people can explore the origins of the state at the stunning State Capitol Museum. The city is hugged by two rivers, the Sacramento and American River. Visitors can rent a kayak or grab a fishing pole and enjoy a nice day on the water. Great weather makes going to the Drive-In theatre a great activity all year long. Catching a movie there won’t break the bank either, tickets are priced at $7.95 for adults and $1.25 for kids ages 5-11.

Relax after a long day at one of the various spas in Napa Valley. Dr. Wilkinson’s is a hot springs resort that has helped Californians unwind since 1952. Their signature service is the mud bath. The mud is mixed with volcanic ash and lavender, and it cleanses the skin while visitors sit back with cucumbers to cool the eyes. Mud baths end with a 30 to 60 minute massage by their expert staff.

Try some of California’s freshest produce at Oxbow Public Market. This 40,000 square foot area has a mix of food vendors and cafes along with an outdoor deck that provides views of the nearby Napa River. Indulge the sweet tooth at Anette’s Chocolates. Enjoy a freshly baked loaf of bread from The Model Bakery. Or sort through the hundreds of spices at Whole Spice to find the perfect accent to a meal.

Come for the wine and stay for the adventure for a memorable weekend in Napa Valley.


Source: Jeremy Alderman

Posted on November 8, 2017 at 8:53 pm
Elizabeth Corvello | Category: lifestyle, local | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Everything You Love About Fall at Home

Everything You Love About Fall at Home

If you’re looking for more reasons to fall in love with fall at home, check out this round-up of our favorite Blue Matter highlights for this fabulous season.

Fall at home is all about cozy nights around the dinner table, afternoons of playing in the fallen leaves, and mornings taking in the crisp autumn air. If you’re looking for more reasons to fall in love with fall at home, check out this round-up of our favorite Blue Matter highlights for this fabulous season.

Did you know there was a right way to rake leaves? Now you do.

Thinking about listing your home in October? Why the Fall Selling Season is Better than You Think

How to Turn Autumn Leaves into Home Decor

Heating bills. Halloween candy. Fallen leaves!  25 Thoughts Homeowners Have During Fall  

We could go on forever, but here are 7 Reasons to be Happy it’s Fall.

How to Use your Senses to Transition your Home from Summer to Fall.

Don’t cry because summer’s over.  Instead, turn your summer place into an autumn oasis.

What if there was a gutter cleaning robot?

Source: CB Blue Matter/Victoria Keichinger
Posted on October 8, 2017 at 6:49 pm
Elizabeth Corvello | Category: lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Getting Preapproved- FAQ’s

Getting Preapproved- FAQ’s

Can I apply before I find the home I want to purchase?

Yes! When you apply in advance, we can issue you a pre-qualification letter that will affirm to the seller of the home that you are a qualified buyer. We can also help you determine a comfortable price range to look in and keep your payment within your budget.

What is a rate lock?

A rate lock is an agreement between the borrower and lender that allows the borrower to secure an interest rate range for a specified period of time. This can offer you protection from fluctuations in the market. It is your choice whether or not to lock your interest rate, your loan officer will be able to advise you on whether and when to lock.

Who do I contact if I have a question about the servicing of my loan?

If you need additional information regarding the servicing of your mortgage loan, please submit the following information in writing: your name, your loan number and the additional information you are requesting.

If you believe an error has occurred regarding the servicing of your mortgage loan, please submit the following information in writing: your name, your loan number, and the error you believe has occurred.

What are title and escrow?

Title companies act as a neutral third party during a real estate transaction by handling the transfer of funds and documents between the parties involved. As a neutral party, the title company protects both the buyer and seller by ensuring that all conditions are met for the sale prior to the exchange of funds. Title companies also offer title insurance for property owners, this provides insurance against loss due to title defects, liens and other issues.

Can I still qualify for a loan after short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy?

This will depend on a number of factors: whether your waiting period has expired, whether you have been able to do any credit repair needed and your current income and employment situation. Contact us anytime for a no obligation, free evaluation to see what we can do for you.

How do points work?

Points can be paid upfront at closing in exchange for a lower interest rate throughout the life of the loan. One point is equal to 1% of the loan amount. Although this means you will be required to pay at closing, you will lower your payments by doing so.

By comparing the costs of the points at origination to the savings you would gain from your lowered monthly payments, you can judge how many payments it would take to recoup the money spent on the points. If, for example, you plan to move or refinance in 3 years, but it would take 4 years of payments to gain a savings from the points, then paying points would not be a good investment

How will my credit score affect my mortgage?

Your credit score is determined by a credit bureau and used to determine the likelihood that you will repay the loan, the number can range from 300-850. The amount and type of credit available to you, the balance owed, your consistency in making payments, credit inquiries and any defaults or late payments all factor into your score. You can view a copy of your credit report from the 3 major bureaus once every 12 months for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com

Your credit score can play a big part in qualifying for a mortgage. Depending on the type of loan you are interested in, there may be a minimum score required and your credit score will also be reflected in the price of the loan. If you are in need of credit repair we would be happy to advise you on ways to improve your score.

What are closing costs?

Closing costs are the costs incurred during the loan process. These costs can include origination fees (the charge for processing the loan paperwork), credit report fees, appraisal and inspection fees, title insurance, recording fees and underwriting fees. Depending on your loan, closing costs may also include fees for escrow deposit or discount points as well.

Typically, closing costs will be between 2 and 5% of the cost of the home. Your loan officer will provide you with a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) after you submit your loan application, which will outline the expected closing costs. The GFE is only an estimate, though, and closing costs can change during the transaction.

You may choose to pay your closing costs at the time that the loan closes, or finance them into the loan. You can also consult your realtor about the possibility of asking the sellers of the home to pay some or all of your closing costs.

Most lenders will be happy to run your information for you. Some local lenders will also help you do FREE credit repair.


Posted on July 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm
Elizabeth Corvello | Category: get real (estate) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RATATOUILLE Crostini with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts

RATATOUILLE Crostini with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine Nut

I love Summer food, especially when I can throw things in the crock pot, make enough for the week and then not get the house hot each day. This Savory recipe is just perfect for bringing together the flavors of all the beautiful summer veggies we have during this season.



This is where you can make your ratatouille to taste. I like mine spicy but my one year old doesn’t- so I make it without the heat and then sprinkle chili flakes on the finished product. I like to use:
1 Eggplant
3 Zucchini
1 can diced tomatoes (can be substituted with 1 pint cherry tomatoes- whole)
1 can tomato paste
3 large button mushrooms
2 small sweet vidalia onions
4 cloves garlic
7 or 8 mini bell peppers
3 sprigs basil
herbs de provence to taste
salt and pepper to taste ( I add at the end)
basil to garnish
toasted pine nuts to garnish
1 Baguette or Pugliese bread
goat cheese
olive oil
1 clove garlic


1. Rinse all your veggies and dice into bite size pieces

2. Combine all ingredients in crock pot and pour over the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Cook on high for one hour, then turn to warm, uncover and allow to simmer in crock pot for another 2-3 hours.
3. When ready to serve, slice bread to 1/2 in thickness and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place under broiler until lightly golden brown.
4. Remove from Broiler, and rub with garlic clove.
5. Spread small amount of goat cheese on each piece of crostini, then cover with warm or cold ratatouille
6. top with pine nuts and fresh basil to garnish ( I also throw on red chili flakes from time to time- YUM!)


Make the ratatouille a day in advance—it’s even better on the second day after the flavors have come together. If it’s not enjoyed all at one sitting, it keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm
Elizabeth Corvello | Category: lifestyle, Recipes and Food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 Smart Home Technologies that Matter Most to Home Buyers

25 Smart Home Technologies that Matter Most to Home Buyers
Nearly 60 percent of the real estate agents polled said they are seeing more smart home features in listing descriptions than they did two to five years ago.

Everyone is talking about the connected home. Smart home technology is becoming the new norm and now according to a survey of more than 500 Coldwell Banker sale associates it’s taking off in real estate as well. Nearly 60 percent of sales associates surveyed said they are seeing more smart home features in listing descriptions than they did two to five years ago, and one in three sales associates noted that properties with smart home features and technologies sell faster than homes without them.

The relevance of the smart home was also apparent at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas earlier this year. Members of the Coldwell Banker Real Estate marketing team attended CES. The team couldn’t walk more than a few feet without encountering a new piece of smart home technology. From security systems with advanced motion sensors to innovative systems that allow for lighting control from mobile devices, the connected home was ubiquitous.

Inspired by CES, Coldwell Banker compiled a list of the top 25 smart home products and technologies that matter most to buyers, based on the Coldwell Banker survey and CES favorites. The list is grouped into seven categories: security, temperature, safety, lighting, entertainment, appliances and overall connectivity.

Check them out below, and follow along all week as we continue to highlight smart home technology on the Blue Matter blog and through social media with #smarthomeweek.

Smart Security

1. Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock – With Kevo the smartphone is now the key. Home sellers can allow their realtors, or anyone else such as a neighbor or a housecleaner, to have access to specified doors for a designated time. Eventually when the new buyer moves in all they have to do is download the app and they’re ready to go.

2. iSmartAlarm –Meet one of the DIY smart home security leaders, with no monthly fees and no contracts. This easy-to-install wireless DIY system is great for apartments or small homes. The iSmartAlarm system is almost infinitely expandable via door and window motion sensors, smart switches, and iCamera and iCamera KEEP models with streaming video and video storage. Packages start at $199.

3. Oplink Connected– Oplink Connected is great for a slightly larger home, and provides a premier service for a low monthly fee. The DIY alarm package includes door and window sensors as well as video cameras which are controlled through its mobile app.

4. SAGE Security & Home Automation– Coming soon — SAGE allows for management of the entire connected home through mobile devices and televisions. The television-centric SAGE system enables consumers to check on children in another room via a video feed, see who rang the doorbell or lower the room temperature — all from the comfort of the TV room couch.

Smart Temperature

5. Nest Learning Thermostat – Tell a buyer that the home has a Nest thermostat and their ears will perk-up. The Nest Learning Thermostat absorbs its owner’s daily routine and adjusts the temperature accordingly. The Nest thermostat can be controlled through a phone, its built-in sensors detect an empty home allowing Nest to set itself to an energy-efficient temperature. Oh, and it also saves customers about 10 – 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills per year — a huge win.

6. Honeywell Lyric Thermostat – Honeywell is known for temperature control and their new smart thermostat, the Lyric, is a solid entry into the smart home market. The most talked about advantages of Lyric are its geofencing feature and humidity sensor for more accurate comfort, control and savings. All of these qualities are definitely pluses for families.

7. Canary – This sleek-looking product is mostly about security, but it made this smart temperature list for its ability to monitor air quality, temperature and humidity. It’s cool enough to make an impression with potential buyers, at only $249. The Canary system is available in white, black or silver.

8. Big Ass Fans’ Haiku with SenseME – The world’s most advanced ceiling fan knows exactly when to speed up and when to slow down. Not to mention, it is a gorgeous and luxurious addition to any room. Starting at $1,045 it’s a better fit for luxury homes, but it will certainly set any listing apart.

Smart Safety

9. Iris Safe & Secure Kit – With Iris, Lowe’s is making it simple for just about anyone to make their home smarter. Feel more confident that families, homes and pets are safe and secure with the DIY, self-monitored home security system. Receive notifications directly to a smartphone, tablet or computer whenever an alarm event is triggered.

10. First Alert Onelink – This suite of smart home safety products is fresh to the market. Included in this offering (and available for presale on Amazon.com) are a Wi-Fi combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm as well as a watch, both of which send phone notifications if something is amiss. The First Alert Onlink safety products, including the already available Wi-Fi thermostat, will be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem.

11. Nest Protect – This smart home device is a smoke and carbon monoxide smart alarm that speaks in a human voice, telling the user if there’s smoke or CO, which room it’s in, and if there is immediate danger. Definitely comforting for families!

12. Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight – This genius little nightlight keeps track of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and home climate. If something’s not right, it sends immediate phone notifications.

Smart Lighting

13. Sengled Pulse Smart Bulb – This combination light and speaker had everyone buzzing at CES 2015. Simply twist the bulb into an existing light socket, download the app and connect to the Pulse bulbs. The Sengled Pulse Smart Bulb can stream music and control lighting at the same time.

14. Lutron Caséta Wireless – This connected home solution allows for lights, battery-powered shades and temperature to be controlled from a mobile device. An easy DIY solution that’s affordable, these products are less than $150. For example, hit “morning,” lights will turn onto a certain level, shades will rise and room temperature is adjusted to the desired level.

15. Philips Hue – Philips Hue delivers more than 16 million colors and all shades of white light to personalize lighting to suit any occasion, mood or moment. With more than 230 apps, Philips Hue can sync lights to music, or even simulate a sunrise effect. Bulbs and lamps are now all controllable via the Hue app or MyHue portal.

16. Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set – With this simple starter set, turn lights off-and-on from anywhere, create schedules and dim to create the perfect ambiance. The set includes the WeMo link, which allows users to connect up to 50 WeMo Smart bulbs. Can’t get enough of Belkin WeMo products? Get tricked out with complete Belkin home automation.

Smart Appliances

17.LG Studio Collection – LG Studio, LG’s premium line of kitchen appliances, seamlessly blends best-in-class innovation with an uncompromising approach to design. Its full suite of appliances — including refrigerators, cooktops, ranges, ovens and microwaves — delivers integrated and timeless styling, embodying LG’s finest expression of aesthetics and performance.

18. Whirlpool Smart Duet Washer and Dryer – Whirlpool has made it easy to control every load at anytime from anywhere. The Smart Front Washer and Dryer now work with the Nest Learning Technology, helping to keep clothes fresh if the cycle ends while the user is away.

19. LG Mega-Capacity French-Door Refrigerator – LG’s Mega Capacity Refrigerator boasts incredibly impressive size. As the largest in its class, families have room for even the biggest shopping expeditions with space to spare! It also includes the Slim Spaceplus Ice System and the Smart Cooling Plus System, which help keep food fresher, longer. The LG Mega-Capacity Refrigerator includes a 10-year limited warranty.

20. GE ChillHub This first-of-its-kind smart refrigerator has two USB hubs, WiFi and an open-source IOS-compatible app that integrates with the refrigerator by allowing access to sensor data and control of fridge components. The first ChillHub accessory, Milky Weigh, will even tell you how much milk you have left!

Smart Entertainment

21. N’FINITY PRO HDX Dual Zone Wine Cellars – The N’FINITY PRO is the most advanced wine cellar on the market. Equipped with an energy saving cooling system, telescopic shelving and dual zone cooling, these smart wine cellars will take care of all wine storage needs in the most cost efficient way!

22. Vizio 60″ P-Series Smart TV –This Ultra HD TV is crystal clear and lets users stream popular apps and favorite shows in UHD quality and use UHD playback from next generation cable and satellite receivers, Blu-ray players and more.

23. TCL Roku TV – The TCL Roku TV was released in August 2014 and quickly became a favorite because of its price and comprehensive smart TV features, such as its selection of more than 2,000 streaming channels, easy-to-use interface and simple remote. Recently, Roku announced plans to support 4K UHD streaming in future Roku TV models.

24. DishWorld TV App – The DishWorld app allows viewers to stream live TV on any smart phone, computer or tablet. The app can be used on Roku, Slingbox, Samsung Smart TV, Apple, Windows or Google Play devices.

Connected Home Platform

25. Iris Smart Kit: With so many ways to make a home smart, it can be a lot to digest and manage. Thankfully Lowe’s is making it easy with a single app to manage a Smart Home. Iris offers three starter kits and basic or premium service plans.


Source: Lindsay Listanski/ CB Blue Matter

Posted on June 8, 2017 at 10:05 pm
Elizabeth Corvello | Category: get real (estate) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Walking Trails Overtake Golf Communities

Walking Trails Overtake Golf Communities

A golf course is no longer the showpiece of a master-planned community. Instead, buyers are showing a greater preference to live near extensive trail networks and shared gardens. Developers are responding with new developments that are pushing out golf courses in favor of other outdoor areas that foster a sense of community.

Read more: What Will Replace Golf Course Communities?
“What we’re seeing is this trend toward helping people interact with each other and helping them interact in natural environments,” says Ken Perlman, a principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in San Diego. “There is a real desire to be outside, to have their space, and to get their breath of fresh air.”

In response, developers are adding in more walking trails in a community. But the trails can’t just be in a straight line, they say.

“When you talk about trails, they should be meandering,” says Dean Naef, president of Rise Communities, based in Katy, Texas. “No one wants to be on a linear trail where they can see what’s coming. We want curvilinear where the landscape changes. We like to create monuments along the way, respites to work out on, or take a rest to enjoy art.”

The New Home Company’s upcoming Russell Ranch community in Folsom, Calif., is adding mountain biking and hiking trails that rise and fall with the topography. A community known as Daybreak, outside of Salt Lake City, will use its mountain backdrop to have a looping walking trail and a separate bicycle lane for riders. The community also features public gardens, kayaking, and 30 miles of trails.

Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research at the National Association of REALTORS®, says that millennials are a big driver behind the trend of more nature incorporated into developments. More millennials rate living near parks and recreation facilities more important than do older generations.

Source: “A New Kind of Green: Developers Trade Golf Courses for Hiking Trails, Gardens to Draw Buyers,” Construction Dive, National Association of Realtors, REALTOR magazine

Posted on April 20, 2017 at 10:25 pm
Elizabeth Corvello | Category: get real (estate), lifestyle, local | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,