10/28/2013: New Newtonville Restaurant — Cook

Hey you guys!!!!

hey you guys gif

Big announcement — we have a new restaurant within walking distance of RP!

Management & I checked out Cook on Saturday night and I must say, we had a really lovely dinner.  Cook opened about 6 weeks ago and describes itself as “an approachable, fun American bistro.”

First, when you walk in this place you feel like you’re downtown.  I wanted to walk back out the door and make sure we were still in Newtonville.  Lofty, kind of industrial feel with open pizza kitchen and great bar scene.  3 Flat screen TVs for hombres like me that want to watch the game.

Great apps that include lobster sliders & popcorn with caramel & bacon.  Wait… you can put bacon on popcorn?  Apparently so.  They also have a crafty cocktail menu and a few local beers on tap.

We sat at the bar and I had the burger with cheddar and truffle fries.  Let’s put it this way: I know my way around a burger and this thing was primo.  Management got the chorizo flat bread pizza with fingerling chips — which she gave 2 thumbs up.  The salads, flat-iron steak and bolognese all looked delish too.

Overall, fun new spot for dinner or drinks.  Casual atmosphere with upscale food.  A bit more expensive but worth it.  Reservations recommended — this place gets crowded.


10/25/2013: Tankless hot water heaters

The Europeans have a few things right.  Croissants.  Siestas.  Taking the whole month of August off.  Tankless hot water heaters too.

Don’t worry gang — I’m not going to go Euro on you and start wearing skinny jeans, designer sunglasses and drinking wine & smoking all day.  I love my freedom fries, Coors Light and American football.  But I don’t love my hot water heater.

You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your hot water heater, unless it breaks.  Which by the way, in my 12 years of real estate, I have never once seen a hot water heater break when the owner is home.  It’s like the hot water heater knows the second you step out the door and then says “peace I’m out.”  Huge mess.

Hot water heaters for our homes range in size from 40 to 80 gallons.  They are constantly kept between 100-120 degrees.  That means when you’re at work all day or gone on vacation, the tank is using gas to keep the temperature constant.  Tanks can account for as much as 30% of your gas bill.  Seems like kind of a waste.

What you may not know is that sediment & salts create a thick layer of sludge at the bottom of the tank.  This sludge can be a few inches thick and affect your heater’s efficiency.  The sludge is heated first, then the hot water that is sent to your sink, shower, etc..  Kinda nasty.

hot water heater

Tankless hot water heaters are about 1/4 of the size of traditional hot water heaters.  They can be hung on the wall and save you as much as 40% on your gas bill.  When hot water is called for, water is sent through a heat exchanger and then onto the facuet, shower, washing machine, etc..  It’s hot water on-demand.  You’re not paying to keep a tank of water constantly hot.  The supply of hot water is endless — so running the shower, washing machine and faucet at the same time are not a problem.


Tankless installation will cost around $3,000, so it’s more expensive than a tank — which could be $1500 or less.  Mass Save will give you an $800 rebate for going tankless. Something to think about…

10/23/2013: What does Mayor Warren’s $315M capital plan mean for Randlett Park?

Just spent the past hour going through the Mayor’s capital plan to see what it means for RPers.  The plan is 150 pages and a real snoozer.  But with great blogging comes great responsibility — so here’s the scoop:

We’re going to be a part of Phase 2 for the City Wide Urban Forestation Project. In English speak, this means the city will be planting trees along the streets in our neighborhood starting in 2019.

RP was last paved in 1978 — which by Newton standards is a long time ago.  Most streets in Newton were re-paved in the late 80s and early 90s.  Don’t remember that — was too busy listening to Boyz II Men on my walkman.  RP is scheduled to be re-paved in 2019 at a cost $150,000.

Not sure who will be doing the paving, but I vote for Lightning McQueen.  He did a helluva job in Radiator Springs.

lightning mcqueen

10/21/2013: W. Newton home values up 13.5% this year

According to Zillow, home values in 02465 are up 13.5% from last year.  The average home value last September was $616k.  This September, the average jumped to $699k. Not bad when you consider home values were stagnant from 2007 through late 2011.

The W. Newton market peaked in June of 2005 when the average home value reached $618k.  At it’s lowest in April 2009, the average home value dipped to $574k.

Below are pics of my home when it was on the market in 2009.  Yikes.

142 Randlett old dining room 142 Randlett old living room 142 Randlett old master

10/19/2013: Don’t call it a comeback!

Only took about 10 days and my grass is back. Used Grubex, grass seed and water.

I’m not a scientist. In fact I skipped chemistry class junior year to ask Management to homecoming. True story. Got a D in chemistry. Also true story. Whatever – would rather get a wife than an A in chemistry.

Just have to be willing to put in a little work to get your grass back and ready for spring.

Before & after shots:



10/16/2013: 20 must have tools for an old home

Not trying to be Bob Vila here you guys.  Couldn’t grow a beard like that if I tried.  But after a few years in an old home, I’ve collected some tools that I use all the time.

Some people — mainly my dad, my father-in-law and bro in-law — would say I have no business writing or being around tools after “my accident.”  So what if I put a screwdriver through my hand?  I didn’t break my hand or the screwdriver and can still use both. Unless Management has a job I don’t want to do, in which case I tell her “damn hand is acting up again” and then cool out on the couch.

screwdriver in hand

So here’s the list:

1.) Flat head screwdriver.  Great for loosening old screws, prying open old storm windows & opening paint cans.

2.) Philips head screwdriver.  Ideal for plunging into your left hand.

3.) Paint brush.  Must have for touch-ups.

4.) Putty knife.  Makes repairing small holes in your wall easy.

5.) Plaster of Paris.  Dry-mix plaster for wall repair.

6.) Power drill.  Try installing window treatments without this bad boy and you’ll be sorry.  And tired.

7.) Multi-purpose ladder.  Makes painting, cleaning windows & putting up holiday lights a breeze.

8.) Extension cords.  Get a bunch of them for yard work, outdoor lights & all those places inside where you should have an outlet but don’t.

9.) Hammer.  Pounding nails, ripping them out and demolition.

10.) Adjustable crescent wrench.  Perfect for loosening & tightening old plumbing fixtures.

11.) Allen key.  Tool that has several different size Allen wrenches.

12.) Sandpaper.  Must have for smoothing over patched walls, window sills or trim.

13.) Socket wrench.  Great for use in small spaces and ideal for flat screen TV installation.

14.) Laser level.  Hang pictures straight every time.

15.) 20′ tape measure.  Measurin’ stuff.

16.) Hand drain cleaner.  Essential for removing sink & shower clogs.

17.) Box cutters.  Show the recycling who’s boss.

18.) Flashlights.

19.) Work gloves.  Some of the stuff you’re going to be working with is pretty nasty.

20.) Paint.  Save all your cans & color types/names.

10/11/2013: Just say no to grubs

Gonna be honest guys — not sure what happened to my lawn in August.  I mean, someone asked if I had a brush fire.  A brush fire?  Do those even happen in Mass?


Turns out I didn’t need the Newton Fire Department to help with my yard.  I needed Joe Waters.

If you don’t know Joe, he’s got the yard that looks like The Masters could be played on it. His grass is ready for high def TV.  Every time I walk by, I can almost hear Jim Nance whispering: Mickelson putting for birdie…

Joe had a lawn intervention with me and told me I have grubs.  Not easy to hear when your neighbor tells you something like that.  Grubs are beetle larvae that feed on grass roots.  They turn grass brown and make it easy to pull up.  They also attract skunks & raccoons — which feed on them.

Good news is there was no brush fire (at least to my knowledge — but we did travel a lot in August).  Bad news is my grass has no root system and is a buffet for skunks & raccoons.

Grubs are easily treatable.  Simply apply GrubEx with a spreader and then water your grass.  For best results, apply in Spring or Summer and rake up the dead grass before application.  GrubEx won’t effect over-seeding, so you can put down new grass seed a day or two later.

Thanks to Joe for the advice, tools and mostly the GrubEx.