Memorial Day Events Around Williamsville

Here are just a few events happening on Memorial day Weekend! Enjoy and be safe.

May 23: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Celebrate Memorial Day weekend with the whole family and kick off the summer season with the Boardwalk Carnival at Canalside! Hammerl Amusements will be bringing over 16 rides and games for all ages plus join us for fabulous food, a beer tent, live entertainment and much more.  An unlimited ride bracelet will be sold for just $20 per day per person. Please note, each ride will have a height requirement and take tickets to ride.

 

May 25, Williamsville Parade from 2:00pm-4:00pm  Honoring our nation’s veterans. The parade starts at Williamsville South High School marching west down Main Street to Los Robles Street. Ceremony at Williamsville Cemetery.

May 25, Newfane Parade at 11:00am. Corwin Cemetery, Lockport-Olcott and Hatter Roads, Newfane. Dress for the weather and bring your own chair to hear music, re-enactments, speeches and military honors. Your presence during this event honors the veterans who in times of war and peace stood strong in defense of the United States of America. American Legion Post 873, 716-471-0382

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Season-by-Season Lawn Maintenance Calendar

Spring had finally spring in WNY. Below is a season-by-season lawn maintenance calendar to get a barefoot-worthy lawn and ensure great curb appeal.

Early Spring

Like so many maintenance jobs, everything goes smoother — and you’ll get better results — with proper preparation. Early spring is the time to get ready for lawn-growing and mowing season.

Sharpen mower blades to ensure clean cuts. A dull blade tears the grass, leaving jagged edges that discolor the lawn and invite pathogens.
Sharpen mower blades once each month during grass-cutting season. Have a backup blade (about $20) so that a sharp one is always on hand.

Tune up your mower with a new sparkplug ($3 to $5) and air filter ($5 to $10). Your mower might not need a new sparkplug every season, but changing it is a simple job, and doing it every year ensures you won’t forget the last time you replaced your sparkplug.

Buy fresh gas. Gas that’s been left to sit over the winter can accumulate moisture that harms small engines. This is especially true for fuel containing ethanol, so use regular grades of gasoline.

If you need to dump old gasoline, ask your city or county for local disposal sites that take old fuel.

Clean up your lawn. Time to get out the leaf rakes and remove any twigs and leaves that have accumulated over the winter. A thick layer of wet leaves can smother a lawn if not immediately removed in early spring. Cleaning up old debris clears the way for applying fertilizer and herbicides.

Spring

Depending on your weather, your grass will now start growing in earnest, so be ready for the first cutting. Don’t mow when the grass is wet — you could spread diseases, and wet clippings clog up lawn mowers.

Fertilizing: Both spring and fall are good times to fertilize your lawn. In the northern third of the country, where winters are cold, fertilize in fall — cool weather grasses go dormant over winter and store energy in their roots for use in the spring.

For the rest of the country, apply fertilizer just as your grass begins its most active growth. For best results, closely follow the application directions on the product. You’ll spend about $50 to $75 per application for an average 1/4-acre lot.

Aeration: Aerating punches small holes in your lawn so water, fertilizers, and oxygen reach grass roots. Pick a day when the soil is damp but not soaked so the aeration machine can work efficiently.

Pre-emergent herbicides: Now is the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds from taking root in your lawn. A soil thermometer is a handy helper; you can pick one up for $10 to $20. When you soil temperature reaches 58 degrees — the temperature at which crabgrass begins to germinate — it’s time to apply the herbicide.

Early Spring
Early Summer
Summer
Early Fall
Fall

Early Summer

Watch out for grubs: Warm weather means that grub worms, the larvae stage of June, Japanese, and other beetles, start feeding on the tender root systems of lawns. Affected lawns show browning and wilting patches.

To be certain that the culprits are grubs, pull back the sod and look for white, C-shaped grubs. If you see more than 10 per square foot, your lawn should be treated with a chemical pesticide.

Milky spore is an environmentally friendly way to control some species of grubs. When using insecticides, read and follow all label directions, and water the product into the soil immediately. Cost is around $50 to $75 per application.

Grass-cutting tip: Your grass is starting to grow fast, and you might even be cutting more than once a week to keep up. To keep grass healthy, mow often enough so you’re removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade.

Pesky weeds: Weeds that have escaped an herbicide application should be removed with a garden fork. Use a post-emergent herbicide only if you think the situation is getting out of hand.

Summer

Here’s a good mantra to guide you through the heart of grass-mowing season: The taller the grass, the deeper the roots, the fewer the weeds, and the more moisture the soil holds between watering.

With that in mind, here’s how to ensure a healthy, green lawn:

Set your mower blade height to 3 inches.

Deep and infrequent watering is better for lawns than frequent sprinkles, which promote shallow root growth. In general, lawns need about 1 inch of water per week to maintain green color and active growth.

Lawns that receive less than that will likely go dormant. That’s okay, the grass is still alive, but dormant lawns should still receive at least 1 inch of water per month. Your grass will green up again when the weather brings regular rains.

To check the output of a sprinkler, scatter some pie tins around the yard to see how much water collects in a specific length of time. Having a rain gauge ($5 to $20) will help you keep track of how much water the lawn receives naturally.

At least once each month, clean underneath your mower to prevent spreading lawn diseases.

Although it’s OK to leave grass clippings on the lawn where they can decompose and nourish the soil, large clumps of clippings should be removed. Regularly rake up any leaves, twigs, and debris.

Early Fall

The best time to patch bare or thin spots is when the hot, dry days of summer have given way to cooler temps. Follow these simple steps:

1. Remove any dead grass.

2. Break up the soil with a garden trowel.

3. Add an inch of compost and work it into the soil.

4. Add grass seed that’s designed for shade or full sun, depending on the area you’re working on. Spread the seed evenly across the bare patch.

5. Use a hard-tooth rake to work the seed into the soil to a depth of about half an inch.

6. Sprinkle grass clippings over the patch to help prevent the soil from drying out.

7. Water the area; you’ll want to keep the patch moist, so lightly water once a day until the seed germinates and the new grass gets about one inch tall.

Fall

Your main job in fall is to keep your lawn free of leaves and other debris. You can use a mulching mower to break up leaves and add the organic matter to your soil, but be sure to clean up any clumps so they don’t kill the grass.

In the northern one-third of the country, now is the time to fertilize your lawn. Your grass will store the nutrients in its roots as it goes dormant over the winter, and your lawn will be ready for a jump start when spring warms the ground.

This is also the time to clean up your garden.

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/lawn-maintenance-calendar/preview/#ixzz3YQWEDh00

 

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

For videos, pictures, more information please

Check out: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo

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Happy May Day!

Happy May Day! While not an overly prominent holiday in America, it does have a long and notable history as one of the world’s principal festivals. The origin of the May Day as a day for celebration dates back to the days, even before the birth of Christ. And like many ancient festivals it too has a Pagan connection.

For the Druids of the British Isles, May 1 was the second most important holiday of the year. Because, it was when the festival of Beltane held. It was thought that the day divides the year into half. The other half was to be ended with the Samhain on November 1. Those days the May Day custom was the setting of new fire. It was one of those ancient New Year rites performed throughout the world. And the fire itself was thought to lend life to the burgeoning springtime sun. Cattle were driven through the fire to purify them. Men, with their sweethearts, passed through the smoke for seeing good luck.

Then the Romans came to occupy the British Isles. The beginning of May was a very popular feast time for the Romans. It was devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers. It was in her honor a five day celebration, called the Floralia, was held. The five day festival would start from April 28 and end on May 2. The Romans brought in the rituals of the Floralia festival in the British Isles. And gradually the rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane. And many of today’s customs on the May Day bear a stark similarity with those combined traditions.

May Day observance was discouraged during the Puritans. Though, it was re-lived when the Puritans lost power in England, it didn’t have the same robust force. Gradually, it came to be regarded more as a day of joy and merriment for the kids, rather than a day of observing the ancient fertility rights.

By the Middle Ages every English village had its Maypole. The bringing in of the Maypole from the woods was a great occasion and was accompanied by much rejoicing and merrymaking. The Maypoles were of all sizes. And one village would vie with another to show who could produce the tallest Maypole. Maypoles were usually set up for the day in small towns, but in London and the larger towns they were erected permanently.
Roots of May Day celebration in America:
The Puritans frowned on May Day, so the day has never been celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the United States as in Great Britain. But the tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful streamers or ribbons, survived as a part of the English tradition. The kids celebrating the day by moving back and forth around the pole with the the streamers, choosing of May queen, and hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of folks — are all the leftovers of the old European traditions.

Read more at http://www.theholidayspot.com/mayday/history.htm#iHQh6U7CFD1t8yhG.99

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Mother’s Day Happenings

Mother’s Day Brunch at the Buffalo Zoo
Presented by Tops Friendly Markets
Treat mom to a special catered brunch on Mother’s Day Brunch! There will be seatings at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Pre-paid, non-refundable tickets are required due to limited seating. Tickets include Zoo admission, crafts, and a gift for each mother. The price for non-Zoo members is $20 for adults and $15 for children, ages 2-14. Children under the age of 24 months will be admitted for free. Members will receive a $3 discount per ticket. To make your reservation, please CLICK HERE for tickets

Mom’s Day Brunch and Tour at the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum (Martin House Complex)
Celebrate Mom! Invite her to a delicious brunch buffet followed by a special Mother’s Day themed tour of the Darwin D. Martin House.
Give her the focused attention and pampering she deserves. Moms will receive an exclusive 20% Mom’s Day discount at our Museum Store. Purchase a beautiful floral bouquet for Mom inspired by the Martins’ love for gardens. Enter for a chance to win a Wright-designed Martin House replica urn filled with an assortment of delightful gifts!Space is limited so make your reservations today!
Brunch: 10:30 am
Tour: 11:15 am – 12:45 pm
$60 / $55 Members
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex
125 Jewett Parkway
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 856-3858
Make your reservation now or call 716-856-3858
MENU
Roasted Tomato Basil Frittata
Turkey Sausage
Herb Roasted Potatoes
Baked French Toast
Fresh Fruit Salad
Assorted Pastries and Muffins
Coffee, Tea and Juice
Mimosas and Bloody Marys

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL
Take your Mother to something different! CAROUSEL’s romance of Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan is one of musical theater’s classic stories. We witness one man’s shot at redemption in this Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece that hasn’t been professionally produced in WNY in over 20 years. The show includes the well-known songs “If I Loved You” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Don’t miss the show that composer Richard Rodgers said was his favorite of all of his musicals!
May 9 – 4pm & 8pm
LOCATION
Musicalfare Theatre
4380 Main Street, Suite 123
Daemen College
Amherst, NY 14226
(716) 839-8540 or for more information: https://www.musicalfare.com/

WUFO Pre-Mother’s Day Luncheon
Make Mom feel like a queen for a day. Join WUFO for our biggest
events of the year! Our annual Pre-Mother’s Day Luncheon takes
place May 9, 2015 from noon-3p.m. at the lovely Salvatore’s
Italian Gardens located at 6461 Transit Rd, Depew, NY 14043.

This marvelous event is the most sought-after Mother’s Day affair
in the city of Buffalo.

Each year, attendants enjoy delicious food and wonderful music.
Plus, guests experience a fabulous fashion extravaganza
featuring beautiful garments, and an inspiring keynote address.

There are plenty chances to win exciting raffles and various gifts
donated by our high quality merchants. You don’t want to miss this!

For ticket and sponsorship information contact 834-1080.

Mother’s Day Craft Expo/ Sale.
8am-5pm: L K Painter Community Center, 2355 Main Street, Collins, NY 14034. Crafters will have unique gifts for Mother….something that truly says — you are special; you are loved! Coffee, donuts, sweet rolls – available for Breakfast: Homemade soup & sandwiches available for lunch! Crafter spots still available! Free admission. Free parking.

The Protocol Steak & Seafood Restaurant, 6766 Transit Road, Williamsville, NY 14221. Now taking reservations for Mother’s Day Brunch and Dinner Buffett.

Contact (716) 632-9556 or visit: http://www.protocolrestaurant.com/Protocol-Special-Events.aspx

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Thinking of Buying a WNY Home? Start Saving Now!

They say your home is your castle. If you’ve been renting your castle and dreaming of owning a home, you aren’t alone. Homeownership rates have tumbled to a 20-year low – 63.9 percent in the wake of the Great Recession – as financial issues including unemployment, underemployment, student loan debt and tight credit conditions have weighed on potential homebuyers.

There are signs that may be changing, however. People 34 and younger are the largest group of homebuyers, according to a recent National Association of Realtors study that looked at 6,572 responses from a survey of homebuyers in 2014. Millennials represented 32 percent of all recent buyers, while Generation X, including those ages 35 to 49, accounted for 27 percent. The median age of millennial homebuyers was 29, their median income was $76,900 and they typically bought a 1,720-square foot home costing $189,900, according to the NAR.

“The No. 1 reason they want to buy is just to own a home of their own,” says Jessica Lautz, director of survey research and communications at the National Association of Realtors.

If you’d like to trade in your rental for a place to call your own, here are the steps you need to take.

Start saving now. It takes time to build up enough savings for a down payment. “Among first-time buyers, 28 percent save for six months or less, while 13 percent save for more than five years,” Lautz says

The typical down payment for a home is generally 20 percent, but there are a variety of programs that can open the door to homeownership with as little as 3 percent or even no money down.

First-time homebuyers with low to moderate income levels may be able to qualify for a MyCommunity mortgage product through Fannie Mae with a 3 percent down payment. ”Community mortgage products are better than [Federal Housing Administration] loans because the mortgage insurance is much less expensive and the down payment requirement is lower,” explains Gina Pogol, consumer finance editor at Charlotte, North Carolina-based LendingTree.

The FHA backs several kinds of mortgage programs. “The 203(b) is the most commonly used. It’s used to purchase or refinance homes with 3.5 percent down, as long as they have a credit score of 580 or higher and qualify for financing,” Pogol says. However, she adds, “The average score of borrowers who actually get approved is closer to 700. Another FHA program is the 203(k), which can be used to buy or refinance property that needs to be built or rehabbed.”

Start saving by setting up a special savings account and automatically transferring a set amount into it each month. Deposit any bonuses or gifts into this account as well. How long it will take to reach your down payment goal depends on the amount you need and how much you are able to sock away each month. “For someone buying a $200,000 property with 3 percent down, saving $500 a month, it will take a year. And there are still closing costs to deal with,” Pogol says.

Consider alternative down payment sources. There are other options in addition to your personal savings, which include gifts from relatives or friends or a withdrawal from your individual retirement account for a first home purchase. If you are lucky enough to have a generous relative or friend willing to gift funds for your down payment, you are required to furnish an official letter documenting that for your lender.

Zev Fried, a senior financial planner at Los Angeles-based JSF Financial LLC, warns against tapping your retirement funds for a down payment, however. “From a planning perspective, pulling from a retirement account for a down payment is often the worst option. A retirement account is for retirement, and should only be tapped for dire emergencies, as there are usually penalties and taxes when one withdraws money from these accounts,” Fried says.

Minimize payment shock. Consider how much you can actually afford, starting by looking at what you are paying in rent. If you are looking to buy more house than your current rent payment, Pogol recommends potential homebuyers “test drive” the higher monthly payment.

“If their current rent is $1,000 a month and they want to buy a home with monthly principal, interest, taxes and insurance – called a ‘PITI’ payment – for $1,400 a month, I’d recommend that they put $400 a month into savings and see how hard or easy that is,” Pogol says.

Understand inventory conditions. Once you start shopping for a home, understand that current tight levels of inventory, or the number of houses on the market, could require patience and compromise.

“We are now seeing inventory is the top reason slowing down and stopping potential buyers. Among recent homebuyers, from the 2014 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, the hardest task in the homebuying process is just finding the right home,” Lautz says. ”Most first-time buyers have to compromise on some aspect of their wish list. Seventy-five percent of recent first-time buyers had to compromise on at least one wish-list item, most commonly the size and price of the home.”

Although the path to homeownership can take some time, there are financial benefits, including the mortgage-interest deduction on your income taxes. However, the intangible benefits often outweigh economic factors. Soon you may be spending weekends fixing up your castle and turning it into your dream home.

 

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Stress-Free Home Buying Tips

Did you know that most people consider buying a home to be one of the biggest stresses of adult life? It shouldn’t be! Here are four simple ways to make the home buying experience a much less stressful process:

 

  1. Get pre-approved. Once you have decided to buy a Western New York home. Your first step should be to visit a mortgage lender! It’s the only way to know if you can truly afford to purchase a home, and how much home you can afford.
  2. Set goals. Know what you are looking for before you start your home search. A Realtor can help you set realistic goals based on your loan amount and the features you are looking for.
  3. Be flexible. Is a master bath on your must-have list? If you found a home that meets all of your other requirements — and has a new roof and furnace as well — it might be time to re-evaluate what you can live and live without.
  4. Use an agent.  This is probably the most important step! Your real estate agent can answer all your questions about buying a home and help reduce your stress by guiding you through the process. Leave it to a professional!

While some anxiety is a normal part of life, buying a home does not have to be one of the most stressful events in your life. Buying a new home should be fun! Let me be a part of making that happen. Call me today! I specialize in the Western New York area.

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2014 Tax Changes You Should Know About

The 2014 Tax filing deadline is fast approaching, this article will explain the significant income tax changes you may not be aware of. This discussion will include changes to Social Security and Medicare, federal income tax standard deductions and exemptions, mileage deduction rates, earned income credits, Hope and Lifetime Learning tax credits, in addition to changes to retirement accounts such as the 401(k), 403(b), IRAs, and Roth plans.

Note:  Changes that apply to the 2015 tax year can be found in this article: Income Tax Changes 2015 – 2016.

Federal Income Tax Filing Deadline

The filing deadline for the year 2014 is Wednesday April 15, 2015.  Information appearing in this article applies to changes effective in 2014, which then become part of a taxpayer’s return in 2015.

Income Tax Rates

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, or ATRA, added a seventh federal income tax bracket (39.6%) in 2013, while the remaining six rates were unchanged.  In 2014, taxable incomes above the following thresholds now fall into the 39.6% bracket:  Married Filing Separately ($228,800), Unmarried Individuals ($406,750), Head of Household ($432,200), and Married Filing Joint Returns ($457,600).

 To view other changes to the standard deductions, capital gains, social security, medicare, mileage, earned income and more list please visit: http://www.money-zine.com/financial-planning/tax-shelter/income-tax-changes-2014/

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April Fools’ Day – The History of the Fools

April Fools’ Day, also called All Fools’ Day, is celebrated every April 1st in the United States. While it is not officially recognized as a holiday, many celebrate by pranking, or pulling practical jokes on, their colleagues or by organizing larger-scale hoaxes.

 

As April Fools’ is celebrated in different ways throughout the world, it is unknown exactly how the tradition originated. Some cultures saw it as the first day of spring, celebrating with general merriment and feasting, and certain calendars may consider it the first day of the year. One theory for the terming of an April Fool was that some refused to follow these calendars that recognized April 1st as the first day of the year, which resulted in being called an April Fool.

 

There are a few other theories as to precursors to the holiday tradition. Hilaria, a Roman festival, which celebrated Cybele, an Anatolian goddess, was celebrated around March 25th. The Feast of Fools was a term given to many medieval festivals celebrated during the fifth-sixteenth centuries in Europe, but particularly at the end of December. These celebrations developed a tradition of practical jokes, especially when observed in Spain.

 

However, the tradition of practical jokes had been well established by 1632, when legend states that the Duke of Lorraine and his wife escaped a prison at Nantes by dressing as peasants, walking right out the front gate. When the guards were alerted to the escape, they laughed at what they thought was an April Fools’ prank. One of the first April Fools’ pranks occurred in 1698, when citizens of London were tricked into attending the lion-washing ceremony at the Tower of London, a ceremony that did not actually exist.

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The Importance of Using a Real Estate Agent

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. For the past two years, 92% of all buyers have used the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.

However, the report also revealed that for the second year in a row 96% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the actual home they will buy (53%) or negotiate the terms of the sale & price (31%) or understand the process (63%).

Stephen Phillips, the Chief Operating Officer for HSF Affiliates LLC, put it best:

“Home buyers are more informed than ever with their Internet searches and ongoing research; however, there’s a critical need to transform that information into analysis and advice that helps consumers make the best home-buying and selling decisions.”

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots”. This is obvious as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your WNY home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

Article submitted by KCM Crew

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