May 2024 issue of Recipes and Real Estate

Summer home maintenance checklist – Check out these interior and exterior home maintenance tips to consider while the weather is warm.

Happy May Everyone!

Welcome to the May issue of Recipes and Real Estate!

This month I have compiled a list of maintenance tips that are great to tackle in the warmer months leading into summer. These are tips that every homeowner should consider and every potential homeowner should be aware come with owning property.

I’ll also share the recipe for Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken. It’s a variant of a recipe that I found online so I’ll be sure to post the original url.

On to the real estate advice!

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the warm weather and get some work done around the house. Help keep your home performing efficiently during the summer by adding these tasks to your home maintenance plan.

Indoor spaces:

*Switch your ceiling fan blade direction to counterclockwise
Did you know that a ceiling fan’s performance is largely based on the direction the blades are spinning? This is because the direction of the blades determines how the air will be circulated within the space. In warmer weather, when you’re trying to cool down interior spaces, the blades should spin counterclockwise to help cool the air by providing a downdraft.
*Clean refrigerator coils
The coils under the refrigerator have a tendency to accumulate dust and pet hair. Cleaning them can help your fridge run more economically.

*Wash windows and check screens
A good cleaning of the inside of your windows and tracks can help remove any buildup from dust, cooking, smoke, candles and fireplaces. While cleaning the windows, look at the screens to see if repairs are needed. Also, clean any patio door tracks to help them open and close easier.

*Check for air leaks around windows and doors
To help keep cold air in and hot air out, check your windows and doors for leaks. If you find any leaks, consider sealing them with weather stripping or caulking.

Outdoor home maintenance:

*Service your air conditioner
Regular maintenance can help ensure your air conditioner is working as efficiently as possible during the summer.

*Hose down your exterior air conditioner unit
Air conditioners tend to collect dirt and debris over time, which reduces their efficiency. Use a garden hose to spray the unit with water to remove buildup and help it run more efficiently. Also remove any nearby plants or weeds that could grow inside the unit.

*Wash windows
Wash the outside of your windows with soapy lukewarm water to help remove any water spots or dust buildup. Then dry with a microfiber cloth. You may want to reserve window cleaning for a cooler day or after the sun sets if you notice window streaks. The hot air can quickly evaporate cleaning products leaving visible streaks behind.

*Wash siding
While it might be tempting to use a pressure washer for your home’s exterior, a garden hose is recommended to avoid potentially damaging the outside of your home or having water get under the siding. Apply a coat of fresh paint if needed and repair any damaged vinyl or aluminum siding.

*Look for signs of critters and bugs
Check garden plants, trees and shrubs for insect infestations. Termites can easily go undetected until considerable damage has been done. Look for telltale signs like flaking wood or mud buildup and tunneling systems in the exterior wood of your home. Professional pest control inspections are recommended if you have any suspicions of possible infestation. Check out these tips for other pests like moles, deer and how to keep birds away from your house.

*Pressure washing
Spruce up the exterior of your home by pressure washing your sidewalks, porches and driveways. Fences and decks can also use a lower pressure cleaning.

Tidy up your landscaping:

*Trim shrubs and bushes as needed.
*Get weeds under control.
*Introduce some pops of color to help improve the curb appeal of your home.
*Add a fresh layer of mulch to mulched areas.
*Trim trees to avoid potential damage to your home.
*Check gutters and downspouts and clean out all debris from gutters and see that downspouts are still routed properly so water drains away from the house.

*Inspect the roof – While on the ground, step back from your home and inspect the roof for maintenance from all sides to see if shingles are cracked, curled or missing.

*Clean exterior dryer vent – Clean the outside clothes dryer vent to remove any built-up lint and allow your dryer to work more efficiently.

*Inspect driveways and walkways for damage

While these items are easier to perform in the summer, there are more home safety items to look at throughout the year such as having your chimney cleaned and checking on carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and your smoke detectors.

The information in this article was compiled from various sources not associated with any specific brokerage. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect any type of coverage. These suggestions are meant to be an informative list, not an exhaustive list.

Now for the Yum!

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is a delicious chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce with tender vegetables and crunchy cashews. Skip the takeout, this is so much healthier and better!

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 4 – 6 people
Original Author: Alyssa Rivers

Slow Cooker
Stainless Steel Chopper or appropriate knife

1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 – 1 1/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 pieces), cut into bite-sized chunks
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
**4 – 6 dried red chili peppers, to taste (see NOTE)
1 cup roasted cashews or roasted peanuts
1 red bell pepper chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 medium zucchini chopped into halves

Sauce (Feel free to double the sauce if you like more sauce)
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 – 1 teaspoon dried red pepper chili flakes, to taste

Cornstarch slurry:
2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
2-3 Tablespoons water plus more as needed to thin out consistency of sauce

1) In a large zip-top bag, toss in chicken, salt and black pepper. Shake until well-coated.
2) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. **Skip this step if in a pinch and add chicken directly to the slow cooker.
3) Transfer chicken into slow cooker. (SEE NOTE FOR STOVETOP DIRECTIONS)
4) In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, honey, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper chili flakes and pour over chicken.
5) Cover and cook on LOW for 2.5 – 4 hours or HIGH for 1.5 – 3 hours. (SEE NOTE)
6) About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir into the slow cooker. Add the dried red chili peppers, red bell peppers, zucchini and cashews.
7) Cover and cook on HIGH for another 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened up. (Add more water to thin out sauce to your preferred consistency).
8) Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired.

Updated on January 2, 2019
Originally Posted on January 18, 2017 by Kelly Kwok from
**If you can’t find dried red chili peppers, leave out and add an additional 1 – 4 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
**If your slow cooker runs hot, be sure to check on chicken earlier as it may cook faster than the suggested cooking times.
**FOR STOVETOP DIRECTIONS: Brown the chicken until cooked through (7-8 minutes). Then add vegetables and sauté for about 3 minutes – or until tender. Add the sauce to the pan, turn to high heat and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens up – about 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Once everything is coated and heated through, serve hot with favorite sides.
***Original recipe URL:

I hope you’ve enjoyed the newsletter this month!

All my best,


Vin Russo, REALTOR®, Associate Partner
Keller Williams Pioneer Valley
300 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA 01060
c: 413-200-0790 | o: 413-585-0022
SRES®, AHWD®, KW Agent of Distinction

WinWithVin ® #REALTOR #KellerWilliams #PioneerValley #WesternMA #MassachusettsRealEstate #Amherst #Deerfield #Greenfield #Northampton #SouthDeerfield #AgentOfDistinction #AHWD #SRES #WinWithVin

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