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Maple-Cinnamon French Toast

As we continue on with recipes that I have come across and would like to share with you, my children deserve the credit for this next recipe. Our son, Joshua, subscribes to Highlights High Five magazine and in the August 2009 edition is this wonderful Maple-Cinnamon French Toast recipe which is written so that kids can make it with the help of an adult. For this blog, I have cut out the adult-aide section and submit the recipe for you to try and have your children help you with if you prefer. Serves 2, or 1 if you have a big appetite. (*See notes below as to Dan's variations and changes.)

3 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Mix together in a bowl all of the above ingredients. Place a slice of bread in the mixture. Press down until the bread is soggy. Repeat with 3 more slices of bread. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bread for 1 ½ minutes on each side or until golden brown.

* Double the recipe but use only 5 eggs instead of six.
* Use butter instead of oil in the skillet for cooking.
* Substitute honey for the maple syrup if you want Honey-Cinnamon French Toast.
* Top with fresh fruits or warmed compote.

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    Dual Agency

    OK, this week you get two blogs for the price of one. Recently I was asked why I don't do dual agency as a real estate agent. One reason is because I am an attorney and I believe it is a conflict of interest for me to represent both sides of a transaction. Another reason is because I don't believe anyone can fairly represent competing sides to a transaction. But the main reason is because I align myself with either my buyer or seller and stay on that side of the transaction because that is what my client expects and deserves.

    I read one opinion on the subject of dual agency that used buying a car as an example of dual agency that works. When you buy a car, you know the salesman works for the dealership but you don't hire someone to assist you in negotiating the purchase of the car. The author likened this to dual agency in selling real estate when the buyer doesn't use a separate agent to assist in negotiating the purchase of a home. Needless to say, I don't agree with this particular author and present this scenario. If you were getting divorced from your spouse, would you use the same attorney to represent you that your spouse is using? Hopefully, you are never in this situation, however, I think you can see that if you were, that you would want someone on your side to represent your interests.

    When a real estate agent provides dual agency in representing both the buyer and seller of a specific property, ultimately, the agent must not advise either party with respect to price. Also, the agent can not share with either party confidential information and can not suggest or recommend questions to be asked or due diligence to be requested. When I represent a buyer, I ask a lot of questions of the listing agent, sometimes a lot more than what would typically be requested, but always enough so that my buyer feels comfortable with making an offer on a property and proceeding forward with the purchase. If I were to do dual agency, I couldn't advise my buyer as to what to ask or request. I also couldn't advise my seller as to what is the right price for the current market. Both the seller and buyer are left on their own to decide these things, without guidance from the dual agent. It is exactly this type of guidance that really is a big part of the service a real estate agent provides and is compensated for. It's almost like going to the dentist and cleaning your teeth yourself without the dentist cleaning them for you or providing you with his/her professional opinion on the condition of your teeth.

    So, while other real estate agents may choose to do dual agency, I will continue to represent each of my clients to the best of my ability and in each client's best interest – one transaction at a time, and only on one side of each transaction.

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      German Pancakes

      In addition to the charities which we will continue to blog about, we wanted to branch out to other topics. If you don't already know this about Dan, he loves to cook and is always looking for recipes that are both nutritious and full of flavor. Our friend, Mary Abbott Hess, shared the following recipe with us after making it for us while we were visiting her at her SW Michigan cottage. Mary is a nationally recognized speaker and authority on food and nutrition and has authored a number of books on making healthful food choices, including "Essentials of Healthful Cooking" which was originally distributed by Williams-Sonoma stores.

      Here's the official recipe for one pancake that serves 2. (*See notes below as to Dan's variations and changes.)

      ½ cup flour
      ½ cup milk
      ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
      3 eggs
      1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon, cut in wedges
      ¼ cup powdered sugar

      Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

      Make batter of flour, milk and eggs. Mix with whisk.

      Put 9" Pyrex pie plate or heatproof pan in oven to get hot. Melt butter in the hot pan and slosh around to go up the sides so all inside surfaces are buttered.

      Pour batter into hot pan and bake 20 minutes or until pancake is puffed and lightly brown.

      Squeeze on lemon juice and sprinkle with powdered sugar and extra lemon wedges.

      * Add grated lemon peel on the pancakes in addition to the lemon juice.
      * Substitute fresh orange juice and peel for the lemon.
      * Double the recipe to feed four – makes two pancakes.
      * Use half of the butter to reduce fat content – i.e., ½ stick for my doubled-recipe to coat two pie pans
      * This recipe can also be used as a dessert if you top with fresh fruit, ice cream or whipped cream and chocolate syrup

      We hope you enjoy this recipe and others that we will be adding to our blog on a weekly basis. Comments are always welcome!

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        St Pauls UCC Church Raising Funds to Support Recent Bhutanese Family Relocated Here from Refugee Camp

        James Hicks e-mailed with a plea for monetary support. Excerpts from the e-mail follow.

        "Our Church, St. Pauls UCC is helping a Bhutanese family, after they lived for years in a refugee camp in India, relocate here in Chicago. They arrived here last Thursday. But we found out on their arrival that they do not have winter clothes; indeed, two of the sons do not have shoes, but only sandals, one in flip flops, and we all know you can't make it through a Windy City winter in sandals. And they were all in need of winter coats. So we are asking each of you we are contacting to send at least $20 or $25, and more if you are able, to St. Pauls Church, for the Phuyel family, a Mom, Dad, and three sons, one 19, one 15, and one 11...

        You can make your check out to St. Pauls and mail it Attention: Rev. Jeff Carlson."

        The address to send money and support is:
        St. Pauls UCC
        Attn: Rev. J. Carlson
        2335 N. Orchard
        Chicago, IL 60614

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          Why I Hate Real Estate Agents (and other serious items for the current market)

          It's no secret that the market is moving in constantly changing directions that few have experienced. All of these changes and the differing media reports can lead to confusion and misinformation about much of our local market. With this in mind, I have started my blog site to attempt to address concerns that buyers or sellers may have about the current conditions and to provide advice based on the current conditions. None of us are predictors of the future, but certainly with enough experience, we can evaluate trends to help us plan. You are invited to post questions which I or other guest bloggers may respond to and hopefully together we can create an interesting blog site.

          To be clear, I am starting this site with no defined boundaries or guidelines. My intention is to address real issues in today's market, as well as add pure fluff at times. All suggestions are welcome. If you have a comment or complaint about your current situation, feel free to post it here. Want to post why you hate real estate agents? Hey that's ok too. I can always learn from bad experiences. Want to make suggestions for doing something different? Always welcome.

          I hope with this small start, we can begin a great site together that can be fun and actually worth checking in to and reading from time to time. It's up to me to try to keep things interesting, but I certainly will need help there. That's where you come in.

          Type away!

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            Solar Light for Africa

            Solar Light for Africa, Ltd. ("SLA") began its program in 1997 with the electrification of the Mustard Seed Babies Home in Hoima, Uganda. Since that time, SLA has been providing rural electrification and clean water to villages, health clinics, schools, and other public facilities using solar technology to help the poorest of the poor combat hunger, improve health care, increase educational opportunities and foster micro-enterprisedevelopment. Our program has had its greatest impact on the lives of women and children in Uganda, Rwanda, northern Tanzania and Liberia. We have also completed projects in Ethiopia and Ghana. To date, SLA has installed over 2,400 systems.

            Will Redfield can be contacted about joining in a casual evening to learn about Solar Light for Africa (SLA) and to meet SLA's Executive Director, Katherine Lucey, who will share with us the latest news about SLA's achievements and how we can make a difference to change the world from Chicago.

            The event is Thursday, November 20, 2008 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at The Spread Bar & Grill (2476 North Lincoln Ave, Chicago). To RSVP, click here:
            click here

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              Seth Bent raises money for the Shedd Aquarium

              Seth Bent is raising money for the transport & care of the animals while the Oceanarium undergoes its nine-month renovation. Here is a some information from his site:

              "I'm making waves for Shedd Aquarium to support the renovation of the Oceanarium! The Auxiliary Board is raising funds to help with the transport and care of the Oceanarium animals and their trainers during the nine-month renovation. Animal care is the top priority at Shedd, and the Auxiliary Board has committed to raise $1 million to underwrite this important piece of the campaign and Oceanarium renovation.

              I hope you can help us reach our goal of $150,000 in on-line donations. Every dollar raised will help take care of the animals and their trainers while they are on "vacation" at the Minnesota Zoo and Mystic Aquarium. Whether it is shrimp for the sea otters or an ultrasound for a beluga, all the money we raise goes directly to animal feeding and care. We're also supporting the trainers, who have relocated with the animals to continue to give them the best possible care. "

              To visit his site or make a donation, click on the link below.

              Visit his site.

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                Blogging for Charity

                Although it has been a month since I started this blog and haven't added to it since, I have been trying to figure out what to spend time blogging about. There is so much news and info already out there everywhere so I have decided to go in a different direction with this. I want to go in a direction that may actually help an organization or people.

                With this in mind, I am going to mostly add to my blog with opportunities to give to charities, worthwhile causes, or people in need. Many of my clients are involved with charities and request donations for their cause. As I receive these requests, or as I learn about charities and fundraisers, I will post them to my site. If anyone is involved with an organization raising funds, please post to my site a promo for your charity as well.

                Sara McCarthy is a real estate agent that is involved in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Susan G. Komen for the Cure walk in San Diego November 21 - 23.

                Visit her site.

                Obviously a very worth while cause that I hope people will support.

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                  Help Sarah & Wendy Coulter in their trip to Nigeria for a humanitarian mission

                  Two real estate agents, Sarah Coulter, along with her mother Wendy Coulter are both involved with Hands and Hearts International. Sarah and Wendy will be traveling in January, 2009 to Nigeria on a medical and humanitarian mission. Sarah's details of the mission:

                  "On our two-week trip, our team comprised of medical and non-medical volunteers, will focus on providing medical care, sustainable and entrepreneurial opportunities, along with educational information for student nurses and children. We will also provide HIV education for children and adults, along with medical assistance in the most under served African communities hit by the AIDS pandemic. Our medical team will see patients and provide medication for diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, dysentery, and impetigo - all diseases that are easily prevented in countries like the US, but needlessly kill many impoverished Africans."

                  The website for Hands and Hearts International is www.handsandheartsintl.org. There is a contact section there or if you would like to make a donation, you can let me know and I will put you in contact directly with Sarah or Wendy.

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                    Megan Gavin walks for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

                    Megan Gavin walked for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on October 5. I know this is past but I am sure they would still welcome the funds. Here is a part from Megan's letter:

                    "As many of you know I work for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This is my third year as Walk Manager for the Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes...Go Cubbies! This year we are celebrating the 30th annual Walk on October 5th.

                    At my Walk site I am responsible for raising over 1.3 million dollars on one day. In Chicago we have 5 Walk location and our crossite goal is 6.1 million. The Walk is JDRF's largest fundraiser.

                    As much as I love my job, and I want to help the 3 million people affected by this disease, I really want to help my MOM. She is my insiration, role model, my go to gal, and the reason I do what I do every day. She is a type 1 diabetic and I want to find a cure for her.

                    I know times are tough and each one of you have your charity of choice but I am hoping that you will find a way to support something that is near and dear to my heart and to my family. Please click on the link below to make a donation to my Walk team, Megger's Team."

                    Visit her site.

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