Spring Is Coming

If you're a GOT fan you know the line, "Winter is coming".  However, I like to think "Spring is coming", well, because it is.  March officially marks the month to start your seeds inside!  It is the time we get to watch something tiny grow out of the earth and form life,  something of which winter deprives us from seeing and for me it makes me hopeful for sunshine and warm nights on the porch.  Added bonus, this is great activity if you have children, they love to keep a daily tab on the little plant in the window!

Below is a great listing of vegetables and herbs to start now, inside.  The link is below if you would like more information!


March is the perfect time to get those tomato and pepper seeds started indoors ready for an early spring planting! Also a great time to start planting those cool weather vegetables that can withstand those last frost days of March and April. A great time to try a Garden Shot!

Sow beets now for a fast, early summer treat.
Suggested variety: Detroit Dark Red

If you live in a warmer climate and can find a quick growing Broccoli variety you can harvest until it bolts in the hot summer sun!
Suggested variety: Calabrese

Cabbage is one of the easier plants to grow in the garden. Select a variety that is right for your location (size and maturity length). Be sure to fertilize and water when cabbage head begins to form.
Suggested variety: Premium Late Flat DutchGolden AcreMichihili

Planting carrots by mid-July yields a fall crop that will keep in the garden until used.
Suggested variety: Little FingerScarlet Nantes

One of the most rewarding and fast growing crops to grow. Corn is delicious when cooked only minutes after being pulled off the stalk. Try a small plot of corn, working your way to a large field of several varieties.
Suggested variety: Peaches and CreamIncredibleSugar Buns

Fast growing vine or bush cucumber plants can produce an abundance of cucumber fruits. Be careful to pick a variety for the space you have in your garden. Vine cucumbers can be the best tasting but need far more space than bush varieties.
Suggest variety: Spacemaster 80MuncherMarketmore 76

Plant heat loving herbs like basil, oregano, thyme and sage.
Suggested varieties: Italian BasilGreek OreganoDill

Start a crop of salad mix greens that gets bright sun but not all day. Great for late summer and early fall crops.
Suggested Varieties: ButtercrunchMesclun MixBlack Seeded Simpson

Melons are some of the most rewarding plants to grow. Great for hot, long summers. A staple for summer picnics and family fun.
Suggested variety: Sugar BabyCrimson SweetHales Best

Get those onion seeds growing. Be careful to select an onion variety appropriate for your garden zone. Northern areas should plant long day onions. Southern regions should plant short day onions.
Suggest variety: Sweet White WallaRed CreolYellow Spanish

Green peas and sugar peas are good to plant in July, and will produce a moderate fall harvest.
Suggested variety: Sugar AnnOregon Giant

Fresh, crisp peppers are a garden favorite. Peppers take up little space and can produce high yields when planted close together. Plant as many different varieties as possible. They come small, big, hot, mild, and an array of different colors.
Suggested variety: California WonderEarly JalapenoSweet BananaSuper Chili

Spinach is more of a cool weather vegetable and will produce until hot weather of summer. Planting in early March will ensure you have plenty of harvest before bolting.
Suggested variety: BloomsdaleSamish

Summer Squash
Yum! Summer squash sowing in June will lead to fresh squash and zucchini in July and August.
Suggested Varieties: CocozelleWaltham Butternut

The most popular garden vegetable. Growing tomatoes is not only fun but treats you to some of the best tasting fruits in the world. Tomatoes come in many colors, shapes, taste, and sizes. Grow a few varieties every year to find your favorites!
Suggested variety: BrandywineCherokee PurpleRomaSweetieHeirloom Blend



When I Dip, You Dip, I Dip

Superbowl Sunday is here and I LOVE to eat all kinds of dip when watching football! In the morning I will normally throw everything together and store them in the refrigerator, prepping makes my life easier!  Right before game time I can put them in the oven so they’re ready for kick off.  All I have to do is take them out of the oven, open a bag of chips, pretzels or a box of crackers and I have a plethora of dipping options without leaving my couch.  So whether you are rooting for the Patriots or the Eagles, these dips will make your stomach cheer!

Hot Pizza Dip

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup pizza sauce

2 ounces pepperoni, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons sliced black olives (optional)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix together cream cheese, oregano, parsley and basil

Spread mixture in the bottom of a 9 inch pie place or shallow dish.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture.  Spread the pizza sauce over all. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then top with green pepper, pepperoni, olives (or whatever topping you choose).

Bake for 30 minutes

Note:  this dip is better if it sits in the refrigerator overnight to let the spices merry together.  Also, it does better with bagel chips or a sliced and toasted baguette instead of chips since it is a thick type of dip.


Chicken Chimichanga Dip

1 large can chicken

1 cup mayonnaise

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened

1 small can chopped green chiles

2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and place in a greased, shallow baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes




Everything is Better With Bacon

Everything is better with bacon….this phrase I wholeheartedly believe in.  For example, green beans, by themselves are not the greatest, in my opinion.  If you want opt out of drowning them in cream of mushroom soup, try this recipe.  It isn’t going to win any health conscience awards, but your taste buds will certainly cheer!

Arkansas Green Beans

One bag frozen green beans (I prefer French cut)

7 ( or more if you prefer) slices pre-cooked bacon

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

7 teaspoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place green beans in a casserole dish

Cook bacon according to directions, normally one minute, until crisp.  Crumble bacon

Combine the brown sugar, melted butter, soy sauce and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Pour the mixture over the green beans and sprinkle crumbled bacon on top.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes

Ps - I normally like to pair this side dish with grilled chicken or fish!

Ding, Ding Chicken Wing

There are a lot of you clicking on these recipes, so every Thursday we will be posting tried and true recipes, in hopes that you will enjoy them as well.  

My son told me the other day, “Mom, you make the best wings, ever!  Can you make me some?”.  I enjoy cooking and I enjoy, even more, when my children eat what I cook!  Getting wings in a restaurant or even take out, can be expensive, so I have tried many different recipes trying to nail the ‘at home’ version.  Let’s face it, I have two boys and their food intake is only going to increase, I needed to conquer the chicken wing.  So, today, I am sharing with you my ‘unicorn’ chicken wing recipe.  This is it, the golden ticket, the final one and I hope you enjoy it!

Restaurant-Style Buffalo Chicken Wings

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 chicken wings

Oil for deep frying

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup hot sauce

1 dash of black pepper

1 dash garlic powder

Combine in a small bowl mix together the flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.  Place chicken wings in a large glass dish or bowl and sprinkle flour mixture over them until they’re evenly coated.  Cover dish/bowl and refrigerate for 60-90 minutes. (THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP, DO NOT SKIP)

Heat oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees.  The oil should be just enough to cover wings entirely, an inch or so deep.  

Combine the butter, hot sauce, pepper and garlic powder in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir together and heat until butter is melted and mixture is well blended.  Remove from heat and reserve for serving.

Fry coated wings in hot oil for 10-15 minutes, or until parts of the wings begin to turn brown.  Remove from heat, place wings in serving bowl, add hot sauce mixture and stir together, serve.

All Done! Of course you can use any brand/type of sauce that you would like.  We also just eat them plain, with no sauce, for the littles and they’re still delicious.  Enjoy!!


Italian Beef Sandwiches

With such a big response to last weeks one pot wonder, I thought we could share another favorite recipe of mine this week.  This is not a long lost favorite, but one of my go-to meals.  We, in Grove City, are expecting a winter storm over the weekend and this is a great slow cooker meal that makes your whole house smell warm and inviting all day.  Enjoy and stay safe this weekend!

Slow Cooker Italian Beef

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix

1 (5 pound) rump roast

Combine water with all of the seasonings and Italian seasoning packet, stir well and bring to a boil

Place roast in slow cooker, and pour boiled water/seasoning mixture over the meat

Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  When done, shred meat with a fork

All Done! Place shredded beef on your favorite bun or ciabatta bread.  We love to put mayonnaise, horseradish and some banana peppers on our sandwiches.

One Pot Wonder

As I was searching for a recipe for a friend, I came across a this little delight.  I keep my recipes in an old box and have completely forgotten most of them, but wanted to share this one with everyone.  This one pot wonder is a quick and easy meal that is great for this time of year.  It hits all of the points; hearty, warm and a little spicy (leftovers are great as well).  I hope you enjoy it!

Creamy Chicken Chipotle Stroganoff

1 tablespoon oil

1 pound chicken breast, cubed

1 small/medium onion, chopped

1 8oz can mushroom (undrained)

2 chicken bouillon cubes

4 cup (8oz) egg noodles (uncooked)

1 tablespoon chopped chipotle (reduce or increase to taste)

1 8oz container sour cream


Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add chicken and onion; cook and stir 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups water, mushrooms and liquid, bouillon cubes and noodles.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover.  Simmer 10-12 minutes or until noodles are tender and only a small amount of the liquid remains.  Stir in chipotle.  Cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream. Serve immediately.



Lucky Charms?

Lucky Charms?

The other day, my golden four leaf clover hanging above my front door caught my attention and was my unexpected muse for this blog. It was a house warming present, a lovely gesture, and on the back is the inscription, “One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith, and one is for love, you know and God put another in for luck”. So, you know what happens next. The thought train takes off and starts exploring other lucky charms that are seen in homes. I have seen horseshoes above doors and in barns, but what else? So, with the help of my friend, Google, we set off on a mission to find others. I have listed a few below and even one lucky charm that is said to help sell your home.


The horseshoe has a long history of being a protective symbol. It has become customary to hang a horseshoe over the door to protect against evil and bring good luck. The way you hang the horseshoe is a matter of perspective. If the horseshoe hung pointing upward, it's believed your luck will not escape. If the horseshoe is hung pointing down, it's believed that good luck pours into the home.


A traditional Native American practice known as smudging uses the smoke from burning herbs, most likely sage, to purify a space. Smudging is believed to clear away negative energy and bringing luck and positive energy. In the traditional practice, before you begin, you would open a door or window so the negative energy can escape. Then, you would place the bundle of herbs in a bowl, light them and gently blow out the flame so it would smolder, like incense. To dispose of the leftover ashes, practitioners recommend that you take them outside and leave them on the earth.

St. Joseph

St. Joseph is a Catholic saint long believed to help with home-related matters. Through the years he has become known as the patron saint of real estate. It is believed if you purchase a St. Joseph statue and bury it in your yard and say a series of special prayers, the right buyer will come along to purchase your home. Once the home is sold, the next step is to dig up the statue and place it in your new home for continued good fortune.

Feng Shui

The art of feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice of balancing the physical environment to promote harmony and balance, which is believed to bring positive outcomes. One prominent rule in this practice is to clear out clutter to allow a natural flow of energy, sounds like familiar advice from the home staging experts. Additionally, it is believed that a home should have a healthy combination of the five feng shui elements – wood, fire, water, earth and metal. Each element represents a different kind of energy and the type of outcome it cultivates.

As it turns out, I have a money tree in my home as well, a popular plant used in the practice of feng shui. I purchased the plant for the intricate braided trunk, long green leaves and the easy to care for promise on the tag. What lucky charms do you have in your home? Maybe, you're like me and have more than one, from a practice you know little about.

Red Doors, what do they mean?

We have all seen brightly colored front doors on homes, the most popular color is red.  The experts tell us it will improve the curb appeal of your home and make it more welcoming. But they're not the first to come up with this idea, it's an old practice from many different origins.  This is what history is saying, about the red door.

In Feng Shui, a red front door means “welcome.” Feng Shui is a Chinese philosophy in which the arrangement and color of objects in a room relates to the flow of energy. The front door is known as the “Mouth of Chi” where energy enters. If you believe in or follow Feng Shui, painting your front door red would create welcoming energy.

A red door means “welcome” in an old early American tradition. If a family had a red front door tired travelers traveling by horse and buggy would know that a home was a welcoming place to rest. They would be able to spend the night there.

A red door provides protection. In Biblical times, the Hebrew slaves were instructed to smear blood of a lamb on their front doors to protect their first born from the angel of death. In old Catholicism churches painted the doors of the church red to represent the blood of Christ. Passing through the door would mean that you were on holy ground. Some believe a red door protects the occupants from evil.

A red front door means mortgage-free. In Scotland, homeowners would paint their front door red to signify that they had paid off their mortgage.

So, maybe having a red front door isn't all about having great curb appeal after all.  When we take a moment and search history, we can discover many truths on why we do the things we do today.

FHA loans, what are they?

An FHA loan is a mortgage loan that is backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  FHA mortgage loans are very popular, especially with first time home buyers because the requirements are less strict than conventional loans.  Borrowers can qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment as little as 3.5% of the purchase price and a credit score of 580 or higher.  If the borrower's credit score is between 500-579, the down payment increases to 10%.  It is important to remember, interest rates are still reflective of the borrowers credit score.  

There is one catch to the FHA mortgage loan, mortgage insurance.  It requires two kinds of mortgage insurance premiums: one is paid in full upfront, or it can be financed into the mortgage and the other is a monthly payment. 

So, who can qualify for a FHA mortgage loan? Below are some key points you will have to meet.

  • Borrowers must have a steady employment history or worked for the same employer for the past two years.
  • Borrowers must have a valid Social Security number, be of legal age and a lawful resident of the United States.
  • Borrowers must pay a minimum down payment of 3.5%.
  • Borrowers should have a minimum credit score of 580, you can have a score as low as 500, but it isn't ideal.
  • Typically borrowers must be two years out of bankruptcy and three years out of foreclosure and have re-established good credit.

Below are links for more information on FHA mortgage loans and possibly help you get a pre-approval.  Please call Grove City Realty if you have any questions, we help buyers work with lenders every day. 724-458-5858



What is a USDA loan?

A USDA home loan from the USDA loan program, is a mortgage loan offered to rural property owners by the United States Department of Agriculture.  This type of loan has the ability to help people purchase a home who would otherwise not be able to qualify for a conventional loan.  Of the many benefits, the most noted is the ability to obtain one hundred percent financing.  This means qualified borrowers can purchase a home with no out of pocket cost.  Below are the top five benefits of having a USDA mortgage loan.

1.  No down payment required

2.  Low monthly private mortgage insurance

3.  Flexible credit guidelines

4.  Competitive fixed interest rates

5.  Ability to finance upfront mortgage insurance and closing costs

So, the next question you may ask, well who is eligible for the USDA loan?  First, any individual or family who plans to occupy a home located in an eligible rural area as their primary residence may qualify for a USDA mortgage loan.  Grove City, Pennsylvania is considered a rural area, so we have you covered there.  Second, when applying you must provide sufficient income verification and have a credit history that has indicated the ability and willingness to meet the repayment obligations.  Third, you have to fall within the income guidelines.  USDA mortgage loans are catered to the low to average income borrower, there is an income limit to qualify.


Below is the link to the USDA government site to help you learn more and possibly get a pre-approval.  Please call Grove City Realty if you have any questions, we help buyers work with lenders every day. Let us help you find the home of your dreams!


Twelve Things You Need to Know About Your VA Loans


Here are twelve things you need to know about your VA loans:

1.       They’re reusable.  As long as you have paid off your VA loan, you can use your full entitlement again. 

2.       Only certain types of homes can qualify for your loan.  Many “fixer-upper” types of homes or businesses may not qualify.  If it is a move-in ready home or condo, you should be ready to go.

3.       The loans are not for recreational “camps” or vacation homes or investment properties.  They are designed to provide a primary residence for you. 

4.       The VA does not give you the money.  What the VA does is to guarantee the qualifying mortgages. 

5.       The loans are guaranteed by the federal government.  This gives veterans good terms and rates in their loans, because the USA government guarantees about a quarter of the loan and reduces risk to the lender. 

6.       If you are putting less than 20 percent down, you do not have to pay mortgage insurance.  The VA’s guarantee saves veterans money each month by eliminating this premium.

7.       There is a mandatory fee.  It may run about 2 percent of the loan amount.  This is the VA Funding Fee.  It helps keep the program running for you and other veterans. 

8.       There is a limit on co-borrowers.  Many mortgages will let you get a loan with about anybody.  Usually the co-borrower needs to be a spouse or another veteran who will live in the house with you.  Check with your lender for restrictions. 

9.       They are available even if you have a history of foreclosure or bankruptcy.  You can still use your VA loan benefit. 

10.   They do not carry a prepayment penalty.  You can make extra payments any time you are able.  Even if you can only apply a little extra cash to paying off your mortgage each month, you can pay off the mortgage years earlier and save thousands of dollars.

11.   After establishing that you are eligible, you will need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE verifies to the lender that you are eligible for a VA-backed loan. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website can help you determine what forms you need for your particular military service experience.  

12.   See your lender to get a preapproval for your VA loan as a first step.  Then you are ready to make an offer when that dream home becomes available.  

Please call Grove City Realty if you have questions.  We help buyers work with lenders everyday.  Let us help you find a great home at a great price.  This article is a brief summary. Check out these websites and your lender for information suited to your unique situation.  

We thank you for your service to our nation.    

Thanks to the following websites for information:  usaa.com   www.benefits.va.gov  veteransunited.com