The popularity of shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and all other things HGTV have people scrambling to make their modern farm house dreams come true. The reality of these reality tv shows, however, is that the average person does not have the money, time, or professional help to update their homes accordingly. Luckily, there are ways to make a big impact on a small budget by following these five steps:

Step 1: Need vs. Want
If you’ve invested in a home, you likely have a handful of solid, expensive, and lasting items in your possession. Take inventory of what you already own before hitting the stores. Plan for what you want to purchase and set a budget.

Step 2: Go in Stages
Secondary to evaluating what you already own vs. what you need to buy, try to plan a remodel in stages. Maybe the artwork and curtains in your living room can wait a while, but the couches desperately need to be replaced or updated. Don’t feel obligated to do it all in one chunk.

Step 3: Choose Your Color First
One of the best investments in renovating a room or changing your home decor style is to switch up the wall colors. When you determine your color palette, the rest can fall into place over time. Whether you go light and neutral or bold and daring, a fresh coat of paint can make a huge impact.

Step 4: Go Second-Hand
That old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is so true. By joining your local buy, sell, trade sites on Facebook, you have access to an endless revenue of furniture, accessories, light fixtures, and textiles. People who are trying to offload their belongings to make room for their own new things are willing to sell for a bargain. You’ll be amazed at the high quality items that are available on these sites for a lot less than they are in stores.

Step 5: Buy Online
With sites like Wayfair, Overstock, and World Market, the amount of choices online greatly outnumbers what you can find in stores. The prices are also phenomenal. While buying large items unseen might feel like a risk, there are usually extensive customer reviews and lots of real-life photos available for most items. By doing the proper research and taking your time, you can save a lot of money buying online. Returns are usually easy, too!

Lindsay Horbatuck's Banana Bread!

On today’s episode of Norcom Cooks, Lindsay Horbatuck shares her recipe of banana bread with us. As an avid basketball player, Lindsay would eat bananas to fuel herself for her workouts. When the bananas became too ripe, she would make banana bread!

This is also a wickedly delicious and healthy treat you can make for your upcoming Halloween parties.



3 ripe bananas

1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)

1 egg

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chocolate chips



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel bananas and with a fork, mash the bananas until they become a smooth consistency.

On a medium speed, mix the softened butter, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda and sea salt.

Your mixture should now have a smooth consistency.

Add the flour slowly and gradually.

Here, you will fold in the chocolate chips.

Spray your four small loaf pans with a non-stick cooking spray and pour the batter into your pans.

Bake the loaves for 30 minutes.

Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
Remove bread from pan and cool completely before slicing.


Keeping Safe This Halloween

Oct 18
Category | General

It’s almost time for the ghouls and goblins (princesses, too!) to make their way to our doors and treat themselves to some candy. It’s an exciting time of year for kids and we want to ensure that everyone is kept safe. This is a traditional holiday that no one wants turned to tragedy.

It’s a great idea to take some precautionary measures to keep our trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween. Here are a few tips to do just that. 

When planning your child’s costume, be sure it fits properly, is bright or reflective and opt for flame-resistant, if possible. There are costumes that have capes or tails, which can easily catch fire if there are any open flames nearby.

Masks may not fit properly and can obstruct your child’s view of the street when he or she are walking to the next house. If that worries you, try to use face paint instead so that nothing is blocking their vision.

Be sure that any costume extras, like swords, are made of soft, flexible material. Kids like to play pretend and we don’t want them to hurt each other by mistake.

While preparing the safety of your child’s costume, you should also think about other ways to keep them away from harm:

Go trick-or-treating before it gets dark out so that it is easier for motorists to see them, especially if they’re crossing the streets.

Visit familiar homes and friendly neighborhoods. Well-lit homes are most likely welcoming trick-or-treaters and some neighbors might already be outside waiting to hand out some treats.

As soon as your child comes home with their treats, be sure to inspect them before they eat them. Unfortunately, there have been instances where treats have been tampered with and we want to make sure our kids don’t get hurt or sick.

Halloween isn’t just for the kids. If you want to join in on the fun, plan a family costume. Go out as a superhero team or characters from your child’s favorite TV show and enjoy the night out as a family and have some fun. Your children might even share their treats with you!

Did you know that Mai Tai actually translates to “good”? Well, we think this recipe is VERY good. Pam Keagan and Patti White take their turn at Norcom Cooks with this refreshing and exotic drink.

Pam Keagan’s Mai Tai!

Serves: 1


1 ½ oz light rum

1 ½ oz fresh lime juice

1 ½ oz pineapple juice

splash of orgeat syrup

splash of grenadine

splash of orange curacao

simple syrup

dark rum

Pineapple wedge, cocktail umbrella and orchid, for garnish


In your tiki glass (any other glass will work as well) add a cup of ice cubes. Stir in the light rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, orgeat syrup, grenadine and simple syrup. Float a splash of dark rum on top. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, cocktail umbrella, and an orchid. Enjoy!!

Solar Eclipse vs. Solar Power

Aug 21
Category | Events

Today, Monday, August 21, 2017, is the day many of us will get to experience a total solar eclipse. Even if you’re not in the path of totality, this experience is still incredible. The moon covering the sun isn’t something we see every day, and many have wondered, what happens to the solar power if the sunlight is missing during that time?

Well, after some research, here are some answers.


In California, the eclipse is expected to wipe out six gigawatts of solar electricity, which is enough to power several million homes. If you’re on the path of totality like California, Utah, and North Carolina, there will be some issues with solar energy that is provided by solar panels and they will have to use a combination of other energy sources to make up for the loss. 

Our home office in Avon, Connecticut, has had solar panels installed back in May of 2015. We have 572 panels and five inverters on the roof which helps reduce cost and also allows us to derive clean and pure energy from the sun, reducing our carbon footprint. It’s simple, we care about our planet and try to save as much energy as possible. Going green is a great way to go. 

What does this mean for our office during the solar eclipse? Well since Connecticut is not in the full path of totality, we probably won't see much change to our solar energy but there is also a chance that since the sun is missing for the most part, so will solar energy, but only for a short time. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in a few hours.

Since it took over 35 years for this solar eclipse to arrive, we highly recommend checking it out. However, as all the warnings have stated, please don’t look directly at the sun. You can cause severe damage to your eyes and may not even realize it until days later.

Be safe and happy viewing!

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