Honoring the Red, White, and Blue

 

DiemThe 4th of July is upon us and we all look forward to celebrating with family and friends. Unfortunately today, we seem to have lost sight of honoring the red, white, and blue.

The 4th of July is all about BIG sales, hot dogs and hamburgers on the barbecue, circus peanuts, boating, neighborhood parties, and fantastic firework displays. Lest we forgot, the 4th of July is also about celebrating our independence. On July 4th,1776 13 colonies claimed their independence from England, eventually forming the United States. Believe it or not, fireworks were originally part of the first Independence Day celebration which took place on July 4th, 1777, mandated by John Adams. The 4th became a federal holiday in 1941, celebrating the birth of American Independence. John Adams, as one of the originators of the Declaration of Independence, envisioned celebrating with,”Pomp & Parade… Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, And Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”  

We are not so far off in our celebrations but I urge you to take a moment to reflect on the origins of our July 4th celebrations, bless our country, and pass down the story to your children and grandchildren. 

Happy 4th of July to you and your family

.God Bless America

Simple Things

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The old saying, ” Home is where the heart is,” rings true for myself and others who’ve experienced moving; especially numerous times. No matter where we live, we put down out roots, literally by either planting a tree, bushes, flowers, or volunteering within the community.

Moving and changing communities makes it difficult to form new relationships, especially as an older couple without children. That is why it is so important to take a few moments each day to take joy in the simple things. Take time to play tourist in your new community and share your finds with the natives. And don’t be afraid to ask about their favorite spots.  I’ve learned that long time members of a community often become so complacent that they overlook the little things their community has to offer.

Today, I’m keeping this post short but wanted to share a few pictures of the “simple things” that add joy to my daily living. It seems lately, that no matter where I live, I have native visitors. Living in Appleton, I love to walk along Apple Creek listening to the birds during the day, the frogs at night, and watching the carp as they mate. I also take great pleasure in the flowers and plants that we have so lovingly planted to beautify our yard. I hope that you also find pleasure in my simple joy.

YOUR HOME ON STAGE

“Setting the Stage for your Next Move” As a Realtor® in Madison, that was my slogan. As a Realtor® and professional Stager®, I feel it is very apropos. When you are getting ready to move, you want to make your home look like it is on the stage in a beauty pageant. Think about when you go shopping, the neat store with a beautiful display draws you in vs the store with items strewn about.  Of course, you do not want to overdo your decorating but rather have everything clean, repaired, touched and freshened up.

I was going to write an article about getting your home ready but then this one titled       8 Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home popped into my mailbox. Thus, I thought, why write a new article when someone has done it for me? I encourage you to read this article and contact me if you have any questions.

I also recommend adding a nice outdoor seating area that says welcome to our house. It makes people feel very comfortable.

If you or anyone you know is thinking of selling your home, please give me a call and we can discuss listing and staging your home so you can maximize on it’s potential and sell for more money. I’ve plenty of more tricks to welcome your home’s new owners.

 

Life and the Staycation in the Little “Apple”

 

We don’t live in the big city, not even close to the “Big Apple”. But  living and doing a staycation in our “Little Apple” otherwise known as Appleton, WI has many benefits that residents and visitors of the bigger city can’t even realize.

First of all, we don’t really have traffic, just traffic lights. When I lived here previously, 441 was just being completed. We didn’t get to enjoy the benefits of bypassing the city traffic. Although, I find 441 a great benefit when I am in a hurry, I use the city streets when I desire a leisurely drive. Besides little traffic, Appleton and the surrounding Fox Cities have much to offer whether you are a nature buff, a cultural buff, or both. I personally am excited for the Heid Music Summer Concert Series to start again June 1. I love warm summer evenings listening to free local musicians while people watching. Of course we are excited to partake in the Mile of Music once again to hear new evolving groups. The Trout Museum has a revolving door of different exhibits and I just noticed a pop up art gallery on College Avenue.  There are history museums such as the Hearthstone Historical House Museum, gardens, and children’s museums to visit. And everyone needs to learn about two of our most famous past residents; Harry Houdini and Edna Ferber.  Did you know that Appleton was once part of the Underground Railroad?

The Fox Valley has many parks to visit and trails that take hikers walking around the Fox River. Families can partake in activities at most of the parks such as  Gordon Bubolz Nature Center, Thousand Islands, and Plamann Park. Check their schedules to learn more. What is your favorite park in our community?

I could continue on about the reasons to live and take a staycation in the Fox Valley but I don’t really need to reinvent the wheel, so I am providing a link to the 14 Best Things to Do in Appleton, WI. If your favorite thing is not on the list, please feel free to add it.

The Packing Party

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The title, “The Packing Party ” seems fitting for this blog because it is relative when moving from one home to another. But, the Packing Party that I joined a few weeks ago has nothing to do with real estate. It is all about babies. Who doesn’t love a baby? They ask for so little, food, love, warmth, and a dry clean diaper. But some mothers need to choose between food and a diaper. Can you imagine?

I was honored to be able to participate in a Packing Party for Jake’s Diapers, a non profit whose mission is simply to provide the basic need of cloth diapers to babies, children, and adults in extreme poverty whose caregivers have to choose between food & diapers. Sounds rather simple but is so complicated. Jake’s Diapers has provided over thirty thousand diapers to 16 impoverished countries and to parents locally in need. The story of how everything falls into place and the partnerships that the founders of Jake’s Diapers have made to reach mothers and families in need is remarkable.

Many of the recipients of the diapers are orphanages in places such as Haiti and Peru. These organizations struggle daily to provide food and other basic needs for the babies. Jake’s Diapers only sends 2 dozen cloth diapers to each baby. It doesn’t sound like many but these  mothers are used to washing and greatly appreciate what they receive. The gift of diapers actually cuts down on the spreading of disease.

Jake’s Diapers partners with several businesses to provide for the transport and donation of diapers, diaper bags (in which to pack the diapers), and the adjustable rubber pants that grow from newborn to toddler size. Nicki’s Diapers of Madison, WI strongly supports the cause and provides huge donations. Johnson and Johnson also donates and supports Jake’s Diapers. The military also gets involved by transporting and dropping off the diapers.

How can you help? Jake’s Diapers needs cloth diapers. Have your children outgrown their cloth diapers?  Visit their Website to see how you can donate diapers. Monetary donations and your time are welcomed.

I personally never really thought about babies needing diapers. Of course, I knew there were starving babies all over this world but didn’t consciously think about the diaper need. I admire the founders of Jake’s Diapers for seeing a need and establishing a non profit to help diaper the babies. It touched my heart that even for a couple of hours, I could be part of something that provides basic needs both locally and internationally.

Spring Fever-Is it Real?

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Spring has sprung; the robins, sandhill cranes, and redwing blackbirds are just a few of the birds that have returned. The worms emerged during the recent rains, the “occasional”sunshine exudes warmth and baseball season starts on Saturday.

But, does “spring fever” really exist? While not actually a fever, warmer longer days following the spring equinox creates a biological change in people. Humans experience a higher energy level, need less sleep, reduce their food consumption, and encounter a lifting of their spirits when winter ends and spring begins.

My  personal bout of spring fever started a few weeks ago. I laced up my walking shoes and leashed Riley, my walking companion, for our morning and evening walks. Even our very short legs, his four and my two, yearn to be stretched out and moved. I’ve started my yard tours to check on our bulbs and plantings to discover what survived and is emerging from the previously frozen tundra.We even went to the garden store on Saturday to dream and purchase seeds to start indoors for our flower garden. We met quite a few like- minded people itching to start their gardens. I can’t wait to plant the seeds and watch my yard flourish into a canvas of color. I also suffer from clean window-itis every spring. I want to rid the windows of all their winter dirt and soil so I can clearly see my garden and it doesn’t interfere with the streaming sunlight.

All the people walking dogs, riding bikes,pushing strollers, and in-line skating along Apple Creek trail yesterday was another sure sign of Wisconsinites afflicted with spring fever. We are also experiencing the effects of spring fever at work as people are showing a strong interest in building new houses.

What symptoms of spring fever do you experience? Do you feel the biological pull to exercise, redecorate your home, or plan a garden? Or maybe, it is the lifting of your spirits as well as a makeover with a new hairdo or wardrobe. Whatever your symptoms of spring fever, be sure to embrace the season.

Empty Nesting or Building Your Forever Home

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Your last child prepares to leave home and you embrace the transition with both trepidation and excitement. Your home is yours again to do with as you please. But, as those adorable children aged, so did you and your body. The stairs seem to have gotten steeper, the number of bathrooms to clean have suddenly multiplied, and the extra bedrooms just sit empty. What to do with your family home, the home where you raised those beautiful babies becomes the nagging question.

The number of baby boomers with the desire and need to age in their “forever”home continues to increase each year.Very few homes exist on the market today that fulfill the needs of the empty nester desiring their next home. Thus many soon to be or those already experiencing the empty nest are considering building their last home.

So what should be incorporated into the new empty nest?  Although there are many elements, this article focuses on the top 7 on most everyone’s list.

  1. Easy access- Your new home should be built in an area with easy access to shopping, doctors, and cultural activities that you enjoy. The home should also be built with easy access from the garage to the home with either zero entry or room for a future handrail or ramp.
  2. One floor living. Consider one floor living with as many maintenance free features as possible. Incorporating an open floor plan with enough storage eliminates the need to use the basement stairs as much as possible.
  3. Open floor plans. Open floor plans allow for extending the dining table and adding extra chairs for entertaining. You can easily move furniture around when entertaining family and friends.
  4. Fewer but larger bedrooms that can serve both as an office, sewing room, and guest bedroom with ample storage.
  5. Functional kitchens with good storage and entertaining space. Becoming an empty nester doesn’t mean life stops, it just changes. Entertaining becomes more enjoyable since your family no longer requires large daily meals.Many empty nesters look forward to finally building the kitchen of their dreams with the latest technology
  6. Wider hallways, doors, and walk-in showers. Plan ahead just in case the inevitable happens and a wheelchair or walker is required at one time or another. No one wants the frustration of trying to maneuver equipment in tight spaces.
  7. Convenient laundry rooms. Although downsizing, doing less laundry since the kids are gone, and moving to a ranch home eliminates carrying the laundry up and down stairs; consider locating it off of the master suite. Saving a few steps and being able to put the clothes away straight from the dryer is just another benefit of a well planned home designed for just one or two people.

The above are just a few suggestions for planning and building your next forever home. Finish the lower level with another bedroom or two if you want to encourage your children to visit frequently. We downsized twice in the past 3 years; first from a 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bath 4,000 sq. ft home to a 4 bedroom 3 bath condo with 2 bedrooms in the lower level,and finally settling in a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath ranch home with an unfinished lower level. Cleaning and maintaining our home is much simpler and easier and our kids still visit comfortably for an extended period of time.

Are you thinking of downsizing or resizing? Let me help you plan and build your empty nest filled with light, well planned spaces, and great storage.