Welcome to 2016. I feel like I should write something profound about how to make the most out of another year, or how to do something better, or lessons we learned from the Seahawks falling short of a third Superbowl bid (but we are extremely proud of our team!).
But I’m not coming up with anything really profound to share, except to say that in 2016 I want to enjoy my family as much as possible. All our kids are still with us and we know that time is short so Joe and I want to make the most of it. And what better way?
Eat more pizza!
Pizza is a food group in our family. We eat it together probably once a week, and the freezer is always full of the frozen variety. With crazy schedules, they often are baking at odd hours in our house.
But we also love to try it on our adventures and have eaten pizza on most of our trips and many spots around town. While we love the pies created by local chains like The Rock, Zeeks, or MOD, I would love to share with you our top three picks for independent pizza dives.
Number 3: Topolino's Pizza: located on NE 8th in Bellevue in one of the last remaining original strip malls, this true dive is probably better for take-out (there are only a couple of small tables). Traditional Brooklyn-style pizza is served (also available on gluten-free crust) along with salads, subs, pasta and calzones. Try the Topolino’s Special, a combination of all the good stuff.
Number 2: Flying Pie Pizza: Joe and I first tasted Flying Pie in Portland while we were in college (so we’ve broken the one-off rule a bit here). In 1997, they opened a store in downtown Issaquah (also in an old strip mall) and once we discovered it, it became a family favorite. The toppings are chunky and piled high—after a slice or two of this pie, you are stuffed! Try one of the combos (and they have gluten-free crust as well). Get your soda by the pitcher, enjoy the salad bar, and have fun hanging out with friends in this good old-fashioned dive.
Number 1 (drumroll!!): Village Pizzeria: our absolute favorite! Village is located in Langley on Whidbey Island (our happy place!) and has recently expanded to include an entire glass line with spectacular views of the Sound. But even before they had the prime spot in town for whale watching, we loved their pizza. It’s true New York-style (the owner is from there), they only take cash, and they don’t have a website so you’ll have to take my word for it. We love the Combination (as you can tell) but our absolute favorite, and their specialty, is their Pesto Pizza (pictured). It’s layered with thick, molten mozzarella and drizzled with an outstanding, garlicy pesto. One bite and not only have you lost a layer off the roof of your mouth (that’s required with any great pizza), but you will think you have tasted heaven. They sell their pizza by the pie or you can also get it by the slice if you need a snack while perusing the charming town. In the summer, couple your slice with a house salad (they make, and sell, their own yummy dressing) and enjoy the outdoor patio overlooking the water.
So there you go. Our favorite pies. What’s yours? We will want to try it!
Windermere recently launched a new advertising campaign with the tagline, "Your Story is Our Story." The only problem with this is that I didn't come up with it first. Because this line encompasses how I see my business–as part of my life.
Buying a house is an intensely personal rite of passage, and the fact that I get to navigate this journey with so many isn't lost on me. It's a deep privilege. In the past two years, I have helped people find their homes in fourteen cities from Everett to Bonney Lake (did you even know there were that many?). Every one of them were sent to me by family, friends, or clients. I'm often asked what area I work. And my answer is always the same–I work with people, not just an area. I go where they need me to go (within reason).
Every client I count as a friend by the time we've walked their journey to (or from) home ownership together. Their reasons for embarking on the journey are all unique: a young family that needs more space, a newly married couple buying their first home together, a couple downsizing after decades in one place, a single person out on her own for the first time, a family new to the Northwest, and the list goes on. All the journeys are different, all are emotional, all have their moments of reflection and moments of elation. Beyond the scope of my negotiating skills or plodding through necessary paperwork, I am often there as the voice of reason, or to help make sense of the choices, or just to give a hug when it's hard to say good-bye to a home filled with memories.
So for me, real estate isn't just a job. It's becoming a part of your life and your story. And then, it's my story, too.
I love summer. I love painted toenails and sandals, going sleeveless at ten o’clock at night and not being cold, eating every meal outside, iced tea by the gallon, and a less-rigid schedule.
My husband recently commented that I usually go into fall kicking and screaming. He’s right. I do. Because summer is never enough. Never enough blue sky, never enough time at the beach, never enough days to sleep in, never enough memories made.
But this year we had the most spectacular summer I can remember. The blue skies were endless, we ate outside all but a half-a-handful of days, we made monumental memories with family and friends, we enjoyed hot temps at the beach (lake and sea!), we watched the Blue Angels all four days. Simply, we had fun. We milked summer for all it was worth and enjoyed every moment.
As I go into fall this year, I am satisfied. Summer was satisfying, maybe more than ever before. And while my feet aren’t ready for boots and I’m not really welcoming the sight of red leaves yet, I am looking forward to making more memories of a different sort. Watching my oldest soar in her major and tackle new challenges in her work, walking alongside my son as he begins his college adventure and starts the process of becoming a true grown-up, and hanging onto childhood a little longer through my youngest as she navigates the rest of high school without her siblings nearby.
So bring it on. Bring on the football games and the pumpkin spiced lattes. Bring on the falling leaves and cozy dinners in the kitchen. I’m ready. And just so you know, my toenails will still be painted inside my boots.
For a while now, my extended immediate family has wanted to take a trip together. A memory-maker. When we contemplated where to go, Hawaii usually came up as a great option. That was comfortable for me–besides Whidbey Island and maybe Bellevue Square, Maui is my other “Happy Place” destination.
When the opportunity to participate in a music festival in New York City’s Central Park presented itself, the trip took a different turn. Because our family can’t seem to contemplate a vacation without a beach, we thought of Bermuda as a natural add-on to that excursion. From our research, it seemed worth the risk to try something new. We boarded the short flight from New York with pretty mild expectations and a weather app that told us it was going to rain the whole week. It lied.
Our sun-filled week in Bermuda was exceptional. From our first glimpse of the crystal clear, turquoise blue, 84-degree water lapping over soft, white sand, to the extremely friendly, kind and beautiful Bermudians, we loved it all.
The architecture is something out of a coffee table book—colorful, stucco houses, churches and shops topped with white roofs (they are all required to be white, covered in lime and calcium to purify the rain water for drinking), many of the buildings having been built in the 1800’s. Picturesque St. George’s was the first inhabited town and the history there is fascinating. The small city of Hamilton reminded us of Victoria, B.C.
The beaches are as beautiful as you would expect, and the sand at the famed Horseshoe Bay Beach is silky soft, hinting of coral pink. With the salt water beach at our hotel feeling like a pool, we rarely went to the actual pool.
The food isn’t necessarily different or ethnic—there is a British flair—but it’s very good, and our daughter was moved to tears when they happily accommodated her gluten-free diet, right down to hamburger buns and bread for sandwiches.
The island doesn’t offer rental car service so we relied on the very efficient, clean and safe public bus system, giving us a great tour of the island. Most expats don’t even own cars (they are too expensive for non-Bermudians) so scooters are very common. And because it’s very difficult for non-Bermudians to own property on the island (most expats rent), the island feels very uncluttered and authentic.
We had so much fun discovering hidden treasures, like the Blue Hole—a hidden swimming hole near our hotel; swimming inside caves with formations thousands of years old; Steven, the hotel employee who dubbed my dad “Uncle Sam”, giving him rides up and down the hills and taking our family’s picture; the beautiful back alleys of St. George’s paved with very old cobblestones; taking a hike to find an old Fort and on the way discovering an exquisite beach; the Rum Swizzle and the Dark & Stormy; using the fine, white sand as an exfoliator (we all have smooth skin!); the enjoyment of family in a relaxed, beautiful environment.
So my list of Happy Places has grown. And next time, I won’t be so reluctant to try something new. My list might get longer, and that’s a happy thing.
This past weekend, our second child, our only son, graduated from High School. Much of my time in the days preceding was spent going through pictures, capturing moments to display on his Reflection Board. As I looked back at the process of a little boy turning into a man, I remembered a conversation among a group of friends long ago, probably at the park as our kids played together. These friends, most of whom had kids just a little older than mine, were talking about their favorite stages of childhood, from a mother’s perspective. One friend said something that has always stuck with me:
“Every stage is my favorite.”
How true it is:
When they are babies, it’s my favorite because they are adorable, cuddly, and miraculous.
When they are toddlers, it’s my favorite because they are doing something new every day, the age of discovery.
When they are moving into school age, it’s my favorite because their independence immerges and their personalities develop.
When they approach the teen years, it’s my favorite because they are big enough to have an opinion and be on their own a bit, but small enough to still give mom hugs that fit under her chin.
When they start driving, it’s my favorite because the taxi service slows down and the adult in them starts to show.
When they are in their late teens, it’s my favorite because we can do adult things together, and since we have given them freedom, they still like to be with us.
Right now, the graduation stage is my favorite. A little less parenting, a little more friendship and sage advice. And a big world out there waiting to be tested and explored.
I’m enjoying every moment, until the next stage.
My Mother’s Day gift 20 years ago, just after our first daughter was born, was a cell phone. It only had 30 minutes of talk time, per month, and was kept in my car’s glove box for emergencies. We hadn’t yet heard of texts. We were among the last of our group of friends to sign up for the internet, which happened a couple of years later. Email came after that. If we wanted to communicate with someone, we picked up the phone, attached to the wall by a cord. We watched, and recorded, movies on VHS tapes, off our TV that only got about five channels and had an antenna sticking up the back.
In the real estate world, new listings were discovered in a big book delivered by the Multiple Listing Service to each office every two weeks. If you wanted to get a hold of your agent, you called their office, or their pager (many of you probably still remember Joe’s pager number!). Getting a hold of clients was the same process. Fortunately, everyone had answering machines back then and the blinking red light was the first thing we looked for every time we walked into our homes.
When technology started to take off and finding a home online became easier, many thought the relevancy of the real estate broker would fade away. But the relevancy of what we do has remained strong, with 89% of buyers and sellers still using real estate professionals to help them buy and sell homes. Why? Simply, for most people the biggest purchase or sale they will ever make is their home. A good real estate agent can help a buyer obtain suitable financing before they find the home, prepare them for a possible multiple-offer scenario, negotiate the best terms, and see the transaction through escrow. For sellers, a broker can help prepare the home for sale, implement effective marketing, negotiate the best terms, track the buyer’s progress, and see it through escrow to close on time.
Peace of mind is priceless to 89% of Americans. That’s something that will never change.
If you were like me this morning, you did something out of the norm and turned on the TV as soon as you awoke, sure it had been a dream. But no, it really happened, and the Seahawks made history with that crazy comeback to earn a return trip to the Superbowl. I am still stunned, as I am sure is most of the country, but grateful to be on this ride with my fellow 12’s. Tons of life lessons from this wild game can be learned. Here’s what I’m choosing to take away:
- Never Give Up. This goes without saying, needs no explanation, and deserves to be #1.
- Don’t Doubt Your Abilities. I will admit, I was a doubter. With five minutes left in the game, I congratulated our friends in Green Bay. She had to remind me to “hold on—it’s not over yet.”
- Give Credit Where It’s Due. I didn’t hear one Hawk take glory for himself—they all passed it along. No one was a hero. It was an incredible team effort.
- Stay Focused. It would have been easy to give in to the scoreboard. They just focused on the ball.
- Use Your Cheering Section. The 12’s had a big impact on this game, no doubt. Not only in their noise, but in their belief that a victory could be had. Let those around you cheer you on and rally you up when you are down.
- Have a Few Tricks Up Your Sleeve. The Hawks’ tricks won us the game. Don’t be afraid to mix things up once in a while and try something different.
- Things Eventually Turn Around. Everything was going wrong, for a long time. And suddenly, everything went right. A good lesson in “hanging in there.”
- Play Through The Pain. Richard Sherman ended the game in obvious pain, but put it aside for a moment, for the team. Sometimes, our temporary troubles need to be set aside in order to see the larger goal.
- Find the Endzone. It’s there, the goal line. Sometimes you just have to connect the dots.
- One Step at a Time. Yes, the guys enjoyed the win, and so did we. But I will guess they are back to work today, focused on the next goal. And we have one more game to cheer for. This year.
- Have Fun! Michael Bennett celebrated with a bike ride around the field. Do the unexpected occasionally and have some fun!
- Celebrate! Sure, there are a lot more important things going on in the world than a silly football game. But in Seattle, for just a moment in time, we are going to enjoy this and celebrate. And that’s ok. After all these years, it’s ok to celebrate two years in a row. No matter what happens on February 1st, we are proud of our Seahawks, and we are 12’s for life. Go Hawks!
Getting a home ready for sale is a big part of my job. Before the home ever reaches the market, we need to make sure it’s ready, not only to be viewed, but to transfer to a new owner. Some ideas are simple and some are more costly, but they will all help you get top dollar. A few of these are good ideas to address occasionally anyway, even if you aren’t thinking of selling. In random order:
- De-clutter. Pack up or get rid of anything that isn’t necessary, from the 3-year-old box of rice in the pantry to the porcelain dog collection on the fireplace mantle. On a larger scale, you may want to remove some furniture and keep it in storage. Remember, you’re going to pack anyway, just start early!
- Service the furnace. If it’s been more than a year since you did this, a buyer will probably ask for it anyway.
- Go for neutrals. If you have unusual paint colors or murals on the walls, it’s a good idea to paint them over with a neutral color.
- Upgrade old appliances. If your appliances are at the end of their lives or not working correctly, replace these and get some use out of them before you sell. Even if you can’t remodel your entire kitchen, this will help saleability.
- Spruce up the yard. Make sure it’s weed-free (including the lawn!) and trimmed back. Add some color if the season calls for it.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t already have these in your home, state law requires you to install them prior to selling.
- Fix anything that is broken. If you don’t, a buyer will probably ask you to anyway.
- Replace tired flooring. If your carpet is stained and clearly worn, the vinyl is curling up, or the hardwoods have been destroyed by Fido, consider replacing (or refinishing) them.
- Paint your front door. First impressions are huge, and while the realtor showing your house is accessing your key, buyers are looking around at your front porch. Make sure it shines, from the paint to the cleanliness.
- Power wash your driveway. Another “first impression” item. Make the outside sparkle, from the driveway all the way to the front door, so that those visiting can hardly wait to see what’s inside.
Call me anytime to discuss any of these ideas. Whether or not you are thinking of selling your home, I’m always happy to help!
This is the time of year families put on the rain slickers and the rubber boots and head out to the country for a little fall fun on the farm. If you are wanting some autumn entertainment, you might try one of these favorite local destinations:
Remlinger Farms, 32610 NE 32nd Street, Carnation
This is where I picked strawberries as a kid, and where each of my kids went for a pumpkin patch field trip in Kindergarten. Those were the days! With a pumpkin patch, a market, a restaurant and even a roller coaster, there’s something for everyone.
Bob’s Corn & Pumpkin Farm, 10917 Elliot Road, Snohomish
Bob’s has a challenging 10-acre corn maze that’s fun for the whole family. For a more exciting adventure, rent a bonfire pit at night, and do the maze with flashlights.
Spooner Farms Harvest Festival, 9622 SR 162 East, Puyallup
Spooner Farms is well known for their berries, but in the fall they transform into a Fall funland. This is their 20th Harvest Festival, and if the pumpkin patch and corn maze aren’t enough, try the pumpkin sling-shot or a delicious caramel apple.
Dr. Maze’s Farm, 15410 NE 124th Street, Redmond
For something closer to town, try this farm tucked in between Redmond, Kirkland and Woodinville. You can take a hayride, pick your own lavender or sunflowers, get lost in the Tall Wall Maze or scramble through the Spider Rope Challenge. There are also several other mazes if you need more of a challenge.
Happy Pumpkin Hunting!
Ahhh…fall. Summer is now officially past, although some days it’s easy to forget that as we still don shorts and t-shirts occasionally. But even on sunny days, the morning air is crisp and the sun sets earlier each day. Football fans are back in their happy place under Friday night lights and in Sunday afternoon sofa cheering sections. If you have kids, you are probably already caught up in the crazy-busy routine with school, sports schedules, and all the other activities that have your family going a hundred miles an hour.
Fall tends to feel like a new beginning, much like a new year. But maybe it’s more a time of second chances. With only a few months left to realize the goals we made in January, it’s a great time to reflect and see how far we’ve come—or what we still need to do. And maybe it’s a good time to reboot and determine to actually accomplish some of those goals.
Personally, I look at my goals for the year and I’m glad I have a few more months to reach them. There are business goals I have yet to attain, I still need to run another 5K (anyone want to push me???), and there are a couple more local hikes I’d like to do with my family.
Mostly, though, I’m grateful for this year, for quality time spent with my husband and kids (even though they are getting older!), and all that I’ve been given. I’m going to spend this fall enjoying every cross country meet that my senior son runs, every football game I get to watch my beautiful cheerleader, every conversation with my live-at-home college student, and every beautiful, falling leaf.
Soon the holiday craziness will be upon us so I plan to enjoy this short, autumn season, for next autumn might look a lot different than this one. So whip up a batch of pumpkin bread and enjoy the adventure of fall!