Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookie Party

The girls came over for our 16th annual cookie party last night! The format has changed over the years, (last year we held it in a pub because we were snowed-in, but could all walk to the pub!) but it's essentially the same crew and it's a party that we all look forward to all year long. We missed those who couldn't come this year - I was late in sending out the invitations! Pingg to the rescue!

The gift exchange is at the end of the night, when we're all loosened up and spirits are high. Lots of stealing, and side deals (thanks, Joy! I got the vase I wanted thanks to our "arrangement") and we all go home with a fun present and great cookies! Here are a few pics.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fa La La La La

Happy Holidays!!

Here is a short list of things to do while the gang is in town for the holidays and you're tired of shopping, baking, wrapping, eating, or just want to get out of the house! Have fun!!

Mount Hood Railroad presents — “The Polar Express” Read along with the story as the train makes its magical journey to the North Pole. Meet Santa and enjoy caroling, hot cocoa, a treat and a special gift for each child. Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas.

Mount Hood Railroad

11/13/09 — 12/23/09

110 Railroad Avenue, Hood River, OR 97031 800-872-4661

Afternoon Trains depart at 5:00pm and return at 6:30pm Evening Trains depart at 8:00pm and return at 9:30pm (evening trains not available all days — check schedule)

$26 for Adults $18 for ages 2 and up

Pittock Mansion presents “Tinsel, Trees & Traditions”

Experience 150 years of Christmas traditions at Pittock Mansion this holiday season. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Oregon’s statehood, decorated rooms in the Mansion will illustrate different traditions of Christmas, including decorating trees, writing Christmas cards, serving holiday foods, playing Christmas music, and giving gifts.

Pittock Mansion, 3229 NW Pittock Drive, Portland, OR 97210 503-823-3623
11/23/09 — 12/31/09

$8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children (aged 6-18); children 5 and under are free.

picture courtesy of Oregonlive.com

Holiday Tea at the Heathman (my personal favorite)
The Heathman’s Holiday Tea kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with three daily seatings from November 28 through January 4, 2009. Reservations will be available starting Friday, November 14th at 6 a.m. for this popular — and cherished — family tradition. With the two-story tall Christmas tree and festive decorations throughout the historic tea court, the Heathman’s annual Holiday Tea is perfect after shopping, with a friend or as a family celebration.

Heathman Hotel, 1001 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205 503-790-7752
Seatings are daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m

Adults are $32 per person and the Peter Rabbit Tea for Little Sippers is $14 per person.

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The Schnitz offers performances including a mix of religious winter holidays, singing Christmas trees and even some sugar plum fairies. New and old, heartwarming holiday traditions.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Since 1984, Chip Davis' Mannheim Steamroller has rung in the holidays with their ... 12/19/2009 Saturday 4:00p

Comfort and Joy
Join us for a program of all-time holiday favorites. Selections include excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, the Pifa from Handel's Messiah and Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Greensleeves. This is a chance to sing holiday favorites with your family and the Oregon Symphony.
12/21/2009 Monday 7:30p

Portland Youth Philharmonic: Concert At Christmas 12/26/2009 Saturday 7:30p

Oregon Symphony: Happy Holidays
Help ring in the holidays with a celebration of the season's many musical traditions ... 12/31/2009 Thursday 2:00p

Pink Martini New Years Eve 12/31/2009 Thursday 7:00p

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway 503.248.4335

Peacock Lane

Go see the lights on Peacock Lane and you'll find nothing but good, old-fashioned holiday spirit. Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas. Mostly Tudors, the houses are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Be forewarned: this is a very popular Portland tradition and the crowds can get quite thick. It is wise to park several blocks away and walk, rather than drive through the area. Better yet, take a ride in the horse-drawn carriage.

Peacock Lane is between SE Stark St. and SE Belmont St. and one block east of SE 39th.
5pm - 11pm
December 15 - December 31

Zoo Lights at the Washington Park Zoo

See the zoo transformed into a winter wonderland, aglow with a million lights.

More than 200 animated animals swing through trees, jump across lawns, hide in bushes and appear in places where they're least expected. Displays include swinging monkeys, leaping frogs, flying bats, diving penguins and a perfect-for-photos light sculpture featuring a dozen animals.

Nov. 27-Jan. 3
closed Dec. 24-25

Sun-Thurs: 5-8 p.m.
Fri-Sat: 5-8:30 p.m. You can stay until one hour after gate closes.

Admission including train ride:
Adults (12 to 64) $10.75
Seniors (65 and over) $9.25
Children (3 to 11) $7.75
Infants 2 & under free

Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grotto

A celebration of Christmas, including a half-million lights, 150 musical performances, puppet shows, petting zoo, carolers & more.

November 27, 2009-Wednesday, December 30, 2009
5 p.m.-9 p.m. with gates closing at 10 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

$7.50 general admission
$3 children ages 3-12
2 & under are free
Please Bring canned or dry food for SnowCap.

Seasonal food and beverages are available, as well as shopping in The Grotto’s Christian Gift and Bookstore. In our Visitor Complex we offer a display of nativity sets from around the world which are available for purchase.

The Christmas Festival of Lights is a walk-through event. While entertainment areas are fully tented and all concerts are performed indoors, visitors should dress for the weather. The average visit may last 75 to 90 minutes. The Festival is accessible to those with disabilities. Free parking is available.The Festival offers over 140 indoor holiday music concerts. A tentative schedule is available on our web-site.

Festival of Lights Hot Line: 503-261-2400

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

B&B - the more expensive unit

The youtube videos will capture the rooms - here are a few photos as backup.

Photos for Byron

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Shopping

Happy Shopping

This one is only good in the stores, so print it out!

Happy Shopping

Valid November 6 - 8, 2009. Not valid at LOFT stores or LOFT online.


Finally, finally our voices have been heard and today we can celebrate what will prove to be a very important move forward for real estate.

The Senate has unanimously voted 98-0 to extend the first time home buyer tax credit. It passed overwhelmingly in the House,(403-12) and the White House reports President Obama will sign the bill today. Not only was the first time home buyer tax credit extended, a NEW $6,500 tax credit for existing homeowners who have lived in their homes for at least five of the last eight years was added to the bill.

Senator Johnny Isakson (a co-sponsor of the measure) said “this bill will help us boost what is the REAL problem in the U.S housing market today and that is what is called the move-up market." Johnny hit the nail right on the head. The move-up market has been stalled and even though the first time home buyer market was helped along with the initial tax credit it was not enough to move the “middle” market. This “middle” market desperately needed a jump start. And, we got it today.

These tax credits will be available through June 30th of 2010; however, buyers who qualify for either of these credits MUST enter a binding contract before April 30, 2010. The bill also increases the income cap to $125,000 for a single person and $250,000 for a couple. And the credit is available for all homes purchased for $800,000 or less. This is ideal, as it will break up the middle part of the market that is currently stalled.

To make things even sweeter, the bill also provides the jobless with up to 20 weeks in additional unemployment benefits. Thank goodness for the help, since the construction industry was hit very hard by this economic downturn. Thanks really need to go to people like Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project who blasted Senate and said it was “shameful” that the Senate procrastinated on the unemployment extension issue. Conti said “this bill would provide a lifeline for those who are desperate, who are unemployed for no fault of their own”. With a current unemployment rate of 9.8% this extension comes at the perfect time.

And it gets even better!!! The 24 billion dollar bill will also provide help to struggling businesses that had losses in 2008 and 2009. They would now be able to seek refunds for taxes paid on profits over the past 5 years.

So is it official yet? Almost - we are in the home stretch. The bill is expected to be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature on Friday, November 6th.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remodel before selling?

Despite home price drops in many cities, remodeling projects are holding their own as a way for owners to add value.

Another good reason for that remodel is the fact that buyers are having to put more money down to get a loan, so they are using up their available cash just to get the house. Remodeling loans or second mortgages are hard to come by, consequently, buyers are starting to forego the sweat equity or light remodel homes in favor of completely "done" properties.

So what project should you tackle? Adding a bath to a one-bathroom house, adding a legal bedroom, or putting on a nice, big deck are examples of projects that are really going to help sell your home and make it more liveable. New windows, energy efficient heating and cooling, fresh paint and carpet are excellent. Custom projects that suit your hobbies or personality are a bad idea for a return on your investment. But sprucing up the house so it belongs in the twenty first century is a fabulous idea, and doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

My house was built in 1992. It should be in pretty good shape, right? Well, if I were going to put it on the market, I'd have to replace all the carpet, the kitchen appliances are well-used and looking worn, the bathroom faucets are dated, and my kitchen needs a facelift. Last year we replaced all the siding, and installed new windows in the front half of the house and a brand new deck. Things fall apart and if you don't constantly keep up with it, the scope and cost of the projects can be huge. But light fixtures, faucets, paint and great accessories will do wonders.

If your house was built in the 70's or 80's, the style may need some tweaking. Lots of wooden railings, wood paneling and angled vaults? They'll require modern paint colors, great flooring and new railings to step into 2010.

Please check with your Realtor before you install granite counters into granny's 1940 house. Period updates are worth a lot more than a kitchen that looks like it came out of Home Depot, and your Realtor can supply you with photos of other properties that were done right. Nothing is worse than the cost and effort of a bad remodel that doesn't gain you anything in your sale. Let's work on the project together and get you the most bang for your buck.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

For Tracy

Jack's Zucchini Bread

4 eggs
1 1/2 cup cooking oil
3 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups grated zucchini
4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips or raisins or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 tablespoons cinnamon (this is the secret!)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups nuts (optional - Jack never uses nuts)
Mix together, pour into loaf pans, bake at 325 degrees for 70 minutes.
Makes 2 large loaves.

This is a large recipe - one for you and one for a friend. The heavy dose of cinnamon is correct, and it makes this recipe different from most. I like it a lot!

Hope you do too!

Adventures in Babysitting

Favorite clients/friends have a new baby boy. Her sister wondered if I might be up for a two hour babysitting gig while they went out for a birthday lunch. Are you kidding? I would love nothing more than two uninterrupted hours with a newborn. (Sarah, I'm so glad you called me!)

When I got there he was quietly awake, but after a bit.... WAH!

Hm. He didn't like the clear pacifier. Let's try this green one.

I Likey.

So comfy.

He's so smart already. Look at him showing me his pinky!

Rock on! Ok, now I'm getting really sleepy.

I think I'll take a nap for an hour and forty five minutes.

No problemo. I'll just hold you and snuggle you until Mommy gets home.

Ahhhhhh. There's nothing sweeter.