Blog :: 2013

Appetizers and Cheese

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Are you sensing a theme yet? We're continuing our Holiday Favorites and I for one have certainly noticed that we definitely lean heavily toward appetizers and cheese. This is of course because you can't go wrong with either. This recipe for Hot Artichoke Dip is from Felicity Tuttle is always a must-have at any get-together - including this month's Holiday Party. Hot Artichoke Dip


This recipe came from the original West Chop Little Cookbook (Martha's Vineyard). One of my favorite aspects of the recipe is that I can ALWAYS remember what to get and how much even when I'm standing in the grocery store without my list! Any recipe you can put together without a list automatically shoots higher on my list of possibilities. You know you won't get home and say, "Oh, no! I forgot the kumquats again!" or "Gracious, I'm out of articulated mini-quail!" Because it's hot, I actually rarely do it in the summer even though it came from a "summery" publication; but once the leaves turn orange, there's a nip in the air, or the snow is flying, I turn to this one again and again.

  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 8 oz can artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 box thin crunchy crackers
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Mustard
  • Horseradish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Open, rinse, and drain the artichoke hearts.
Gently squeeze extra water out using paper towels (or you will have artichoke soup, not dip :)
Quarter and eighth lengthwise the pieces of artichoke, then dice them nicely with a knife without worrying about getting incredibly perfect and toss the diced artichoke hearts into a middle-sized bowl (Editor's cheat: I've popped artichoke hearts into the food processor on pulse.)
Measure and combine 1 cup regular Mayonnaise (better bulk than the light mayo, this is a treat - live it up!) with 1 cup of grated Parmesan.
Stir all together
For a bit of zip, I usually add:
  • 3-5 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • 1 tsp creamed horseradish or rough horseradish (if rough, use a tad less)
Stir again and put the mixture into your ovenproof, covered bowl
Set the timer for 15 minutes, removing the cover for the last 5 minutes. (If you forget to take the cover off, don't lose sleep; it will taste virtually the same. It just won't be lightly browned.)
Serve in the baking dish with a small appetizer knife
Felicity's Tips and Tricks:
It is wise to remove it from the oven and put on the lid about 10 minutes before arrival of guests. Serving it straight from the oven means the dip is a bit too hot!
Choose crackers that are fairly thin with good crunch to contrast the soft dip
Put a square piece of wet paper towel between the ceramic bowl and your serving dish so the bowl doesn't skid around.
We hope you've enjoyed our taste of the Holidays! We wish you all the Merriest of Christmases and a prosperous, happy New Year, filled with peace and opportunity! It is our pleasure and honor to be part of your lives.

Shanahan's Third Annual Kids' Turkey Trot

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Turkey Trot Logo SmallThis Thanksgiving, we organized our third annual Kids' Turkey Trot! Every year, this event is heart-warming -- which was more important than ever with our fingers and toes frozen! Its a great hometown event, with so many local groups involved and contributing to The Bridget Brigade, the Winchester-based charity founded in the memory of Bridget Marie Dobbins, that raises funds to provide needed support to families from Massachusetts with a critically-ill child.

Community organizations like FAN (The Winchester Family Action Network) and Rotary Club support the event with volunteers and publicity. Every year, fellow businesses like Kids Footstop, Petersons Party Center, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks donate time and goods. Local professionals like Beth Locke and Alyssa Suffredini helped us behind the scenes this year with our new logo and banners. WinCam generously loaned their equipment to an awesome team of McCall Middle School students who are producing a Turkey Trot video for us this year (we can't wait to see it!). All this happens at Lincoln School field, in the heart of our town on a day when we give thanks for all of the things that we hold dear.

Turkey Trotters

Over 115 children, ages 3-8 participated in this years races. Their parents bundled everyone up in coats and hats and mittens and came to Lincoln School early on a freezing Thanksgiving morning. It was truly special and our honor to lend support to an organization that does so much good! Every dollar that we raise, from admissions and other donations from the Turkey Trot goes directly to the Bridget Brigade to support families caring for critically ill children. What better way to start a Day of Thanks?

Turkey Trotters 2

Frankly, we're can't believe this is our third annual! The first year of the TurkeyTrot, we werent sure how many people would show up. We even joked that it might just be a few of us and our kids! That day, I remember looking around and thinking about how the people I saw represented so much of what makes our town great. The second year, the event grew even larger and there was a sense of tradition and community as parents, organizers, and all of the kids lingered for coffee and snacks well after the races were over. This year, there was less lingering given how cold it was (17 degrees thank-you-very-much!) but there was a growing feeling that this was something our community would be doing for many Thanksgivings to come. Finally, a very special thank you to the Turkey Trot committee at The Shanahan Group. This group of agents has been organizing the event for the last three years with great enthusiasm and dedication. We have such fun putting the Turkey Trot together every year. Thank you to Paula Sughrue, Rebecca Brennan-Laird, Lulu Coakley, Felicity Tuttle as well as Jacqui Curtin and Mary Savage. Thank you, ladies! Gobble, gobble!Turkey Trot Committee

Tis the Season (for Eating well)

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Today, Mary Price is sharing another Holiday Party favorite of ours because after all...Tis the season for eating! This is Mary's famous and delicious Easy Hot Cheese Dip. There is simply nothing about these four words together that sounds bad to us. And Mary is even kind enough to give a shout out to her friend and former neighbor. Mary Price's Cheese DipEASY HOT CHEESE DIP: Originally from Joyce Edwards (my former neighbor) 8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese I use the block cheese grated in a food processor. I like Cabot brand: Seriously Sharp. Any sharp cheese will work. 1 small onion (also put in processor) Put into a mixing bowl and add: approx. 1/3 cup mayo Mix together usually, I add a few red pepper flakes Put in appropriate size baking dish Sprinkle paprika on top Bake ate 350 degrees for approx 25 minutes (until bubbling) 20-30 minutes. MOST TIMES, I DOUBLE THIS RECEIPE AND DO BAKE FOR A FULL 25 MINUTES. ALSO, BEFORE SERVING, I BLOT THE EXTRA MAYO OIL ON TOP. Serve with pita chips, vegetables, crackers, bread sticks...just about anything! Enjoy!

The Perfect Holiday Side Dish

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With Thanksgiving arriving so late this year, it seems like we're all sprinting to the finish line. I'm trying to breathe and enjoy the build up to the big day rather than just working to tick things off my check list. With the whole, 'slowing down and savoring the season' thing in mind, I wanted to share one of my favorite dishes. I only seem to make it around the holidays - with good reason: It's decadent and delicious! We spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family and this was one of my contributions. It was again taste tested at our office Holiday Party this past weekend, and I think it met with good reviews. It will be making its final appearance of the season at Christmas with my side of the family. I posted this picture to my Facebook page on Thanksgiving morning and received quite a few requests for the recipe. I think it originally came from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. Any modifications I've made are in parentheses. My personal belief is that anything that starts with a full stick of butter and ends with two cups of Swiss cheese can only bring good things!
The Perfect Holiday Side Dish

The Perfect Holiday Side Dish

Cauliflower Au Gratin Ingredients: 6 Tbs butter 4 cloves garlic 4 oz Prosciutto (sliced thin and diced) 1 head of cauliflower (cut into inch slices) 1 cups cream (I always use 2% milk) 2 Tbs Flour 1 pinch Cayenne Salt and pepper to taste 1 cups shredded Swiss cheese (okay, I add more...) cup chopped fresh parsley (to me, this seems like a lot I use less) In a large skillet, melt butter, add garlic and prosciutto, cook for about 2-3 minutes Add cauliflower and cook until it loses its crispness Blend flour and cream together then add to the skillet Add peppers and salt Heat to a boil, then remove from burner Add 1 cup of shredded Swiss and mix well Pour entire mixture into a casserole dish Sprinkle the remaining Swiss on top Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes In the last 10 minutes, sprinkle with fresh parsley If you're looking for more recipes to add to your holiday repertoire, be sure to check out our Pinterest Boards and of course, one of our very favorite bloggers, the amazing Pioneer Woman. Blog Post by Christine Curtin

Choosing the Right Realtor as Your Buyer's Agent

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Choosing the right Realtor to represent you can be overwhelming. There are many things you as a buyer need to factor in. I will help guide you through this process and feel free to contact me with any questions. The first step in the process of choosing a Realtor is picking up the phone and talking to different agents. When a buyer contacts Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group I always have prepared questions so I can better understand their wants and needs. I am always curious in how long someone has been looking, if they live in the area, and what their timing expectation is. It is extremely important that Realtors ask questions -- not only for their own knowledge but to form a connection with you as a prospective client. A Designated Buyer Agent works solely in the buyers BEST interest and you as a buyer should make sure you form a connection with your Realtor. Remember, you will be spending lots of time with your Realtor! I always recommend setting up a time with my clients either at our office or in their home for a brief meeting. I present how I, as a Realtor will represent them and Ill ask more questions about the clients wants and needs. A sit down discussion about you, the client, should not be scary. I know it is overwhelming, having someone ask a handful of questions about your personal life. Remember, buyer agents work for you and cannot disclose information. Everything remains confidential and questions are only for your Realtors knowledge to help find you the BEST HOME for the BEST PRICE. Here are just a few questions a good Realtor should ask his or her clients:

  • How soon do you need or want to be in a new home?
  • How do you plan to finance the purchase of a new house?
  • Have you been in contact with mortgage lenders in your area?
  • What price range are you looking?
  • How much had you planned to put down?
  • What are your top priorities?
  • Are you familiar with the home buying process?
Next, I set up a search based on my clients home criteria - price range, towns, type of home, number of bedrooms, age of the home, etc., with email alerts directly through MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Not only will this show buyers homes which are currently available on the market, but also alert buyers to price reductions, new homes on the market, and even open houses. Once you find the home of your dreams, I provide my client with relevant market data as well as my own experience and expertise so we can develop the strongest offer. Once we decide on the best price, I present our offer to the listing agent personally, discussing what makes my client the best buyer for the property. We give the seller a time frame on when we need to hear back which usually is about 24 to 48 hours. We then wait for a response. Best case, they accept, but if not the sellers can either counter offer or reject. If the sellers counter-offer, I will negotiate with the listing agent for the best price and terms on behalf of the buyer, always keeping you informed throughout the process. Once an offer is accepted, your Realtor will help advise you on next steps, most notably a home inspection and other inspections needed by law. Its important for the buyers to follow their inspector during a home inspection. Its a great time to ask questions to learn more about the property you are in the process of buying. Other to-do items you may discuss with your Realtor include homeowners insurance, certifying funds for down payment and closing costs, and advising you about utility turn overs and movers. Last but not least, the closing and funding. Just before settlement you and your Realtor should make one last walk through to make sure the home is in the condition you expect. Buying a new home should be enjoyable and the right Realtor should help make this process stress free. Remember to interview a Realtor and discuss how they will best represent you. Relax, take a deep breath, and have fun finding your dream home!!! stephanie Once again, we're happy to have Stephanie Walsh blogging for BH&G Shanahan. You can reach Stephanie at 781-572-9218

Get to Know Your Realtor - Part 4

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This week, in our continuing blog series Get to Know your Realtor, we are pleased to introduce Stephanie Walsh as our newest team member and our newest blog contributor. When Stephanie says it's been a whirlwind, she's not joking! She's come to us with energy, ideas, stories, humor, and insights. We are so happy to have her as part of Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group. Stephanie from FB Back in 2010 I started my Real Estate career in Boston with apartment rentals. My office was right between the University of Boston and Boston College a perfect location for walk-in clients. My office was great and had the support and networking systems I was looking for. I remember during my first showing our office manager talked me through the steps in showing an apartment. I was so nervous!! I got in my car, put my GPS on, and headed out to meet my client. My palms were sweating and my heart was beating fast. I pulled up to this adorable one bedroom apartment in the heart of Brighton where I met my first client. I calmly introduced myself and keyed into the apartment. We looked around and talked about the sunny living room and recently updated kitchen. He seemed to really like the atmosphere and location and cheerfully asked for an application. I was so proud of myself! Throughout my Real Estate career I have encountered many funny and awkward moments. One afternoon during my rental career, I had a showing in Somerville then another, one hour later in Brighton center. I was stressed out about time and nervous I wouldnt make it to Brighton. I got in my car and tried to turn it on nothing. My car wouldnt start and I now had a showing appointment, which was about a half hour away. There was only one solution to my problem I needed to call my dad! I was lucky that my father was at a plumbing job in Cambridge and could switch cars with me. Little (funny) problem the car I was getting was a large white pickup truck with pipes and tools loaded in the back. But it was my only option I had to! Luckily, I made it to Brighton in time for my showing and saw my clients waiting at the driveway. I opened my not so stylish truck door and slid out in my heels. The couple laughed as I made my way over while asking, Are you from maintenance? I was shocked! Chuckling, I replied, No! Im your agent! I still laugh about this story to this day! Now Im a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group in Winchester. The first couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. As a Realtor now based in Winchester, I need to create databases, send out announcements, and interact with people and organizations, such as Family Action Network, supporting families and the Winton Club, supporting Winchester Hospital, to form relationships. I need to become familiar with the area; what it means to be in The Flats vs. Winchester Highlands - not to mention the brand new Vinson-Owen school that just opened, Winchester High's award winning status, and so on. Luckily, as a lifelong resident of Stoneham I've got that area covered - as well as my knowledge of the surrounding communities such as Wakefield, Medford, and Woburn. I am ecstatic that I am part of such a wonderful company, which is the number one trusted brand in Real Estate! I know I will succeed in this new chapter in my life. I have a great support system here at the office along with my family and friends. Best part about this new chapter, my phone extension is the number 19 my familys lucky number I now know this wonderful opportunity is meant to be. Im not just a Realtor selling houses but forming lifelong relationships with my clients. I give 100 percent to everything I do and Im extremely down to earth. I might be living my dream but Im also making dreams come true for others!

Today's Luxury Homebuyer

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Do you know what todays luxury homebuyer is looking for in real estate today? We do - and we have the market research to prove it. Home This week, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate released findings from a study we recently conducted to discover what todays luxury buyer is looking for in a home. At The Shanahan Group, these findings are not surprising and something that we talk about with our buyers and sellers on a daily basis. Some key findings from the study:
  • Survey findings show that technology is evolving the role of the real estate agent, but certainly not discounting the personalized connection they provide. Ninety-six percent of luxury homebuyers today are leaning on their real estate agent for more acute information than ever before. They are looking for insight into neighborhood lifestyle (65%), advanced new listing notices (64%), advice on housing trends (55%), and support on a personal level throughout the buying process (53%).
  • Multiple Properties and Lifestyles: As the real estate market comes roaring back, a new vote of confidence is apparent among luxury buyers. Investing in more than one home has become a trend in today's luxury market. A majority of luxury homeowners surveyed (53%) prefer owning multiple "lifestyle" homes to support activities like skiing or theater-going. In fact, more than half (58%) of luxury homebuyers already own multiple homes to support their lifestyle activities.
  • Fabulous Lifestyles Meet Fabulous Amenities: Bigger isn't necessarily better -- or more luxurious. In fact, 60 percent of luxury homebuyers surveyed would rather have as many upgrades as they can afford in their home, rather than more square footage. Similarly, nearly all (94%) luxury homebuyers surveyed would be willing to give up 1,000 square feet of living space from their next home in order to get a lifestyle amenity they desire, such as; living in a better neighborhood (54%), living in a house with "character" (51%), more land (44%), access to dining and entertainment (39%), and a shorter commute (38%).
  • Wired for Luxury: When it comes to their dream home, a majority (66%) of luxury homebuyers surveyed said a "smart" home is more important to them than a "green" home. When house hunting, 87 percent of luxury homebuyers surveyed would not consider living in a home that isn't tech-friendly.
Whether you're looking to buy or sell your existing residence or purchase an additional home, we at Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group offer unparalleled experience and knowledge of the Luxury Market. For more on the results of this study, see our CEO, Sherry Chris on FOX Business Channel (embed this link:

To Always Remember

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9_11 My first "I remember where I was" moment occurred when the Challenger exploded just after take-off. It was January 1986. A nor'easter was blowing into Massachusetts and my school closed early to make sure everyone got home safely. A bunch of us rented some movies and headed to my friend, Joe's house to watch. One movie was Thief of Hearts. I can't remember the other one. My friend Michele called her father to tell him where she was. I can remember her saying, 'What?!" and to us, "the shuttle exploded! Turn on the TV!" There are others now. But twelve years ago... I was sitting in my office in Andover and my husband called me when he got into his office in Cambridge. He commented he'd just heard on the radio that someone had just flown into the World Trade Center. We both thought it was some poor idiot in a Cesna. We both thought it was an accident. We hung up and I ambled into my boss, Lee's office and told her. She tried to get onto and couldn't. Then another co-worker ran in to say a second plane had just hit the other tower. Not an accident. An attack. We were in a new building and didn't have a television, so all over, small groups of people gathered around small images on computer monitors. Every time someone managed to get some news, it spread as horrible rumors through the office. As we learned about Flight 93, my friend, June got a panicked, crying call from her college-aged son. His dad was flying back from PA today. Had she heard from him? She had not but later learned, thank God, he was not aboard that flight. Finally, Lee and I left the building to run to a local Best Buy to get a TV. Going home would take too long. It was in Lee's Jeep that we heard that the first tower had fallen. We saw the second tower fall standing among strangers in front of a big-screen TV in Best Buy. We spent a longer while at work, eventually leaving to watch the horror unfold from the comfort of our own homes. There, I pleaded with my husband to leave the job he had just started a few weeks before. He worked in Kendall Square, Cambridge where MIT is located. I was sure if there were more attacks "they" would target the academic centers soon. He didn't leave until 5:00 and was home in record time. No one was on the roads. He found me in front of the TV exactly where I had landed when I arrived home hours before. We watched more. We headed to his mom's to wish her a "happy birthday." More TV, bed, sleep. In the morning, we woke up back to the bad dream that was our new reality.

Are You Ready for Some Football (Food)

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Sundays in the Fall equals football. Football equals Sunday dinners eaten in front of the TV. I would say that Chili is the quintessential football food.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

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Fellow Parents, we're nearing the finish line! A few short days - maybe a week and a half at most and we get our kitchens, our family rooms, and our lives back!*

*At least between the hours of 8:00 and 3:00

* Except weekends, holidays, professional development days, snow days, vacations, sick days, some election days, and the occasional hurricane.

Long after I'd finished school and long before I had kids of my own, fall always meant a fresh start to me, time to refocus, a new television season, set new goals - a chance to organize myself, personally and professionally. If I'm lucky, this enthusiasm will last through Columbus Day weekend. With this in mind, I thought it might be helpful to post a few of our favorite local towns' school calendars for the upcoming academic year. Medford School Calendar 2013-14 Melrose School Calendar 2013-14 Reading School Calendar 2013-14 Stoneham School Calendar 2013-14 Winchester School Calendar 2013-14