Merlino & Gonzalez August 2019

August 2019





Fun Comes in Many Forms

The days when summer was a time of total freedom may be long gone for most of us, but the season is still cause for celebration. Whether you have three months off for school or just a week’s respite from work, you definitely want to make the most of the sunniest days of the year. Everyone enjoys the summertime in their own way, so I want to share some of my personal favorites. Without further ado, here are the sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences that say “summer” to me. FOOD Cooking outdoors and sharing food with loved ones are about as definitive as summer experiences come. We love to invite some folks over, fire up the grill, and eat all day long. When it comes to having a barbecue, we prefer a marathon affair. Usually, we start with burgers and dogs and move onto heartier fare like skirt steak and grilled chicken, with plenty of grilled veggies on the side. On really hot days, we like to serve something cold as a little intermezzo or palate cleanser. Ralph’s Famous Italian Ice, an iconic local treat, works perfectly. SPORTS AND GAMES Summer is peak baseball season, which means there’s plenty to talk about for our divided household. Our family is mainly Yankees fans, including yours truly, but my father-in-law bleeds blue and orange. This year, it’s pretty clear who’s enjoying the season more — no offense, Mets fans. More fun than watching the pros, though, is playing some games for yourself. Ladder ball and bocce are particular favorites. These games are great because people of all ages can play them. In our family, my in-laws, who dub themselves “Team Medicare,” enjoy nothing more than whipping the younger folks at bocce. Even my dad, who’s well into his 90s, can still play well.

MUSIC What’s a great summer party without a killer soundtrack? When you bring together a large group of people, you have to account for different tastes. Luckily, every genre of music has an extensive catalog of songs about the season. We like to move all over the map and from past to present to make sure there’s something for everyone. One minute you’ll be hearing “Summer Wind” by Sinatra, and the next, it’s the latest music from Drake. Crafting a playlist with your family can be a fun activity in and of itself. TRAVEL Sometimes, you just have to get away during the summer. Whether you prefer the Poconos, the Adirondacks, or the Jersey Shore, you don’t have to travel far to feel like you’re in another world entirely. Voyaging farther afield can be just as amazing, but even a short weekend trip can make you feel like a kid again, recalling the days when summer meant one long, uninterrupted vacation. I hope you have a chance to enjoy the summer in the ways that appeal to you. The days are already beginning to get shorter, so the clock is ticking. Here’s to celebrating summer while it’s still here!



YOU’RE GETTING VERY SLEEPY ... Establishing a Bedtime Routine for the School Year

it back to 9:30 p.m. one week later. Slowly work your way back to an appropriate time, and bedtime will be easier when school starts.

Between vacations, bonfires, and sporting tournaments, your children’s sleep schedule probably went on break when they did this summer. With school fast approaching, it’s vital to get your kids back on a proper sleep schedule. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, getting enough sleep can significantly improve a child’s growth and cognitive function. But getting a restful night’s sleep is easier said than done when kids have had almost complete freedom for three months. Try these tips to get your kids snoozing through August and prepared for school. START EARLY AND GO SLOWLY When practicing this tip, think of the old adage: “It takes 21 days to break a habit.” If your kids have been going to bed late this summer, set a time when they must go to bed, but don’t make it too far off the time they have been regularly hitting the hay. If they shuffle off to bed around 10 p.m., push their bedtime to 9:45 p.m., and then push

MAKE IT EASY Though the days may be getting shorter, it’s still relatively light out at night, making it nearly impossible for your kids to doze off when they should. Sleep experts recommend creating a sleeping space that mimics a cave: dark, cool, and quiet. This means sunlight shouldn’t sneak into the room, and the home should be a quiet zone after bedtime. No one wants to sleep while everyone else is having fun, so it’s important that everyone in the home is quiet at bedtime. JUST RELAX This is a rule your family should follow year-round, not just when you want to reestablish a routine. At a certain time each night, begin the nightly wind-down. For example, at 8 p.m. shut off your screens, put on pajamas, and engage in a relaxing activity, like reading a book or doing some yoga. Signaling to your body and your family that it’s time for bed will help your kiddos, and you, fall asleep at an appropriate time.

THE ART OF STARGAZING Helping Humans Slow Down and Look Up

Modern humans are stuck in a routine of expected and constant industriousness. But with all this rushing, people often drag themselves home at night with no energy left to enjoy the most splendid show nature has to offer: the wondrous night sky. Most people go through life looking straight ahead, but if they would stop and peer skyward, they’d bear witness to a massive, unexplored frontier made up of the moon in all its phases, burning stars sailing through the sky, constellations with epic origin stories, and meteor showers bright enough to warrant sunglasses. If you’re looking for a hobby to help you slow down and appreciate the world around you, stargazing is a great option. Here are some tips to get you started. 1. THE HIGHER, THE BETTER If you’re a city dweller, meander a little way out of town or try to find a tall building to keep the light pollution to a minimum. 2. EXTRA SET OF EYES While novice stargazers often want to immediately throw their money at a new telescope, astronomy experts recommend starting with binoculars instead. You’ll need to identify several anchor planets or constellations to help you navigate the sky before using a telescope.

3. UTILIZE ASSETS Put your phone to good use by downloading apps like Stellarium, Starwalk, and Google Sky Map. Each of these apps offers a unique benefit for aspiring stargazers. For example, Starwalk lets you point your phone at the sky to see stars, constellations, and planets in real time based on your location. 4. MARK YOUR CALENDAR In 1972, beloved singer-songwriter John Denver wrote about a meteor shower he witnessed during a camping trip in Colorado. He describes the scene by singing, “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.” The “fire” he recounted was actually the Perseids meteor shower, the most recognized shower on Earth. This astrological wonder takes place every year from July 17 to Aug. 24. During this time, viewers should be able to see shooting stars associated with the Perseids, but the shower reaches its maximum rate of activity on Aug. 12–13 this year. Grab some friends and family, and head outdoors to put your newfound stargazing knowledge to work.



is a fact of life for homeowners. Your down payment and mortgage are the starting point for your budget calculations, not the end of it. Owning a home doesn’t come with financial costs alone. Homeownership affects a person’s lifestyle. If you rent an apartment and the toilet backs up, you call your landlord and it’s taken care of. A homeowner, on the other hand, has to schedule a consultation with a plumber, get a quote, stay home from work to let them in, etc. Owning a home is desirable for many reasons, but it is not without its drawbacks. The earlier you understand the full picture of homeownership, the better you can select a home that’s right for you. It also helps to work with a team of professionals who can advise you on your options rather than urging you to buy the most expensive property possible. Merlino & Gonzalez is here to help with the legal aspects of your real estate transactions. Call our office today to find out how we can help you secure a home you’ll love to live in, not just one you’ll love to buy.


When people are considering buying a home, they tend to analyze price through the lens of the down payment and monthly mortgage. Because these are the biggest costs associated with real estate, it’s not hard to see why many people adopt this near-sighted approach. However, owning a home comes with other costs you will need to budget for. According to Zillow, the average American homeowner spends about $9,400 in additional costs, including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. Given that this number is usually higher in desirable markets like New York and New Jersey, it’s important to factor in these auxiliary costs before you begin home shopping. A common mistake first-time homebuyers make is creating their budget based on their expected down payment and mortgage payments. If you fail to account for hidden costs, you leave yourself no wiggle room to pay for a repair if, say, the roof starts leaking. Regular maintenance


take a break


• 2 medium ears of corn, shucked • 1 jalapeño or Fresno chile, seeded and thinly sliced • 1/2 red onion, diced • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped • 1/4 bunch cilantro leaves, sliced

• Juice of 1 lime • Kosher salt, to taste


1. Heat a cast-iron skillet to high. Char corn, turning occasionally, for 10–14 minutes until kernels begin to blacken in spots. 2. Using a sharp knife, remove corn kernels from cobs and transfer to a large mixing bowl. 3. With a wooden spoon or potato masher, gently crush corn to release starch and juices. 4. Add jalapeño, onion, tomato, and cilantro. Mix to combine.

5. Top with lime juice and season with salt. 6. Serve alongside your favorite tortilla chips.

718-698-2200 3

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Ken’s Picks for Summer Get Your Kids Back on a Sleep Schedule The Art of Stargazing Added Costs for Homeowners Roasted Corn Salsa Not Your Average Vacation Lodgings



When Airbnb was founded a little over a decade ago, the developers hoped to provide an alternative to traditional travel accommodations. Today, with annual revenue in the billions, the service is an industry unto itself. While most people use Airbnb to “live like a local” while traveling, you can find some truly wacky lodging options if you spend some time searching the platform. Here are just a few of the many contenders for the title of “Weirdest Airbnb in the U.S.” For ease of searching, the listings here have the same titles as they do on Airbnb.

Airbnb super hosts Dan and Deborah have no shortage of quirky properties for rent — including yurts and treehouses — but their apartment fashioned out of an airplane hangar surely takes the cake. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a theme restaurant featuring eclectic aviation. Memorabilia lines the walls with a bar front and center, and the bed is in a loft high above the ground.



Earthships, houses run by clean energy and featuring reused materials, are a fixture of the Taos area. This one, which looks almost like a crashing wave with a living space in its undertow, combines the rustic charm of truly getting away from it all with modern amenities like Wi-Fi and in- home laundry. It’s a truly unique living space surrounded by pristine nature and not far from the historic Taos Pueblo.

As you approach the Dog Bark Park Inn, you won’t have to guess if you’re in the right place. After all, how many buildings are shaped like beagles? When describing the space on Airbnb, the hosts make no bones about who this rental is aimed for. “Stay in a giant dog!” they say. In addition to being inside a massive wooden dog, you’ll find canine-themed games, books, and more. Talk about ruffing it. 4

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