HOME Hacks Uncategorized

Fire pit ideas to enjoy through the winter

5 Fabulous Fire Pit Ideas
When the weather turns chilly and snowflakes begin to fall, it doesn’t mean you should retire to comfort of indoors until next spring. If you have a fire pit, then you have everything you need to provide warmth and fun well into the winter months. But if plopping a fire pit on the porch isn’t quite enough for you, then check out these design tips we’ve gathered, and you’ll soon be enjoying the warmth and the beauty from your fire pit.

The DIY Pit

There’s something about “fire” and “DIY” that just instinctively go together. If building your own fire pit suits your skill level, you can’t go wrong with instructions straight from Popular Mechanics. This design is sturdy and large enough to provide plenty of heat and accommodate a whole host of friends and family. Check out the details, and then gather your supplies.

DIY fire pit from Popular Mechanics

Create a Circle

We love how this design encourages conversation with plenty of friends with its circle design and ample seating. We envision a lot of late night fun conversations being had here.

Circular Fire Pit Design

More Circle Seating

This circle design creates a stone island in the middle of your luscious yard. The potted flowers and white picket fence in the backyard are a lovely touch, but optional. We love how the circular stone floor adds some eye candy as well as safety.

Brick fire pit in lawn

Add a Personal Touch

Whichever type of fire pit design you choose, you can’t go wrong by adding your own personal design touch. Just look at the details in this vintage metal added to a fire pit. Do some salvage yard searching and find the accessory that’s perfect you. A tiny bit of detail can add a definite “wow factor” to any backyard pit.

Salvage iron border on fire pit

Go Underground

Ok, we know this might not be the easiest of designs, but at least you’ll get a bit of exercise while you dig. And the final product? Well you can’t really beat this.

In-ground fire pit

Whichever design you choose, once you’re nestled in around the warm fire—perhaps with some s’mores for all—you certainly won’t regret it.

Community Information

Lincoln Events: December 2016

Things to Do in Lincoln, NE: December 2016Check out our list of things to do this month:

12/1-12/2 10 am – 8 pm Holiday of Trees 2110 Sheridan Blvd
12/1-12/4 (see website for times) The Wickedly Sensational Songs From Oz The TADA Theatre
12/1-12/24 LUX Center for the Arts Presents Gifted
12/2 5-8 pm FREE First Friday Art Walk downtown and at various galleries, Lincoln
12/2 5 pm-Midnight Railyard Ice Rink Grand Opening
12/2-3 7:30 pm Santaland Diaries Haymarket Theatre
12/3-12/22 Candy House Funshop Lincoln Children’s Museum (see website for times)
12/3 3-7 pm Christmas on 84th St
12/3 12-4 pm Critter Corner & Archery Fun Shoot
12/3 11 am-noon & 1-2 pm Gateway Mall presents Sounds of The Season
12/3 11 am-6 pm Haymarket Unwrapped
12/3 9 am-4 pm FREE admission Gifts & Giving Arts & Crafts Show Lancaster Event Center
12/3 7-10 pm Hyde Observatory Free Programs south side of Holmes Lake
12/3 10 am – noon Mrs. Claus Story Time at The Railyard
12/4 Holiday Open House Free 1-4 pm Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center
12/4 3 pm Nebraska Brass Concert Series presents A Nebraska Brass Christmas Traditional Holiday Favorites Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
12/4 10 am – 2 pm FREE 2nd Holiday Harvest Farmers Market
12/4 2 pm & 6 pm Lincoln Symphony Orchestra: Deck the Halls Lied Center
12/5 7:30 pm Lorie Line: A Merry Little Christmas 2016 Holiday Tour Rococo Theatre
12/5 7 pm Stevie Nicks & Pretenders Pinnacle Bank
12/5 7:30 pm Rhapsody in Black Carson Theater
12/6-12/8 Free (see website for times) Nebraska Power Farming Show Lancaster Event Center
12/8 4-9 pm Lincoln Holiday Craftacular Embassy Suites
12/8, 12/15, 12/22, 12/29 7 pm FREE Holiday Movie Series in the Railyard (check website for schedule)
12/8-12/10 A Christmas Wizard of Oz (see website for times)
12/9-12/11 Christmas Cabaret with Judy Anderson & Friends James Arthur Vineyards(see website for times)
12/9 7:30 pm Brian Regan Lied Center
12/9 4-8 pm Mrs. Claus at Scheels
12/9-12/11, & 12/16-18 Elf Jr. Lincoln Community Playhouse (see website for times)
12/9-12/10 8 pm Winter Laser Shows: Morrill Hall
12/10 7:30 pm Canadian Brass Christmas Lied Center
12/11 1pm building opens FREE State Capitol Tree Ceremony
12/11 7:30 pm Cornhusker Marching Band Highlights Concert Lied Center
12/17-12/18 Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company Presents: The Nutcracker Lied Center (see website for times)
12/20 3 & 7:30 pm Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis Lied Center
12/29 FREE 10 am-Noon, Christmas Bird Count for Kids Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center
12/29-12/31 Nebraska Kart Shootout Lancaster Event Center
12/31 6-8:30 Make Believe Midnight Lincoln Children’s Museum
12/31 8pm Rock & Soul New Year’s Eve featuring Soul Dawg & Wheezetones Rococo Theatre

Santa Sightings

Dec 1-24 (see website for times) Santa. Is. Here. Gateway Mall
Dec 1 -24 (see website for times) The Santa Station SouthPointe Pavilions Shopping Center
Dec 1-4, Dec 9-11, Dec 16-18, North Pole Express (see website for times)
Dec 1 6-8 pm Santa. Paws. Gateway Mall
Dec 2 5-8 pm Holiday Spectacular Lincoln Children’s Museum
Dec 2, Dec 9, Dec 16, 6-9 pm Holidays in The Haymarket (Santa will be strolling in the area)
Dec 3 8-11 am Breakfast with Santa & Holidays in the Haymarket

Ongoing December sporting events: Check websites

University of Nebraska Sports Schedule
Nebraska Wesleyan University Sports Schedule
Union College Sports Schedule
Lincoln Stars Hockey Schedule

HOME Hacks

Tips for a fun Thanksgiving kids' table

Tips for a fun Thanksgiving Kids' Table
It’s a long-standing Thanksgiving tradition—the kids’ table. It’s a place for cousins to sit and giggle while the rest of the family enjoys an adult-only Thanksgiving feast. Graduating from the kids’ table to join all those adults is rite of passage, but if you implement some of these ideas into your kids’ table this year, sitting there might just become a little more desirable.

Kid-Friendly Tablecloth

Remember when Lincoln still had a Macaroni Grill and the best part (other than the food) was coloring on the tablecloth? Bring that fun to your Thanksgiving kids’ table by simply using a large sheet of paper. Provide plenty of crayons and encourage your guests, both big and small, to cover the table in hand print turkeys.

Corn husk Dolls

Martha Stewart offers up this delightful idea to keep kids occupied. These simple corn husk dolls not only make a great rustic decoration, but the little ones will love playing with them once dessert is over.

corn husk dolls

Pilgrim Centerpiece

We also couldn’t pass up Martha’s too-cute-for-words pilgrim centerpiece. It’s historic, fun to look at it, and there are even free printable templates to get you started. What more could you ask for? Use this centerpiece as a conversation starter, and you can even get the kids (and adults) to join a friendly game of Thanksgiving trivia.

pilgrim centerpiece

Coloring Book

Keeping with the crayon and FREE printable theme, you can download and print these adorable and fun coloring books with activities to delight kids of all ages. Color turkeys or dive into a word search, this book has an activity for everyone.

Thanksgiving color pages

A Mouthwatering Centerpiece

You need exactly zero cooking skills (and minimal crafting skills) to pull off this kids’ table centerpiece. Not only does it look absolutely perfect as the kids’ table focal point, it’s filled with a delicious surprise treat. Get all the details here.

paper bag turkey centerpiece

Satisfy that Sweet Tooth

Lastly, we can’t leave out dessert. With these fresh fruit cornucopias, you can win the nutrition and the cuteness awards, hands down. Our only recommendation is to make a few extra, because we can’t guarantee adults won’t be drooling over these as well. Of course, after this healthy treat, you can end the meal with pie all around.

Fresh Fruit Cornucopias


HOME Hacks

How to Get Organized for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

How to Get Organized for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
ttronslien Morguefile

The holidays easily become stressful if you plan on having a lot of guests over. Organization and taking things step by step can go a long ways to reducing a headache and feeling prepared. Here we share with you some tips on what to do to stay focused to have the best Thanksgiving this year.

Involve the Whole Family in Deep Cleaning

Clean the house top to bottom a few days before guests arrive; perhaps schedule the weekend before to get it done. Don’t plan too far ahead – houses can get messy again quickly. Put clutter away and scrub down the bathrooms and kitchen. Leave games out if those are part of the itinerary. If guests are staying over, don’t forget to organize the closets and drawers, too!

Rake the Yard

Ali Inay

It is that time of year. Hit the front yard first, since that is where people will be leaving in and out of. If there is time after the front yard and deep cleaning the house, then rake the backyard and deck.

Create a Dinner and Dessert Plan

Dessert by BonnieHenderson, Morguefile

Assign a dish to everyone who will be attending. You may choose to have people bring what is normally their best dish. You could also have them bring what they want to see in a Thanksgiving dinner – whoever says, “Potato salad would be great!” is the one who has to make it.
Make sure to collaborate with everyone that is coming. It’d be a drag if three people came with dinner rolls and no one brought pumpkin pie. Try setting up a shared Google doc with a list of dishes or items everyone will bring. This will avoid duplicate dishes and ensure every tasty dish that is essential to a complete Thanksgiving experience will be served.

Schedule the Day

Set an exact time you want to dinner and dessert to start. This makes you plan ahead when to start cooking and will help you avoid delays and hungry, waiting people.
Schedule activities everyone wants to do around meal times. When is time to play board/card games? When is movie time? It makes it easier to entertain guests when the fun is planned. I recommend choosing or discussing with everyone beforehand what the movie title and games will be played. This way, less time will be spent figuring things out on the spot, and everyone will have more time for the fun.

Be Flexible

Once everyone is over, it is time to relax and have fun with family and friends. Even though a schedule is set, things come up that can throw things off. No worries. The point of the schedule is to make sure you have a plan and no one is left bored. But sometimes, spontaneity takes over and that’s fine.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

HOME Hacks

How to Have Black Friday Success

HOME Real Estate has tips to make your Black Friday in Lincoln, NE a success!The first step in strategizing your Black Friday shopping spree? Plan ahead. And it’s easy to do with this handy guide that shows opening times for local stores on Black Friday. Draw a map, make a list, set calendar alerts on your phone—whatever it takes to hit your favorite stores the moment the door swings open. Here are just a few of our favorite deals happening post-turkey this week:

Juice Stop

A full stomach is always the best place to start. With a large local following and five Lincoln locations, Juice Stop will give you some fruity energy to shop ‘til you drop. But you can also start knocking out gifts while you’re there. Juice Stop is offering gift card specials on Black Friday: $50 will get you a $65 gift card, while $25 dollars is all it takes for a $30 dollar gift card. They might be hard to part with though—we recommend buying two and keeping one for yourself just in case you work up a thirst with all that shopping.

SouthPointe Pavilions

SouthPointe Pavillions mall has a handy list on their website so you can keep track of store opening times, but only one store is brave enough to open at 5am Friday morning— GameStop. We all have at least one gamer on our list, so it’s sure be worth the extra effort to be there early. Sign up for text alerts to get the lowdown on GameStop’s Black Friday specials.

Gateway Mall

Shop from 6pm-10pm Thanksgiving Day at Gateway Mall and take part in their festive holiday shopping challenge. The winner (there’s one every hour) receives a $100 gift card to the store of their choice within the mall, and all you have to do is weigh your shopping bags. The shopper with the heaviest haul each hour is declared the winner. Find out more details here.

Online Specials

Of course, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as shopping on your own couch in your pajamas. We don’t blame you for choosing sweatpants and Wi-Fi over the winding lines at the mall. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start on your strategizing; here is a list of the online deals you won’t want to miss.
Whether you’re standing in line or clicking away on your keyboard, don’t forget to add HOME Real Estate to your Black Friday shopping. Just hop on our website to peruse the housing market, connect with an agent, or take a peek at your own home’s value. Our newly designed website is full of info, and way easier to navigate than the Black Friday crowds.

HOME Hacks

5 ways to be thankful

5 ways to be thankfulThanksgiving is upon us, which brings with it the spirit of the holiday season. Before you get too wrapped up in the stress of the holidays—like all of the shopping, cooking, and family events–let’s take a minute to slow down and really consider how we can use this time to practice a thankfulness while being mindful and present in our everyday lives. Here are a few ways you can up your thankfulness game during Thanksgiving and well into the new year.

1.      Give Back.

With all the detailed planning that goes into making your holidays a success, it’s easy to forget all the wonderful reasons behind this season. But there are plenty of simple and stress-free ways you can give back to the community and set a great example for those little eyes learning from you.

  • If you have some extra cash, consider donating to a cause that you believe in. If you’re not sure where to start, start locally. Pick a food bank or homeless shelter in your own community as your recipient.
  • Plan ahead and keep cash and loose change handy for the bell ringers you’ll no doubt encounter during shopping trips.
  • Water bottles and small restaurant gift cards can be easily handed out to the homeless population–you’ll feel good about your contribution, and offering a helping hand and warm smile is guaranteed to be less awkward than averting your eyes and driving past.
  • If you’ve got more time than extra money, give back an hour or two each week in an animal shelter, a nursing home, or meals on wheels program. If you’re ready to give but not sure where, use to find the perfect organization for you.

2.      Start New Traditions.

This Thanksgiving dinner, instead of rushing through the main course to get to bigger and better things (It’s totally okay to DVR your favorite football game.), take a moment to go around the table to share what you’re thankful for. It could even start a daily tradition because it doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving for you to be thankful! Prepare for next year by starting a thankfulness jar. Write down things you’re thankful for on small slips of paper throughout the year, and by next Thanksgiving you’ll have a jar brimming with reasons that are sure to make you smile. Plus, if you pick a cute jar and colorful paper, it makes a great centerpiece or decoration.

3.      Think Ahead.

Instead of waiting until the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to decide what you need to change about your life, what better time to start than Thanksgiving? Work towards small (or larger) goals a little bit every week starting now. You’ll not only give yourself a head start for the new year, but you’ll have progress to be proud of on January 1st, instead of that insurmountable feeling of starting 2017 with huge goals. A goal journal like this one can help track your progress and motivate you along the way.

4.      Be Kind to Yourself.

The first step towards being thankful and being able to give back is taking care of yourself first. Enroll in that yoga class you’ve been thinking about, or give yourself the gift of a good night’s rest by going to bed early. Splurge on spa day with friends, or simply give yourself time each day to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. Whatever it is that rejuvenates you, make sure you’re making it a priority.

5.      Surround Yourself with Loved Ones.

Of course, one of the main goals of the holidays is to spend time with friends and family. The Huffington Post explains that this is actually one of the staple habits of grateful people:

“Thankful people know they didn’t get to where they are by themselves — and they make it a habit to spend time with those people who matter most.”

So, don’t just “get through” the holidays, savor them! Spend time with all the delightful people in your life, and make sure they know how important they are to you. You, and your loved ones, will all benefit from it.

HOME Hacks

Tips for prepping your Thanksgiving feast in advance

Ever wonder just how many resources go into your annual Thanksgiving meal? Well, the short answer is, a lot. For starters, millions of turkeys. 235 million to be exact, which is the number that the United States produces annually. And a fifth of those turkeys are consumed on Thanksgiving Day!
But let’s not forget about the side dishes. Love it or hate it, cranberry sauce is here to stay, so to keep up we produce nearly 750 million pounds of the flavorful berry a year. So now that we’ve got you hungry and in the holiday spirit, peruse through these Thanksgiving recipes that offer an added bonus: you can prepare each one before the big day.

Deep Dish Apple Pie

We’ll start with the last course in honor of how many times we’ve wanted to dive into dessert at the beginning of dinner. Apple pie. As American as it is delicious. This deep dish recipe is described by The Food Network as a “showstopper.” But even better they encourage you to make and assemble the pie at least the day before Thanksgiving, then chill in your fridge until there’s room in the oven to bake and serve.

deep dish apple pie

Smoked Turkey

Now let’s ruffle some feathers with turkey. There’s the traditional way, and then there’s the smoker way. If you’re lucky enough to own a smoker, there’s no better time to put it to great use. This recipe calls for a dry-brine of your bird two days in advance (Don’t Google it just yet; the recipe explains how.) and smoking the day before. Then simply heat and eat. But for after-hours snacking, we think turkey makes great finger food straight out of the fridge.

smoked turkey

Cranberry Sauce

Remember all of those cranberries we mentioned? We think you can do them more justice than merely opening up a can and sliding the cylinder blob onto a plate. Just look at how these cranberries look far more beautiful (and delicious!) Again, you make this days in advance, so the only thing between cranberry sauce and your plate is a slow simmer.

cranberry sauce

Sweet Potato Wedges

Next up, sweet potatoes. Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving goes hand-in-hand with football, but we think this spud makes a great finger food. Everything but cooking this dish can be prepped in advance, so the only thing working hard on Thanksgiving Day will be your oven. These sweet potato wedges are mouthwatering and versatile if you want to try out some dipping sauces.

sweet potato wedges

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

And of course, we couldn’t leave out mashed potatoes. But if you’ve ever tried to pre-make potatoes you know the horrors of trying to get them soft and creamy again. Thankfully, this recipe shares the secrets to getting it right ahead of time. In fact, this recipe actually requires that it chills for a few hours.

mashed potatoes

So we can’t guarantee these tips will take all of the stress out of holiday food prep, but you’ll definitely have more time for family, and most importantly, being thankful.

Community Information

Antelope Park offers ample space for play and fun

Lincoln's Antelope Park playgroundSometimes you want to take your kids to a park with a plethora of play equipment. And other times you just need space, LOTS of space, for them to run off their energy. But other times, you just need the best of both worlds, and that, my friends, is Antelope Park.
Located at 23rd & N to 33rd & Sheridan Blvd on a sprawling 92.93 acres, you can be that trendy free-range parent while still relaxing on a park bench and keeping an eye on the kiddos. The ample space is perfect for exploring, hide and seek, and that old classic, red rover. Anything your kids’ imaginations can dream up, Antelope Park can accommodate it. And let’s not forget the wide spread of play equipment perfect for those littles just learning to pump their legs and swing, and the bigger kids eager to climb high and slide fast.
Antelope Park shelterBetter yet, there are shelters available for rental (hello epic birthday parties and family reunions!), and it’s even within walking distance to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, giving you enough activities to fill up an entire day with family fun. Other amenities include golf course (reserve a tee time) tennis court, basketball court, baseball diamond, and gorgeous hiking trails.
Pack a picnic basket and make a day of it. But don’t just take our word for it. Antelope Park has a Trip Advisor rating of 4.5, and the reviews boast its beauty with phrases like “Perfect for family and friends! Don’t forget to pack a picnic, so you can enjoy a meal and the view. Peace and quiet. Lots of space to run and play!” and “Great place to walk, run and/or bike. Very clean, easy, wide sidewalks to be on. Friendly people, great views of city.” So if you’re looking for a fantastically frugal way to take in the autumn weather, get those snacks packed and head to Antelope Park.

Company Information

Gregg Wright joins HOME team as IT Network Analyst

Greg Wright
Greg Wright

We’re excited to welcome Greg Wright as IT Network Analyst.
Wright comes to the HOME Real Estate family after a 15-year career with The Gallup Organization. In his new role, he will be an integral part of the technology department, from evaluating existing systems to offering application and hardware support.
Wright also spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an intelligence analyst during the end of the Cold War, when he was honorably discharged. Wright is engaged to his former junior high sweetheart with whom he reconnected after 32 years (Check out the Journal Star article on his story here), and he has a 5-year-old son, Jack. In his spare time, he enjoys fitness, PC gaming and drumming with his son.
Contact Greg at:
402 937-2025

Company Information

Mari Jo Mentzer named Director of Larabee School of Real Estate

Mari Jo Mentzer
Mari Jo Mentzer

We’d like to welcome Mari Jo Mentzer as the new Director of Education for the Larabee School of Real Estate.
A native of Missouri Valley, Iowa, Mentzer earned her degree in adult education from Bellevue University. She has more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry, with three years specializing in real estate education. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in Colorado and writing.  Mentzer has three adult children and two adorable grandsons with whom she enjoys spending her free time.
She can be reached at:
P:  402-436-3308
C:  402-979-1187