Merlino & Gonzalez - January 2024

Take a look at our January newsletter!




Anything for Family! How Mario and Loretta Made the Big Move

I could not have asked for a nicer couple than Mario and Loretta. This couple needed our help selling their beloved family home in Staten Island, and we were there for them every step of the way. Although they lived in that home for decades, the two grandparents needed to be closer to their family, so we helped make this transition as smooth as possible.

and summer break, we knew we’d be able to give a helping hand if we lived closer. We couldn’t be happier to be near our family, and the boys absolutely love the swimming pool at our 55+ community. Living here is also much easier for us since we no longer have to worry about shoveling snow. Not knowing a thing about real estate law, we were unsure what to expect. Fortunately, the Merlino & Gonzalez team made us feel comfortable. Even the office itself was warm and inviting, and the staff was beyond friendly. When we finally met Mr. Gonzalez, he took the time to go through every page of paperwork, explain every detail, and answer every question we had about the legal requirements of selling our home. As far as we can tell, this has been the best decision for us, and we’re so grateful to have had the support and guidance we did. Moving is a big deal! But Mr. Gonzalez made the entire process from beginning to end absolutely seamless. We honestly just can’t recommend Merlino & Gonzalez enough! Anytime we called, they would return our call ASAP. Every outstanding bill and tiny detail was taken care of, so there were never any loose ends or concerns for us to shoulder. When you know your exact next step, the process becomes so much easier. We truly loved our home, and this team made the experience of selling our property pleasant and pain-free. We really couldn’t ask for more!

–Kenneth A. Gonzalez, Esq.

We needed to sell our home, but we certainly weren’t house flippers who knew the ins and outs of buying and selling a home. When it was time to sell our family home, our real estate agent, Kristen, recommended we hire a real estate attorney. Of course, we didn’t have a clue where to start, so we went with whomever she recommended, which turned out to be Merlino & Gonzalez. What an incredible recommendation that was. We had been living in our Staten Island home for more than 40 years, so we had no experience in selling property. While we didn’t know the process, it was just another day at the office for the Merlino & Gonzalez team. Mr. Gonzalez helped us transition from our large family home where we raised our children to our new community living complex in New Jersey. Our daughter is married with children, and before our move, we would have to commute to New Jersey a few times a week. That’s 30–40 minutes each way, and if it’s summer, that trip can take hours. We knew it was time to move. Now, we don’t even have to get on the highway!

-Mario and Loretta

We have three grandsons, so you can already imagine why our daughter needed our help. With three rambunctious boys and school holidays



Beyond the Ball Drop How Different Cultures Celebrate the New Year

The New Year is a time for celebration, reflection, and new beginnings. While many of us are familiar with the ball drop in Times Square or the clinking of champagne glasses at midnight, exploring how different countries and cultures ring in the New Year is fascinating. Let’s journey outside the United States to discover a few unique New Year’s traditions from around the world. Spain: Eating 12 Grapes at Midnight As the clock strikes midnight in Spain, people eat 12 grapes — one for each clock chime. This tradition brings good luck and prosperity for the coming year. The grapes are usually eaten in public squares and plazas where crowds gather to celebrate. It’s a race against time to eat all 12 grapes before the last chime, as failing can bring in bad luck. Japan: Joya-no-Kane (Bell Ringing) The Japanese celebrate Joya-no-Kane, where temple bells ring 108 times: 107 times on Dec. 31, and then the 108th ring at midnight on the New Year, bridging the old and new year. This practice is rooted in Buddhist beliefs and is thought to cleanse the 108 worldly desires that cause human suffering.

Denmark: Breaking Plates The Danish have a unique way of showing affection to their friends and family. On New Year’s Eve, it’s customary to break plates and dishes against the doors of loved ones. The more broken pieces you find at your doorstep, the more popular and loved you are. Brazil: Offerings to Iemanjá In Brazil, particularly in coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro, people make offerings to Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea, on New Year’s Eve. They gather at the beach dressed in white and send small boats filled with flowers, candles, and gifts into the ocean as offerings. Scotland: First-Footing In Scotland, the first person to enter a home after midnight is called the “first-footer” and will bring good luck for the year. Traditionally, the first- footer should be a tall, dark-haired male who brings gifts like coal, bread, and whisky to symbolize warmth, luck, and good cheer.

Let’s be honest: Cooking every day can be a hassle, especially for busy people or those who simply want to spend time doing something else. That’s where meal prepping can become a valuable tool to save time and money while ensuring you have something healthy to eat.

throw all of your ingredients in at once, then set it and forget it. You can make a lot of food with little effort and divide the leftovers to eat later.

Get creative with catering.

Many restaurants offer a catering menu where you can order large amounts of pre-cooked food. While you have to check prices, some restaurants like Chipotle offer large

Thankfully, you can find many ways to make meal prep fast and easy while keeping things exciting for your taste buds. Let’s look at four ways to level up your meal prep game. Use frozen veggies. Frozen vegetables are a lifesaver for quick and nutritious meal prep. These veggies are usually flash-frozen at peak ripeness, so they retain most of their nutrients. They can be thrown directly into stir-fries, casseroles, or soups without chopping or pre-cooking. This reduces prep and cooking time, making it easier to maintain a healthy diet. Moreover, you can freeze vegetables for up to 8–12 months, so you can always keep a variety on hand whenever you need them.

Dish Out Meal Prep With a Few Easy Tricks

quantities of food at a reasonable cost. Even if it is a little more expensive than the grocery store, saving that extra time might be worth it.

Use condiments to enhance flavor.

Utilizing condiments wisely can elevate your meals from bland to grand without adding much cook time. Make a batch of versatile sauces

or dressings during your meal prep sessions. For example, you can use a good vinaigrette as a salad dressing, a marinade for meat, or a dip for veggies. By premaking these, you can instantly add flavor to your dishes. Premeasure the amounts to accompany each meal for better portion control. This way, you save time

The slow cooker is your friend. The internet has innumerable simple, one-pot recipes you can make in a slow cooker. The best thing about a slow cooker is that you

and watch your calorie intake.


Before You Sign, Ask These 3 Questions

Essential Questions for Your Commercial Lease Attorney

As a business owner, you already have plenty on your plate, and using a microscope to understand the full details of your commercial lease agreement might not be feasible. You need a real estate attorney to help you fully understand your contract. Before you seal the deal, there are three questions you need to ask your lawyer to make sure you’re protected later on. What are all of the costs I might encounter? The rental fee may not be the only expense involved. When you ask your attorney about the contract’s complete list of payments, you may learn that you’re also responsible for CAM fees, maintenance costs, and a personal guarantee. When you know these fees, you can negotiate for more reasonable terms. CAM fees, also known as commercial area maintenance, cover any operating and maintenance costs of the property’s common areas. This might include hallways, stairwells, elevators, and parking lots or structures. Standard maintenance fees might also be their own expense included in your contract. Maintenance fees may include repairing roofing, walls, and shared systems like plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.

Meanwhile, a personal guarantee is an agreement that you will be personally responsible for paying your rent if your business cannot afford it. If your commercial lease agreement includes this, you can negotiate for limitations and the period you’re liable for. What terms and stipulations should I include? If you can maintain your side of the contract, you must ensure that your landlord will, too. Your attorney can help you create terms and stipulations to keep your landlord accountable, as this isn’t an unsaid guarantee. Are the permitted uses appropriate for my needs? While you might think your business can operate on this property, your agreement might state otherwise. Be sure to have your attorney explain the details of the allowed uses and if your business complies. If not, you can negotiate terms or take your business elsewhere. When you work with a qualified real estate attorney, you have the best opportunity to fully understand the costs involved and negotiate for terms that meet your needs and preferences. Call 718-698-2200 so our experienced team can find the right lawyer for you.






• 1 medium bell pepper, any color • 2–3 tbsp cream cheese • 1 tsp whole-grain mustard • 2 oz ham (or other deli meat), thinly sliced • 1 1/2 oz Swiss cheese, thinly sliced • 1/2 small cucumber, cut into 6–8 thin slices • 2 tbsp guacamole or a few slices of avocado • Dash of salt and pepper

1. On a cutting board, remove the stem of the bell pepper with a sharp knife. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds. 2. Lay the pepper halves on the cutting board and spread cream cheese inside each half. Spread whole-grain mustard on top of the cream cheese.

3. Layer your deli meat, cheese,

cucumbers, and guacamole on each bell pepper half. Add a dash of salt and pepper, then combine both halves and serve!



394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314




Couple Sells Home With Complete Confidence Page 1

Unique New Year’s Traditions Around the World

From Fridge to Table: Meal Prep Made Easy Page 2

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Commercial Lease Agreement

Bell Pepper Sandwich Page 3

Start the Year Right at These Local Events! Page 4

Experience Winter Fun for the Whole Family! New Jersey’s Family-Friendly Delights

January brings not only the promise of a new year but also a chance to create lasting memories with your family. Fortunately, Staten Island and New Jersey are bustling with events that cater to all ages, ensuring a month filled with joy and entertainment for everyone. Fire & Ice Festival Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For a thrilling winter experience, head to the New Jersey Fire & Ice Festival. This event, held in Mount Holly, combines fire performances with dazzling ice sculptures. Families can witness the mesmerizing contrast of heat and cold, providing a unique and unforgettable experience. There will also be plenty to eat at their chili cook-off! New Jersey Children’s Museum: Imagine That! Ongoing Admission: $21 for kids 1–10; $6 for 11+ For families with young children, the New Jersey Children’s Museum

presents Imagine That, a series of interactive exhibits designed to stimulate creativity and imagination. From art stations to hands-on experiments, this event encourages youngsters to explore, create, and learn through play in a safe and engaging environment.

Skating on the Square Through Feb. 25, 2024 Admission: $10 cash/ $12 plus fees with credit card

Experience the joy of winter skating at Skating on the Square in New Jersey. Lace up your skates and glide across the ice in a festive outdoor setting. Perfect for families, this activity combines fun and exercise for all skill levels. Enjoy the crisp winter air as you make cherished memories on the ice. These events provide opportunities to bond, explore, and celebrate the joy of being together. Whether you’re fascinated by interactive displays, eager to unleash your creativity, ready for a dazzling ice sculpture show, or excited to skate in a winter wonderland, New Jersey offers a plethora of family-friendly options to kick off the year with excitement. 4

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