Sept. 14, 2018

Queen Anne 1926 Residence History

The charming home at 2610 – 1st Avenue North was built in 1926 by W. M. Wagner, a boutique builder who is known to have built several other lovely homes on Queen Anne Hill. But the real stories rest on the shoulders of the people who lived in the house and made it their home. These are the people who settled the hill and made history.

Our story begins with the first owners of this home, Lindsey Ray Adams (who went by L Ray) and his wife Portia. But how did L Ray make his way to Seattle?

L Ray was born in 1893 in rural Wisconsin to Charles and Hannah Adams, who emigrated to the United States from Ontario Canada. As many Midwesterners did, they made their way west in search of work. Stories of wealth and jobs in Seattle circulated, and with train travel available to everyone, many families packed up and came to our young city. The Adams family settled in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to raise their family. Charles worked as a laborer, most likely building homes in the area, while his wife Hannah cared for the home and their three children, Maggie, L Ray, and Rupert.

After L Ray graduated from high school, he went to work as a clerk for the Sears and Roebuck Company in the mail-order freight division. In 1920, most Americans did a large percentage of their shopping from catalogs such as Sears, Wards, Eatons, and Spiegel (much like Amazon and the internet of today). The ever-connecting line of railways made shipping to growing cities economical. Even kits for homes were famously shipped from Sears catalogs all over the country.  L Ray met Portia Crawford sometime around this time, and they were married in 1921. They purchased this home brand new, and raised two children Phyllis and Richard, in this home.

Sears was growing fast and moving their mail-order business to a brick-and-mortar retailing model. By 1929, just five years after opening their first store, Sears had over three hundred stores around the country.  L Ray moved from working as a freight clerk to a position as a sales person in the Seattle store, and by 1930 he was the buyer for the women’s clothing department. It should be noted that neighbors living on the block list their occupations as Physician, Barber, Dressmaker, Civil Engineer, and Orthopedic Surgeon.


We don’t know very much about Portia, but we do know that she lived to be 95 and is buried with her husband at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Queen Anne. This wonderful home is waiting for the next family to continue the Seattle story.

Sept. 7, 2018

1924 - 11th West House History

Walking through this darling Tudor home at 1924 - 11th Avenue West, one can only imagine what it must have been like nearly 88 years ago when this beautiful home was built. Who purchased this home after completion? What did they do for a living? What brought them to Seattle? Thanks to accurately kept records, we know who purchased this home and we can piece together the story of a young man who came to Seattle with his family from Michigan in search of new opportunities.

Floyd Green was born in 1899 on a farm in rural Michigan. Sometime shortly after he was born, the family moved to Seattle. Small family farms were failing across the nation, and many people were moving to cities in search of work. Upon hearing about growth and job openings in Seattle, Floyd’s father packed the family up and moved to Seattle where he worked as a plasterer and bricklayer. The family purchased a home just north of Queen Anne at 2309 North 64th street. Floyd grew up in that house, graduated from high school, then went to work as a Time Keeper for the railroad, which was considered a very good job in the day. Sometime in the 1920s, young Floyd joined the Seattle Police Department. The Great Depression was in full swing, and more than 15 million Americans (one-quarter of all wage-earners) were unemployed. Floyd was extremely fortunate to have a position as a civil servant. At the time he purchased this Queen Anne home, his salary was recorded as $1160 per year. The sale price of the home was just over $4000. It should be noted that the neighbors living on the block list their occupations as Machinist, Chemist, Attorney, Bookkeeper, and Dentist. This was the face of Queen Anne in the 1930s and 1940s.

Floyd met Ethel Johnson sometime in the 1920s, and they were married several years later. Ethel was living at 2352 10th Avenue North on Queen Anne with her parents. While we aren’t certain how they met (perhaps they went to school together) but we do know that Ethel was the daughter of Swedish immigrants. Seattle was known for hosting dances at the Norway Hall, and it is quite possible that they met there. While Floyd and Ethel never had children, they lived in this home and were active members of the Queen Anne community until 1961. Both lived into their 80s.


This wonderful home is waiting for the next family to continue the Seattle story.

June 15, 2018

Our 90-Day Queen Anne Real Estate Snapshot And 5 Tips for Home Buyers

We have good news, bad news, and better news. The good news is that home inventory is up! There are more homes for sale today than there were three months ago. The bad news? Most Queen Anne homes are selling fast and for more than their asking price. OK, this may not be news to anyone who calls Queen Anne home, but the better news is that we have broken it down by price range to give you a snapshot of what you can expect if you are buying or selling a home. And, in the spirit of “Making You an Expert”, the team is sharing our 5 top tips for home buyers.

With wild stories of multiple offers and skyrocketing prices circulating the neighborhood, this chart demonstrates exactly how the market has behaved in the last 90 days. Homes under $1 million to $1.5 million are in high demand, sell quickly, and usually go for more than their asking price. If you are a first-time home buyer and this is your sweet spot, the competition will be stiff. If you are selling a home in this price range, these are the results you can expect if your home is priced correctly.

When a home is listed for over $1.5 million, the picture is a little different. There are fewer buyers in this price range, which means there is still competition, but it is not quite as fierce as it is for lower-priced homes. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, we know a family that had been searching for 2 years, found the right home, and made an offer the day it went on the market. However, these buyers are limited. In this price range, there is just a little more breathing room.

90 Days of Home Sales on Queen Anne (3/10 to 6/10)

If you are a first-time buyer on Queen Anne and this chart looks daunting, don’t despair; you have options! Here is a list of our top 5 tips for buying a home.

1.      Get pre-approved for a loan - Remember our post about the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval? One gets you the house of your dreams quickly, and the other is a guideline that helps buyers understand how much they can afford. Make sure you are ready! Talk to a local loan officer before you begin your home search, so you can confidently bid on the right home (see our resources page for a few of our recommendations). A loan officer who works with buyers on Queen Anne is knowledgeable about the neighborhood. It may be tempting to work with a friend or relative in another part of the country, but we have watched offers fall apart because the loan officer did not understand our unique market, or the appraisal was not accurate. Go with someone local who understands the economics of our city and the microeconomics of the Queen Anne neighborhood and our proximity to downtown.

2.      Down payment- The average down payment in King County last year was $100,700. That means some people put down $50,000 while others put down $200,000. And some paid cash. If you don’t have that kind of cabbage laying around, it’s time to get creative. Can you reduce expenses and start an aggressive savings plan? One couple we know moved back in with her parents and saved their salaries for one year to buy a home. Another client dipped into their retirement fund, and still, another bought a home using the new Loftium program. Only you know what you are most comfortable with. If you will be cashing in an investment to buy a home, please do your homework and speak to a tax planner or financial advisor first. Again, check out our resources page.

3.      Act fast – This is no time to sit on the fence. Make your decision and stand by it. We all have the story of “the one that got away”. If you are serious about buying a home, you know that the “perfect house” only exists in your mind’s eye. However, if you can look past the kitchen that needs a remodel and bid on a home or commit to passing on a home that does not and never will suit your needs, (for example passing on a 2-bedroom home when you need three), you are on the right track. This is a time to be decisive, hold strong, and act quickly.

4.      Choose an experienced broker - Online real estate sites and discount brokers have sprung up across the country, and buyers and sellers may be tempted to go with one of these options. However, the chart above is evidence that Queen Anne is a complex market. Savvy buyers and sellers choose experienced brokers who know the neighborhood. They will understand the market and be able to tell you exactly what your home is worth and offer guidance regarding how much to offer in order to win a home. They will personally present your best offer and they have long-standing relationships in the community. They also have a support team of title, escrow, inspectors, and loan professionals waiting in the wings. Once your offer is accepted, a professional team will take care of the entire transaction for you so that closing on your home is a smooth and timely process.

5.      Inspection contingencies – While some home buyers will waive this to win a home, we know of a better way. Before you begin your search, engage with a home inspector. Email or call and let him or her know that you are buying a home and would like a quick inspection before you even make an offer. While it is tempting to waive the inspection, it is not wise. Queen Anne is full of lovely old homes with character and charm; that is one of the reasons people flock to this neighborhood. But what if a home listed for 1.1 million has a foundation issue that will require $100,000 to correct? This is information you need before making an offer. And if you are the type of buyer who doesn’t mind some work, this is great bargaining information.

Whether you are buying or selling in this beautiful neighborhood, we hope this information is useful. If you have questions or you are curious about the worth of your Queen Anne home, give us a call!

April 12, 2018

Raising Backyard Chickens in Seattle

Seattle ChickensIf you go for a walk in any Seattle neighborhood, you will likely notice a chicken coop or two behind fences, inside yards, or right out in the front yard. Twenty years ago, this would have been an unusual sight indeed, but in this age of learning about food as well as the many resources available, chickens are just part of the Seattle landscape.

One of our team members has been raising chickens for over 14 years. She has found them to be highly social, beautiful, and fun to watch. Initially, she began raising chickens as a school project, however, it quickly became much more fun than she ever anticipated.

Where should you start? The internet is full of websites about poultry, but your local library has many great books about raising chickens, and Seattle Tilth offers classes for aspiring urban farmers. To get some great coop and landscaping ideas, check out the annual Seattle Chicken Coop Tour in July. If you would like to purchase a coop, chicks, pullets, or feed, take a trip to Portage Bay Grange in the University District. Not only will they help you with all the equipment you need, but they will answer any questions. Plus, it is just a fun place to tour.

Spring is the perfect time to set up your coop. You can purchase chicks and care for them inside until they feather out and the weather warms, or you can purchase pullets (6-week olds). It can be difficult to determine whether you have a rooster or a hen until they reach this age. Hatcheries do their best to sort them but aren’t always accurate. Pullets are also closer to egg production. They can go straight into the coop; no need to keep them inside under a heat lamp until they are old enough, saving you from having to purchase additional equipment.

If you plan on raising chickens within the Seattle City Limits, there are a few rules the city will ask you to follow.  

  • No more than 8 domestic fowl may be kept on a city lot (including chickens and ducks).

  • Roosters are never permitted (and don’t worry, you don’t need a rooster if you want eggs, the rooster is only needed to fertilize the eggs).

  • Chicken Coops or structures must be at least 10 feet away from any residential structure or an adjacent lot.

Chickens are very social, so it is best to keep several. If your chickens begin pecking at each other or on one specific hen (there is always an alpha bird), it means the coop may be too crowded. Sometimes a new home must be found for the runt, lest the term “pecking order”.

Depending on the breed, the feed quality, and the amount of daylight in a 24-hour period, you can expect to get 3 to 6 eggs per week on average from each hen in your flock during the first year of production. If egg production is your primary reason for keeping chickens, choose prolific layers, like Leghorns. Laying tapers off during the second year and beyond. After about 4 years of age, a hen will lay only occasionally, and only during the peak of summer when days are long, and the weather is warm.

Chickens do take time and care. Coops can become stinky if not cleaned regularly and can attract predators and pests (raccoons are notorious for breaking into coops). Just like any pet, set aside time each week for maintenance. If you are keeping a small coop and just two or three hens, your yard waste receptacle will work great for disposing of soiled bedding. If you have a larger coop, it may be time to set up your own composting area.

Chickens can be let out to run around a fenced yard after they become accustomed to their new coop. They need some time to learn that this is their “home”, the safe place they should come back to as the sun begins to set and the place where food, water, and treats are provided. Close them in at night to keep them safe from predators.

We asked Kim Lukens, a Queen Anne resident about her experience with chickens. She recently helped her son raise chicks for a school science project, and she had this to say: “Raising chickens has been one of the most rewarding projects we have ever worked on together.” Chickens are highly entertaining, highly social, and highly intelligent. Give chickens a try, and send us a photo of your coop!

April 2, 2018

Tree Care and Maintenance: A Homeowner’s Responsibility

Maple TreeWhile cleaning out a bookcase this weekend I came across a beautiful book called “A Tree Is Nice”, by Janice May Udry. My children loved this book when they were growing up, and it made me think about the stately trees found in the Pacific Northwest. They offer not only beauty, but shade, home to feathered friends, rustling sounds in the wind, and depending on the species of tree and time of year, vibrant color.

But trees need our care if they are to thrive in our urban environment. Many trees found in our yards are indeed indigenous, but we also plant many non-native species and hope they thrive. Without proper maintenance, trees can become diseased and sometimes dangerous to the people and homes around the tree.

A tree’s owner is legally responsible for damage or injury that occurs because of tree failure. It’s up to you to exercise caution and due diligence when it comes to preventing dangerous situations caused by a hazardous tree.

We spoke with Kelsey Allen, an Arborist with Ballard Tree Service, who told us this is a great time of year to have trees examined and pruned. “When leaves are off of a tree, you can really see the structure and examine the health of the tree.” Anytime between late fall and early spring is a good time for trimming and pruning. It’s especially important to inspect your trees before and after storms and snowfall, and large trees are more likely to be hazardous than smaller trees.

I explained that I had a tree that was rather close to my roofline and wondered about having it trimmed. “It is good to keep tree 4 to 6 feet from the roofline. We call this “rodent clearance”, but in addition to keeping critters off your roof and out of your attic, it allows for good airflow which helps prevent disease.”

Kelsey also explained to me that if a tree is in the parking strip, it is the duty of the homeowner to maintain the tree. The homeowner also needs a permit from the city to do any work on a tree in a parking strip, whether that work is removal or simple trimming. “Our certified arborists will look at the tree then submit an application to the city on behalf of the homeowner. It usually takes about 2 weeks for approval, then we can schedule any work that needs to be done after approval.”

Each species is different and requires a different approach. A certified arborist will look at the structure of a tree, the species of the tree, and prune accordingly. He or she will then watch to see how new growth responds. Kelsey also added, “Proper trimming and pruning actually makes a tree happy. Fruit trees when properly pruned will expend less energy setting flowers and suckers and will instead set good fruit.”

Typically, a tree likes to be pruned every 3 to 5 years, but this will vary depending on the size, type, and health of the tree. Talk to your arborist about specific trees and what type of schedule you should follow.

If you are planning to put new trees in your yard or parking strip this year, check out the Seattle Tree List. Here you will find ideas and species that have been approved and recommended for planting in our urban areas.

We also spoke with Seattle Arborist Patrick Story with Grun Means Green, and his final words really sum up the care and maintenance of trees: “Trees know what to do and how to grow, but in an urban environment, they need a little extra help.”

Posted in Gardening
March 9, 2018

40 Items to Toss This Weekend

“No more excuses. It’s March. The Olympics are over, the Oscars are over, and the New Year’s resolutions have long been abandoned. This weekend is the perfect time to toss stuff we don’t need, don’t use, and don’t love. The list is here. Print it, post it, and get busy!”

 -Your House 

GoodwillOverwhelmingly, our most popular post last year was our 30-day Clutter Challenge. The above intro sounds a bit harsh, but readers sent us notes that this was just the type of “tough love” they needed to get their homes and offices in shape. Let’s do it again.

A lot of “stuff” came into our homes over the last few months, but how much went out? Here is a new list assembled by our team. We hope you really will print it, post it, and get busy. We also hope you will laugh just a bit as you go down the list and learn that you are not in this alone. Just like you, we have Thomas the Tank Engine cake pans and 8 glass vases from various flower deliveries that could be of use to others.

It’s also a good weekend to focus on textiles. Old textile items have long been a tough call. It is estimated that 81 pounds of textiles are tossed per person in the U.S. each year. Several years ago, we heard that pillows and stuffed animals could no longer be donated to Goodwill, that they should go to landfills. As new technology has been developed to recycle textiles, those items can be taken to a Textile Recycling center. Click here for locations. Items once thought unusable (think old pillows, socks with holes, giant stuffed bears, and torn sheets) should be bagged and labeled “textiles”. According to SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles), approximately 95% of all used clothing and household textiles are reusable is some product. About 45% are recycled for apparel, 30% are used as industrial polishing cloths, and 20% are shredded and reprocessed into consumer goods such as carpet padding, home insulation, and automotive soundproofing. Rags and clothes that have been used with solvents or toxic chemicals are an exception and should be taken to your local hazardous waste facility (see the resources for Seattle locations and phone numbers).

What happens to old cords, chargers, and Christmas tree lights? It is tempting to place them in the trash, but these too should be donated; according to Goodwill, the copper can be stripped and recycled. And those old prescription glasses? They can be cleaned up and paired with someone who needs that prescription. There are organizations who check the prescription, label them, and get them to the folks who need just that correction. The same goes for shoes. Some folks have different sized feet, and some amputees only need one shoe ( And those spongey playground surfaces? Nike has a processing center that grinds up old athletic shoes to create soft playground surfaces. What other upcycling programs do you know about?


Please join us by taking time this weekend to declutter! Your house will thank you.

Posted in Minimalist
Dec. 31, 2017

Top 5 Reasons to Buy Your New Home in January

Happy New Year! Here at the Kennedy home, the champagne glasses are washed and put away, the college bowl games are winding down, and we’ve all made pledges to join a gym in 2018 (or at least work out a little more…). With this post, we offer a collective sigh of relief as we all say goodbye to 2017, and we look ahead to 2018 with a feeling of optimism. Although it may be time to work off a few holiday pounds, January is also one of the best months to shop for a new Seattle home. Here’s our list of top 5 reasons why mid-winter (January) is a great time to buy a new home:

1. You’ll Find Motivated Sellers

If a home is still on the market after the holiday season, the seller may be motivated to sell their property and open to negotiations on price. Since mid-winter is generally not the

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Dec. 27, 2017

Down Payment Help (When You Don’t Have a Rich Uncle)

“Seattle housing prices are skyrocketing!” How many times did you hear this comment over the holidays? And how many friends or relatives added, “I just don’t see how anyone can afford a home in Seattle”? While prices are trending upward, we look this week at a creative financing solution for home buyers. Could it be a solution for you?

The company is Loftium, a new Seattle startup offering to help homeowners buy their first house or purchase a larger or closer-in “forever” family home. Homeowners receive help with the down payment at closing, and in exchange they must be willing to offer part of their new home to visitors on the short-term rental market. It’s kind of like getting help from a rich uncle and then letting him crash at your place now and then.

According to co-founder and CEO Yifan Zhang, the financing program was developed in 2017 out of what Zhang saw as a growing need in the housing market. Zhang herself purchased her first home in San Francisco without help from family or friends, and she found the process daunting. “People without access to friends and family support basically are not able to afford a home because of the down-payment hurdle,” Zhang writes. “Potential buyers often find it difficult to save a down payment as they are spending so much of their income on rent.” To address the problem, Zhang set out to provide down-payment assistance in exchange for short-term rental income that will return to Loftium for a limited time.

How It Works

Home buyers sign up with Loftium and agree to host guests through the Airbnb platform in a portion of the home they wish to purchase (typically a bedroom or an attached apartment). The program only works for single family homes due to typical homeowner association restrictions and bylaws. Loftium does not work with condo sales.

Loftium offers buyers up to $50,000, which goes directly towards the home’s down payment. The exact amount is determined by an algorithm Loftium runs, and the calculation depends on variables such as income, a buyer’s personal contribution to the down payment, the location of the property, and how long the buyer plans on staying in the payback program (typically 1 to 3 years). Buyers fill out a short Airbnb hosting survey to determine their personal hosting rules and style (such as the ability for guests to have pets).

Potential Loftium customers then meet with an Umpqua Bank lender (an exclusive partner for these transactions), and buyers get prequalified for the loans at Umpqua (see our resources page for specific lender information).

Finally, you start a house search! After you and your realtor have found a few options, you contact Loftium again for an estimate. Buy your home, move in, and start hosting the designated space with Airbnb. After your Loftium contract is up (1 to 3 years), you can either continue to welcome guests in your new Airbnb space (enjoying the rewards of hosting) or you can take back the living space.

Buyers who use this option for extending their down payment sign a services agreement with Loftium, which is not (technically) considered a loan. There is no interest rate, because there is no loan to pay off. Instead, the Airbnb income is shared with the homebuyer based on the agreement you make with Loftium. (For example, you can keep 20% to 40% of the rental income from Airbnb, depending on the contract you work out.) All agreements are slightly different, based on criteria such as the down payment amount (if any), the term of the agreement, and how you list your space with Airbnb for the duration of your contract. If the Loftium income prediction is incorrect and the Airbnb doesn’t perform as well financially as their algorithm predicts, Loftium will eat the loss, not the homeowner.

Here in our Kennedy Team offices, we signed up for the Loftium program and we were greeted with a very easy to use dashboard and an estimating tool. After entering a bit of information, we had the option of typing in an MLS number. This gave us a starting point and an estimate of what type of contract we might be offered. You can play around with the number of bedrooms, the number of months you wish to remain in the program (12-36) and the percentage of rental income you would like to share to fine tune your contract terms. Sign up for only what you are comfortable with. As an example of how the numbers might work, a family with yearly household income of $120,000 and a $60,000 down payment might qualify for a home priced at about $743,000. If the buyer takes an additional down payment amount of $50,000 from Loftium and runs an Airbnb for 3 years, the buyer may qualify for a home up to $831,000. If you have lived in your home for some time and built up considerable equity, the Loftium projection is even more impressive and just might be enough to bump you into a larger home. Try the site’s estimation tool for yourself.

A Few More Details

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you know one of our team members runs an Airbnb, and she has found it to be very rewarding and enjoyable (read here for more about running an Airbnb). More and more of our buyers are looking for homes with ADUs and DADUs that can be used as short-term rentals now, and units for aging parents or other family members in the future.

Loftium has partnered with a regional lender, Umpqua Bank, to serve as their mortgage lender, and the startup has received regulatory approval from Fannie Mae. We spoke with Matt Johnson, senior lender with Umpqua bank who sees this new vehicle as a real option for homebuyers. He recommends talking to the Loftium folks, going to their seminars to make sure the program is a good fit. (They host seminars in their Seattle office.) All of this does require a real commitment on the part of the buyer, but there are true benefits as well.

Matt Johnson is right. Being an Airbnb host does require commitment, and the terms may not be right for every homeowner. For instance, owners using Loftium are only allowed to “block” or make unavailable 8 nights per year; all other nights must be made available for guests, and owners must use a smart pricing algorithm on the Airbnb site to insure they are pricing the unit consistently with demand and other equivalent units in the area. Homeowners must also commit to being great hosts.

Loftium offers a welcome package to homebuyers that includes new bedding and an automated smart lock for guests. A separate cleaning fee is charged for each Airbnb guest, and owners retain this fee and can use the funds to hire a cleaner or do the work themselves.

If buyers want out of the contract early, there is a buyout clause which entails paying Loftium the remaining amount due plus 15 percent. This is important information for people who may need to sell the home before the term of the contract is over, for those who need to take back their Airbnb space for a family member (or for those who receive a financial windfall and simply want to cash out).

How does all the controversy whirling around the Seattle City Council play into this? Adam Stelle, one of the Loftium co-founders, sees the new requirements as a positive thing. The new licensing law (which will begin January 1st of 2019) will require Airbnb hosts to pay a $75 annual licensing fee plus $8 per night for a spare bedroom or $14 per night for an apartment. However, this brings Airbnb out of the gray area and allows homeowners to legitimize their units and follow local laws, ordinances, and regulations. It also allows the Airbnb platform to be used in the spirit in which it was intended; to allow homeowners to rent part of their home in the short-term market.

Our team finds this financial vehicle very intriguing and innovative as it allows buyers to purchase homes closer to work in neighborhoods of their choice. It also allows some homeowners to buy larger homes in a very competitive market, and allows young buyers who may not have financial assistance from family, to enter the housing market. If you are interested in investigating the Loftium platform and program, sign up then give us a call. Whether it is your first home or your forever home, we will help you every step of the way.

Nov. 20, 2017

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Cranberry SauceAs our team shared their favorite holiday recipes and memories, Kim Halvorson’s cranberry sauce story became one of our instant favorites. Kim is our Digital Marketing Specialist, and she was in college in Bellingham during the epic Thanksgiving Blizzard in 1985 that long-time Northwest residents still talk about. Over 17” of snow dumped on the region, making the drive home for Thanksgiving impossible for thousands of students and families. What could have been a very somber 4-day weekend turned into a lesson in cooking up in Bellingham. Kim’s cohort learned how to create family where they were, how to make a game of Monopoly last for half a week, and who was doing what in Business School.

A young woman who grew up on a cranberry farm taught Kim to make cranberry sauce from fresh fruit. “I had never really liked cranberry sauce,” said Kim. “I believed that it was a round gelatinous goo that came from a can accompanied by a great sucking sound. But my girlfriend insisted that sauce from fresh cranberries was delicious, and she taught me to make this. It is still our family’s favorite cranberry recipe!”


1 12-ounce package Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries, rinsed and drained
Zest of one orange
Juice of one orange plus enough water to make 1 cup of liquid
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional, but delicious--especially when snowbound)


Combine sugar, liquid, orange zest and Grand Marnier in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and listening for all the cranberries to pop. Continue to stir until the sauce has thickened. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate until serving time.

Posted in Recipes
Nov. 18, 2017

Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be quite a juggling act. In many houses, all four burners are in constant use—and this is also the day that even two ovens don’t feel like enough. The solution? Team member Melissa Klinnert created this make-ahead potato dish to feed the family (inspired by Ree Drummond). You whip them up the day before the big event, pour them into a crock pot insert, and then you place them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, these potatoes can be reheated in the crock pot while everything else is cooking or easily transported after! They are delicious, too, and have become a family favorite.


5lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (don’t substitute)
1 stick of butter
4 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
Milk, if needed, for thinning
3 shallots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil


1. Peel or scrub potatoes (we like them with peels on) and chop into medium-small pieces.
2. Boil potatoes with a sprinkle of salt for about 15 minutes.
3. While potatoes are boiling, sauté shallots & garlic in olive oil until soft and slightly translucent. Place the shallots and garlic in the bottom of a crock pot insert.
4. When the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and return to the pan. Mash the potatoes then add butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and a bit of milk if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Pour mashed potatoes into crock pot insert, over the sautéed shallots and garlic. Serve hot, or cover and place in refrigerator overnight.
6. If making ahead, take the prepared mashed potatoes out of the refrigerator about 3.5 hours before serving time. Place the mashed potatoes in the crock-pot/slow cooker. Cover and heat on low setting for approximately 3 hours, stirring once or twice.
7. When ready to serve the mashed potatoes, stir, then add some additional dollops of butter on top.

Quick Tip: When Melissa was a little girl, her grandmother used Carnation Evaporated Milk for richer, creamier mashed potatoes (not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk).

Posted in Recipes