Monday, December 31, 2007

Donut Pajamas All Around


How to Chop Onions Without Crying



Using a knife, cut a cone out of the bottom of the onion (where the roots come out). The diameter of this cone should be about a third of the diameter of the onion, and about 1/3 deep. Take this piece and throw it away (don't put it down the disposal!). This piece contains the part/gland that makes you cry when you're chopping it up. Once you've gotten that piece out, chop off the top, peel, and slice the onion.

You know your cone is too small if it doesn't work, because you've cut into that teargas grenade.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The prettiest tree yet

My Christmas Wish Came True


















Every year I hope for snow at Christmas.

I experienced a beautiful, quiet snow storm when we were in Denver just before Christmas, and thought that would have to do. I sat in a glass room at the spa, sipping detox tea and warming myself in front of the fire as I watched the snow swirl. It was a wonderful moment.

But not as great as having snow fall in Portland on Christmas day. What a surprise! So here is Lucy, the Arizona puppy, experiencing her first snow, and Boomer, impervious to snow with his thick fur coat, getting out for some fun in the white stuff.



















And the family Christmas Eve dinner in all it's mayhem and glory.












Cheers!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

In honor of my girls

















This year was our 14th Christmas Cookie Exchange. Along the way we added a gift exchange and it has become the highlight of the evening. Lots of good-natured fighting and stealing takes place, but in the end we're all happy with our presents. Best of all, everyone also goes home with a huge bag full of cookies.

Happy Holidays




I love these guys!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mortgages Still Available!

Mortgage money plentiful for those with good credit
By Kenneth R. Harney
Syndicated Columnist
WASHINGTON — The term "mortgage meltdown" has become so commonplace — on TV, in headlines and even casual conversations — that you might assume that this is a tough time to get a mortgage.
But the reality is starkly different: Mortgage money is plentiful, most mortgage products remain relatively unaffected by troubles in the subprime segment and interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans remain in the low 6 percent range for people with reasonably good — not necessarily perfect — credit backgrounds.
Even interest rates on jumbo loans — those over $417,000 — have fallen after spiking this summer.
The main change over the past several months, in the words of Ted Grose, president of Los Angeles-based 1st Mortgage Advisors, is that "the products and underwriting that allowed people to buy houses they couldn't afford have disappeared."
Nonetheless, say lenders and brokers, there is a widespread and persistent belief by consumers that the entire mortgage market is in crisis.
Kit Crowne, a loan officer with Right Trac Financial Group in Manchester, Conn., says even sophisticated homeowners with high incomes are under this impression.
He recently handled a relocation financing for a professional couple moving from New Jersey to Connecticut.
During the initial discussion, according to Crowne, one spouse said, "I'm really not sure that we're going to be able to even qualify for a mortgage. We've got a lot of graduate- and dental-school loan debt — and I hear it's a terrible time in the mortgage market."
Crowne checked the couple's credit, verified assets and put them into a cream-puff fixed-rate first mortgage at 6 ¼ percent for 30 years.
"You'd be amazed," he said, "at how often we run into this" pessimistic attitude, despite the fact that rates are lower than they were midsummer.
Jumbo mortgages, which always have carried higher rates than "conforming" loans eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have recently been in the low 7 percent range, according to Crowne, down from the 8 percent and higher levels of a couple of months ago.
In Everett, Jim Brown, CEO of Veteran Mortgage, agrees that "the 'mortgage meltdown' idea is way overstated."
Even in the Seattle area, where home prices have still been rising, "a lot of people think that the mortgage market is in much worse shape" than it actually is, he says.
"Other than subprime and high LTV [loan-to-value] stated-income" programs, Brown says, "we've got pretty much everything now that we did before. We've got a lot of outlets."
For example, Brown's company offers buyers with limited resources five loan programs that allow zero down payments and fixed rates around 6 percent to 6 ¼ percent.
Most lenders and investors are quick to note that while mortgage money is plentiful, underwriting standards are stricter than they were a year ago. Jumbo loans, for example, often require two appraisals — one by an appraiser selected by the lender and the other by the investor.
"And they better line up," says Crowne, or they won't do the deal.
Similarly, FICO score standards generally are higher than a year ago, stated-income mortgages with no verifications are hard to find and major investors are on the prowl for anything hinting at fraud.
Lenders and investors are especially wary of excessive "layering of risk" — combining low down payments with marginal FICO scores and high debt-to-income ratios — in markets where prices are trending lower.
A major legislative development under way on Capitol Hill could expand consumers' range of good mortgage choices even further.
Congress appears to be on the verge of transforming the once-stodgy Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program into a competitive home-loan option nationwide, with lower minimum down payments and maximum mortgage amounts generous enough to fund loans in pricey California.
Under a bill the House passed Sept. 18, FHA loans could go as high as 125 percent of an area's median home price or 175 percent of the limit for loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In California, where the statewide median home price is in the mid-$500,000 range, that could mean FHA-insured mortgages well above $600,000.
A companion bill approved by the Senate Banking Committee would cap FHA loans at the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac limit, currently $417,000.
A key strength of the FHA that many borrowers may not know is that its funding base is virtually bulletproof: Its mortgages are pooled into federally guaranteed bonds issued by the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) and are considered nearly as safe as Treasury securities.
Better yet, FHA loans are consumer-friendly: no prepayment penalties, flexible and generous for consumers with past credit challenges, but old-fashioned strict about documenting income and assets.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Don't you just love talking pets?

Norris had a friend whose dog would say "howareyouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?"

So I got to thinking about other talking pets and of course YouTube didn't disappoint.





I'm working on teaching Boomer to say Mama. It's what I do with no children left at home ;-)

Have a fun day!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New York Times Article regarding Overpricing




A Reality Check for Home Sellers
By AUSTAN GOOLSBEE

ECONOMISTS and other humans don’t always see eye to eye. “Economists tend to think people are crazy because they won’t sell their houses for less than they paid for them — and people think economists are crazy for thinking things exactly like that,” said Professor Christopher Mayer, director of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at Columbia Business School and an authority on real estate economics.

With house prices falling in many markets around the nation, this particular quirk of the human psyche might end up costing the economy a great deal, Professor Mayer says.

Classical economics can’t explain this behavior. That’s because people who refuse to sell their houses for less than they paid for them are violating a cardinal rule of the market: stuff is worth what it’s worth. It doesn’t matter what you paid for it. But when Professor Mayer and his co-author, David Genesove, a professor of economics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, studied the Boston condominium market in the 1990s — scene of one of the biggest real estate busts in recent American memory — the actual patterns of human behavior did not seem to follow the standard rules at all.

From 1989 to 1992, prices in Boston fell sharply, with condominium prices dropping as much as 40 percent. For a great many of those who bought condominiums during that period, selling could be done only at a significant loss. And, basically, many people refused to sell.

Their study, “Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence From the Housing Market,” appeared in The Quarterly Journal of Economics in November 2001. The professors gathered data on almost 6,000 Boston condominium listings from 1991 to 1997 and showed that for essentially identical condominiums, people who had bought at the peak and were facing a loss generally listed their properties for significantly more than those who had bought at a time when prices were lower.

Properties listed above the market price just sat there. In the Boston market over all, sellers listed their properties for an average of 35 percent above the expected sale price, and less than 30 percent of the properties sold in fewer than 180 days. In other words, much of the market went into a deep freeze as many people held out for market prices that no one would reasonably pay.

In classical economics, that’s not supposed to happen, but the episode did comport with the behavioral economics theory of loss aversion: people have a visceral — some might say “irrational” — hatred of losing money. They try to avoid doing so, even when it goes against their own best interests.

Move ahead to September 2007. Many regions may be starting down a path like that of Boston’s market freeze of the 1990s. Wherever prices decline, look for lots of sellers holding out for unrealistic prices in a vain attempt to recoup their losses. It’s a hang-up that people have, and it can cause big problems. A number of houses with high prices just sit on the market while everyone waits.

One source of difficulty arises from a basic fact of real estate economics: about half of home purchases are by people moving within a metropolitan area. If sellers can’t sell their houses because they want too much for them, they also can’t become buyers of new homes.

“The buyers and the sellers are the same people in this market,” Professor Mayer said. “So if the sellers price so high that they, effectively, put themselves out of the market, it shows up on the buying side, too.”

He notes that economists at the Federal Reserve and elsewhere keep close tabs on this kind of behavior because the purchases of durable goods like furniture, appliances and televisions tend to run hand in hand with home purchases — and durables have a disproportionate influence on the business cycle. Further, because the freezing of the housing market makes it harder for people to move, it reduces the likelihood that they can quickly relocate for higher-paying jobs. Dysfunction in the housing market can spill over into the job market, too.

So by being hung up about whether your condominium will sell for what you paid for it, you aren’t just driving yourself crazy trying to get a buyer. You may be threatening the very performance of the economy and driving up the unemployment rate — provided that many others behave in a similar way.

What is to be done? Well, if you are holding out for an above-market price to recoup your losses, perhaps you would do well to hear the advice that Professor Mayer gives his own family members.

“If you want to sell your house then you list it at the market price and you sell it,” he said. “If you don’t really want to sell then don’t put it on the market. But don’t say you want to sell and then set the price so high that you spend the year cleaning up every morning, having people walk through your living room and look in your medicine cabinets and reject you. That’s just painful — and expensive.”
His research offers a simple lesson for everyone out there waiting for a high price to push them back into the black: Get real.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Family Fun - Liesl's Wedding

In Early August we welcomed Claire and TJ (and Lucy) home from Phoenix for a long weekend, which included a trip to Olympia for Liesl's wedding. Here's a little selection of pix from the weekend. ALL the Perkins family was there - including Grandpa and his five great-grandchildren. Liesl was a beautiful bride, and we had a fabulous time!




Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scotty & Guila

The last week was filled with activity surrounding the sudden death of my good friend's 16-year old son. In the midst of it I learned that a lovely client and friend has also left us. Scott's passion was sports, the more physical, the better. Guila was happy puttering around in her garden and taking good care of her sweet husband.

They were both very special people - one young, one old, and both, gone before we had a chance to say goodbye.

You were much loved!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Avatars ...

Doesn't she look just like me?


Yahoo! Avatars

Friday, July 6, 2007

Summer Days

My huge blast of spring business has calmed down a little. I am focusing on my listings, as the number of showings is falling and inventory is rising. The summer market hums on and I am still being referred new buyers, though they don't often fit the houses I am trying to sell!

Now there's time for a swim at the end of the day, lots more reading, and plans for a little getaway to Sun River for golf and sun.

Cam is still in Europe, though they're down to their last country on the itinerary - his email messages make my day. Whit's friends and roomies and their extremely cute girlfriends joined our bbq on the 4th of July. Norris has moved his office to a new location and it's quite nice, and close to some fun shopping. We're planning Grandpa's 95th birthday party. My niece is getting married in August. This summer seems to be more about family.

Claire lost a 23-year old friend to cancer yesterday. She was in Mexico hoping for a cure through some experimental treatment after all else had failed. We had just contributed to a fund to get her there and I know she knows we did that for her. Still.......

I'm so glad our boys are home and all the extra mess is welcome, more than they'll ever know!

Monday, July 2, 2007

I love Denny




















Gray's Anatomy lovers - I met Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and as you can see from the picture, it was love at first sight. At least on my part. (but seriously, look how perfectly matched our expressions & the tilt of our heads are - we are TOTALLY in synch! And both talking at once!) Wow, he was really handsome in person, and especially hot in the film, which was my nephew's new movie called Kabluey. Want to see another picture of Jeff? I do. This was his arrival on the red carpet at the LA Film Festival.



























So, as you can guess, we attended the World Premiere of Kabluey last weekend in LA and had an amazing time. The movie was very well-received, and we're so proud of Scott, the writer, director and co-star with Lisa Kudrow.























This is Scott Prendergast in the center. Our family genius who made the big time!

Other stars attending the premiere and after-party were Lisa Kudrow, Christine Taylor & Ben Stiller, Conchata Ferrell and others, but I'm not swift enough to know who they all were floating around the room at this groovy, exclusive party! (Well, in this picture above it goes Lisa, Jeff, Scott, Christine and Conchata) Notice how Jeff is watching me take his picture? I'm sure he was smitten! And Norris is responsible for introducing us, so don't think I was being a hussy because he was right there with me!
























Our kids came on the trip with us (except for Cam, who was busy going to a concert in Zurich!) and we had a swell family vacation including an afternoon riding the roller coasters at Universal.

Rest assured, this will be our Christmas Card picture this year. Ben Stiller and Christine were Hollywood gorgeous in person, and everybody is so much thinner than they look on screen! Egads, how do they do it!


Let me just think about it while I eat some lunch!
KABLUEY!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

51





I haven't gotten around to my blog in a long time - work has been really busy and that involves running all around the city plus a lot of time at the computer.

Now I have a better chance of getting things done while I'm on the road. For my birthday, Norris got me a sweet little laptop that weighs less than 3 lbs and is about the size of a file folder. I seem to be able to pick up wireless almost anywhere. (except from the network in OUR house. I hope we figure it out soon or I'll go crazy!)

I thought it might be fun to put up pictures of the houses I've been touring, or my clients have been buying or selling, so you can see where I've been!



Lovely home next to the Japanese Gardens and listed on the Historic Register. They just don't build houses like this anymore! Simply glorious!










Another beautiful colonial on a sweet little cul de sac. Currently available, folks! Snap it up! You can be my neighbor!













Lucky newlyweds coming home to this adorable house. The interior is seriously Pottery Barn Catalog material. Absolutely wonderful!Congratulations, L & J!










This one sold in just a few days. Look at the clematis! Just after it sold, the entire vine was covered in blossoms!













This is a first home for one of the sweetest clients ever! Set in a nice, wooded setting & the downstairs neighbor is growing tomatoes and I know she'll share!










This is the house that Dave took from a tired old rental into a cool craftsman. We're currently looking for his next project.
















Wouldn't you like to sip a cold one in this courtyard? I get to! They're friends! I want my own courtyard!







Look how cute L's condo is! I totally covet that red ottoman! How cute is that going to look in the Pottery Barn House up above?














So this is the end of today's tour. I didn't even have time to get to some of the houses that we looked at but nobody bought. There's a great selection of million dollar houses in Portland and I've seen the best of them lately... I'll try to do more soon!






But it's my birthday and I want to go to the MAC, do a little shopping, and I have a date with the sun and a chaise at the pool.























Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Affordable Red Wine

I recently bought a bottle of wine somewhere, and Norris opened it on Monday night to serve with our dinner....

It was a 2005 Estancia Monterey Pinot Noir......and Yum! I enjoyed it so much (but I was worried that it wasn't one of my cheap every day bottles - the kind of wine I stockpile) and I couldn't wait to go out and find some more to see if I could afford to buy a bunch.

I checked at the Thriftway where I usually shop. Hmm. Not there. Not at Trader Joe's. Finally after scouring the aisles at Fred Meyer, I found it on sale for $16.49, minus 10% for the 6 bottles I bought - so about $15.

I hope you try it and I hope you like it. It tastes a lot more expensive than it is!

Other red wine suggestions from Gourmet for everyday drinking

  • DeLoach Pinot Noir 2005, California $12
  • Gallo Sonoma Reserve Pinot Noir 2004 Sonoma County $15
  • TwoTone Farm Merlot 2004, California, $10
  • Bulletin Place Merlot 2005, South Eastern Australia $8
  • The Magnificent Wine Company House Wine 2005 columbia Valley $10
  • Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2004, Lodi $15

  • Caparzo Sangiovese 2004, Tuscany $14

Some housing markets turn to gold, others go cold

Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain prices climbing
Tuesday, May 22, 2007


While home prices lulled in many regions across the country during the descent from a prolonged real estate Gold Rush, rapid appreciation has continued in major Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain markets.

The U.S. Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a federal agency that monitors government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon had the steepest home-price appreciation in fourth-quarter 2006 compared to fourth-quarter 2005.

In fourth-quarter 2006, the top five metro areas for year-over-year price appreciation on OFHEO's list were in Oregon, Washington, Utah and Idaho, while the sharpest metro-area price declines were in Indiana, California and Michigan. OFHEO's first-quarter-index report is due out later this month.

Seattle and Portland were among the strongest markets in fourth-quarter 2006 for home-price appreciation among 20 U.S. markets featured in the monthly Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

While price growth has been slowing, it is still strong -- this year will be a good year, he said, though 2006 was not as strong as 2005, "and I think 2007 is not going to be as good as 2006." Single-family home sales fell 12 percent in 2006 compared to 2005, and affordability is a growing problem.

Nationwide, the median price of resale homes fell about 2.7 percent in fourth-quarter 2006 compared to fourth-quarter 2005, the National Association of Realtors reported, while the Census Bureau reported that the median new-home price dropped about 2 percent.

NAR reported that the Cumberland, Md.-W.V., metro area had the strongest price appreciation in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2006, followed by Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.; Salem, Ore.; and Bismarck, N.D. Other markets that were on the top-10 list for price appreciation were in New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Salt Lake City and Salem, Ore., were in the top five for price appreciation in NAR's fourth-quarter report, and markets in New Jersey and Texas also topped the list.

Median year-over-year price change for fourth-quarter 2006
City Case-Shiller* NAR (existing homes) OFHEO Zindex (Zillow) DataQuick



National 0.4 -2.7 5.9 -0.48 N/A

Portland, 11.57 11.2 13.45 11.39 10.6
Seattle 13.05 11.3 14.5 12.87 11.3


*based on average monthly price change for 3 mos. of the quarter

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More Seller Tips

Unclutter a Messy Room

The first step is to completely unclutter every room. To get top dollar, put half your possessions in storage. This means it might not be feasible to live in your home comfortably while it's on the market, but it's a worthy sacrifice. (PODS are a great way to only pack it once - and you unload it in your new house)

The Perfect (if Unrealistic) Closet

Put the bulk of your clothing in storage, and leave a lot of space between hangers. Leave a only a few select items of neatly-pressed clothing hanging. Keep one or two pairs of shoes in shoeboxes.

Keep the Bathroom Basic

In the bathroom, you should have some pretty towels and a bar of soap, and not much else. Remove everything from the countertops and empty the medicine cabinet. Put everything in storage except a couple rolls of toilet paper. Put candles around the bathtub and remove your razor, shaving cream and half-empty shampoo bottles.

Tend the Walls and Floors

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way toward making your home look fresh, clean and move-in ready. Clean the carpets. If they're stained or at all worn out, then replace them. After an exhausting move and a pricey purchase, a buyer doesn't want to envision their first tasks as busting out the paint and paying for new carpeting.

Remove Frightful Furnishings

Look at your furniture with a critical eye. If you've been flopping your tush into your easy chair every night for the last eight years, it's probably looking a little sad. Remove or toss anything old, ratty or dirty. If you have nice furniture, then leave the nicest pieces in the house. If not, then purchase a few inexpensive, sleek pieces

Home Improvements Count

Make a list of every single improvement you've made to the property since you've lived there, the timeframe the improvement was made and approximately how much it cost. Also make a list of everything you personally love about the home. Ask your Realtor to put this information in your listing, and include it on your flyer.

Show It Off

Make your home super easy to show for real estate agents. Use a lockbox. Your showing instructions should be "show anytime." If you prefer a call first, then the instructions should be, "Call first, leave a message and go." When a realtor calls, keep it brief and don't bother giving any extra information. It should already be in your flyer.

Scram, Get Lost and Make Yourself Scarce

Try to be out of the house before the buyer arrives. The majority of buyers will feel tense and intrusive snooping around and opening closets and cabinets when the seller is there. If the buyer arrives before you can get out of the house, then make them feel welcome and leave promptly.
Don't come back until they're gone.

Find a Sitter for Fido

It may not seem feasible or practical to have pets relocated while your house is on the market, but if you truly are seeking top dollar, you need to have a pet-free household. Many people are sensitive to odors and pet dander, so clean thoroughly once you find alternative living arrangements for your pet.

When Your Hard Work Pays Off?

Don't dare price your home high in this market. Be extremely careful to price your home very competitively from the beginning, when the largest number of buyers will see your listing. Then work with the offer when it comes in!

Seller Tips

1. Price It Right

It's stressful trying to sell your home when new home sales are slowing and prices are falling. Home prices across the nation fell nearly one percent in January from one year ago, according to the Standard & Poor's housing index. Growth hasn't been this slow since 1994. So setting the right price for your home is more important than ever. "If you really want to stimulate a sale, you should underprice your property by just a hair," says Susan Singer, a New York-based real estate broker with Corcoran. By shaving just a few thousand dollars you can generate more foot traffic and create a buzz.

2. Make It Inviting

There's no faster way to turn off a potential buyer than to overwhelm him with a home stuffed with kids' toys, family knickknacks and a stinky kitty litter. Even stodgy furniture can make a property more difficult to unload. That's why many high-end real estate agents employ professional "home stagers" when they want to guarantee a quick sale. Staged properties tend to sell faster and for more money than ones that aren't prepped in this fashion. For anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, these folks will do everything from remove clutter and rearrange furniture to rent all new furnishings. Fortunately, there are some inexpensive things homeowners can do on their own to attract a buyer. Whether you live in a cozy Cape Cod or a 4,000-square-foot McMansion, make your space feel as open and clean as possible. Get rid of clutter, organize the closets and remove all personal items that may make it more difficult for someone to imagine living in your house, says Michael Corbett, author of "Ready, Set, Sold!"

3. Minimize Surprises

A home that's in good working order will always sell faster than one that needs pricey repairs. That's why I recommend having your property inspected before you put it on the market. The benefits are twofold. First, it's always cheaper and faster to make your own repairs rather than have a buyer drag out the negotiating process to accommodate any necessary work. Second, you'll also avoid any nasty last-minute surprises that could derail a deal should the buyer's inspector discover you need, say, to replace the roof.


4. Get the Word Out

Make sure you have an eye-catching online listing. Some 80 percent of people start their real estate searches online, according to the National Association of Realtors. While it used to be enough to simply slap up one or two blurry photos, buyers now prefer a slew of pictures so that they don't waste their time touring a home that doesn't meet their requirements. What should your listing include? If you really want to stand out from the competition be sure your broker uses a professional photographer. Make sure to include a shot of the outside on a sunny day, and one of the kitchen, living room, dining room and a bedroom.

5. Throw In a Little Something Extra

As home sales have stalled, we are once again seeing motivated sellers offer traditional incentives, including paying for closing costs or points on a mortgage, says Walter Molony, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. Such tactics are especially attractive to first-time shoppers who can afford mortgage payments but struggle to come up with the down payment and closing fees. Here are a couple more ideas. If you installed a 40-inch plasma TV with a surround-sound stereo system in the living room, offer to include it with the house. Chances are you won't be able to take it with you anyway. If you're selling a second home on the water, throw in the Jet Ski and dock rights. If you pad the asking price by just a couple of thousand dollars, you'll still come out ahead!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Lucy




















Just returned from a visit where we met the newest family member - Lucy -


Isn't she cute? 3 mo. old...


Claire and TJ are grooving in to life with a puppy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Current Obsessions




I'm fickle and move on quickly, but I'm currently obsessed with:

Elephant's cream of mushroom soup and chewy Italian bread with european butter

York peppermint patties

My Old Navy jogging shorts

Fresh pear, bleu cheese, glazed almonds & baby greens topped with Trader Joe's pear vinigrette dressing

Zipping through books to find the perfect book club selection.

Moisturizing like crazy to keep from losing my tan

That uphill treadmill at the MAC that burns 500 calories in 30 minutes if you really haul ass!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What's up with me?

It's been forever since I blogged about my life and what's happening around here. So let's catch up.



I've been getting so busy that I'm actually working almost as many hours as a normal person does in a week - my shopping is waaaaay down! Of course the hours have been crazy and I've been out lots of nights and weekends - the one thing that keeps hordes of people from being Realtors - but I don't mind, really I don't. If I have the time, I'll post photos of all the houses that my clients have been buying and selling... that should be fun!



We took the boys and one of their girlfriends to Mexico for a week. (the other girlfriend is on a totally different spring break schedule, so she was going to class, poor girl!) What q pleasure having a sweetie like Noel to fill in the spot normally occupied by Claire, who had to work on a big shindig in Hawaii and couldn't get away to join us. This was our first family vacation without Claire. I'm hoping that by next year she can take some time and join us - but she's only been working since Feb, so it was too early to start going on vacations already!



Here I am in my happy place. Various photos of my feet on vacation are posted above my desk. The thought of another vacation in the sun is what I work for!

Picture the table to the right of me... one or two books, a magazine or two, sunscreen, and a margarita. And the hotel charge card.

I read five books on this vacation! Two for my book club, others I had stashed in the suitcase. By the end, Norris and I were foraging in the lending library at the hotel.

Claire's job is amazing and she's learning a lot! She does all the promotions and events for a publishing company in AZ. It's a dream job and we're so glad she found it! We'll be spending her birthday with her, and just booked tickets and a hotel yesterday.

Whit is turning 21 in a few weeks and he and Noel are going to celebrate with Claire & TJ. Apparently Whit is playing on an intramural softball team and taking a soccer class. It's nice to go into college with a bunch of credits earned in HS so you can take classes like ping pong, soccer and yoga.

Cam is planning to live with Whit next year in the house we bought in Eugene. I feel sorry for the neighbors because I assume the drum set, synthesizer and a bunch of stray musicians will go along with him. He and Keith are planning a European trip around a concert in Zurich - last night the three of us had an online chat about the itinerary and we're getting into full planning mode. I'm quite jealous and starting to think about a fall trip.

I'm off to Florida with my Philadelphia girlfriends in May. I haven't seen them since last July and we always have such fun. I think it's going to be more beach chairs, magazines and Corona.



Boomer had his spring haircut and he's been wearing a girly sweater to stay warm. (it was on sale!)

My best friend Laura recommended "Younger Next Year" by Chris Crowley & Henry Lodge and it's a great book on taking care of yourself. It recommends "cutting out the crap" and that's what I'm trying to do, though a little candy never hurt anybody. I'm also kind of hooked on working out at the MAC. We'll see how long this lasts, LOL! But I'm feeling great!

I'm sure there's more happening in our life, but that's enough for now.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

7 Modern Tips to Update Your Home

Everyone loves to update their homes, and if you live in an older home in an appreciating neighborhood, it can be a fantastic investment. There are some pitfalls to avoid, which can cost a homeowner quite a bit of money because of no return on investment. However, it's better to focus on what TO do and stay the course.

1. Raise the Roof!!!

Not literally, but gut the attic, and raise the ceiling in, at least, the living room. Older homes typically have 8 foot ceilings, and it's one of the first characteristics that buyers notice. It's relatively inexpensive, when you compare your return on investment, to demolish the ceilings of your older home and sheetrock over your new, vaulted ceiling. It's amazing how much larger and lighter your home will feel.

2. Knock Down Walls

Literally, knock down as many walls as you can and still retain the integrity of the home, and the NECESSARY separation of rooms. If you compare older homes to newer homes, you'll notice that older homes are typically "choppy" while newer homes feel "open and flow well." This is due to "line of sight." Newer homes opt for less separation in rooms. You can create this same feeling by demolishing a half-wall that separates your kitchen from the living room or knocking down the wall between the living room and dining room to create one grand room. You'll be AMAZED at the difference it makes.

3. Overhaul Your Kitchen and/or Master Bathroom

These are the two rooms in the house that you can ALMOST go overboard on and still get your money back when you sell the home. Refinish or replace the cabinetry, put in new tile and sinks - even install a new, stand-up shower! When (or if) you put your home on the market, you should see a GREAT return on investment.

4. Add a Master Bathroom

The 1-Bathroom houses from the 1970's and earlier are now obsolete. Americans have decided that we like a private bathroom for ourselves and another bathroom for our guests and children. While 90% of the house additions are bad ideas because they don't flow well or create poorly usable space, a master bathroom addition is a fantastic way to add more square footage, and more value to your home. Make SURE that your builder ties in the new slab to the old, and make sure that the addition is done properly. A poorly designed or executed addition never adds value - most buyers immediately imagine demolishing the work. And be sure it's properly permitted!

5. Xeriscape Your Lawn

It's trendy, it's cheap - it should be a go! Xeriscape = a trademark used for a landscaping method that employs drought-resistant plants in an effort to conserve resources, especially water.

Your home's curb appeal is the first thing that buyers notice, and it's how buyers decide whether or not they'll "click on your house" online to further investigate the interior. You can xeriscape a ¼ acre lot for around $3000, and you'll more than make up for that when your home goes on the market. Furthermore, it's environmentally & fiscally responsible. Stop wasting water!

6. Paint!!!

It's fairly obvious, but painting your home modern, neutral colors makes a HUGE difference in the appearance of the home. And when you factor in the cost - roughly $0.75/s.f. - it would be a HUGE mistake to forego painting your home when you decide it's time to modernize it. If you're planning on staying in the home for some time, paint it whatever colors you wish, but plan on repainting right before it's time to put it up for sale. If you plan on updating your home in order to sell it, go with neutral colors so that it will appeal to the widest audience. **Ask me about color consultants - I can refer you to someone wonderful!**

7. Put in Wood Floors

You won't ALWAYS get your money out of installing wood floors. If you're in a great area, and it's time to replace the floors, look at the cost difference between tile, pergo, and wood. If your home will sell for $250k+ then forget about pergo and, if you choose tile, make sure it's not cheap tile. If the cost difference between wood and your other options is negligible, then go with wood - it appeals to the most buyers.

Updating your older home can be very fun, very rewarding, and potentially very lucrative. Older homes in established neighborhoods are ripe for updating and can draw a premium on the marketplace. It's a great investment!

Postage

Beginning May 14th, new higher postal rates will go into effect. If you don't want your loved ones - not to mention your creditors - waiting by the mailbox, now is the time to prepare.
The cost of postage for a standard one ounce first class letter is increasing from 39 cents up to 41 cents.

And you know the drill - each time the post office bumps up the rates by a penny or two, it requires an annoying trip to the post office to purchase a book of one or two cent stamps.

But now - you can wave goodbye to those pesky one and two cent stamps that clutter up your desk or your wallet...the post office has finally created a stamp that will last "FOREVER".
The new stamp is called the "Forever" stamp and was created to do just what the title states....last forever. Once the stamp is purchased, the stamp can be used forever to mail one-ounce First-Class letters anytime in the future regardless of postage increases. The current price of each Forever stamp is 41 cents, and you can buy Forever stamps at that rate until the next postage increase.

When the postal rates increase in the future, new Forever stamps sold at that time will go up in price too - but you can use up all your previously purchased Forever stamps without having to deal with buying and using the inconvenient make-up stamps for the difference.

Forever stamps can now be purchased online at www.usps.com or at post offices nationwide.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What Bubble? Oregon Real Estate is Rocking

Bubble burst? What bubble burst? The danger in talking about local situations as if they applied across the board is that real estate is always a local situation and what's a bubble bursting in one area can be a time someone else's balloon is expanding rapidly.

Take a look at these metro areas that were the biggest value gainers in 2006, according the National Association of Realtors.

2006 biggest value gainers

Rank/Metropolitan statistical area/One-year appreciation (%)

1. Salem, Ore. 19.8

2 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C. 19.4

3 Spokane, Wash. 17.7

4 Salt Lake City, Utah 16.7

5 Eugene-Springfield, Ore. 16.7

6 Baton Rouge, La. 15.9

7 Gainesville, Fla. 15.9

8 Ocala, Fla. 15.5

9 Dover, Del. 14.7

10 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash. 14.7

Source: National Association of Realtors, February 2007 Metropolitan Area Existing-Home Prices and State Existing-Home Sales report

Monday, March 19, 2007

New study shows which words sell, and which don't

Words that help sell a home:

Handyman special
Curb appeal
Move-in condition
Landscaping
Granite
Gourmet
Golf

Words that hurt:

Motivated seller
Good value
As-is
Clean
Quiet
New paint



Words matter. Wars have started over them. Civilizations have collapsed because of them. And it appears the speed with which a house sells might be determined by them.

As listings grow old on the vine in this flush-with-inventory market and frustrated sellers reach for the slightest edge, the findings of several academics might offer guidance.

For example, a Canadian professor, as part of a broader study on real-estate sales patterns, found that homes where the seller was "motivated" took 15 percent longer to sell, while houses listed as "handyman specials" flew off the market in half the average time. "It surprised even me," said researcher Paul Anglin, who teaches real-estate and housing trends at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. The study dissected the wording of more than 20,000 Canadian home listings from 1997 to 2000.

What surprised him most was how the buying public put style over substance. Words that denoted "curb appeal" or general attractiveness helped a property sell faster than those that spoke of "value" and "price."

Homes described as "beautiful" moved 15 percent faster and for 5 percent more in price than the benchmark. "Good-value" homes sold for 5 percent less than average.

Another finding in Anglin's study was that the plea of "must see!" was received about as enthusiastically as a dinner-time telemarketing call. Using "must see" had a statistically insignificant effect on the number of days homes took to sell.

Listings where "landscaping" was heralded sold 20 percent faster, and homes in "move-in condition" took 12 percent less time to sell than the benchmark, although the study showed that "move-in condition" had an insignificant effect on the sales price.

Owners use listing language to convey how serious they are about selling. Some words work better than others, Anglin's study found. Listings in which the seller said he or she was "moving" sold for 1 percent less compared with 8 percent less when the seller was "motivated."

Real-estate listings, not unlike personal ads, are crafted to minimize blemishes and maximize perceived selling points. So if "enjoys moonlight walks on the beach and cooking together" means "I'm unemployed and am looking for someone who won't always expect to eat out," then "needs TLC" might mean "this house will have you on a first-name basis with the clerks at the local hardware store."

Anglin's study isn't alone in its attempt to determine what language moves the market.
Last year, the effect of listing language was covered in a National Bureau of Economic Research study that looked at whether real-estate agents selling their own homes hold out for a higher price. (They do; the study found they take longer to sell but fetch a higher price.) **perhaps it's because we know our own threshold for pain better than we know yours!**

Descriptions of houses that indicated an obvious problem — such as "foreclosure," "as-is" and "handyman special" — drew substantially lower sale prices.
Words that suggested desirable attributes — "granite," "maple," "gourmet" — translated into a higher sale price, the study found.

One problem discovered was that "superficially positive" words that, in effect, damn with faint praise — such as "clean" or "quiet" — had zero or even a negative correlation with prices.
Those findings echo those made in a 2000 paper, "Real Estate Agent Remarks: Help or Hype?", researched by University of Texas finance and real-estate professor Ronald Rutherford.
Rutherford found, among other things, that buyers read between the lines. If you can't find anything better to say than "new paint," perhaps it's best to say nothing at all.

Positive and factually verifiable comments such as "golf" or "lake" drew increased sales prices. Other presumably positive comments regarding new paint or new carpet brought lower ones.
"What you say needs to be extravagant, or the signal that is received by buyers is that it's not worth talking about," Rutherford said.

But what do sellers know? "New paint" appeared on 15 percent of the listings and was the most commonly listed comment.

Rutherford said sellers would be best-served by a listing with "just the facts, ma'am."
"In today's market, if it's a good deal, you need to convey it with factually verifiable language," Rutherford said. An example: "Needs repairs."

Of the information from his study, conducted between 1994 and 1997 of almost 60,000 closed residential transactions in Tarrant County, Texas, what surprised him most? That homes with "motivated" sellers stayed on the market 15 percent longer than average and sold for 4 percent less. His theory: "They overpriced the house to start with and eventually had to lower it. That explains the length of time on the market and the lower sales price."
Does he have any advice for today's sellers?
"Yes," he said. "Avoid the word 'motivated.' "

By Ann Brenoff Los Angeles Times Heather McKinnon / The Seattle Times

The Latest Trend in Home Color? "Green."




Ten Things you can do now to create a greener home.

1. Light up. Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs.

2. Recycle. Basic, but still important.

3. Purchase Green Power. if available in your area, opt for green power.

4. Add Solar Power. Use federal tax credits and state buy-down programs to reduce emissions, and your energy bills.

5. Turn it Down, Turn it Up. Turn your heater down and your air conditioner up by three degrees.

6. Wash Cool. Do two loads of your laundry per week in cold water instead of hot, and hang things out to dry when you can.

7. Buy Smartly, Save Money. Energy Star appliances save money as well as 1,000 lbs. of CO2 a year.

8. Be Water Wise. Low-flow toilets can save up to 220,000 gallons of water per year for a family of four.

9. Use Green Paints. Buy no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) or low-VOC paints that can eliminate eye, nose and throat irritation, and more severe health threats.

10. Fan It. Installing a whole-house or ceiling fan improves interior comfort by circulating cold and warm air, and dramatically reduces the need for air conditioning, at one-tenth of the price.

For more great ideas on how to make your home greener, visit globalgreen.org.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Housework abc's

aprons - y/n? Yes. I almost always wear them when I cook, though sometimes I forget to take them off when guests arrive. My favorite is one of my mom's that we gave to her when we were evil teenagers. It's yellow and it says "bitch bitch bitch" on the front.

baking - yes! I love baking cookies.

clothesline - y/n? Nope. Just a rod in the utility room where I hang things on hangers. And the deck railing is where I throw the big comforters when they come out of the wash to get that smell.

donuts - ever made them? Not since I was a little girl, but they're in my top 5 foods.

everyday - one homemaking thing you do everyday? Does making coffee count? Seriously, we split chores around here and Norris does almost all the dishes. I guess assembling a salad of some sort is my forte.

freezer - do you have a separate deep freezer? Yep and it's loaded with our new favorites - California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas (950 calories for the whole pie) and 40 calorie fudgesicles. Can you tell we're trying to lose a few?

garbage disposal - y/n? Yes. And the plumber told me not to put potato skins down there (as he was snaking out the drain literally 10 minutes before many many guests arrived.

handbook - y/n? Not sure what this means. Handbooks for all appliances and electronics are all in one place - if that's what they mean...Otherwise Martha Stewart.com is the source for all homemaking info I'll ever need.

ironing - love it or hate it? eh. It's ok, but I still have a bag of napkins that need to be ironed -this bag moved here with us from Pennsylvania in 1993.

junk drawer - where is it? In the utility room. We cleaned it after the kids went to college and you can find things now. Except for flashlights. They're all missing.

kitchen - design and decorating? We need an update. Typical 1991 oak cabinets, white tile counters and backsplash and white appliances. But I love the wall color - Devine Steamer - and we're going to splurge on a honking commercial range & double ovens, which will result in a complete remodel before we're through... coming soon. Still trying to determine the counter choice - which is leaning toward something that's not granite and is more industrial.

love - what is your favorite part of homemaking? Getting the house ready for the kids to come home, and for holiday dinners. The very best feeling of all.

mop - y/n? Not me. Thankfully, I have help in that department.

nylons - Seriously? Do I wear them? Heck no, nobody does anymore.

oven - do you use the window or open it to check? Open it.

pizza - what do you put on yours? Fresh tomatoes, roasted veggies, basil, mozzarella, sometimes mushrooms, onions, black olives or pepperoni if there are men eating.

quiet - what do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment? Read my latest book or fool around online.

recipe card box - big wooden box with 5x7 cards, plus an entire baker's rack filled with cookbooks. Not to mention epicurious.com.

style of house – Traditional

tablecloths and napkins - y/n? Yes - lots and lots of linens. (some in need of ironing and 18 napkins still missing at the cleaners....see? I should have done my own ironing, but then they'd be in that bag....)

under the kitchen sink – Cleaning supplies, trash and recycling.

vacuum - how many times a week? Thank goodness for Renee.

wash - how many loads do you do a week? About two. Saturday morning. Norris does 'em.

x’es - do you keep a list of things to do and cross them off? Not religiously, but if I'm especially crunched, I do.

yard - who does what? That's my territory. That's why it looks so bad. We all hate doing it but we love it when it looks pretty and we can have fresh cut flowers in the house. The HOA mows the lawn. I have to do all the flower beds and sometimes I get help from Sally or Victor.

zzz’s - what is your last homemaking task for the day? Let the dog out for one last time. g'night.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Portland's housing market lamblike as springtime nears

The median price for metro-area homes is up about 12 percent
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
(as published in the Oregonian)


As the all-important spring selling season approaches, Portland's housing market continues to show signs of slackening.
The median home price in the Portland metropolitan area was $275,000 in January, according to figures released Tuesday by the Regional Multiple Listing Service.
That's up nearly 12 percent compared with January 2006. But home prices have essentially been flat since late spring, and have even come down a hair since their peak in June, when the market was gyrating upward and the area's median price hit $280,000.
New listings were up 19 percent in January compared with the same period last year, and closed sales were down 9 percent. Consequently, the inventory of homes for sale in the region hit a 6.2 month supply in January -- its highest level in five years. The average market time for a home sale was 65 days, up from 44 days in January 2006.


The softening trend mirrors the story nationwide, though the region's market remains relatively stronger than almost all other areas of the country. By historical standards, it is still quite healthy and continues to benefit from a strong regional economy and low interest rates.
"It's the thing we expected, transitioning from a seller's to a buyer's market," said Jerry Johnson of Johnson Gardner, a Portland economic consulting firm. "If this is as bad as it gets, we can live with that."


While median home prices still show strong growth year over year, Johnson thinks those comparisons will get tougher as spring wears on. For the year, he thinks the Portland area will do well to see prices hold at current levels, a soft landing that will look positively muscular compared with some metropolitan areas around the country. Still, Johnson cautions, "There's no way we're replicating the first six months of 2006 in the first six months of 2007."


Don't tell that to area home builders and real estate agents, who are still sounding a boosterish note as they head into home sales prime time. Many of them blame the media for spreading doom-and-gloom stories that have scared away buyers, and say there's plenty of pent-up demand that will fuel sales this year. "In reality, the market is still incredible -- it's not like we're Las Vegas or Arizona, where we can continue to build into the desert," said Rob Young, a broker in Clackamas County.


Yet RMLS statistics and anecdotal accounts suggest that Clackamas County -- specifically Happy Valley -- is one of the weakest pockets in the metro area precisely because there is so much new building going on. The average time on the market in Clackamas County was 84 days, compared with the metro average of 65 days. "I'm signing off on the same number of deals in this office," Young said. "I don't see a difference."


Likewise, Brian Bellairs, an agent with The Meadows Group in Beaverton, says he senses a decent equilibrium in the market, with some recent signs that activity is heating up.
"We don't know how hot it's going to be, but we think there are more buyers in the marketplace," Bellairs said.


Arbor Custom Homes, one of the area's largest home builders, said its sold a record 95 homes in January, following its record of 67 home sales in December. That's quite a change since last summer and fall, when Arbor was seeing a 50 percent cancellation rate on home sales because buyers were scared off by stories about the imminent bursting of a real estate bubble, said Wally Remmers, the company's co-owner.


Johnson, the consultant, says he hopes area home builders will show some restraint in coming months and let the market catch up with supply. There are already signs that they have their ears to the ground. The number of building permits issued for privately-owned housing units in the Portland area was 663 in December, down more than 50 percent from December 2005 and substantially less than any month in the last two years, according to census figures.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

$4.00 Vignette


I need a little sprucing up around here. I mean, Christmas is over and I finished the last of the holiday decoration purge on Superbowl weekend. But what do you put in all those bare spots once the holiday gear is gone?
Well, the primroses are only $1. at the grocery store, so I grabbed 3. I had a bag of moss from the Dollar Store.
So.....I threw a few silver pieces on a table, (or baskets or pottery - we have silver, thanks to mom and grandpa, who have bequeathed us with tons of old stuff) and drop the plants in, fill with moss and voila! $4 later, plus a bag of candy for the dish, we have spring in the house.
I even finished the fall clean-up on the garden last week. Just in time for the Spring clean-up, which I might be able to save until summer.
Procrastination can be rewarding.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Phones


I was so hot for the Treo 600 once it was released, I could hardly wait. What a gorgeous phone! Even Brian Allen was impressed with it! Of course AT&T strung me along and never delivered on my pre-order, so I bought it directly from Palm - which may have been a good thing because they treated me well during my hundreds of phone calls to India to complain about the phone. I should say phones. They sent me at least 4 replacements of the 600 and finally just gave up and upgraded me to the new 650. It took so long to resolve my Treo 600 issues the new model was out.


That little beauty lasted for three years. I loved it. Except when I hung up on people because a part of my face or ear or something would touch the off button on the screen. Or when it constantly froze between calls. Or when the data synch ceased to work in spite of the purchase of a new cord. My love faded. And faded. Yet I was stuck. All my data (clients, vendors, friends, family, lists, memos, my beloved PITI calculator, everything!) was in Palm format. The easiest switch would have been to the 700. But 700 owners were hating the thing.


Just in time, out comes the 680. The new improved 650 without all the extra junk that made the 700 unweildy. The perfect solution! I rushed out and bought one. Popped all my data into and was back in business in a half hour. Except it died within a week. And the replacement phone suffered from the same horrible reception. I couldn't place a call in my neighborhood.


While the Real Estate industry has embraced the Treo as the phone for Realtors, the new 680's have the worst reception (they got rid of the external antenna) and the 700 has too much stuff going on. (Do you really need to download documents to read on your telephone while you're out selling property? I don't) I hardly know a soul who actually likes using their Treo.


But the Real Estate big-wigs have reeeally fallen for the Treo. Now Realtors can use their Treo to open lockboxes! No more carrying the little black box.


But if you can't make a phone call, who cares if you can open a lockbox. If your earring hangs up on your clients, or your phone freezes every time you switch from call to call, how good a Realtor are you really being?


So I fell for the Blackjack. It seemed to do everything the Treo had done for me. And it gets reception in Portland Heights. And on SW Skyline. And places where I hadn't ever been able to make a call. The phone doesn't hang up on people! I can google. I can send funny pictures.


While it took me an entire day to transfer all my data from Palm to Outlook, I'm in love with Blackjack. And it has satellite radio and will keep me company with miniature tv shows! (BTW, the rest of my family uses the "Dash" from TMobile, and it has very similar capabilities)


Bye bye Treo. Blackjack had me at hello.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Organization 101

As much as I'd love to tell you all that I'm always organized in every way, you know I'm not.
I mean, I get my job done in an organized way, and I can put my hand on almost anything within five seconds, but my jewelry was pretty much of a disaster area. Some on a shelf, some in bowls on my vanity, and some on an ancient belt organizer along with belts and sashes and... you get the picture.
I don't know how I came up with this plan, but it's been floating around my head for about 6 months - and finally I bought the parts and Norris assembled it for me.
It's just a couple of those coated wire racks for kitchens that they sell at Storables - and we hung them on the wall of my closet. There are all sorts of hooks and things, and I especially love the long racks that hold an armfull of bangle bracelets... and then there's a little basket at the bottom for all of my watches and cuffs and.....
Well I could go crazy organizing stuff with all the containers and things at Storables.
The cost of this project? About $45. (half of that was for all the hooks. There's probably a cheaper way - but I like it all matchy)
Will you see me wearing jewelry more often? You tell me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Let's Compare Utilities Costs!










Moving can be very exciting...but it can also be a bit of a pain as well. Besides packing and unpacking, there is a long list of details to be handled. Things like choosing a mover, connecting utilities, getting Internet and cable service, or subscribing to newspapers or magazines in a new area can be quite a chore. And if you forget to connect one of the utilities you could be stuck in your new home for several days without that much needed service. To ease the stress of moving and schedule new connections for all of the utilities in one convenient location, simply logon to www.whitefence.com. (click on the Title of this blog entry above!)

You can quickly compare prices for movers, phone, electricity, television, or high-speed Internet. Just select the service you wish to compare (e.g., phone, cable, electric, etc.) or enter your address on the home page, hit search, and within seconds a list of services and prices available in that area will appear. Next, click on the service of your choice to view details and pricing or comparison shop by choosing three providers. Once you determine the provider, select the service plan, complete the requested information, enter the connection date, and within minutes a confirmation will be sent to you.

If you want to change your current provider, simply hit the icon for phone, cable, or internet, select "switch provider", complete the requested information and a list of providers in the local area will appear. Choose the new provider and the service will be changed.

Additionally, on the site you can complete a change of address form, subscribe to local newspapers, and order magazine subscriptions. Moving to a new home should be enjoyable and exciting. Using this tool can help remove a bit of the stress of moving and will also help save valuable time

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Let's talk about 2006 Real Estate Sale Prices


Interested in the figures on 2006 Sale Prices in the Portland area?



Average
Sale Price / Median Sale Price / Area

$245,400 / $235,500 / North Portland (area 141)
$302,500 / $265,000 / Northeast Portland(area 142)
$266,700 / $234,500 / Southeast Portland (area 143)
$265,200 / $248,000 / Gresham, Troutdale (area 144)
$353,100 / $307,200 / Milwaukie, Clackamas (area 145)
$326,200 / $286,000 / Oregon City, Canby (area 146)
$528,100 / $443,800 / Lake Oswego, West Linn (area 147)
$452,300 / $378,100 / West Portland (area 148)
$397,600 / $359,000 / Northwest Washington County (area 149)
$277,800 / $251,000 / Beaverton, Aloha (area 150)
$356,400 / $322,000 / Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood,Wilsonville
(area 151)
$282,300 / $260,000 / Hillsboro, Forest Grove (area 152)

How does your neighborhood stack up?

If you're looking for a bargain or to pick up a fixer, you might want to check out Southeast, North Portland or the Beav. I have happy clients in all of those neighborhoods - in fact, the last house I sold was in North Beaverton (off Walker Road just West of 217) and it's a darling bungalow on a large corner lot. Sale price? $227,750. He's got a chance to make some good $$ on that one!




Morton Tree Service - such fine people!


I met an expert to look at the root creeping under the foundation at my client's future house. His metaphors made me smile. "Imagine the tree as a man. The major growing took place from birth to twenty years old. This tree is like a 75 year old man. It's still going to grow, but not very much. Cutting that root would be like cutting off a man's leg."


Needless to say, D. is going to keep the tree and the root and just keep an eye on his foundation in the years to come. And he's going to love tha told tree even more, now that he has such a beautiful comparison!



Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pomegranates


Do you know how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate? (besides slowly picking them out) For a great tecnique, click on link above to the article on Epicurious...

And then shake up a white cosmopolitan (made with white cranberry juice) and drop a spoonful of pomegranate seeds into the glass for an elegant cocktail!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Small Donation, Big Payoff

This looks like a perfect place to put a few dollars. Like maybe $10 here and $5 there, and watch it add up and make a difference.


Kiva.org allows you to help finance businesses for those who really need it. Zip over to kiva.org (or click on the title of this blog entry above) and see what you can do for someone.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow Day Part Deux

Another day at home. Toasty fire, good book, a big pot of chili. Let it snow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Golden Globe Dresses



My favorite?



Probably JLo.








I also loved this one, though I'm in the minority, it appears.












This dress looked fantastic on stage as Emily Blunt accepted her award. Not as great now that I can see it's basically a short dress over a flowy skirt. Still, she looks awesome. And her boyfriend can really sing!











Favorite acceptance speeches?

Meryl Street
Hugh Laurie
Jennifer Hudson

If you haven't seen Dreamgirls, please do.
My movie list just got longer... next up? The Departed.

One Day Later




















Yesterday's garden... parsley still happy in its pot. Heather and primroses and promises of spring.












This morning we awoke to a snowstorm and 6" has fallen. There were cross-country skiiers on the soccer field. Dogs doing crazy donuts. Our dog Boomer couldn't get enough of the snow - as soon as he came in, he cried until I let him go out again. Norris stopped to help the elderly neighbors who were having a tough time wheeling their trash cans to the curb. Traffic was stopped and there were many cars in the ditch on the "S" curve just outside our neighborhood.

Me? I just stayed home and made chili, shoveled the walk, dealt with some paperwork, and had a snow day, one of life's unexpected pleasures.



Monday, January 15, 2007

Roots



Remember Tremors? The 1990 Movie with the big wormy things that chased Kevin Bacon & Fred Ward around the Nevada desert?

I hate to admit it, but at my home inspection today, the inspector found a big root had worked its way under the foundation and it wormed its way into the crawlspace. I could think of nothing other than Tremors! I haven't mentioned the similarities to D. yet, but I'm sure once we figure out how to deal with the root, he'll share the joke with me.

It's still pretty cold here, and I'm sad to hear of the enormous damage done to the citrus and fruit crops in California. Gosh, I hope the vinyards are OK!

I have to share a new recipe. Yesterday I decided to use the brown bananas in the fruit bowl rather than throw them away. I knew there had to be a good recipe out there for a low-fat banana bread, and I found a sugarfree one as well. We're enjoying the bread very much and I hope you do too.

Low Fat-Sugar Free Banana Bread

16 servings (one Weight Watcher point per serving)

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cut unsweetened applesauce
1 Cup Splenda Sugar Substitute (I used Splenda Brown Sugar)
2 eggs
1 Cup mashed bananas (I used about 2.5 bananas)
2 tablespoons skim milk or orange juice

Grease loaf pan
Mix all ingredients
Bake in a 350 degree oven 45 minutes
Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out cleanStore at room temperature up to 3 days or in refrigerator up to one week.

Claire went back to Arizona today. She has two really exciting job interviews coming up and we're so anxious to see what happens. We know she'll chose something wonderful and they'll be lucky to have her! (I'm voting for the job that involves trips to Paris and Australia!)

I wish she were here to watch the Golden Globes with me. We always enjoy critiquing the dresses.... I'll have to mention my favorites tomorrow. I am thrilled by Jennifer Hudson's win.

I met a great organizer today. In spite of the fact that I'm not exactly neat, I know where everything is. But I know a few people who could use her talents. I cleaned my closet yesterday and I'm going to have fun dressing now that I've uncovered a bunch of hidden gems. And I have several large bags to donate.

I bought valentines today!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Cold Saturday

Wow, it was chilly today! Thank goodness for my car's heated seats! What a baby I've become after growing up in Wisconsin!

This morning I spent some time with my book, (I may never finish!) drank lots of coffee with Norris & Claire, and finally decided to head out around noon to look at pants at the GAP. I didn't get pants, but I found two wonderful sweaters on sale for $10 each!

In case you're wondering about the deal I was working on yesterday, we were able to pull it together & D has a new house! I also started working with M - a fun-sounding young condo buyer, who was a referral from Becky. Becky filled me in on her sister, Carrie (they are both clients and such awesome girls) who adpoted a beautiful baby girl from Ethiopia! I got a chance to hear all about it, and perhaps I can share a link to her blog...Maia is a gorgeous 6-month old girl! It's so fun for me to re-connect with my past clients and hear how their lives are going.

Last night I switched gears and tried a new recipe, which turned out to be quite good, and very easy. It was bow-tie pasta with tomato & brie.... here's the details...

While cooking a box of pasta, chop about 2 large, or 3-4 roma tomatoes, 3/4 cup fresh basil, 1/2 small red onion, 2 cloves garlic, and 12 oz brie (in small cubes) ... toss it all in a large pasta bowl with salt & pepper, and when the pasta's done, just stir it all together. The heat melts the brie, warms the tomato, & it's so delicious & quick!

I checked in with Cam and his first week of the trimester at U of O was great - he and Whit have a table tennis class together! He's also taking math, econ, psychology & a business computer class. Sounds like the musician is veering towards business. (yay!)

I'm finally getting used to my new Blackjack phone. It was hard to give up on using a Treo, since all my data was in Palm format, but the new model had such horrible reception that I had to return it. This slim, sleek little Blackjack has already made me forget all about my dear Treo! Converting all my data wasn't too horrible, and now I'm back in business.

Tonight we watched Little Miss Sunshine - what a funny, dark little film. It gives me high hopes for my nephew Scott's movie, which premieres in June at the L.A. Film Festival. Watch for news on Kabluey, starring Scott Prendergast and Lisa Kudrow. It's also a dark comedy, which he wrote, directed and starred in!

Yesterday I signed up to volunteer with the Western Farm Workers Association. I'll help deliver food, clothing & other resources to seasonal and service workers. The goal is to assist workers as farmers are being squeezed by growing competition from overseas. (I remember my mother helping migrant workers in Wisconsin when I was growing up and the crush I had on the cutest one of the boys, Rudy.)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Welcome

I've fiddled around with blogging during the last year, and read my favorites every day, so it's high time I get started with a blog about my little world. There's always something going on in my life, and of course you know I love to talk about myself, so welcome to my premiere post in the blog that's all about me.


Last night we had dinner with a business associate of Norris' and his new, young girlfriend. Claire joined us (she's leaving to go back to Phoenix on Sunday) and we had a nice, cozy dinner at Mingo. ( I had the Mingo salad - a very lemony caesar-like salad and seared scallops over lentils & arugula) The restaurant has 100-year old farm tables and lots of candles, and the best olive oil! It was so delicious and so olivey (imagine that!) that I had to ask what brand it was. It turns out it's their own "marinated" olive oil - they throw in a bunch of olives, bay leaves, rosemary, whole cloves of garlic & a touch of red pepper flakes and marinate it for a while. Then it's strained - it's still cloudy in the decanter - and served with amazing soft, crusty italian bread. I wanted to swipe the bottle. But instead, I'm going to try to make it myself!

Later last night, Cousin Charlie arrived in a hot new Mustang. He'll be visiting family and friends in Portland for 10 days and he's staying in our big, almost empty house. He's tons of fun and we love having him.

I'm working with a very fun new couple who have offered to buy a cute little house on a big corner lot. We're just a smidge apart in the negotiations, and last night we made one more attempt to come together on price. I'm very hopeful that today we'll seal the deal. If not, I get to spend more time with them, which is fine, since this all went very quickly and they're fun!

Today I have to spend at least a couple of hours reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I'm on page 100 of 607 and I need to finish in time for my Book Club meeting on January 25. We have no major weekend plans, though Claire and I rented four movies and I feel like making chili or hearty soup of some sort.

Tonight's dinner: Thai-Style Steak Salad, courtesy of Martha Stewart.


One last thought...

Is it necessary to update my business card photo? It's about nine years old. A crucial nine years. But my hair is the same. So do I need to fess up and get a new photo? Because I don't want to.

Have a fun day!