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.

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

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Life is exciting, you’ve just tied the knot and now are combining households. You need to decide what to keep, what to throw away, and how and where you want to live. These 5 tips will guide you through the home buying process.

  1. Be Realistic-  You aren’t moving into your parents’ home that they saved a lifetime to buy or build. You are moving into your 1st starter home. Prioritize your needs and wants.  Make a list with must haves and likes, the areas you like, size of home you need now combined with room to grow for potential children.  
  2. S-CocktailChecklistYour Credit Report- When you marry, your credit reports also join together. Make sure you both check your credit reports, have an open discussion, and work together to fix any blemishes before you start house hunting. Work with your creditors to raise your credit score. Planning for the future? There are 7 simple ways to raise your credit score.
  3. Shop your Lender- Do your research with different mortgage companies, banks, and credit unions. Ask about rates, 1st time homebuyers tax credits, incentives, and closing costs. Check the lenders reviews and sit down with them for a face to face meeting. This is a big step and you want to know with whom you are working and how the loan program works. Be wary of internet based lenders with possible hidden fees. Before you start looking for your first home, get pre-approved. A pre-approval lets you know how much home you can afford and allows you to lock in the lowest interest rate.
  4. 4. Don’t tie the knot and then plan to swing the hammer. In other words, don’t buy a complete “fixer-upper”. Fixing a house together puts a strain on both your marriage and finances. The only reality on HGTV are the surprises that homeowners face when remodeling and fixing up a house. HGTV never tells you how and where the homeowners come up with all the extra money to remedy the surprises. A “fixer upper” is costly and can deplete both your finances and energy when you should be focusing on building a life together. Homeowners need to budget for taxes, insurance, maintenance, and the occasional emergency such as the water heater or furnace failing.
  5. Hire a Real Estate Agent- Homebuyers need professional guidance when making big decisions. Emotions and excitement may get in the way blinding you to possible downfalls in different homes and neighborhoods. A professional real estate agent that works with first time Buyers will guide you as they would their children, helping you buy the best home for your money while negotiating the best dollar amount for your purchase.

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.

Creating Ambiance with Lights

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Properly used lighting combines style and function to your room while the design makes it distinctively yours. Correctly placing lights in layers serves different functions in the room including overall lighting, accent lighting, and task lighting.

Today, we often use can lights to illuminate the room while providing task lighting at the same time. Can lighting definitely serves a purpose, is relatively inexpensive, and takes the onus out of having to select lights. Can lighting also has a larger arc eliminating shadows and keeps the room from looking cluttered. But can lighting alone doesn’t give the room a focal point and lacks warmth.

Using chandeliers, sconces, and lamps warms up the room, provides layers of light, and makes a home expressively yours. Choosing the right fixtures helps to define your focal point such as the fireplace and complements the room. Wall sconces glowing softly alongside windows, at the sides of the fireplace, or at the entrance to the room are welcoming and create the feeling of elegance.

Chandeliers have always been classic features in the living room and dining room. Ceiling fans often replace the chandeliers in homes built with the open concept featuring a great room versus a formal living space . When designing a home to markedly reflect your personality consider putting chandeliers in surprising places such as the powder room, master bath, or closet.

Lighting should reflect the ambiance you want in each room. Dimmer switches and the correct bulbs both play a part in setting the mood. I’ve included some of my favorite lighting pictures from our Midwest Design Homes and Jon Huss Custom Homes Parade and Showcase Homes.

Most importantly remember, the cost of lighting doesn’t have to break the bank to set your humble abode apart from your friends and neighbors homes.

 

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.