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DIY: All Natural Cleaner

Words by Luna Jauregui, Doulas of Orlando

Did you realize that with a few items from your pantry, you can mix your own kitchen and bathroom spray cleaners? Bonus: They’re a lot cheaper and healthier for your little one! Exposure to chemicals in our environment could affect your baby, even in the womb. After all, we absorb these chemicals through our skin and cleaners like bleach may penetrate your lungs and enter into your blood stream. So, eliminate your toxic household cleaners and replace them with white vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. It’s cheaper and healthier for you and baby!

STEP 1: Organize supplies over the kitchen sink. Be sure to use a glass spray bottle because vinegar can warp a plastic container unless it’s a food-grade spray bottle.

STEP 2: Mix water and vinegar together in glass spray bottle. You should always mix half water and half vinegar, so adjust portions appropriately.

STEP 3: Drop in 3 to 5 drops of essential oil. Lemongrass has disinfectant properties and a fresh, clean scent that is perfect for kitchen and bathroom counters. To ward off mold and bacteria in the shower or toilet, choose tea tree oil. For tough mold, put a little baking soda and white vinegar on the stain, let it sit for 5 minutes and then wipe clean. The mold comes right off.

Bonus: Fresh, Stain-free Laundry Cleaner

Stop using expensive and potentially toxic stain cleaners and go all natural! After trying several different variations, I’ve discovered that the following combination can take out the toughest stains and keep clothing looking and smelling fresh.

Mix an organic laundry detergent (I use Mrs. Meyers for the scent) with ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup white vinegar for each load of laundry. Cut a piece of lemon, wrap it in a cheesecloth bag and throw it in your washer. Take it out before putting the clothing in the dryer.

It’s like magic: no stains, bright colors and a fresh scent!

LUNA JAUREGUI is an Orlando-based certifi ed doula with Doulas of Orlando ( and mom to two daughters. Her journey to becoming a doula began when she realized there was such a large gap between couples’ expectations and the reality of current birth practices. Luna, who speaks both English and Spanish, prepares parents to help them achieve their vision of an ideal birth. She also works with families after baby, offering lactation support and other services.

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Love Your Lawn (Sponsored)

Learn How to Care for Your Landscaping

This post is brought to you by Scotts


Spring is coming, which means it’s time to spruce up your surroundings and get your lawn back to looking lush and gorgeous, while helping our environment.

The benefits of having a great, green lawn go beyond providing you and your family with outdoor enjoyment during warmer months. A responsibly maintained lawn can also help the environment:

  • Lawns oxygenate the air, filter groundwater and absorb nutrients.
  • They help contain soil erosion and absorb more carbon dioxide than trees.
  • Well-fed lawns also contribute to a cooler surrounding environment.
  • Lawns reduce heat in and around your home by cooling the air and reduce traffic noise by dampening sound.

Florida residents, visit to learn backyard tips and techniques for keeping a healthy lawn and find out what Scotts is doing to help protect our natural waterways.

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10 Best Towns For Families

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Family Circle announces the results of its exclusive survey to identify America’s 10 Best Towns for Families. The brand’s eighth annual list reveals the country’s top towns that provide affordable housing options, strong sense of community and exemplary school systems. Lake Mary, known for its small-town feel and family-friendly events, makes this year’s 10 Best Towns for Families list and is featured in the August 2014 issue of Family Circle, on newsstands July 8 and online at

Family Circle reveals the 10 Best Towns for Families (in alphabetical order):

  • Apex, North Carolina: With historic buildings, a diverse population and a bevy of community events, this town is the pinnacle of quaintness.
  • Boerne, Texas: Top-ranked schools andrandom acts of kindness are the norm in this San Antonio suburb.
  • Brecksville, Ohio: Top-rated schools and ample green space provide a family-friendly setting where there is an equal emphasis on achievement and giving back.
  • Camas, Washington: Simple pleasures like hiking along the Columbia River Gorge or catching a summertime parade add charm to this picturesque Portland suburb.
  • Elmhurst, Illinois: A pedestrian-friendly downtown and opportunities for volunteering make this Chicago suburb a dream destination for families.
  • Franklin, Tennessee: Residents in this Nashville suburb revel in year-round events with an emphasis on the outdoors.
  • Lake Mary, Florida: Bursting with restaurants, stores and high-tech jobs, this Orlando suburb maintains a small town-feel with farmer’s markets, outdoor fairs and family-friendly events.
  • Westborough, Massachusetts: People love to mingle in this leafy Boston suburb where there’s a special connection across generations young and old.
  • Westfield, Indiana: Housing is affordable, the schools are stellar, but it’s Westfield’s sense of community that folks love most about this town.
  • Woodbury, Minnesota: Over two-fifths of households in this Twin Cities suburb have children, making Woodbury an attractive destination to raise a family.

With the help of Onboard Informatics, a New York City research firm that provides real estate, demographic and other data, Family Circle initially assembled a list of 4,200 cities and towns with populations between 10,000 and 150,000. From that, nearly 1,400 localities having a high concentration of households with median incomes between $55,000 and $100,000 were selected. The editors then assessed which places best met its family-friendly criteria—including affordable homes, quality schools, access to health care, green space, low crime rate and financial stability—and ranked them from top to bottom. Family Circle selected the 10 winners from among the highest-rated towns.

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The 2013 Hillman Report Has Been Released

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Each year the president of Fannie Hillman + Associates, Scott Hillman, releases his annual Hillman Report. This is a comprehensive look at the 2013 Real Estate market in specific areas throughout Orange and parts of Seminole counties. It is a great resource for those interested in evaluating our market’s past performance to truly gain perspective as to where we are headed in 2014. Below is an overview of the report. To read the entire report click here.

Overall a positive year for area existing homes

The 2013 existing homes market in Orange and Seminole counties weathered the worst of a challenging economy over the past five years by posting some very positive numbers, and should continue to see gradual improvement in 2014, according to the just published 2013 Hillman Report.

“I wouldn’t say 2013 was a breakout year, but it certainly was a very good year, unquestionably the best one we’ve had in Orange and Seminole counties since 2007 in terms of transactions and median price increases which were both up in almost every category,” said Scott Hillman, president of Fannie Hillman + Associates, the 33-year-old Winter Park firm that twice a year publishes The Hillman Report which takes a comprehensive look at Winter Park, Maitland, College Park, Baldwin Park, and downtown Orlando housing and condominium markets.

“I think we can expect to see an appreciation of 4-6 percent in home values this year while prices will remain relatively stable through the first quarter before gathering some momentum in the second and third quarters,” Hillman noted.

The Hillman Report showed 2013 transactions for all single family homes up 5.7 percent over 2012, with biggest gainers in the $500,001-$750,000 price range, up 49 percent, followed by sales of homes in the $300,001-$500,000 million price category, up 43 percent.

The best performing neighborhood for single-family home transactions was Baldwin Park (32814) which saw sales jump 305 percent, while transactions for lakefront homes in Winter Park (32789) were up a collective 147 percent. Non-lakefront homes in the same zip code were up a healthy 21 percent.

Transactions for homes on and off area lakes also performed well in Orlando (32801 and 32806), increasing a combined 37.3 percent, while sales of lakefront and non-lakefront homes in Orlando (32803) were up a collective 27 percent.

Median prices for single-family homes were up anywhere from one percent for homes in the $300,001-$500,000 category to as much as16 percent for homes priced $300,000 and under.

Condominium sales, while down slightly overall, did post appreciable gains in the mid- and higher-priced ranges. Transactions were up 80 percent for condos in the $200,001-$500,000 price range, and climbed 10 percent for units priced over $500,001, even though the median price for those condos was up six percent over the previous year.

College Park (32804) was the pacesetter in condo transactions with an increase of 31 percent, despite a median price increase of 43 percent. The biggest jump in median price was 105 percent for condos in Winter Park (32792).

To learn more about The 2013 Hillman Report, or to download a copy, log onto the company’s website at 

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Martha Sugalski's Lake Mary Home For Sale


With triplets on the way, WESH-TV news anchor, Martha Sugalski, needs a bigger home! So she’s turned to her best friend, and one of Fannie Hillman + Associates top agents, to help her find the perfect place for her growing family.

How would you like to watch the evening news, in the comfort of a living room, formally owned by one of Orlando’s top news anchors? Well now’s your chance!

WESH-TV anchor Martha Sugalski has recently entrusted Fannie Hillman + Associates with the sale of her gorgeous Wingfield Reserve home. This four bedroom, three bathroom home has brought years of enjoyment to Ms. Sugalski, her husband and children, but as recently announced, that family is rapidly growing. Ms. Sugalski expects to deliver triplets this summer so finding a bigger home locally has become a priority!

“For so many years this home has been my safe haven. Because of the intense exposure of my job, this community has provided much needed privacy to me and my family. Watching my children run around our large yard or watching a movie during a ‘date night’ with my husband in our theatre room are all happy memories I will take with me wherever we go.” said Ms. Sugalski.

Wingfield Reserve is located in Lake Mary and offers a variety of features including tennis courts, private security patrols and A+ rated Lake Mary schools, all while being close to I-4, shopping, restaurants and bike trails.

For a private tour of Ms. Sugalski’s home or for more information about the property, please contact Fannie Hillman Realtor Glad Messeroff at 407.497.0132.

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Rocco's Nursery


We think Rocco’s nursery in Windermere is adorbs! It’s the epitome of today’s modern nurseries. Mom Shannon Gunn did a super job putting all of the elements together. From vintage family heirlooms to new sentimental accents, Shannon personalized the room with panache.

Photos by Amy Smith

Don’t take our word for it. We asked the team at Anne Rue Interiors in Lake Mary to give us the dish on new trends in nurseries, with Rocco’s leading by example.

Gray Is the New Blue, Pink and Yellow
Gender-neutral paint colors, such as gray and beige, are on trend right now. Bring in a pop of color with accessories. We love lemon yellow, teal and orange. Use the color in small doses, like Rocco’s mom did, for maximum impact. We love how she put it in unexpected places, such as the picture frame, Buddha statue, stone floor cushion and ottoman.

No Theme Like Ice Cream
Sorry, Pooh Bear; today’s nursery is all about texture, color and patterns rather than theme. Mixing prints gives a room personality and depth. These horizontal paint stripes are current and interesting. It’s an easy way to get impact without a huge price tag. Rocco’s bedding is a perfect mixture of stripes, chevron and circles. A definite “do.”

Personal Touch
Show your personal style with knickknacks, such as the elements on Rocco’s wall. Display Mom’s favorite grade school record. Hang sentimental items, such as the headphones that Rocco wore for his newborn photo session. Or, create a photo transfer of your family pet on a wood frame.

Design Consultation
Mom Shannon wants to know … What should I do for window coverings?
Whether for a boy or girl, this is ultimately a baby’s room. Mom can bring some softness to the room by adding a full-length drapery valance in a solid fabric. Charcoal gray (or a darker color) to contrast the wall would be fab for Rocco’s space. Or, bring in your third color by having draperies in a lemon yellow or orange.

Anne Rue Interiors Recommends:
Love the art grouping; it’s kitchy, modern and fresh. However, you may want to scale it down to the size of the dresser. A grouping, picture or mirror shouldn’t be wider than what it’s grounded by. Move the guitar to a different wall, and bring the other items in a bit.

When you have stripes on the wall, keep the furniture simple and solid. The color-blocked painted pieces compete with the walls. When you upgrade Rocco into a regular bed, bring in some dark wood tones.

Anne Rue Interiors offers complete interior design services, including space planning, furniture layout, specifications and model merchandising. Whether you are building a custom home, remodeling or simply redecorating, Anne Rue Interiors welcomes the opportunity.





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5 Steps To Sell Your Home

Save-up & Fix-up! Don’t just sit there waiting for change – make it happen. If you are even just thinking about selling next week or even next year, start now! Set your goals and do your “vision board” (whatever it takes), but follow it up with some serious action today!

Written by Jamie Sharon

#1 Get an idea of what your home would actually sell for (not what you hope it will sell for) and stick to the facts, not your emotions. Look at what homes close to the same square footage and within a mile radius to your home have sold for. You should use numbers from the last 60 days. Visit my website to find the numbers you need or email me ( and I will prepare you a detailed Market Analysis, for FREE.

#2 Get an idea of what you can afford and what you can get approved for. There is a difference. Your lender may approve you for FAR more than you can actually afford. The lender does not know that you spend too many weekends at the Ritz, pay a nanny large sums of cash and have a huge sushi and Amy Smith addiction (maybe that’s just me). Not to mention the money you’ll need to furnish and accessorize your new home. Only you can be honest about what you spend and how you live (and what you are ready to live without).

#3 The loan process is going to be a lot more detailed this time around, and most people will be required to put down much more than they have in the past. Cash is going to be king. Some of you are going to need it, not only for a down payment but also to pay off your current loan. The better your credit score, the better your rate, so fix that up anyway you can. This is a great article and resource I found on Read it, print it and use it!

#4 On the home front, start TODAY to enrich the appearance of your home. Time to paint over the crayon on the wall, organize the closets, de-clutter (this means toys, too); you know the list that is just getting longer. If you still have a backsplash that looks like a 1980s shower, it needs to go. Don’t over-invest and buy products you want in your “forever” house. Re-do with cost effective, neutral and updated materials. There are plenty out there. Don’t underestimate what you can do on your own without the help of pricey subcontractors.

#5 Curb appeal IS important. Don’t be fooled, this IS a beauty contest. You don’t want people to drive by … you want them to slow down, gawk and hope to see the inside. You will get so much more bang-for-your-buck if you plant landscaping the first week of March and get some serious growing months in, as opposed to any other time of the year. Send the kids to Grandma’s for the weekend and get busy. Your forever home is waiting for you.

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Get Your "Move" On

Get Your "Move" On Many of us bought homes in the past five years (yes, by us I mean me too) that we had no intention of staying in forever. With a growing family, your house is no longer a “home,” but instead has become a holding station until you can afford your “forever” house.  In this market, this five-year home might actually COST you money to sell but your “forever” home is such a great deal now. What to do?

Sell Now! What you have to gain is so much more than what you have to lose. If you are waiting for the market to recover enough for you to make more money you could be losing money in the long run. Let’s say in two years your $200,000 home finally appreciates 15% ($30,000) then, in turn, your $450,000 “forever” home appreciates 15% ($67,500). So, you are waiting to make $30,000 so you can spend $67,500. (Remember taxes, closing costs and rates will go up as well.)

The current low prices combined with today’s low rates are where you will really see the long-term savings. So, if you are looking to sell in the near future … The time is now! For more specifics, my friend and colleague (as well as one of the mortgage good guys) Fred Guitton, Sales Manager for National City Mortgage, breaks down the info in more detail on my website:

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