Merlino & Gonzalez - July 2021

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July 2021




When Freddy and Cinthia came to us, they were already well on their way in the homebuying process — even if they didn’t know it yet. “We were looking for something that worked for a growing family,” Cinthia says. But when you have a process as monumental as buying a home in our region, “looking” is a pretty big step, and the first of many. I’m glad they found our firm and grateful they chose to make us part of such an important milestone in their lives. A couple of years back, we decided to refinance our Staten Island home. Just like buying a new house, you’ll want to make sure you have an attorney lined up early in the process. So, when the time came to move, we got in touch with the same firm we’d used before. They’re the ones who put us in touch with John and his firm, and now that we’ve moved into the new place, we have to say that we could not have been happier.

questions to ask or spotted something we didn’t know to look for.

fall, and we wanted to make sure he was on the right track for him and for our family. That narrowed the search to a few places, and pretty soon, we knew we were looking for a place in New Jersey. A few phone calls later, and we looked at houses in earnest, with John helping us out remotely. Can you imagine buying a house without an attorney present? When we look back, the amount of headache his office saved us is unbelievable, not to mention how often they told us which

They also helped us with our concerns about buying in this market. Our good friends had been actively looking themselves for over a year, and their “wants” list looked very similar to ours, including a New Jersey location. We were lucky enough to score a great realtor

For us, the school district was the No. 1 concern. Our son starts kindergarten this

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they’ve put them on everything, including pizza which they top with tomato sauce, smoked cheese, banana slices, and curry powder.

Here in the U.S., pineapple is considered a wild and controversial pizza topping. Even celebrities take a stand. Justin Bieber is pro-pineapple, but Jimmy Kimmel is against it. According to a 2019 YouGov Omnibus study, only anchovies and eggplant are more hated. But in other parts of the world, the tangy yellow fruit is far from the strangest topping you’ll see! Here are five wacky pizza trends from around the globe that will either make you hungry or inspire you to sprint the other way. You may want to order a comforting cheese pie from your favorite local pizzeria before reading this, just in case. Banana-Curry Pizza (Sweden) — The Swedes first accessed bananas in 1944, and since then,


2. Ketchup and Corn Pizza (Brazil) — According to several sources, Brazilians swap pizza sauce for ketchup or tomato slices and top their pies with strange combinations of local ingredients like corn, beets, hearts of palm, and potato sticks. 3. Haggis Pizza (Scotland) — Pizza may be the only semi-enjoyable way to eat haggis: a mix of sheep or calf offal, oatmeal, suet, and seasonings that are boiled in an animal’s stomach. Last year, Papa John’s got in on the action when it released a limited-edition haggis pizza in honor of a Scottish poet, Robert Burns. 4. Mockba Pizza (Russia) — This local pie comes topped with four kinds of fish (sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon), onions, herbs, and occasionally fish eggs. Most troubling of all, it’s served cold! 5. Chickpea Pancake Pizza (Argentina ) — In Buenos Aires, locals top their super-cheesy pizza slices with fainá — chickpea pancakes cooked separately from the pies and balanced on top of each slice. Keep these pizzas in mind when planning your next international vacation! They might be tastier than they sound, and if not, they’ll still make great Instagram fodder. As actor Cole Sprouse once tweeted, “You’re losing followers because you’re not relatable enough. Try mentioning that you eat pizza. If that doesn’t work, play the ukulele.”


Fun Facts About the Fourth of July


Two future presidents signed the Declaration of Independence: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They both died exactly 50 years later, on July 4, 1826. This fact is an interesting coincidence sure to fascinate both kids and adults. It’s also a great way to introduce kids to some of the Founding Fathers and share how they helped shape the United States today. In 1776, the year the United States was founded, only 2.5 million people lived here. Today, the U.S. population is 331 million. Lots of people have been born in the United States since it was founded, and millions more came here from other places, hoping to find a better life. Many succeeded, too. Many people want to call this country home! On the Fourth of July, around 155 million hot dogs are eaten in the United States. Okay, so this fact might not have anything to do with American history, but it’s still pretty funny! If anything, the fact that we have so many hot dogs to eat on that day is evidence of the prosperity so many people enjoy in the United States of America.

What do your kids know about the Fourth of July? Do they know it’s a day when you have a barbecue, spend time with friends and neighbors, and watch a fireworks show? These hallmarks of the holiday certainly do make it fun and memorable, but they don’t really exemplify why we celebrate the Fourth of July, the anniversary of when the United States declared its independence from Britain. So, along with the sparklers and hot dogs, here are a few fun facts about Independence Day you can share with your kids to help them understand the significance of the holiday. The Fourth of July marks our country’s independence because it’s when the Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence. This fact might seem like a no- brainer, but it contextualizes the holiday for kids. It’s a great jumping-off point to talk about why the United States wanted to be its own country, what the Continental Congress was, what the Declaration of Independence said, and what it means to “ratify” something.


Safe Document Storage 101

At Merlino & Gonzalez, We Know About Keeping Plans Secure Often, the people we work with on a daily basis know what’s going to happen to their property and assets in the future because they’ve planned it out with the experts here at Merlino & Gonzalez, written it down, and made it into a legally binding document. But what about the original? Do better than a desk drawer or shoebox; at the very least, you want somewhere dry with a lock. We recommend a safe (that cannot be easily moved) for home document storage. Don’t worry too much about fireproof models, as they’re expensive and misleadingly labeled. You made backups for a reason.

But what about the future of that document itself — the paper and ink their plan is printed on? Even if your will is destroyed, the act of having worked on one with an attorney can help, but there are no guarantees, so it is best to keep it safe. Step one is backups. We like the “two digital backups and a hard copy” rule. This could be scans of the plan on two computers, a computer and USB drive, or two USB drives. Cloud storage is easy to access, but there are a lot of reasons that can be a problem. Finally, print a third copy to store somewhere offsite, like a bank deposit box. That can be a good place to store one of the digital drives as well.

The last step? Make sure your executor or another trusted person knows how to access each copy of your estate plan. If you don’t, they may not know such a plan exists or may be unable to access it in time (safe deposit boxes require court orders, which can take too long). As estate planning experts, the Merlino & Gonzalez team has given this subject a lot of thought. Give us a call at 718-682-7015 to get the benefit of our experience in this or any other estate planning matter!

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and a really good attorney, and the stars aligned for one house in particular, in a suburban part of New Jersey. The neighbors were great, and so was the seller — and there was an instant connection between that seller and Freddy, as they were both veterans. Freddy’s service also helped when we were looking for a loan, and so did John’s office. He and Michele worked tirelessly on our behalf, mostly answering questions really quickly. At least a few times, we got saved by a “No, don’t do that — you’re going to get taken advantage of” message from one of them! Both of us will continue to commute for now, but we couldn’t be happier with our new place, the school district, the neighbors, or our team. And if you’re looking for a sign to start your own house search, we hope you consider this little letter of ours to be that omen! We promise, the house is out there — you just need to put it out into the universe, “I will get that house,” over and over again until it happens for you. And it doesn’t hurt to have a great attorney on your side. Even if you do buy in New Jersey, which doesn’t technically require a lawyer, we wouldn’t have done it any other way. –Freddy and Cinthia

Inspired by

Impress guests at your next barbecue with this perfectly smoked brisket. Plus, you’ll have plenty of leftovers!


• 1/4 cup chili powder • 1/4 cup garlic powder • 1/4 cup onion powder • 1/4 cup salt • 1/4 cup pepper • 10 lbs brisket

• Wood chips • 1/4 cup paprika • 1/4 cup white sugar • 1/4 cup ground cumin • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper • 1/4 cup brown sugar


1. In a bowl, soak wood chips in water overnight. 2. In a large bowl, mix paprika, white sugar, cumin, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. 3. Rub spice mixture on the brisket and refrigerate for 24 hours. 4. Preheat smoker to 230 F. Drain wood chips and place them in the smoker. 5. Smoke brisket until it has an internal temperature of 165 F. 6. Remove brisket and wrap it in aluminum foil. 7. Smoke brisket further until it reaches an internal temperature of 185 F.



394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314



718-698-2200 |


Freddy and Cinthia on Their Move to Jersey Page 1 5 Wacky Pizza Trends From Around the World Fourth of July Fun Facts to Share With the Kids Page 2

How Do You Safely Store Your Will? The Best Texas-Style Smoked Brisket Page 3

The Miraculous Mountain Cat Page 4

The Meow at 10,000 Feet

were headed down the mountain. The cat

Lost, the cat followed the only sign of civilization it could find: the skiers,

High on the slopes of Bristen, a mountain in the Glarus Alps in central Switzerland, a pair of skiers discovered something unexpected. At 4:30 a.m., the skiers climbed toward the summit of Bristen when they realized they weren’t alone. They were being followed by a cat — not a lynx or a wildcat, but a little mewling house cat. How does a house cat end up on the slopes of a snow-covered, 10,000-foot mountain? This was an answer the skiers wouldn’t get. They weren’t even sure what to do with a cat in general. It’s likely that it simply wandered away from one of the nearby towns or villages near the base of the mountain, but even for a human, that’s a major undertaking.

joined them for what would hopefully be a journey back home. And it was! Remarkably, the cat’s owners were found. They

Cyril and Erik Rohrer. “She started to shiver, and her paws began to bleed from the hard snow,” Cyril noted. “We picked her up and carried her when she was too exhausted to walk uphill anymore. We were definitely confused. I felt really sorry for the cat. She was really exhausted on the ridge underneath the summit.”

revealed that their cat had vanished four days earlier and apparently followed yet another group of hikers up Bristen. “Animals do weird things. And they are way tougher than humans. They’ll never give up. Even though they are hurting really, really bad,” Cyril said of his feline hiking companion. Hopefully, that will be the little feline’s last trip up for some time!

The cat stayed with them for some time before they met up with another group of hikers who 4

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