How To Throw A Festive & Chic Valentine's Day Party Your Family Will L-O-V-E

There is always an excuse to be festive and enjoy quality time with your loved one… whether you love Valentine’s Day or feel it’s a Hallmark holiday, this round up should ensure you have a lovely day filled with delicious eats and fun memories…

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Cake, without the guilt! Jessica Alba and other celebrities love Yvonne’s Vegan Kitchen - she sells the most amazing cakes, sweets, and other treats that are always vegan, gluten-free, and even sweetened with dates, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, and/or maple syrup when possible, instead of sugar! See her cakes available for delivery, pick-up, & shipping here, or to order a fully custom cake, click here.


These Ombre Raspberry Chia Jars are as delicious as they are beautiful!

Ingredients:⠀
Layer 1:⠀
¼ cup chia seeds⠀
1 cups plant-based milk⠀
vanilla extract⠀
maple syrup (if needed)⠀
1 mashed Banana⠀
raspberry powder ⠀


Layer 2:⠀
¼ cup chia seeds⠀
1 cup plantbased milk⠀
vanilla extract⠀
2 tbsp maple syrup⠀
raspberry powder ⠀


Layer 3 (Chia Jam):⠀
1 cup berries of choice ⠀
1 tbsp lemon juice, to taste⠀
1 tbsp agave or maple syrup to taste⠀
about 1 tbsp chia seeds (or more if needed)⠀

Directions:

Mix all ingredients for each layer together in 3 jars.⠀
Let sit for 2 minutes until it begins to gel, and then give it a good mix again with a fork or a whisk.⠀
Let sit for at least 1 hour, or better overnight in the fridge.⠀
Layer and serve!⠀


Even the pepperonis are heart-shaped… what is cuter than this?!

Directions:

Start with your favorite crust. (The recipe recommends either Trader Joe’s or this homemade pizza crust recipe which can be baked or grilled.)

Shape the dough into a ball (about a tennis-ball-size ball of dough for one large individual pizza).

Shape it into a circle. Then flatten it out into a round shape just like you would any normal pizza crust. Grab the ball, stretch it with your hands, set it back down on the baking sheet, and press it with your fingers to finish shaping it. Note that if your dough doesn’t want to hold its shape, it may need to rest for a bit. Let it sit for 5 minutes then try again.

Pinch and pull the bottom of the circle to form a point. Now, the patented pinch-and-push technique! To make your heart-shaped pizza, pinch the bottom of the crust and pull down into a point. Your pizza is now a teardrop shape.

Take one finger and push down the top towards the center. Now, take a finger to the top middle and push down toward the center of the pizza. Shape a bit here and there if you’d like and voila!

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Now top just as you would any pizza and cut out a few heart-shaped pepperoni slices.

Bake following your pizza crust instructions – the general rule is 450 degrees Fahrenheit and start checking the pizza at about 5 minutes. Usually it’s about 8 minutes before the toppings are perfectly melty and the crust is golden brown.


Do you have any favorite Valentine’s Day recipes?

First-Time Homebuyers: The Complete Guide

Buying your first home is something so exciting, something to celebrate… don’t let it be something daunting! Here are my tips to keep you as prepared and knowledgable on the process as possible for a smooth transaction:

Before you do anything else, your first step is to speak to a lender.  Find out all the different options you may have in order to purchase a home.  

1. Figure out 3 different shopping prices. Being able to confidently know the range you can afford is key.

1st - to purchase a single family home (No HOA dues)

2nd - to purchase a condo/town home with HOA dues. This will bring your shopping prices down, as you will need to have enough extra money to pay for the monthly HOA dues

3rd - to purchase a duplex, triplex or 4-plex, as that will make your shopping price go up if you live in one unit and rent out the other units.  Renting the other unit(s) would bring income that would help pay for the mortgage.  

2. Then get the pre-approval letter from your lender.

3. Keep extra money for buyer closing closing costs. (When the buyer is making an offer, they will need to put a minimum of 3% down as a security deposit.)

4.

5. Call me to help you find your dream home and submit an offer for you.


3 Major Contingency Periods to Think About:

1.  Inspection Contingency (defaults to 17 days but could be shorter or longer depending on the circumstance) 

You have the option to waive this contingency.  This allows the buyer to do all their do diligence in making sure the home is what they think it is.  This also includes going to the city to check on possible permits if there were any additions done to the home.  A buyer can purchase a home that has had an addition to it without permits, but that is a risk the buyer is taking knowingly.  They buyer may also request a list of repairs or a monetary settlement from the seller based on their inspections.  The seller can also refuse or counter.

2.  Appraisal Contingency (defaults to 17 days but could be shorter or longer depending on the circumstance) 

You can always waive this contingency as well.  The bank calls out for an appraiser anytime someone is getting a loan.  If the appraisal comes in lower that what the buyer offered, there are several options, 1) the buyer asks the seller to drop the price (which you are not seeing in today's market), 2) the buyer has to come up with the difference in order to get the loan,  3) the buyer can back out and cancel the escrow (as long as it is within the contingency period)

3.  Loan Contingency (defaults to 21 days but could be shorter or longer depending on the circumstance) 

You have the option to waive this contingency as well. The buyer may cancel escrow and receive their full security deposit back as long as it is during the contingency periods.  Should there be another type of contingency period (waiting for the seller to get documents/permits, etc.) you can always request a contingency based on the circumstance.


Buyers Remorse

Sometimes buyers get caught up in the frenzy of multiple offers and comes in extremely high, just to get their offer accepted.  After then thinking about it and get cold feet, they back out.  It is a waste of everyone's time.  It is important to make sure you really wants the house and are happy with what you are offering and ultimately, paying for it. Take time to consider the decision from all sides before submitting your offer.


Chocolate-Raspberry Cake Recipe

This cake is such a simple, yet sensational classic that is sure to delight even your most discerning of guests. This is one of my favorite recipes from Martha Stewart

Source:  Martha Stewart Living, February 2016

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 2016


This beauty is baked with a splash of Chambord and layered with a sweet raspberry filling, both of which offer bright counterpoints to the thick layer of chocolate-cream cheese frosting and whole berries scattered on top.