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“Fall” into spring

The end of the year is nearing and in the blink of an eye the spring real estate market will be here. If you tackle certain issues before the snows hit, you could prevent damage that results in costly repairs or a lower selling price when you’re ready to put your home up for sale. Let’s start on the outside with your siding and gutters. If you’re gutters are clogged, the winter ice and snow can accumulate and damage them. Many people are reluctant to get onto a long ladder and climb up just to check on the status of ...

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The Fed keeps a steady hand

The September meeting of the Federal Reserve Board came and went without a move. The Fed had hoped to raise rates at least four times in 2017, but ended up limiting upward motion to only two quarter-point increases. They chose to stop raising rates when inflation remained below their target range of 2 percent even with low unemployment. In addition to a more dramatic rate increase, the Fed had hoped to start selling some of their $4.5-trillion balance sheet. The balance sheet started below $1 trillion back when the Fed began buying bonds in early 2009. They did this in ...

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A microfilm research roadmap

This has been a summer and fall of big news in genealogy both nationally and in Chicago. In mid-July, the Family History Library decided to end their program of sending microfilm to local family history centers. The decision was made due to technological advancements as well as rising microfilm copying costs. I’m sure most of you know that when you are researching your ancestral towns in Italy, you need to choose which microfilms you need based on which record type you want (birth, marriage, death, allegati, processeti etc.) and which year range you need in order to find your immigrant ...

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The many faces of Thanksgiving

What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving Day? The Thanksgiving celebrations of our youth will yield one answer. And if you’re talking about Thanksgiving today, the answer will be completely different. And what about your favorite Thanksgiving memory? The truth is that our view of Thanksgiving has most likely changed over time as we have been exposed to a variety of celebrations. My family would gather at my parent’s home every Sunday for the family lunch meal. Ma — God knows there’s no way I’d be calling her “Mom,” that was for the American kids — would put ...

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The power of pasta

With red sauce running through my veins and olive oil on my skin, I love as much as any Italian American. And through the years, as I grew my career in music, I brought backstage with me as much of the pasta-and-meatball experience as I could. What started with my grandmother in Chicago’s Little Italy on Taylor Street where I was born has turned into a part of my rock ’n’ roll business model. Sadly I never met my grandparents. My Nonna Sabina came over from Naples in 1911 to start a new life in America. She died two weeks ...

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Be careful how you negotiate!

  Whenever you’re negotiating on a property, be careful to not alienate the other side. Sellers tend to avoid buyers who seem difficult to deal with. And if there are multiple offers on the table, this could easily move your offer to the bottom of the stack. So you’ve found the perfect property and you’re ready to make an offer on it. The old saying, “It never hurts to ask,” doesn’t always apply. For example, you may love the current owner’s living room set and ask the seller to leave it in the property. Even if the seller is planning ...

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The pitfalls of digitized newspaper archives

  Last month we reviewed newspaper resources. If you know the date, for death notices and such, you should find microfilm and go ahead and locate the death notice in the paper. If you are just trolling for any mention of your family name, you will need to use only searchable digitized newspapers. This logic can apply to any newspaper research, whether in Chicago or not. There is no way to go through newspapers nationwide, but let’s find out what is available in Chicagoland. At this writing, we have the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times, plus suburban papers ...

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Due famiglie e la nostra famiglia

I’ve been wanting to write about families for quite a while now, and everything finally came together recently when I took part in a few family events. Family is an important part of recognizing who we are from the perspective of where we came from. The families I’ve been fortunate to spend time with have experienced life in many different ways. Their stories are varied and interesting but the shared common thread of famiglia is all-important to their present day lives, their perspectives on their past and their future as carried forward by their offspring. A generous invitation was extended ...

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Beware of mortgage fraud!

Sadly, there are many types mortgage fraud but the one that I would like to focus on this month is mortgage servicing fraud. What is mortgage servicing fraud? That’s when scammers send out a letter informing borrowers that their mortgages have been sold to another lender. The letter directs the recipients to mail their checks to a different company and address. Most borrowers don’t think anything of it because transfers like that are normal in our industry and they begin making payments to this so-called new lender. The borrowers don’t find out they’ve been scammed until at least a month ...

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Going green without going nuts

Some homeowners are willing to go to great lengths to save the environment, installing costly solar panels to replace traditional sources of electricity. But going green at home doesn’t have to involve spending an arm and a leg. There are many little things that you can do to lend Mother Nature a helping hand, and you can often save money in the bargain. Older refrigerators can use 10 to 50 percent more energy than the energy-efficient models that are available on the market today. Making that simple change could reduce your electrical usage by up to $150 a year. According ...

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