By Sybille C. Denninger

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve!!!!!

That means you have one day to copy these napkin creations before Christmas Day dinner. Haha, just kidding! I'm only trying to show off prior to ironing them.

But my offer still stands: If anyone is interested sometime this winter, I'll be happy to host a "Bring your own napkins" folding class.

I really enjoy setting a festive table, and folded napkins just take it all to the next level. While the styles may look complicated and time consuming they are actually easy to fold, even days ahead of time. Most of the ones shown above are restaurant approved, which means they stack well and require only 3 to 4 easy steps to keep handling the napkins to a minimum in accordance with hygiene standards. During my practical finals for Hotel & Restaurant Management, all students were required to fold 10 different, approved napkin styles. Points off if you got too elaborate.

Another way to wow guests is to add cute favors to your table. For Christmas I love to put chocolate Santas or angels next to each place setting. Christmas ornaments also work very well and you can coordinate them with your color scheme. Another fun idea are so-called Christmas crackers, which are a quintessential part of Christmas parties in Great Britain and Ireland. The are available at Marshalls, Pier One or TJ Maxx in boxes of 8 or 12, and filled with little favors and colorful paper crowns (great for Selfies!!!!) They engage the guests as they help each other pull them apart.

A few years ago while browsing the shops in Savannah, GA I came across a pad with 50 paper place mats. I fell in love right away because you can write the name of each guest and the menu on them, which is so cool and unexpected. It also protects the table cloth without implying "I know you are a hot mess and will spill something, so I gave you a placemat!" 

Lastly, dessert can be a big pain in the neck to make. You cook all day and then have to come up with some sort of sweet delicacy besides. I'm no pastry chef but you notice that I stated "Pastries" in above menu. There is a simple way out by putting together a beautiful cookie platter. Let's face it, everyone already has more than enough cookies hanging around, plus truffles and pralines galore. Add some fresh fruit and yes, the platter matters. Pick a fancy one! When arranged just so, you'll end the dinner with a bang.







By Sybille C. Denninger

 The Countdown to Christmas is on!!!!

So today I want to give my awesome blog readers a few easy ideas for a festive dinner table. I usually like to fold napkins into elaborate creations (one useful thing I learned in hotel school) but that would be very hard to explain in writing. However, if anyone wants to come to my house for a quick, bring-your-own-napkins folding class, I'm game! Just message me on Facebook.

My suggestion today does not call for origami skills. I simply bought star shaped cookie cutters for 99 cents a piece at Crackerjacks in Rockport. Snowflake ones would be really cute too! Simply lay out your square cloth napkins (or paper if less formal), pick each one up in the center with a flourish, and pull the end you are holding through the cookie cutter up to where the napkin starts to open. They basically arrange themselves into an impressive display but you can also fan them out more if you like. I then added a candy cane to the cookie cutter and, for this particular dinner for my dance school friends, little Nutcracker Ballet cupcake decorations I found at Marshalls. They loved it :-) Sorry the close-up below appears sideways; it's actually not like that in the download, so I am not sure how to fix it <sigh>.

Candles are always a great addition to any holiday table. I personally prefer groups of tealights in pretty holders because open flame candles can be hard to safely pass dishes around them. Unscented ones work best because candles with a strong scent will interfere with the delicious aroma of your food. If you have gourmets over for dinner, they will notice that. Another pretty addition to a festive table is a display of candies and cookies as a centerpiece, or placed at the end of the table. I especially love a 2-tiered cookie stand for that purpose because it is just the right height. And it will remind guests to save room for dessert ;-)

Seasonal floral arrangements are of course always gorgeous as well. Just don't make them too high so guests can still see each other across the table without talking to the flowers. And please keep in mind that pointsettias as well as many types of berries are poisonous to pets. A simple bouquet of short-stem red or white roses, perhaps displayed in a silver-tone ice bucket, are a perfect alternative.

Have fun setting your holiday table!!!



By Sybille C. Denninger


Hello, dear Readers!

Our Christmas Special continues today with a fabulous idea for a super easy dessert (hint: Dr. Oetker has something to do with it). This one also involves oranges. Wait until you see it, guests will think you slaved over this one. Fool them!

This dessert, Chocolate Mousse a l'orange, is easy to prepare ahead of time, so you are not stressing out trying to roast, cook, bake, etc. at the same time before the dinner guests arrive. In the photo you notice some orange puree to the left of the orange. This is an additional step for which you can heat up the orange flesh and add a little bit of Grand Marnier or Cointreau if desired. I found this kind of unnecessary and not worth the extra effort. This dessert can be all about the Mousse and the presentation.

For four desserts you will need:

1 package of Dr. Oetker Mousse Supreme dark chocolate (milk chocolate is too sweet), available at Stop & Shop

1 cup of cold whole milk

4 big oranges

4 star shaped cookies

A sharp paring knife

A small metal star shaped cookie cutter (regular sized ones will not fit into the orange slice)

Start by cutting the orange tops off at the point where the fruit gets wider (as opposed to just the top). Then slice another 1/2 inch thick piece for the star cut-out. Don't make it too flimsy or the peel may rupture. Use the metal cookie cutter to stamp out the star shape in the middle of each slice.

The next step is to hollow out the oranges. This is easiest by running the paring knife around the inside, carefully extracting the flesh. Again, be careful not to cut too much away or the orange shell may break. 

Cut the bottoms of the orange bowls off just a little bit to stabilize them (if necessary) but without making a hole.

Pour the milk into a bowl and stir in the chocolate mousse mix. Using a hand mixer, mix the milk and the powder first at low speed until combined, then at the highest speed for 3-4 minutes until creamy.

Spoon the mousse into the orange bowls. Arrange on individual dessert plates with the star-slices on the side. Top with the star cookies right before serving.

Enjoy the oohs and aahs from your dinner guests!







By Sybille C. Denninger


Ho ho ho, dear Readers :-) 

It's the most wonderful time of the year and so I had the fun idea to blog about easy ways to make Christmas a little more special. I love to decorate my house even though I had to tone it way down since we got our cat Leonie. She has successfully prevented us from using my glass ornaments for the past 3 holiday seasons. We can no longer have lights on our tree because Leonie will chew up all the cords. And one of the silver pine cones you see in my photo below ended up as a kitty-present in my purse one morning where I found it hours later when I was in line at Market Basket. It's not easy but I carry on haha. And now here is the first edition of our series of Christmas ideas, brought to you by Fintan and Sybille. Enjoy!

Idea #1: How to make Victorian Pomanders

I saw these orange and glove creations years ago in a magazine and was immediately delighted! First of all the scent is fabulous, and these are actually easy and cheap to make. I like that you can match the ribbons to your color scheme as well. The only minor drawback is that they don't stay fresh longer than about 2 weeks. After that they look like an aging Hollywood diva after drinking too many cocktails. So you can either replace them with fresh ones or make them when it gets closer to Christmas. 

You need: Nice plump oranges, whole gloves, a needle, little pins (optional), festive ribbons (AC Moore or Michaels have huge selections). If you want to present them on a plate or small platter, walnuts, star anise, cinnamon sticks, greenery and a few little ornaments all compliment your Victorian Pomanders beautifully. They also looks really pretty on purple or blue velvet.

Start by tying your ribbons around the oranges. I came up with a little trick of using tiny pins to securely hold the ribbons in place. Next, continue by pushing the glove stems into the oranges in all sorts of different patterns. It's easier on your fingertips if you prick the orange skin with a needle first, then insert the glove. Always do this as a second step because the placement of the gloves is easier when you already have the ribbons in place. Guess what, now you're done! Yes, DONE!

Arrange them any way you like on your holiday table and enjoy the delicious scent of oranges and gloves!




As promised: My Brussel Sprouts recipe!

By Sybille C. Denninger

When I posted the Pumpkin Risotto recipe I promised that I would follow up with my very own (well, my Mom's to be exact) Brussel Sprouts recipe. Everyone's favorite vegetable, right? Right!

So here it is, in time for Thanksgiving, with a little disclaimer: It's one of those vague "a dash of salt" and "some pepper" recipes which are passed along between friends and family members like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. More instruction than official recipe, but this one is so simple, you can't possibly mess it up haha. That being said, let's get started:

Fresh Brussel sprouts (organic would be best) I recommend 6 to 8 sprouts per guest





Light cream

I love recipes with short and simple ingredients pretty much everyone has in their kitchen already. The key here is the preparation of the Brussel sprouts which is a little bit of a process (a pain in the you know what). But once the boring part is done, the rest is a cinch!

Start by deconstructing (I love that word) the Brussel sprouts by literally breaking off each leaf. This chore is easiest with a paring knife which you can use to make small cuts into the stems and then peel away the leaves. Listen to an audio book LOL. As I take apart each Brussel sprout I drop the leaves into a large colander. By separating the leaves, everything cooks evenly without a too soft outside and a bitter inside. Bring lightly salted water to a boil. Wash the Brussel sprouts leaves and drop them in the boilig water. Stir thoroughly to make sure all leaves are submerged, then continue to boil them, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. You don't want them to change from a fresh green to the usual drab "cooked Brussel sprouts color".

Drain the leaves and use the same pot (one pot dish - BONUS!!!) to heat enough light cream to coat the leaves without them swimming in it. Visually speaking I usually pour in just enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Add some butter and salt, pepper and a little nutmeg to taste. Stir in the leaves thorougly and bring to a quick boil. Done!

Enjoy your Brussel sprouts :-)

Extra tips: This Brussel sprouts dish reheats very well and tastes even better the next day. I also use this basic light cream/butter/salt/pepper/nutmeg recipe for Savoy cabbage. In that case all I do is cut the cabbage into fine strips, discarding some of the thicker veins as I go along. Boil the strips for 5 minutes and then follow above instructions. Delicious!!!

Yummy & easy Pumpkin Risotto Recipe

 By Sybille C. Denninger
Happy Tuesday, everyone :-)
Fall in New England has developed into a pumpkin-flavored-frenzy in recent years. I blame Starbuck's with their Pumpkin Spice Latte, which is now advertised simply as PSL in all of their locations. No need to spell it out, everyone knows it, loves it and drinks it, myself included haha.
I am not a major fan of the good old pumpkin pie but was still looking to experiment with a recipe involving this seasonal "treasure" when I came across a delicious and surprisingly easy to make Pumpkin Risotto; let me call it PR :-)
It was created by Chloe Coscareli who is a vegan chef and owns a restaurant on Bleecker Street in New York City called "by CHLOE"
It was a big hit with my husband at last night's dinner, paired with mustard crusted chicken (from Whole Foods, ready to bake) and brussel sprouts. Remind me to share my very own brussel sprouts recipe with you next week because really, it is so delicious that it will turn even the biggest brussel sprouts hater into a fan.
But now, without further delay, here is the PR recipe :-) Enjoy!
Pumpkin Risotto
Chloe Coscarelli
Serves 4
5            cups vegetable broth (I used organic) 
3            Tbsp olive oil
1            small yellow onion, finely chopped
1            clove of garlic, minced
1            cup Arborio rice
1            cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1            tsp sea salt
1/8         tsp nutmeg
              freshly ground black pepper
1/2         Tbsp chopped fresh sage (I used thyme, a little less than 1/2 Tbsp)
In a medium saucepan bring the broth to a gentle boil, reduce heat and let it simmer while preparing the recipe.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and sauté onions until soft (about 3-4 minutes). Add garlic and let it cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
Stir in rice and 1 cup of the broth, and reduce heat so the mixture just simmers. Stir often, cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat with another cup of broth and continue stirring, adding 1 cup of broth at a time until the rice is tender (about 20 minutes).
After the last cup has absorbed, add pumpkin, nutmeg, sea salt and fresh pepper. Stir until the mixture is hot, then sprinkle the sage (or thyme) leaves on top right before serving.




By Sybille C. Denninger



And this time it's all about the Topsfield Fair!!!

Normally I feature a local business person or company for the FEATURE FRIDAY blog but the Topsfield Fair is such a big once a year event, that I felt it deserved the honor this Friday. I hope you agree. 

The Topsfield Fair actually started last weekend already and so you only have today, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to see all sorts of farm critters, wild animals (Elephant! Camel!), arts, crafts and merchandise. Kids will love the rides and the Petting Zoo, adults will enjoy all the delicious food and music. It's a great event for the entire family!

Since it was a spectacularly sunny day on Wednesday I snuck away from work and spent a glorious afternoon by myself at the Topsfield Fair, collecting impressions and taking photos for my blog today. The entry fee is $11 for adults, children age 8 and under get in free. On the weekend tickets go up to $15.00. Upon entering bags are searched more thoroughly than at the airport. There are several parking options for $10 but I found a private lot directly off Route 97 which charged only $5. More money to spend at the fair haha. What always strikes me is that not much changes from year to year. There is always Spuds advertising their Blooming Onion and other goodies, so I stopped immediately to order lunch. Their cicken fingers are absolutely amazing, very similar to the ones served at Farnham's in Essex, MA. All white meat, nicely cripsy and not at all greasy. I always start with those since they were recommended to me by a coworker back in the 1990's. Of course there are too many other options to count: Hot dogs, corn dogs, corn on the cob, kettle corn, cider donuts, German fries (not sure what's German about them but they look tasty), candy apples, apple pie, cotton candy, kebabs, steak sandwiches, sausages, pizza, pastries, icecream, and, and, and. After lunch I was ready to rumble and the first thing I saw were these six magnificent Clydesdales. When they stopped for photos I was able to get close to the huge, beautiful horses which was a real thrill. Coolidge Hall was next where I always enjoy looking at the arts and crafts such as quilts, hand-knitted items, paintings and photography. While the rides and game stands are certainly adding to the "Fair Flair" (<--clever, right?), I especially enjoy the actual farm exhibits. Where else can you see every type of rabbit imaginable, every breed of chickens and roosters, geese, pigs, ducks, cows, turkeys, sheep and goats. You can even watch chickens hatch which is not something you see every day. The bee exhibit is very interesting as well; you can buy fresh honey and make your own beeswax candles there. 

Also always beautiful to look at are the landscaping designs done by local landscapers and the fresh flower arrangements submitted by various area garden clubs. They are just stunning. Of course the creatively decorated pumpkins are a fun sight as well. After all that excitement and before heading home I took a final break with my favorite snack of all time: A fresh, golden, delicious corn on the cob from the American Legion stand, which I devoured while listening to live music in the picnic area.

Do not miss experiencing this really unique event, one of America's oldest farm oriented fairs since it was started by the Essex Agricultural Society way back when in 1818. They are still the organizers today. You will have a great time, I promise!

Happy Columbus Day, everyone :-)

Check out the very informative Topsfield Fair Website and have an awesome visit!!!!!




By Sybille C. Denninger


Good morning, everyone :-)

FEATURE FRIDAY is here again!!!!!!

After a 3-Friday break I am thrilled to introduce Dr. Debbie Ramsey and her Alignment Chiropractic Center, where Debbie not only treats people patients but, at a special outdoor area, pets as well! 

Debbie, seen here in an awesome photo on her award-winning horse, has been in business since 1982. She started her practice in Brookline 33 years ago, then closed it and opened Alignment Chiropractic Center in Gloucester after having commuted from Rockport to Brookline for 18 years. So it is her 15th anniversary on November 8th and we are lucky to have her right here on Cape Ann since 2000! Many patients from her former practice have followed her to Gloucester, driving from Brookline, Framingham, Quincy and New Hampshire once a month; some of them have been with her for the entire 33 years! She treats babies and infants, and shared a cute story of her oldest patient who, at age 98 (!), came in to "walk better" after shoveling himself out after one too many snow storms. He actually drove to her office in a blizzard!

When I called Debbie for my FEATURE FRIDAY interview, I was immediately impressed by her enthusiasm, her vast knowledge, and her ability to explain the 8 different techniques she uses to help her patients with many health issues which are caused by being out of alignment. From the obvious pinched nerves and calamities like stiff necks and aching backs, to headaches and vertigo which one may not know a chiropractor can help with, Debbie has an appropriate technique to make her patients feel well again. Many chiropractors use 1 or 2 techniques but by offering 8, Debbie can find just the right treatment for each individual patient. She always starts with a thorough exam and x-rays, then chooses one or more techniques based on her assessment of the condition. I was interested in finding out what methods there are and Debbie described some of them to me. There is the Diversified Technique (aka Cracking and Popping), and the similar Gomstead Technique, one of the oldest. There is the SOT which employs wedges and blocks to help spinal fluid flow evenly, the Activator and Impulse Technique which through force on the spine painlessly moves vertebrea back into place, and the first ever developed Technique called HIO, used to treat vertigo and headaches. There is the Thompson Technique which involves a moving table with drop pieces, and Debbie's personal favorite: The Pierce Technique, developed by Dr. Pierce and based on changing and correcting the curves in the body which can be off and need to be re-aligned to take pressure of nerves. 

Debbie shared with me that she feels fortunate to have found her niche in life when she decided to become a chiropractor following a major operation that left her in terrible pain. After seeing a chiropractor and receiving treatments, Debbie's condition finally improved so significantly that she decided she too wanted to be able to help people through chiropractic. She had already studied veterinary medicine for two years at that point and so 14 years ago she became certified to treat animals as well.

I loved hearing about how Debbie helps pets -mostly dogs, fewer cats- in a designated area outside of her office, and how on several occasions beloved pets, who were nearly put to sleep because they could no longer walk or were in a lot of pain, recovered after receiving chiropractic treatment. Local veterinary clinics are referring cases to her, because pets suffer from pinched nerves and misalignments as well, particularly very active dogs. Pressure on nerves can affect the overall health of both humans and animals. Hearing Debbie talk about her own beloved horses and two poodles, it is clear to me that pets get the royal treatment at Alignment Chiropractic Center, just like her human patients do.

Debbie was an absolute pleasure to chat with! Please check out her website:

Dr. Debbie Ramsey

Alignment Chiropractic Center

9 G Osman Babson Road

Gloucester, MA 01930

Telephone: 978-282-7400

Fax: 978-282-9573 



By Sybille C. Denninger


Hello, dear Readers :-) 

Your favorite blogger is baaaack!!! Come on, at least pretend that you missed me haha. To make up for all the blog-less time while I hung around in Dubai, Algeria and Morocco for two weeks, I give you....wait for it....FREE things to do around our lovely Cape Ann this fall! Some of these activities are obvious but you know how it is: When you're living right here in beautiful Gloucester, you just don't think about all the great stuff that costs nothing and is right in front of us. So here are my suggestions for FREE FUN ;-)

  • Go to Rocky Neck and stroll the awesome art galleries! Actually you can do the same on Bearskin Neck in Rockport, too. Or swing by Local Colors on Main Street in Gloucester where local artists and artisans display and sell their marvelous arts and crafts. Just keep in mind that if you buy something it's no longer free bahahaaaa
  • Take a refreshing October hike in mysterious and kind of spooky Dogtown Common! The entrance is located on Cherry Street. Visit this website for a map and some information:
  • Walk the Dogbar Breakwater at Eastern Point where you may be lucky enough to spot migrating Monarch butterflies during the month of October! But even if you don't, the ocean views are absolutely worth the effort. 
  • Explore downtown Gloucester on the Harbor Walk! Start out at the Fitz Henry Lane Park and bring your smart phone for access to virtual postcards, recipes and videos.
  • Have a family picnic at Stage Fort Park! Great way to clean out your fridge and pantry to creatively fill a basket with goodies :)
  • There are public courts on Stacy Boulevard where you can play tennis, bocce or basketball. Get moving while the leaves are turning red, orange and yellow!
  • Search for shells and seaglass at Good Harbor Beach, Wingaersheek Beach, Long Beach, or any of Rockport's lovely beaches! Your finds may give you great ideas for hand made Christmas presents.
  • Collect chestnuts, leaves and acorns for crafts with the kids or to create pretty seasonal centerpieces for your home!

I don't know about you but my favorite season is fall. The fresh air and colorful trees are just fantastic! These free and fun activities will get you outside enjoying autumn, then come home to hot chocolate, tea and apple pie :-)

Happy Fall, Everyone!!!!






By Sybille C. Denninger

Hello Everyone :-)

Today we are interrupting our regular FEATURE FRIDAY for a special presentation: The amazing, wicked awesome, only comes once a year...................


Labor Day Weekend is filled with fun family-oriented activities surrounding all the spectacular Schooners which gather here in Gloucester for various events. 

All day today, on FEATURE FRIDAY haha, these vessels are arriving and can be seen along the waterfront. From 6 pm to 11 pm there is a Block Party on Main Street, the last one of the season, and moved from its usual Saturday evening to tonight. So don't miss it because you didn't read this highly informative piece of online journalism LOL.

Tomorrow, Saturday, there will be so many things to do and see, you won't know what to do first and may have to take a nap at Good Harbor Beach at some point. Here is what's happening:

10:00 am

Fitz Henry Lane’s Gloucester, A Guided Walking Tour: Experience what Gloucester was like in the 19th century when Fitz Henry Lane painted the views. Tours last around one and a half hours, rain or shine. It's $10 for Cape Ann Museum members; $20 for nonmembers (tickets includes Museum admission). Reservations are required, so please call 978-283-0455.

10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Heritage Day Celebration: Maritime Gloucester (23 Harbor Loop) hosts the annual, FREE Heritage Day celebration. More than 25 vendors and community organizations will offer demonstrations and family activities. The Celtic band, Meridian is playing on the Boat House stage at 11:30 am and 1:00 pm. Schooners are at the dock for visitors. Food is available. Maritime Gloucester’s exhibits and aquarium will be open throughout the day for a discounted (half-price) admission fee.

4:00 pm

Lobster Bake at The Gloucester House: Chow down on fresh lobsters and corn on the cob (chips too) while enjoying the fresh air at the Seven Seas Cafe with lobster, for $15. Money well spent!Cash bar. Entertainment.

5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Fiddlin’ in the Fo’c’sle Ceilidh Aboard Adventure: I don't know what that means but local musicians Michael O’Leary, Adrienne Howard, David de la Barre and Linda Swicker host an acoustic ceilidh of traditional Celtic music on deck of the schooner Adventure. Open to everyone! BYOB and snacks/food. BYOS (bring your own seat haha)

6:30 pm to 10:30 pm

Concert on Stacy Boulevard: Guilty Pleasure (that's a band!) will perform on Stacy Boulevard with a break during the fireworks.

7:00 pm

Boat Parade of Lights: This is a spectacular sight! The Boat Parade of Lights begins at dusk at Jones Creek on the Annisquam River, sails down the river, through the drawbridge and into Gloucester Harbor, ending in the Smith’s Cove area of the harbor.  Don't miss this, it's beautiful!

9:15 pm

Fireworks Display over Gloucester Harbor. (after the Parade of Lights, time is estimated). Always wonderful, big and splashy fire works show! uuuuhhhh aaaahhhhh

I told you, Saturday is a happening day here in Gloucester, no rest for the weary. Sunday is just as GOOD (I bet you expected me to write "bad", tricked ya!).

10:30 am

Parade of Sail viewing at Beauport: 75 Eastern Point Boulevard, Gloucester. Watch schooners sail to the Eastern Point Light breakwater to begin the Mayor’s race for the Esperanto Cup. Magnificent!!! Registration is required. 978-283-0800 to purchase tickets.

10:30 am to 12:00 pm

Parade of Sail: Schooners sail from the Inner Harbor, past the Fishermen’s Memorial on Stacy Boulevard, to the race starting area off Eastern Point. Get your iphones out for photos and videos! Let me see your masterpieces on Facebook!

11:00 am to 1:30 pm

Shuttle Bus to Eastern Point Light, from Eastern Point Gate (Eastern Point Blvd at Farrington Ave) to watch the start of the Mayor’s Race. Complimentary thanks to Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA).

1:00 pm

Start of Mayor’s Race for the Esperanto Cup, Ned Cameron Trophy and Betty Ramsey Trophy off Eastern Point, followed by awards ceremonies.

7:30 pm (Board at 7:00 pm)

Roomful of Blues Festival Cruise: Roomful of Blues will rock your boat (literally) on the Beauport Princess. Admission includes concert and harbor cruise. A full bar and light snacks are available for purchase.

Find even more information (plus great photos) on the event website, including some parties that are invitation only. Excusez-Moi!

And what about Monday, you may ask, after all it's a LONG WEEKEND? Just go to the beach and relax!

<3 Happy Labor Day Weekend, Everyone <3

from your favorite REALTORS Fintan & Sybille




By Sybille C. Denninger

Hooray, it’s FEATURE FRIDAY!!!!! Summer is winding down (I know, I know, boohoo) and I have the perfect business owner to introduce to you today: Dana Salo of Salo Home Watch, LLC.


Why is Salo Home Watch, LLC so apropos right now? Well, because we have lots of "snowbirds" here on Cape Ann; lucky folks who enjoy our gorgeous summers and early falls, then escape right before the snow starts falling. And falling. And falling….Now, of course all this snow and ice can wreak havoc on houses, especially vacant ones, with leaking ice dams and damaging winds, not to mention all those snow drifts of epic proportions, possibly covering exhaust outlets and causing the oil burners to shut off (happened to me!).

This is where Dana Salo and his company Salo Home Watch, LLC, which he started 7 years ago, comes in. Dana provides, as he astutely put it, “peace of mind for the absentee home owner”. Anyone who signs up with Salo Home Watch, LLC will be able to enjoy the balmy Southern climate worry-free as Dana is regularly checking on their properties and e-mailing them status reports after each inspection. Dana stops by at agreed upon intervals and performs complete visual check-ups both inside as well as outside. He promptly takes care of any issues he comes across, resolving problems such as freeze-ups, water leaks, pipe breaks, heavy snow blankets threatening the roof, power outages, and any other calamities that could befall an empty home. Prior to the homeowners’ departure he compiles a list of service companies his clients would like him to use for home repairs in case of an emergency. Dana will contact their preferred repairmen, he will be at the property to meet them and let them in. He will do whatever it takes for the owners to find their house in the same condition as when they left it. Dana also makes sure the yard is not becoming a hang-out for youths, or a site for drug activity.

I have known Dana for many years as he is a life-long Rockport resident. He is somebody I would hire myself to watch my empty house. First and most importantly, Dana is honest and trustworthy as well as licensed, bonded and insured. There are in fact only about five nationally accredited companies in Massachusetts who offer the type of services Dana provides. So once again we are lucky to have him right here on Cape Ann. Second, Dana is incredibly conscientious. I attend two Cape Ann Referral Group meetings with him every month and can see how he takes care of “his” houses better than I do of my own. He is laser-focused on making sure every one of those homes remains safe and sound during its owner’s absence. When I interviewed him, Dana said that 95% of the time everything goes smoothly and nothing happens but when he does stumble upon a problem, his stomach does flip flops as if his own house were in trouble. That's the kind of person you would want to keep an eye on your beloved home!

Dana offers his home watch services short term too, along with other related tasks upon request, such as home clean-outs for example. Feel free to give him a call to find out more. Dana does not offer house-sitting or pet-sitting which would require him to be at a home on a daily and nightly basis.

His service area includes Rockport, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Essex.

Dana Salo

Salo Home Watch, LLC



Dana is also a member of the Cape Ann Referral Group: 





By Sybille C. Denninger

It's FEATURE FRIDAY time once again and today I am introducing a Cape Ann staple since 1979, Cape Ann Veterinary Hospital. 

Many houses I walk through during listing appointments or showings have one thing in common which is: CAVH's cute paw-magnet on the refrigerator. It seems that many pets and their owners have chosen Dr. Jeffrey French and his team of outstanding doctors.

When visiting Cape Ann Veterinary Hospital, there is an immediate sense that the staff care for and love our pets every bit as much as we do. Adjacent to the parking area is a wonderful little park with flowers and statues where dogs can walk around before or after their appointment. There are treats on the counter, the staff greets the patient by name, and there is even a special waiting area reserved for cats so they don't have to share with dogs unless they insist. The examination rooms are clean and comfortable.

CAVH has very convenient hours, Monday through Friday from 8 am until 6 or 7 pm depending on the day, as well as Saturday until 2 pm. They also have another clinic location in Rockport (Wildon Heights) which is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 pm-7 pm by appointment only. In step with the long hours there is a fleet of doctors taking care of your pets. In addition to Dr. French who opened the clinic 36 years ago, Dr. Barbara Reid, Dr. Douglas French, Dr. Katherine Bradley, Dr. Lee Powell and Dr. Kate Dodge are available for regular appointments and emergency visits. 

CAVH is a full-service facility where pets can come for regular check-ups, vaccinations, surgeries, dental procedures and microchipping as well as emergency and urgent care. Boarding options for cats are also offered. They welcome dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles and whatever else somebody may consider a pet. They offer guidance when faced with the loss of a pet and will make arrangements for cremation and/or burial. I was very touched when I received a notification that Dr. French had made a donation to an animal research center in memory of my dog Pedro when he passed away.

My babies, Chihuahua Diego and Ragdoll cat Leonie, have received outstanding care at CAVH since they were just eight weeks old. I especially appreciate that the medical team at CAVH does not overmedicate pets just to make money. This was one of the main reasons why I switched to CAVH from a Peabody facility with my previous dog. After an evaluation of Pedro's medications they found several were treating the same condition and were not all necessary. They far and foremost have the well-being of our pets in mind.

This time of the year and well into fall it is still crucial to make sure your pet did not pick up a tick while roaming outside. Ticks can cause many diseases, with Lyme disease being the most commonly known. If you have discovered a tick on your pet and are not sure how to safely remove it yourself, please see one of the doctors at CAVH. They are able to expertly get rid of the tick, treat the bite so it does not get infected, administer a blood test and, if needed, prescribe antibiotics. Like with humans, fast action is key when dealing with a tick-borne illness. If you notice that your pet is lethargic, tired or limping, don't hesitate to call CAVH as each of these may be a sign of tick disease. 

We are very lucky to have such an excellent, versatile animal hospital right here on Cape Ann. 

Cape Ann Veterinary Hospital

462 Essex Avenue (Rte 133)

Gloucester, MA 01930





By Sybille C. Denninger

Good Morning, dear friends and readers!

FEATURE FRIDAY time is here again and today I am thrilled to introduce Bruce Landergren of Old Yankee Fuel Co. Inc. Here he is in action, helping out a customer.

Bruce is the proud owner and president of Old Yankee Fuel Co. for the past 5 years, having worked there for almost 33 years. It is safe to say: Bruce knows his stuff! True to his company's motto, which is "Service you can depend on", Old Yankee Fuel Co., in business since 1977, strives to provide conscientious, competent service 24/7, returning every call within minutes whether it's late at night, during the weekend or on holidays. We all know how important that is, given the horrendous winters we've had here on Cape Ann when running out of oil or suddenly encountering an oil burner casualty would surely be a disaster unless prompt assistance were received. Bruce reliably offers that prompt assistance to his customers!

Old Yankee Fuel Co. provides services such as delivering oil, not just home heating fuel but also diesel fuel for off-road and on-road vehicles like trucks and excavators. They expertly handle oil burner and oil tank installations and repairs, along with offering a protection program for oil tanks.

Bruce and his employees are also well versed in the Mass Save Replacement Program, which many homeowners may not even be aware of. This program offers a $1,700.00 rebate for replacing boilers that are 30 years old (or older). Such offers come with a fair amount of paperwork and Bruce will handle that taunting aspect of obtaining the rebate for his customers as well, in addition to helping them select high quality equipment. In certain instances, where a hot water boiler is also installed, receiving another $300.00 rebate will result in a total of $2,000.00 in savings. It is definitely worth checking into because, aside from these substantial installation rebates, new boilers will be far more efficient, saving you money on heating fuel too. 

And speaking of heating fuel, of course I asked Bruce about the cost of oil these days. He had good news for me, saying that oil is $1.00 per gallon cheaper now than at the same time last year, with prices going down a little bit daily. So you may want to consider filling your tank before the start of the cold weather may lead to an increase in heating fuel. Old Yankee Fuel Co. offers 10-month budget plans, automatic deliveries (auto-fill), and accepts credit cards as well as pre-payments on future deliveries. Anything to make getting oil convenient and affordable for their customers.

Feel free to contact Bruce for information on the Mass Save Program or on any of Old Yankee Fuel Co.'s services. You will find that he is very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, another great example of a local business owner who makes living on Cape Ann a pleasure.


Bruce Landergren

Old Yankee Fuel Company
132 Eastern Ave.
PO Box 946 - Essex, Ma 01929
phone: 978-768-6862
fax: 978-768-6199
emergency service: 978-526-1455



Like Old Yankee Fuel Co. on Facebook:



By Sybille C. Denninger

Hello, hello, it's FEATURE FRIDAY time, and today I am excited to introduce a very special local Entrepreneur, Audrey J. Donovan of Donovan Business Solutions. 

Audrey's long, successful career is in the field of Business Development and Marketing, and lucky for us here on Cape Ann she came up with a wonderful and reasonable idea for local businesses to promote their goods and services to new residents: A Welcoming Basket filled with donated products, coupons and gift certificates from local companies, which Real Estate agents receive from her to present to their buyers whenever they close on a new home. Genius!

When Audrey first moved to Gloucester from Boston she found that she stumbled upon our many fabulous shops and service providers such as plumbers, landscapers, etc. merely by coincidence since she simply didn't know anyone on Cape Ann to ask for a recommendation. Remembering the older concept of the "Welcome Wagon", an organization which used to deliver community information and samples from local merchants to newcomers, Audrey developed her concept of the Welcoming Basket and started this business venture in May 2014. She enjoys helping her community through her business development skills.

We Real Estate agents LOVE Audrey's beautifully arranged baskets which brim with coupons, gift certificates and products from companies located in Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester. They make us look so good when we present them to our buyer-clients after closings! We get a lot of oohs and aahs, and are able to make an already special day even more exciting for them. There is a full size jar of home made Virgilio's tomato sauce (delicious by the way!) along with a coupon, a $50.00 gift certificate from Wolf Hill Home and Garden Center, $25.00 for a beauty service from Dolce Vita Salon, a present with coupon from Maplewood Car Wash, a gift card from Sebastian's Pizza, and many other special deals, information and menus from local businesses. All of these merchants are getting clever exposure to the new home owners in our communities, new customers who will likely come back over and over again.

Audrey currently has 13 participating businesses contributing gifts to her baskets, and is actively looking for merchants who, for a reasonable fee which covers the costs of the baskets, packaging materials, assembly and deliveries, would like to be included in this fun and effective way to advertise their companies. Audrey also includes a welcoming letter on behalf of the Realtors, who in turn point out the many awesome offerings to their clients while handing over the baskets on closing day. It's truly a feel-good advertisement opportunity. Real Estate offices call Audrey prior to their closing appointments, she picks up the gifts from the merchants, puts the baskets together and and delivers them to the Real Estate agents.

This is truly a great way to keep our community strong by keeping dollars local! It shows new home owners that there is not always a need to "go over the bridge" and that they can get excellent goods and services right here on Cape Ann, which Audrey lovingly refers to as "our slice of heaven". 

These goodies are exclusively gifted to new home owners so you have to buy a house to get one (call Fintan and Sybille!!!) LOL. Merchants however do not have to spend the big bucks to be included in Audrey's impressive Welcoming Baskets :-)

Give Audrey a call today to find out how you can participate in this great way to introduce your businesses to new residents! Audrey also offers consulting services in marketing and business development.

Audrey J. Donovan

Donovan Business Solutions


(Expanding soon to Beverly and Danvers)







By Sybille C. Denninger


Good Morning, everyone :-)

You know what day it is: TGIF(EATURE FRIDAY)!!!!! Admit it, it's the highlight of your work week :-)

Today I have a special treat for you. We are featuring our first restaurant since the start of FEATURE FRIDAY! I'm not sure why we have not yet blogged about a restaurant, and actually I didn't even notice, but my ever helpful husband pointed out to me that restaurants had so far been missing. Well, no more, we are including restaurants with a bang by starting with My Place by the Sea in Rockport, a Fine Dining establishment with the absolutely best view and outdoor seating in town.

Located at the very end of Bearskin Neck, My Place by the Sea offers stunning views of the Atlantic from the intimate dining room to the multi-level outdoor seating areas, along with fresh ocean breezes while you feast on local seafood and other delicacies. Their visually beautiful website includes their menus for lunch and dinner, as well as a thoughtfully curated wine list and a special dessert menu. 

Kathy Milbury is the award winning chef and co-owner of My Place by the Sea. She created the restaurant's interesting New American Cuisine style menu which is based on local, seasonal products. I have eaten at My Place by the Sea several times, for lunch as well as dinner, and it was consistently outstanding! Her business partner, co-owner Barbara Stavropoulos, is heading up what's called "the front of the house" in restaurant speak. That means she charmingly welcomes guests and manages the hosts and wait staff, ensuring that diners are seated as quickly as possible, and that they have a great dining experience. Barbara is also responsible for the romantic, seaside ambiance, achieved through lovely decorations and furnishings.

The best part about featuring My Place by the Sea today was the fact that I "had to" eat lunch there yesterday. It was definitely a major job perk. My husband and I received a warm welcome and were seated on the upper deck, located above the deck which is pictured here. The view was simply breathtaking! It's like stepping away from your daily grind into an instant vacation! Ocean waves, rocks, kayaks, sail boats and the gorgeous coast line come free with the meal! Sitting here you wish the staff was slow and less efficient, just so you could stay there longer haha.

Our waiter, Luke, was very friendly and professional. He allowed enough time to study the menu, then took our order and shortly thereafter our drinks appeared. While we enjoyed the scenery and sea air on a hot July afternoon, our "Pan Crisped Fresh Fish Sandwiches with Lyonnaise Potatoes" were being expertly prepared in Kathy's well run kitchen. The sandwiches arrived in a timely manner and were DELICIOUS! Here on Cape Ann we are fortunate to be able to get a fresh fish sandwich pretty much anywhere but you can tell that the My Place by the Sea version was a cut above the rest in both preparation and presentation. Since the generous portion of fish was not deep-fried, it was satisfyingly crispy on the outside without being greasy (Ooh, I like my description, just start calling me Phantom Gourmet haha). It was served on a toasted sesame bun. The potatoes and a Mediterranean style side salad of greens, onions and cucumbers rounded out the dish beautifully. I realize now that a photo of our lunch plates would have been good, however we dug in so fast that I completely forgot. Shame on me! Now you have to see for yourself and try it :-)

My Place by the Sea is the perfect choice for lunch with friends, for special occasion dinners, for topping off an already perfect summer day in Rockport, or for treating out-of-town guests to an unforgettable dining experience. Reservations recommended!

My Place by the Sea

68 Bearskin Neck

Rockport, MA 01966 


Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!!!!!


By Sybille C. Denninger

Good Morning, everyone :-) It's FEATURE FRIDAY time again and the summer is flying by! Today I am featuring the Cape Ann Farmers Market in Gloucester, which takes place every Thursday afternoon from 3 pm until 6.30 pm, starting (in 2015) on June 11th through October 8th. This is the mother of all our local Farmers Markets in size, location and variety of products offered, so don't forget to stop by and get fresh summer produce to enjoy (the sweet raspberries I bought from Marshalls Farm Stand didn't even make it to the car haha).

The Cape Ann Farmers Market started in 2006 and was originally located in the open space between the Building Center and TD Bank. Its popularity exploded however and the market moved to its current location at Stage Fort Park. There is plenty of free parking available for the roughly 1500 visitors who flock to the Cape Ann Farmers Market every single Thursday. And who can blame them? I mean, the sweeping views of the Atlantic paired with organically grown fresh vegetables, fruits, Artisan breads, maple sugar and maple syrup, honey, fresh pasta, pasta sauces, pastries, potted herbs, prepared foods, smoked fish, preserves, jewelry and glass ware, just to name a few things! Picture me taking notes and snapping pictures while balancing more and more bags and berry containers along the way! Note to self: Bring at least TWO tote bags haha.

Check out the Cape Ann Farmers Market's easy to navigate website for a complete list of vendors and other valuable information:

Come early, sit in the gazebo and enjoy the ocean and fresh breeze while you wait for the market to open. Or get some strawberries and chocolate croissants to snack on down at the beach after you have finished your shopping. This has got to be the best location for a Farmers Market ever!

While there are too many wonderful vendors to write about here, I would like to highlight one major staple of the Cape Ann Farmers Market, our very own Marshalls Farm Stand, whose main business is located in West Gloucester. Residents already know that Marshalls Farm has the best corn. I found out that they also offer the best raspberries, among other fabulous looking produce. Eat them sun-warm right out of the container and it's as if you picked them yourself without all the work! 

Another merchant I should mention is A & J King Artisan Breads because you will see a line of epic proportion in front of this stand. Don't even think of skipping their goodies because of the wait! As I joined the crowd the lady in front of me assured me that it all is worth waiting for. She was right. I scored a loaf of English Muffin Bread, already sliced, which was amazing! They offer lots of other baked goods and pastries, so line up! 

Don't miss the Cape Ann Farmers Market because, like our Massachusetts summers, it's gone before you know it and won't be back for 6 months! Here are some photos of the hustle and bustle; please keep in mind that I was severely shopping bag impaired when I took these haha. The final picture is from the dinner my hubby and I enjoyed with all my purchases.

Long live the awesome Cape Ann Farmers Market!



By Sybille C. Denninger

Good morning, everyone:-)

It's FEATURE FRIDAY again and today I am excited to introduce Donna Crocker, the President and founder of Good Harbor Investments!!!! The reason why this is cause for excitement is that Donna is the perfect person to go to for advice on how to pay for your kids' college. A college education is so expensive, it can make your head spin just thinking about it. $40,000.00 and up PER YEAR is not an easy sum to come up with but Donna, with 30 years of financial planning experience under her belt, is highly qualified to introduce you to savings plans specifically designed to cover costs of education.


Donna is a long-time Gloucester resident who greatly enjoys identifying her clients' financial planning needs, setting them up with the most advantageous investment portfolios, as well as managing their assets with her clients' best interest in mind. She takes pride in helping her fellow community members to secure a financially comfortable retirement, to cover college expenses, and to increase their savings by making well informed investment choices. 

This is an excerpt from Donna's biography: "Donna first started her career working with a large financial institution. With a desire to serve her clients more objectively and offer a wider array of services, she became an independent advisor. She was a partner at Flagship Financial Group before founding Good Harbor Investments in 1990. She holds FINRA Series 6, 7, 24, 26, 53, 63, and 65 securities registrations and is currently pursuing the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificate. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Ripon College."

Clearly an impressive CV, and once again proof that you do not have to leave Cape Ann to look for a knowledgeable, caring professional. Especially when it comes to your hard earned $$$ you want someone you can trust and also someone you can talk to in person when you have a question or concern.

But now, without further ado, here is a specific college savings option Donna highlighted in her interview with me. It is a plan called the "529 College Savings Plan". Each state has their own but you are able to invest in any state's plan since Massachusetts does not offer a state tax deduction. Here is where Donna's expertise comes in right off the bat because plans vary from state to state and she will find the best ones for you.

A 529 Plan is the only place to save money and use it tax free for college expenses. Any bill from college or university can be paid out of the invested funds without going through a ton of red tape or mountains of paperwork. Withdrawals are easy and you can have a check send directly to the college. You are able to set up individual plans for each child, pay any amount into the plan monthly, or invest a big chunk at one time. Making payments into a 529 Plan is easy with automatic contributions from your checking account or directly from paychecks. They are also an excellent tool when it comes to estate planning. Grandparents for example can forward a monetary gift to their grandchildren's 529 Plan five years! They have the option of distributing part of their estate without their beneficiaries incurring any taxes as long as the funds are used for college expenses. Also, any monetary gifts your children receive through the years for birthdays and special occasions could be deposited into their 529 Plans for the future.

Another great option Donna recommends is an employer sponsored 529 Plan offered by "American Funds" through which a business owner can extend this savings benefit to his or her employees without incurring any costs. It makes an excellent addition to any company's benefit package.

This is a great time to give Donna a call and arrange for a free initial consultation. She is always happy to assist you :-) 

 Donna Crocker


38 Pleasant Street Gloucester MA 01930

978 283 0714


Donna is also a member of the Cape Ann Referral Group:



By Sybille C. Denninger

Hi Everyone :-)

As you may remember we have listed 4.8 acres of land located in beautiful Pigeon Cove, priced well at $600,000.00. Offering plenty of privacy in a serene setting. Start building your dream home immediately surrounded by nature, with potential for another residential building (subdivision possible). A 36x32 ft 4-stall barn with a rustic studio apartment on the second floor, a 12x24 ft workshop, and a 24x16 ft storage building resembling Rockport's Motif # 1, are currently located on the property. The studio apartment is spacious with a nice bathroom incl. washer/dryer, and kitchenette with stove, fridge and built-in cabinets. Also offers plenty of storage. Great for rental income (current tenants-at-will would be interested in staying on) or for staff housing. This could be an ideal set-up for equestrians who would like to keep their horses where they reside. Two granite quarries are located on the property. Beautiful path leads from the farm to Goose Cove Reservoir/Dogtown. This is a rare opportunity in Rockport!

Join us for a walking tour on Sunday, July 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy the fresh country air, let us show you around, and meet the horses! There will be lemonade, cookies and fresh popcorn. Come and bring your friends and clients! All are welcome! MLS 71827997




By Sybille C. Denninger


Good Morning, everyone on Cape Ann and beyond!

For this holiday weekend kick-off FEATURE FRIDAY I bring you the ROCKPORT FARMERS MARKET, along with two very special vendors which deserve extra recognition. Read on to find out who they are ;-)

This fun event takes place at Harvey Park every Saturday from June 20th to October 3rd. It sets up shop in Harvey Park which is on your right as you turn from Broadway onto Mount Pleasant Street (across from T-Wharf). You can't miss it because there are quite a few vendors who offer delicious fresh foods for you to buy, and even more high spirited customers. It's a lively, happening place! I took a walk around and tasted some delicious smoked whitefish and smoked salmon from the Sasquatch Smokehouse. They also have smoked mussels and other treats. Check out their Facebook page:

There is a stand with freshly roasted coffee, a wonderful gluten-free pastry vendor, Anadama Bread, honey, a table with homemade jams (I grabbed a strawberry one!), and a lovely family who sells amazing homemade muffins and brownies which are beautifully presented, just to name a few. And of course there is Rockport's very own Seaview Farm, selling their organic produce, fresh eggs and high quality meats. Seaview Farm also has a store on South Street.  

There are more really great vendors so you just have to come to Rockport and visit this really cute Farmers Market personally.

Two hard working ladies deserve some special FEATURE FRIDAY recognition:

First it's Claire Franklin, a much loved local personality, who brought New Years Rockport Eve to town in 1997 and has worked tirelessly to put the event together year after year since its debut. 

Claire is of Finnish decent, as are quite a few Rockport residents, and so she offers her freshly baked Home Made Nisu at the Rockport Farmers Market. Nisu is a delicious yeast dough bread seasoned with cardamom, which I absolutely love dipped in coffee. My friend Holly likes it best as French toast, and some Rockporters enjoy it toasted with butter. The possibilities are endless. You should absolutely bring home a loaf of Claire's Nisu, it will make your Sunday morning breakfast perfect! You can also place an order by e-mailing: or by posting a message to her FB page. On certain weekdays Claire will bake a fresh batch of Nisu and actually deliver the delicacy right to your door! She will announce that on Facebook.

The other lady is That Nutty Redhead. What's that, you think I'm being fresh? No, it's not what I call her, this is the name of her brand under which she sells wonderful Praline Gourmet Nuts. That Nutty Redhead's actual name is Lisa Griffiths and as you can see in her gorgeous photo below, she is in fact a redhead :-) 


That Nutty Redhead's freshly prepared, all natural, gluten-free, kettle-steamed nuts are softer and taste fresher than the roasted variety one usually finds. Rather than producing a gazillion flavors, she specializes in two which she perfected: "Breakfast in New England" and "New England Praline with Sea salt". I have tried both and can assure you, they are to die for! Whole Foods has accepted That Nutty Redhead's Praline Gourmet Nuts into their inventory which is harder to achieve than breaking into Fort Knox! It means that these nuts are of the highest quality and adhere to strict production and ingredients guidelines. That Nutty Readhead is also at the Cape Ann Farmers Market on Thursdays. Her website offers online shopping as well as a long list of stores where the Praline Gourmet Nuts are available.

I leave you with two more action shots from the Rockport Farmers Market ;-) Have a fun and fabulous Independence Day weekend!


By Sybille C. Denninger

Happy 4th of July!!!!!!!

It is not too late for me to remind you to attend the fun, family-friendly events which take place on Cape Ann.

I hope many of you actually have Friday off and can enjoy a 3-day weekend. Start the celebration by watching our very own Fishtown Horribles Parade in Gloucester at 6 pm tomorrow (July 3rd). It is followed by spectacular fireworks!

The always great Manchester Parade kicks off Saturday, July 4th, at 10 am.

And last but not least, the Rockport Firemen's Parade starts at 6 pm on Saturday evening. It is followed by a free patriotic concert beginning at 8 pm at the band stand on Back Beach.

Check out this website for a compete schedule of all events:

Enjoy, stay safe, no need to sip British tea on Independence Day but don't drink and drive either :-) 



By Sybille C. Denninger


Hello, hello, dear Readers of Sybille's Blog :-)

Next Saturday is Independence Day, the highlight of our summer season, and of course we have to celebrate the big day with the three B's: BBQ, Booze and Boats hahaha, just kidding..... BBQ really is a 4th of July tradition for most proud Americans though, and some lucky devils are always getting invited rather than flipping hamburgers and hot dogs themselves (that includes me, thanks to my lovely friend Kendra).

Since I am spending every year at my friend's house, it's not always easy to come up with something I can bring to the feast. I don't want to be known as the potato-salad-woman or the deviled-egg-girl. On the other hand, I'm not gonna lie, Martha Stewart I am not.

Here are two cute and super easy ideas for you. One merely needs a photo, no instructions necessary:

 Just marinade the banana slices in some freshly squeezed lemon juice before you start assembling the skewers so they retain their fresh color. Serve with Greek Yogurt or real whipped cream (uh! ah!) for dipping on the side. This was a big hit at the party :-)

The other is so simple, you might laugh, but believe me, people can't stop eating. These are addictive!

Buy two or three packages of cream horns, usually found at the bakery-or pastry section in the supermarket (at Market Basket they are in front of the customer service booth). Slice them with a serrated knife into about 1 inch thick slices. You can even use the grooves in the cream horns for guidance. Be careful not to press down as they easily crumble and you will end up eating too many bits. Trust me, I know! Once sliced, arrange them on a platter and top with one slice of strawberry each. Since we are celebrating the Red, White and Blue, top off the creation with a bold blueberry, simply attached with American flag tooth picks (pst, can you spot the Bavarian flag I cleverly added?). It looks amazing, it tastes delicious, and best of all, you can relax and leave a clean kitchen behind when you go to the party. It's also fun to do with kids :-)

 Happy 4th of July from your favorite REALTORS Fintan & Sybille!!!!! 


By Sybille C. Denninger

Good Afternoon, Everyone :-)

Another week is coming to an end and here is FEATURE FRIDAY for you once again. Greeting you today is the smiling face of Sacha Fossa, M.A., A.C.T.E., founder and primary practitioner of Sacred Temple Arts.

Sacha recently joined the Cape Ann Referral Group and I am so pleased to be able to introduce her in today's FEATURE FRIDAY post. She is a pleasure to talk to and has a very calming, kind and caring presence.

You are probably wondering what all the intriguing capital letters in Sacha's title mean. Well, they are impressive indeed and stand for: Masters in Health Arts and Sciences, and Advanced Certified Tantric Educator. 

The main focus of Sacha's practice is to provide coaching, encourage self-impression, create empowerment and improve her clients' life, more specifically: Their love life. We all have probably experienced times in our partnerships where daily chores and stress, or perhaps time spent apart due to work commitments or even military deployments, take over the entire relationship. Intimacy and making love just fade into the background behind everything negative. Unfortunately, when one's love life is starting to lack excitement, fun and frequency, it can lead to other issues such as bickering, not feeling close to your partner, and getting impatient, dissatisfied or insecure within the relationship. Here is where Sacha comes in.

At Sacred Temple Arts Sacha, along with her life partner Ian, offers sessions in person as well as via Skype during which she identifies her clients' challenges and suggests ways and practices to improve their sex lives, and with that their overall outlook and happiness within their relationships. Sacha and Ian provide tools and guidance to couples as well as individuals for cultivating sexual energy, healing, pleasure and connection.

Sacha gives a complimentary consultation over the phone, please refer to her website for additional information. Sacred Temple Arts has three different programs: "Get Your Sex & Love Life Back", "Be A Better Lover" and last but not least "Be The Best Lover".

I was super impressed with the fact that prior to attending any coaching sessions with Sacha, she asks that you and your partner complete an in depth questionnaire. This is awesome because Sacha will use your answers to customize each session to your specifications. So you won't have to try to follow (and pay for!) canned advice which doesn't even apply to you. Instead, Sacha tailors her coaching to each client's needs and objectives. The sessions consist of a combination of practices, body work and healing arts, all geared towards bringing enjoyment back to your sex life. Sacha always follows up with a phone call to see how things are going, she gives you ideas to try at home as well as special exercises. It is an educational process. Admit it, who wouldn't like to be a better, or even the best, lover?

Sacha also offers these programs as a so-called "Immersions" where couples can spend an entire weekend in Rockport while attending all-day sessions with Sacred Temple Arts. The time away from home along with Sacha's and/or Ian's expert coaching, including practices to take back to the inn for the evening, is really beneficial to any partnership which is starting to feel lackluster and stale. With fresh ideas and new techniques to try, intimacy and the joy of making love can really be brought back.


When talking with Sacha we adressed the following questions about the coaching she provides. This is what she said in her own words: 

Why is it important?

"It is important for everyone to realize that they do not have to settle for a sex and love life that they are not happy with. Everyone deserves and can achieve the pleasure and connection they desire from their relationships, at any age or life stage." 

Why do you do it? 

"I do this work because my passion is to help people achieve their relationship goals. I believe everyone should follow their passion in life and to live for pleasure. It is simply what I love to do and to be able to share this work with others is a blessing."


Sacha shares this basic practice with fans of FEATURE FRIDAY: Connect with your partner for just 10 minutes each day! Have a cup of coffee together during that time. Share a real kiss on the way out instead of the old peck on the cheek. Enjoy dinner for two, even if you only have time to microwave a Lean Cuisine. Hold hands and talk about something funny instead of listing everything that ticked you off at work.

Thank you, Sacha, for participating in our FEATURE FRIDAY post this week! Please watch for a $50.00 off coupon for a Sacred Temple Arts session in the Cape Ann Coupons publication. And don't forget to check out Sacred Temple Arts' very informative website which contains much more valuable information than I am able to fit in here.

Sacred Temple Arts

"Pleasure As A Way Of Life"

Sacha L. Fossa, M.A., A.C.T.E.



Photos courtesy of Sacha Fossa


By Sybille C. Denninger

OMG, it's Friday again and that means FEATURE FRIDAY is here!!!!!

Well, thanks to modern technology I am sending you a big hello from New York City along with this fabulous post.

First I want to congratulate Miss Tina on the 50th Anniversary of Miss Tina's Studio of Dance! She received a citation from our Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken during last Saturday's Dance Recital which was, as always, fabulous! Miss Tina was recognized for her immeasurable contributions to the youth of Gloucester and her dedication to the city and its business community. Well deserved! This is why I chose to feature Miss Tina's Studio of Dance for this week's FEATURE FRIDAY.

~ 50 YEARS, isn't that amazing? ~

As a former student (Miss Carol's Adult Tap class for Beginners, I kid you not, evidence to follow!) I know what that means: 50 years of counting 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 in one form or another for students who may or may not have an ear for the beat (I did not haha). 50 years of patience. 50 years of choreographing and teaching new routines. 50 years of providing kids of all ages with a place where they can learn skills which set them apart from the crowd. 50 years of educating students on music & dance styles, as well as history of dance and costumes. 50 years of instilling team work and team spirit. 50 years of annual recitals which I can't even imagine organizing.      Miss Tina is like Wonder Woman of Waltz!

At Miss Tina's Studio of Dance you can find students of all ages, literally from 2 to 102. Everyone is included in the annual recitals, proudly showing off what they've learned during the past year. The outstanding team of dance teachers Miss Tina heads up, Miss Carol (who has been there 35 years!), Miss Rachel and Mr. Eric, are well versed in all styles of dance. There are Hip Hop classes, Tap, Ballet, Acrobatics, Jazz dance, Ballroom, Line dancing, and probably ones I don't even know about. Over the past 50 years Miss Tina and her wonderful husband and dance partner Mr. Ron offered adult evening classes at Gloucester High School (psst, Fintan and I attended a course years ago LOL). Every year Miss Tina also teaches "Mad Hot Ballroom" dance classes at various area schools, and has hosted Ballroom Dance Weekends for the past 28 years.

Miss Tina's Studio of Dance offers classes all summer, so you should check out her awesome website and sign up! No mean Abbie Lee Miller here, at Miss Tina's you can really enjoy dancing. My husband and I took a few private lessons with Miss Tina before our wedding so we could kill the first dance ;-) Always a good idea!

<3 Thank you, Miss Tina <3

Miss Tina's Dance Studio
28 Burnham St
Gloucester MA 01930


1st photo credit:


By Sybille C. Denninger


Happy Monday, everyone :-)

I found a great recipe for an easy weekend breakfast treat I would like to share with you! I tweaked it slightly because I had a couple of different ingredients handy. The original calls for English muffins and cheddar cheese. I'm sure that's delicious too. It's a crowd pleaser! Enjoy <3


Bagel Casserole
serves 4

  • Thin Everything bagels, split (from Thomas)
  • 6 oz Canadian bacon
  • 1 cup Swiss or Gruyere cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • salt
  • pepper

Grease an 8-inch baking dish. Cube bagels and chop Canadian bacon. Add half of the cubed bagels in a single layer. Top with half of the Canadian bacon and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Layer the remaining bagels and Canadian bacon and 1/2 cup more cheese.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole. Wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day (great to assemble the night before!)

 Bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. 


By Sybille C. Denninger


Good morning, my dear Readers!!!

Another week is almost over and you know what that means: FEATURE FRIDAY is here again, yay :-)


When I entered Linsky's Service Station I received a warm and friendly welcome from Steve Linsky himself who was working on a truck (photo to follow). Let me tell you, his service station is BUSY. There were vehicles and mechanics wielding tools, working dilligently to get their customers' cars back on the road ASAP.

Steve is a great guy to talk to as you can probably tell from his happy face! I was wondering how this post would go because all I know about cars is that they have 4 wheels and I can drive around with them. Also, I am always super interested in what color someone's new car is. Oh it's aqua blue - how awesome! Make and Model? What's that? Consequently I am a little apprehensive when I have to deal with real car experts because they could sell me a coffee filter and I would ignorantly pay quadruple for it haha. Well, at Linsky's Garage you do not have to worry about such shenanigans! The first thing Steve said is that he treats everyone the way he likes to be treated. That means he is honest and fair when evaluating your vehicle's problem, and he will repair it as quickly as possible. They book appointments a week in advance and unless a part has to be special ordered and is not readily available, they aim to have repairs done and your car back on the road on the same day. 

Linsky's Service Station has been a family business since 1953 when Steve's father purchased it from the previous owner who had operated the same garage since 1926. With a company in business for that long comes pride in being a well known member of the Cape Ann business community as well as dedication to excellent service, and that is absolutely evident here at Linsky's.

Steve and his expert team provide many different repairs. Fixing or installing brakes, tires, engine- and transmission services, suspension work, electrical services, electronic services, engine maintenance, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. They are well trained in repairing and servicing both foreign and domestic vehicles, even ones with challenging issues, and they use the latest technology to accurately diagnose problems. This much expertise under one roof is not only hard to find but also usually - and quite literally - priceless (as in: your pocket isn't deep enough for the bill haha). Not so! Steve tries to keep costs of repairs as affordable as possible for his customers, and in addition to fair pricing he also guarantees his work.

Here is Steve with his team, taking time out of their busy day to help me make this week's FEATURE FRIDAY fun and interesting.

Please be sure and check out their cool website: 

Linsky's Service Station

159 Maplewood Avenue

Gloucester, MA 01930

Tel. 978-283-5120

Steve is also the current president of the Cape Ann Referral Group where he keeps everyone involved and happy to come to the bi-weekly meetings.

One more photo - I couldn't resist because it looks like something on TV. Have a great weekend and thank you, Steve, for taking part in this week's FEATURE FRIDAY!


By Sybille C. Denninger


Good evening, everyone, time for FEATURE FRIDAY!!!!

High time actually, because this is the latest I've ever posted a FEATURE FRIDAY. It was just a big struggle today for some reason. The business I had in mind wasn't sure if they wanted/could make a decision on free local publicity in a they shall remain unnamed haha. Thank goodness I have my connections in the Rockport business community and was able to move just a little bit up and across the street to one of my very favorite stores: Willoughby's, or, as I like to call it Willoughby's BOUTIQUE. After some technical difficulties with my internet connection I am finally up and running and ready to get this blog finished!

Willoughby's and I go way back to when the store, no, the boutique, was still located on Dock Square in the early 1990's. That's when I dropped in on owner Sharon McDonald and got myself a little side job selling all the things I like most: Clothes, handbags and jewelry. Willoughby's has in fact been a Rockport fixture for over 30 years. Sharon McDonald and her husband Mark also own and operate the very successful Helmut's Strudel Shop on Bearskin Neck. I worked at Willoughby's off and on for a total of 10 years until the end of the 2008 tourist season, mostly nights and weekends. So it is my great pleasure to feature this beautiful boutique in today's blog.

Willoughby's has an amazing, timeless selection of fine clothing and carries popular boutique brands such as Flax, Habitat, Cut Loose, Windriver, Curio and many more. Customers will actually come in season after season specifically to add the newest Flax collection to their wardrobe. Sharon personally buys every season's inventory at the boutique trade shows in New York City. She does an excellent job in finding special pieces to suit every taste. Many items are relaxed fit so you do not have to be a size 0 to find something unique. Whatever I buy at Willoughby's always garners lots of compliments and is a stand-out, be it one of their stunning sweaters, fun coats or a great necklace. Clothing sold at Willoughby's is also made to last, in quality as well as style, and the colors Sharon favors tend to combine very well with each other and with clothes you already have in your closet. I don't know how she nails it every time but she does!

Another really great aspect of Willoughby's is the arrangement of the inventory by color. This is not only eye catching when you enter the shop but also makes finding something to match very easy. Willoughby's also stocks a well thought out selection of accessories such as handbags, scarves, gloves, hats and pieces of cool jewelry to go with your clothing purchase.

The staff at Willoughby's is helpful and fashion savvy without being intrusive and pushy. This is a place where you can browse undisturbed and try on as many things as you like. But if you need help you don't have to run around the store in your unmentionables, or get completely dressed just to grab another size and undress all over again. Rather the attentive sales associates will get anything you need for you. They personally unpack, tag and steam (!) all new arrivals, resulting in a solid knowledge of inventory. 

I could go on and on but I have some more photos to show you. Next time you're in Rockport be sure to stop by Willoughby's and enjoy all this lovely boutique has to offer. They are open 7 days a week from April through December, and have evening hours during the summer season. Husbands can get "parked" on the beautiful porch while you shop :-)


20 Main Street, Rockport, MA 01966



Keep in mind that Rockport has a special, ongoing event called Rockport @ Night every first Friday of the month from May through October, 4 pm until 8 pm. There are lovely lanterns lighting the way, some live entertainment, and refreshments are offered in particiating shops and galleries. Don't miss out on the fun!


By Sybille C. Denninger


Good afternoon, everybody, and happy (???) Monday :-)

I realized that I haven't posted any recipes or household tips lately so I wanted to share some ideas and photos with you which I took yesterday. A friend of mine was coming over for Sunday afternoon coffee and I was excited to try out a really simple yet cute idea which I discovered in one of my Mom's German magazines. Since I just happened to be over there I was able to hunt down the things I needed and arrived back in the US armed with all sorts of nifty stuff.

I greatly enjoy inviting people over but I'm decidedly better at presentation than actually cooking and baking. I always look for ways to cut some corners while at the same time make everything appear unique haha. As one of my friends once summed it up: I'm on this earth for decorative purposes :-) Hey, that's fine with me!

Behold these adorable (store bought) waffle cookies! I just stacked four cookies on top of each other and simply tied them together with lace. It took 5 minutes tops but is much more fun than just spreading the cookies out on a plate. I brought the lace back from Germany but Crackerjacks in Rockport, A.C. Moore or Michaels should have some.

What also always makes a huge difference are your table settings. Go with a theme and better yet, with a theme that goes with the silverware and china you are already planning on using anyway. In my case I knew I would set the table with my vintage looking coffee set from Germany. Sad to say it probably really IS vintage at this point since I've received it as a gift from my parents in 1988 haha. I went for a shabby-chic kind of look with the flowery table cloth and lace placemats on top. Those placemats are actually reusable, wipable, and I found them at Michaels on Rte 1 South for $7.99 for a set of 4. But with the china they really look so frilly and pretty.

I always stock up on tons of fun paper napkins at the Christmas Tree Shop where each package literally costs under $2.00 as opposed to $5.95 elsewhere! Most of their napkins are imported from Germany or the Netherlands, so the patterns are quite European looking which I like a lot. I always get a mix of contemporary, cutesy, and nostalgic so I have something for every theme I might come up with. In this case pink with crown-wearing kittens seemed like a good fit haha. I further rummaged through my china cabinet and re-purposed my great-grandma's porcelain jewelry container as a strawberry bowl. Genius! It's unexpected which makes it cool. You probably have tons of random trinkets which make awesome serving dishes. They don't need to match to your china as long as they enhance your theme. In my case: Frilly vintage/shabby chic. This particular item I inherited comes with three porcelain roses which match the cover, so I just placed them around. You'll see them in the third photo.

Lastly here is the table as a whole. I tend to pile on anything I have hanging around that fits my overall idea. The crown tealight holder happened to look cute with the lacy, flowery theme. I placed printed paper doilies (also from Michaels) under the sugar bowl, creamer and the tea-and coffee pots. The cake is a marble cake I baked from a mix the night before but even a banana bread would be great and so easy to pull off. I love the Chiquita mix they sell in the produce section at Stop & Shop. You don't even need a mixer for that one, and with 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips added it tastes amazing! I save time on the baking and go all out on the overall presentation. What was that about "decorative purposes"???

Blow your friends away at your next get-together with these simple little tricks; they will love it! Pinterest is an awesome resource for all sorts of easy yet fantastic ideas as well. Check out our boards there! I'm quite addicted to pinning ;-) 

Search for:




By Sybille C. Denninger

Hi Everyone! It's FEATURE FRIDAY Time :-)

Another week has flown by, as fabulous weather-weeks always do, and here is a brand new and very interesting FEATURE FRIDAY post. Today we are introducing Eli Jacobe who is a licensed acupuncturist and owns his own practice, Atlantic Acupuncture in Gloucester.

Eli has practiced acupuncture, which originates from China, in Gloucester since 1993. He graduated from the New England School of Acupuncture and went on to study acupuncture and Chinese Qigong therapeutic exercise in China. There he participated in advanced acupuncture training in Beijing at the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. You know you are in good hands when your acupuncturist is that solidly trained!

Eli is also immensely knowledgeable in Chinese herbal medicine and nutritional supplements, and in how the proper food choices can improve his patients' overall health. As he says: He gets people feeling better so they can get on with their lives. Eli uses a holistic approach to treating anything from headaches, arthritis, sports injuries, unexplained pains in the body, to fatigue, stress, anxiety and allergies. Eli says that the body can heal itself through Chinese medical science. The body is like a fuse box which can blow a circuit at any time, resulting in a variety of ailments. Acupuncture gently tickles just the right nerves so they resume sending proper signals through the body. Joints, tissues and organs work naturally from birth, but over time they can get off track. Acupuncture gets the body back to optimum function.

We all know weird symptoms which you can't even describe to your doctor unless you don't mind sounding crazy. "Uh, so, my elbow is stinging and I have this pain shooting up from my little toe to my knee but I can't see anything there, although when I try to look down I have pressure in my temples...." You get the idea haha. Your doctor will likely order x-rays and run some tests and in the end you are diagnosed with...nothing! Here is where Eli comes in. Like a detective he will investigate the reasons why you are feeling poorly.

There are many factors doctors simply overlook because they are not showing up in standard tests. For a lab fee of $79.00 Eli offers a comprehensive test which includes testing for 22 minerals. This is important because lead, a major contributor to poor overall health if you have elevated levels in your body, does not show up in standard tests at all. Lead poisoning is not reserved for small kids who chew on paint chips and window sills. Lipstick for example is an every day item which may contain lead depending on the brand. A doctor named Sara Gottfried recently reported that an average American woman eats 10 pounds of lipstick during her lifetime (I believe her!). The mineral test will uncover deficiencies as well which can then be balanced out with the right supplements. Another common reason for feeling lousy are undetected food allergies. Eli can arrange for testing and then assist you with eliminating trigger foods from your diet.

Exercise is of course always good for your health, too. Eli teaches Qigong at the Ananda Shanti Yoga Center in Manchester on Tuesdays at 6.30 pm and on Thursdays at 11 am. The photo below shows Eli receiving his Qigong Certification to Teach from a well known Doctor in China. That is one impressive looking diploma!

I greatly enjoyed speaking with Eli for this week's FEATURE FRIDAY blog! There is a lot of excellent information on his website so please visit: 

Eli Jacobe, Lic.Ac.

10 Norman Avenue

Gloucester, MA 01930

Tel. 978-525-2255


 Photos graciously provided by Eli Jacobe



By Sybille C. Denninger


Today we are introducing Glover's Floor Coverings

Actually, no introduction is necessary as Glover's Floor Coverings has been a staple in Cape Ann's business community for over 60 years. It has always been family owned, first on Main Street from 1946 until 1974 by the name of Carl & Glover. Due to some changes of downtown Gloucester in 1974 (aka Urban Renewal Project), Glover's moved to their current Whittemore Street location. It is now run by Mark Glover. Many of you have probably seen the TV commercial featuring Mark's very cute canine assistant.

Glover's Floor Coverings has a huge selection of wall-to-wall carpeting, hardwood and laminate flooring, and tiles of many styles and colors (I am crazy about the seaglass ones!!!). They also carry Green Products, which is great as many home owners are looking to make environmentally friendly choices when building or remodeling their properties. Glover's comprehensive website  provides lots of information on products and brands offered, including a virtual tour of the well organized store. In addition Glover's keeps lots of carpet remnants in stock which are just the ticket to inexpensively outfitting a room with new carpeting.

As is true with all of our local businesses, Glover's not only has the goods, they provide outstanding service as well. From knowledgeable consultations to free estimates, accurate measuring and competent, reliable installation, Glover's is truly a one-stop shop for all your flooring needs. They pride themselves in dispatching trustworthy, professional and well-trained installers to your residence or business, who are happy to take care of your flooring needs. Over the years Glover's Floor Coverings has expanded their service area beyond Cape Ann to include Ipswich, Beverly, Wenham, Hamilton, Danvers, Salem and Marblehead.

Stop in and say hi to Mark or Chuck; you will be amazed by the array of floor covering options available at Glover's!

Glover's Floor Coverings

18 Whittemore Street, Gloucester, MA 01930


More photos from Germany :-)

By Sybille C. Denninger

As promised here are a few more pictures of cool houses from my recent trip to Germany. The first one below is an actual working fire station. The shutters and doors were made from metal. Pretty fancy!

Enjoy :-) And don't forget to stop by for FEATURE FRIDAY with Glover's Floor Coverings!!!





German Houses

By Sybille C. Denninger

Sybille is baaaack :-)

Hello dear Readers,

I hope you missed my blog entries a little bit while I spent two weeks with my parents in Germany. Unfortunately they live in the middle of nowhere and don't agree that having internet access/WiFi is vital for survival. Otherwise I would have been happy to blog about some of my "adventures" during the trip.

FEATURE FRIDAY will be back this week; I am planning on featuring Glover's Floor Covering, so please stop by.

Today I have a special treat for everyone......wait for it.....German Houses!!!!!! The obsession with taking pictures of random buildings is clearly an occupational hazzard. I kept an eye out for especially unique, old constructions which you may not see every day. I even snapped a photo of RE/MAX Immobilien (German for Real Estate) in my old hometown Bamberg.

I grew up in Franconia, which is a region within Bavaria. There is Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia. Each part of Franconia has its own dialect with many words coming from the French. The land of the Franks was assigned to Bavaria by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803, allegedly because the Franconians were very difficult to deal with and kind of vicious and combative....I find that hard to believe HAHA. Charles the Great aka Charlemagne aka Karl der Grosse was King of the Franks from the year 768 until 814. We also have our own flag and song! There is a lovely area called "Frankische Schweiz"which features awesome Jurassic rock formations, caves and fossils just lying around. One of the caves has a complete cave bear skeleton on display......coincidentally my No WiFi parents just so happen to live in that area ;-)

Here, without further ado, some typical Franconian houses featuring woodwork called "Fachwerk". Have a great evening and pop in tomorrow for a few more photos!











By Sybille C. Denninger


Are you confused thinking that it's already Friday today? I appologize if I got your hopes up haha. Due to my 2 weeks vacation which starts this evening when I'm jetting off to Germany, FEATURE FRIDAY is one day early this week, and unfortunately there will be no blog entries until May 17, 2015. Try not to cry! I promise to take photos and share them with you along with some travel stories :-)

Today I am introducing Anita Pandolfe Ruchman of A Tender Place 

Anita is a very experienced health care provider for nearly 40 years. She trained at Mass General Hospital to be a registered nurse and holds a masters degree in nursing. She is also board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Commission. Anita's official title is Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. I greatly enjoyed talking with her for this week's Feature Friday post. She is very caring and has a calm presence with a kind smile. Just what you would hope for and expect from a therapist who specializes in grief counseling, particularly following the loss of a child or if you lost somebody under traumatic circumstances such as suicide or accident. Anita offers one-on-one therapy as well as group retreats to help her clients cope with the death of a loved one.

In her private practice A Tender Place, located in Rockport, Anita provides various types of therapy to help people deal with the fall-out of major life changes. From Talk Therapy to Energy Work and Sound Healing, which incorporates relaxation and deep breathing, to hands-on Massage Therapy, Anita is dedicated to mapping out the most effective treatment for her clients. That may include medication, either by itself or in combination with the relaxation techniques Anita teaches. While she is authorized to prescribe medication such as antidepressants, she leans more towards a holistic approach where, rather than just prescribing pills, she focuses on the entire human being, to bring body, mind and spirit into a healthier balance. She assesses and treats sleeplessness as well as disturbed sleeping patterns, maintaining that sleep is the foundation of good health. She aims to ease hot flashes, mood swings, depression and other mental health issues. Anita's motto is "Health is balance." She effectively utilizes her extensive training to treat your mind, body and spirit for a happier, more peaceful outlook. In step with this gentler approach Anita also studied Buddhism and the healing power of meditation.

Anita's therapy is not covered by insurance although many clients do get reimbursed by their health care plan for an out of network provider. For anyone unsure of whether they need antidepressants or might be able to get their inner stability back by trying Anita's alternative methods first, this would be a small price to pay.

Anita is a proponent of the team approach to health care. She works closely with her clients' primary care physicians and therapists to maximize the effectiveness of treatments and avoid pitfalls such as too many pills or counteracting prescriptions. 

Anita also specializes in assisting women in transition. With an additional background in midwifery, she provides support through pregnancy and the post-partum phase. She offers guidance to women going through menopause or facing divorce.

Anita also greatly enjoys working with teenagers, age 13 and up, who can be thrown off by the challenges of puberty, issues with parents, or difficulties in school.

Thank you, Anita, for participating in our Blog's FEATURE FRIDAY :-)


For Anita's contact information please visit her beautiful website:

Anita is also a member of the Cape Ann Referral Group:






+++++++++BREAKING NEWS +++++++++ 


Beautiful 3-story, 2 BR, 1 1/2 bath condo on Stacy Boulevard, which we all know is an amazing location. The impressive building has European flair and is in excellent condition. The listed condo is located at the rear side of the house. This place is really chic with little seaside touches such as unique accent tiles in the kitchen featuring lobsters, seashells and crab. Breakfast counter and cool built-in mini-bar with refrigerator in the living room. The bedrooms and bathroom are located on the third floor, while the second floor offers a nice office space along with storage and a cleverly concealed laundry area. Not far from Stagefort Park and downtown's shops and restaurants. Pavillion Beach is across the street. Walk out onto a balcony to enjoy a view of Gloucester's rooftops from both bedrooms. Oceanview from the 1st floor deck and 2 deeded parking spaces round out this very well priced home!

Make it your own for $388,800.00!


Of course we have more photos AND a video ;-) Check it out:






....and another good one it is! Today I am introducing the fabulous Fern Taylor who is a local massage and muscular therapist.

Fern resides in Rockport, MA where she welcomes clients into her lovely home on South Street for massages and muscular therapy. She caters to anyone who would like to simply enjoy a relaxing massage in a calm and quiet place, as well as somebody with a real need for specific therapeutic treatment. 

Fern provides several different services such as a special massage method for Relaxation & Stress Reduction, Deep Tissue Massage to release very tight muscles and relieve chronic pain, and Neuromuscular Massage which helps to balance the central nervous system. She is trained in Trigger Point Therapy, Sports Massage and Injury Rehabilitation as well. In addition Fern also offers Hot Stone Massage and Cranial-Sacral Massage which is particularly effective in relieving neck and back discomfort as well as migraine headaches. The Japanese healing method Reiki and Myofascial Release, a stretching technique, are also part of Fern's repertoire. In addition to her extensive certifications in Massage Therapy, Fern is a registered nurse, so one can trust that she knows what goes on in the human body and how to treat it right with the different types of therapy she is able to provide.

Massages are an incredibly effective way to pamper yourself in areas that really matter like getting better sleep or alleviating stress and pain. With so many of us spending hours at our desks, on computers or commuting in heavy traffic, a visit to Fern for a relaxing massage is just a great benefit for your overall health. Whether your back is in knots from hours of landscaping, or your neck totally kills because you regularly snooze in front of the TV, Fern can help you feel better in an hour. You deserve it!

The atmosphere is easy-going and pleasant in Fern's home, surrounded by her beautiful garden. Fern encourages her clients to participate in mapping out the right type of treatment for what ails them. She is an attentive listener and shows genuine concern for her clients' comfort and well-being. Fern will gladly focus on whatever her clients would like her to work on most, such as upper or lower back, feet, shoulders, etc. She doesn't have one pre-set course of action for everyone but really tailors each session to her clients' specific needs or requests.

Fern uses lovely scented oils and lotions, as well as an incredible menthol-herb rub which is really refreshing and excellent for soothing aching muschles. The massage bed can be heated which is priceless when you come in from the cold, and pleasant music is softly playing in the background while Fern massages the daily stresses and strains away. Since she works out of her home, clients get to enjoy complete privacy and affordable services along with very flexible hours during the week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and even on weekends.

Fern is nationally certified and newly Board certified. Congratulations, Fern! She takes pride in continuously educating herself about new developments in her field.

Consider treating yourself to a wonderful break from the daily grind, or give someone special a gift certificate for a massage. The health benefits, both physical and mental, are tremendous!

Visit Fern's website at 




56 South Street, Rockport, MA 01966











Good morning :-)

Is it me or are the weekends always flying by way faster than the work days? Monday morning is here once again, and back to business we go! 

I want to start the week with a really awesome post about Gloucester High School. We met a lovely lady, Nancy Goodman, when she attended the last meeting of the Cape Ann Referral Group. Nancy visited to tell us about the Gloucester High School Transition Program for which she is the Transition Coordinator. The GHS Transition Program aims to partner with local businesses to match students, who participate in various vocational programs, with part-time jobs which fit the skills they are acquiring at GHS. The Cape Ann Referral Group really enjoyed Nancy's presentation and I loved seeing her obvious pride in the students she is placing with local businesses. After Feature Friday I think this is a great subject for a Monday Blog post.

It is first of all great to hear that GHS offers quite a few vocational programs such as automotive tech, culinary arts, child study, computer aided design, residential building & carpentry, as well as electrical and machine technology. In addition, Cape Ann Savings Bank operates a bank branch with students at GHS. It is empowering for teenagers who have special talents and interests to achieve success in these fields when not faring as well in subjects like math or languages. Through the GHS Transition Program Nancy selects vocational program students for Cape Ann businesses who want to hire them for a few after-school hours, on weekends or during school vacations. She informs herself what an available job entails, enabling her to recommend the right student for the position. So now the students are not only acquiring valuable skills at school, they can also put them to good use. Gaining on the job experience will make them an even more valuable asset when they go on to apprenticeships or full-time jobs after graduation. Their bosses get a willing and well prepared young employee who appreciates the chance to utilize what they learn in school in the real world. It's a win-win situation!

Any student referred by the Transition Program will have collected three reference forms from former employers or from teachers. They will have been coached on how to approach you, for example the proper way to shake hands. They were advised on how to dress and how to respond to standard interview questions. Nancy also offers ongoing support or coaching to students once they have started their part-time jobs in the community to optimize their chances for success. 

Spring is the perfect time for you to consider ways that a high school student can serve your business, either after-school and on weekends until June or part- or full-time during the summer. Now is the time when things get busy on Cape Ann; who couldn't use an extra pair of capable hands?

Rich Naugle, manager at the Building Center, gives Nancy the following testimonial: “Nancy takes the time to learn about what the job requires and introduces me to students whose strengths match what I am looking for. She never pushes to place someone when the timing isn’t right for us."

Theresa Maddix, Personnel Coordinator at Shaw’s on Eastern Avenue, also has a very positive experience with the Transition Program: “I have been more than satisfied with the two students referred to me by Nancy Goodman.  I would encourage any employer who has a job for a high school student to work with Nancy to identify someone who would make a good fit for your business." 

Well said! This is a really impressive program and, knowing that our local business owners are very community-oriented, I hope lots of part-time positions will be filled with students through the GHS Transition Program <hint hint>

For further information about the GHS Transition Program, or to offer a part-time position to a student, please contact

Nancy Goodman at 978-290-0702

or e-mail her at:









TGIF(EATURE) FRIDAY HAHA ......I couldn't resist!

For today's FEATURE FRIDAY I am introducing:

Tim Sanborn of Cazeault solar & home

I'm not going to lie, I was a little apprehensive writing about solar energy since I knew next to nothing about it. On the other hand I was curious to interview Tim, especially since I've noticed more and more solar panels on roofs around Cape Ann lately.

Well, after 10 minutes of chatting with Tim all the great mysteries were solved and any misconceptions I had stand corrected. Like that you need hot weather and blazing sunshine for solar energy panels to be worth their while. Astonishingly Tim told me that my old homeland Germany is the leading country in solar energy use. Let me tell you, when I grew up there, residents often didn't see the sun for weeks haha. The truth is that solar panels actually don't like bright, hot sun. Who knew? Admit it, you thought the hotter the better, too, didn't you? 

Some Realtors maintain that it's detrimental to home values when futuristic looking solar panels clutter up a roof. Above you see Tim's house with solar panels expertly installed by Cazeault solar & home. It looks inconspicuous and very neat! In fact, installing solar panels to a roof increases the value of your home significantly. Tim pointed out a Department of Energy study which shows that every $1 savings on electricity increases your home's value by $20.00. It's definitely the way of the future.

Tim guided me through a breakdown of costs based on a 5 kilowatt system which consists of 20 panels for residential properties. He pointed out that solar is the only investment a home owner can make that not only saves but pays them money.

While the $21,500.00 investment sounds a little scary, there are several factors which offset that expense. And not over the course of eons like I assumed but in a short period of time.

For one, you get a Mass State Tax credit of $1,000.00. Then there is a $6,450.00 Federal Tax Credit. In the first year you already save $1,400.00 on electricity. And then there is something called SREC, which stands for Solar Renewable Energy Credit. SREC is essentially a cash bonus in the form of stock certificates. For every kilowatt hour of electricity the solar system creates, the owner receives a stock certificate worth $285.00 on average. A 5 kilowatt system as decribed above produces 6 SRECs. Now here comes some math, Einstein move over! 6 SRECs x $285 x 10 years. So for the first year the SREC revenue is already $1,710.00. Have you kept a running tally with me? What, no? I have to do all the calculations? Alright, fine, let the math doofus figure it all out. After deducting the above credits and savings, your 1st year out of pocket cost is $10,890.00. That already sounds less daunting and it gets even better: Within 4 years you break even on your investment and after that you actually start making money. Tim says that if it takes more than 4 years to break even, your solar contract is charging you too much and needs to be reviewed. 

Tim really knows his stuff, I mean look how much I'm able to write! He explained about available financing options with outright ownership where you use your equity to install the solar panels being the best. And PPA (Panel Purchase Agreement) being the least advantageous. This option by the way is what you usually see advertised so shop around. Better yet, call Tim!!! Companies offering no cost solar under a PPA will be quick to say that your home's location won't work for solar. Translation: They don't think they can make a profit fast enough. There are two other options: Ownership using equity loaned by the solar company, which is the second best as you receive all the credits while paying back the loan with interest at a fair rate. And leasing the panels, which is the third best option as far as making money back on your investment. I could go on and on about this but if you are toying with the idea of installing solar panels, Tim is the one to call for an expert consultation! I was really impressed with his vast knowledge and his ability to clearly explain the advantages of solar energy to a total ignoramus. 

Thank you, Tim, and happy weekend, everyone :-)

Tim can be reached at 844-765-2746 or by e-mail:

Tim is also a member of the Cape Ann Referral Group



Hello and happy Monday once again! Are the weeks flying by or what? 

It's 70 degrees (or almost) and I can't wait to sit outside and read for a bit. I need to soak up some of that glorious sunshine ;-)

You may have seen a link to the Cape Ann Referral Group's website included in several of our blog posts, and maybe you were wondering what exactly that group does. Well, let me tell you a little bit about it right now.

The Cape Ann Referral Group was founded by various business owners in our community, mostly Gloucester and Rockport, but of course Essex and Manchester members are welcome, too. Current members of at least 6 months recommend new members to join. Any recommendation is reviewed and voted on by the group. Only one profession is represented within the group at any one time, i.e. if there already is a plumber or electrician, a second one will not be approved to join unless that spot becomes vacant. We currently have an opening for an Appraiser and for many other services. Please contact us for additional information and we will gladly check for you if there is a vacancy for your specific type of business.

The yearly fee is $75.00 for the first year, after that the annual dues drop to $25.00. For that very reasonable payment you receive referrals within the group. These are not vague leads which never pan out like one might receive from internet sources who charge 10 times that. These are direct recommendations of each others' services to personally known customers and acquaintances right here on Cape Ann. And since every business category is represented only once, this is one arena were you don't have to fight for referrals, or experience a not so friendly competition within your netwoking group.

The Cape Ann Referral Group meets every other Wednesday, bright and early at 7.30 a.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 29 Eastern Ave in Gloucester. Early Birds who show up at 7 get to enjoy coffee and muffins (psst: there are plenty left even at 7.30 haha). We mingle, exchange valuable business info, observations and trends, refer each other, and also have a member give a presentation about their business at every meeting. It's fun and informal as well as very relevant because we are not talking about what is happening in California or Cape Cod, but right here on Cape Ann, in the very communities we conduct business in. Meetings are kept short and sweet, keeping in mind that members have work to do. 

Ask Fintan and me about this really awesome networking opportunity!!!! The next meeting is this Wednesday, April 15, 2015. We are happy to bring guests who would like to check it out :-) 









I'm super excited that I get to write about one of my all time favorite Rockport shops La Provence today! Opening the front door of La Provence is like stepping into a beautiful country store in the Provence region of France to be exact. 

Dawn Naves Noble has owned La Provence since May 2006. She is the quintessential local business owner, and the warm welcome, personal service and attention she bestows on every customer are the reasons why people choose to shop locally. With any luck you might even run into Dawn's little assistant, her vivacious daughter who clearly loves their shop as much as her Mom does.

Dawn has a real knack for merchandising, apparent in the thoughtfully selected original French table wares and linens, fancy soaps, music and much more, as well as in the presentation of these gorgeous items. Her window displays are always eye-catching and an asset to Main Street.

I'm in there frequently. So often in fact that my kitchen and dining room look like a La Provence outpost. Nothing dresses up your table for spring and summer like the stunning tablecloths Dawn imports. They come in various sizes, patterns and shapes, and some have a special coating which allows you to easily wipe off any spills. Of course there are matching napkins...and matching baguette or bread baskets. You can also get the lovely Provence fabrics, printed with traditional sunflowers, lavender and olives, as placemats and dish towels.

La Provence carries a line of dinnerware called Le Cadeaux which looks like expensive French porcelain. The colorful bowls, serving trays, plates and salad utensils are in fact made of Melanine which is durable and dishwasher safe. Nothing beats them for outdoor use but they are also a great every day alternative to fragile china especially if you have kids. Don't be shocked, I bought an entire set :-) For us real estate agents many items at La Provence are perfect for adding just the right decorative touches to a professionally staged For Sale property.

La Provence is THE place to shop for unique presents, fancy candles, high quality French soaps or luxurious Roger & Gallet lotions and perfumes, all while feeling like you traveled to France without the jetlag and language barrier.

Another remarkable aspect I would like to point out is Dawn's tireless promotion of Rockport's small businesses as well as her efforts to raise awareness of the fact that many stores in town are open all year. Dawn has been instrumental in implementing several very successful campaigns such as the "Shop Local" week during the holiday season, "Visit Rockport Year Round" and "Shop Rockport". Along with a group of other internet savvy business owners she dedicates a lot of time to social networking and marketing, not just for La Provence but on behalf of Rockport merchants in general.

Dawn's La Provence Facebook page is always worth a visit:

La Provence has been nominated for a 2015 BONS Award from North Shore Magazine.

Stop in and enjoy all that La Provence has to offer, or conveniently shop online at:

Current store hours:

 Photos graciously provided by Dawn Naves Noble











Happy Monday, everyone :-)

I hope you had a wonderful Easter and ate tons of chocolate bunnies and easter eggs! If you did, I won't feel so guilty for doing just that haha.

Team Fintan and Sybille is starting the week with an exciting new listing in Peabody!!!!

We are very proud to show off this beautifully renovated single family Colonial, which is located conveniently close to several major commuter routes (128, 114, 1 and 95) as well as.........wait for it........North Shore Mall and Liberty Tree Mall! OMG, I want to live there myself :-)

On Sunday, April 12, 2015 from 12 pm to 1.30 pm we will have the first OPEN HOUSE at 29 Highland Park, Peabody, MA.

Please stop by, and tell your home-buying friends and relatives to see this lovely property. There will be refreshments :-)

The owners did a ton of work since they purchased the house six years ago, including (but not limited to) a just finished, adorable half bath with built-in linen closet, new electrical wiring throughout, newly paved driveway, new flooring, new kitchen cabinets and granite countertops, newly constructed stairs to the second floor, a truly enchanting garden with wooden deck and stone pathway.....We love that they also created a trendier more open floor plan while keeping beautiful vintage touches throughout. 

This property is not only in pristine, move-in condition, it is also well priced. We can do showings this week!!!


Click here for a virtual tour of 29 Highland Park, Peabody, MA:

and on Facebook:

and on YouTube:













Everyone driving to and from Gloucester has seen the iconic red "Candy House" landmark off Exit 12 on Route 128. Nobody could possibly miss anything labeled candy, that's for sure! Getting out of my car at Nichol's Candies I detected the wonderful scent of quality chocolate in the air right away. Believe me, I hightailed it in there haha.

I received a warm welcome from the owner, Barbara, who runs Nichol's Candies together with her son and was happy to answer some of my questions about her local business.

Nichol's Candies is a Gloucester tradition since 1932! That is an astonishing 82 years, going on 83, during which this family-owned business has made Cape Ann residents and visitors happy by offering home made chocolates and candy 7 days a week. For holidays Nichol's Candies has an array of seasonal treats in addition to their regular favorites such as filled and solid chocolates, mints, nuts and sugar-free goodies. Customers can pick out their own assortments, making for a delicious present with a personal touch. The pretty Nichol's Candies boxed chocolates are the perfect hostess gift, and the cute chocolate pops are great favors to add to a festive holiday table.

During holidays like Christmas, Valentine's Day and now Easter the dedicated Nichol's Candies team opens longer hours to accomodate their customers' busy schedules, ensuring that no household has to go without Chocolate Santas or Marshmallow Peeps "in a chocolate puddle" (my favorite!).

For Easter you can purchase beautiful complete Easter Baskets as well as get adorable individual creations to assemble your own. The displays themselves are a feast for the eyes!

Nichol's Candies gift-wraps in their store, mails everywhere in the United States, and their candy can be conveniently ordered on their website:

You can read about the very interesting company history on there. Receiving Nichol's Candies by mail would be a very special Gloucester treat for friends near and far.

And here are, last but certainly not least, some photos of the delicacies Nichol's Candies currently offers. Happy Easter everyone, and thank you, Barbara, for participating in my weekly FEATURE FRIDAY post.

Yes, wise guys, of course I brought chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps back to the office ;-)


Feature Friday Preview


Hello, everyone! Isn't this the best afternoon in months, with humane temperatures and sunshine???? Forgive me for only posting a short entry today to let you know that

Nichol's Candies of Gloucester, MA

will be the business featured in tomorrow's FEATURE FRIDAY!

For this lovely Easter Weekend there just have to be chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, peeps and candy in here.

So please stay tuned for tomorrow!!!!




Traditional Easter Fountain in Franconia, Germany
Community Activities
Essex Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. at Essex Elementary School play yard
Rain Date: Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 8:30 a.m.

Join us for the Easter Bunny, gathering eggs, and prizes. We will begin punctually at 9 a.m.! Last year it took 3.45 minutes to gather all almost 4,000 eggs so don't be late. 
Manchester Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 9 a.m. at the Manchester Community Center
The egg hunt, which is co-sponsored with the Manchester Mother’s Club, has become a cherished Manchester tradition. From the pre-view party, balloons, little bunny face-painting and refreshments at the Manchester Community Center, to the Egg Hunt and visit from the Easter Bunny at Masconomo Park, community members of all ages are welcome to enjoy the fun! 
Rockport Community Egg Hunt
Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 2 p.m.

Rockport Community House, 58 Broadway, 2:00 p.m.

The Rockport Division of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the 25th annual Community Egg Hunt for the children of Rockport at the Rockport Community House, 58 Broadway in Rockport. Please note the new, indoor location for this year's event, due to the lingering snow cover and wet conditions at the Elementary School and Millbrook Meadow. 

Preschool children will be grouped in one section, and children in kindergarten and grade one in another. In addition to assorted candies and chocolates, the event will also feature a number of special eggs to be redeemed for prizes and a visit from the Easter Bunny.

 Religious Services

Easter Sunrise Service
Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 6:00 a.m. 
Good Harbor Beach footbridge
Cape Ann Clergy will be celebrating an ecumenical Easter sunrise service. We will be gathering near the footbridge side of Good Harbor beach. Everyone is invited to this time of worship and praise. Thank you, Rev. Cindy Antonuk for Cape Ann Clergy Association
Gloucester United Methodist
Gloucester United Methodist Church, Washington Street, Riverdale:
Holy Thursday Service, April 5 at 7 p.m. A foot washing ceremony; just as Jesus did for his disciples, will be offered during this service
Easter Sunrise Service, April 8. Gather at the concession stand at Good Harbor Beach at 6 a.m. and head down to the beach for the Sunrise Service at 6:12 a.m. All are welcome.
Easter Service, April 8, 9:30 a.m.
Holy Family Parish, Gloucester and Rockport
(St. Ann Church in Gloucester and St. Joachim Church in Rockport)
Wednesday, April 4, 9 a.m. Daily Mass at St. Joachim; 9:30-10:15 a.m. Confessions at St. Joachim; 6:30-8 p.m. Confessions at both churches
Holy Thursday (no 9 a.m. Mass) 7 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper, St. Ann. The Parish Hall remains open for prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until 11 p.m. when there will be Night Prayer.
Good Friday, 9 a.m., both churches, Morning Prayer; 3 p.m. (St. Joachim) and 7 p.m. (St. Ann), Service of the Lord’s Passion & Communion
Holy Saturday, 9 a.m. Morning Prayer (both churches); 11 a.m. to noon, Confessions at both churches; 3-4 p.m., Confessions at St. Ann; 7:30 p.m. at St. Ann, Solemn Easter Vigil Mass (no Mass at 4 p.m.)
Easter Sunday Masses: 8 and 10:30 a.m. St. Ann Church; 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. St. Joachim Church. (No 6:30 p.m. Brazilian Mass)
St. Mary’s Episcopal, Rockport
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Broadway, Rockport:
Wednesday, April 4: 4 p.m. Children’s Stations of the Cross
Thursday, April 5: 7 p.m., Maundy Thursday Service
Friday, April 6: 12 noon, Good Friday Liturgy of the Day
Saturday, April 7: 8 p.m., The Great Vigil of Easter
Sunday, April 8: 8 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Easter Sunday Services
Rockport Baptist Church
As part of its Easter celebration the Rockport Baptist Church invites the Cape Ann community to the following events:
Maunday Thursday Tenebrae Service on Thursday, April 5 at 7 p.m.
Good Friday Prayer vigil from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, April 6
Sunrise service at the Rockport Headlands at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 8, and an Easter Service on Sunday, April 8, at 10:30 a.m.
For more information visit FirstBaptistRockport.Org or call 978-546-6121. The First Baptist Church is located at 4 High St., Rockport.
Good Friday at Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport
A Good Friday service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport on Friday, April 6, at 7 p.m. The service addresses the dark side of life—Pain and loss; dying and death. “We are a community whose roots are in the Christian liberal tradition. While Jesus is not our Lord and Savior, his death and lasting influence on our culture are worthy of remembrance,” writes the Rev. Susan Moran. “The service will be filled with beautiful music and poetry, and time for reflection of our own losses.” All are welcome.
Essex Easter Sunrise Service
All are welcome to celebrate an Easter Sunrise service with the Essex churches on Easter Sunday morning, April 8, at 6:15 a.m. at Conomo Point. The service will be followed by an all community breakfast directly after the service at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church, Main Street in Essex. For details, call Rev. Art McDonald, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex, at 978-768-3690.
First Parish Church, Manchester
On the Town Green, Church St, Manchester, MA 01930
Palm Sunday, April 1, 10 a.m. worship. The sermon will be “Hosanna! Blessed is the One who Comes!” by the Rev. John Hughes. The Sunday School and Youth Choir will sing during worship.
Maundy Thursday, April 5, 7 p.m. Tenebrae of the Lights (traditional) with the Rev. John Hughes.
Easter Sunday, April 8, 10 a.m. “Trembling & Bewildered They said Nothing” by the Rev. John Hughes.
First Baptist Church, Manchester
First Baptist Church, 20 School St., Manchester, 978-526-4283.
Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service, 6:30 p.m.
Community Good Friday Service at Sacred Heart Parishm 60 School St., 12 noon
Easter Sunrise Service at Singing Beach, 6:12 a.m.
Easter Breakfast at the American Legion Hall
Resurrection Celebration, 10:45 a.m.



Hello, everybody :-)

As promised yesterday, this post is all about a wonderful Easter Sunday treat which I selected because it is a typical type of bread here on Cape Ann, and also because I am completely crazy about it. I would be addicted to it if it was more readily available haha. I can picture it now, all fluffy and cardamon-y, dunked into my coffee....OMG!!!!!!

This amazing bread is called Nissu, and it will be a delicious addition to your Easter Brunch.

Unfortunately I am not experienced enough as a baker to pull off making my own Nissu. I'm also not Swedish or Finnish, which I think you have to be in order to bake a really fabulous Nissu. Or maybe I'm just using that as an excuse to NOT even attempt it ;-)

Anyway, here is a recipe I carefully selected for you online. Good luck, let me know how it turns out (be careful, you might see me at your house on Easter Sunday for a slice). Just kidding.......



2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast


1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)


2 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)


3/4 cup sugar


1/2 cup butter, softened


1-1/2 teaspoons salt


3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom


2 eggs


7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour







  1. In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, sugar, butter, salt, cardamom, eggs and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  2. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Divide each half into thirds. Shape each piece into a 13-in. rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet. Braid ropes; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  3. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

Read more:

Pssst, if you are not brave enough to bake your own Nissu, I also know where you can buy some on most days while supplies last. Pre-ordering is highly recommended!




Good morning and have a happy start into a new week, everyone :-)

Easter is fast approaching and so I thought it would be helpful to throw out a few ideas for simple and reasonable decorations.

The easiest of all decorations is a vase (or 2, or 3 haha) of fresh spring flowers. While snow is still on the ground and it feels like January outside, places like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and our local supermarkets sell reasonable, gorgeous bouquets of classic spring favorites like hyacinths, tulips and daffodils. These will brighten your rooms with very little cost or effort.

One of my go-to's is something I always had at home in Germany: A decorative bucket or pitcher filled with forsythia or pussy-willow branches on which I hang pretty wooden easter eggs and assorted bunny ornaments. If you place freshly cut forsythia branches in warm water, they will bloom quickly and look awesome. Pussy-willow branches last for weeks and don't even require any water. It's perfect if you have rambunctious cats, trust me, I know!

Marshalls sells inexpensive and very cute Easter decorations also. Just pick up an adorable rabbit and place it on your table, or get a springy cup and saucer and fill it with Easter eggs, either chocolate or decorative ones. Jelly beans in pastel colors are also great. Simple yet beautiful. Marshalls also offers a nice selection of table runners or table cloths for an instant pop of spring color.

Marshmallow Peeps always look whimsical when arranged on a pastel colored dish or on a 2-or 3-tiered dessert stand along with some seasonal cookies.

Tomorrow I will post a recipe for a mouthwatering Easter Sunday treat :-)








Pascal Madden came to the United States from County Cork, Ireland in the late 1980's. He is multi-talented in building construction and the automotive field, having worked alongside his father in the family construction business. Pascal owns and operates Mobile Lube, which is an oil change service on wheels that comes to you wherever it is most convenient for you to have your vehicle's oil changed. Sitting in a waiting room thumbing through old magazines while you get an oil change is so yesterday. A quick call to Pascal is all it takes and he swoops in with his fully stocked Mobile Lube truck to change your oil and filter outside of your office during work or in your driveway while you enjoy your breakfast. He has weekends and evening hours available as well as early mornings to accommodate his customers' busiest schedules. I have been a client of Pascal's for 7 years now and couldn't be happier. Pascal changes the oil, installs a new filter and tops off all the fluids. He works quickly and cleanly, not one drop of old oil can be found on the ground after he leaves.

The Mobile Lube service is particularly convenient for anyone who owns large equipment such as excavators, backhoes, bobcats, etc. Rather than driving these monsters all over the Cape for an oil change, Pascal simply stops by wherever they are parked, sparing the owners the hazzle and expense of moving their equipment to a garage. Pascal has a keen eye and will alert you if anything appears to be wrong with your car as well.

Prices vary according to what type of filter and oil your vehicle requires, as well as the amount of oil needed.

Pascal's motto is: "Mobile Lube comes to you for a change"

And I can tell you, the convenience is priceless!


Pascal Madden


17 Pigeon Hill St.
Rockport, MA 01966

Pascal is also a member of the Cape Ann Referral Group








How to win a Real Estate Bidding War



Hello :-) Maybe you were watching the 11 pm news last Tuesday and saw the segment about the current low inventory of For Sale properties. There are a lot of eager, qualified buyers out there, competing for limited amounts of houses. What that means is that well priced homes in good condition can have multiple offers within just a few days of going on the market. It's a so-called sellers' market but there are steps you can take to have a fair chance at getting your dream home even when a bidding war ensues.

So what are the weapons of choice???

BE WELL INFORMED! To compete in a bidding war, you need to do your homework in preparation for the home purchase. You have to know about property values in your neighborhood of choice. And you need to be sure about what you want, what is important to you as far as price, size, location and specifics of a new home.

DON'T WAGE THE WAR ALONE! Hire a buyer's agent (hint hint) who gets you into a For Sale property for a showing as quickly as possible, and who can guide you through the intricacies of making offers.

BE THE FIRST TO KNOW! Sign up on our website to receive alerts whenever a new property in your specified area and price range hits the market. You will have the same quick access to what's new in MLS that we have. Of course there is no cost and no obligation for becoming a member on our website.

GET A PRE-APPROVAL LETTER! Select a lender and loan product, complete everything the lender requires and have a pre-approval letter in hand before you make an offer. We can refer you to knowledgeable loan officers.

BE CAREFUL! Offering the most money might seem like the best way to win a bidding war, but beware of these pitfalls: You may be tempted to overbid in the heat of the moment but know that a major component of obtaining a mortgage is the appraisal. If you are offering more than the appraised value, you need to pay for the difference because the lender will not give you a mortgage for more than a certain percentage of what the property gets appraised for. 

BE FLEXIBLE! Sellers don't always choose the highest offer. They often prefer offers that are most likely to go through and that meet their conditions, as well as offers with few contingencies and without conditions which could cause closing delays. A fair, straight forward offer without demands for the seller may trump a higher monetary offer with a gazillion pain-in-the-neck specifications.
I leave you with a few photos of a beautiful, newly constructed home on 16 Andrews Court in Gloucester, MA, priced at $439,900.00. Feel free to call us if you would like to take a look :-)
MLS # 71804927


New Freddy Mac 3% down Home Loan Program

Attention, attention :-) There is a new home loan product called : Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage(SM) Mortgage which allows qualified buyers to obtain a mortgage with only 3% down!!!!

Here are some important facts; for additional information please click the link below the picture for KeepingCurrentMatters, brought to you by your favorite Real Estate Team Fintan & Sybille :-)

  • Home Possible Advantage offers qualified low- and moderate-income borrowers a conforming conventional mortgage with a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 97 percent.
  • Home Possible Advantage mortgages can be used to buy a single family property or for a "no cash out" refinance of an existing mortgage.
  • First time homebuyers must participate in an acceptable borrower education program to qualify for Home Possible Advantage. FTHB education classes are available through local banks and lenders as well as Freddie Mac.
  • Home Possible Advantage mortgages are offered as fixed rate mortgages with terms of 15, 20 and 30 years.

This is a great opportunity for qualified buyers to get into their own home by summer while mortgage rates are still low even if they don't have a 20% down payment saved!!!! Ask us about getting pre-approved!

Tomorrow I will blog about the current low inventory of For Sale properties and how arming yourself with the right tools can improve your chance of winning a bidding war (hint: it's not always the highest offer that gets accepted).

German Fruit Tart Recipe



Happy Monday once again :-)

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love poking around at Marshalls and TJ MAXX. I usually find something unique and on my last shopping trip I discovered a German pie dish for fruit tart. Not that I actually knew how to bake one, but there was no way I'd leave a German pie dish for $4.99 at the store. So to use it I researched some recipes and found this total gem! It is easy to bake (believe me!) and a fun and fast project. I made one yesterday morning before breakfast for a proper Sunday afternoon coffee-klatsch. Here is the recipe, translated for you by yours truly. Guten Appetit!



  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1Tbs baking powder
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1 pound of strawberries, halved
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1/4 cup white sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 Cup Whipping cream




All ingredients should have room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a metal pie baking dish (doesn't have to be a German one haha).

Beat margarine, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and salt until foamy. Mix the baking powder with the flour and stir half of the mixture into the liquid ingredients with a spoon. Follow with 1 Tbs milk, then the rest of the flour and the other Tbs milk. Stir until a smooth dough forms.

Fill the dough evenly into the pie dish and bake it at 350 degrees on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove cake from baking dish, let it cool and cover it with strawberries (all types of berries work very well!)
For the glaze, mix together the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Whisk in the water and bring to a boil over medium heat; boil gently for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Spoon the glaze evenly over the fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.



Welcome to our second edition of Feature Friday, this time featuring

Ben's Wallpaper & Paint!


Upon entering the store for my interview I received a friendly greeting from the store owners' son Jason Mitchell, that's Jason on the right, and store manager of 22 years Jeff (left in the photo).

They proudly provided me with a lot of great information about the store, which Jason's parents Bonnie and Joseph Mitchell have owned and operated for 42 years now. For the past 18 years Ben's has been located at 6 Railroad Avenue in the heart of downtown Gloucester. Behind the store is a parking lot with 20 spots along with another entrance. Anyone who shops downtown will realize that this is a HUGE plus because parking is hard to come by. Ben's opens early at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday to accommodate contractors and professional painters who can shop for their paint and supplies before heading out to their work sites. They are also open on Saturdays. Along with their convenient hours and location, Ben's offers a huge, well organized selection of all merchandise related to painting. Brushes in all shapes and sizes, specialty power tools, wallpaper, stains, lacquers and specialty coatings. This is absolutely a 1-stop shop and Jason pointed out that they try to carry a well-rounded inventory for their customers.

Of course paint is a huge seller at their store with Benjamin Moore paint being the primary brand sold. Custom colors are mixed to order while you wait, and they can also match any other manufacturer's color. I have painted my entire house with Benjamin Moore paint from Ben's, enjoying the expert advice and perfectly mixed and matched colors (I'm still one of those "every room a different color" people haha). They work closely with local realtors, and with Varian and Gorton's Seafood, two major Gloucester businesses.

One lesser known fact is that Ben's also does window treatments. Their well trained team visits your home for a consultation, measures the windows and installs the window treatments you pick from a large sample selection of styles and fabrics. Consultation and installation are FREE!

Jason and Jeff told me about the importance Ben's places on community involvement. They generously donate supplies and assistance to the local YMCA as well as City of Gloucester youth programs and other worthy projects. Ben's also recently gifted the Magnolia Library and the Gloucester High School theater with materials. I loved hearing that because it clearly shows that when you shop locally and support your hometown businesses, they are then in the position to give back to their community as Ben's is consistently doing.

I greatly enjoyed my visit and chat with Jason and Jeff. Before I hopped back in my car I just had to take a quick snapshot of the awesome mural at the back entrance, and another of the side of the building where it looks like painters are hard at work. What could be more fitting?

Ben's Wallpaper & Paint

6 Railroad Avenue

Gloucester, MA 01930




Store Hours Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.










Almost time for another Feature Friday


Hello and sorry for not delivering any new blog posts this week!!!! We had a little website glitch involving the complete, sudden disappearance of all home page content AND, strangely, the Blog toolbar! It was a little like having the Y2K total meltdown everyone expected 15 years too late haha. I would like to insist that it was NOT due to an operator error, however I had been fiddling around with the webpage, adding photos and general decorative touches, right before it all happened.

But we're BACK and right in time for the second FEATURE FRIDAY. Are you excited for tomorrow??? Our featured business will be Ben's Wallpaper & Paint on Railroad Avenue. I love that store for the outstanding expert advice I have received on numerous occasions.

Exhibit A, below, is a before and after photo of my "Dublin" door. After seeing all the colorful front doors in Ireland's capital, I headed straight from the airport to Ben's Wallpaper & Paint where Bonnie, the always helpful owner, provided me with all the necessary tools and tips, as well as the perfect shade of blue, for my very own Irish door right here in Gloucester. Stay tuned!






The big day has arrived and this is the first of many Feature Friday posts where I highlight a great local business to show that we Cape Ann residents don't need to go "up the line" to get stellar goods and services.

The debut Feature Friday is all about Guaranteed Rate and its lovely local Branch Manager Katherine McNally


Guaranteed Rate is one of the 10 largest home loan lenders in the U.S. They offer turnaround times in as little as 2 weeks and loan products to fit almost every need. They proudly have a 96 percent customer satisfaction rating.

Katherine McNally was a pleasure to interview for this post because she is warm, outgoing, knowledgeable, fun to talk to, and she was happy to share some valuable tips with all of us. It was immediately clear to me that she truly cares for her clients and will work very hard to get them the best rate and benefits when they come to her for a mortgage. My business partner Fintan has the good sense of referring clients to Guaranteed Rate, and it really makes him happy when they receive outstanding service from Katherine.

Katherine handles the all important pre-approvals which you should obtain before you start looking to buy a property. Going to showings armed with a pre-approval letter validates you as a qualified buyer, which is especially beneficial in a low inventory market. She originates, underwrites and closes her clients' mortgage transactions. She has well established relationships with local attorneys who, as a special service, will review your Purchase & Sales Agreements free of charge. When you apply with Katherine at Guaranteed Rate you don't have to worry that your personal information such as Social Security numbers or annual income is floating around in cyberspace, being received by lord knows who. While Guaranteed Rate of course offers secure online applictions and allows you to keep track of your mortgage status on their technologically very advanced website, the application itself lands on Katherine's desk where it is treated with the highest confidentiality. With 21 years of experience she is perfectly equipped to navigate the fast changing guidelines and regulations of the lending industry for which you "practically need a pilot's license" as she cleverly put it. Well, fasten your seatbelts for take-off because Katherine can guide you through the often daunting process of obtaining a mortgage.

In addition to flexible hours (literally, as she makes herself available for clients' calls even on weekends and evenings), Katherine has access to product and rate information from 16 different lenders, including special First Time Homebuyer programs, jumbo mortgages with good rates and MA Housing mortgages where you only have to put 3% down without paying PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). 20% is usually the norm to avoid PMI. Since PMI is no longer tax deductible, Katherine's array of products now includes mortgages where buyers have to put down only 5% with the lender paying the PMI. That is a great deal because PMI will stay with you month after month until your home has reached a 20% Loan-to-Value, which can be years!

Katherine works with clients who need to improve their credit scores to qualify for a mortgage or for a better rate. She has three important tips for potential buyers who are in the process of qualifying for a mortgage:

  • Don't close any of your credit card accounts
  • Don't open a lot of new ones
  • Keep the balances at 30% or less of your credit limit of each credit card

Once pre-approved it is important to continue adhering to that advise because another credit report will be pulled shortly before closing. Ideally that one should not have a lower score than the first because mortgage rates depend, next to the down payment and the loan amount, on the applicant's credit score.

Here are a few other words of wisdom from Katherine when looking for a loan officer:

  • Ask for referrals from friends and your real estate agent. Who they enjoy working with is usually a good bet
  • Interview loan officers so you can determine whose personality you would be confident to work with the most
  • Experience and knowledge are most important
  • Work with a local office where the loan officer knows the area, as well as other professionals important to your transaction, such as attorneys, appraisers, etc.
  • The best rate and most convincing sales pitch is not a guarantee for a smooth transaction

Thank you, Katherine, for these valuable insights and for being the first for Feature Friday!

Katherine's office is located on the second floor of the Para Research building at 85 Eastern Avenue in Gloucester.

Phone: 978-879-9313
Fax: 978.522.8319

Katherine is also a member of the Cape Ann Referral Group




Hello dear Website-Visitors :-)

Thursday's Blog will be a little shorter than usual because I am getting ready for the debut of FEATURE FRIDAY tomorrow!!!!

So I just want to quickly show off our new logo!

Have a great afternoon, watch out for the First Ipswich Bank robber in the red sweatpants (jeez!) whose get-away car was a cab. Why do I have a feeling he will appear on some "Most Stupid Criminals" TV show in the near future?










Family Fun Day at Cape Ann Museum


Our lovely hometown of Gloucester is the site of one of the oldest artist colonies located on Rocky Neck, where you can still find quaint art studios and galleries today. For 150 years artists such as Fitz Henry Lane, Emile Gruppe, Childe Hassam, Milton Avery, Cecilia Beaux, John Sloan, Stuart Davis, Frank Duveneck and many others came to Cape Ann to paint, sculpt and even teach art classes while summering here.

Also located in Gloucester, downtown on Pleasant Street, is the very interesting and impressive Cape Ann Museum, which is dedicated to showcasing local artists' paintings and sculptures as well as other artifacts related to our rich fishing history. It is absolutely worth a visit.

On the second Saturday of every month entry is free for families with school-aged children. Visitors are invited to join the Museum staff along with special presenters in the Children’s Activity Center, where they can participate in art, history and cultural activities.

This Saturday, March 14, the Cape Ann Museum's Family Fun Day features the following presentation:

A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists on Cape Ann.

Please see the links below for additional information.

Art is all around us as everyone frequently passes the huge statue of Joan of Arc by Anna Hyatt Huntington, or the newer Fishermen's Wives Memorial by Morgan Fields-Pike on the Boulevard, not to mention the famous "Men at the Wheel" statue. Any child growing up on Cape Ann should learn about our amazing history of arts and artists. It is almost as important as knowing how to swim for anyone living so close to the ocean. Wo knows, maybe your daughter will turn out to be a future woman artist!

Below is a fabulous "Glosta Lobsta" painted by local artist Jeff Weaver which my former boss, who is involved with the Cape Ann Museum, displays along with his awesome collection of Cape Ann artists.



Home Inspection Deal Breakers


Good morning once again from sunny Gloucester, MA :-)

With more new listings hitting the Real Estate Market every day and pretty quick sales, a good subject for today's Daily Tidbits Blog is Home Inspections. The rule is that once an offer has been submitted and accepted, the prospective buyer has 10 days to conduct a home inspection. It is best to make arrangements right away and not wait until day 10, since you want to allow time not only for the inspector to send you the report, but also for making decisions on the results.

Now, absolutely no home inspection will turn up flawless. It's like going to a new hairdresser where the fine work of the former one is critiqued for every hair out of place. Sometimes it involves trickery like when my wonderful home inspector discovered that the gas cooking stove we loved (and which was prominently featured in all ads) was not connected to any kind of gas source. There was no gas.... There also was no electrical outlet to plug in a stove.... Needless to say the seller had to take care of installing a propane tank and getting the oven connected. Many times issues are negotiable and, depending on the circumstances, will either get corrected by the seller or by a reduction of the purchase price so the buyer can fix them.

So there are minor issues which can be fixed quickly and reasonably (i.e. outdated power outlets, old pipes) and then there are findings which should make the buyer run the other way unless the purchase price is super low and the buyer likes a challenge involving plenty of available funds.

The following list points out five Red Flags:

1. Water intrusion and grading problems Water in the basement, condensation or mold on the walls and ceilings, and dampness in the air indicate moisture and drainage problems that could cost you a lot of money to fix. Trust your nose if you detect a musty odor. These issues are often a sign of improper grading which means water will continue to flow in. And mold is not only unsightly but dangerous to your health.

2. Structural damage Cracked walls, as well as poorly fitting windows and doors are signs of structural damage. Your cost to fix these problems can run anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000. Ouch!

3. Roof repairs Old shingles, water stains on ceilings or rotting rafters are all indicators that the roof may need to be replaced. This is another really expensive repair, and usually one which cannot wait long. After a down payment and closing costs, who has $$$ left over for a new roof?

4. Window replacement Windows that don't open or close easily (or at all!), fit the frame poorly or display condensation between the panes may need to be replaced. Depending on the number nd quality of windows, this could run between $5,000 and $15,000. Sometimes there may only be one or two windows affected. In that case it is not such a major problem but it should be a heads-up to really examine all the windows very closely.

5. Insect infestation A general inspection should show you whether the home has a pest problem, which may require a more in-depth examination by an expert (aren't you glad you didn't have the home inspection on day 9?). This is a serious issue because some pests (termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees) can cause structural damage.

We as your agents can recommend fair and knowledgeable home inspectors who we work with frequently, and who like us so much <bigsmile> that they want to really watch out for our clients! This is why I now have a functioning gas stove and can cook all those recipes I'm posting here ;-)

I leave you with a photo of a gorgeous VERY old farm house in my VERY small home village of Giech, Germany. Don't even pretend you've heard of the place! A classmate of mine grew up in this house which is built in the "Fachwerk" style, and I'm very excited to go back to Giech in May for...wait for 40th First Communion Reunion!!!

Enjoy the sunshine ;-)


Easy Recipe for Halibut Provencale


Hello and happy (I know, that's questionable) Monday, Everyone :-)

        You may have noticed that I like to mix it up and not only post real estate related things on our Daily Tidbits Blog. I pretty much fly by the ample seat of my pants and blog about whatever comes to mind. It could be anything, like a loose canon, but no worries, it will be nothing even close to Fifty Shades of Grey haha. I also like to eat so here's another recipe, one I literally dug up in the car after I ended up getting halibut fillet on my weekly fish run at Steve Connolly Seafood Co.      The problem with being a moderately talented cook is that you are kind of set in your ways and have a few recipes in your repertoire which you know you won't mess up. I did not have one for halibut but we already ate tuna last week and the swordfish steaks on display had too much dark meat on them. I'm weird like that! The halibut fillet looked divine but messing up a $20 piece of fish without chefly guidance was not an option. What the heck did we all do before smartphones and ipads? As soon as my seafood bag had disappeared into the trunk I was hitting the minuscule buttons on my cell and searched for "hslibut revipw". Yes, this is what always happens and Google is used to it. I found lots and was afraid to tie up the parking space for too long as Friday is Fishday for many Cape Ann residents. So I quickly settled on Halibut Provencale because most of its ingredients were already present in my kitchen, which I suspected because I ordered Haddock Provencale once in a restaurant.

Well, it was really delicious and easy to make, so I am happy to pass it along. Bon Appetit!


Halibut Provencale

Serve with rice and salad

1 pound halibut fillet (I worked with 1 piece, but halfing it first might make it easier to flip, hindsight is 20/20)

3 TBS olive oil

1 small Vidalia onion, chopped (I buy packaged chopped onions)

2 gloves of garlic, minced (I use frozen cubes)

Herbs de Provence spice (a mix of rosemary, thyme, sage and basil). I used that but the recipe actually calls for just salt

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh ground black pepper

2 cups diced, canned tomatoes, drained (I bought an organic brand called Glen Muir at Market Basket)

1/4 cup sliced black olives (they have little cans with already sliced ones for lazy cooks)

(I omitted the 1/4 cup of capers but you are welcome to use them if you must)


Sprinkle the halibut fillet on both sides with Herbs de Provence (don't be shy, it's a great flavor)

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in non-stick pan and saute the halibut fillet until it is nicely browned and flaky

Remove the fish from the pan and add the other TBS of olive oil

Add onions and garlic, cook stirring frequently until the onions look glassy

Add the tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add the fish back in

Simmer for 8 minutes, spooning sauce over the fillet a few times

Voila, you are ready to eat!



Starting next week: FEATURE FRIDAY


*********BREAKING NEWS**********

Good morning, dear Readers!

Yesterday must have been my creative high point of the week because I came up with the BRILLIANT idea to feature a local business every Friday in our Daily Tidbits Blog. I'll call it FEATURE FRIDAY. Cool, right?

Anyway, what gave me the idea is that I sent a few thank you notes out to businesses I dealt with a lot during my 9 years of office management for a major local landlord. I arranged for plumbing, carpet installation, painting, appliance purchases, etc, etc, on a daily basis for 150 apartments in 33 buildings. In addition, Fintan and I belong to a wonderful group called the Cape Ann Referral Group which meets twice a month. New members are carefully selected by recommendations followed by votes from existing members only, so we have another excellent resource of dedicated local professionals we can refer with confidence. I thought it would be a great service to pass this valuable information on to our clients and readers of our blog. It takes a little of the guess work out of who to hire for property-related jobs or where to purchase materials from a knowledgeable expert. Just for fun I will also mix in some surprises like where to find fabulous little home accessories or gourmet treats for a get-together. We have so many amazing local vendors and service professionals right here on Cape Ann, it's going to be a lot of fun to present them in our blog.

So this is how FEATURE FRIDAY is going to work, starting next Friday (my idea came too late at night for today, sorry):

I will call or visit the weekly featured business during the week. The owner or manager can give me a few pointers of what they would like me to mention about their specialties. Of course there will be a link to their website if applicable, and I will either take a photo myself or, if preferable, will post one the owners provide me with.

For a quick look-up of any featured business' contact information you are always welcome to access our website's Business Directory. Just let them know where you found them :-)

Get ready for FEATURE FRIDAY next week!!!!!

Until the big day I will leave you with a link to the Cape Ann Referral Group's website and a photo of Rockport's beautiful Old Garden Beach in warmer days which are sure to some point :-)

Enjoy the weekend!



Quick Chicken & Bisquits Recipe


After yesterday's detailed Real Estate related post I feel it is time for another recipe. And boy do I have a super-easy one for you! This crowd-pleaser you'll whip out like an ace from your sleeve when everyone thinks that you are just way too busy to cook dinner. Superwoman (or man)!!!!!

Chicken & Bisquits

Ingredients for 4-6 servings:

Rotisserie Chicken breast weighing 1.5-2 pounds (yes, the already prepared ones Market Basket sells!). If you want to use a whole chicken that works too. Choose one weighing about 3.5 pounds in that case.

10 oz package frozen mixed vegetables (the classic peas, carrots, green beans combo is good!)

10.75 oz can of condensed cream-of-mushroom soup

1/4 tsp kosher salt & 1/4 tsp black pepper

10-count tube refrigerated biscuits


Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Shred the chicken (using your hands works best and fastest)

Combine the shredded chicken, veggies, soup, salt, pepper and 3/4 cup water in a large bowl and stir together

Transfer the mixture into an oven-safe casserole, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes

Remove the foil, cover the filling with the biscuits (sit lightly on top, don't press them too far into the mix)

Bake until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

And that's it!


{I also made the same dish with a package of fresh, waffle-sliced carrots and fresh peas once, which was excellent}



How to prep your home for Sale


The sun is shining today, it's not freezing cold, and that spring is not too far off somehow seems like an actual possibility :-)

Now is a great time to prepare for putting your house up for sale because inventory is low right now, spring is always perfect for new beginnings, and it is a seller's market which means your property should sell quicker and closer to your asking price. The still very competitive mortgage rates contribute to this favorable real estate sales scenario as well.

Another super important factor in a successful listing is the way you present your valuable asset. Of course there are professional stagers we work with and can recommend, and there are sellers who can benefit greatly from renovating an older kitchen or bathroom. But if you are not up for that, and your cabinets are newer than the ones at Downton Abbey, simple tweaks can make a big difference in sales price achieved and length of time on the market. Here are some helpful suggestions from our RE/MAX website:


Outside: Think Curb Appeal!

• After the 3-blizzards-per-week-winter we had it's not easy to get rid of the mountains of snow, but give it your best shot! Make sure access to your front door is clear and clean. Remove "yellow" snow :-)
• Provide a safe area (i.e. your driveway) for buyers to park
• Sweep/clear sidewalks and porches, no lawn chair space savers allowed
• Remove or refresh dated or personalized fixtures such as door knockers, signs and lights
• Put all toys, sleds, snowboards, etc. away (big boy toys such as snowblowers, shovels or ATVs count as well)
• Repair gutters, shutters, siding or roof shingles as needed
• Add a cute, tasteful welcome mat to the front door, which will also help keep some of the dirt out of your home
• Clean windows because they are, as my grandmother always used to say: "The eyes" of your house

Spend time away during showings (Shopping! Movies! Coffee!) because hanging around no matter how discreetly can make potential buyers feel sheepish. They will not be comfortable exploring the house and making observations among themselves or to their buyer's agent. And if they did, would you like to overhear "opinions" about your stylish, chic and fancy home? Me either!

Put together a quick flyer about your neighborhood that your listing agent can share with potential buyers. We will be happy to do this for you if you provide us with information on fun local happenings, things you love about your area, and anything that makes the community a great place to live.

Inside: Think uncluttered and streamlined!

Give your home a good scrubbing top to bottom. Sweep away cobwebs on ceilings, dust on baseboards, wash floors and spiffy up the bathroom & kitchen. Say buh-bye to clutter; look at it as a great start to your own moving process. That 1988 video tape collection you can't use anymore because the VCR died years ago? The college text books you haven't opened since graduation? 3 boxes of Barbie paraphernalia belonging to your little girl who is now a doctor at Mass General? You will feel free as a bird without all that stuff! Repeat after me: Yard sales are FUN!!!

• Add a fresh coat of paint to the walls or, if pressed for time, at least wipe them down and apply little touch-ups
• Put away family photos and weed out wall decorations. Think about how strategically a few special items are placed in interior design magazines. That's just the look we're aiming for! In the kitchen, hide appliances and keep counters clear. We don't want it to look like actual bread toasting and coffee making is going on in there, as weird as that sounds
• Remove personal items, such as trophies, souvenirs, and those assorted Hummels great-aunt Beulah bequeathed to you
• Replace worn carpets and shampoo the ones that are still in good shape
• Polish wood floors to gleaming perfection
• Prominently display a gorgeous spring bouquet and add a green plant here and there. If buyers need a machete to make it through the house, you've overdone it a bit
• Let the sunshine in! Most people love a bright home so up go the shades and remove the major dust collectors a.k.a. heavy draperies too while you're at it
• Get one of those concentrated Yankee Candle room sprays in a cozy fragrance like Kitchen Spice, Cinnamon or anything resembling baked goods. Spritz lightly around the house. Lightly being the operative word

• If you have furry friends sharing your home, make sure they are safely locked away or take Cujo with you. Cats are usually not fond of pet carriers but it is in their best interest to briefly confine them to one during showings

Call us when you're finished and we will do everything else :-)


"Wow, this house is exactly what I was looking for!!!!"...said no buyer...EVER!



See an authentic Chinese House!


Hello and happy Sunday afternoon (snow-less so far!!!),

Come see an authentic Chinese house from the Qing Dynasty!

Don't worry, this is not a new listing we captured and are now trying to show and sell to you haha. Although it is a quite fetching property.....No, this house I'm blogging about now has literally been relocated from Southeastern China and painstakingly rebuilt at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. Touring this amazing merchant's domicile is a great way to spend an afternoon, seeing something truly unique, and feeling like you took a trip back in time to another continent. I like that you are able to walk around freely and peek into the interestingly furnished rooms at your leisure.

And if this "showing" gets you interested in actually relocating yourself to a new home, you know who to call :-)


Movie night!


Woohoo, the weekend is here - finally! Now what to do since there is still way too much dirty snow lying around and, if you are like me, you just don't feel like spending too much time outside in the cold. Dito for driving out of town (across the bridge!!!) to fight for parking at the mall. Of course there is always Netflicks and On Demand so you don't need to leave your house at all. But I may have a better idea: The Cape Ann Cinema and Stage, right downtown Gloucester at 21 Main Street, is showing the movie "Still Alice" starting today. It runs until Thursday, March 5th. The showing times for today, tomorrow and Sunday are 1 pm, 4 pm and 6.30 pm. Next week, Monday through Thursday, it is playing at 5 pm and 7 pm. Julianne Moore just won the Oscar for Best Actress (and the Golden Globe and the SAG Award) for playing linguistics professor Dr. Alice Howland, a brilliant woman who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. The movie is based on the novel with the same title by Lisa Genova which was excellent! I am dying to see this movie. If you are worried about leaving your couch, the Cape Ann Cinema actually features comfy couches to sit on, plus you are allowed to bring in your favorite movie candy or snack. Start the evening at one of our excellent local restaurants and you will be glad you got out of the house for a little bit :-)

Have a lovely weekend!


Wicked (good!) Tuna




One major perk of living in Gloucester, MA is the access to super-fresh-straight-from-the-ocean seafood. Literally everything is available: Lobster, scallops, tuna, swordfish, clams, haddock, name it! My go-to place for quickly grabbing something for dinner is Steve Connolly's Seafood which is located near the waterfront, very close to the commercial harbor and fishing docks. So clearly, you could not get any fresher fish and that's something you can taste! Two nights ago I scored an outstanding, picture-perfect piece of tuna (see proof below haha). When you start with a protein of that quality, preparing the meal is so simple! I just seasoned the tuna with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and pan-seared it in a little bit of olive oil. Once browned on the outside I added some freshly squeezed lemon juice and let the tuna steak cook a little bit longer. Served with roasted red bliss potatos and a fresh cucumber salad, this dinner really was the highlight of the week!

Whether you cook seafood at home or go out to the excellent restaurants around Cape Ann, you won't be disappointed!



Almost time for the Boston Flower Show


I don't know about you but the Boston Flower Show is a much anticipated winter (almost spring!!!) highlight for me every year. And after this horrendously snowy February I practically cannot wait. Luckily it starts in a couple of weeks, on Wednesday, March 11 through Sunday, March 15.

It is such a fun place to enjoy amazing flower creations, from individual arrangements to fabulous garden design ideas. Just to see tulips, daffodils and green leaves for a couple of hours is a huge relief! After my annual Flower Show visit I am always looking forward to setting up my brick patio come May. Below are a couple of shots of last year's displays, along with a picture of my beloved "French Potting Station" (I have no clue what potting stations in France actually look like but doesn't it sound so hoity-toity? Haha)

I found the yellow shabby-chic table at an antique shop in Essex, MA. It must have been a vanity in its past because it came with a matching mirror. It was already painted yellow which I liked, but to prep it for outdoor use I (well, my husband) sprayed it with a clear lacquer. That helped it hold up fairly well despite enthusiastic watering and the elements in general. I usually stop by Wolf Hill Garden Center right here in Gloucester, or Kane's Flower World on Route 114 in Danvers, to get reasonably priced herbs and simple flowers such as lavender, small geraniums and daisies. The center piece every year is a Mandevilla plant, which looks wonderful climbing up the wall and blooming like crazy for months. This year for the first time I tried to bring it through the winter by taking it to a protected area and wrapping it in burlap. I'll let you know how that went once I bring it out of hibernation :-)

Up to 10 K for First Time Homebuyers!!!


Did you know that the City of Gloucester proudly offers a loan of up to $10,000.00 to eligible homebuyers who purchase a property in beautiful Gloucester? This program provides financial assistance which can cover some of the down payment or closing costs for income qualified buyers.

And the best part? It's a deferred loan which does not have to be repaid until you rent, sell, transfer title, or when the property is no longer your principle place of residence. In other words, if you never do any of these things, you never have to pay it back! So far this loan has assisted over 300 new first time homeowners according to the City of Gloucester website. Along with the still low mortgage rates, this could be just the thing for those of you who can get a mortgage without any problems, but may not want to sink all your cash into closing costs for example. After all, a new house needs lots of new decorations, which are much more fun to pay for than title insurance and registration fees haha.

You could be parking with a resident beach sticker at Good Harbor Beach next summer ;-)

Find a lot more information about this awesome 10K loan program, including an online application form, at:


Beautiful Gift Baskets for our Buyers


When I came into our RE/MAX Advantage Gloucester office today I passed these absoutely beautiful gift baskets, waiting to be deliverd to three lucky buyers who just closed on their new homes. Our agents give the baskets, filled with local goodies, special deals and gift certificates, to all of our buyer-clients as a welcoming present to their new houses and/or communities. If any local merchants are interested in participating, please feel free to contact me and I can get you in touch with Audrey Donovan of Donovan Business Solutions, who came up with this great idea and who personally arranges these impressive baskets. Now I want to by a house, just to get my mitts on one of them haha.

Have a fabulous weekend, stay warm and dry!!!!




Baking afternoon


Well once again we had a bit of snow this afternoon but I was just out long enough to enjoy the 15 minutes of sunshine and humane temperatures. This put me in an excellent mood, so I threw on the ipod with my crazy music mix (Abba to ZZ Top and everything in between including Les Miserables and Tchaikovsky, ipods were invented for me!), and got into baking. Now baking is NOT my strong suit, I have been known to royally mess up even boxed cake mixes. I don't like to measure and use too many utensils. But for some reason this receipe for fat free muffins my friend Debi from Tap dancing class gave to me, never fails to please. It is super easy and so delicious. Bonus if you have a cute muffin tin like the one I used from NordicWare :-) Enjoy!

Fat-Free Raspberry Muffins


2 ¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 eggs

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup skim milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pint raspberries, lightly mashed with fork


Heat oven to 400 degrees

Spray muffin pan or paper muffin cups with Pam Baking Spray

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt

Beat eggs. Blend in vanilla, milk and applesauce

Add liquid to dry ingredients. Stir quickly just until moistened.

Fold in raspberries

Spoon into the muffin pan or paper cups

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown

Remove to wire rack


Also delicious made with blueberries or sliced strawberries (use one cup)





Mardi Gras is Today :-)

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

New Orleans is famous for its Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) celebration which reaches its peak today and ends at midnight tonight in time for Ash Wednesday. Many know the famous Creole cheer: Let the good times roll! Here is a little extra info about the origins of this fun celebration.

Like with many old customs its roots are religious, specifically Catholic, since Ash Wednesday starts off the 40-day fasting period known as Lent. On "Fat Tuesday" people in the olden days really stuffed themselves one last time before Lent, maybe to eat ahead, or maybe to make sure all of the perishable food didn't go to waste. Origins of some of the customs may reach back way before Christians times, especially in Europe, where masks were worn and noise makers used to drive out the evil winter spirits.

My home country of Germany also celebrates Mardi Gras or "Carneval" today, and in fact there the "Faschingszeit" (Carneval time) starts 11 minutes past 11 a.m. on November 11th every year.

It has the same roots as Mardi Gras stateside but some of the traditions in Germany, such as making fun of politicians in speeches, with caricatures and masks, stem from the times of the French Revolution when the French took over the Rhineland. To protest, residents of Cologne and Mainz, still two of the major Carneval cities today, disguised themselves to openly mock the French. Do I see a Mardi Gras connection????

I leave you with a mouthwatering picture of a traditional German treat called "Faschingskrapfen". It is basically a jam-filled type of donut but the dough is exactly like fried dough. The filling I love the most is rosehip jam, which is very traditional in the Franconia region where I came from. Hellau! (Faschings-greeting in Mainz)

Gloucester roofs are collapsing!



After posts about roofs collapsing in Gloucester were circulating on Facebook all day, I tracked down this article online. It seems Shaws and Rite Aid on Eastern Avenue directly across the street from my house are affected although just looking over there from my window all seems calm. Allegedly CVS on Main Street also has roof problems. Be careful, if you have a flat roof you need to clear some of these snow mountains off - how I do not know :-( Also, if you see ginormous icicles dangling precariously from your gutters, they should probably be knocked off, too. Stay safe!!!!

Cleverly hidden valuables



Vacations, day trips, even quick stops at the supermarket are enough time for burglars to swoop in and make off with the things you spend your hard-erned money on. The average breaking & entering event lasts only 12 minutes!

Here are some great ideas how to disguise your precious possessions in rather unexpected ways. All are under $20.00 and available on

You will make some burglar very, very unhappy ;-) Check our board on Pinterest for a few more options!


Do you know Cheese Hedgehogs???



Vintage Party Idea: Cheese Hedgehogs ;-)


These were all the rage at my aunt's (and everyone else's!) parties in Germany back in the early 70s. Yes, I'm old enough to remember them <sigh>. It wasn't a party unless a cheese hedgehog made an appearance. It's so cute, I think we should bring it back!


Just slice a small honeydew or watermelon in half, skewer grapes and cubes of your favorite cheese on toothpicks and spear them into the melon. My aunt always wrapped the melon base in aluminum foil (optional). Wicked awesome for any occasion, so "Party hearty!"


Local Valentine's Day gifts


<3<3<3 Happy Valentine's Day, everyone <3<3<3

So, did you wait until the last minute to think about a gift for your nearest and dearest? And now the blizzard is coming and you have nothing? I know you did ;-) You'll love this blog post because I am thrilled to share with you my favorite local shops for truely unique presents. The following small businesses are open tomorrow. Friendly service, stand-out products, what's not to love?  :-)

Tucks's Candy, a Rockport institution since 1929 sells sinful truffles, home-made salt water taffy and many other mouthwatering chocolates. If the Lords and Ladies of Downton Abbey had visited Rockport, they would have bought their pralines <cue British accent> at Tuck's.

A landmark right off of Route 128, the red house of Nichols Candies offers beautiful boxed treats as well as individual chocolates, such as heart-shaped pops.

Stepping into La Provence is like arriving in France because most of the fabulous merchandise is imported from France. Get luxurious soaps, lotions and perfumes by Roger & Gallet for your Sweatheart, or find other magnifique gift options.

This is my go-to place for the most adorable cards. Recipients will treasure and save them! You can also find other tasteful gifts and out of the ordinary paper goods.

Lauri Kaihlanen's whimsical paintings and prints of Cape Ann and of cool, funky animals are a great gift for loved ones and special kids in your life. Lauri's artwork hangs in my friends' houses in Germany, France, Ireland, Canada and Algeria. Always a great option!

Buy your favorite novel for a good friend, select a pretty bookmark and you're good to go. You can also find stylish boxed cards and a great selection of books by local authors.

This is a stunningly arranged store where merchandise is displayed by color. Find chic table ware, decorative candles, jewelry and other special gifts for both adults and kids.

And last but not least, because roses and spring bouquets are always a great Valentine's Day surprise:                       



Yummy Weekend-Recipe from Germany


It's only Wednesday but since we are supposed to get another snow storm I want to post this luscious recipe in time for the weekend so you can go shopping for ingredients. This is a perfect Saturday evening dinner because the left-overs are ideal for Sunday breakfast, quickly heated in the microwave. My husband and I enjoy it as a special treat on occasion. Like on the occasion of yet another snowy, nasty weekend nobody needs ;-) What else can you do but stay home and nibble? Ingredients can be changed according to taste, like adding bacon or ham, and substituting the mushrooms for firmly boiled, sliced potatoes. Anything goes!

Guten Appetit <3

Egg-Recipe from Germany

1 small package of sliced mushrooms

1 chopped onion

1 chopped clove of garlic

1 red pepper cut in small cubes

8 chopped sundried tomato pieces in oil

1 small zucchini cut in thin round slices

2 Tbs olive oil

8 eggs

4 Tbs light cream

1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Salt and pepper

Turn on oven so it can heat to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe pan and sauté onions and garlic. Add zucchini, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and red pepper, sauté all for 3 addtl. minutes. Crack eggs into a bowl, add cream, cheese, salt and pepper, whisk together briskly. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables, reduce heat, let egg mix cook slightly. Put pan into the oven for 15 minutes and serve with your bread of choice.

Info from Gloucester's mayor Sefatia Romeo-Theken



Wow, 2 blogs in one day, can you tell it's another work-from-home snow situation, translation: I'm runnning out of things to do!

This link is in fact about that very snow horror show from Gloucester's new mayor Sefatia Romeo-Theken who shares a letter from our Chief of Police Leonard Campanello with us in the Good Morning Gloucester publication. She has done a great job keeping residents informed through the Code Red telephone alert system, and the DPW and police have worked day and night to stay on top of the snow removal and safety. Thank you to them all.

Enjoy this Gloucester update and be sure and check out Good Morning Gloucester daily for local tidbits, gorgeous photos and happenings. They offer their free newsletter via e-mail as well if you would like to sign up. Happy shoveling, don't forget to take a hot chocolate break!



Helpful Tax Tips for our Clients


Our very own broker, Terry Sullivan of RE/MAX Advantage, sent this link in an e-mail to us yesterday. Since tax season is upon us all until April 15th (and even longer if one files an extension), here is some good advice in regards to tax deductions. We would not want to overlook any items we might be able to deduct now would we? :-) If you sold a house in 2014 there may be some additional deduction you qualify for, and we want you to know about those because we <3 you!

Million Dollar Trailer




Oh my word, I guess Fintan is right when he keeps saying that in real estate it's all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION (well, he does have over 17 years experience). Check out this trailer for 1.1 Million Dollars in the...wait for it...Hamptons! No wonder my husband keeps making excuses when I tell him (every summer since 2009) that I would like to spend a weekend on Long Island sometime haha. If this trailer, which looks like it predates the era of the Great Gatsby, costs that much I shudder to think what they charge for a hotel room. If you would like to purchase this gem, please call us. We'll happily refer you to a RE/MAX realtor on site ;-)

Our mascot

Team Fintan and Sybille, well represented by Diego :-)

Tour my home country of Germany...


...for a little weekend get-away haha. The city I grew up in, Bamberg, made it on this list which is great and well-deserved. Bamberg is a very old city, infamous -like Salem, MA- for witch trials in the 15th century (1626-1631), and famous for being a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bamberg was first mentioned in 902. Enjoy this little view of Germany and have a wonderful weekend!


Follow us on Pinterest



If you like Pinterest and enjoy looking at nice photos, please feel free to follow us!

Let's discuss BATHROOMS


When my husband and I shopped for houses a few years ago (yes, Fintan was in fact our very competent buyer's agent, I knew you were wondering haha), we were really surprised that every house in our price range ($325,000ish) had rather small bathrooms. Now meanwhile the bathroom I was used to at my bachelorette-pad was seriously tiny, not unlike the facilities you would encounter on an airplane but still, I was struck by the fact that I might have to kiss my dream of a spacious 2-sink luxury bath goodbye. In the end we found a great townhouse-style condo with a bathroom just big enough to be comfortable and we are fine with that. Because the one thing it has going for it, if not size, is its clean, space-efficient modern look. The way your bathroom presents itself to potential buyers can at best mean that you make a few thousand dollars more on the sale of your home and/or sell your property quicker. And at worst it can bring down the sales price or even be a deal breaker. There is good news though: Even a really outdated bathroom (avocado-toilet anyone?) can get a great, quick makeover without breaking the bank. There are some stunning shower curtains and towels which compliment that particular shade of green very nicely :-)

Here are some fun Before an After shots of bathrooms to enjoy while the snow just keeps coming down, brought to us by Better Homes and Gardens.

Stay warm and INSIDE!



So, I had my wonderful friends over for a girls' lunch today and tried out yet another recipe from Real Simple magazine. Real Simple's recipes work for me because I am not a 5-star chef (unlike Fintan!) and just don't know how to deal with prickly pears and sunchokes, or make ceviche out of arctic char LOL. Just give me stuff I can actually find at local supermarkets. This one fits the bill, so here it is by popular demand. I didn't use corn tortillas because they are not as rollable (is that even a word?) as regular wheat enchiladas. Those are so soft that they don't even need to be warmed first.

Some seriously awesome kitchens


I came across this link in a Facebook post today. It's so much fun to look at these gorgeously designed kitchens! Recently Fintan and I attended a Real Estate Boot Camp class. There was a lot of talk about current taste in interior design, such as monochromatic and light wall paints (i.e. pale gray, white) throughout the house, white kitchens with marble or glass counter tops, stainless steel appliances, etc. When putting a property on the market small, inexpensive updates, de-cluttering, or professional staging to achieve a trendier look can result in a much quicker and more lucrative sale. Enjoy the tour :-)

Sasha waits for spring

Here is Fintan's dog Sasha in warmer times LOL

Easy Chicken Paella Recipe


I recently found this awesome recipe for Chicken Paella in Real Simple Magazine and have cooked it twice already. It is SO easy and delicious! A word of advice: When making it with the skin-on chicken thighs I would reduce the olive oil to 1 Tbs. With skinless ones, or with chicken breast, 2 Tbs are okay. This is a great dish to enjoy during the snow storm because it makes you feel like you are in Spain. Go on, trust me, you're in Barcelona! Stop looking at the snow! You are strolling down La Rambla!


Batten down the Hatches


So, a HUGE Blizzard is coming our way <sigh>, what else is new? It made me wonder where the expression "Batten down the Hatches" is coming from. This is what I found:

Admiral W H Smyth’s 1867 encyclopaedia The Sailor’s Word Book explains that it is a nautical term. He calls it 'battening of the hatches". I quote: “Battens of the hatches: Long narrow laths serving by the help of nailing to confine the edges of the tarpaulins, and keep them close down to the sides of the hatchways in bad weather.” Well, of course it would come from the sailing world LOL, why am I not surprised?

Stay safe, don't drive, keep warm - we'll get through this winter storm like champs!

A great reason to move to Cape Ann....

......getting this special Cape Ann license plate




Living on a cruise ship



I came across this lucky lady's story today on Yahoo. She lives on a cruise ship! Year-round! I am beyond envious LOL. If you can afford that, do not, I repeat DO NOT buy a house from us! But we'll be happy to sell yours before you board the luxury liner ;-) And for the folks who are not about to move onto a cruise ship, we'll happily assist you with finding your dream home right here on the lovely North Shore. Have a fabulous Sunday everyone!!!!

Snowy Weekend


Good afternoon from Fintan's new partner Sybille at RE/MAX Advantage, Gloucester office! I would like to wish all the sellers, buyers and fellow real estate agents a great weekend. Stay safe and don't get snowed in! Here are a few helpful tidbits to keep you and your homes in good shape during the upcoming storm. Nothing we hearty New Englanders haven't survived before :-)  

Oh, and Diego & Leonie, my dog and kitty asked me to say hi as well.