fa la la la la shopping season has arrived

ornaments2
ornaments

 It is Friday and Fridays are for fun and I actually have a Black Friday strategy.  I stay home and let everyone else shop.  It is a simple strategy that has served me well for many years.   I like to watch the morning news and see shoppers being interviewed and listen to retailers talk about all of the amazing bargains. 

Real estate can be purchased on Black Friday and most of the other 364 days of the year. If you need help purchasing or selling a home today give me a call. I won’t make you wait in line or even make you go through an automated voice mail system.  I’ll just help you any way that I can.

Black Friday isn’t what it used to be now that it starts on Thanksgiving which is always on a Thursday and never on a Friday.  My guess is eventually black Friday will start the day after Halloween, or in mid-October when the holiday decorations start showing up in stores.

Please shop safely this holiday season and if you do not shop on Black Friday there is always small business Saturday and Cyber Monday and Christmas Eve sales.

Something to be thankful for

turkey
Wild turkey

I have a lot to be thankful for. Right now I am especially thankful for the fact that I don’t have to go out and catch a turkey and get it ready for the oven.  I find turkeys in the woods and along the bike paths in Lilydale regional park. They can run pretty fast and they look big and mean. Sometimes they hang out in gangs and block the bike path.

If you are preparing your first Thanksgiving turkey this year, don’t worry. Turkeys are easy to roast, and yes I know they can be deep fried but I like roasted turkey. Just remember to calculate cooking time based on the weight of the turkey and a low temperature, like 325. Cook the bird until the meat thermometer reads 165.

One member of my family has celiacs disease and another has food allergies. I am happy to report that turkeys are naturally gluten-free and don’t seem to trigger allergic reactions. I am thankful for that too.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Sometimes less is more

Alexander Ramsey House
Alexander Ramsey House

Back in the 1870’s the Ramsey house probably only had one wreath on the door during the holidays. I like the simple decorations and they are all cordless.  The inside of the is decorated for the holidays too and there are tours and holiday events Throughout the holidays and even on Black Friday.

Alexander Ramsey was the first Governor of the Territory in 1849 and the only person from the Whig party to govern. He was appointed by the 12th president of the United States, Zachary Taylor.

Shipping season on the Mississippi River

Barges
Barges on the Mississippi River

Barges on the river near downtown. The buildings in the background are in downtown St. Paul. You can take a picture like this from the MRT bike trail in between Warner Road and the river.

There are no ice cutters on the river. The shipping season starts each year when the barges can get through the ice. The river near St. Paul does not freeze solid but can ice over on the surface. There isn’t any ice yet.

The Mississippi is a wonderful natural resource but it is also an important shipping corridor. The shipping industry provides jobs too. Those barges need to be loaded and unloaded and the tugboats and towboats that push the barges need pilots and crews.

Barges are fun to photograph because they often have rust on them.

Bike path in downtown St. Paul

bike path
Bikeway running north and south along Jackson street as viewed from the skyway

I have used the new bike path in downtown St. Paul a couple of times, it is a joy to ride.  It is part of the Capital City Bikeway. The design is beautiful and it is safer than the street. I can’t wait until there are some East/West bike paths.

The bike lane along Jackson will connect to the Gateway Trail which goes all the way out to Stillwater. According to Visit Saint Paul  St. Paul is not only bike friendly but one of the most bike-friendly cities.

I am often asked about biking by people who are moving into the area or who are choosing a neighborhood to buy a house in.

There is a lot of biking going on in the downtown area, even though it is still a dangerous place to ride.  I think my inner thrill seeker makes me do it. 🙂

Proposed Property tax statements

Our proposed property tax statement came in the mail on Friday. This year the proposed increase is 16.1%! OUCH! every taxing authority is asking for more money.

The city of Saint Paul has been getting extra payments from us each year for “street maintenance”.  Now that fee will be collected with property taxes. That makes the taxes a bit more transparent but when added to all of the other tax increases the bill gets pretty high.

Home values went up. The valuations statements come out in March and homeowners have a chance to contest them. Good luck with that. On average St. Paul home values went up by almost 6% and in some neighborhoods property values went up by almost twice that much.

If you have not gotten your property tax statement yet, take a few deep breaths before you open the envelope. Perhaps an adult beverage is in order. If you property taxes are rolled into your mortgage with the payments spread out of twelve months you may notice the increase as much.

If you want to know more about Ramsey County and the budget, read about it on the property tax website.

As for federal taxes, it is complicated which is what will make it easy for our leaders to proclaim “huge tax cut” while raising our taxes.

So far our federal tax system has a done a great job rewarding the wealthy.

Rice Park
Rice Park – city park, downtown St. Paul