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Camelot

by Allyson Hoffman

Would you like to go to a show this weekend in Chicago, Illinois? In Evanston, IL Light Opera works will present Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway musical June 1-10, at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston. A 29-piece orchestra playing the original Broadway orchestrations accompanies a 31-member cast led by award-winning actor Nick Sandys.

Sandys, artistic director of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, was named Chicago’s Best Actor in the August 2011 issue of Chicago Magazine. He returns to the Light Opera Works stage after his acclaimed portrayal of Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY in 2009. The haunting love story of King Arthur, his queen Guenevere and knight Lancelot, CAMELOT includes the classic songs “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “How to Handle a Woman,” “The Lusty Month of May” and many others. The original 1960 Broadway production starred Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet, and ran 873 performances, winning four Tony Awards. The original cast album was America’s top selling LP for 60 weeks.

 

Thrill again to the haunting love story of King Arthur and his queen Guenevere. When she falls in love with Lancelot -- Arthur's trusted friend and knight of the Round Table --his idyllic kingdom cannot survive. Or can it?

 

Also, Join Light Opera Works business manager and resident musical theater scholar Mike Kotze for an illuminating, free discussion about Camelot before the show, on any of these dates:

  • Sunday, June 3, 12:45 pm (doors open 12:30)
  • Saturday, June 9, 6:45 pm (doors open 6:30)
  • Sunday, June 10, 12:45 pm (doors open 12:30)

No need to RSVP; just attend any talk (even if you have show tickets for another date). This musical favorite, by the creators of Brigadoon and My Fair Lady, is a spectacle to behold -- brimming with chivalry, pageantry, splendor and romance.

Tickets are on sale now starting at just  $48, and going up to $92 for the main floor or starting at $32, and going up to $77 for balcony seating. Tickets for under 21 years of age are half off but please no one under 10. You can purchase your tickets in advance! Music by Frederick Loewe, Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner Based on The Once and Future King by T.H.White

Thanks light-opera-works for the info on this great Chicago,Illinois event!

 

 

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Be Prepared for any Home Emergency

by Allyson Hoffman

I came across this article from Money Magazine and thought it'd be great to share. Every day something could happen and its great to always be prepared. Sometimes disaster strikes your home, despite your best efforts to prevent it. And that means you should always be ready for the unexpected. The right emergency gear will help you protect your home and family, as well as deal with unpleasant realities like a post-storm power outage or broken windows.

Here are the most critical tools and products to have on hand when things go wrong. Essential detection and safety devices

Throughout the house

Place wireless water alarms under sinks, behind the fridge, anywhere that water would pool if there's a leak -- they'll sound off at the slightest hint of moisture. Zircon Leak Alert three-pack, $25; amazon.com

Keep a fire extinguisher on every floor of your Chicago home, and an extra one in the kitchen, where the majority of fires start (some insurance policies will give you a discount on your premium for having them). Get multipurpose A:B:C extinguishers that douse flames from three types of fires: ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical. Opt for a five-pound fire extinguisher, which is light enough for most people to use easily. Check the pressure gauges periodically and have the extinguishers recharged when the pressure drops. Kidde Full Home fire extinguisher, $40; homedepot

Supplement hard-wired smoke detectors (if you have them) with at least one battery-powered model per floor, especially in the kitchen and near bedrooms. Go with a model with a sealed-in, 10-year lithium battery to spare you frequent battery replacement. Kidde Long-Life sealed battery smoke alarm, $20; walmart.com

For the best protection, opt for separate carbon monoxide alarms instead of combination smoke/CO detectors. Place one on every level of the home and outside each bedroom or sleeping area so that occupants will wake up if it goes off at night. Plug-in versions with battery backups are convenient and discreet. First Alert plug-in carbon monoxide detector, $33; amazon.com

Basement, laundry, and mechanical room

A sump pump alarm has a sensor wire and probe that detect rapidly rising water levels, tipping you off to a potential flood. Reliance Controls sump pump alarm, $15; homedepot.com

An automatic shutoff valve for your water heater cuts off the supply to the device as soon as it senses a leak of any kind. FloodStop auto shutoff valve for water heaters, $115; safehomeproducts.com

If you forget to turn off the water supply to your washing machine when you're finished sudsing your duds, then this is the gizmo for you: a switch that automatically opens the valve as soon as you turn the machine on, and then closes it when the rinse cycle is over. Watts IntelliFlow automatic washing machine shutoff valve, about $200; amazon.com

Upstairs bedrooms

Place sturdy escape ladders in each bedroom near a window. Practice setting them up in case you have to do it quickly. First Alert three-story fire-escape ladder, $72; target

Must-have tools for your emergency kit, collect all your gear in a waterproof plastic tub and stow it in an easy-to-access spot in your house.

1. Duct tape. Use it for on-the-fly repairs and temporary fixes. $3.50 per roll at home stores

2. Blanket. Mylar is warm and lightweight, and folds up small.$3.50; grainger.com

3. Multitool. Get one with a pair of pliers and a can opener. $55; leatherman.com

4. Radio/phone charger. A hand crank will allow you to juice up the battery. $20; amazon.com

5. Work gloves.Leather grips protect your mitts during poststorm cleanup. $48; ironclad.com

6. Nylon rope. Use it to secure heavy outdoor furniture or tie down a flapping door.$30 per 100 feet at home stores

7. Lantern. A battery-operated model is safer than candles. $40; coleman.com

And add these multitaskers:

8. Fishing line. Use it wherever rope is too thick to get the job done.

9. Vinyl tablecloth. Lay it down to create a clean zone in any area.

10. Baby wipes. They'll remove grime from your hands and practically any surface.

Make sure to include first-aid supplies, three days' worth of bottled water and nonperishable food, and a list of important phone numbers. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, like the saying goes "its better to be safe than sorry!"

 

 

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Karkomi Exhibition

by Allyson Hoffman

Bring your family and friends to the The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie, Illinois and discover history with the Karkomi Permanent Exhibition.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center tells the story of the Holocaust through richly designed, interactive exhibitions that will both move and inspire you.

The Zev and Shifra Karkomi Permanent Exhibition tells the story of the Holocaust, from pre-war German life, to ghettos and concentration camps, to eventual liberation and resettlement throughout the world, with a special focus on post-war life in Skokie.  A German rail car of the type used in Nazi deportation programs sits in the center of the building. The exhibition concludes with a summary film in the Pritzker Theater that connects the lessons of the Holocaust with other genocides.

More than 500 artifacts, documents, and photographs in the Karkomi Permanent Exhibition help illustrate the narrative of the Holocaust, while video testimonies from local survivors add personal detail.  Learn more about the realities of the Holocaust and the extreme importance of fighting hatred, indifference, and intolerance in the future through this powerfully moving collection.

This award-winning exhibition explores and celebrates the achievements of Jewish men and women who were part of the American war effort on and off of the battlefield. In their own voices and through their artifacts, letters and photographs, the Greatest Generation tells the stories of what the war was like for all its participants, including Jews and other ethnic minorities. The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. We hope that your visit will be a chance for you to learn, explore, share, and remember the history and lessons of the Holocaust and the continuing impact it has today.

The average visit time is approximately two hours. This exhibition is recommended for visitors 12 years of age and older.

General Admission: $12.00, Seniors (65+): $8.00, Students (12-22): $8.00, Children (5-11): $6.00

Thank you CNSCVB for sharring this with us!

 

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Tips for sellers

by Allyson Hoffman

While buyers in many areas of Northern Illinois have the upper hand, sellers aren't completely in the gutter. They just need to know what it takes to stand out in a crowded market and how to appeal to buyers without sacrificing too much financially.

To get the best deal when selling your home, try to avoid these all-too common mistakes.

1. Failing to vet your real estate agent.

Without an experienced real estate agent who is familiar with the ins and outs of the sale process, your home may languish on the market. When shopping for agents, ask for references, as well as their track record with homes in your price range and geographical area. Equally important is their list-price to sell-price ratio (that's the original asking price compared with the actual sale price). You want to see that the agent is selling homes at or near the asking price. If an agent's listings were in the $400,000 range, but sold in the $325,000 range, you might want to consider looking for someone else.

2. Setting the price too high.

Sure, you may have bought your house at the market peak, but be aware of the correction that's since taken place. When figuring out the right price, don't rely too much on national statistics instead, focus on your local market. Some areas but not all have seen a decline in inventory because of a pick-up in sales. Be sure to price according to your neighborhood

To price your property appropriately, find out what comparable homes in the area sold for and how long they stayed on the market. Real estate search engine sites like Zillow and Trulia give buyers an automated and estimated valuations. If your listed price is significantly out of sync with the results, you'll probably have a hard time drawing buyers, he says.

3. Waiting for a market rebound.

No one knows when home prices will rebound and don't expect values to return to 2005-06 levels anytime soon. But that doesn't mean you should wait until then to sell your home. In fact, waiting could cost you thousands of dollars in home value, says Pam O Connor, president of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a national network of real estate agencies. If your home is worth $300,000 now, but area prices are expected to sink another 5% by the end of the year, that s $15,000 you missed out on by postponing the sale.

4. Skimping on listing photos.

The Internet is the first stop for many home shoppers. How you present your home online is just as important as how it looks during the open house. Sellers should include as many pictures as allowed on real estate listing sites and on the local Multiple Listing Service, an online clearinghouse of property listings, says Nelson. Highlight the rooms and features home shoppers care about the most: the kitchen, bathrooms and outdoor space.

5. False advertising.

Don't misrepresent your house either through your description or by retouching photos to the extent that it's misleading and don't let your agent either. Altering a photo to add shrubbery to the front yard or making the neighbor's house look farther away than it really is won't fool anyone. Similarly, don't list your three-bedroom house as having four bedrooms by including that additional room in the basement. Most buyers looking for a four-bedroom want all the bedrooms on the same level. That's one of the things that buyers complain about most.

6. Be careful about incentives.

In the housing market's busier days, prospective buyers might have been lured by extra perks like offering to pay for a year's worth of dues at the local golf club or a $1,000 decorator allowance. Now, though, sellers would do better to reduce the asking price by that incentive amount or offer it as a credit toward closing costs. No one buys a house because there is a $1,000 credit, they buy it because it meets their needs.

7. Waiting to fix up the place.

If you know a part of the kitchen's hardwood floor needs to be replaced, do it before the open house. Deducting the cost of such necessary repairs from the asking price will cost you a lot more than just getting the project done yourself.

8. Taking offense at lowball offers.

Home buying is one of last great bastions of haggling in the U.S. And now more than ever, buyers are testing the waters to see how low they can go, says Hanna. Rather than turning your nose at what you think is a low bid, listen to every offer and present a realistic counter offer. That way, you can spark a real negotiation.

9. Failing to make sure the buyer can afford the house.

Any offer you receive should specify that the buyer has been pre-approved for a mortgage big enough to purchase your home. Transactions often fall through because of financing problems. If they can't get a loan or afford it, the offer is meaningless.

10. Being inaccessible.

Agents love to show homes that are easy to get into. So make it easy for buyers to arrange to see your home. If I need to call you numerous times just to get a buyer in your house, it won't get shown or sold. Leave a lockbox with a key at your door so the buyer s agent can get in when you're not home. (Only members of the local Multiple Listing Service can get an electronic key, which opens the box that holds the house key.)

 

 

 

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Festival of Cultures

by Allyson Hoffman

Come out to Skokie Illinois this weekend, May 19, 2012 & May 20, 2012,  from 11am to 7pm for the Skokie Festival of Cultures!

Since its inception in 1991, the Skokie Festival of Cultures has become one of the premier ethnic festivals in Illinois, attracting more than 380,000 visitors and dozens of cultures, all representing Skokie's tremendous diversity.

Please join us for this free 'Tour of the World,' where you and your friends and family will enjoy two days of ethnic folk music and dance, a wide range of food, unique arts and crafts, international children's games, a merchandise bazaar, and dozens of cultural booths and displays. and we'll have Schaefer's International Beer Tasting! Only  $10 for six international 3 ounce beers and a free beer mug!    This is a great family event that will have everyone wanting more! Plus, it has FREE ADMISSION!!!

The Skokie Festival of Cultures is a winner of state and national art event programming awards and is supported by the Illinois Arts Council — as well as by local public agencies, service groups and corporate sponsors.

Last year more than 32,000 attended the 21st Annual Skokie Festival of Cultures on a bright, sunny May weekend.The new Laotian culture joined 33 other ethnic communities.

Thanks skokieculturefest for the info on this awesome family friendly event!

 

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Top Reasons To Buy A Home Now

by Allyson Hoffman

A recent Wall Street Journal article was addressing the housing market, they gave some great reasons as to why now is the time to buy a new home.   Here are some of the reasons we agree on for buying a North Shore home now:

10. You'll get a better home. In sothe current inventory at around 4 million homes. That's enough for a years worth of sales. That means a lot of choices as well as great prices.

8. Sooner of later, the market will improve. There will be more demand than supply. The population is supposed to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years. That means a lot of people will be looking for new homes in the future.

7. Your home isn't the stock market and it shouldn't be viewed as a way to get rich. Real Estate prices will go up again. Equity in your home is another way of investing in your future.

6. If offers some inflation protection, especially if you are young and raising a family.

5. It will be yours. You can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want, you can move walls or build an extension. You can even paint your home bright red. Few landlords will allow you to do that.

4. It's a buyer's market. We all like a good deal, we feel a sense of satisfaction after negotiating.

3. It's forced savings.  If you rent an apartment for $2000/month instead of buying one for $2400/month, renting seems like a good idea but will you save the $400 for the future? Most people won't and since part of that monthly payment as an owner is tax deductible, you do the math.  You are just paying yourself by building equity in your home.

2. You'll save on taxes. You can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes from your income taxes.

And the #1 reason is...

1. Mortgages are cheap. Interest rates are low. Two years ago they were around 6.3%. Now they are around 4.3% for a 30 year fixed loan. That's a big difference in your monthly payment.  When inflation goes up, interest rates will go up.

Can you think of any other reasons to buy?

I can. Landlords raise your rent every year. That increase could be used towards a tax deductible mortgage.

What are you waiting for? If you're thinking of buying, now is the time to buy!! Contact me on how I can help!

 

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Lunch and a Show!

by Allyson Hoffman

Do you need a break from your busy work schedule? This Chicago North Shore event is the best!  Come relax Friday, May 11th at 12pm.  Enjoy a 45-minute dance performance at the North Shore Center for permoring arts in Skokie, while you eat your lunch! Bring your own brown bag or buy a show/lunch ticket that includes one of three sandwich options (plus chips, cookie and beverage) from the Corner Bakery. Beverages also available for purchase separately for those without lunch tickets. Box Lunch options include:
Turkey Swiss Sandwich-Chicken Pesto Sandwich or Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich.


There is also a family Performance Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 2:30pm 
Ticket are on sale now for just $10 and lunch plus show tickets are only $20! Make sure you reserve your seat now!


Making their North Shore Center debut, DanceWorks Chicago is led with skilled artistic direction to fill a niche in the Chicago dance ecosystem where dancers feed their technical capabilities as well as their artistic curiosity. Muntu Dance Theatre is the largest African dance company in the United States. The company is highly regarded for its innovative repertory and preserving traditional African dance while creating new works that build on African, Caribbean and African-American cultural traditions.

Thanks cnscvb for the info. This is one great North Shore event!

 

 

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Tips on Attracting Buyers

by Allyson Hoffman

While the Chicago real estate market is picking up, there are many homes for buyers to choose from. The key is to make your home stand out, but how would you differentiate your home to attract buyers?

I have had many of my seller clients prepare "Top Ten Reasons Why We Love Our Home" Lists. It can also help if a seller writes a "Seller Love Letter." Both express the love the seller's family has had for the home and explain the facts and events behind their feelings.

Buyers like to hear about sweet, fond family memories about a property, which is better than a home filled with tragic stories or sadness regarding a short sale or foreclosure.

Other good ideas to include in these lists/letters are:

1) Favorite neighborhood restaurants, dry cleaners, house cleaners, landscapers, carpet cleaners.  

2) Local dog parks, playgrounds, running trails, yoga studios, health clubs, libraries, bookstores, museums and other recreational activities.

3) History of upgrades, a landscape plan.

4) Neighborhood activities, positive stories of strong community relationships.

In such a competitive market, it's always a good selling point to share happy memories and logistical information. Buyers sometimes get weary of dealing with bank sellers or stressful short-sale situations.

We would love the opportunity to help you sell your home and provide you with more seller tips, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We'll get the job done!

 

 

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'Title of Show' Playing at Northlight Theatre!

by Allyson Hoffman

Don't spend your weekend sitting around your home, get out and enjoy some local entertainment! Enjoy your Friday or Saturday night watching [title of show].  That is the title! It is being performed at the Northlight Theatre,  9501 Skokie Blvd Skokie, IL 

Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers, hear about a new musical theatre festival. However, the deadline for submissions is only a mere three weeks away. With nothing to lose, the pair decides to try to create something new with the help of their friends Susan, Heidi and Larry on the eighty-eights. With the cast in place, Jeff and Hunter begin a conversation about what to write about. Eventually, Jeff suggests they write about what to write about. They make a pact to write up until the festival’s deadline and dream about the show changing their lives. [title of show]—taken from the space on the festival’s application form which asks for the [title of show]—follows Hunter and Jeff and their friends on their journey through the gauntlet of creative self-expression.

In the span of 90 minutes they write and perform their show at the festival and learn lessons about themselves as people, friends and artists. [title of show] is, above all, a love letter to the musical theatre—a uniquely American art form—and to the joy of collaboration. The musical received a Tony Award® nomination for Best Book of a Musical in 2009.

Tickets are on sale now starting at just $25! Save time, for your convenience you can purchase them here!

Thanks cnscvb for the info on the fun performance in Chicago's North Shore!

 

 

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
847-310-5300
Fax: 847-400-0881

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1245 Waukegan Road
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