All posts by Becky Blanton
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July 28, 2017

High Rise Living in Chicago

Best-selling author and publisher Melissa G Wilson and her husband Craig have a panoramic view of Chicago’s best neighborhoods. They live and work in two side-by-side condos with a total of 2,400-square feet inside and a 1,500-square foot deck 9-stories up on Chicago’s West Loop.

“I love the fun of getting to go to so many world-class restaurants, outdoor activities and plays within a half hour or less. Being in the center of Chicago gives us lots of options for connection and learning. There’s unlimited variety and learning daily here,” Wilson said. The downsides to high-rise living are the same as working in a city – “People toss their [...]

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July 27, 2017

6 Reasons Why City-Dwelling Dogs Need Green Space

Being a pet owner in a house, even one with a tiny yard, usually means access to “green space,” in a front, back or side yard. But what if you live in an apartment, condominium, high-rise or even on a boat? If you’re not in a dog friendly area, your dog still needs green space, even if they’re walked daily on a sidewalk.

1. Pets Need Exercise

A stroll around the block on a leash a couple of times a day is not exercise, at least not for your pet. “Animals need to run daily, if not multiple times a day,” said Dr. Ernie Ward. Ward suggests pet owners should commit to taking their dog to a dog park every day, or as often as possible, even if you [...]

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July 26, 2017

Buying a Home While on Active Duty

Should You Buy a Home While on Active Duty?

Most military assignments last four-to-five years, some even less. So, does it really make sense to buy a home rather than rent one if you’re active duty?

Some military housing experts say no, but many real estate savvy members of the military say, “Definitely buy a home or homes while on active duty if you can.” “I started flipping when I was in the service, and I advise other military personnel to consider doing the same,” said 20-year Army veteran, Terry Martin-Back. Like many other military personnel, Martin-Back realized early on in his career that buying his home while in the military was a good [...]

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July 11, 2017

Are You a Hoarder, or Just a Chronic Clutterer?

When Louise and her adult son Jack decided to move to be closer to Jack’s job, they decided to sell their house and move into a small apartment to save money. A smaller space meant less stuff. Downsizing wouldn’t have been a problem before Louise’s cluttering became an issue.

“My husband died seven years ago and I just fell apart,” she said. “I couldn’t let go of anything that reminded me of him.” Like millions of homeowners, Louise and Jack failed to confront their clutter until it came time to move. They couldn’t show the home they were selling until they addressed the clutter.

Two rooms of her home were piled to [...]

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July 6, 2017

Living on the Water Costs More Than You’d Think

For anyone who loves the water, or being outside, living aboard a boat full-time is rarely far from mind. When Mike Salomon bought a 30-foot, 1931 wooden sailboat, his primary goal was to “save money,” he said. He was drawn to the nearly 70-year boat because it was wooden, and because it was romantic.

“It was really, really romantic,” he said. “Everyone else on the docks had fiberglass boats and they all loved mine. It was like the dream boat everyone else wanted.” It may have been a dream boat at first, but as the cliché goes, it quickly turned into a nightmare. Salomon initially paid $5,000 for the boat, but by the time he sold it five [...]

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July 4, 2017

How to Create a Sacred Space in Your Home

Pat Cheeks considers the pen around her hen house, where a handful of Wyandotte chickens roam and hunt for bugs and grain, part of her sacred space. Beyond the carefully mowed lawn and large garden are woods, a small footpath, and a hammock slung between two towering walnut trees. That’s a part of her sacred space too. While most homeowners are familiar with “man caves, man spaces” or “she sheds” or “she spaces” for women, a sacred space, by whatever name, is a place where we can retreat, relax, dream and be with ourselves. What that space is and how it looks, is up to you to define.

Cheeks is a wife, mother to two grown children, a [...]

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June 22, 2017

How Does Your ZIP Code Cost You Money?

Is your future ZIP code going to cost you money, or save you money? Will the ZIP code of your new house increase the cost of your car insurance, or decrease it? Will your child get a good education, or a poor one depending on the ZIP code? Will you pay more, or less, down the road for hotel rooms, clothes, cars or transportation?

A “cost of living analysis” by two large realty companies discovered that living in the suburbs versus living in the city does impact your cost of living – by thousands of dollars. Families living in the city will end up spending more than their country cousins. According to, city dwellers in Chicago and Dallas show a difference [...]

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May 26, 2017

Tips for Finding and Using Reclaimed Wood in Your Home

Call it a “vibe” or the energy, but there’s just something about using reclaimed wood in a home or office that makes the final project richer, and more luxurious. Reclaimed wood is far superior than anything you can buy from any big box home center, say designers and home owners who swear by reclaimed lumber.

“A lot of what makes old wood so much better is its age,” said designer and architect Mackey Smith of Reclaimed Space in Austin, Texas. Smith is one of a small team of design professionals, ranchers, environmentalists, and architects at the eight-year-old company. “Wood in homes before 1920 was cut from old growth lumber. There are [...]

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