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!


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 or at post offices nationwide.