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Articles for ‘Human Interest’

Awesome & Easy High Protein, Low Calorie Eggnog Recipe

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 by Gary Lucido

This has nothing at all to do with Chicago real estate but I decided we needed to get festive here for the holidays.

Background: I am a true eggnog aficionado. At the age of 12 I began what became a life long quest to unravel the mysteries of perfect eggnog. At first this was merely an entertaining hobby but it later became a critical pursuit as all commercial manufacturers insisted on adding nutmeg to their product, thus destroying the pure flavor of eggnog. Prior to this Borden’s made the best eggnog and they were the last to produce a clean recipe.

Well, I can tell you that trying to replicate the pure Borden’s recipe proved to be impossible but after years of experimentation I finally arrived at a recipe that I found acceptable – and surprisingly it was easy to make and ended up having fewer calories, less fat and cholesterol, and more protein than commercial recipes. Herewith is my recipe for easy to make, high protein, low calorie, untainted eggnog:

  • One cup of Better’n Eggs egg substitute. This is the only acceptable egg substitute brand that I have found. Do NOT use Egg Beaters or Best Of The Egg as these products contain salt and onion powder – YUCK!
  • One cup of Edy’s Grand, Dreyer’s Grand, Breyer’s, or Dean’s vanilla “ice cream” – just add ice cream to the egg substitute until you have doubled the volume. These are the only brands of ice cream found to produce an acceptable product because they are not really ice cream – they contain guar gum, which is essential to thickening the egg nog. Do not use the low calorie versions of these products and do not use real ice cream like Haagen Dazs, as these aren’t thick enough. I am also an ice cream aficionado so I can go on and on about this product also.
  • Add 3 – 6 packets of equal.
  • Stir vigorously each time before serving to fully mix the ingredients.

When you are done you will have produced a product that contains 210 calories, 14 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, and 25 mg of cholesterol per cup (that’s a lot) compared to 360 calories, 8 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat, and 150 mg of cholesterol per cup of commercial eggnog. And it tastes much better because it does not contain nutmeg.

Villa Taj Auction Cancelled At Last Minute

Thursday, November 5th, 2009 by Gary Lucido

I know that many of you must have had your hearts broken yesterday when you showed up with your $250,000 checks to bid on Villa Taj in Burr Ridge, the house that once was listed at $25 million. Apparently, the auctioneer pulled the property from the auction at the last minute after several of you indicated that you didn’t want to bid on it but were interested in buying it the old fashioned way. So, this modest and unpretentious home will be relisted soon – for about $12 MM. I would appreciate an invitation to the housewarming from whoever buys it.

Getting to Closing – Whatever it takes!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 by Sari Levy

Keeping a deal together now more than ever requires that agents remain professional, emotionally unattached and in constant communication with the other agent.  Follow through is key.  One way to be sure a deal falls apart is to leave it only in the attorneys’ hands.  Attorneys don’t often understand the client well enough to represent them in a transaction.

For example, just yesterday I closed on a deal as a sales agent.  Several times throughout the course of the transaction, the deal was ready to fall apart.

First, the negotiations were almost killed over a few thousand dollars.  The seller came down as far as he wanted to, and the buyers offered as much as they could afford.  Both the listing agent and I were able to talk to our clients and get them to come down/up and then we had a deal.  Keeping calm and rational was key.  It was also important to ensure my client was seeing the big picture.  They were getting a nice home in a great neighborhood….there wasn’t anything better on the market that we found after seeing about 50 homes.

Then, the inspection report totally freaked out the first time home-buyers.  A list of more than 25 necessary repairs was noted by the inspector. At that point, it was in my hand to help the buyer understand what they should expect to be fixed and what they might accept since they were buying a used home.  More importantly, it was also in my hand to set the expectations with the listing agent as to what my clients would be asking for and WHY.  A verbal conversation can convey so much more than a letter drafted by an attorney.  At any rate, my client asked for certain repairs, and the seller agreed.  Whew.

Well, then came the appraisal/FHA inspection to approve the loan…which we figured would be fine since the seller had agreed to repair all the safety related items from the home inspection.  The FHA inspection in fact didn’t care about any of the issues identified (roof leaks, improper electrical wiring) BUT they wanted a fence painted or removed from the perimeter of the property.  The property lot size is 100 X100, which mean 1000 feet of fencing needed to be removed.  The house was built prior to 1978 and the fence paint was chipped and the logic was that it could have been lead based paint.

Objection #1 – Seller doesn’t want to take the fence down or paint it.  He didn’t want to incur a cost or go through the trouble, after all, he had already agreed to the other repairs.

Rebuttal – My clients will remove the fence on their own dime, but since it was a requirement of the loan, the removal had to occur prior to property transfer, and this of course presented its own set of issues. My client may not get the house and thus his labor would be wasted.  Okay, they decided to take the chance.

Objection #2 – If the buyer doesn’t get the loan, the seller now has an unfenced property.  He feels the fence is attractive to buyers, and while the fence was great – I couldn’t help but agree.  Kids and pets typically necessitate a fence.

Rebuttal – My client will waive their mortgage contingency, and the lender has provided a mortgage commitment document.

Objection #3 – Removing the fence will cause a devaluation of the property upon inspection.

Rebuttal – Okay, this objection was close to killing the deal.  Thankfully, the appraisal specifically stated that the fence had “No contributory value” which meant the value of the property was the same with our without the fence.  Nonetheless, my clients agreed to put the fence back up if for some reason they could not take ownership of the property.

Of course, all of this was occurring a week prior to closing and my clients current lease is up at the end of the month, so it was pretty crucial that we got it done in time for a re-inspection.  What did that mean?  That meant my client, who happens to be a female had to physically remove the fence herself, since her male partner was out of town.  She solicited her father for help.  I felt pretty bad about her predicament so my mother and I helped as well.

Bottom line, I knew my clients wanted this home and I knew it was a good value.  It sure would have been easier to let the attorneys hash all of the issues out – but I’m pretty sure that staying on top of all the details and ensuring constant verbal communication got us to the finish line.

The Mortgage Mess Explained

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 by Gary Lucido

I’ve read many stories about how we got into the current financial crisis. However, there is a series that Ira Glass is producing for NPR’s This American Life that tells the story in much more understandable, insightful, and entertaining terms than I’ve seen anywhere else. I would encourage you to check out the following programs, which you can either download as transcripts or you can stream them to your computer:

The Giant Pool Of Money – May 9, 2008

This Peabody Award winning show explains how Wall Street and homeowners are connected by a chain of middlemen and tap into a giant global pool of money and how this setup led to the current crisis.

The Watchmen – June 5, 2009

Who was minding the store when all this was going on? This show is very interesting in that it connects events that took place in the 1930s with today’s events and it becomes clear that for every fix the government can come up with there are eventually unintended consequences down the road.

Inspiration and Holiday Giving!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 by Sari Levy

Recently, I became extremely inspired.  Each year on Christmas, my mother, boyfriend and I drive to the not so great areas of Chicago to find homeless people and provide them with our spare coats, blankets, socks, gloves, etc.  We also give out money, home cooked,hot food and hot drinks. 

My mother realized that we had run ourselves out of coats and blankets and wrote the letter below to her neighbors. I’ve removed her address for obvious reasons.  In turn, I wrote a note to my friends and associates (also pasted below).

What suprised me most was the response from many of my friends and even more suprising, the response from friends of friends and so on.  With each response, I became more and more energized and am optimistic that this year is the beginning of something great.  We can make a difference, even if only a small one, in a homeless persons life and for me that is the best holiday gift!  The gift of hope.

My letter:

Happy Holidays!

I feel very fortunate to be blessed with wonderful family and friends and success in life so that I don’t have to worry about my next meal or the roof over my head. This year, we are especially eager to help those who aren’t as fortunate. While we contribute to the larger charity organizations, the giving that my mother, Dan and I do is much more personal, and of course, more rewarding. There is a great feeling of taking care of our own in Chicago.

If you have any items that you would like to donate, please let me know and I will arrange to pick them up from you.

Coats, shoes, scarves, gloves, blankets, toiletries are great items to give to a homeless person living on the street. We will cook a warm meal and bring hot coffee and chocolate to share with the homeless when we go to warm and feed the Chicago homeless.

Of course, if anyone else would like to spend time on Christmas Day helping with the delivery, you are more than welcome. For me, the experience has been humbling yet heartwarming and I would be glad to share it with you.  Sari Levy

Mom’s letter below:

Dear Friends/Neighbors,

Some of you know me, other of you do not.   My name is Norma Levy.   When I lived in the city and my children were growing up, at Christmas we used to deliver food and goods for an organization called the Little Brothers of the Poor.  I felt my children needed to know how fortunate they were and they loved doing it.

Since they have gotten older, my daughter, her boyfriend, and I have been dropping off blankets, warm clothes and food to the people who live on the street in the city (Chicago) on Christmas Day.  I know there are agencies who do this, but there are still plenty of people out there who actually live on the streets, mostly addicts and mentally ill.   

We are running out of blankets and warm clothes.  If any of you have items you would like to donate, I would appreciate it very much.    If instead, you prefer to donate cash, I will be glad to purchase extra food or blankets.  If I’m not home, you can leave any donations at my front door. 

Thank you for your support and I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Norma      

By the way, if you wish to donate any warm clothes or blankets, please contact me via email at:  slevy@lucidrealty.com or phone at 877 LUCID 99.               

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