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5 Awesome Date Ideas in Princeton

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5 Awesome Date Ideas in Princeton

Princeton is one of my favorite places in Mercer County and in New Jersey as a whole.  It’s a dynamic town, with more awesome things to do and try than you probably know.  And let’s face it, Princeton is one of the best places in New Jersey to take a date.  But, as fun as it is to just “walk around Princeton” you might be wondering if there are some specific things you can do to make it look like you’ve put a lot of thought into your planning.  Well, here are five complete date ideas to impress your crush, special someone, grandma, client or if you’re just looking to “treat-yo-self.” 

1.        Free lecture, Cross Culture/ Aurelios

We start off with one of my absolute favorite things to do in Princeton: attend a free lecture or event at the University.  The University frequently invites scholars, writers, journalists, researchers, psychologists and their ilk to give lectures and presentations on a range of topics.  One of my fields of study at Rutgers where I went to school was philosophy.  The philosophy department at Princeton is extremely active and generally has guest speakers every single week of the academic year.  There are a few other reasons these lectures are great, besides their inherent value of providing stimulation at an intellectual and emotional level. 


Just just about every Princeton lecture is followed up with free wine, cheeses, juice, snacks, etc so you can mingle with other lecture goers, students and professors. 


Stick around for this extra and you’ll feel quite fancy and part of something very special.  Just remember to dress the part (elbow padded blazers are a plus).  The other reason these lectures and events are great is that they are completely free to the public, all the way down to the fancy wine and cheese. Here's a complete calendar of lectures and events open to the public at Princeton University: Princeton University Calendar

After you’ve wrestled with the metaphysical and social justice dilemmas of our time you may have found that you’ve worked up a hunger.  Take a short drive over to Cross Culture, an authentic Indian restaurant that will transport your mind and body with its exotic flavors.  If Indian isn’t your thing, I highly recommend Aurelio’s Cocina Latina.  My favorite cuisine is Mexican, and I can tell you that Aurelio’s is a stand-out,authentic Mexican restaurant.  It’s a few minutes away from the hustle of Nassau Street but well worth wandering from the usual path.  Try the El Pastor Tacos.

2.        Afternoon picnic at Princeton Battlefield & Dancing

There are so many great restaurants in Princeton and I could name drop all day long, but one option worth considering is to forego the restaurants altogether.  Princeton Battleground is just a few minutes from Nassau Street and is a stunning open space to have a picnic.  It almost looks like something out of Downton Abbey.  So, grab your paPAH, your finest linen suit and your most charming under-butler for an old fashioned picnic on a beautiful day.  If you’re wondering what to bring to the picnic, you can also grab a delightful sandwich to go from Olive’s before plopping down.  

The next part of your date will find you at one of Princeton’s best kept secrets: dancing.  And I’m not talking about hitting up a club. 


Have you ever wanted to learn to Tango?  Or swing dance like they do in Hellsapoppin?  How about learn to salsa? 


Well, you can stop wishing because the awesome secret of Princeton that people don’t know to take advantage of is their high quality and very affordably priced dance lessons at the University.  I’ve done ballroom, latin and swing dancing since I was a wee lad, and going to the University for some dancing is one of the best parts of my weekly routine.  Here are the links for each club, all of which are open to the public and welcoming of newbies: Princeton Swing Club, Princeton Tango Club, and Princeton Salsa Club.   Swing Club is free for all, Tango Club costs $10 per lesson, and Salsa Club costs $15 for the whole night.  All of these clubs offer beginner and intermediate level lessons and have open dancing afterward.  This can be a great activity for a night out with friends or family, and an especially fun date night with your special someone.  If you find yourself at one of these clubs and recognize me please say hi!

Most of the clubs meet on Prospect Street which is quite close to our last stop of the night.  We’ll top off the night by sitting at the fountain next to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  The famous zodiac heads line a beautiful fountain, illuminated by the tungsten light reflecting off the water.  It’ll be a beautiful place to catch your breath and talk about your fun day out! 

3.       PU Art Museum, House of Cupcakes, Triumph

This next one is a fantastic way to spend a romantic evening with someone special.  Our first stop is the Princeton University Art Museum.   Though a night at the museum is great for all couples, this is an especially nice date for early in a relationship.  You’ll never run out of things to talk about since you’re constantly interpreting and judging artwork together.  It’s also a nice change of pace to be walking around together rather than sitting and staring across the table at them like most traditional dinner/ drink dates.  Plus, admission is completely free!

A short stroll from the museum, your next stop is to enjoy a delicious treat at Cupcake Wars Winner, House of Cupcakes


You’ll be blown away by the bombast of their baking-ballsiness. 


Don’t forget to use the trick my dad taught me when I was a kid: ask your date if you think their cupcake smells weird.  When they go to take a sniff, run out of the restaurant and leave them with the bill. Just kidding.  Just get a little icing on their nose. It’s cute and your date will laugh.  Or they’ll dump you on the spot.  But probably they’ll just laugh. 

If your date is still with you, top off the night with a frosty brew from the micro brewery, Triumph, just a few minutes’ walk from House of Cupcakes.  You can get a plethora of craft brews at this hipster-hub-O’-hops.       

4.       McCarter Theater and Mediterra

Your next date in Princeton will start with a show at McCarter Theater.  It’s a great spot to watch a performance that interests you, your family or your significant other.  Shows are an especially great date idea because when you hang out after you can mutually revel and discuss how much you liked or disliked what you saw.  Whether you liked the show or not, it’s a win—win since it’s engaging conversation either way!  But where should you go to talk about the performance?  Well I have the perfect place for you.

You’ll be taking your date to Mediterra.  Mediterra is swanky, and the prices reflect that.  However, since I’m a cost-friendly blogger, my recommendation is to go during happy-hour which is Monday through Thursday, 4:30-6:30 and 9:00-11:00.  Let me just say, that Mediterra’s happy-hour is no normal happy hour.  They should rename it “very happy-hour” because it really is a cut above the rest.  This window-O’-bliss gets you $2 tapas (bites of heaven).  Check out the tapas menu here to get an idea of the luxury about to adorn your taste buds. The wine selection is delightful as well and is subject to a generous discount.  You’ll feel like a Queen (as I’ve vocalized to my friends when we are there) as you dine on their latest and greatest culinary concoctions.

5.       Terhune Orchards

Our last Princeton date is one that is a little different but just as enjoyable as the others.  This one has rustic charm and character.  Terhune Orchards is beautiful little farm where you can pick your own apples.  After you pick apples with the apple of your eye (make sure to drop that line while you're there,) take a walk over to the barnyard where you can pet and feed goats, ponies and chickens.  I’m an animal lover so seeing the goats is probably the coolest thing about this date to me.  But wait! There’s more.  Sometimes (you’ll have to check the calendar,) Terhune has Sangria tastings that you will definitely want to attend. 


Sangria? Goats? Nature?  Good company?  You’ll remember this day the rest of your life. 


Your last stop will be the bakery where you’ll purchase some apple cider and apple cider donuts.  You can eat these delicious treats right there on the farm, or eat them amid a setting sun at the Princeton Battlefield or even Nassau Street.  The limits are endless when you have a delicious donut in your hand. 


I hope you enjoyed this article on cool date ideas in the lovely town of Princeton.   

My name is Brandon Rasmussen and I’m a Realtor.  If you are thinking of buying, selling, or renting a home I can make it simple and stress-free.  Give me a call or text at 609-651-5167.  Or shoot me an email at brandon@rasmussenhomesnj.com.


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5 Benefits to Staging Your House

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5 Benefits to Staging Your House

Glamour shots for your house?

5 reasons to stage your home in the Robbinsville and Princeton area.

 

1.       You get what you give

When selling a home, everyone wants to maximize the value they get out of their transaction. So when your Realtor tells you to start spending money to prepare the home for sale, it seems counter-intuitive.  However, I’m here to tell you that spending a little bit of cash to properly market your property will give you exceptional return on your investment.  


In fact, when sellers spend an average of 1% of the value of their home on staging, they see an average 1000% return on investment. Not only will they statistically sell for a higher price, but staged homes sell 72% faster when compared to unstaged homes.  


And If you are selling your home in a desirable locale such as Robbinsville or Princeton, the most important piece of the puzzle is already in place: location.  Now all you have to do is be smart about how you appeal to buyers.  Staging is an essential part of this marketing process.

 

2.       Your house is a pair of jeans:

Buyers are “trying on” your home.  When a home is properly staged, buyers can more clearly visualize and imagine themselves living there.  Staging is like getting glamour shots at the mall.  Yeah, you look pretty amazing with a righteous perm and a feather boa , but you probably don’t look like that on a regular basis.  Nevertheless, glamour shots are a fun way to say, “hey check out how great I can look when I’m all done up.”  In the same light, staging provides the buyer with that same done-up look to help them visualize the maximum potential your home has to offer.  The buyer knows that once they put their own stuff in it will look differently, but always remember that you are selling your home on an emotional level.

 

3.       “Hold on let me fix my hair.”

Do you take selfies before rolling out of bed in the morning?  Probably not.  People generally want to look good for photos. So before you post those photos of your house, think to yourself, “hold on let me fix my hair,” and give your house a facelift that is going to maximize its appeal. Using 21st century internet marketing can help you reach a wider audience, but if the photos and video are unappealing then what’s the point?  Staging and professional photography solves this problem and maximizes the effectiveness of your marketing.   

 

4.       Selling your house is a competition.

Here’s a scary thought for you:  If you want your home to sell, you have to be smarter than the competition.  It helps to have the best home in the neighborhood for an awesome price, but even if you’re not the best in your neighborhood, there are things you can do to give yourself better odds.  View your listing as a competition.  Like the old saying goes, "hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard."  Don’t be the only home on a buyer’s prospect list that isn’t staged properly.  Buyers out there are looking at a variety of homes.  If they’re interested in your home along with three others, and yours is the only one that isn’t staged, which one will they eliminate first?   

 

5.       Speak the buyer's language and woo them.

Buyers are emotional.  Sure, they may look at objective items such as how new the A/C unit is, or the cost of property tax, the school system and so on, but understand that buyers are going to buy the home that they “love.”  So speak their love-language.  Treat your home like you’re going on a first date.  Get clean.  Put on your best outfit and make sure the house smells nice.  Appeal to buyers’ emotions.  Staging does this at an almost scientific level.  Now that you know that staging is an essential part of selling your home, check out my article on some free, highly effective staging you can do yourself, here.

 


I hope you enjoyed this article on why you should stage your home!  Please share it with your friends and family.

My name is Brandon Rasmussen and I’m a Realtor.  If you are thinking of buying, selling, or renting a home I can make it simple and stress-free.  Give me a call or text at 609-651-5167.  Or shoot me an email at brandon@rasmussenhomesnj.com.



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6 Tips for Staging Your Home

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6 Tips for Staging Your Home

Six essential staging tips for selling your home

This is a 5 minute read, listing a few simple things you can do to stage your home for maximum buyer interest.

 

1.       De-personalize your home.

I have a funny story about this one.  A few years ago, back before I knew anything about interior design, I asked my mom and sister to decorate some of my first apartment.  One of the things they put up was a stick-on phrase in my bathroom wall: “relax, refresh and renew.”  Being a 24 year old bachelor, I found it especially fitting (sarcasm.)  Every time I stepped into my bathroom I felt emasculated by the domineering cursive commands commandeering my wall (how’s that alliteration?).  In selling your home, you want to avoid any words on walls.  A common one is to put up words like “love” or “family,” or “live, laugh, love,” etc.  While these commands are universally appealing in a sense, they are a problem in a few ways

No one likes being told what to do.  I don’t walk up to a girl I like and yell “love me.”  People like feeling love, but a giant bold command on the living room wall instructing you to do so is off-putting to prospective buyers.


When people shop for homes, it’s like trying on a pair of jeans at a clothing store. 


The jeans have to be nice, but what’s more important is that you feel good about yourself wearing them.  They might arguably be the best jeans money can buy, but if they don’t fit why would you buy them?   Same thing goes for buying a home.  The person has to be able envision living in the home.  It may be hard for the young newly-weds to imagine starting their own family in your house when you have pictures of your own kids hanging on the wall with the words “live laugh love” underneath.  It’s just too personal.  It’d be like if you were trying on a pair of jeans and someone came up and was like “Oh I just tried those on.  I think they looked nicer on me.”  A little off-putting, even if you liked those jeans.

 

2.       They just hate us 'cause they paint us.

If you decide to repaint, use a neutral color!  You might be thinking, “do I need to repaint?”  Well good sir, if you have to ask then you probably should.  Your 5th grade son might love the Spongebob-yellow walls in his bedroom.  But maybe the perspective buyer doesn’t have kids and was planning to turn an extra bedroom into an office.  It’ll probably be hard to picture for that buyer if all they can think of when looking at that room is “who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”  Also, even if the color isn’t obnoxious like that example, consider going neutral over your currently colored walls.  You may love baby blue, but I know there are many young buyers that equate baby blue designs of the 80s.  Maybe the red on your walls isn’t going to appeal to the perspective buyer that is a former matador with PTSD.  A fresh coat of a soft earthy gray, or greige (gray + beige) will go very far in making your home palatable to the masses, and allow their imagination to work with what is in front of them.  I sound dreary, but avoid bold colors in general, even on accent walls. 

 

3.       Pre-pack.

I have news for you.  You are going to have to pack at some point.  Why not do most of it now? 

This costs you no money and has a huge impact on appeal.  Remove and or pack as much as you can.  Throw it in your basement, attic, a friend’s house, etc. until you’re ready to move.  I guarantee that the more you pack away, the larger, cleaner and more inviting your space will appear to perspective buyers. 

 

4.       Bathrooms and kitchens.


You may have heard that bathrooms and kitchens sell homes.  I guess it’s because people love to eat and as a result have to use the bathroom. 


When it comes to your kitchen, clear away as many appliances as possible.  You want negative space.  Negative space is beautiful in interior design.  If you are handy and want to go the extra mile, install a simple backsplash.  If the design is congruent with your space, a white subway tile backslash is cheap, modern and non-alienating to young buyers that tend to avoid browns and bold color. Painting cabinets is a huge job that I don’t recommend trying to squeeze in unless you have a lot of time, energy and know how.  Something simple you can do however is purchase brushed nickel hardware.  You can get great hardware from Amazon for a third of the price compared to Home Depot or Lowes. Installation is easy peasy with a template like this one: (template).   When it comes to bathrooms, there are two things to remember: clean it thoroughly (no grime in your tile.  Get in there with CLR and a toothbrush if need be), and put your toiletries out of site.  Throw them in your vanity or somewhere no one can see them.  Toiletries are both unappealing and alienate buyers by being personal.  Put out clean white towels on towel racks, make it smell nice and don’t poop before a walkthrough. 

 

5.       Make the space look larger.

There are a few things you can do here: The easiest is to make sure all drapes and curtains are pulled open so the room is flooded with as much light as possible.  I’m a light freak.  I bought my first home with based on how much light it gets and I haven’t regretted it.  It’s really important to some people so don’t underestimate this tactic.  Consider mounting your drapes higher on the wall.  This makes the ceiling look higher and the room larger.  And of course, the less stuff you have, the bigger the house is going to feel, so pre-pack! 

 

6.       Consider updating your home:

Updating your home is not for the faint of heart.  If you do it yourself it takes a lot of time, energy and stress.  If you hire someone it can be very costly and still take some time.  Consider however that when you update your home you will get your money back and then some.  Updating a kitchen and bathroom will give you the most return on your investment.  Make sure however that you do not spend money on updating these rooms only to have a design that is unappealing.  It’s a sad story when I see someone spend a lot of money on redoing a bathroom or kitchen and the design is outdated. 


Just because something is new doesn’t mean it is going to look new to a buyer. 


And sadly, many contractors are stuck in the 80s and 90s and just don’t understand what a good kitchen and bathroom looks like in the year 2015.  Clean lines and neutral colors will appeal to the masses. Stay away from brown cabinets, brown countertops and pretty much anything brown.  Brown was in during the 90s.  Guess what it will look like if you go brown?  Probably about 15 years old.  Pinterest, Houzz and HGTV are great ways to find modern deigns that sell.  Gray, white and neutral colors are in at the moment.  Another thing to consider:  do you have carpet?  Is there a wood floor under the carpet?  If so, you’re sitting ongold mine.  Okay not really a gold mine, but it’s a no-brainer to rip that sucker up and buff that floor.  The 80s and 90s were a very strange time.  Why would anyone put a nasty carpet over that gorgeous floor!?  Time for you to benefit from someone else’s (or your own) silly 80s antics.  Hardwood floors are in. 


I hope you enjoyed this article on tips for staging your home!  Please share it with your friends and family.

My name is Brandon Rasmussen and I’m a Realtor.  If you are thinking of buying, selling, or renting a home I can make it simple and stress free.  Give me a call or text at 609-651-5167.  Or shoot me an email at brandon@rasmussenhomesnj.com.


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