Intended for a growing family, this home design features four bedrooms spread across two levels.

As we settle into the first quarter of 2020, experts are optimistic that the housing market will get stronger as the door cracks open a little wider for first-time homebuyers.

One of the traits that makes birds spectacular is color. They come in every shade — green jay, blue jay, brown jay, scarlet tanager, yellow warbler, purple finch. They come coal black as crows and ravens, and every now and then, they show up with the colors drained.

There were white ghosts and black ghosts, dancing away in the murky light an hour before sunrise. The ghosts were racing for cover because dawn was coming, and combined with the full moon’s illumination, there was little darkness remaining.

Mayo Clinic Health System donates to community programs: Mayo Clinic Health System has made the following donations:

• INTRODUCTION TO YOGA: 7 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 9 through Feb. 13 at the Chippewa Falls Public Library, 105 W. Central St., Chippewa Falls. Free. If you’re curious about yoga and what it can do for you, then this is your class. We will be learning the basics with step-by-step instruction with…

Q: We hired a local company to help us with a project on our property. After the work was done, we received a bill for more than what was agreed. The bill also included work that was not performed.

A finished basement can be a valuable addition to your home. It can be a playroom for your kids, a place for family to stay during visits, a media room the whole family can use, or even a space to rent out for some extra income.

When I was in fourth grade, I was assigned a project and presentation on the state of Indiana, where I spent most of my growing-up years. Since I was a budding nature geek, I decided on natural history as a topic and made a big poster board display with various species and ecosystems found a…

Weighwood went missing for awhile early this winter. I feared I had mistakenly burned this chunk of white ash firewood. But finally, on the umpteenth frantic search through the wood piles, there it was, the dates and weights still visible on the side of the chunk I named Weighwood back in 2006.

Prevea health center in Menomonie to open Jan. 13: Prevea Health’s new health center in Menomonie, located at 2919 Stout Road, will open for patient care on Jan. 13, 2020.

• BRAIN AND BODY: Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 20 through April 8, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (snacks provided) at Chippewa Valley Museum, 1204 E. Half Moon Drive, Carson Park, Eau Claire. Brain and Body Fitness is a group exercise program for people living with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disea…

This medium-sized home is ideal for empty nesters downsizing from a larger house, but still desiring rooms for children to return to for extended visits.

ICE DAM TALK: Ice dams, frosty windows and clearing snow build-up on roofs are among the topics of an evening seminar later this month in Eau Claire.

If you’re looking to buy a home or refinance your current one in the new year, there’s good news: Low mortgage rates are expected to continue into 2020.

SPOONER — Although the morning weather forecast called for brisk and sunny weather, young ice fishermen on the Yellow River flowing through Spooner had to settle for brisk. The sun was hidden behind clouds, but nobody seemed to mind.

I’m intent on getting the best of winter before it gets the best of me. And I thought I had it nailed as I strapped on snowshoes for “Snowshoe 10,” the 10th time this winter pounding all that early snow into a submission of trails.

The new year will be rockin’ baby thanks to Proven Winners’ introduction of the Salvia Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes.

Q: We are selling our house to a nice couple. We just found out that their deposit check bounced. They have a reasonable-sounding reason.

The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to start planning for home projects. Maintenance projects are a great way to keep your space comfortable, functional and possibly add value to your home.

Smoke from the cabin chimney hangs over the valley, the sweet smell of woodsmoke filling the air as dawn’s first light begins to chase the darkness of the chilly late-December night.

On New Year’s Day morning the birds will flock to the feeder not long after Orion the Hunter has finished stalking across the night sky, east to west. Off and on I will watch the variety of birds that have found this easy, seedy supply of food.

Q: We are selling our house and have what seems to be a very interested buyer. However, every time we ask for a contract and a deposit, there is an excuse.

DETROIT — The largest contractor in Detroit’s demolition program is facing suspension again after it tore down the wrong house — for the second time in about 18 months — the Free Press has learned.

RICE LAKE — Dawn had painted the horizon all around in hues of yellow, orange and mauve. The trapper takes note. But on this single-digit temperature morning on the back roads, he’s looking for white.

Winter arrives on the calendar this weekend with little notice since it already showed up on the front steps several weeks ago.

• BLOOD DRIVE: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 23, at the Florian Gardens Conference Center, 2340 Lorch Ave., Eau Claire. Eau Claire resident Keane Thompson, 15, is coordinating an American Red Cross blood drive Dec. 23; he will be entered in a scholarship drawing for the Leader Saves Lives campaign…

Volunteer to deliver meals in Eau Claire: The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Eau Claire County is in need of regular and substitute volunteers to deliver meals in the City of Eau Claire. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Delivery t…

LOS ANGELES — Some know it as “The Beverly Hillbillies” mansion, others as Chartwell. Now, it has a new name: California’s chart-topper.

DALLAS — Dallas-Fort Worth has made it onto the list of U.S. markets real estate agents expect to be the best in the country in the next few years.

Q: My emotional support animal was approved by my condo board. However, they are making me take her completely off the property for her to take care of “business.”

BARRONETT — A whitetail deer found dead in Washburn County in the town of Barronett during the recent Wisconsin gun deer season was killed by a mountain lion.

It may have been below zero this week with the winter solstice only a week away. But there’s a ray of good news in the sunsets coming our way.

A donation from the Menard family to UW-Stout will lead to the expansion of programming at the university’s Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation.

NEW FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Richard Rapp, DO, a family medicine physician, is now seeing patients at the Prevea Rice Lake Health Center, 1051 West Ave. in Rice Lake.

North Shore Healthcare acquires 22 facilities, including Ellsworth facility: North Shore Healthcare announces the completion of its acquisition of 21 Atrium Health & Senior Living — Midwest facilities in Wisconsin and one in Michigan.

• Learn the ABC’s and D’s of Medicare at an educational seminar: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 10:30 a.m. at the L.E. Phillips Senior Center, 1616 Bellinger St., Eau Claire. This one-hour educational seminar is appropriate for people turning 65 soon and having questions on what is included in Medicare…

You might call them appetizers, hors d'oeuvres or even finger foods. No matter their name, they are a fun and delicious addition to any gathering, especially during the holiday season. Sometimes they can even replace a meal entirely.

Whether you’re buying a first home or are a decades-long owner, adequately insuring your home is crucial. Yet, according to real estate data provider CoreLogic, in 2017 about one in four homes were underinsured by at least 20%.

A homey country facade and a contemporary interior with all the furnishings expected in a modern home are part of this full-sized family house.