Spring Cleaning: Decluttering Your Home


Sure, you can watch Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up on Netflix for inspiration, but we’ve got your spring cleaning task list right here. Leave winter behind and start a new day with these three must-do decluttering and organizational tips.

Clean Out Messy Junk Drawers:

We all have them—junk drawers that contain miscellaneous items like pens, screwdrivers, old credit cards, bobby pins, batteries, calculators, and more stuff that we throw in there on a daily basis. Well, it’s time to get down and dirty people and clean out the junk to get ready for more junk to come in the spring! Start by emptying it out into a box or garbage bag. Then, keep what you want and throw away the rest. Suck up all the dust and dirt with your vacuum hose or dust buster, and wipe the drawer clean with disinfectant. Put the contents you want to keep back into the drawer in an organized manner. Repurpose old plastic containers, mugs or non-slip dish drawer liners to keep things from moving around.

Declutter Closets:

What better time to donate than now? Filter clothes, purses, jewelry and accessories like belts, shoes and scarves into three piles.

  • The first pile is DONATE. Get rid of anything with no meaningful value or that you haven’t worn or used in 6 months. Even things that don’t fit anymore should go. Don’t use this time as an excuse to say, “ I’ll keep these as my goal jeans and lose weight!” or “I’ll just keep these as a back up.” If you aren’t using or wearing them now, toss them.
  • The second pile is SEASONAL. If you wear and use it, but it’s for a different season, fold or organize them nicely in a box or bag and stash them in storage for now. Don’t get them out until the season begins.
  • The third pile is KEEP. Keep anything you love and has value. If you have several of the same items ( like over 10 of the same white T’s or tanks), cut it down to just three or four. FInally, take your DONATE items to Goodwill and wipe your hands clean.  Voila! Your closet is now clean and organized!

Deep clean what you use the most!

This is the perfect time to clean household items you use all the time and might not get to clean on a regular basis. Clean out your sink with soap and lemons, or toss the rinds into your disposal to freshen it up. Revive your shower curtain by throwing it in the washer or spraying and wiping it down with a yummy smelling disinfectant. Lastly, wipe down your remotes, computers and cell phones with lysol hand wipes or other safe cleaners and get rid of those nasty germs that build up every day from all the usage.

Happy cleaning everyone!

Huddle Up Indoors


Saying outside is cold is an understatement. It’s more than freezing! So, instead of braving the snow, why not stay inside the comfort of your own home and have fun with your family? Here are some of the things you can do indoors and enjoy each other’s company.

Play House

Remember when you used to play house? Let your kids experience the same thing! Pick up huge boxes from your attic and stack them together to make a house. Take out those colored markers, pencils, paint, and brush and turn your kids into tiny artists. Let them put their phones down and show them that playing in real life can also be fun.


Do you want to blow off some steam? Maybe your kids want it, too? Clear out your living room and make sure the corners are lined with pillows so they don’t get bruised. To add more fun, let them wear your old t-shirts and stuff them with pillows. For sure, you’ll be laughing like a banshee during the match.

Blanket Fort

Take out all your blankets and build a blanket fort with your kids. Tell them your party is on a quest to protect the princess from the huge and vicious dragon invading your fort. Whatever story you can think of, it’s nice to involve them in world-building games because it unleashes their imagination and creativity.

Reading Corner

If all else fails, you can always go to books. Choose a comfortable corner in your home and let everyone read their favorite book. Enjoy the silence while having each other’s company. When you’re all done reading, you can share each other’s insights on your chosen books. Not only will you know more, but your kids get to learn how to communicate and share their own ideas as well.

Did you enjoy our tips? How did it go? Perhaps you have other indoor activities in mind. Comment below and share it with us!

Redecorate your Living Room


Spring is blooming, and it’s that time to think about revitalizing a space in your home to reflect a fresh new vibe. This week, we’re focusing on the living room—one of the most forgotten rooms in a home. Get ready to entertain again in your formal living room with these new home redecorating tips!

Accessorize with Purpose

Whether it’s art, throw pillows or furniture, choose pieces that match your type of personality and make a statement.  Love books? Create a collection of your favorite classics on a bookshelf or side table with fun bookends. Need a pop of color? Add throw blankets and pillows that create a fresh, fun vibe. Go big or go home?  Search for that perfect statement piece, from sculptures to furniture, and find something that your family and guests can talk about (and that you want to look at every day!).

Add Life with Flowers and Plants

Fake or living, plants, and flower arrangements can make or break a room. If you’re having guests over, bouquets of fresh flowers with pops of vivid color are always inviting. But, having potted plants in the nooks and corners of a room can add warmth and a cozy feeling, not to mention reflect any style you want. From tropical to bamboo, a houseplant is the perfect living room addition.

Keep Color Simple

Subtle color goes a long way when it comes to the overall feel of your living room. From paint to accents, keep it simple with soft and soothing paint hues that adds warmth. We love off-white, pale grey-blue or light gray with white trim for living room wall colors. Then, your accents with pops of color, as well as the natural light will really stand out on its own.

Don’t ignore your living room decor anymore—spice it up this Spring with a fresh new vibe!

Valentine’s Day at Home


It’s chilly outside. While some people spend their Valentine’s at a restaurant or not at all if they are single, warm up the air and spend yours with your loved ones at home. How do you do that? Here are some ways.

Watch a romantic movie

Inflate your air bed or scatter your throw pillows in the living room. Huddle up and watch classic romcoms together. Make a couple of microwave popcorn packs and share them around while watching your chosen romcom film. Wouldn’t that warm your heart up?

Play videogames

Set up your gaming consul in the living room and play with your family or friends. The games could range from RPG to point-and-shoot. Whatever videogame you choose, it’s sure to make you and your loved ones enjoy each other’s company. Just make sure no joysticks get destroyed in the process.

Enjoy a hot beverage with them

Sit together and enjoy each other’s company. Whether it’s in silence or with laughter, enjoy the company with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee on hand at the porch or by the fireplace.

Spa Night

Wouldn’t it be fun to spend a spa night with your hubby and kids? It may sound like kids and spa don’t go together but it can work. Put on face masks and pamper each other. Let the kids paint their dad’s nails with glitters. Just have a blast and relax.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve spent on Valentine’s Day. What matters is who you spent it with. Share moments together and make memories you can look back to in the future.

What do you think of our list? Have you thought of other Valentine’s Day activities? Comment below and share it with us!

Be Your Own Pancake Chef!


Pancakes are best served when hot. But a fluffy and thick stack may not be enough to satisfy your breakfast or snack. With some tips on how to make the most sumptuous and delectable pancakes, you’ll get to add more to that fluffy stack and prepare it for tasty goodness!

Prepare your ingredients 

With complete ingredients, you won’t have to worry about what would lack in taste, texture, and look. Your pancake is set to perfection once done when you have these ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Melted Butter
  • One Egg
  • Vanilla Extract

Although you may use the more convenient and ready-to-mix packaged products, some who prefer the more traditional method in preparing pancakes may gather and use the ingredients mentioned above. However, achieving that perfect taste, texture, and look does not rely on the ingredients alone. Most of the times, it requires your skill. This leads to the next tip.

Be Thorough

Now that you have your ingredients, all you need to do is to be precise in cooking your pancakes. You will need to pour the exact amount of flour into a bowl, sift sugar, baking powder, and salt into the content, and then add milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract before stirring it until it mixes.

According to Stay At Home Chef, these are ingredients and their exact measurement you would need:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

This takes about five minutes in preparing. While stirring the contents, you may pre-heat and oil a pan or a griddle where you will pour the mixed contents. Try to achieve its circular shape before flipping it with a spatula. You will know once it’s done when the batter turns dry, its texture rises, or and its color changes from white to pale flesh.

Keep on pouring portions of the batter, and your stack of pancakes will grow.

Be Your Own Chef 

So, now that you’ve cooked the basics, would you eat bare pancakes without adding flavor? If you’re more comfortable with that, you may. But you may want to try something new.

Be creative with your pancakes. If you wish to add chocolate chips into the batter, you’ll have a pancake delight that looks similar to a giant chocolate-chip cookie. Or you may add fresh strawberries on top and glazed it with syrup. Strawberries may be among the options for delectable toppings. Why not try blueberries, nuts, or whipped cream? Either way, your taste best suits you.

Pancakes are generally among the most favored treats across America. Whether they serve as your meals or in-between snacks, pancakes can be styled with tastes the suit your liking. Try making one today and be your own chef!

3 Reasons to Remodel Your Kitchen


The kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s where you cook the most scrumptious meals for your family and friends. It’s a place where everyone can come together and enjoy making meals  for everyone.

Much like any room in your home, it can reach a point when you  need to renovate it. Opting to do a kitchen remodel is a major decision. Here are three reasons why you should do a remodel.


Style Revamp

Does your kitchen have the charms of a cottage home? Want to overhaul and make it sleek and modern? Whatever theme you decide on, reach trusted home improvement contractors that serve your area and collaborate with them. Home improvement contractors are trained and experienced to do the remodeling from planning to construction. Share your vision and see it come to life!


Kitchen Upgrades

Check your kitchen features and see if they still serve their purpose. Your kitchen cabinets may be too small to store your stuff. Perhaps you need more stove burners now that you’re cooking a lot more than what you’re used to. When you notice capacity issues, it’s time to make upgrades.


Change in Lifestyle

Your kitchen’s current layout served its purpose for its previous owner, but it may not be the case for you. Perhaps your family tradition includes huddling in the kitchen for breakfast without formally sitting at the dining table. Get a breakfast nook and enjoy the more intimate feel. Make your kitchen suit your family’s rhythm.

Whatever your reasons are, kitchen remodeling can immensely change your home’s ambiance and upgrade its interior. Have you thought of other reasons to remodel your kitchen? Would you like to share it with us? Let us know and comment below!

Remembering Black History



Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, Beyonce, Louis Armstrong, Kendrick Lamar – these are just some of the few well-known African-Americans whose social, political, and economic contributions have impacted not just the United States, but the entire world. Over a century ago, African-Americans weren’t celebrated and recognized this way before. Back then, it was assumed that African-Americans had little to no history at all besides slavery.

Who changed it?

And then came Carter Woodson. Carter Woodson (born December 19, 1875 – died April 3, 1950) was an African-American historian, author, and journalist who saw the need for research into the neglected African-American past. His education from the University of Chicago and Harvard University convinced him that the history of African-Americans and other cultures were being ignored or misrepresented in American history. He wasn’t the only one who noticed this. On September 9, 1915, Woodson and his peers founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH) in Chicago.

The Association is dedicated to the promotion, research, preservation, interpretation, and information dissemination of Black life, history, and culture to the global community. It created avenues for African-American scholars to do research and publication such as the Journal of Negro History and the Negro History Bulletin. Both of which garnered popular appeal.

How did Black History Month Happen?

It started out when the ASALH and Carter Woodson announced the 2nd week of February as “Negro History Week”. This week was picked because it fell on the birthdays of two of the most iconic figures in African-American history – Abraham Lincoln (February 12) who issued the Emancipation Proclamation and Frederick Douglass (February 14) who was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, author, orator, and statesman.

In 1976, the celebration expanded into the entire month of February. Now, Black History Month has support from all over the country as Americans with varying ethnic and social backgrounds have conversations about the black experience. The ASALH sees this elevation as one of the most important keys in furthering Woodson’s legacy.

Black History 2019: Black Migrations

This year opens with the theme “Black Migrations.”  The ASALH believes that migration represents one of the most important aspects of America’s past. It seeks to educate America and the global community about the arrival of Africans in the Virginia Colony. It shows the story of the resilience of the African-American family, their contributions to America, and most of all, African-American perseverance over four centuries.

This month, spend time with your child and remember the African-American people and their contribution to society. Whether it’s watching Push or reading a poem by Langston Hughes, their achievements and hardships have endured throughout the years. Do you have activities to celebrate Black History month you’d like to share? Share it with us and comment below!

Pet Care for Winter


Your furry friends cannot tolerate the harsh winter season. It is essential to protect them against the cold temperature as much as you would secure yourself.  Keep them warm and comfortable during the cold season by adjusting your pet care routine!

Pay attention to their diet

Some animals consume more during winter since they burn more energy to stay warm. Others would prepare to hibernate. Observe your pets’ eating habits to provide the right amount of nourishment. Don’t let your dog lick ice to stay hydrated. Replenish their water bowl whenever necessary.

Avoid skin irritation

Your furry friends are prone to skin and paw irritations due to the chemicals used to clear the snow. Paws can also be irritated from the cold temperature outside then warm temperature indoors. Use petroleum jelly on your paw pads or paw protectant to prevent any redness or damage.

Minimize outdoor time

Don’t let your dogs play outside for more extended period since they are susceptible to frostbite. When you bring them out, make sure they are on a leash. Vehicular accidents are riskier during winter.  A good rule of thumb is to take your pet outside when the sun shines. Walk your dog on late morning or early afternoon.

Groom your pet

Your pets need proper grooming to insulate themselves properly. Limit their bath time since it can reduce their fur’s natural essential oil. Moisturize them properly.

Block off heating source

It is natural for your pet to find sources of heat during winter. Protect them from potential electrical accidents by installing baseboard radiator. Consider making your fireplace pet-friendly too.

Secure their bed

Don’t let your pet sleep on the cold floor. Keep them warm and snug with a pet bed, pillow or blanket. Consider using heated pet beds and secure them in a warm spot, off the cold floor.

Harsh winter weather can put your furry friends at risk. Protect them and keep them happy with these pet care tips!


Indoor Houseplants for Winter


Indoor houseplants give your space a vibrant and cozy vibe, but your home can be uninviting for some plants during a bleak, winter season. Fortunately, we gathered a list of low-maintenance indoor houseplants that can withstand the harsh season and help you beat the winter blues:

Do you have trouble sleeping or are you constantly agitated? Try bringing lavender into your home! This lovely flower has a relaxing and calming effect and has been frequently used as an herb to treat fatigue and insomnia. Make sure that your lavender gets enough light by placing it near your window.  You can also mimic the sunlight by exposing your lavender to fluorescent light.

Aloe Vera
Aloes thrives during the winter and blooms beautifully. This common houseplant is best known for soothing burns or skin itches. Spider aloe vera is an interesting choice due to its unique texture and succulent spikes. Plant your aloe vera in well-drained, coarse soil. They should also be placed under bright light. Aloes don’t need much watering since they need dry soil.

Moth Orchid
Brighten up the winter season with this lovely flower. Regardless of its popularity, many still don’t know how to provide the right care for the orchids. Moth orchid is among the most loved orchids since they are the easiest to grow. It requires medium-low light and its flowers last for months. While it only blooms once a year, it can be encouraged to bloom twice.

Weeping Fig
Break away from the typical houseplant and try growing a weeping fig! This tree maintains its tree-like shape no matter their size which makes an excellent centerpiece. Make your fig look unique and stunning by braiding or twisting its pliable trunk. The weeping fig needs a bright room and requires moist soil. However, don’t let it sit in water or the leaves will fall.

Peace lily
Packed with air-purifying properties, this elegant houseplant complements your interior. The peace lily needs warmer temperature and indirect sunlight. They need evenly moist, well-drained soil and at least 55 degrees of heat. You need to re-pot them in larger containers if they wilt every three days.  

Even in the dull winter, these houseplants will surely brighten your day and add more life to your home.

5 Ts of Home Re-Decorating for Winter 2019


How do you spruce up your home and make it cozier for those long winter days? The answer may be simpler than you think. With the right decoration, patterns, and textures, a few tweaks can pep up your home and keep the winter blues at bay!  

Think of a theme

A theme is crucial for your home interior update. Do you want to follow the contemporary route? How about the rustic vibe? Ever considered a minimalist style? A good rule of thumb is to complement your interior with the existing exterior.

Tackle one room at a time

A major redecoration sounds overwhelming. Come up a list of rooms that you need to prioritize. Consider decorating the biggest rooms first. This will provide you a ballpark on the possible cost that you will have to spend for the other rooms. You’ll also have more focus redecorating knowing that you’ve set your priorities straight.

Take it to Pinterest

Still clueless what themes and styles to go for? Create an account in Pinterest. This social media is a mine of wealth for DIY projects such as home designing and re-decorating. You can create a board per room and try to pin the design and styles that catch your attention. Consider your Pinterest board a mood board for your interior.

Throw in Some Greens

Skip the vases and fresh flowers. Winter is an excellent time to fill your home with vibrantly beautiful house plants. Having a greenhouse inside your home is an amazing idea if you have a wide indoor space. If your area is limited, go for tiny plants such as bonsai. Just don’t forget to give your flowers and plants some TLC.

Transform your space with a fresh coat of paint

Repainting your home is one of the cheapest ways to update your interior. You can paint your room in Living Coral to pattern your space with Pantone’s Color of the Year or go for bold, vibrant colors!

Decorating your home doesn’t have to be a major DIY project. These minor tweaks and updates can give your home a fresh, brand new vibe.

Things to Check in your Home Every Year


Regular home maintenance is a tedious task many homeowners put off until something goes amiss. Don’t wait for any emergency before evaluating your home’s condition. Maximize your home’s efficiency and save big time on costly repairs with this maintenance checklist:

Seasonal and Annual Maintenance
Spring: Spring is the busiest time for home maintenance. This is the time you need to pay attention to your exterior and prepare it for the humid summer air. Clean out the gutters and clear out dead plants and shrubs in your house. Trim your trees to minimize electrical interference.
Summer: Plumbing maintenance is best done in summer. This is also the season to clean your garage. Check your door hinges and oil them.

Fall: For some, fall is the perfect time to tackle general home maintenance projects since it is not too hot. This is the season to re-paint, power wash and seal cracks and gaps in your sidings and windows. Check your heating system, fireplace, and chimney to prepare for winter.
Winter: Concentrate on your interior in winter. Check for caulking, ice dams, and icicles too.

Critical items that you should perform every three months include checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as your fire extinguishers. Check water and toilet flush in areas that you don’t use regularly such as your guest bathrooms. Ensure that your garage doors’ auto-reverse feature is working.

Testing your water heater pressure relief valve should be done twice a year to prevent mineral and corrosion deposits. Deep cleaning your home once every six months is also a great way to keep your space in its tip-top shape.

Your kitchen sink disposal should be inspected and cleaned every month. Run vinegar ice cubes through your disposal to clean it as well as sharpen its blades. Cleaning the filters of your AC and furnace should also be done at least once a month. This will make it easier to regulate your home’s temperature and minimize utility bills.

Remember to practice safety when tackling any of these home maintenance projects. Consider hiring the help of a professional for risky projects especially ones that involve electric or heavy equipment.

How to Spend Martin Luther King Day


It can be challenging to explain to your kids the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. If your kids’ school considers Martin Luther King Day an official holiday, consider the day off to commemorate and educate them of his legacy.

Celebrate Martin Luther King day with your kids through the following:

Watch his speech

Martin Luther King Jr. gave a public speech entitled “I Have a Dream” during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. While the speech took place 56 years ago, his message is still powerful and resonating today. He called for civil and economic rights and encourages to end racism in the United States. His speech is an important conversation starter for your kids about human rights.

Participate in community events

Check with your local community if there are any special tributes. Consider attending commemorative services in your local church or organizations. You can also participate in Martin Luther King Day of Service. This is the president’s national call to service initiative. Find a volunteering project in your area and tag your kids along!

Serve others

Consider this day to volunteer in your local area. There are plenty of opportunities that you and your family can involve into. From feeding the homeless to clean-up drive, volunteerism helps your kids understand the concept of serving and helping others. If your kids are still young to involve in public activities, you can also donate food and toiletries to your local food bank.

Rather than just honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday, make it a habit to reflect on his message on daily basis with your family.

Fun-Filled Winter Activities for January 2019


Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean your mood has to be as gloomy as the season. There are plenty of indoor activities you can do with your family to warm up the dreary weather.

Take the fun outside

Make most of the season with winter activities that your kids will surely love.  Don’t let the cold wind get in the way of these fun-filled activities:

Ice skating

Winter is the best time to teach your kids ice-skating. With the right coaching and encouraging, you and your kids will have a great time together. Don’t know how to skate either? Consider enrolling the entire family in a class! This is a great way to learn while meeting new people!

Winter Camping

Transform your backyard into a winter mini-camping retreat. This activity requires the right equipment and a lot of preparation. Cozy up in your fleece blanket and enjoy great stories over a cup of hot chocolate! Let your kids roast some marshmallows and hotdogs in your campfire. Camping is a beautiful experience for your family as it brings you closer together.


This winter activity is more popular among older kids, especially teenagers. Snowboarding is a great way to help your kids work with their balance and skills. Make sure the safety gears and equipment fit snugly to you and your kids.

Snow Angels

Forget any winter equipment, just layer up and enjoy the outdoors throwing snowballs. Better yet, lie in your back, spread your arms straight out and swing them to the top of your head and voila, you have your snow angels!

Stay Indoors

If it gets too cold outside, your family can still have fun indoors doing:

Board Games

Take board games to the next level using excellent reward system. Consider classics like Pictionary, Scrabble, Monopoly and Chutes and Ladder.

Movie Time

Get the popcorn ready as the winter season is the best time to catch up with your favorite movies and series. Let a family member choose one movie that you should watch for a day. The other family member gets to decide the next film you should binge. You can also watch a movie or TV series.

Winter doesn’t have to be dreadful when you have a handful of activities for your family. What is your go-to family during this season? Let us know by posting a comment below!

The Holiday Aftermath - Tips on Removing Decors


The new year is officially here. Vacation bubble is fading away as regular life is settling before your eyes. Now that we’re re-acclimating into our usual humdrum, it’s time to get these Christmas decors to storage. You wouldn’t want to be the only house in the neighborhood with lights and garlands on Valentine’s day.  

Here are some tips and tricks to store your Christmas decor so that you can reuse them next Christmas.

Plan Ahead

Think of where and how your holiday decorations will be used so that you can plan storage space and options accordingly. It makes sense to break up the collection into different storage areas depending on your home’s layout. For example, it may make sense to store first-story decorations on the first floor and the second-story decorations on the second floor, thus eliminating the need to lug large trees, wreaths, figurines, and light sets from floor-to-floor.

Clear Resealable Bags

Sort your ornaments by color and use clear resealable bags to stop the guessing game come next Christmas. Then next year, it’ll be super easy to assess your stash.

Wrap Lights around Cardboard

When you wrap your lights around pieces of disposable cardboard, you can write handy reminders that’ll keep you organized next year. It also helps your lights not to get tangled.

Storing Your Fake Tree

Wrap your fake tree with dust sheets and create bags for the top, middle, and bottom pieces of it. You can also wrap it in cling wrap and get it protected all-year long. Store it in your garage without worrying about getting it dirty.

These are just some of the tips we got from Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, and other magazines. Do you have other suggestions in storing decors? Comment below and let us know about it.

Get The Resolve for 2019



Yes, it’s that time of the year again when you hit the reset button and get the inspiration to start things from scratch. Whatever it is you set your eyes on like losing weight or learning a new hobby, you’re dead sure you’ll be doing them for one year. But as the year goes on, the momentum you have right now just doesn’t stay with you. So here’s a list of things you need to prepare before even starting your New Year’s Resolution.

Choose the Right Resolution for You

According to Franklin Covey, the global leader in personal growth and transformation, one-third of resolutions don’t make it past the end of January. And, a lot of people fail because they didn’t make the right resolutions for themselves.

You’ll have better success when you choose a resolution that fits you, not one that’s shoved to you by a co-worker or a well-meaning relative. It should be SMART. We’ll get to that.

Make The Plan

Resolutions aren’t wishes that happen just because you uttered magical words into the universe. It has to be SMART to be successful. What does SMART mean?


Instead of saying “I’m gonna lose weight.”, say “I’m gonna lose 40 lbs in one year.” Don’t be vague. The key here is to make a specific goal so you’ll know what you need to achieve in a given time.


Keep tabs of your progress. Whether it’s jotting down your weight loss or recording yourself while practicing your ukulele, no matter what your resolution may be, this can keep your resolve and reinforce your progress.


Aiming for the moon isn’t bad. By all means, hit it with all you’ve got. But, it can cause an awful amount of frustration for you and may lead you to just end the resolution entirely. Instead of saying, “This year, I’m gonna buy a house IN CASH.” (unless you’re a billionaire) say, “This year, I’m gonna start saving up on a downpayment for a house.”


This part is similar above. The trick here is to do small efforts so it becomes significant in the long run. If you’re new to saving up money, try setting an amount of money in a short period of time like save $200 in a month. By the end of the year, you will have saved $2,400. See where this is going?

Reward Yourself

Pat yourself on the back for doing such an awesome job in following through your plan down to the T! But, don’t overindulge. You wouldn’t want to halt the momentum. It’s too easy for you to say “I’ve been so good, I deserve a few candy bars,” or throw caution to the wind with a new purchase when you’re trying to save up. One slip and it could all be over.

Don’t give up!

A slip-up is inevitable at some point. You must not let this become an excuse to give up. Remind yourself of your past achievements and don’t become critical of yourself and immediately forgive yourself and say “I’m starting again now!”

Get support. STAT!

Get support from your ride or dies. Choose people around you who are trustworthy, supportive friends and explain your plans. Let them know of ways they can help when the going gets tough. They’ll know the right things to say during the hard times.

Be the Captain

This resolution is under your control. Well-meaning people may give you unsolicited advice, but it’s still your call to take them or not. It is your actions that get you the change and results you need. Having a strong sense of control is necessary to stick with your resolutions. Blaming everyone else apart from yourself will not get you to the change you need.

After reading these tips, aren’t you hyped up in fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions? You’re now in a great position to improve your life this year. Good changes are worth the time and effort. So, get started and good luck!

Seahawks wins against Cardinals: 27 to 24


Close Fight

The Seattle Seahawks’ game-winning drive came to a close fight with the Arizona Cardinals, pushing their record 10-6. Their opening possession looked promising and included the first run down on the 3rd & 7 from Ed Dickson. Russell Wilson threw an interception on a shallow in-route to David Moore which did not succeed. The Cardinals took advantage of this and got 3 points a few minutes later.

Team Highs and Lows

Though the game may not have begun in their favor, the team went three and out on their next drive. That’s when they finally started to get going. Wilson saw Tyler Lockett all by himself 15 yards downfield, took the chance and passed the ball. Lockett sprinted unencumbered into the end zone for the touchdown. This strong play set the team’s spirits throughout the game.

The second half began exactly how the first one ended: Seattle went three and out on their first two drives, taking a 3rd down sack for the 5th time on their second one that came after two shocking drops from Doug Baldwin.

With all those fumbles and set-ups, the best quarterback performance by the Seahawks was on the 4th quarter. Mike Davis started the final drive followed by a 5-yard catch. Then, he charged ahead for four more on the 3rd & 1. That put the Seahawks at 38. And then it was Wilson’s glorious moment. He rolled to his right, faking a hand-off. This baffled the Cardinal’s defensive line. Wilson moved his eyes downfield while running into an open space. He cocked his arm and threw a perfectly wide-open Lockett down 37 yards. At this point, this puts the game at 25-13 in favor of the Seahawks.

Expectation vs. Reality

The Seattle Seahawks entered Week 17 as a near lock for the NFC’s fifth seed. But, their win against the Cardinals was no walk in the park. Sports analysts observed that the team didn’t play like a team locked into a playoff spot. For the most part, starters played throughout the game.  Nevertheless, the Seahawks took home the bacon and is locked as the 5th seed in the NFC.

After wrapping up the regular season, Seattle will now prepare for their return to the playoffs. The team match-ups are up but the exact schedules will be released by the end of February.

Until then, onward, upward— Seattle Seahawks!

Featured image by Philip Robertson via Flickr

Seahawks vs Arizona Cardinals


The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals will soon face head on for their final game this year on December 30 at the CenturyLink Field, Seattle WA.

For Seahawks, winning this game after more than three consecutive triumphs will prove a victorious feat in their NFL season this year. Quarterback Russell Wilson, with running back Chris Carson, wide receiver and return specialist Tyler Lockett, and the rest of the team players are expected to bring home the bacon for Seattle and their massive following.

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll pins his hopes for a promising conclusion to their season in 2018. Despite challenges that they had to overcome, such as Lockett’s leg injury during their preseason game in August, Carroll is confident for his team to hit a home run in the anticipated game.

For Cardinals, however, preparations and training are still on the way. Expected players to perform well on the field include quarterback Josh Rosen, running back David Johnson, and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Cardinals coach Steve Wilks sets his sights to redeem the team after losing against Seahawks in their previous game.

As the holidays continue and the new year celebration approaches, perhaps one of the greatest gifts that supports  both teams can give and receive is the sportsmanship, and the reminder that whoever wins or loses, the game remains a testament to American unity in sports.

Christmas Traditions with the Family


Thinking of starting a Christmas tradition with you and your family? Begin with simple yet heartwarming ones. These activities for all ages will help your family bond over the holidays.

Take the kids outside for a quick winter walk to gather evergreen branches and pine cones. Trim some from the bottom of your Christmas tree. Attach your greens to a foam or wire ring and allow the kids to decorate it with Christmas ornaments and bows.

Watch Movies
Watch Christmas movies! You could also spread out your movie marathon over the course of a week. Let each family member choose a favorite holiday flick to watch. If your family is quirky and think Christmas movies are cheesy, watch horror movies instead. Screaming together all huddled in the living room is a great bonding moment.

Hot Chocolate Buffet

Enjoy the cold December with a mug of hot choco. Up your game with a buffet of toppings for your cocoa such whipped cream, marshmallows, crushed candy canes, shaved chocolate, chocolate chips, and cinnamon dots. The kids will love customizing their hot cocoa — a fun and easy activity for Christmas Eve.

Christmas Cookies

There are many holiday cookies you can choose from. Choose a simple recipe that children of all ages can get involved in the kitchen. Younger kids can add pre-measured ingredients, stir the bowl and decorate cooled cookies. Older kids can pitch in at any stage.

Wear Tacky Christmas Sweaters

It’s cold and grandma knitted you the annual Christmas sweaters. Wear them with pride and be tacky with the rest of your family. It looks horrible in the photos but it can definitely keep you warm. Plus, laughing at each other is fun, too.

Write a Letter to Santa

Encourage your kids to write a letter to Santa. You’d be surprised at what they’ll write about. It can be amusing when kids say (or write) the darndest things. When they’re done, they can hang it on the Christmas tree or slip them in their Christmas stockings.

When everything is all said and done, just enjoy each other’s company. Savor each moment. Who knows, maybe one day it’ll become a story you’ll be telling for years to come. And, isn’t that what Christmas is about?


Seahawks prepares for final playoff with San Francisco 49ers this year


After winning 43-16 in a match earlier this month, Seattle Seahawks is set to face San Francisco 49ers for their final playoff this year.

The game is set to take place at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California on Sunday. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was able to accomplish four touchdown passes in their previous game, will take it as an opportunity to complete 65.6 percent of his passes for 2,788 yards, coupled with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions. Along with Wilson, Seahawks’ team players such as wide receiver and return specialist Tyler Lockett and fellow wide receiver David Moore are expected to bring home the bacon. Both Lockett and Moore have accumulated 1,168 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

This anticipated game marks the second of two divisional games this season between Seahawks and 49ers. With Seahawks’ winning streak, they cling to hope for another possible victory.


Keep Your Home Bright This Winter



In winter, days become shorter than usual, and gray skies and gloomy days appear earlier in the day.  Follow these tips to help you keep your residence looking vibrant. By using the proper lighting system and with constant maintenance, your home retains its glee even on darker winter days.

  • Clean fixtures – Dust off your fixtures as these will improve quality lighting for your home. Whether these are installed outdoors or within your residence, fixtures will help project light better. Dust, stains, or insect remains might dim the lights.

  • Replace bulbs and lamps – Like any tool, bulbs and lamps have limits, especially when they have been used for quite a while. To avoid dimness, it’s best to inspect the bulbs and lamps that you use at home. If they do not function well anymore, it’s time to buy new ones that can produce the same light your home needs.

  • Survey your landscape – If you wish to extend brightness over your property, your lawn might be the best place to situate your additional lights. Since winter almost always arrives in December, your lighting display can be related to the holiday season too! Add sparkly lights to shine brightly on your home to give it warmth.

  • Keep track of the usage – As much as you want your home to look bright on cold gloomy days, you also need to consider the cost. As electricity can be expensive, make sure to plan and keep a budget, so you don’t overdo it!

Keeping your home bright this winter will not only repel the gloom, especially at night but will also add more joy in the season. Whether you’re with your family or if you choose to invite friends over, the lights will always turn your home into a spectacle.

Seahawks defies 49ers in a 43-16 match


Seattle Seahawks celebrates its third victory in a row after beating their rival San Francisco 49ers Sunday evening at  CenturyLink Field with a remarkable 43-16 result.

This stunning triumph resulted from the combined prowess of the Seahawks’ exemplary team. Quarterback Russell Wilson passed 185 yards and accomplished four touchdowns. To their advantage, linebacker Bobby Wagner managed a touchdown by converting a pick in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers fell short of their chance to win despite wide receiver Dante Pettis’ incredible performance. During the game, Pettis caught five passes for 129 yards and managed two touchdowns. Although the team did not make it to the lead, Pettis broke record for having caught more than 100 yards – his first in his NFL career.

The game marks promising days ahead for the Seahawks as they celebrate a streak of three continuous victories. As they prepare to defend their turf from Minnesota Vikings this December 11, they look forward to further victories this season.

The San Francisco 49ers will not lay their hopes down as they prepare to tackle Denver Broncos next week.

It can be noted that Seahawks and 49ers have a continuing history of rivalry that can be dated back to 2011.

House Care for Indoor Plants in Winter


Every winter, plants change from their normal state. Either they temporarily wither or they slumber and wait until they wake up in spring. If you are growing indoor plants, maintaining them is important in keeping them healthy and alive. But you don’t have to treat it as a chore; this can be your hobby! With these simple tips, you will more likely see your plants blossom after the winter.

  • Pour water minimally. Although the winter air is drier than any season, indoor plants don’t need much water because it is natural for plants to grow slower in winter. Pouring too much water may cause more harm to your plants than good.
  • Give your houseplants the right amount of sunlight... Plants feed on sunlight for sustenancethis applies to indoor plants as much as it does to outdoor plants that usually hibernate during this cold season. Place your indoor plants near your window or over a spot on your terrace to catch sunlight.
  • Cut down or abstain from using fertilizers. Using too much of something good may lead to harmful effects. Fertilizer is good only when applied in different seasons. Since your plants barely grow during the winter, complications might occur if you force your plants to grow by applying too much fertilizer.
  • Remove wilted leaves.  Just like on regular summer days, removing wilted leaves from your plants will help them stay healthy. Removing decay will help your plants stay fresh even on the coldest days.

Taking care of your plants during any season will help them sustain their health. If you maintain this hobby during the winter, there’s a bigger chance your plants will regain its vibrance in spring.

Seahawks Claims Victory Over Panthers


Seattle Seahawks has claimed a 30-27 victory in their latest match against Carolina Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC on Sunday. This comes as a promising win for the Seahawks after their previous triumph over Green Bay Packers two weeks ago. With only two games left in the season with the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle’s team is pinning their hopes for a winning streak. 

“It was a fantastic finish for our guys,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll during the press conference following the game. “We needed all of it.”  

With an exemplary team effort, the Seahawks were able to score by placekicker Sebastian Janikowski’s 31-yard field goal, earning them the final lead against Carolina Panthers. Prior to this accomplishment, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver David Moore connected for a deep 35-yard touchdown pass, tying the score to their opponent’s. 

The outcome may deem to be disappointing to the Panthers, whose hope for this season’s win was cut short partly due to cornerback rookie Donte Jackson’s injury in the first quarter, but this does not entirely discredit the team’s victories over previous games as their aim for the NFC South Title earlier in the month. 

For Seahawks Seattle, this consecutive win will renew their hopes for this season. “It is really a rewarding win,” Carrolls stated.

They are set to face head-on with the San Francisco 49ers next week.

What to Prepare for Thanksgiving Dinner at Home


Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Don’t let the holiday stress get to you! Here are preparations you can do days ahead so you only have a few things to worry about when November 22 arrives:

  • Check your kitchenware.  Spell holiday disaster: your stove or oven not working on Thanksgiving! To get that dreadful thought out of the way, check your kitchen equipment. Do you have enough tools to make the food you’re planning to serve? Is your oven working? You need a professional to get it examined. With your kitchenware working at its best, you’re always ready for a feast!
  • Make and freeze the sauces. You’re probably thinking this isn’t the way you do things at home. But, it’s actually quite practical considering you’re the only one preparing dinner. Making your sauces, whether it’s gravy or cranberry sauce, days before can save you more time during Thanksgiving. Don’t slave away in the kitchen this holiday!
  • Make and freeze the mashed potato. Freezing potatoes isn’t a great idea, but the freezing MASHED potato is. Make your go-to mashed potato recipe ahead of time. Put it in a bowl, wrap it with cling wrap, freeze, and reheat it on the night of Thanksgiving. The cling wrap prevents crystallization.
  • Make the pie crust. If you’re planning to have pie, make the crust ahead. Wrap it in cling wrap and freeze. Again, it’ll save you more time so you can spend it with your guests. After all, it’s what the holiday is all about, right?
  • Buy the turkey. Avoid the holiday rush and buy the turkey days before Thanksgiving. You can even choose the best one with all the turkey choices you have. Now that you’ve done some preparations, it’s time to do the actual cooking. On Thanksgiving, you’ll have less time in the kitchen and more time mingling with your guests. Here are a few of the things you need to do on the day:
  • Make the pie. Because you made the pie crust ahead, you can proceed to make the filling. Thaw your crust and line it in your trusty pie pan. Pour the filling and bake.
  • Thaw the turkey (3 ways). Thaw your turkey hours before. You can thaw it in three ways.
  1. You can thaw it in the fridge. Allow approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 10-pound turkey will take about 2 days to thaw completely.
  2. If that’s too slow for you, you can use cold water. Allow approximately 30 minutes for every pound of turkey. A 10-pounder will take about 5 hours to thaw completely.
  3. If that isn’t fast enough for you, you can use your microwave oven. Read the user manual for your oven to get instructions for thawing a frozen turkey. Times and power settings will vary from model to model. In general, it could take an hour or more on the defrost setting, depending on the size of the turkey.

And there you have it! These are just some of the things that you can prepare before Thanksgiving comes. Do you have tips you want to share?  Let us know how your Thanksgiving went. Comment below!


Tips for Black Friday Sale


Black Friday Sale is one of the most anticipated shopping holidays. Every Friday after Thanksgiving, people flock at Macy’s, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Staples, and Walmart to get their hands on great deals.

You wouldn’t want to get left behind, especially when you want supplies for your home or gifts for your friends and family. Get ready to shop responsibly with these helpful tips:

  • Make a list of what you’ll buy. Keeping an organized list of what to buy will help you save time spent at the store. It will also aid you in managing your budget. Another helpful tip is to categorize the list with personal and gift items – choosing which products to buy for your own needs and those which you will potentially give as gifts to your friends and family.
  • Check on available items before buying. You may be surprised when you see a variety of products with cheaper-than-usual prices sold at the store. Knowing which products to buy will not only keep you from getting distracted but will also help you project how much you are going to spend. Does your carpet need to be replaced? Are your pillowcases too worn out and loose? One thing that helps you get started is to evaluate your home and look for things that need to be replaced or added.
  • Check the schedule. Whether you’re planning to shop at Walmart or Target, it’s best to arrive early so you wouldn’t have to wait in long lines. Check the schedule of the stores where you plan to shop before the big day.
  • Shop with a friend. Shopping alone is not a big deal but when you do it during a big event like Black Friday, shopping all by yourself can be a bit inconvenient. You’d never know who would grab your cart and it would help to have someone accompany you to check on your things.


  • Shop online. Anxious about shopping with large crowds? A more convenient way to shop is doing it online through mobile apps and websites. If you’re the type who prefers to stay indoors on a holiday, try checking out online Black Friday Sales.


  • Consider your budget. No matter how much your preferred items cost, you need to weigh if they’re really worth spending money on. Managing your budget will help you identify the things you need and those you want.. Make sure you are spending within your means.

Black Friday Sale only happens once in a year. Be a smart shopper during the holiday!

Seahawks wins against Packers, 27-24


The Seattle Seahawks keeps its wildcard hopes last Thursday night, November 15, and took down the Green Bay Packers, 27-24. Winning against the Packers was crucial for Seattle’s playoff chances with three games left against the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, and the Kansas City Chiefs.

According to, “For a long time now, since Seahawks Stadium / Century Link Field was constructed, really, Seattle has enjoyed the best home field advantage in the NFL. For six straight years, the final month and a half of national analysts have talked about how NFC contenders were hoping to avoid playing in Seattle in the ‘yoffs.” Home field advantage really was on their side.

Pushing luck aside, key players stepped up their game. Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson handled the early downs of the offense’s snaps, playing 24% and 41% respectively. Meanwhile, Mike Davis continued as 3rd down back and 31% of snaps. With KJ Wright having a knee injury, Austin Calitro played alongside Bobby Wagner. This coaching decision was a surprise as Barkevious Mingo proved himself to have a solid game in Wright’s absence. But Calitro showed tremendous reliability by getting 88% of the defense’s snaps.

Seattle Seahawks’ standing 5-5 isn’t great. But, it’s enough to give them a chance at the playoffs. Their next game is on the road against the Carolina Panthers on November 26 at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Onward, upward. Let’s do this!

Seahawks Lose Against Rams (36-31), But Fought ‘Till the Bitter End


The Seahawks lost against the Rams, 36 to 31. They lost by a 5-point margin but not without a fight. The team gave everything they had, but as with any competition, the better team always wins.

Seattle scored first thanks to Mike Davis’ touchdown. His successful execution of the first three plays nets the team 17 yards letting the Rams know they were a force to be reckoned with. According to, Seattle played their best game of the year to date.

The team’s defense forced a three-and-out to give Wilson and the offense the ball back with 1:24 remaining and no timeouts left pulling off the upset in a dramatic, high-scoring affair.

Unfortunately, this is the team’s second loss in a row giving their record down to 4-5 making their playoff dreams seem bleak.

The Seattle Seahawks will compete against the Green Bay Packers at  CenturyLink Field Arena on Nov. 15, 2018. It’s an important bout as their win may mean a shot onto the shortlist with six games to go.

How to Celebrate Veterans' Day at Home


On Nov. 11, 1919, Veteran’s Day was originally named “Armistice Day” to celebrate the year after World War I. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for it to become an annual observance. 12 years later, November 11 became a national holiday. It was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans’ Day.

It is far more important than the long weekend we associate it to be. We celebrate Veteran’s Day to pay tribute to the living veterans who have served our country in war and in peacetime. As what the day proclaims, let us reflect on the sacrifices of the members of the military and their patriotic service to the country.

How do you celebrate Veterans’ Day at your own home? Here are a few suggestions.

Prepare A Care Package- Make a care package for someone you know who is deployed. Pack it with personal items like high-quality body wash, lip balm (the desert can be pretty arid), and pain-relieving topical cream. If you don’t closely know anyone deployed, you can reach Blue Star Mothers of America. They can arrange your care package to reach our soldiers wherever they are in the world.

Throw a Party For a Family of a Veteran You Know- If you know a family who has a loved one deployed ( or someone in the Military or Navy), bring them some cheer by throwing a “thank you” party for them. It can be intimate. Or, it can be big! If they are deployed, set the party up where the veteran can also join in (via Skype or Facetime) on the festivities.

Teach a Child What Veterans’ Day is All About –Educate a child about the importance of Veteran’s Day by sharing what you know. Teach them about why we celebrate this day and honor our Veterans.

Do you have other ways to celebrate Veteran’s Day? Let us know and comment below! Until then, Happy Veteran’s Day!

Seahawks Faces 25-17 Loss Against Chargers


Seattle Seahawks faced another disappointing loss after Sunday’s game at the CenturyLink Field against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 25-17 result. Although Seahawks coach Pete Carroll expected a good turnout with three key starters rallied by running back Chris Garson, linebacker K.J. Wright, and safety Bradley McDougald, the team fell short after the Chargers earned their best start of 6-2 since 2006.

Pinning hopes over quarterback Russell Wilson after bringing eight points to the team with only 1:50 minutes remaining, Seahawks managed to reach five plays before barging into the L.A. 30-yard line. Seahawks also managed to take the lead during the initial round of the game, with 7-0 achieved by Wilson after his 10-yard strike to wide receiver Jaron Brown.

But just as the Seahawks aimed for victory, it was the Chargers who claimed it with running back Melvin Gordon’s 34-yard rushing touchdown and wide receiver Keenan Allen’s 54-yard reception from quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers also made his 200th consecutive start with his 13-of-26 for 228 yards.

The Seahawks is set to reclaim their glory as the team looks forward to their next game with L.A. Rams on the 11th this month at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.



How to prepare your garden for the winter


For many, winter actually reveals itself in November. So, it’s the perfect time to get your landscape ready for the cold season. You don’t have to exert much effort to complete what you need in order to prepare for winter. With simple tips, maintaining your garden during winter will help your plants last up to spring!

Remove weeds and dead leaves

Dead leaves and weeds get frozen beneath the snow. Although you may not have to do this only to prepare your garden for the winter, uprooting weeds and raking off dead leaves from your lawn and garden will not only help clear your yard but will also prevent the paths from becoming slippery when covered with snow. Reducing unnecessary growth over your garden will also provide a healthier environment for your plants.

Protect potted plants from the cold

Protect your potted plants from the freezing temperature when winter comes. You can choose to bring some of them inside your house, but this applies significantly to ornamental plants. For your plants outdoors, especially those situated over your lawn or yard, there are various techniques to prevent their stems or roots from freezing. One of the effective ways is to cover the pots with bubble wrap or hessian wrapping. This is also to keep them warm.

Prepare your soil

As seasons change, so does the environment. Although winter may bring the cold into your neighborhood, there is no guarantee that your plants will still be the same after they go through months of it. This is why it is also important to apply fertilizer over your garden’s soil to help your plants cope with the coldest days in the season. Fertilizers will also help retain your plants’ quality.

Ready your garden tools

Using the right tools will help you complete these tasks easily. Whether you plan to trim excess leaves or rake weeds right off your lawn, tools like shears and rakes will help you get the job done conveniently. It’s important that you maintain your tools and keep them in proper storage to use them once you prepare your garden for the winter.

Winter may come soon, and if you keep a garden at home, you can start preparing your plants for the changes that come with the season. These tips can help you get started!

Seahawks 28 Lions 14: Chances for playoffs


Seattle Seahawks won against the Detroit Lions 28-14. Sports analysts have deemed this game a loss for the Seahawks, but  they proved them all wrong. The team and fans alike can hope for a more realistic dream of making it in the playoffs.

Showstopping highlights from the game were from quarterback Russell Wilson and receiver David Moore.

According to, Russell Wilson was on the top of his game. He did 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 15 yards rushing — truly  commendable for Wilson who has done 9 touchdowns and 1 interception over the last three games. We’ll probably see more of him on the field this coming November with Seahawks competing against the LA Chargers.

6’0’’ receiver David Moore’s development is one for the books this season. Moore made 4 catches for 97 yards with his clever positioning and big-bodied attitude.

The third-down conversion that coach Pete Carroll successfully challenged during this game was the stuff of legends. The new catch rule went in favor of the team. Renowned sports analyst Samuel Gold even complimented Carroll for the call.

Before playoffs turn into a reality, the team will face off against the Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) on Sunday, November 4 at the CenturyLink Field. It will be broadcasted at 1:05 PM PT on CBS.

Tree Care Mistakes To Avoid During Autumn


With a myriad of DIY videos and articles about tree care, we’re motivated to do things on our own. But what if you’re doing more harm than good? Here are some of the common tree care mistakes identified by professional tree care providers:

Pruning in the fall –  Unless you have a dead tree, pruning in the fall is a big no-no. During cold seasons, trees focus their energy on their roots. Any pruning done during the fall may not heal in time. These cuts may leave your trees susceptible from fungi and infestations.

Ignoring early symptoms of tree illness – Think of trees as people. They also get infections due to ignored cuts just like us. Symptoms of tree illness are:

  • A sudden death of branches
  • Early loss of leaves
  • Scabs on fruits (if you have a fruit-bearing tree)

It’s best to call a professional tree care provider when you notice these signs.

“Topping” – Topping trees are done when growth happens precariously through power lines. You might also do it to have a better view. But improperly doing tree topping can cause insect infestation to your trees and make them look disfigured and mangled. It’s best to have foresight on where the tree may grow to avoid topping it in the first place.

Planting non-native trees – A non-native tree may seem like a good addition in your yard. The unique touch makes your yard stand out in the neighborhood. However non-native trees require a lot of maintenance and upkeep. These trees take more time to adapt to certain soil types and can even disrupt the local ecosystem in your own yard.

Over-mulching – Mulching is helpful because it traps moisture in the soil so you don’t need to water your tree as often during low rainfall season but too much mulch can trap excessive moisture and may cause root rotting and fungal infection. It’s best to do it in moderation by using 3-4 inches of mulch around the tree’s outer dripline.

Do you have other tree care mistakes in mind? Care to tell us how to prevent them? Share it in the comments below!

Lakeside Estate for an Ideal Getaway


Relish in a lifestyle fit for royalty in this pristine and private waterfront estate. Located west of the freshwater Lake Sammamish, it stands three feet high with complete amenities that provide you with more than what you need.

Step into its ivory living room where you can lounge over the cushioned seats and intricately designed couches, grab a book or take a sip from the tastiest wine, and occasionally view the tranquil lake through the glass windows. Its spacious rooms indoors will give you an airy comfort. With five beds in multiple cozy bedrooms and four baths, the property provides your necessities. Whether you prefer to reside with your family or your friends, you will find the house the most suitable place for you.

Indulge yourself with your favorite meal within its wide kitchen, where the lake glimmers from outside as seen through the glass windows. Feast with your family and friends within the dining area where a chandelier hanging on the ceiling illuminates your vicinity. For your leisure, unwind with your favorite film within the home theater, or cozy up within the designated space for warmth where a fireplace can be lit during cold seasons.

But should you prefer to explore the outdoors, the expanse beyond offers more than what is expected. With the stunning view of the lake and the majestic wonders of the mountain ranges beyond, take time to stroll along the boardwalk that connects the property to the banks of the lake.

Feel at home at 104 W Lake Sammamish PKWY NE Bellevue, WA 98008 where your lifestyle becomes the perfect getaway.

Electrical Safety List for Autumn


Autumn has just arrived, which means the spookiest holiday of the year is just around the corner Halloween! But before you get to enjoy costume parties or a whole night of binging on horror films, let’s look at your home’s condition and take necessary precautions. Here are top tips on electrical safety that are sure to get you ready for a day filled with tricks and treats!   

  • Use space heaters with caution – Using space heaters are the best and easiest way to stay warm without using your heating system. It’s a great way to save on costs especially when you don’t need to heat up the entire house. But, it can be a safety hazard if you’re not careful. Keep flammable Halloween decorations at least 3 feet away from the space heater and NEVER plug your space heater using an extension cord.
  • Inspect all extension cords – As the holidays are fast approaching, you’re probably using a ton of extension cords for your holiday lights and decor. Check your extension cords for damages. Make sure to use weather extension cords outdoors. If you’re plugging a lot of holiday lights, use surge protectors to provide internal load protection.
  • Sweep dry leaves – Sweep dry leaves away from outdoor outlets, light fixtures, and power cords. This prevents fire hazards. Dry leaves are prone to catching fire if it makes contact with any spark of some kind.
  • Cut tree branches – Make sure your tree branches don’t grow towards your electrical lines. Get your branches trimmed to prevent cut power lines and electrical fires. Call a reliable tree service company and have them take care of it.
  • Test smoke alarms – You’ll be using a lot of electrical devices in the coming holidays as the weather gets colder. Test your smoke alarms and make sure they are functional. This will make you at ease and sure that your alarms work when an electrical fire breaks out.
  • The right time for electrical inspections is NOW – After Halloween comes Thanksgiving. Before you know it, it’s already Christmas! Faulty electrical wirings are one of the top reasons for house fires. Contact a reputable electrical inspection safety professional in your area to assess if your electrical system is as safe as it should be.

Protect your home from house fires. Stay safe and have all the fun you want during the holidays!


Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders


Seattle Seahawks claims a 27-3 victory over Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium, London, Sunday night.

In the stunning game attended by a crowd of 84,922 NFL fans, Seahawks proved that triumph is still at hand despite losing to 31-33 with the Rams last week.  The result has been attributed to the prowess of Seahawks team players like quarterback Russell Wilson who threw three touchdowns amidst the cheers of the crowd. Meanwhile, place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski scored two field goals that provided the Seahawks with a 17-0 first-half lead. Wide receiver and return specialist Tyler Lockett also managed to score a lead in the second half with a touchdown grab. 

Albeit employing the same adept and ignition to win, the game, however, did not bode well with the Oakland Raiders. Wide receiver Amari Cooper encountered a concussion during the game. Quarterback Derek Carr’s arm injury came after he struggled to run over the field for a first down before he missed a field goal.

This appears to be a promising prospect for Seahawks in the NFL after two consecutive losses in the previous weeks. As the team looks forward to facing the Detroit Lions on October 29 at Ford Field, they aim to avenge their losses and sustain their wins to establish a victorious fete.

Top Reasons to Deep Clean your Home this Autumn


Seasons keep changing. As the year nears its end, you may have to anticipate colder days ahead. The seasons’ cycle remains constant, but so does your home maintenance to prepare for a livable climate. Keeping your home clean is not only a responsibility but a necessary task to live conveniently and comfortably. The autumn season can bring cold gray days and more lawn work as trees’ leaves begin to fall and pile over your yard. But like many seasonal problems that you’d have to deal with, you can address this by cleaning up your home and property.

This post lists some of the right reasons why you should start deep cleaning your home this autumn:

  • Air quality. The air indoors may affect your health. With cool temperature, it’s time to make sure that your HVAC system functions properly to provide your indoor space the kind of warmth that you need. To further improve air quality, you’d need to remove dust from places where they most likely gather. This might include inspecting every crook and cranny indoors.
  • Healthcare. Your health is vulnerable in the cold season. To avoid getting sick, you need to make sure that all the things you keep in your home – from your furniture to your facilities – need to be cleaned thoroughly. Dust can gather on your bed sheets, mattress, curtains or even your carpets. Try vacuuming these items to avoid allergies, colds, or any illnesses caused by indoor dust.
  • House maintenance.  The sturdiness of the structure of your house depends on how well you maintain it. Keeping your house clean by using the right tools and handling your things with great care will help keep your house in good condition. 

Autumn can bring colder days throughout the season, but preparing for the weather is inevitable, especially when you live in an area where autumn occurs every year.

Seattle Seahawks Faces Defeat After 31-33 game with Los Angeles Rams


Sunday’s game has left Seattle Seahawks and fans stunned as the Los Angeles Rams charged them to a 31-33 defeat at the CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington. 

The Los Angeles Rams gained victory over their game. However, this wasn’t the first time that they faced head-on with the Seahawks. In December, the 42-7 result had favored the Rams and upset the Seahawks, with Oregon Live considering it as the “worst Seahawks in the Pete Carroll era.” But despite an upsetting turnout for the home court, the team did not settle without pushing to their advantage. 

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll shared that the team has played precisely as they were meant to do.  On the bright side, the 44-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett proved beneficial as it had paved for the Seahawks to reach to the 32. Seahawks’ David Moore also managed to score a lead for the Seahawks with his 30-yard TD pass from Russell Wilson. But even though Seahawks pinned their hope at this rate, they were not able to hold on to their anticipated victory when Rams’ Cooper Kup completed a 6-yard TD pass and pulled the Rams ahead of their opponent. 

Referring to the Rams, Carroll expressed: “There were 60-something runs and it comes down to ‘Let’s throw the flag right there.’ Unfortunately, it happened and they got a great break out of that. It was a great break for them.”

Although the game was a disappointment for many Seahawks fans, the team sets their redemption as they will face head-on with the Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium, London, on October 14.

Featured Image by @RamsNFL Via Twitter 

Preparing your yard for Halloween



Halloween is  a few weeks away, but you can prepare too soon. Make your outdoors spooky and inviting to little trick-or-treaters and adult neighbors alike. As the calendar hits October 31st, the only thing left for you to do is marvel at your yard and hand out the treats. 

Follow our top picks from tricks we gathered from the experts at Better Homes and Gardens, Better Housekeeping, and Country Living.

  • Pumpkins galore – Nothing says Halloween better than putting carved pumpkins in your yard. Put them in strategic places like on the porch or right on the side of the curb. Choose different pumpkin sizes. You can even stack them together to create a sense of layers and variation.

  • Get crafty – Unleash your crafty side by repurposing things inside your home. Instead of buying fake cobwebs, stretch out cotton balls and attach them on ceilings corners and other areas using glue or tape. Reuse old cooking pots by painting them black and making them ancient cauldrons. You can do so much with the things you already have. All you have to do is tap your imagination.

  • Light ‘em up – Setting up the right light arrangement can make or break your decoration efforts. Put lighted candles inside your pumpkins to create a soft, yet spooky feel. You can even set up fairy lights on your porch to get that ethereal facade.

  • Trim and shape – Make sure your yard is well-trimmed. That means your shrubs need to be shaped and manicured. A trimmed yard makes your outdoors look polished and sleek.

Did you use our tips in preparing your yard for Halloween? Do you have more tips up your sleeve? Take a photo and let us know in the comments below!

Seahawks wins 20-17 to Cardinals, Earl Thomas injured


Seattle Seahawks (2-2) wins against the Arizona Cardinals (0-4). According to Mookie Alexander of “Seattle’s running game burst to life with 171 yards, including 101 by Mike Davis, but the passing game was largely tepid once again, and the defense struggled to hold off rookie QB Josh Rosen in the 4th quarter.” Sebastian Janikowski, who had missed twice in the 1st half, won the game with a 52-yarder at the buzzer.

The Seahawks may have won the battle, but will be a tough road ahead, as Earl Thomas was  injured at the end of the game. Thomas’ defensive prowess proved to be vital in last week’s win with the Dallas Cowboys.  Thomas’ injury might be detrimental to the Seahawks’ future in the NFL, according to Seattle Times. “Thomas suffered a fractured lower left leg with 8:59 left in the game, a play that almost certainly ends his season and potentially — if not probably — his Seahawks career.”

“Yeah, we got the (win),’’ said defensive end Frank Clark. “But I feel like we’re the losers at the end of the day because we lost a Hall of Fame player. We lost a player you can’t replace. … It’s Earl Thomas, let’s be honest.’

The Seattle Seahawks are slated to bout against the Los Angeles Rams on October 7 at CenturyLink Field

Checklist: September Home Maintenance


Maintaining your home is necessary when the seasons change. But although keeping it in good condition can be a challenge, there are times when you can take initial steps all by yourself.  September welcomes the fall season, and as cold winds start to replace the humid air of summer, you might consider improving the quality of your home to avoid damages in the cold days ahead.

Below are the few tips for home maintenance to prepare for the fall to winter seasons.

  • Maintain HVAC systems – To cope with the weather, you need the heating ventilation and air condition system in your home to function properly. Regular inspection and maintenance will help you resolve any existing damages. Cleaning and repairing them with the aid of contractors will also restore them in good condition so that you wouldn’t have to worry about adjusting to the temperature. A fireplace in your house can also be checked to avoid any hazard.

  • Replace household sheets – Comfort comes in many textures, and besides feeling the temperature in the air, you can cozy up in blankets and sheets. Have your pillowcases, bedspreads, or even your curtains replaced with thicker cloths that could maintain the warmth within your house.

  • Fill your pantry – Like ants saving for rainy days, it’s time to get prepared with supplies stored in your kitchen or pantry. Although you can easily buy from the nearest convenience store or shopping mart, there’s no telling when the roads and sidewalks start to get slippery in cold weather. Plus, keeping supplies will save you the inconvenience of going out in the cold seasons.

  • Conduct regular inspection – Loose faucets can cause permanent damage in cold seasons just as cracks on walls or on the floor can hint that your house structure might have a problem. Conducting regular inspecting will not only help you identify these problems but will also help you improve your home even in the harshest weather.

Maintaining your home is a constant responsibility, especially when seasons change. But if you’re planning to DIY, you can start with the few tips listed above.

Seahawks Wins against Cowboys, 24-13


Seattle Seahawks gained their first win of the series against the Dallas Cowboys on home turf last Sunday. The game came as a surprise to the audience and sports analysts alike with a 24-13 end result in favor of the Seahawks. The team began the preseason with two losses but managed to gain a whopping two-digit point difference against the Cowboys.

Seahawks’ quarterback, Russell Wilson, performed impressively by contributing 3 touchdowns. But according to Jacson Bevens from, he associated the Seahawks win to Earl Thomas and said, “Earl led the team in tackles and snagged two remarkable interceptions as Seattle’s defense suffocated the Cowboys.” A good offense is a strong defense indeed. 

The Seahawks will fight against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept 30 at U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona. ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss predicts that the Cardinals will have a challenge in breaking the Seahawks’ defense. After this game, it’s not unlikely.

Backyard Camping for the Kids


Need a new tradition to create with the family in the comfort of your own home? How about doing the things you loved in the summer, like camping, but bring it home–in your own backyard! Over the weekend, try bonding with your kids in a different and less costly activity – using your backyard as a site for adventure!

Here are a few things you can do with the kids to prepare for your backyard adventure begins!

  • Make a list and pack-up. Although the campsite is literally a few steps away from your home, it wouldn’t be called camping without a tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, kindling other fire, and of course, smores stuff!
  • Plan outdoor activities. Camping is always exciting with activities. Games will not only be fun and exciting, but these can also enhance your child’s love for nature and playing outside–something so important especially today.
  • Prepare safety kits. Even though you’re home is just a few steps away from your yard, it’s always best to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. A first-aid kit can help anyone who encounters minor injury (scraped knee, bruised arm, etc.), and a small ax or pocket knife for the adults (kept out of reach from the little  ones, of course) just to be safe.
  • Enjoy time with your kids. Relax and enjoy with your kids! Explore, sing around the campfire, look for bugs! Whatever it is, know you’re making lasting memories for you and your kids. Happy camping!

Backyard camping with your kids can be a fun activity to bond with your family over the weekend. With the right tools and activities, it can pass like an actual camping in the woods. So pick up a tent and get started!

Seahawks Manages to Take Bears Head-on on Monday’s Game


Despite the 24-17 loss, Seattle Seahawks still managed to take the Chicago Bears head on during Monday’s game.

Pinning their hopes over quarterback Russell Wilson, the Hawks was expected to triumph in their next face-off on the field with Chicago Bears. ESPN, 710 Sports, Pro Football Talk, and Bleacher Report predicted this possibility.

Although these assumptions shed light in favor of the Seahawks, the Bears also have their share of positivity before the big game. ESPN, NFL, and CBS Sports presumed that the Bears have an advantage this time.

This wouldn’t be the first time when the Bears and the Seahawks compete on the field, which will take place at Soldier Field at 7:15 PM on Monday. They have previously competed in 2012 when the Seahawks swept the Bears 23-17 in overtime.

The game was nationally televised on ESPN and broadcast on the radio on WBBM Newsradio, 780 AM and 105.9 FM.

Preparing Your Home for the Fall Season


As summer comes to an end, and the leaves twirl down to the wet ground, you know Fall is arriving. This means rain, cold nights, and cozy morning holidays throughout the season. But, it also means that it’s time to take down your summer flair and prepare your house for the wet, windy season upon us. Check what we think are the most important tips for prepping your home for Fall!

  • Inspect indoor parts of your house. The change in temperature can be abrupt or gradual. But either way, it’s always best to check on facilities that might help you adjust to the cold months ahead. Things like the furnace, HVAC system, fireplace, or even indoor pipes may need some repairs or cleaning before they can function for a long term.

  • Say goodbye to dust. With humid days in summer, it’s not surprising that the dry weather can invite unwelcome visitors into your home. Relax! It’s not Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers knocking on your doorstep. Instead, they gather over your window panes, floor, furniture, or hide in your carpet. But unlike some characters in summer horror blockbusters, you can do something about them. Keep the dust away from your home by maintaining cleanliness, which can prevent colds or health problems that can get worse with the cold weather.

  • Customize your space. Remodeling your home to fit with the season may be necessary. Either you change your bedspreads with thicker clothes or repaint your walls to retain that warm feeling, you can always choose to do so with the help of contractors or your friends.

  • Prepare your yard. The fall can lead your outdoor property to change.. If you want your lawn or plants to survive in weather changes, applying fertilizer may help them cope. It’s also necessary to inspect outdoor hosts and faucets and shut them off when necessary as cold temperature can affect them.

The frigid seasons are right around the corner and now is the best time to start cozying up to your place. Stay warm and comfortable with your loved ones and stick around for more tips on how to prepare your home for fall!

Seattle Seahawks: Three-point Defeat Shakes Stadium


Denver Broncos earns 27-24 victory over Seattle Seahawks in Denver during Sunday’s game at the Broncos Stadium Mile High. As the latter opens their season, they were met with the full force of Broncos’ prolific players.

Broncos completed a 470-yard offense, which consisted of Emmanuel Sanders’ 43-yard pass and Paul Lindsay’s running back 29-yard pass. But it was outside linebacker, Von Miller, who displayed an exceptional run defense.

However, the Seahawks didn’t set things to lose without pulling a tight score. Tyler Lockett’s 51-yard touchdown gave way for Will Dissly’s 66-yard run and Chris Carson’s 24-yard run.

Nevertheless, the opening season is just one of the first games where the Seahawks will soar. The game last Sunday might prove to be disappointing for many of their fans, but there will be more games to come in September.

It can only be expected that the Seahawks will avenge their defeat by then. But with excellent players on their team who could easily defy expectations on the field, such possibility is not hard to miss.

8 Tips to Make Your Outdoor Space Look Expensive


Much like people, your home’s facade tells a lot about you. It’s important because let’s face it, it’s the first thing your guests will see. So, how do you make your outdoor space look expensive? We’ve read almost a hundred tips from the experts at Good Housekeeping, Reader’s Digest, and Southern Living to come up with eight of the best ones. Check out these simple tricks to making your yard look chic, not cheap.

Mow your lawn

Perhaps the simplest tip of them all is to mow your lawn regularly to make your outdoor space looking polished and clean.  

Make that entrance GRAND

Get that wow factor by making your front porch or patio looking luxurious. Just because you want to make it look expensive, doesn’t mean it has to be. The key here is cohesion and plushness with fabrics and pillows. Accessories are everything for front porch decor

Choose a theme

Choose a theme that suits you. Do you want a charming farmhouse theme? How about something nautical? Do you want to go rustic? Themes are important because it sets a mindset for your guests.

Select well-made furniture

You can’t go wrong with furniture made out of hardwood such as beech, maple, and oak. Always check the seams when you’re looking for cushions to match your furniture. Get the feel of the material if it’s durable and can stand the test of time.

Pick a color scheme

To make your outdoor space look expensive, color coordination is key. The mind is programmed to behave accordingly based on the colors that it sees. Do your research before shopping, so you know exactly the color palette you prefer.

Add a water feature

Adding a water feature outdoors adds a sense of affluence. There is a myriad of water features that you can choose from. Go for a simple, serene water fountain to add a peaceful vibe.  Invest in a pond filled with koi and other aquatic creatures to bring nature even closer to your home.

Make repairs

Nothing says cheap than dilapidated fixtures and broken door knobs. Have your trusted handyman repair and maintain your home, so it’s always looking fresh and cared for.

Add lighting

According to Better Homes and Gardens, swapping out an old light fixture for a new one instantly updates the ambiance of your space. Place a lamp beside the couch and it instantly highlights its color and texture. Install overhead lighting like chandeliers and it becomes a focal point of your space. The right lighting fixture accentuates your chosen theme and color scheme.

With these simple hacks, your property will always look cared for and luxurious!  Send us a picture of how your outdoor space looks like using these tips. Comment below and let us know how it went!


Commemorating 9/11 With Your Community


Two weeks from now marks its 17th anniversary. It’s been 17 years since 9/11, where thousands of lives were lost. We all were deeply affected by its aftermath. Up to this day, only a little over 60% of the remains have been positively identified.

With that in mind, let us give a moment to dignify the people we have lost to the tragedy. Here are ways you can commemorate the lost lives, heroes, and surviving families with your community at home.

  • Raise your flag half-mast. It is in honor of the innocent lives lost.  We also give recognition to the service members who died or were wounded during the attack by raising the flag in honor.
  • Organize a community event in your neighborhood to observe the six moments of silence for each key event of the attacks – when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower, when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower, when American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, the collapse of the South Tower, when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and finally when the North Tower collapsed.
  • Share your experience with children or friends. Where were you when the towers collapsed? How old were you? How did you feel when that happened? Or, find information from reputable newspapers online about what happened.
  • Post an appropriate picture or remembrance on social media or your company’s website to show your solidarity with the many innocent victims.

9/11 is a world historic event. It has redefined our way of living in one way or another. But let us take this opportunity to ponder how to be a better citizen and honor that day and the lives lost and those still suffering.

What to Do at Home on Labor Day Weekend


Labor Day could be your last hurrah before summer ends—and what better way to celebrate our freedom to work, then to not work?!. We’ve got the best tips on staying relaxed and creative this Labor-day weekend!

Learn something new. As Labor Day does not require you to attend classes or go to work, treat yourself with a book or a documentary that will help you widen your perspective and learn new things. Cozy up in your living room or unwind at your porch and grab the book you’ve been longing to finish. Settle down in your living room and turn on the television to look for specials that go beyond entertainment. Learning a new skill will also help you relax and take your mind off work and chores. Learn a new recipe and watch a fun movie! Doing something out of the ordinary just yourself or with your family is always a fun thing to do on long weekends!

Bond with your family. Unlike many destinations, there’s no place like home. But spending quality time with your loved ones does not necessarily require you to pack up and bring them somewhere. Spend your Labor Day by watching a movie in the living room or dream up your ideal backyard movie theater and make sketches together! (check out: It can also be a day to play with your kids, cook their favorite meals, or talk with them about how things are going. Use this time to bond, play and talk!

Invite friends over. Invite your favorite people over for BBQ, drinks and fun! Get creative with party decor and the games. Include your family or friends in the event planning and assign people to bring food or refreshments! Make sure you have music to dance the night away!  

Work on Projects!  Labor Although Labor Day is meant for rest, it can also be spent productively by crafting something beautiful out of your free time. This can be painting the walls in your room or redecorating your study, or just getting to an unfinished yard or housework!

Labor Day may mark the end of summer, but that doesn’t mean you can live it up a little longer. Stay home, have fun and take advantage of the long weekend with loved ones!

When Summer Ends: How to Clean Your Home with Ease

If you’re living in a place that annually experiences changes in season, you’d know that the end of summer will always require you to clean some areas in your property. This comes as a preparation for the autumn where cold winds replace the heat waves and humid air that surrounded you in summer. Instead of dreading the chore, make it fun!

Here are ways that can guarantee you a fun and effective cleaning process:

  • Clean with companions. Ask help from your closest friends and loved ones to help you clean and tidy up— you won’t only get the job done fast, but can o spend quality time with the people whom you care for and trust the most. Return the favor by offering your help for their summer cleaning!
  • Clean with the right materials. You can’t wipe the dust off your furniture with your bare hands. If you use a paper towel, you’d be wasting the sheets before you’ll leave your living room spotless. It may be true that dust accumulates in the summer, as the atmosphere turns dry. This requires you to clean double time. But if you use the right materials such as vacuums, spray, towels, brooms, dustpans, and dusters, you can maintain cleanliness in your rooms as easily as you can call for your companions.
  • Clean with music. If you prefer the silence, this advice is optional. But if you work best by singing along to the pop or rock songs, you can turn your Bluetooth speaker or any device on and clean with beat and rhythm.

Make cleaning fun this summer as you prepare the transition to Fall!

Decorate Your Deck for Summer Parties and Cookouts


You wake up on a weekend and realize you have nothing to do. Your workload is miraculously off your shoulders for at least a couple of days. You look outside your window and see your deck. It’s just there – drab, disinteresting, and deserted. You ask yourself, “Why do I even have a deck?”

Here are some tips on how to spruce up that deck and have that summer party even your neighbors will be envious about. (Spoiler alert: They won’t be able to see anything. Read along.)


You’d want your deck to feel welcoming to your guests. So, opt for comfortable furniture, which is also weathering appropriate outdoors. You can’t go wrong with wicker paired with fluffy and homey cushions. And pillows! Lots and lots of pillows.


You’ve heard this before, but we cannot stress this enough. Color can really influence a person’s mood. So if you want your guests to be lively during the party, fill your deck with bright and energetic colors like red, orange, or yellow. If you just want to lounge with them, then choose neutral colors like white and beige.


Just because your party is outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t avoid the neighbors from snooping around. Use single lattice frames for that semi-private garden feel. Line your potted tall shrubs. For example, a wall of evergreens can give you privacy and sophistication.


Speaking of which, decorate your deck with potted plants. You can put them anywhere – on the table, on the side, or hanging on the lattice. It can be any plant. It could be the succulents you’ve hoarded since the trend or your personal home garden. you can put them there. Just tell your guests to be careful with the plants. Better yet, put a sign that says, “Fragile!”

Accent Piece

It could be anything. It could be the Persian rug your grandmother gave you or your daughter’s first painting. Just think that it’s the first thing your guests will notice when they get out on the deck.


Your deck isn’t just for daytime. With strategic mood lighting, it can transform into a quick romantic spot for you and your partner. Before the sun sets, nudge your guests out and enjoy the stars together.

Isn’t that exciting? Call your guests now and get those creative juices into reality. With those tips up your sleeve, you’re sure to have that summer outdoor party.

Did you pull off that party with our tips? How did it go? We’d love to hear how your outdoor summer party went. Share your photos with us!

Build and Maintain Your Own Summer Shed


This summer, you don’t have to leave your property to experience that perfect getaway. A small, charming summerhouse in your backyard can you give your life a little rest, recreation, relaxation—and adventure!

A summerhouse can stand for many purposes. For green thumbs, it can serve as the sanctuary for your potted and lush plants. If you’re an artist, it can store your art materials and equipment such as easel and canvas. If you’re planning to spend quality time with your family on summer evenings, it’s the perfect place to watch a movie or to eat pizza. If your kids are up for play, the summerhouse can accommodate an indoor playground with the right tools and the appropriate design. But if you want to work on your latest project or just look for a place where you can escape temporarily, the summerhouse offers an atmosphere where you can be productive and find solace at the same time.

To construct a summerhouse, you will have to consider the right materials if you DIY—or if you plan on buying a shed from your local hardware store, make sure you consider the cost and time to build it.  If you are planning to construct it on your own, using recycled materials for decoration can be practical, but just make sure that it is properly ventilated with windows and doors. It’s important to monitor its firmness by utilizing sturdy walls, proper roof, and a stable foundation. But you can also choose the trusted construction contractors near your place if you want an efficient process. Depending on your style, your summerhouse can fit your personality. Just like your house, you can customize it with any theme.

Summer beach house. If you want to experience the beach without leaving your home, you can customize your summerhouse to look like a paradise by the seashore. Blue-painted walls can give you that seaside experience, and with the sun’s light streaming through the open windows, all you’d need are shells for decoration.

Cabin in the woods. Trees in your backyard can resemble the woodland environment for your summerhouse. But you don’t have to get lost in your own yard to experience this. If you’ve been planning to camp in the forest, a summerhouse for a cab can be an alternative. You can design your summerhouse to look like a solitary shelter in the woods by its color. Wooden walls with earthy shades can already fit the mould. Painting verdant mosses over their surfaces can bring that environment to life.

Out-of-this-world fantasy. Have you ever imagined what it’s like to live in a hobbit hole or to attend classes at Hogwarts? Customizing your summerhouse according to your niche fantasy can be epic. The faraway galaxy can be seen over your ceiling with glow-in-the-dark effects and constellations. A closet in one corner can resemble your entrance to Narnia. A bookshelf can preserve graphic novels, books, and many items where you get your imagination.

If you’re considering to build your own summerhouse at your backyard, you can base its design and structure according to your own interest. A summerhouse that fits your style will not only give you a unique experience at home, it will also give you an alternative space where you can spend a vacation for summer. Just make sure that you maintain it by inspecting its parts for repairs, cleaning it to keep dust away, and check for pest infestation. Happy building!

How to Spend Your Summer Indoors


For most people who prefer to stay outdoors during the summer, this is the time of the year to book that anticipated trip to the beach or take those hikes you’ve dreamed about all winter long. But if you have to take a “staycation” this summer,  all you need is to be practical with the household items that could give you the same kind of nostalgia and fun as trekking mountains or sunbathing on the shore. Here are practical tips on how to spend your summer!

Combat the Heat. The heat during summer is inevitable. But when you’re in the comfort of your own home, you can find ways to minimize it. If you prefer affordable and easy solutions, a hand-held fan will do. Not only will you be able to save energy by not turning your AC on, but you can also bring your fan anywhere. It also comes in many shapes and sizes. Your fan, a book and a cold drink, and you can cool off in the comfort of your home!

Learn through Entertainment. For students, summer can be a time to take a break from all those challenging lessons in school. But learning never stops. Why not learn and be entertained at the same time? Cozy up with a book— you can borrow from the library or buy at the nearest bookstore. Play some board games with friends and family, which paired with a delicious meal and some music, is a great summer pastime! Learn about nature (birds, maybe?) or history by watching the learning channels or find movies you’ve never seen yet! Spend your summer productively by learning —either from your job, your hobby or for recreational purposes!

Refresh yourself. Summer is the best time to sip a fresh fruit smoothie or a blended juice drink. Keep yourself hydrated by preparing your favorite drinks with blenders and juicers. These can also be your refreshments whenever you feel that constant thirst, which is natural when you’re exposed to heat all the time. Besides drinks, an inflatable pool (or jump in the lake!) can also be an alternative for beaches and swimming pools for kids.

Rest and rejuvenate. Longing for that post-lunch nap? Restoring your energy may not necessarily be done in your bedroom or on the couch in your living room. When your backyard is shaded with trees, a hammock can give you the same comfort. Try spreading a hammock in your backyard and take a nap in the afternoons after you sip your mixed fruit smoothie.

With a variety of household items that can give you a restive and productive summer, you can’t say that you’re missing out every bit of fun. Just like the cycle of the season, there are endless possibilities to make your summer worthwhile in the comfort of your own home!  

How to Keep your Home Smelling Great


As a homeowner, there is nowhere else as personal to you as your home. But maintaining it is not exclusive to chores or renovation. The scent within matters just as much as its appearance.

With just a few tricks, you can make your home smell amazing!

Cleanliness is key. Dirt, stain, or dust can contribute greatly to any existing smell. Cleaning your house regularly will prevent any odor that they can cause. But any chore can be a challenge when you work a full-time job away from home. Try to consider contacting housekeeping services if you’re in this situation. But you can do it on your own if you make time for it. With small steps such as putting the plates into the dishwasher after meals, cleaning the curtains, or vacuuming the carpet, you will be sure to have a home that is spotless and fresh.  

Let the fresh air in. Odor lingers in the air, and air can easily pass through your home. But you don’t have to always rely on ventilation to keep your home smelling amazing. By opening windows and doors, you let fresh air enter. Chances are, any odor that has stayed in your house may also leave once the windows or any outlet is open. Welcome the fresh air like a guest.

Root for organic. Spraying air fresheners can be effective. But some bottles can be costly or smell fake. If you want to try something new and affordable try rooting for plants. Indoor plants can eliminate bad odor from the air the way they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Some plants do not only release oxygen, but they emanate fragrance as well. You might be interested in pulling a green thumb and start tending jasmine, gardenia, scented geraniums, citrus, lavender, and orchids in your home!

Don’t store dirt. Bacteria that comes from spoiled leftovers or the garbage can spread in the air. Not only will they cause bad odor, they may also be dangerous to your health when inhaled. Empty your garbage regularly and keep spoiled things off of your property.

Be creative. Who says keeping your home smell amazing can’t be fun? Cleaning can be a first step, but you can go the extra mile with your creativity. You can start by customizing containers for automatic air fresheners. This way, they won’t only keep the air fresh for you, but they can also be alternatives to the decor. You may also consider lighting colorful scented candles during special occasions.

Just like your home’s appearance, its scent matters. Keeping your home smelling great will not only lift your mood with its fragrance but will also be proof that your house is clean and that you are safe from possible airborne diseases.  

Summer DIY: Build A Backyard Theater


Summer is the perfect season to engage in fun outdoor activities. It’s also that time of the year when movie theaters show blockbuster hits. But did you know that you don’t have to go downtown to catch your favorite film? A backyard movie theater will give you the same cinematic experience in the comfort of your own home. You can do this all by yourself when you have the right materials and a dash of creativity!

Clear your backyard. Regardless of your backyard’s size, it’s important to clear the way for the movie theater. This is best applied when your backyard is designed like an open-space lawn. But if a garden, trees, hedges, or any other decor gets in the way,  you can be creative in design without uprooting or removing any of them.

Use the right materials. Consider the basics. A projector and a wide wall with a flat surface or a cloth are enough to constitute a screen. A bluetooth speaker can provide you the audio. Spare chairs can offer you seats. A laptop, connected to the projector, can play the film. So, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. And the money you do spend can be on the fun details and accessories like chairs and/or cozy blankets!  You can serve popcorn to your guests after preparing some in the kitchen.

Choose a good film. The viewing experience will not be complete without the film. Although you can’t watch the latest blockbusters the movie theaters show, you can choose any available ones on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and many other licensed movie-streaming sites. Just make sure that these aren’t pirated, which leads to the next point.

Don’t profit from it. Selling tickets for a film-viewing activity without the permission of the filmmaker can lead you straight behind bars. Earning from someone else’s hard work without their knowledge is illegal, especially when this involves copyright. Film-viewing is fun, but don’t make a business out of it in your own backyard.

Don’t disturb your neighbors. As your backyard is exposed outdoors, the audio might interrupt others who live close to you. Conduct the film-viewing with discretion and consideration. Since the heat can be unbearable during summer, the evening would be the ideal time to watch outside. Make sure that the sound isn’t too loud to wake the neighbors up.

Building your own backyard movie theater can be easy with the right materials and some good-old-fashioned creativity!  Plus, it’s also an incredible summer activity! If you have a movie theater in your backyard, we’d love to see pictures! Send us photos at

Enchanting Lakeside Home with Incredible Views


Relish in luxury and comfort in a lakeside home at 455 E Lake Sammamish Shore Ln NE, Sammamish WA. With its stunning views, you can wake up to the majestic scenery of the sunrise and unwind to the gorgeous sunset at the end of the day.

In this magnificent residential house, explore and experience the wonders of lakeside living. Refresh yourself outdoors as you stand over its open-air balcony and enjoy the dazzling lake from the glass windows that border the living rooms’ walls.

This 3,880 sq.ft.-property comprises a huge deck where you can dine with your family and friends, intricately designed living rooms, three bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen with a granite island, and a wine cellar.  With three fireplaces on separate floors, you can cozy up on cold winter nights.

Every day is a vacation for you and your family with this luxurious lakefront home! For your queries, you may contact Margo Allan 206-898-7455 or via e-mail at A virtual tour will also be conducted for your interest.  Check out more photos and information on the website!

The Waterfront Home of Your Dreams


Immerse in the tranquil lakeside residence with this stunning waterfront home located at 3310 97th Ave, SE Mercer Island. A stately 6,895 sq. ft. property that is surrounded by a verdant garden adorned by trimmed hedges and ornamental plants, it houses the best venues for your comfort, entertainment, and recreation.

Whether you spend your days and nights with your family or friends, there is much to do in this two-story structure. Stroll along its garden before you enter into its quaint carpeted living room where warmth is emitted from the hearth. Dine at its backyard porch, which provides a scenic view of the lake and lush trees beyond the wooden balustrade. You can cook your favorite dish in its commercial kitchen before you eat on the porch. But if you seek adventure without leaving your house, take the steps to the library on the second floor and grab any book to cozy up; the ceiling also shows you a map of the world.

You may not have to go downtown to watch the latest blockbuster hit, as one of the rooms provides you with a movie theater experience. With a huge flat screen TV monitor in front of convertible cushioned seats, you can’t miss the latest release on Netflix. A balcony is connected to your bedroom, so whenever you wake up, you can welcome the day with a breath of fresh morning air and admire the lush view outside. With 2 beds, 5 baths, and a garage that could shelter up to 14 cars, everything you need is available in this home. But if you want to explore much of the outdoors, a dock for your yacht or seaplane connects the house to the lake with well-paved floorboards.

This waterfront residence could be the home of your dreams! For more details, you may contact Margo Allan at 206-898-7455 or via e-mail at, and check out more photos on the website!

Homebuyers Tips: How to Keep Legal Troubles Out of Your Doorstep


Buying your own home is a milestone, but a huge responsibility as well. Hurdles may come your way, but to make your dream house a reality, you need to avoid life-changing mistakes and legal troubles.  

Consider these necessary steps before purchasing your dream house.

  • Research based on your needs. To make sure that you will truly feel at home under your roof, you need to find the right home based on your own preferences and lifestyle needs. Research is the major first step. Whether you are looking for a residence in the suburbs or a condo in the city, location matters.
  • Find the right agent. Real estate agents can aid you through this process. You can find the best ones by finding agencies with reputable reviews from previous clients. Although you can buy a house from a direct seller, you may want to get familiar with the legal and financial matters. Agents can acquaint you with the information you need to buy a house without complications.
  • Consider your finances. Be aware of your financial limits. Spending for your home doesn’t just stop when you’ve purchased it. Maintenance also needs to be considered. Think long-term, and save and invest while you can. This is where also need to be aware of the details of mortgages, loans, and insurance when these come into the picture.
  • Inspect everywhere. If you’ve finally found your possible home, it’s best to inspect its areas for existing damages (if there are any) and to be familiar with all interior and exterior spaces, even the neighborhood. This is a game-changer for many homebuyers.

Although purchasing a new home can be tedious, make sure that it is truly yours by taking the advice of the experts and following legal guidelines—so you don’t find yourself in trouble before you invest.  You will realize that everything you work for will pay off once you get those keys and step into your new space!

Indoor Plants to Keep Your Homes Cool


It’s best to stay indoors when the summer heat becomes unbearable. But turning on the AC all day might do more harm than good to your bills and the environment. If you want a safer and more affordable way of cooling down, you may need more than just a glass of ice water. Try rooting for something a little more natural. 

Indoor plants can actually keep your home cool. Besides emitting oxygen, indoor plants also absorb heat. They can reduce the temperature by as much as 10 degrees. As these plants absorb heat, they release moisture through the process of transpiration.

  • Aloe Vera. This plant is known for its medicinal wonders. But its thick leaves can do more than just soothe a burnt skin. It can also cool the air indoors.

  • Baby Rubber Pant. This plant will not only grow by pinching the tips of its leaves but will also release high levels of oxygen.
  • Golden Pothos. Part decorative, this plant is made for hanging as its vines spill over the brim and cascade over its pot.
  • Areca Palm Tree. It may not be as tall as a tropical palm tree, but it does filter harmful chemicals from the air beside cooling it.
  • Fiscus Tree. As the official tree of Bangkok, this ornamental plant can help eliminate formaldehyde so you can breathe safely without any risk for diseases.
  • Boston Fern. Common in humid swamps and forests, this plant brings the cool air wherever it’s grown.
  • Snake Plant. It’s not reptilian and it doesn’t even slither, but it grows densely and helps reduce heat.


Summer heat can be uncomfortable, but nature has its way of balancing the extremes!

Summer Exterior Painting Best Practices


Summer is the best time to engage in outdoor activities. But you can use this time to be productive. If you’ve been thinking about redesigning your house, you can start by painting the exterior walls. But if you do this when days are dry and heat can be intense, you will need to be familiar with practices that will help you succeed.  

  • Plan ahead.  Plan ahead first before picking up that brush and opening the can of paint. Whether you plan on DIY or hiring out, make sure you plan accordingly! Monitoring the weather is also important because rain could still occur during summer, and you wouldn’t want the wet paint to be washed away easily.

  • Prepare the right tools and paint. For best results, use the right paint, brush, and rollers. The paint you choose must contain the best quality. In choosing the right color, you need to consider that darker hues will absorb more heat while the lighter ones will reflect more light. Your choice for paint and tools matters.

  • Start with a  clean slate. You can’t easily paint over a rough surface. As exterior walls are most exposed, dust or hardened dirt might have accumulated over the surface. It is necessary to scrape or sand the surface before applying paint so that the layer will spread evenly. To cover cracks and holes, primer or any substrates can be applied.

  • Paint safely. When you paint outdoors in summer, you are exposed to intense heat by midday. The best time to start this routine would be early morning. It is also advisable to “chase the shade” when the sun begins to show. Apply sunscreen or dress to cover your skin from sunburn. Don’t forget to rehydrate yourself with refreshments. As you use the right tools (e.g. ladder for reaching high portions), you also need to be equipped with the right protective gear and to paint carefully to prevent injury. A mask can minimize the odor of the substances and boots can protect your feet from hazardous objects on the ground.

  • Monitor your progress. Painting will always involve multiple layers. Assess your work from time to time, and consult those who can help you with completion.

Change up your home with new paint!  By following the necessary practices, you will not only do it right but will also see the best results.

Summer Patio Ideas


During the summer season, natural lighting best enhances the beauty of the outdoors—with clear skies, vivid foliages, and the gentle summer breeze—making this the perfect time to get cool and cozy with your friends and family on your patio.

Upgrading your patio doesn’t require a big construction job. You only need the right design elements and furnishings for a stunning, summer-proof outdoor space. Follow these simple tips to create a summer-ready patio:

  • A Pop of Color: Transform your patio’s ambience with light and refreshing colors. Put together accent pieces in pastels such as mint, blue, and pink for a fun vibe. Pastels will make your patio the perfect party space for kids and adults alike.  Go for a more laid-back feel with colors that complement nature’s palette. Cool blues, golden hues, and vibrant reds make your patio feel more intimate and inviting. 
  • A Wholesome Retreat: You don’t need to go elsewhere to enjoy summer camp evenings with your kids. Personalizing a backyard bonfire retreat has become increasingly popular because of easy patio pitfire DIY solutions. A few of the most popular are pebble or gravel patios, submerged fire pits, tin pits, and overlaid stone pits. Snuggle up with your family and friends on patio sofas around a backyard bonfire customized just for you. 
  • A Stunning Patio: If you can’t help but long for a major summer patio revamping, pergolas make the best addition to your outdoor space. Spending afternoons on your patio can mean exposing yourself to direct sunlight. A pergola gives you just the right shade as it allows summer air to circulate freely.   Enjoy outdoor views over a glass of clear wine while lounging on your own alfresco area.

Energy-Saving Hacks for Summer


The blistering summer heat can cost hundreds of dollars in electricity bills. These simple tweaks can significantly lower your utility cost and maximize your home’s energy efficiency. It’s time to consider using these energy and money- saving tips for the summer!

Clean Your Appliances

Did you know you can reduce your fridge’s energy consumption by 30% by just cleaning its coils? Remove built-up dust and debris in your appliances to boost their efficiency, performance, and lifespan. Inspect your ducts and vents for any damages that can cause an air leak.

Skip the Dryer!

Use cold water in washing and rinsing your clothes as well as doing your dishes. This will save 90% of the cost of using hot water.  Consider air drying your clothes to cut down cost. Try using your dishwasher on full load and deactivate it before it hits the drying cycle.

Install  Windows Treatments

Windows can let in too much heat during hot days. Use insulating window treatments such as roller blinds to reduce heat gain.  Make sure that your windows are properly closed to trap more cool air inside your home.

Check the Air Conditioner

Check your air filter and have it cleaned to ensure proper air flow. Schedule regular maintenance checks and clean up every two months for maximum efficiency.

Seal Any  Air Leaks

Seal air leaks to save as much as $200 annually.  Air leaks come from your attic, doors, windows, vents, electric outlets, and plumbing. Fill the gaps inside and outside your home using expandable foam. Sealing air leaks ensures that your home has proper ventilation and airflow.

Enjoy lighter utility costs (and a cooler home during the hot summer months) using these savvy energy-saving summer hacks!

Top 3 Money-Wasting Home Improvements


Achieving your dream home doesn’t come cheap. Major overhauls can cost you more than your investment. The last thing you want is to invest in upgrades that don’t give a full return such as the following:

Kitchen remodeling

Blame it on HGTV for encouraging your major kitchen renovation. However, a mid-range kitchen remodel is estimated to surpass its resale value by over $20,000. This costly investment will only take two-thirds as a return.  Consider repainting or changing cabinets and other hardware. This will give your kitchen a beautiful update without breaking the bank.

Bathroom makeover

You may want to put your bathroom makeover on hold if you only aim to increase your property value. Luxurious bathroom renovation only generates an estimated of 58% of your expenses.  

Master bedroom expansion

A master bedroom that comes with all the bells and whistles can cost as much as $100, 000. Its ROI is pegged at two-thirds or half of its price. The extra space and extravagant amenities may sound enticing, but the renovation cost isn’t practical if you are tight on budget. Consider affordable alternatives that can give a luxurious vibe to your master suite.

Investing in these major upgrades are also time-consuming. Consider all the possible expenses and the ROI before renovating.   If you’re planning to re-sell it’s better to complete minor, but worthy improvements.

Pristine Waterfront Masterpiece


There’s a certain charm to this gated Blue Heron Estate, located in the exclusive enclave of Weber Point on the East side of Lake Sammamish. With enchanting views of majestic Mt. Rainer, and the stellar lake and mesmerizing sunsets, this stately property offers you nothing less than the epitome of waterfront living.

Adorned with only the finest detailing, this open floor plan home lives large and boasts a magazine-perfect lakefront great room, gourmet kitchen replete with only the finest designer appliances, formal and casual dining venues, butler’s pantry, a kitchenette with microbrew tap and ½ bath, as well as a media/game room — definitely an entertainer’s dream! Throw in a panorama of French doors, and let the party spread out to the lakefront patio with a gas fire pit and nearby secluded hot tub. Perfectly manicured grounds culminate at the shore’s edge and lead to a massive dock with 46’ of no bank waterfront. And just when you think this beauty has shown you all her glory, wait until you discover what the lake view guest cottage has to offer; priceless lake views, a bedroom, kitchen, and ¾ bath, and a garage. It’s an experience your guests will never forget!

Elegant, timeless, and warm, this property is for those who seek living beyond luxury. Celebrate the skyline-silver lake of 3437 E Lake Sammamish Shore Lane NE and retreat in the penthouse-inspired master suite with its own cozy fireplace, intimate lake view deck, and a 5-piece bathroom after an event-filled day.

Breathtaking Contemporary Waterfront Living


Prepare to be swept off your feet by this architecturally designed modern Lake Sammamish waterfront home at 3828 W Lake Sammamish PKWY SE, Bellevue. Perfectly situated on the shore’s edge, you’ll enjoy priceless lake and mountain views. This property’s sleek and serene interior offers matchless contemporary artistry and relaxation.  Generously proportioned functional spaces are designed for socializing, in addition to the privacy and tranquility of penthouse-inspired bedrooms.

You will be greeted by a spectacular view through floor-to-ceiling glass windows and bask in nature’s raw beauty as it merges with the interior’s smooth detailing, creating the perfect retreat.

With 3 bedrooms, 2.25 baths, and 2,726 Sq Ft, this modern waterfront property includes a massive granite island, stainless steel appliances, double ovens, and tile counters. The 80 feet no bank waterfront is a sure conversation starter. Welcome guests to lounge on the huge deck to enjoy your 80 foot no bank waterfront on beautiful Lake Sammamish and have wonderful exchanges over a glass of your favorite wine.

Safe Boating Tips for the Fourth of July


Spending your fourth of July on the water is exciting. However, boating accidents are more common because of the high volume of boat traffic. Here are some safety tips to help you enjoy Independence Day injury-free:

Refrain from drinking when boating: It is tempting to have a drink and celebrate when boating, but this comes with risk. The waves, vibration and other marine environmental factors can speed up the effects of alcohol in your body. It can impair your judgment and may affect your ability to drive the boat properly. Operating a boat under the influence is also illegal.

Always wear your life jacket: A life jacket isn’t the most comfortable equipment to wear, especially since it’s hot outdoors. However, it is still best to take precautionary measures and wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Stay alert.: Create a safety plan before boating. Inform someone about your itinerary and your companions. This way, someone will know your whereabouts in case you’re unable to return in the expected time. Familiarize the local boating speed zones and always drive at a safe speed. Perform a pre-boarding boat safety assessment and prepare safety equipment and emergency kits.

Check the weather: Never leave the dock without knowing the local weather. If it’s applicable, check the forecast of your destination too. Always keep an eye for the change of weather as well as the sudden shift of the wind or the behavior of the water.

The fourth of July is considered to be the highest-boating traffic weekend of the summer. It is best that you follow boating laws and safety tips to enjoy Independence Day in the waters!

Home Security Tips For Summer Vacation



For those of you planning on spending an extended amount of time on vacation this summer, you may be wondering what you can do to make sure everything stays secure at home while you’re away. And while it’s not good to dwell too long on all the bad situations that could potentially happen, it’s still a good idea to have a few security measures in place that will help give you peace of mind. Here are a few security tips to consider when planning for that long awaited summer vacation:

  • Stop Mail/Newspaper: You’ll want to notify your local post office and put a hold on receiving mail until you return from summer vacation. If you don’t want to put a hold on your newspaper subscription as well, you can reach out to a neighbor and see if they’d be willing to collect it while you’re gone. This is an important step because burglars look for stacked up mail and newspapers to help determine whether people will likely be home or not.

  • Light Timers: An inexpensive solution that can be used with lights, televisions, and even radios. Setting these timers will have your light (or device) go on/off at different times throughout the day to give the impression to an outsider that somebody is home.

  • Door/Window Locks: Before you leave for your vacation, it would be best to go around the house and find all the locks on any doors or windows to check for any wear and tear. Anything that is not functioning properly should be replaced at once. If you have a security system in your home, it would also be a good idea to check all the batteries to ensure they still operate effectively while you’re away.

  • Trim Bushes Near Home: Large bushes or plant areas right outside your home can sometimes create hiding places for potential burglars to camp out and scope out your property. In the case someone tries to do that, having smaller bushes will make it harder for them to hide without a neighbor noticing them.

  • Outdoor/Security Lighting: Another popular and rather inexpensive security option. Install some motion sensor or security lighting that gets really bright when something (or someone) approaches the area. Bright lights like this are more likely to deter a potential burglar.


Summer Tips: Choosing the Right Blinds for Summer



You’ve probably noticed the rise in temperatures over the past couple of weeks. This means that we’re officially in the thick of Summer. Many people don’t know that the indoor temperatures of their homes have a lot to do with the sunlight they let in through their windows. The best remedy for this issue could be some new blinds that effectively block the sun’s rays from turning your house into an oven. If you’re looking for some helpful tips on how to choose the right kind of blinds, here’s a quick guide for you:

  • Selecting The Right Solution: North-facing openings typically receive sunlight at a higher angle in the summer, therefore they require shading devices with a more narrow overhead. Fixed horizontal shading is all that’s required above north-facing glare. However, east and west-facing openings do require a bit of a different approach since low angle morning and afternoon summer sunlight from these directions make it a lot more difficult to shade.
  • Choosing Colors: Neutral colors such as white, cream, and beige are usually the safest options when it comes to window treatments since they can add a cooling effect in your room and complement any existing room features quite well. Plus, you won’t have to change your blinds if you decide to make some major changes to the room, such as repainting your walls.
  • Taking Temperature on Interior vs Exterior Blinds: Direct sunlight can generate the same heat as one single bar radiator over each square meter of a surface, but effective shading can block up to 90% of this heat. The glass from your window amplifies the heat overall, and even if you have your shades down during the day, you’ll be able to tell the difference in temperature directly on the other side of the blinds. Alternatively, exterior shades block the sun’s rays before they hit the window. This can make a big difference during the extreme summer heat.

Landscaping Guide For Summer



Let the summer sunshine highlight the beautiful landscaping on your property! For the majority of the year, Washington homeowners have to contend with rain, wind, and colder weather. To make the most of the good weather outside, it’s probably best that your get your yard in its most pristine condition. Here’s a quick landscaping guide to get help get you started:

  • Watering: While this can be difficult during the summer time depending on the local limitations, containers and hanging baskets should always be moist, and the grass should be watered weekly when natural rain is limited. Generally, your lawn only needs about 1-inch of water to survive through one summer week. If unsure, study your lawn’s soil type to know how much water you need to keep your lawn healthy and green. 
  • Deadheading / Harvesting: Deadheading your flowers encourage growth and maintain a well-kept appearance. Cutting flowers typically help direct energy and nutrients toward more growth. Also, clean up any early crops you’re growing to make some more room (as necessary) for new pumpkins, potatoes, or corn that be canned and stored in plenty during the winter months.
  • Start Light Pruning: While mid-winter and spring usually require pruning for most plants, it’s still best to do a little light pruning during the summer months to stay ahead. This will help an additional series of bloom growth.
  • Overseeding: You’ll want to fix some of the bare patches on your landscape by overseeding or applying one of those grass repair kits. These are usually a mixture of sand, grass seed, and a slow release fertilizer that can work wonders on dead lawn spots.
  • Service Lawnmower: While we tend to hold off a bit on grass cutting during the hot summer months, it’s still best to make sure your lawnmower is in its optimum condition for when you really need it. This may require blade sharpening, oil changing, and spark plug inspection which will depend on the type of lawnmower you own.
  • Pests: To get rid of grubs and other lawn pests, you can use organic solutions and safe pesticides. Doing the hard work now will save you more time later if a pest infestation takes ahold of your lawn.

Summer Maintenance Checklist



There’s so much that goes into having a beautiful home. It’s not just about what kind of property you purchase, how luxurious it is, or what the surrounding area and scenery looks like; it’s about the work you put into it. Every eye-catching house you see very likely had a lot of work put into it that made it stand out so well. To maximize the beauty of your home, it’s always best to work through a summer maintenance checklist. Here are some action items for you to consider when maintaining your home:

  • Easy Tasks: You can start your maintenance checklist with a few quick tasks that should only take about 30 minutes or less. Try things like treating your windows by cleaning the exterior glass, cleaning out your sink disposal, testing all of the house alarms and replacing or updating any ones that need it, and vacuuming out the vents to get rid of all the excess dust. You could complete all of these items in a few short hours!
  • Longer Projects: Some of these tasks may take a few hours each, but they’re definitely worth it in the end. It’s a good idea to check for any leaky pipes that may be running up your water bill, inspect your air conditioners, and check your roof for any natural wear and tear that may have accumulated over the first half of the year. Tackling just one of these items a day will have you all done by the end of the week, and with time to spare!
  • Tough Jobs: Now if you feel like diving deep into your summer maintenance checklist, there are some more intense tasks that you can take on. A lot of people restore their deck or patio in the summertime while also placing a huge focus on landscaping, exterior paint and siding, and gutter cleaning as well. These jobs require a little elbow grease on your end, but finishing the job will definitely leave you feeling satisfied!

Beat the Heat: How To Keep Your Home Cool During Summer



When it comes to summer, avoiding the heat can be quite the task to accomplish. Especially when you come inside to escape it, only for it to be waiting there for you at home. So if you’re like many people in Pacific Northwest who aren’t lucky enough to have their own AC unit, you’re probably looking for some ways to stay cool. Here are some tips that will help you beat the heat this summer:

  • Effective Shade: Aside from just buying an AC unit for yourself, maximizing the shade throughout your home is the best bet to keeping cool. This means lowering window shades during the day to effectively block the hot air, but this also means you can add some plant life outside windows as well that act as shades. A large umbrella positioned outside could also work as well.

  • Fans: Keeping your airflow consistent will require some strategic positioning of the fans you may have placed throughout your home. A house will overheat if hot air becomes trapped, so positioning your fans near windows where air flow can be fluid throughout the house and properly ventilated is critical. For your ceiling fan, make sure it’s spinning in the counterclockwise direction during the hot Summer months. This forces the air down instead of up, which will in turn make you feel cooler.

  • Dehumidify: For people living in more humid areas where there’s not much dry heat, consider running a dehumidifier. This will help remove excess moisture from the air, which will leave you feeling cooler even in super hot temperatures. These dehumidifiers are available at most bix box stores.

  • Cooking: The kitchen may be adding to your hotter room temperature as well. Cooking more outside on the grill or in a crock pot indoors is a great idea during the Summer when even the smallest use of the stove-top and oven inside will likely crank up the heat in your kitchen. But it’s just another good excuse to have more BBQ’s with your friends and family this Summer!

Do’s & Don'ts of Bathroom Remodeling



When it comes to remodeling bathrooms, there are a few things you need to look out for. While the prospect of redesigning a bathroom may have you ready to get started right away, there are some areas you need to consider before you begin work. Here’s a quick breakdown of the do’s and don’ts of remodeling a bathroom:

  • DO avoid overspending. While it may be enticing to purchase expensive taps, tiles, or even a heated toilet seat for your new bathroom, you don’t want to go overboard. Anything too dynamic could affect your home’s resale value when it comes time for you to move.

  • DO hire a builder instead of a plumber when it comes to managing the project. Plumbers only work well with pipework and installing fixtures while a builder is better overall at overseeing the project from demolition to completion. You’ll want to go with experience here above all else to ensure no critical mistakes are made.

  • DO buy products that adhere to professional standards. Be very careful when you’re selecting new parts to make sure they are certified and abide by all code regulations. The last thing you’d want is a problem then ends up costing you more down the road.

  • DON’T do it yourself. While you may be somewhat experienced and handy with tools, or even passionate and motivated about tackling this renovation, it’s best that you leave it to a professional. Things like waterproofing need to be done by someone who is licensed. Again, a leak later due to a poor installation will cost way more than it would to just hire a professional.

  • DON’T move any pipework if you’re able to avoid it. Overall, when you keep the same layout for your bathroom remodel, your plumber won’t need to touch any of the drainage pipes, which can really eat into your budget.

  • DON’T ignore antiquated pipework. If your plumber recommends upgrading your pipes, it’s usually in your best interest to listen. Old pipes can significantly affect the water pressure due to sediment forming in the pipes. This is not something you want to deal with before it’s too late.


The Hidden Costs of Relocation



Everybody knows moving can come with a lot of stress. And while a majority of that stress is unavoidable, it’s necessary during the relocation process. But for those that are moving quite a bit further from their previous residence, there might be a few hidden costs thrown at you that you weren’t expecting in the actual move itself. Here are some factors to consider when moving that will help ensure you don’t get presented with any extra charges:

  • Van: Aside from the obvious costs you would have to take on if you were to hire movers, if you rent a truck or van yourself, it’s possible that you may have to pay for some insurance if your auto insurance or credit card company doesn’t cover rental vehicles.

  • Tipping: It’s usually customary to tip if you hire movers. Somewhere around 10-15% of the total bill is expected. But when getting your friends to help, it’s usually the custom to purchase them pizza and drinks as a way to thank them for their work.

  • Utilities: You’ll want to double check with your internet and cable provider to inquire about any disconnect or connection fees that are remaining on your contract. The best strategy is to just make sure you cancel service on your internet/cable at your previous residence at least a few days before you actually move.

  • Cleaning: You’ll need to have your old place cleaned before you move in to your new residence. Consider the supplies and time that it will cost you to accomplish this and make sure you work it into your schedule.

  • Insurance: Just make sure you’re keeping an accurate track of any changing rates form wither your new apartment or car insurance. In certain cases, people have experienced rates that have nearly doubled in cost.

  • Tax Deductions: Overall, if you are moving a certain long distance away or moving to attend full-time post secondary college courses, you may be able to deduct some of your moving expenses. To know for sure, you’ll have to spend some time researching. It’s worth looking into. It’s always best to save yourself money any way you can.


Creative Ways to Make A Small Bedroom Spacious



Sometimes there’s one bedroom in your house that you just wish was a little bigger. And while it’s not really possible to go in and physically extend the space you want to be bigger, you can add little touches here and there  to make it appear more spacious. If you’re looking for some ideas, here are some to  get started:

  • Light Colored Paint: Lighter colored paint on the walls will better help reflect the light and make the room seem brighter and roomier. Definitely avoid dark colored paint for the walls.

  • Dark Colored Ceilings: To offset the light colored walls, paint the ceilings with darker colors. This can trick the observer’s eye and cause them to look upward, making the room appear larger.

  • Avoid Excessive Furniture: This may go without saying, but the less crowding of different furniture and other design items will do well to make the bedroom seem less cluttered. Folding desks and other furniture that can stack or be tucked away would work really well!

  • Keep Low to the Ground: More head space means more space overall for your bedroom. Try and stay away from chairs and tables if at all possible.

  • Mirrors: A well placed mirror in the bedroom will not only help you reflect light, but it can also give your space more depth and height. Placing a mirror near the window can also assist in giving the room a wider sense of space.


Virtual House Hunting - Best Practices


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The Digital Age in which we currently live is constantly changing. Not only that, but its effects on many different industries is changing right alongside it. And when it comes to the real estate industry, the evolution of tech has cemented its place, providing people with in-depth looks at properties from all over the world with more clarity and a better sense of the property than ever before. Here are the key areas where this Digital Age is shaping house hunting in the real estate market:

  • Virtual Reality: We all know that photography and video are two of the most foundational tools when it comes to marketing real estate. But as many have found, both photography and standard video of home properties that are for sale can be easily manipulated to look better or more impressive than they actually are. The problem is made all the worse when you become impressed with the photos of the property and decide to visit, only to find it not meeting the expectations you originally had. That’s where Virtual Reality (or VR) comes in to play. Virtual Reality gives people a complete 360 degree view of a property to give you a better, more all-encompassing impression of the home. While this technology may have been considered too expensive in the past, in 2018 it’s way more cost effective than you might believe. High end 360 degree cameras can start as low as $399.

  • Drones: Going even one step further than VR, many real estate companies are using drones to capture all the nuances that lay outside of the home itself. These drones are capable of hovering over the entire property, as well as the surrounding neighborhood, to really give you the full scope of what living there would be like. Surprise roof tiles missing or any other exterior problems will not go unnoticed any longer. In fact, a 2016 survey found that of over 150,000 real estate agents, 23% are already using drone footage, with more and more likely to join them in the following years.

  • Augmented Reality: A much more prospective technology that’s looking to take Virtual Reality further, Augmented Reality aims to be a huge difference maker in the real estate market. Imagine being able to walk through your prospective neighborhood with an app on your smartphone camera that would show holograms with key information about the listing that’s for sale. While this may seem way out there, this technology is closer to becoming a common reality than you may think. In fact, Google is already using the technology with depth sensors to map certain environments.


DIY Home Renovation Ideas



Odds are if you’re a homeowner, there are some things around the house you’d like to fix up. Oftentimes these home renovation projects can take up a lot of time and even more money. Maybe you’re not looking for a complete overhaul when it comes to renovation, but rather a few simple DIY projects that you can handle on your own. If that’s the case, here are a few popular DIY home renovation ideas you can try out this spring:

  • Clean Vinyl Siding: This can make your house look new for years, but if unattended, your vinyl siding can start to look a little dingy. To clean, all you need is a long-handled scrub brush, good-quality cleaner, and a hose. Experts recommend this over trying to use a power washer. Remember, sometimes the best solution is also the least expensive!

  • Removable Wallpaper: Update your walls by sprucing up the front of your stair steps with a bit of removable wallpaper. It’s a stylish and affordable way to update your space with a low amount of upfront investment. Plus it’s easy to add to it or change the colors around later if you want.

  • Paint Walls: While this is a cheaper solution than hiring painters, it does mean you will have to set aside a lot of time to make sure it’s done properly. But as long as you prepare properly beforehand and make sure everything is squared away, the actual painting process should be a walk in the park.

  • Rejuvenate Bathroom: While upgrading your bathroom with a full renovation is quite costly, adding a few touches here and there can give your bathroom the look of a big renovation without having to spend a lot of money. Whether it’s replacing a shower door or shower head, replacing cabinet pulls, or installing a grab bar, there are plenty of things you can do to breathe new life into your bathroom.

  • Add Wall Art: New art on the walls and around the home can also bring new energy to a living space. Just make sure to measure your walls and marks very carefully before you just commit to drilling holes in the wall.


Spring Home-Buying Season Preparation



With housing inventory being far lower than the demand and mortgage rates expecting to rise, this spring aims to be a particularly competitive market for homebuyers. If you’re in the market for a new home, you may find the process rather difficult. But don’t worry yet. Here are some ways you can prepare for this competitive spring home-buying season:

  • Get Finances In Order: Unless you have enough cash to purchase the house upfront, you’ll likely need to apply for a mortgage. This requires a significant amount of documentation that you’ll need to collect to present the lender with an accurate financial summary. Be sure to look at your credit report and pay off any debts you may have, as this could affect your chances.

  • Qualification: Use a prequalifying mortgage calculator to get a general idea on what kind of loan works best for you. Even if you think you’re a pretty strong candidate overall, never assume anything. Lender’s guidelines have become a lot more strict since 2008.

  • Choosing The Right Realtor: This can be a huge difference maker in the long run. Make sure you hire an experienced real estate agent who knows your area well. They’ll also help you get documents in order and help you with any outstanding questions you may have. Do a lot of research beforehand to determine who’s the best realtor for you.

  • Prepare To Pay Asking Price: In this current market, sellers are getting at least 95% of their asking price. So don’t walk in expecting sellers to meet you at a lower price point. If you find a house that’s within your budget, it’s best to not wait around until the price drops since someone else can come by and buy it at anytime. Act smart, but also act fast.


How Different Generations Buy & Sell Real Estate



Odds are, if you’ve been in the market for your dream home lately, it’s been a rather difficult process. A big reason for this is that the housing inventory had been reaching historic lows all across the United States, which makes the competition for those homes more intense as a result.

According to analysis from Zillow, there are around 3% fewer homes now than there were just a year ago. Not only that, but homes are spending less and less time on the market. In hot markets like Seattle, homes spend even less time on the market. This is causing many homeowners to hold off on putting their homes on sale so that they can avoid entering this competitive market space.

A big change that’s ended up having a significant effect on the market is millennials, which is currently the nation’s largest living generation. Millennials are starting to buy homes for the first time and studies show that they make up around 42% of all homebuyers, whether it’s their first time or not. As a result of this, the millennials and baby boomers are now competing for the same types of homes. But of course, there are some big differences between the two groups.

In general, the life of your average millennial is rapidly changing, and the prospective homes they’re interested in aim to match that. This can lead to millennials sometimes overestimating what they’re able to afford in terms of housing. Baby boomers on the other hand are much more likely to consider downsizing as their households typically don’t have more than a few people since their kids have grown to adults. Millennials are oftentimes looking for something more affordable than anything else. Baby boomers are more patient and willing to wait around for a perfect opportunity to present itself.

In the end, both groups have found hardship competing against one another in such a competitive market place, and we’re likely to see even more rapid changes to the market if things continue in the same direction they’re going in now.


Spring Maintenance Tips For Your Residential Roof



The winter months can be hard on any homeowner’s roof. That’s why it’s always a good idea to include roof maintenance to your spring maintenance checklist to make sure everything is in its optimal condition. Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire an outside professional, it’s important that you address the following when doing roof maintenance:

  •  Ice/Water Damage: If you’ve spotted a leak anywhere either outside or inside your property, it’s likely that your roof has sustained damage. This is an issue that deserves your immediate attention, otherwise the damage could get a lot worse and set you back even more money. In this scenario, it’s probably best to call a roofing professional right away.
  • Soffits & Fascias: The metal or wood boards below the eavestrough are known as fascias. Soffits are the wood and metal panels that run along the underside of your roof. Check these for any damage or holes/soft spots. If there are any, they’ll need to be replaced.

  • Flashing Damage: This is the material that connects the different parts of your roof together. A little damage may be manageable enough to just need a little caulk, but any extensive damage will definitely need to be replaced.

  • Shingles: Check for nails popping out of the shingles, or any that have come completely loose. Winter tends to be pretty harsh on shingles, and old roofs are the most susceptible to damage if the winter weather has been particularly rough.

  • Gutters: This is a must do every spring, regardless of how intense the winter was. Gutters can get blocked pretty easily throughout the year, so just make sure to check them thoroughly when you’re doing your inspections and clean them out before they end up costing you.  


New Listing at 540 West Lake Sammamish!



A property with a dedication to perfect design! This 4 Bedroom 2.75 Bathroom located at 540 W Lake Sammamish in Bellevue was recently renovated in 2012 and features 50’ of waterfront on 11,425 sq ft lot!

Featuring rich Brazilian cherry floors, Italian marble counters, and rich mountain and lake views visible from every venue, this home is the pinnacle of lakefront property! Complete with pretty much every designer appliance you could ever want, along with custom and crisp white cabinetry that looks like it’s straight out of Cape Cod!

Nano-doors located off the kitchen and great room deliver 270 degree views that combine a true blend of indoor and outdoor living! Plus an additional lower level second kitchen with an adjoining great room flows seamlessly into the equally impressive outdoor living room that features a fireplace and a hot tub! And don’t forget the epic master bedroom with its own private lakefront deck and a sumptuous master bathroom which has an aerated soaking tub, heated stone floors, and an ultra relaxing steam shower!

All this and much more awaits you and this once in a lifetime property! For more information please contact Margo Allan at 206-898-7455 or via email at And feel free to check out the website  to view more photos!

Spruce Up Your Home with Cinco de Mayo Themed Decoration



Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday! Not only is it a perfect time to relax with some cool beverages and great food, but it’s another great way to spend time with your family and friends! If this is your first time hosting a Cinco de Mayo celebration, you may be a little unsure where to begin regarding decorations. Here are a few tips to help transform your space for the holiday!

  • Plants/Cacti: Some earthy pottery with a few blooming cacti would make a great accessory to your celebration. It’s a low maintenance plant with color that pops. Combine with some other plants in hanging pots to really complete the aesthetic.

  • Mix & Match Colors: The quintessential Mexican blankets are usually pretty inexpensive and versatile to work as a tablecloth, wall hanging, or as a fabric that could be used for throw pillows. The blankets feature very bright, dynamic colors that really pop when layered and combined with one another. A few colorful tassels and pompoms could also give your space a good Mexican bohemian vibe as well.

  • Woven Materials: Due to their lightweight nature, handwoven wicker baskets are lightweight enough to be hung easily as wall art. Woven baskets also work really well with other wood items and are great for organizing as well! Even using bamboo and wicker as a border around other items (like mirrors for example) will make them stand out and compliment your theme.

  • Decor: Consider spicing things up a bit with a salsa bar layered with different flavors and colors of salsa. Throw in some colorful flowers on the table and combine with some hanging whimsical paper flowers floating above the table to complete the experience.

HVAC Tips To Help Get You Through Allergy Season



With rising temperatures and the blooming flowers of spring always comes allergy season. This is the time of the year where symptoms like congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose can become quite frequent and make your daily routine more of a struggle than usual. While there isn’t much you can do about the outdoor allergens that are causing problems, there are some ways to limit your exposure inside the home by performing a few tasks on your HVAC system. Here are a few helpful tips to consider this spring:

  • New Filter: A great first step. Since these filters are designed to trap allergens and other particles, it’s a good idea to change out the air filter at the beginning of each season. There are a variety of different filters you can choose from, but it’s always best to buy the best one you can so it’s the most effective.

  • Clean Ducts & Vents: Because of the complexities involved, it’s best to let an HVAC professional handle this one. But it’s still a very important step in the process especially the ductwork which is tasked with making sure air travels through your home both effectively and efficiently.

  • Clean Your Systems: All you need is 15 spare minutes to clean your unit and clear the dust at its source. While you may be able to get away without cleaning more easily in other seasons, in spring the periodic cleaning is a must if you’re don’t want to be breathing in dust all day long.

  • Invest In Air Quality Products: Like filters, there are a number of products you can buy that will do even more to make sure you’re breathing in clean, fresh air. There are air purifiers that will destroy contaminants and other direct air particles, along with humidifiers, ventilators, and UV lamps as well.

  • Schedule HVAC Maintenance: The best possible thing you can do for your HVAC system is to purchase professional maintenance. This will not only boost your system in general, but getting tips and guidance from a professional can help you feel more confident in your maintenance abilities in the future.  


Lake House Decorating Ideas


There are few luxuries in life more enjoyable in the spring than relaxing in your beautiful lakefront property. And while your property might have gorgeous lake views and a quiet, peaceful surrounding neighborhood, it’s possible that your home’s decor may be in need of a little touching up. If you’re looking for a few decorating tips, here are a few suggestions to get you started:


  • Play Up Views: Let the view speak for itself. Keep it as the primary focus by adding a neutral design palette without any area rugs or window treatments to take away from the view.

  • Durable Seating: While making sure the color is aligned with your other design choices, you want to have seating that’s durable with minimal upkeep and maintenance. Nothing too fancy or expensive is necessary here.

  • Hybrid: Feel free to infuse your own sense of style with the more classic and crisp white backgrounds that are traditionally found in a lot of lakefront properties.

  • Let Light In: You’ll want to be sure and have as much natural light coming into the home as possible. Not only does it look better than artificial light, but the natural sunlight can help kill bacteria that collects in the room. Some people have removed ceiling beams to bring in more natural light from above as well.

  • Rustic: Dark and wood-based vibes really stand out on any lakefront property, which is why it’s such a common design choice. Bark browns and driftwood grays can really pop, especially in the kitchen.

  • Personal Touch: Every home needs a few personal touches around. It doesn’t matter if your lakefront property is seasonal or your main residence, adding family photos and other personal mementos throughout the decor will give your design a much more comfortable and authentic look.


Choosing the Right Lighting Fixture For Your Space



Any room in your home is only as impressive as the light surrounding it, because without good lighting, the details and features of any room will be underutilized and under appreciated. That’s why it’s really important to take the time to consider all options for lighting a room before you decide. But if you need a few quick tips before you get started, here are some to help you out:

  • Entryway: A large lamp positioned on the floor just outside your front door could provide solid mood lighting at your entryway. For larger entryways, consider using more than one pendant light. But for true elegance and beauty, you can always go with a chandelier as well.

  • Living Room: Large chandeliers and other large, overhead lights are the most popular when it comes to living room lighting. It serves as a focal point of the room it’s in, but just be sure to get one that matches the style and design of the surrounding area so it doesn’t clash with the aesthetic.

  • Dining Room: Low-hanging pendant lights are your safest bet here since they look great when hovering above the dining room table. However, you can also use task lamps or accent lights here if it feels like a better fit.

  • Kitchen: This is a good opportunity to bring in as much light as possible, so it’s likely that you’ll need more than one pendant light in your kitchen. Consider using a combination of both chandeliers and pendant lights for a truly dynamic look.


Unique Hardwood Floor Designs For Your Home


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Hardwood floors are all the rage right now in homes across the country. It not only looks nice and compliments pretty much any home decor, but maintaining it is a lot easier and more cost effective than the hassle that comes with carpeting. But if you’re looking to spruce up your hardwood and give it a bit of a lift for the new spring season, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Distressed Wide Planks: A style that’s increasing in popularity due to the fewer seams, this beautiful style comes in a variety of different wood types.

  • Reclaimed Pine: Mostly found in historical buildings, reclaimed pine flooring has proven to have eco-friendly benefits while also giving your home a much more luxurious look and feel.

  • Maple Plank: Oftentimes found in powder rooms that don’t feature a shower, this hardwood brings out a lot of warmth when placed against a black-and-white linear mosaic tile wall.

  • Red Oak: One of the most popular hardwood flooring choices due to its ability to coordinate with any design style. Especially great for high traffic areas of the home such as the living room.

  • Ebonized Hardwood: A great way to exude luxury into a neutral, contemporary space. Dark hardwoods always tend to create the best sleep black look.

  • Brazilian Cherry: If you’re wanting something that has a more exotic look to it, Brazilian Cherry is quite sturdy and affordable while also offering a multitude of different grain colors.

  • Douglas Fir: If you’re looking for a more comfortable and inviting feel in your home, Douglas Fir wood features a lot of detail in the grain and offers a striking design aesthetic to any space it’s featured in.

HVAC Spring Cleaning Checklist



Summer is right around the corner! And while we’re all looking forward to warmer weather and cookouts with the family, we’re definitely not looking forward to spending more time than we need to on maintenance. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your HVAC is in its pristine condition so that you’re prepared when that warm weather arrives. Here’s a quick checklist that you can use as a reference:

  • Tune-up: It’s always best to have a little preventative maintenance done by having a qualified HVAC technician come by your home to make sure your system is running effectively. This not only lowers your odds of experiencing cooling problems later, but it can also save you some money on your utility bills.
  • Ductwork: When it comes to your energy bills and comfort level, ductwork that’s leaky can really cost you. It’s best that you take a look at yours to ensure that ducts are properly sealed and insulated before you the heatwave of summer begins.
  • Thermostat: A thermostat that’s programmable will give you increased comfort and help you save more on your energy bill. These are great because it allows you to set the temperature for custom times, so you won’t have to worry about wasting anything while you’re not at home to use it.
  • Clean: It’s a good idea to clean up some of the debris that’s collected on the outside of your unit. If you want to be extra effective, you can also clean the outdoor coils by shutting off the power and hosing them down.
  • Air Filter: Your filters should be changed once a month. Dirty air filters block the necessary airflow which causes the cooling system to work harder in order to maintain the same temperature.

Featured Listing: Iconic Waterfront Living



Luxury doesn’t even begin to describe this iconic Lake Sammamish waterfront estate located at 3016 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE in Bellevue!

This expertly remodeled residence lives large and is move-in ready. With 5 bedrooms, 3.75 bathrooms, and 5,360 sq st, you’ll feel overwhelmed at the majestic lake and mountain views that are all visible from the tall walls of windows throughout the home. Plus, you’ll have a kitchen that’s the definition of a “wow” factor with its commercial grade appliances, massive entertaining island, exotic woods, and a stellar sun-infused breakfast pavilion! There’s also extensive use of inlaid stone floors, hardwoods, and Venetian plaster that creates a notable rich, sophisticated ambiance.

But that’s not everything! You’ll also enjoy the pleasures of a welcoming water feature, massive entertainment deck, 2 master suites, a guest suite, bonus room, and so much more! The estate is also privately gated and features a massive dock, so you can take your adventures from your home to the water in no time at all!

For more information on this property, visit the listing page or contact Margo Allan at 206-898-7455.

First-Time Home Buyers Checklist



As spring kicks into high gear, so too does the housing market! Have you been thinking recently about buying your first home? If so, you may find yourself becoming a little overwhelmed at all the tasks ahead. This is completely normal and is a standard part of the process for most first-time prospective homeowners. But here’s a quick checklist of things to go through as you move forward:

  • Debt: Your credit score is going to play a huge role in whether or not you’re able to buy a house. Make sure all outstanding debts are paid and that your credit score is in OK condition. The better your credit score, the better your interest rate on a loan. But keep in mind, if your credit score is too low, you may not be granted a loan at all.

  • Savings: According to experts, you should have at least 20% of the house’s purchase price saved as a down payment. While it’s still possible to buy a house with less than 20% saved, there are way more advantages to being at 20% or above. One advantage is that you’ll likely avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

  • Budget: No matter how much money you currently have in your bank account, you’ll have to account for the long-term, month-to-month, and year-after-year expenses that come along with it. You’ll also have to take property taxes and your homeowners association dues into account as well. Experts recommend working the numbers backwards to make sure you’re completely covered to buy a home financially.

  • Loans: When it comes to loans, most homeowners go with a 30-year mortgage, but others sometimes go for a 15-year loan or somewhere in between. The standard train of thought is that the shorter your loan, the less interest you’ll ultimately have to pay over time. Make sure you crunch the numbers and do plenty of research before committing to anything.

  • Scout: Once you’ve figured out the financials and done all your prep work, now comes the fun part. Start scouting out the different areas and neighborhoods where you would be interested in living, and don’t forget to look up the tax rates as well. Get a feel for the different areas and visit some of the local attractions to give you a better sense of what living there would be like.


Spring Gardening Checklist



Your garden is finally ready to be tended to! It’s time to get out of the house and enjoy this beautiful spring weather while you prep your garden for the rest of the season. There are three key phases you should break your work into, and if this is your first time, you may be a little unsure of where to begin. Here’s a quick guide and checklist to help you find your way:

  • Early Spring: First, you’ll want to check for signs of growth before prepping the beds. You can remove winter mulch, but if it’s well composted you can also rework it into the top layer of soil. Next, you’ll need to prune. You’ll need to do this before buds begin to bloom or you’ll stress the tree and yield a tiny crop. After that, just divide the perennials and perform some basic maintenance before you start seeds indoors and plant some vegetables.

  • Mid-Spring: Start off by building some new flower beds. You’ll want to stop feeding the birds at this point and take down the clean feeders until fall. You can then continue to sow seeds outdoors or possibly even transplant seedlings. Then apply some more mulch. Tip: If you mulch now, you’ll have a lot less weeding to do come summertime.

  • Late Spring: Remove the spent blossoms from the spring-flowering bulbs, but let the foliage die back without removing it. It would then be a good idea to go shopping so that you can pick out flats of your favorite bedding plants. Just remember to pick ones that aren’t in bloom yet. Finish by pruning the spring-flowering shrubs. Trim away the spent blooms and overly-thick branches in order to help rejuvenate some of the older plants.


Tree Care Tips & Techniques



Keeping up with your tree maintenance does more than just help your property look nice. Studies have shown trees can add about a 7% to 19% more value to your property overall. Replacing trees can cost hundreds of dollars as well, so think of your tree trimming like an investment and you’ll already be on the right track. But here are a few good tips is this is your first time:

  • Sometimes Less is Best: The best part about trees is that they’re not reliant on humans to grow. When there’s a lot of commotion around the tree, that can actually cause damage to the roots and growth space. A good note to keep in mind is that roots need two or three times the length of branches to grow enough to support a tree. So don’t do more work than you need to.

  • Observe: Observing a tree over time can tell you a lot about how to maintain it. If a tree has rapid discoloration or any stunted growth, that tells you something. Knowing what your tree looks like when it’s healthy can help your arborist come up with some better solutions. Finding some information online and other resources that give you a guide to trees and their diseases couldn’t hurt either.

  • Weekly Mulching/Pruning: Surrounding the base of your tree with some mulch is usually a pretty good idea. This will protect the tree from overwatering/over fertilization. Just layer the mulch 2 to 3 inches thick, and make sure to keep it away from the bark of the tree.

  • Choose Right Trees: Take the time to do research in the planning stages and coordinate with your arborist or landscaper early on. It’s best to scope out the whole property and perform all necessary measurements to get an exact idea of what trees could be planted and thrive in that location.


Allergy-Proofing Your Home For Spring



Tis the season for allergies! You might have noticed your spring allergies beginning to flare up as the warm weather starts returning, but the good news is that there are things you can do at home that will go a long way in making sure you’re protected from dust, mold, pollen, and other allergens. Here are five steps to allergy-proofing your home:

  • Remove the Clutter: Clearing all the rooms in your home of clutter will do a lot to deter allergens from hanging around. Old rags, newspapers, and clothes should either be put away in storage or thrown out. Plus, this makes it easier to clean regularly.

  • Clean the Air: If you have an air conditioning system, you should be using HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. It’s also best to keep your windows closed when pollen in the air is high, which is usually during the early morning hours between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

  • Bathroom: You should start by inspecting water pipes for any leaks or fixes that need to be done. The walls should be regularly cleaned with a non-toxic cleaner and you should also scrub away mold on pipes and fixtures.

  • Reducing Dust: Consider damp mopping regularly while also cleaning the walls and surfaces to limit dust. If you have carpeting, it would be best to vacuum once a week with a cleaner that has a HEPA filter.

  • Smart Landscaping: Adding maple and birch and ash on the landscape won’t do much to serve your allergies. Choose low-allergy trees like dogwood, double-flowered cherry, or magnolias instead.


Must Try Spring Landscape Projects



Springtime is here, so what better time to get started on those landscaping ideas that you’ve had brewing all winter long? With the sun finally starting to come out (and staying out later in the day) there are a number of different things you can try out. Just keep these tips in mind before you commit to any new landscaping projects:


  • Take A Look: Take some time to walk around your property and take notes. Some areas of your yard will want to just be maintained a little more, others will need more extensive work done.

  • Plan Ahead: This goes without saying, but never start a landscaping project without a detailed, step-by-step plan. When you’re going section by section, try to envision how everything will look 5-10 years down the line rather than how it will look once the landscaping is completed.

  • Trim, Trim, Trim: When it comes to plants, shrubs, and trees, early spring is the right time to prune. When you remove the dead or diseased branches, it improves the health of the plant overall and allows sunlight to have better access.

  • Mulch It: After all the hard work has been completed, spread mulch to the flower beds along with your other trees and plants. This will add to the appeal and look while also allowing the plant life to absorb the needed nutrients and retain moisture as well.

  • Maintain: Unfortunately, taking care of landscaping requires regular maintenance or it’s likely to fall back into its old habits. The trick is to create a consistent maintenance schedule, but the real test of your efforts will ultimately be whether or not you adhere strictly to this schedule over time.


Home Improvement Painting Tips For Spring



Now that the pesky cold and harsh winter weather seems to be behind us, now is the perfect time to start prepping all those spring chores! One of the biggest tasks that can overwhelm a household is painting. Depending on how much painting you’re actually looking to get done, it can be a real time-consuming process, even before you’ve had a chance to lift a paintbrush. Here are a few tips to consider as begin your painting prep work:

  • Plan: Sure this is an obvious first step to take, but people can really take the planning stages for granted. You should be making all of your painting related decisions way ahead of the actual work. Don’t leave anything to chance. The last thing you’d want is to hold off on the rest of the work while you figure out a new strategy.

  • Color: Don’t just choose all your colors at the paint store. To really know the effect a color will have on a particular room, you need to bring the colors into your home and try it out on your walls before you ultimately decide which one looks best.

  • Paint: Paint, like many other substances, has different levels of quality. People are always wondering if there’s really a difference in quality, and the short answer is Yes. High-quality paints don’t fade and also offer some warranties. If you’re going to undertake such a huge project, you might as well go all out and do it the best you can.

  • Prime: It’s an absolute must that you prime your walls. Don’t use all of your expensive up as a primer. But do stay away from paint/primer combos as they’re really just extra thick paint with extra properties.

  • If Needed, Call Professional: When all else fails and if you find yourself becoming completely overwhelmed by the task of painting, you can always call a professional and have them take over. At the end of the day, you just have to weigh the cost of an outside painter versus the effort to just go ahead and do it yourself.


Preparing Your Home For Spring



With spring right around the corner, there’s no better time than now to start preparing your home. As seasoned homeowners know, spring cleaning is more than just doing some light vacuuming and dusting. It encompasses a whole list of different tasks. And while these tasks may not be the most exciting, they’ll keep you one step ahead of the messes. Here a few things to consider when preparing your home for spring:

  • Gutters: Time to get out your ladder and gloves and check those gutters for debris. You’ll want to clear as much debris as possible by hand first, then remove any leftover gunk with a water hose.

  • Walls/Baseboards/Outlets: All walls in the living areas of the house (bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms) need to be scrubbed with a sponge or brush with mild, soapy water, including the baseboards and outlets. However with outlets, make sure the cover is completely dry before securing it back on the wall.

  • Filters: While all filters in the house (water, range hood, and air vent) should be changed every 3-6 months, now is a better time than any to get them replaced in time for Spring.

  • Faucets/Showerheads: Soak these in an equal parts water and vinegar for around an hour, then rinse them off with warm water.

  • Wash Exterior Windows: All that gunk and debris that got stuck to your windows during Winter? Yeah, they’re still there. If the task of washing all the exterior windows seems like too much, consider hiring an outside service.

  • Foundation Vents: If your home has a crawl space, then it likely has vents along the foundation walls which help provide air circulation that helps prevent excess moisture and mold growth. Spring is the perfect time to clean this out while checking for any damage.

  • Grill: It’s always best to clean off all the collected dust that accumulates on your grill during fall and winter.

  • Smoke Alarms: Test all smoke alarms and CO detectors and change out the batteries as needed.

  • Outdoor Furniture: Make sure that outdoor furniture is ready for Spring by having it all cleaned and dusted before you start using it.


Home Decor Trends For Spring



As the cold weather fades away and we head into Spring, you may be looking to spruce up things around the house. Maybe you’ve been wanting to incorporate some new design elements like new colors, or maybe you’re not sure what you want and are instead just looking for some seasonal suggestions. Well, you’re in luck. Here are a few of the most popular Spring trends you can try out in your home:

  • Rich Pigments: Color is definitely set to be bolder this year for home decor. People everywhere are making dynamic choices with color when it comes to their walls and furniture. Violet, navy, and green are just a few of the most popular colors that people are gravitating towards.

  • Dark Woods: If you want to bring back a retro, more glamorous look to your furniture, consider going with some darker colored wood for your cabinets, tables, or chairs. Fuse it with some nice metallic handles and you’ll really make your furniture stand out.

  • Artisan Textures: There’s quite a lot you can do when playing around with textures and other materials. Whether that’s wicker furniture or even mixing marble with metal to create a striking, modern looking lamp, that’s completely up to you. But feel free to experiment with different things to see what works best!

  • Tropical Prints: A continuing trend from last year, tropical designs are still alive and well, mixing a lot of bright and bold greens together. The rich shades of green also stand out from furniture that tends to be darker. This aesthetic works well with large-scale leaf prints and other tropical green elements.


Getting Settled In The New Neighborhood



Moving into a new home can be a stressful process. But once the dust has settled and everything is put away and all the moving boxes are gone, what do you do next? Well, the next step in the process is getting settled in your neighborhood, and a huge part of that is interacting with your new neighbors and the surrounding community. How does one get started on this? Well here’s a few helpful tips that can help if you don’t know where to begin:

  • Push Yourself: In order to grow, it’s always necessary to push ourselves slightly beyond our basic comfort levels. Each week, coach yourself to try something new and step out of your comfort zone a bit. Walk over and say hi to your neighbors or go to a local park and talk to pet owners to get to know the people who live in your neighborhood. A friendly conversation never hurt anyone after all.

  • Volunteer: Another great way to get know people! Check out local community centers, gardens, churches, or schools to get more involved with people in your community. Dedicating just a little bit of your time to volunteer work can make a big difference and it’s a great social activity as well!

  • Clubs: If you’re trying to meet new people, a great place to start is with activities or clubs that you’re passionate about. Whether it’s a dance class, yoga, rock climbing, or any other activity, finding people who share your common interests will do wonders in making you feel like you’re part of the community.

  • Explore: Get your map and then go out and discover new places on your own. Make a little day adventure and go exploring your neighborhood and the surrounding area. You never know what great things you may stumble across, or which interesting people you may meet.


Home Listing Tips for March


Keys to your own home

Looking to put your home on the market this spring? Well if you are, there are definitely a few things you should know before you get started. Selling a home can be just as stressful as buying one, and you’ll want to do your research and have everything squared away beforehand so there’s less chance of any unexpected problems occurring later. Here are a few tips for you to consider:

  • Sell First: It’s always best to sell your home before you buy another. While you may be eager to get a jump on things, it’s better financially to assess buying a home after you’ve closed on selling your home. If you buy a new home assuming that the one you’re selling will go for a lot, but then it doesn’t, you could be in trouble.

  • Marketing: Anybody can list a house, but if you really want to give yourself the best odds of selling, you’ll need the listing to reach as many people as possible. To do that, you’ll need to market your home. This means taking quality photographs and video of the home and making sure the listing gets placed everywhere it can be.

  • Negotiate: A good trick to test out a real estate agent is to ask them if they’re willing to reduce their commission. If they agree, you should think twice about hiring them. An agent who can’t negotiate her own price will likely be unable to negotiate the best price for your home.

  • Fix Up: If there’s anything that’s damaged or needs repair, make sure it’s fixed BEFORE you put your house on the market. Prospective buyers are much less likely to put in an offer if they see a lot of things they would need to fix up themselves.

  • Don’t Test Market: Don’t go into the market while listing your home at a ridiculously high price. Many real estate agents won’t even bother showing a house if they think the price is too ridiculous. Do your research ahead of time to determine the correct listing price.

Ways To Protect Your Wood Floors From Damage



Hardwood floors are more than just an accessory that looks nice and compliments your home decor. It’s an investment that should be protected, and that means routine maintenance from time to time to make sure it’s always in its most pristine condition. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to hardwood floor protection:

  • Scratches: There are many ways your hardwood can get scratched. Wearing shoes in the house can track in rocks and other outdoor elements that won’t do your floor any favors. So it’s probably best to have everybody entering the house take off their shoes before entering. Also, moving furniture can cause scratches if you’re not careful, so try not to ever drag anything across the hardwood.

  • Fading: Sunlight is one of the major factors that contribute to hardwood fading. If it’s becoming a problem, you may want to consider using window covers or keeping the shades closed during times of intense sunlight.

  • Regular Cleaning: Even if it doesn’t look dirty, if it hasn’t been cleaned in a while, it most definitely is. A deep scrubbing every two weeks using a mop with warm water or a tap water/vinegar mixture is sure to do the trick.

  • Dents: Again, furniture seems to be the biggest culprit when it comes to dents in the hardwood. Consider getting felt pads or furniture cups to prevent future dents and slipping.

  • Vacuum: While it is good to vacuum dirt periodically from your hardwood floors, it’s always best to use one that doesn’t have the beater brush activated. Those brushes are meant for rugs/carpets and will end up scratching your hardwood. So only use suction when it comes to vacuuming.

Condo Buying Tips



If you’re looking to buy property for the first time and have decided that a condo works best, there are a few things you should know before you start. Unlike renting, buying a home involves a lot of different factors that are critical. There’s a lot to consider, so you ’ll want to make sure you have as much information as possible before you agree to sign. Here a few quick tips to help get you started:

  • Financing: One of the biggest pitfalls for potential buyers is not having their financing sorted out ahead of time. Don’t wait until the last minute. If you’re buying in a seller’s market and you’re competing with multiple offers, taking extra time to figure out financing could cost you.

  • Expert: When finding real estate professionals, get someone who specializes in condos. Their experience and knowledge can help you avoid some rookie mistakes.

  • Community: You home is more than just where you lay your head at night, it’s the community around you. You should like the neighborhood you live in so it’s best to get a good sense of the community around the condo before you commit.

  • Restrictions: Despite owning the condo, it’s possible your building has certain restrictions. Carefully read through your Homeowners Association agreement as well as the rules and regulations of your property ahead of time to save you from stress later.

  • The Future: Why you are buying a condo for yourself right now, you need to think about the future and where you see yourself. Owning property is as much an investment in anything else, so make sure you’re investing wisely.

Winter Roofing - Pros & Cons



While some may throw aside the notion of ever attempting to do roof maintenance during the cold weather months, there are actually a handful of benefits. If you’ve been thinking about updating your roof in the near future, here’s a quick Pros & Cons list to help you decide whether it’s best to get started now or later in the year:


  • Waiting Can Worsen Problems: If your shingles are currently curling or cracking, or if your roof is suffering any other damage that’s increasing more over time, waiting until summer might mean more in damage costs.

  • Better Instant Defense: Fixing it now can definitely help put you at ease. Your roof is a very important part of your property and it deserves to always be in prime condition.

  • Pricing: Since winter is a peak off-season for roofing professionals, you may get to enjoy the advantage of discounted prices if you decide to fix your roof during the cold weather months.

  • Too Much Build Up?: Too much snow or ice build up on top of your roof increases the risk of it damaging or even collapsing. If this is the case with your roof, look to get it fixed as soon as possible.


  • Harsh Weather: The most obvious reason roofing is considered less popular during the winter months. While an experienced contractor will know their limits when it comes to dealing with certain kinds of weather, there is always risk involved, and that risk of injury definitely increases when harsher weather occurs.

  • Temperature Affecting Materials: Certain tools can be quite sensitive to the cold temperatures. For example, the cold weather can sometimes prevent shingles from sealing fully. This can result in leaving weak spots where moisture can sneak through.


Tell-Tale Signs You Need To Upgrade Your Kitchen This Year



There are few (if any) home renovation projects that are more intense than upgrading your kitchen. Not only does it take a lot of planning and coordination, but it can also mean that your kitchen goes out of commission for weeks, sometimes even months before the work is completed. But that shouldn’t stop you from having a kitchen you love. If you’re looking to upgrade but still aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit, here are a few signs that it might be time to make that change:

  • Low Counter/Storage Space: A well-functioning kitchen should give you plenty of room to work with. That means readily available counter and storage space. If you find that you’re running out of room for standard items and your cooking time is increasing because you’re constantly having to move things around, it may be time to upgrade.

  • Awkward Layout: Old and outdated kitchens can sometimes have very awkward and obtrusive designs, especially those with range top islands. Whether it’s hazardous from a safety perspective or just plain difficult to maneuver, either is more than enough reason to renovate.

  • Cleaning Is Too Difficult: Countertops that feature tile with deep grout lines and mottled linoleum floor tiles can be really difficult to clean. A high maintenance kitchen eventually becomes a burden. If you’ve found that you’re spending more time than usual when you’re cleaning the kitchen, a redesign may be just what you need.

  • You Just Hate The Space: If you’re put-off by your kitchen every time you walk by it, that’s no way to live. Your kitchen is a part of your home and you should always feel comfortable in your home. While money might be an issue, it’d be more than worth it to invest in a better kitchen. This will not only improve your peace of mind but if done right, it will increase the value of your home as well.


Carpet Cleaning Tips For Winter



While the outdoors may take on the majority of winter’s wrath, that doesn’t mean the inside of your home is immune. Dirt, snow, and all sorts of different outdoor elements can make their way into your home, turning that nice living room carpet a much darker tone than it should be. Here are a few quick tips for keeping your carpets clean throughout winter:

  • Outside Maintenance: Stop things from tracking inside by cleaning just outside your doors. The patios or front steps can be cluttered with leaves and other sorts of debris that can find its way into your home. Keep the path going into your home as clean as possible.

  • Mats: Outdoor mats outside the front door are very common, but having one on the inside as well will do double the work to keep dirt from coming into your home. It’s also a good hint for any house guests as they’re more likely to wipe off their feet before wandering around your home.

  • Shoeless: Removing shoes before you walk through the inside of your home will do wonders to cut down on the cleaning. You’ll spend a lot less time cleaning those carpets every year. For those who feel more comfortable with their shoes on, consider investing in some indoor slippers that guests can slip on right over their shoes.

  • Pets: Don’t expect your dog or cat to have the same respect for cleanliness as you do. Dogs that come inside from walks are likely to track in dirt and other debris. Make sure you’re taking time to clean off their paws and anything else that might get unwanted dirt on the carpet.

  • Vacuum: Make a habit of vacuuming often. This will help in preventative maintenance just as much as it would during a spill clean up. Don’t give dirt time to adhere to your carpet. The last thing you’d want is a stain on your carpet that can’t be removed.



Protecting Your Lawn During Winter



Like the fall, the winter months can be very tough for grass. Yard work is no walk in the park after all. It can turn into quite a chore, especially if you’re not up-to-date on all your lawn maintenance. Here are a few tips that will help protect your lawn throughout the cold weather:

  • Aerate (At Least Once Per Year): Your lawn needs to breathe. There are aeration tools that are used to break up compacted turf, pulling up plugs of grass and soil. This will allow oxygen, nutrients, and water to reach the roots. The aeration process can give the seeds more room to sprout and allow new grass to grow.

  • Seed: While more ideal in the fall, if the weather still isn’t too cold you will be able to seed in the winter. However, don’t use the cheap seed as it contains ryegrass and hollow husks that will all drop deep after the first frost.

  • Fertilize: This provides your grass with nutrients that it can absorb and store, helping it survive the harsh months of winter while also encouraging better growth when it comes time for the Spring. Choose a fertilizer that’s high in phosphorus (around 10-15%) as it’s critical for plant growth.

  • Continue Mowing: Even when it gets cold, continuing to mow your lawn is a good idea. Keep mowing it until you see the growth start to slow. Ideally, you want your grass to be 2 – 2.5 inches tall.

  • Water: Water is still needed until the ground begins to freeze. So keep up the watering in the fall and early winter months and avoid damage to your irrigation system by blowing out the compressed air before it has a chance to freeze.


How To Turn Your Home Into A Romantic Retreat



The month of February is most famously known for the number one Hallmark Holiday in the world- Valentines Day. And while you might be thinking of where to go away for the weekend or where to make a dinner reservation, you might want to consider planning a romantic evening at home with your significant other. If you’re looking for some creative tips for your romantic Valentine’s Day at home, consider these:

  • Cleanliness: A very important first step. Any great B&B or luxury hotel is always clean, so your home should be as well. If there’s a mess all over your house and things haven’t been picked up, it will be really hard to get caught up in the romance. Put in a lot of time beforehand to make sure everything is clean and you won’t regret it.
  • Quality: If you’re trying to get your significant other to think of your home as a romantic getaway, you may need to invest in some luxury items to make everything feel more special. That could mean expensive bed sheets or other decorative touches around your home. It could even mean a catered meal from a 5-star restaurant. But the goal here is to impress.
  • Warmth: Blankets, pillow shams, and a fire that never dies will only serve to assist you when you’re setting up your romantic evening. Again, the ultimate goal is for them to feel comfortable and carefree, and making sure they’re warm and toasty inside will do a lot to help.
  • Sensory Details: Engage the senses in any way you can. This means having romantic music and scented candles readily available. However, don’t go overboard with this. Too much sensory stimulation can be overwhelming so make sure you only use a few subtle touches here and there for maximum effect.
  • Peace & Quiet: Probably the most important step to ensuring you have a stress-free and relaxing time with your significant other. You won’t any distracting noises or sounds that will take away from your wonderful evening. If you have kids, this could mean dropping them off at a sitter or with relatives so you can enjoy a quiet night alone with your partner.

Do’s and Don'ts of Patio Maintenance


The outdoor elements of winter can cause a lot of strain on patios. And while you may already be thinking of ways to get your patio back into shape, there are a few things you should watch out for. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of patio maintenance to keep in mind before you bring your work:

  • DO’s

    • DO seal your wooden deck every few years. Choose a one-step product that combines but stain and sealer to save you some time.

    • DO be careful with power washing. Too much pressure tends to damage wood and stone surfaces.

    • DO sweep away debris on a regular schedule. Dirt that gets trapped can lead to mold, rot, and stains. Some preventative sweeping is much better.

    • DO re-arrange the furniture at least once a year. People that live in more mildew-prone areas of the country should especially be careful since water can become trapped over time.

  • DON’TS

    • DON’T sand your wooden deck before sealing. It’s only a good idea to do so if the surface of your deck has become too rough.

    • DON’T paint your deck (if you can help it). The painting will only create more maintenance later, and moisture can tend to get trapped underneath the paint as well.

    • DON’T feel obligated to seal your patio.Since you have to re-seal about every two years, it’s not really worth it to seal the deck. If you want that “wet” look, it would be better to seal the hardscape.

    • DON’T go overboard with the washing. Normal wear and tear on a patio is normal and should be cleaned, but if you clean before that build up occurs, you risk damaging your deck even further.

Low-Tech Ways To Keep Your House Warm Over The Winter



Tis the season for colder weather. And while plenty of heating companies may be pressuring you to install a new system or other expensive additions to your heating system, there are a few cheap, low-tech ways to retain heat in your home. Here are a few quick suggestions:

  • Tin Foil: If you want to prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators (especially those that are attached to external walls), you can use heat reflective aluminum foil behind the radiator. This will help keep heat from disappearing through the wall and instead reflect it back into the room.

  • Thick Curtains: Curtains with thermal lining are another cheaper option for retaining heat inside your home. The thicker the curtains, the better. But if you don’t want to buy completely new ones and are looking to save a little bit more money, you can always cover your existing curtains in a cheap fleece material.

  • Sunlight: Sometimes the best source of heat comes right from the original source. Letting the sunlight in during the day will help do a lot of the work in heating your home while you’re away at work.

  • Cover Bare Floorboards: Since floors account for as much as 10% of heat loss if not insulated, it’s better to get them covered if there are any cracks or gaps in the flooring. Also, floorboards and skirting boards have been known to contract, expand, or slightly move with everyday use, so just make sure to use a filler that can tolerate movement.

  • Setting Timers: Having trouble keeping track of when to turn the heat one? Just set some timers for yourself that will give you reminders so you’re not using the heat more than you need to.

Host a Winning Super Bowl Party



The Super Bowl is coming up soon! And while Northwest fans may be down that our hometown Seahawks aren’t making an appearance this year, that doesn’t mean we need to let a good opportunity for a party go to waste! If you’re looking to host your first Super Bowl party this year and are wondering where to start, here are some fun suggestions that are sure to make your party stand out:

  • Football-Themed Decor: Aside from just putting up a few football decorations here and there, why not get creative? Cut some drink coasters out of astroturf or set out some potted wheatgrass topped with pennants and mini footballs. The decorations don’t need to be too outlandish, but a few light touches here and there is always fun.

  • Finger Foods: Try to stay away from large and heavy meals on Super Bowl Sunday and focus more and small dishes. Either little sandwiches, cocktail sausages, nachos, would work really well. Set up a buffet station in the kitchen and add some paper plates and utensils for guests to help themselves.

  • Party Games: If there’s a lull in the energy, you can always have some fun party games to play with your guests. Another idea is to hand out Super Bowl Bingo cards and have people stamp their cards when noteworthy events occur in the game until the winner yells, “Bingo!”.

  • Drink Station: Designate a table or corner of your kitchen entirely to the drinks. Have a few big coolers out with beer, along with any other wines or spirits for people to mix their own drinks. If you’re feeling particularly festive, you can always make a Super Bowl Punch!


Preparing Your Home For Winter



We may almost be done with January, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with winter quite yet. More cold weather could be right around the corner over the next few months, and you’ll want to make sure your home is as prepared as possible. Here are a few helpful tips to consider that could lower your utility bills and protect your home investment this Winter:

  • Heating System: This is something you’ll want to get checked out sooner rather than later. It may be worth it to pay the small fee now to have a technician inspect your heating system. Hopefully, you won’t need any critical repair work, but if you do, it’s better to schedule it as early as possible. Many homes in the area have heating issues this time of the year, so the wait for repairs can take a while in certain areas.

  • Reverse Ceiling Fans: For fans with a reverse switch, you can run the fan’s blades in the opposite direction after you turn on your heat. This will help produce an updraft and push heated air into the room from the ceiling.

  • Roof: Check the whole roof carefully for any damage, especially any loose or missing shingles. Make sure any issues get corrected as early as possible. Also, check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stack and chimneys as well.

  • Caulk Around Windows/Doors: If the gaps between the siding and the window or door frames are larger than the width of a nickel, exterior caulk needs to be reapplied. For exterior use, silicone caulk works best due to the fact that it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements.

  • Gutters: Any gutters that are filled with debris could potentially have water backed up against the house, possibly damaging the roof, siding, and wood trim. Not to mention leaks and ice dams. Double check for any missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them too.

Real Estate Market Trends During Winter



The winter has been known to have tempered expectations when it comes to the real estate market. The cold weather has been known to cool the buying and selling activity along with it. But that doesn’t mean that all hope of buying or selling a home is lost. If you’re vigilant and work with a real estate professional, there are ways to stay on top of the market trends so that you can put yourself in the most advantageous position for success. Here are a few trends to look out for this winter:

  • Carry-Over: Since supply has been unable to keep up with the demands of the 2017 real estate market, it’s rational to guess that there will be some carry over in the first months of winter. It’s pretty safe to assume that prospective buyers who started looking in the Fall are going to continue their search, just as a seller would not want to take a home that didn’t sell during the Fall off the market just because it’s Winter. Look to take advantage of this carry-over as much as possible.

  • Rising Interest Rate: The Federal Reserve has already raised interest rates twice in 2017, so you can expect them to rise again sooner than later. This could result in the cost of ownership going up, and while it may not go up very much, those increases could be enough for buyers and sellers to navigate the market with more urgency.

  • Prices Going Up: Again, because of the increasing demand, we’re currently in a seller’s market. Anytime that happens, prices go up. The median home value in the US is currently somewhere around $203,000. That price represents a 6.5% increase from the year before, with an additional 3% further increase over the next 12 months. This is definitely something to consider if you’re looking to buy or sell a home sometime soon.

Winter Damage That Isn’t Covered By Insurance



As extreme winter weather events become more frequent, so do the insurance claims as a result. The percentage of winter insurance claims have more than doubled the average of the previous twenty years. If you find yourself a little concerned over what types of damage cause expensive insurance claims, here’s a list of the four main ones to keep an eye on:

  • Frozen Pipes: One of the biggest overall sources of home damage. Usually, this kind of loss is prevented by your homeowner’s insurance, but if your insurance decides that it was preventable and the pipes were frozen due to negligence, you could be on the hook for a costly payment. So make sure you take the proper steps to ensure you’re doing everything possible to prevent pipes from freezing.

  • Hail Damage: Roof damage due to hail can be expensive, and while you can’t prevent hail storms, you can definitely prepare for them. Inspect your roof carefully to see if anything needs to be fixed. Typically, homeowners don’t notice hail damage right away, only months later when they start to leak. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

  • Wind Damage: One of the most common types of damage. To prevent damage, remove anything outside that isn’t nailed down and inspect the inside of your home for anything that may be loose such as shutters and gutters. It’s also a good idea to keep the trees along your house trimmed as well.

  • Snow And Ice: A little snow on top of your house can be a pleasant thing, but a lot of snow after a big storm? Not so much. Ice dams can occur as snow on your roof melts then refreezes. Also, ice forming in your gutters can prevent runoff from draining properly which can cause water to seep into your roof.

Home Heating Myths That Could Be Pushing Up Your Winter Bills



Nobody wants a ridiculously high energy bill during the Winter months while they’re trying to stay warm. We’ve all heard suggestions (whether it be from our neighbors, family, or friends) about what to do, but it’s important to distinguish fact from fiction. After reading a survey from the Energy Saving Trust, here are a few myths about heating that you may have heard before:

  • Myth – Turn the heating up when it’s cold outside: While it may seem like a quick solution, turning the heat up will not be the quick fix you seek. The thermostat is there to control and maintain internal temperature, no matter what the weather outside is like.

  • Myth – Turn up the thermostat to heat the room quicker: Again, the room will not warm up any quicker, but the entire house will slowly become heated to a warmer temperature when adjusting the thermostat. If you’re looking to get warm quick, consider putting on a sweatshirt or thick clothes until the house heats up.

  • Myth – Leave the heat on low constantly: If there’s nobody there to benefit from the heat, then it doesn’t need to stay on low. Don’t let your heating costs rise just to heat an empty room.

  • Myth – Keep water heater on all day so you don’t run out: For a properly insulated hot water tank, water that’s heated for half an hour should stay warm until midday. You can always set your water to come on a half hour before you get up in the morning to shower.

Energy Efficient Tips For Your Home During Winter



Winter provides an interesting dilemma for homeowners everywhere. You want to save money on your energy bill each month, but you also don’t want to freeze to death. Luckily there are some things you can do to make the winter easier on both your wallet and body temperature. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

  • Sunlight: Open all the curtains on any windows that face towards the south windows during the day. This will allow natural sunlight to heat up your home. Just remember to close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from colder windows.

  • Cover Drafty Windows: Use a clear plastic sheet (heavy-duty is preferable) on a frame or tape the plastic film to the inside of the window frames. Ensure that the plastic is sealed tightly to help reduce any cold air infiltration. You can always install insulating drapes or shades as well if you’d like.

  • Adjust the Temperature: Make sure you’re being diligent about setting your temperature. When you’re home and awake, set it to the lowest temperature you’re comfortable with. When you’re out of the house or going to bed, the temperature doesn’t need to be that high at all. No reason to use the heat if there’s nobody around to use it!

  • Find/Seal Leaks: Seal any air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around the chimney area, as well as recessed lights that may be insulated within the ceilings.

  • Reduce Heat Loss From Fireplace: Keep the fireplace damper closed unless there’s currently a fire burning in it. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flute. But if you’re someone who constantly uses it, consider installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that will blow warm air back into the room.

Tips to Avoid a Costly Winter Plumbing Leak



Plumbing issues are always an inconvenience. But in winter, they’re especially stressful to deal with. If you’re looking to prepare your plumbing for the remaining cold-weather months, here a few tips you might consider helpful:

  • Protect Pipes from Freezing: When winter temperatures drop, water can easily freeze inside pipes. To reduce this possibility, wrap each of the pipes in a blanket of foam. You can buy foam tubes at most hardware stores.

  • Fix Leaks: Probably a no-brainer, but do not leave pipes to leak for any longer than they need to be. Fix them as soon as you’re able.

  • Drain Water Heater: If you live somewhere with hard water, sediment can build up in your tank and cause rust to develop there. The rust can sometimes find its way into cooking, drinking, and bathing water. If your water heater is too old and rusted, you’ll probably want to buy a new one ASAP.

  • Lose Outdoor Hose: Disconnect your outdoor hose, wrap it up, and put away until the warm weather returns. The last thing you want is for frozen water to expand into your faucets and pipes.

  • Clean Home’s Sump Pump Pit: Before the weather gets too cold, inspect and clean your sump pump and the pit where it rests. When exposed to cold weather elements, your pump and freeze cease to work. Inspect it early to avoid the possibility of flood damage later.

Seattle Seahawks: Hawks Keep Playoffs Hope Alive



On Sunday afternoon, the Hawks played the Dallas Cowboys on the road in Texas. It was basically a playoff game for each team since a loss meant the end of the season and a win meant playoff hopes stayed alive. While scoring seemed to plague the Hawks early on in the first half, a few big plays helped turn the tide and they were able to celebrate a 21-12 victory on their plane ride back to Seattle.

One of the biggest factors in this game was turnovers. Seattle had 3 turnovers while the Cowboys had none at all. Hawks cornerback Byron Maxwell forced a fumble, Justin Coleman had his second pick-six of the season, and K.J. Wright had an interception as well. Seattle’s defense bounced back overall, especially after that humiliating loss to the Rams the previous Sunday where they gave up 42 points. It also helped that middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was back to full-strength since his leadership and impact on the defensive end has always been critical to our sustained success.

As we head into the final game of the season, the Hawks are in an interesting position. In order to make the playoffs, two things need to happen: 1) The Hawks need to win their next game. 2) The Carolina Panthers need to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in their next game. If both of those scenarios end up favoring the Hawks, then we’ll have another shot at getting back to the Super Bowl.

Be sure to wear blue this whole week in support of our Hawks as they get ready for their last game of the regular season this Sunday, December 31st at 1:25 PM PST on FOX. Go Hawks!

Secrets to Hosting a Stress-Free Holiday Party



There’s no better time to gather with family and friends than the holidays. And while we all count down the remaining days until the new year, why not bring everyone together for a holiday party? If you’re thinking of hosting a party this year for the first time, you may feel a little unsure. Here are a few tips to consider when hosting your holiday party this year:

  • Type of Party: The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out what kind of party you want to throw. Will it be a potluck? Dinner party? Cocktail party with light snacks? Will it be formal or casual? Think about what works best for the type of party you’re looking to host.

  • Guest List: Carefully put together a guest list of all the people you’d like to invite. But make sure to send out invitations with at least three to four weeks notice. Calendars tend to fill up fast during the holiday season, so you want to give your prospective guests as much time as possible to commit.

  • Appetizers: It doesn’t matter which type of party you’re throwing, eventually people will get hungry. If you’re hosting a formal dinner party, it’s critical to have some light appetizers before. If it’s a lighter cocktail party, having an assortment of different appetizers throughout will go over well with the guests. After all, it’s never good to drink on an empty stomach.

  • Self-Service Drinks: Set up a self-service drink station. You can include the basics like wine and beer, but feel free to get creative with a do-it-yourself cocktail bar or an easily accessible holiday punch bowl so that guests won’t be bugging you all night for a drink refill.

  • Prep Beforehand: If you’re making a lot of different food or drink items, don’t leave all the work until the beginning of the party. Do as much prep as possible beforehand to save yourself some time later. The last thing you’ll want to do is not attend to your guests for a long period of time while you are catching up on preparing the food.

Seattle Seahawks: Rams Dominate Hawks In Blowout



Sunday afternoon at Centurylink Field was definitely a depressing time for Hawks fans. Not only did we lose to our division rivals, the Los Angeles Rams, but we lost by an extremely wide margin. The Rams’ defensive front was just too powerful and overpowering against the struggling Hawks offense line. Add that with Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff’s high powered passing offense and you’re left with a soul-crushing defeat for the Hawks that ended in a final score of 42-7.

While it’s definitely logical to credit our lack of success on the defensive end to overwhelming injuries such as Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, and KJ Wright, the Hawks just looked lost out there on the field. After holding the Rams’ offense to two field goals on their first two drives, it just seemed like everything on Sunday was moving too fast for the Hawks. And again, we saw our offense try to establish a running game (despite our run offense being ranked last in the entire league) with no success. As our playoff hopes look less and less likely as we head towards the end of the season, the Hawks really need to re-evaluate where they stand in regards to coaching. With so many talented players not being able to find success on the field lately, there has to be something within the structure of the team that isn’t clicking. If the Hawks want any hope of returning to the greatness of previous years, they’ll have to be willing to make some big changes moving forward.

The Hawks will play again next Sunday on New Year’s Eve (12/31) against the Arizona Cardinals at 1:25 PM PST on FOX. Although things right now look rough, our Hawks need your support more than ever, so don’t forget to wear that blue all week! #GoHawks

How To Prevent Heavy Snow Damage To Your Roof



While we’ve been spoiled thus far with such a sunny winter, we all know the weather here in Washington can change at the drop of a hat. That’s why it’s always best to prepare and make sure your home is ready to withstand any heavy snow or ice that may gather after a storm. Here are four steps you can take to reduce your risk of roof damage this winter:

  • Evaluate Risk: Usually, snow that melts tends to run off of steep, more sloped roofs where the slopes are greater than 3 inches in 12 inches of horizontal distance. If your roof is flatter than most and you’re noticing a lot of water buildup, you may want to approach that as a concern.

  • Estimate Support of Roof: Unless there’s some prior decay or the foundation of the roof is damaged, most residential roofs (regardless of location) should be able to support 20 pounds per square foot of snow. Living in an area where there’s lots of snow, your roof is probably safe. But check with your building department if you have questions.

  • Calculate Weight of Snow on Roof: For fresh snow, 10-12 inches is equal to one inch of water or about 5 pounds per square foot. For packed snow, it’s 3-5 inches. When it comes to ice, one inch equals about one foot of fresh snow.

  • Remove: If your roof falls in the “danger zone” or if the loads you estimate based on the thickness of the various types of snow and ice exceed 20-25 per square feet, it would probably be best to remove that snow from your roof.

Seattle Seahawks: Jags Hold On To Defeat Seahawks


On Sunday, the Hawks traveled down to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Seahawks struggled early and didn’t manage to put any points on the board in the first half, but came out strong in the second half with a lot more tenacity. Unfortunately, the late 4th quarter push wasn’t enough to pull away and the Hawks lost by a score of 24-30.

 The Jaguars’ number one rated defense came out in force yesterday. Not only did they force a shutout in the first half, but they also forced three uncharacteristic interceptions from Russell Wilson. The Jaguars offense, led by Blake Bortles, was also able to connect with his receivers for a few huge plays that ended up being costly. Another key factor to the loss late in the game could be the injuries of Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright, who each had to leave the game while the Hawks were clawing their way back. Bobby Wagner is as big a part of our defensive core as anyone else, and without him on the field, the Hawks just aren’t as complete of a team.

In the end, a late-game rush wasn’t enough to make up for the incredibly slow start. While we all know the Seahawks shine in the 4th quarter of games, they still need to be effective in the other three quarters (especially the first half). Momentum can only get you so far, and the coaches need to instill that same sense of urgency at the beginning of games so that we can build a lead instead of fighting our way back to one. The Hawks come back home next Sunday to take on the division-leading Los Angeles Rams at 1:05 PST on FOX. Don’t forget to wear that blue all week in support!

DIY Holiday Decorations For Your Home


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Nothing says “Holiday Cheer” like a few festive decorations around your home. It helps put people in the holiday spirit, and it makes for fun projects you can work on with the whole family. Here are a few simple ideas to try out this year:

  • Plaid Stockings: Any old blankets or scarves made of plaid can be transformed into cozy stockings that hang above the fireplace. You can do the same using old quilts as well!

  • Mason Jar Christmas Tree: Stack a few mason jars filled with colorful ornaments into a pyramid formation and place some tinsel, greenery, or lights around it for a fun little mantlepiece display. Just don’t forget to put a star on top to complete the tree!

  • Rustic Entrance: Throw a few decorative touches on your front door by adding some pine branches around the door handle.

  • Pinecone Ornaments: Take the family out in the yard to pick out some pinecones, then spray paint them white and attach a string to turn them into beautiful ornaments that will add some touches of winter to your Christmas Tree.

Seattle Seahawks: Big Win at CenturyLink as Hawks Defeat Eagles



The Hawks played in primetime again on Sunday night when they took on the Philadelphia Eagles. At the time of the matchup, the Eagles were the best team in football, but the Hawks put a stop to that by executing well and holding the Eagles high-powered offense to only two scores. In the end, the final score was 24-17 and one of the Hawks best wins of the season thus far.

What has been difficult for the Hawks during most of the season in regards to slow starts on offense and low efficiency in gaining yards was proven wrong on Sunday night. The offense, led by MVP-caliber quarterback Russell Wilson, found momentum early on in the passing game. Instead of just running the ball for extremely small gains that usually amounted to 4th down punts, the Hawks got Wilson doing what he does best; throwing on the run. Combine that with the elite defense led by Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner and you’re left with a game where the Seahawks performed to their full potential. Games like Sunday night prove that the Hawks are capable of being the best team in the league. If they continue to stay focused and determined, there’s no reason why a successful playoff run can’t happen this year.

The Hawks travel to Jacksonville next Sunday at 1:25 pm PST to take on the Jaguars. Catch the game on FOX and remember to wear that blue all week. Go Hawks!

Featured image by Keith Allison Flickr

Winter Landscape Ideas For Your Home



Many gardeners and landscapers may be reluctant to accept winter’s arrival since there is a lot more white and grey replacing the bright colors of Spring, Summer, and Fall. And while there aren’t as many things that you’ll be able to plant in the cold weather, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other landscaping projects you can implement around the property. If you’re looking for some ideas to incorporate this winter, here are some possibilities you can try:

  • Focus on Bark: While the branches and leaves are hibernating for the winter, the bark can still shine! Now would be a perfect time to feature any interesting ornamental trees that have visually distinctive bark throughout your landscape.

  • Evergreens: Evergreens have always been a standout tree in the winter months. Their green or yellowish color will still pop, even if surrounded by snow. Plus they’ll look great even after the winter cold has passed.

  • Add Berries: Featuring some trees or shrubs with berries around the garden always looks great. Plus you’ll be helping to feed the birds as well!

  • Rely on Hardscape: If you’re finding it difficult to highlight plant life around your landscape, you can feature other focal points such as a sculpture, bench, trellis, or arbor instead and add a few decorative touches to make them really stand out.

Seattle Seahawks: 49ers Fall to Hawks in Santa Clara



The Seahawks traveled to California for Sunday afternoon’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. The Hawks have statistically done quite well when playing in Santa Clara, and this game proved to be no different. Even though it took a bit of time to find their way on offense, the Hawks’ defense and Russell Wilson’s second half play helped them pull away to a 24-13 victory.

The defense was without two of their best players in Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman (both are out for the season), but that didn’t seem to intimidate them in the slightest. They set the tone early by holding San Francisco to just 3 points in the first half. Bobby Wagner finished the game with 8 tackles, putting him at 100 for the season and cementing his legacy as one of the best defensive players in the league. On offense, the Hawks continued their streak of targeting tight-end Jimmy Graham in the end zone and gave him his 8th touchdown of the season.

This was a game the Seahawks needed to win and luckily they came out playing hard. While still a game behind the current NFC West division leader Los Angeles Rams, the Hawks are showing more consistency as we get into the latter part of the regular season. But they’ll have their work cut out for them next Sunday night when they go up against the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles at 5:30pm. Don’t forget to wear that blue all week in support, and as always “Go Hawks!”.

Featured image by David Ensor via Flickr

Plumbing Maintenance Checklist: Get Ready For Winter


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It’s as true in real life as it is in the fictional HBO show Game of Thrones…Winter is coming. And this winter, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared when the cold weather comes your way. One problem you definitely want to avoid is plumbing issues, but luckily for you, there are some things you can to do prepare. Here’s a checklist of maintenance tips to consider before winter arrives:

  • Open taps and drain any exterior water lines to ensure they don’t freeze.
  • Consider pipe wrapping any water lines with insulation if you think they’re likely to freeze.
  • Check the water heater and make sure it’s not outdated and ineffective. Replace it with a new one if it is.
  • Check plumbing fixture and surrounding system any traces or evidence of water leaks. Nothing bites into a water bill faster than a leak.
  • Clean all gunk and built up debris out of your gutters.
  • Test your downspout’s functionality and make sure it’s cleaned.

When it comes to plumbing, you can never be too careful. So this winter, take the time to make sure you’re covered from potential issues and be as thorough as possible.

Featured image by Rex Babieravia Flickr

Seattle Seahawks: Falcons Defeat Hawks in Monday Night Showdown



On Monday night, the Atlanta Falcons arrived in the Northwest to take on the Seahawks in primetime. Without two of our best players on defense (Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor), the Hawks were expected to face some struggle against the high-powered passing attack from Matt Ryan and his favorite receiver, Julio Jones. Although the Hawks made a few big plays late in the game that kept the game close, they were never able to get over the hurdle and ended up losing by a score of 31-34.

There are a few areas of the game that many fans could single out for blame in relation to Monday’s loss. Blair Walsh’s missed the field goal at the end of the game, Russell Wilson’s turnovers….But at the end of the day, the biggest concern with the Hawks seems to be poor coaching choices in critical moments of the game. The Hawks lost by three points, but right before halftime, Pete Carroll made the decision to run a poorly executed fake attempt with 7 seconds remaining, no timeouts, and thirty yards until the end zone instead of taking the security of three points. In these critical moments of the game, the coaching staff needs to let the team deliver without depending on longshot trick plays. As they always say, “You never want to leave points on the field.” The Hawks have so much talent and are capable of making amazing plays week after week, but they need to be put in the best possible position for success if they want a shot at the playoffs.

At a record of 6-4, the Hawks are still sitting at second place in the NFC West, but next week’s game against the division rival San Francisco 49ers is definitely theirs for the taking. Tune in on Sunday at 1:05p PST on Fox and don’t forget to wear that blue all week. Go Hawks!

How To Prepare Your Home For Thanksgiving


Everybody’s favorite feast is right around the corner! If this is your first year hosting Thanksgiving, you may be wondering how to best prepare for the big day. After all, there’s a lot that needs to be done. Just in case you need a few helpful tips, here are some things to consider when preparing your home for Thanksgiving:

  • Early Invites: Make sure you invite your guests as early as possible. The more people you know are going to be attending in advance, the better prepared you’ll be when it comes to budgeting your food and time.

  • Plan Menu Well In Advance: This is something you don’t want to leave until the last minute. Whether you’re doing a buffet style feast or a potluck, knowing exactly what’s being served will save you from a dreaded trip down to the grocery store on Thanksgiving morning.

  • Enlist Help: When it comes to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you shouldn’t have to take on everything. There’s more to being a great host than doing everything for your guests. Enlist their help with small tasks that will end up giving you a large amount of support while limiting stress as well!

  • Prep Kitchen: Everyone knows a kitchen tends to get cluttered on Thanksgiving. Having all your ingredients, dishes, pots/pans all ready to go will make the actual cooking process go by a lot smoother.

  • Guest Prep: Aside from the food, the other great part about Thanksgiving is spending quality time with your family. Part of tending to your family/guests is making sure everybody is comfortable. That means games/entertainment for the kids, and maybe even a few games to play with the whole family later on in the evening. It’s always best to have a few socially engaging activities planned just in case.

Seattle Seahawks: Hawks Pay Heavy Price in Road Win in Phoenix



On Thursday night, the Hawks traveled to Arizona to take on their division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. Even though the Hawks were without their All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, the defense came out in force holding the Cardinals to just 17 points and 290 total yards. As always, Kam Chancellor could be found all over the field making plays on the ball, including a few key stops that ended Cardinal drives dead in their tracks. The Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin connection was also very successful for the Hawks offense, particularly on one 54-yard gain that had Wilson finding Baldwin for a miracle pass that put the Hawks in scoring position.

Being on a short week, many Hawks players were still recovering from injuries. Richard Sherman came into the game with some minor Achilles issues, but it got a lot worse when he went down after rupturing that same Achilles. Doctors say that Sherman will be out for the year, which is difficult not only from a position standpoint (as Sherman is one of the best corners in the game) but from an emotional standpoint as well. Sherman’s intensity and skill on the field will be greatly missed for the rest of the season, and the Hawks will need to find a way to stop teams while having other players that are injured and not playing as well.

Luckily, we have a longer break to recover until the next game which will be on Monday Night Football November 20th at 5:30 pm PST against the Atlanta Falcons. Go Hawks!

Fireplace Makeover Tips



As great as it is enjoying the beautiful outdoors here in the Pacific Northwest, the cold weather has started forcing everybody inside. For many, that means getting the fireplace ready for those social evenings with friends and family, and all joined around a fire. But if you’re not satisfied with its current condition and are instead looking to spruce it up, here are some makeover ideas that will have your fireplace looking better than ever:

  • Painted Brick: Traditionally, most fireplaces have featured the brick design in its natural form, but recently people have been painting the brick to reflect a more modern, contemporary look that compliments a similar design in the surrounding living space. Natural brick doesn’t match with too many modern design schemes, so painting it is a great way to not have your fireplace stand out as much from a color perspective.

  • Side Shelves: Some built-in shelves around the top and sides can really help compliment a fireplace. You can add photos or other pieces of art alongside it, and it will make your room look bigger and taller as a result.

  • Planked Wood Above: Installing planked wood above the fireplace is another way to make the area look bigger as a whole. Match the coloring of the wood panel to the surrounding tile color to really tie the room together.

  • Surrounding Tile: The tile your place around your fireplace really completes the entire aesthetic. After you’ve decided on a color for your brick and any surrounding shelves, consider installing tile with a similar/complementary color.

Seattle Seahawks: Redskins Pull Ahead at the End To Defeat Hawks



Well, that could have gone better. On Sunday afternoon, the Hawks faced off against a Washington Redskins team that was without ⅓ of their starters due to injury. Despite this and the fact that the Hawks had a dozen opportunities to score points, they still lost with the final score ending at 14-17.

The Seahawks yet again failed to gain any momentum or scoring in the first half from their offense. As has been the case all season, the Hawks relied heavily on their punt game. It didn’t help that new kicker Blair Walsh missed not one, not two, but THREE key field goals. That’s 9 points the Hawks left on the board, and it cost them dearly in the end.

In order to win out the rest of the season, the Hawks need to find a way to score points early on in the game. Too often do they rely on their defense to carry the offense through the entire game, only to save it all toward the end. That strategy can no longer be sustained. The Hawks coaching seems very suspect in games like this. For example, the Hawks called the famous “Super Bowl 49 Slant Pass” twice in today’s game, and both times it ended in interceptions. Whatever is going on, there seems to be some disconnect in the way this team performs on the field. We know it’s not because of the talent since our players are some of the most elite in the NFL, so what’s causing all these issues? The bottom line is that the Seahawks need to figure it out soon (and fast) if they want any shot at the Playoffs.

The Hawks also have a short week this week and face off against the division rival Arizona Cardinals down in Phoenix on Thursday, November 9th at 5:25 pm. As always, make sure you wear that blue all week in support of the Hawks! They need the 12s now more than ever!

Exterior Painting Tips for Autumn



Have you looked at your home lately and decided it needs a new paint job? Well, you might be thinking to yourself that it’s impossible at this time of year to get something like that done. After all, autumn usually brings more harsh weather to this area that can get in the way of a painting project. But luckily for you, painting the exterior of your home during fall is still possible! Here are a few tips to consider before you begin:

  • Plan Ahead: Weather won’t always be your ally. Check your local weather forecasts to make sure you have a high probability of painting without rain, sleet, or snow getting in the way of your work.

  • Quality > Price: Save yourself time reapplying paint later down the road. Buying better quality paint will ensure that you’re not repainting anything before you actually have to.

  • Sand/Wash: Rough/dirty surfaces will make it difficult for paint to stick. You’ll need to clean, trim, dry, and then sand the siding to create a solid surface for the paint to adhere.

  • Primer: Newer, more expensive paint that’s been released in recent years combines the paint and the primer into one container. Might be worth investing in if you don’t want to take the extra time to prime and sand before applying the rest of your paint.

  • Paint Top to Bottom: When you start at the top and work your way down, you’ll help control the streaks as you’ll be working with gravity rather than against it. Drips will still happen from time to time, but this will help limit unnecessary touch-ups later on.

Seattle Seahawks: Texans Fall to Hawks in Offensive Shootout



One thing you definitely can’t say in regards to Sunday’s game is that it was boring. While most Hawk games thus far have started off rather slowly, this game was completely different. Both the Hawks and Texans scored big points in the first half as the game ultimately became an offensive showdown. But thanks to a big final touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham in the closing minutes of the game, the Seahawks were able to walk away with a 41-38 victory.

The biggest takeaway from Sunday’s game is the skill and determination of Russell Wilson. He didn’t just have a good game, he had a fantastic game! Overall, Wilson accounted for 476 out of the 479 total yards for the Seahawks, with 452 passing and 30 rushing. On a day when our defense wasn’t able to bail out the offense like they usually do, Wilson stepped up in a big way and played what might be the best game of his career thus far.

Moving forward into the latter part of the season, the Seahawks need to figure out how to structure their offense. Up to this point, the Hawks have been a “run first, pass second” team. But yesterday, the Seahawks were only able to gain 3 whole yards of rushing on 16 attempts. The run game has been less-than-par ever since rookie Chris Carson suffered a season-ending injury. While Thomas Rawls has shown promise in the past, he just hasn’t managed to breakout successfully this year when running the football. In order to find success in the remaining games (and hopefully the postseason), the Hawks will need to show discipline and execute their plays effectively in every aspect of the game.

Next week, the Hawks travel back east to square-up against the Washington Redskins at 1:05pm PST. Be sure to wear that blue all week to show your support. And as always, Go Hawks!

Staging Your Home for Halloween


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Is your home listed for sale during the Halloween season? If it is, you may be wondering how exactly to stage it. While you may feel inclined to lean into the spooky Halloween decorating, that may not be the greatest idea if you want your home to sell. Here are some tips to consider if you’re staging your home during Halloween:

Things to Avoid:

  • Over-decorating: Even if Halloween is your favorite holiday, if you over-decorate your home while it’s being staged, some people might be put off and focus less on the home itself. If you’re going to decorate, it’s best to keep it simple.

  • Clutter: Make sure you eliminate a lot of the clutter around the property. Too many things scattered across the home draws attention away from what you’re trying to sell.

  • Cheap Items: Again, you don’t want your home/property associated with anything too extreme or cheap. Plastic tombstones and plastic spiders are fun, but they should be put away.

Good Alternatives:

  • General Fall Decor: Instead of Halloween decorating, try for something that’s more fall-based. Use a lot of natural materials like gourds, pumpkins, and fall colored leaves.

  • Plants: Ornamental cabbage and chrysanthemums are just a couple examples of good plant life to feature in your home during the fall season.

  • Assorted Items: Rustic planters, benches, wheelbarrows, and other antique tools go really well with a natural, Fall decor. But it’s important that you use them sparingly so that your property doesn’t end up looking like a junk pile.

Seattle Seahawks: Big Win In The Meadowlands as the Hawks Defeat the Giants



The bye week appeared to have served the Hawk on Sunday afternoon as they traveled east to play the New York Giants. The Seahawks started off the game with a traditionally slow start, only able to put 3 points on the board in the first half. But in the second half, the Hawks stepped on the gas offensively and made some big plays in the endzone, which lead to their 24-7 victory.

As has been the story for this season, the defense was critical in securing a victory. The Giants finished the game with only 177 yards of total offense. While it’s true that they were without their best player Odell Beckham Jr (who’s missing a large part of the season with an injury), the Hawks discipline made them efficient in forcing 3rd downs.

Doug Baldwin has been a vocal leader on this squad for a few years ago, and on Sunday afternoon he proved himself once again. As the Seahawks often find themselves in troubling situations early on in games, Baldwin always seems to stand out and execute when big plays are needed. Sunday showed that if that Seahawks want more continued success on offense, then they might need to lean on Baldwin a pit more in the passing game.

The Hawks face off against the Houston Texans next Sunday at 1:05pm PDT on CBS. Go Hawks!

Mid-Century Modern Waterfront Living



You’ll want to jump at the opportunity to own this brilliantly renovated mid-century modern masterpiece located at 472 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE in Bellevue!

Artfully positioned on a gorgeous, shy-acre waterfront property with 88’ of no bank waterfront, you’ll be able to drink in dreamy lake and mountain views from just about every vantage point! And that’s not all. The indoor space features a beautiful wide open floor plan with a mid-century modern aesthetic. You can dine alfresco on the lake view deck and walk down to a sandy beach, dock, and lift.

At this home, every day will feel like a vacation! With a great location that lives private but is still close to all of the great amenities in downtown Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself in this wonderful 4 Bedroom 1.75 Bathroom property that has everything you need.

If you’re interested in this home or would like more information, please contact Margo Allan and view the listing page!

Home Inspections That Could Save Money


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Buying a new home usually comes with some degree of complication. All too often, people invest so much of their time, effort, and money in a home, only to find huge structural issues after the purchase. In order to cut down on any surprises that may befall you after moving day, here are some main inspections that could wind up saving you money down the road:

  • Plumbing: A home inspector will be able to look for leaks and perform tests to ensure that the water is running smoothly,  but they won’t be able to look inside the drain pipes to see if any problems reside there. Because of this, you may want to highly consider hiring a plumbing expert who will be able to use camera technology to look in your sewer lines for any issues. Cracked drain lines can cost upward of thousands of dollars, and that’s not an expense you want to be stuck with.

  • Asbestos: Most commonly found in popcorn ceilings, pipe insulation, or exterior siding, asbestos is a fibrous material that’s naturally occurring in some homes. Asbestos was used in a lot of building materials throughout the 20th century but was later discovered to be harmful when ingested by humans. A local environmental testing agency should be the one to perform the test.

  • Lead-Based Paint: If your home or property was built/painted before 1978, you may want to have a test conducted for lead-based paint. Although lead-based paint was banned in the US in 1978, there are still some homes across the country that could carry it. You can call in a professional or just buy a lead-test kit from any home improvement store and test it yourself.

  • Pests: There are certain wood-eating bugs that have the potential to cause tens of thousands of dollars of structural damage to your home if not taken care of. Termites, flying beetles, and carpenter ants are just a few of the culprits. Hiring a professional pest inspector to look into this is probably a good idea.

A Pristine Contemporary Oasis



Lakefront property in a contemporary setting awaits you at this beautiful home located at 254 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE!

This 3,210 square feet property includes 5 bedrooms and 2.75 bathrooms. The residence is expertly remodeled and features soaring ceilings and walls of glass and rich hardwoods throughout. Dreamy views of Lake Sammamish and the snow-capped Cascade mountains will give you plenty to look at. Inside, the Zen-inspired gourmet kitchen features only the finest appliances and a truly massive entertainment island. The wide-open floor plan lives large and exudes quite a tranquil vibe, and the master suite is complete with a spa-inspired 5-piece bath!

Outside, there’s a massive deck with a built-in hot tub at the shore’s edge, 64’ of sandy waterfront, and an enormous dock with boat/wave runner lifts and a shared boat launch. Combine this with a 4-car garage and you wind up with a luxurious home that will have plenty of space for everything you may need.

If you’re interested in this home or would like more information, please contact Margo Allan and view the listing page!

Seattle Seahawks: Big Win On The Road As Hawks Defeat Rams



On Sunday, the Seahawks traveled to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in a rivalry NFC West matchup. While the game was closely fought on both sides, the Hawks were able to edge out the Rams in the closing seconds of the 4th quarter, with the final score being 16-10.

The big takeaway from this game was how well the Hawks’ defense held up against Jared Goff’s passing offense. While the Rams were gaining momentum on offense a few times throughout the game, the Hawks’ defense made big plays for turnovers that changed the momentum of the game. The most noteworthy play came from the Hawks’ All-Pro safety, Earl Thomas, who turned a potential go ahead touchdown into a turnover when he slapped the ball out of running back Todd Gurley’s hands just inches away from the end zone. Sheldon Richardson also made a few big plays getting his first interception of his career, along with a fumble recovery.

The Seahawks are now heading into their bye week. While many people prefer a bye-week that comes later in the season, a Week 6 bye could give the Hawks the needed rest they need to regroup and function better as a team. While still tied for 1st place in the NFC West with a record of 3-2, that Hawks still have plenty to be concerned about. Many improvements still need to be made by the offensive line, but hopefully some rest time will be able to boost their performances in the coming weeks.

The Seahawks’ next game will be Sunday, October 22nd at 1:25 PDT on CBS against the New York Giants. Don’t forget to wear that blue in support! Go Hawks!

Featured Image By dnak via Wikimedia Commons

Exceptional View Home With Moorage!



With this craftsman, contemporary inspired residence featuring dreamy lake and mountain views, you’ll feel right at home! Experience peace and comfort in this wonderful property located at 1448 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy in Bellevue!

Soaring ceilings, rich pine hardwoods accentuated with crisp white beadboard walls and custom millwork, and walls of glass bringing in the outside light are just a few of the features in this beautiful, elegant 4 Bedroom 4.25 Bathroom property. And with an open floor plan, you’ll have plenty of space to live in and even decorate!

This home also features a strikingly remodeled gourmet kitchen, sumptuous master suite with a romantic fireplace and spa perfect 5 piece bath that’s complete with a steam shower, massive bonus room, and more! You’ll also be able to enjoy privacy in a spacious backyard that has a huge entertainment deck, hot tub, terraced gardens, and a flat play lawn. And with your moorage just a short stroll away, you’ll be able to spend as much time at the lake as you want!

If you’re interested in this home or would like more information, please contact Margo Allan and view the listing page!

Seattle Seahawks: Colts Crumble in Week 4 Victory for the Hawks



The Seahawks played for a primetime audience as they took the field at home for Sunday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts. Even though the Hawks started off the first half rather slow (which seems to be their trademark lately), they were much more efficient in the second half, scoring 36 points and bringing the final score to 46-18, a decisive victory for the home team.

One of the big standouts from Sunday night was where a lot of the Hawks’ points were coming from. Backup cornerback Justin Coleman had a pick-6 and backup running back J.D. McKissic scored two touchdowns, one receiving and one rushing. If anything, these bench players stepping up and making big plays when it counts shows that the Hawks have quite a deep roster this year, and have players that are willing to step up and succeed when someone gets injured.

Speaking of injuries, perhaps the biggest low point of last night’s game was when the Hawks’ rookie starting running back had to be carted off the field with what appears to be a severe leg injury. Chris Carson was a late 7th round pick who had just recently worked his way into the starting lineup, but unfortunately, it looks like this injury could keep Carson on the sidelines for most, if not the rest of the season.

In the end, the Hawks victory came at a price. While there are still some things to figure out and tighten up on both sides of the field, the Seahawks are showing some signs of improvement in their pass protection and offensive efficiency. Next week, the Hawks travel south to Los Angeles to take on the L.A. Rams. The Rams are currently in first place in the NFC West division, but we’ll see if that’s still the case come next week.

Fall Maintenance Checklist



Homeowners know that fall usually means more maintenance. And while this is never a huge highlight in anyone’s year, getting these tasks taken care of early can save you a lot more time down the road. If you’re trying to gather a list together of all the things you need to accomplish, here are a few areas we recommend when it comes to tidying up your property:

  • Trees/Shrubs: We all love the beautiful colors of the leaves, but those trees aren’t going to take care of themselves. You could always consider hiring an arborist that can spot poor tree health early on as well the maintain the proper pruning to ensure the trees don’t lose a lot of limbs during winter storms. Fungicide injections can also be used to prevent other tree diseases such as diplodia.

  • Rake: Again, we all know the fall leaves look great on the ground. But raking them up is important, mainly because you don’t want winter snow to cover the leaves that are resting on top of your lawn. This will inhibit growth when it comes time for spring, so make sure you’re regularly raking those leaves.

  • Gutters/Downspouts: To avoid clogged gutters that cause pooling water that can potentially damage your roof or siding, make sure you clean out the gutters and downspouts.

  • Stock Up for Winter: If you live in an area where the winter brings cold temperatures, you can stay one step ahead by collecting a few supplies while it’s still autumn. Make sure all snow shovels and ice scrapers are in prime condition, buy a pet and plant safe ice melt, and restock all of your emergency kits that you keep in your home or car.

Seattle Seahawks: Titans Defeat Hawks in Week 3



On Sunday, the Hawks traveled south to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans. While most people thought this was an easier matchup for the Hawks, the Titans had other plans in mind. The Hawks lost by a score of 27-33, suffering their second loss of the season and bringing their record to 1-2.

The first quarter proved to be a defensive battle with neither team being able to put points on the board. The Hawks struggled to get the offense going early, foregoing long drives for short 3-and-outs, followed by punts. If there’s one MVP on the Hawks so far this season, it’s punter Jon Ryan. That right leg of his is definitely getting a workout each Sunday.

Weirdly enough, later in the game, the offense seemed to finally be gaining momentum, but unfortunately, it was at the exact same time the Hawks’ defense started allowing points. In the end, a high-scoring third quarter for the Titans did enough damage that the Hawks were never able to recover. Penalties also proved to be a factor for the Hawks on a couple of key plays, with Richard Sherman almost getting ejected and a critical intentional grounding penalty at the end of the game ultimately being what sealed the Hawks fate.

Overall, this game continued to show that something just isn’t clicking for the Seahawks right now. Having been to the playoffs each of the last five years, everyone knows this team has the talent and is capable of winning games. But if the Hawks want any hope of being a playoff contending team, they’ll have to figure out what’s holding them back and fix it.

How To Get the Best Mortgage Rate



We all know that buying a home is one of the most expensive financial commitments that a person will ever have to make in their lifetime. But the stress doesn’t get any easier once you start factoring in mortgage payments. Looking to get the best possible deal on your mortgage? Here are a few tips that will help you navigate this process:

  • Check Your Credit: A high credit score can play a huge role in making sure the house of your dreams is secured. Making sure your credit is in good shape and that you’re eliminating late payments will put you in a better position when you apply for a mortgage. Print out and carefully review your credit report before you apply for a home loan to double check that you’re in good standing credit-wise.

  • Compare: Don’t just take the first mortgage option you’re presented with. Like many other things in this world, you have options. Compare multiple options along with multiple criteria so that you’re not jumping head first into something you either don’t understand or don’t know the ramifications of quite yet.

  • Home Equity: Normally, a standard down payment on a house is considered to be 20%. It’s better to avoid higher mortgage payments and raised interest rates by putting down as much money upfront towards your home. The interest rate payments might not seem like a lot now, but trust me, they can really add up after a while. Assess your financial situation carefully so you avoid falling into any of these traps.

  • Conclusion: The best piece of advice for people going through this process is to dedicate the time and due diligence to ensure that every step of the process is comprehended and properly planned for. It’s understandable that things can sometimes happen very quickly during the purchase of a home, but you need to stay attentive throughout the entire process if you’re going to wind up on top at the end.


Seattle Seahawks: Week 2 Victory Over the 49ers!



The 12th Man was out in full force on Sunday for the Hawks first home game of the season against our division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. Although the game ended in a victory for our Hawks, it wasn’t exactly pretty. They were able to move the ball pretty well down the field on offense, but they’re still having a bit of trouble getting touchdowns in the red zone.

However, we did score our first touchdown of the season in the 4th quarter on an improvised pass to Paul Richardson. This play, and the entire rest of the game, just further proves how critical and important Russell Wilson is to this Seattle Seahawks football team.

Even though our offensive line is still showing signs of uninspired protection in both the run and pass games, Russell Wilson is able to make things happen in the offense despite the lack of help. He uses his legs to not only extend plays but to create more opportunities for his receivers. Most importantly, Russell didn’t turn the ball over at all throughout the entire game. While there’s still work to be done, it looks like the Hawks’ offense is making steady (albeit quite slow) progress.

The defense again lived up to its reputation, only allowing 9 points on field goals without any touchdowns. It’s pretty much widely accepted that the defense is the true star of this team, and it appears they’ll continue to pick up the load when the offense is struggling. While their ability to stop teams is undeniable, fatigue and stamina wear on the best of athletes. If the Hawks want to find success in later games of the season (and into the playoffs), they’ll need their offense to pick up the slack.

Next week’s game is on the road in Tennessee as the Seahawks square up against the Titans at 1:05 PM PDT. Don’t forget to wear that blue all week and support our Hawks!

How to Know if it’s Time to Move or Relocate



We’ve all had those moments in our life where we feel caught up in the repetition of our daily or weekly routine. Maybe it’s personal, maybe it’s financial, or maybe it’s just boredom, but there comes a time in a lot of people’s lives where they think about making a big change. For a lot of people, that change can mean relocating all together. But how do you assess whether or not it’s the right time to move? Here are a few points that may help you reach a decision:

  • Work: The most common reason that people relocate these days is that of their job. Sometimes an offer will come to your table that’s really good but requires you to move to another place. In situations like this, it’s in your best interest to take some time to reflect on the pros and cons of the job and where it is you’ll be relocated. While the job could be very appealing, maybe the city you’d be moving to wouldn’t be nearly as impressive. Weighing the duties of the job versus your personal beliefs and dreams will ultimately put you in a better place to decide whether or not to take a job in another city.

  • Retirement: As far as life transitions go, retirement is a big one. While you may have just gotten used to the idea of not working anymore, it’s possible you haven’t thought as much about where to go from here. Retirement is a great opportunity for a fresh start. Oftentimes, that means relocating. Maybe you want to move somewhere warmer, maybe you want to move closer to family, but whatever the reasons are, remember that retirement doesn’t mean you have to be complacent.

  • Financial: Money. It doesn’t grow on trees but it’d be nice if it did. The cost of living in certain big cities and other areas of the country can be quite overwhelming for someone who’s having trouble keeping up monetarily. If you’re tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck and looking to save some more money, consider moving somewhere with a lower cost of living.

  • Personal Life: Sometimes it’s not the job or retirement that’s calling us somewhere else, but rather something deep inside us that’s just ready for a change. Whether it’s relationships, family, or any other personal reason, it’s completely natural to want a new change of scenery. So if you’ve lived in the same area for a really long time, maybe it’s just time for you to hang your hat somewhere else.

Seattle Seahawks: The Season Has Begun!



Well, it’s finally here. The Seattle Seahawks season has officially begun! The Fall brings the return of many people’s favorite things. Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the changing color of the leaves on the trees…But none of these compare to the excitement of Seattle Seahawks football. Cheer on your Seahawks every week as we compete for a chance to get back to the Super Bowl!

On Sunday, the Hawks had their first regular season game of the seasons against the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately, they suffered a frustrating loss with a final score of 9-17. While the enthusiasm and intensity on the field were high, the Hawks just couldn’t gain any momentum on offense and it ultimately cost them the game.

Sunday afternoon’s game showed that the Hawks still have a glaring offensive line problem, as Russell Wilson was left running for his life on just about every play. They couldn’t gather any momentum to move down the field and punter Jon Ryan was forced to punt a total of six times. No touchdowns were scored by the Hawks, but new kicker Blair Walsh was perfect from field goal range, making all three of his attempts.

While a Week 1 loss is a tough one to swallow for Hawks fans, we’ll be back and ready to compete next week when we face the San Francisco 49ers in our first home game of the season! Tune in to the game at 1:25pm PDT on Fox this Sunday and cheer so loud they hear you all the way at Centurylink Field!

Go Hawks!

Featured Image via Sports Interaction Blog

Upsizing vs. Downsizing: Which One Is For You?



A big part of any move is deciding what kind of home you want to relocate to. For retirees, that means figuring out whether to upsize or downsize. There are many reasons why you’d want to go with either option. Traditionally, older homeowners have leaned more towards downsizing, but recent studies have shown that people are actually upsizing more. Here are a few things to consider when deciding which is the right choice for you:

  • Why Upsize? After an entire career of working hard, many people feel that it’s time to treat themselves to something bigger so they can live comfortably. First and foremost, this is only really an option if you can afford it in the first place. If you’re planning on entertaining guests with social gatherings or having your family members stay with you for reunions and extended stays, upsizing may be in your best interest. In fact, surveys have shown that a contributing factor to upsizing home deals with many college graduates moving back home after graduating while they try to find work. The last thing to consider, especially if you’re a senior, is mobility. You want to make sure you’re buying a house where you can easily go up and down the stairs without causing too much stress to your body.

  • Why Downsize? Downsizing for your next home is still a reasonable option. Especially when you consider how high mortgage bills, utility bills, and property taxes have gotten over the years. Again, if you have medical reasons for needing a one-floor house, that’s something you’ll always want to take into consideration when shopping around. Plus, saving money on the actual purchasing of the house can free up your bank account to purchase other accessories for your new home! Or you could always use it to travel the world. It’s entirely up to you!

Top Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time for Home Buying



Up until recently, it was pretty much the consensus that Spring was the ideal time to buy a house. Now, that’s starting to change. Recent trends in the real estate market have shown that the Fall is just about as good a time to buy as any other season, if not better. Here are some of the top reasons why you may want to start looking at houses for sale this coming Fall:

  • Less Competition: Since it’s not typically seen as busier than Spring, there are usually fewer buyers. That ultimately means less competition if you were to come across something you like. Fall is also a time where sellers will reposition homes that had previously been for sale. This means as a buyer, this is a great time for you to lowball and prepare for more aggressive negotiations.

  • Seller’s Fatigue: A listing that’s been up for months can really start to weigh on a seller. Looking for homes that have been on sale since Spring may give you an opportunity to capitalize. It’s important to track the pricing of properties like this and see how many times the seller has lowered the price.

  • Center of Attention: Again, fewer buyers means you get more attention. If you feel the Spring housing market is too intense and crowded, you might find the Fall season easier to navigate. Use this as an opportunity to really gauge your interest by asking the seller all the questions you need to be answered.

  • Pair with Year-End Sales: Many department and furniture stores feature year-end sales. Since the fall season continues right up until the beginning of these sales, it might be in your best interest (from a monetary perspective) to coordinate the purchase of your home before these sales take place. That way you’ll be able to have a full grasp on the type of furniture and accessories you’ll need to match your new home.

Tips for Hosting a Summer Party


summer party

Here in the Northwest, we’ve been lucky to have so many sunny days this summer. While a summer with lots of sun means more time to spend outside exploring new areas, it also means that it’s the prime season for social gatherings! If you’re looking to host a party at your home this summer, here are a few tips you’ll want to consider:

  • Get the Word Out: Whether it be by social media, group text, or email, make sure that you get the word out as early as possible to ensure more people attend. You’ll want to to provide all the important details; Directions, parking, what to bring, what time the food is being grilled, etc. Facebook events are usually your best bet as you can easily post updates about the party as it gets closer.

  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: As with anything in life, the more you prepare beforehand, the better. Make sure you have all your bases covered. This means an alternative plan if the weather turns bad, enough food to accommodate a few last minute guests, and any other things that may come up. If enough preparation is done beforehand, you’ll be able to spend less time stressing during the party and more time just enjoying yourself.

  • Seats: Make sure you have enough chairs for everyone to sit down. This may mean purchasing a few extra patio chairs if need be, but you don’t want to have to resort to bringing living room/dining room chairs outside just because there aren’t enough places to sit.

  • Keep It Cool: While it may be almost September, we haven’t escaped the heat yet. With temperatures still reaching the 80’s and 90’s, it’s critical that you provide your guests with enough shade and enough cool air so that they don’t feel uncomfortable. And while there may be plenty of alcohol and other beverages being consumed, make sure you have water readily available for everyone to stay hydrated while they’re out in the heat.

  • Kids: If friends of yours are bringing kids, they’ll need to have something to do to keep them occupied during the party so all the adults can enjoy themselves. Set up some fun games outside and the kids will be entertained for hours.

Types of Tile Flooring


floor tiling

These days, modern home design is leaning more heavily toward tile flooring when it comes to remodels. Not only does it look beautiful and really stand out in a room, but it’s more durable and made to last. Of course, there are types of tile that work better for different rooms. Taking time to sort through the different types to ultimately decide which is best for your home’s design is key. Here’s some info on the popular types of tile flooring that you can use to choose what’s best for you:

  • Stain-Resistant Porcelain: A more popular choice to use in the kitchen due to the fact that it’s extremely resistant to spills. When looking at potential color options, experts say you should go with something darker and a bit more neutral in color so that you compliment the kitchen cabinets and countertop color more accurately.

  • Durable Slate-Look Porcelain: It’s all in the name. This tile is sturdier and stronger than your average tile. This durable porcelain would do well in a laundry room or mudroom given the more frequent vibrations, and the slate-look makes the tile practically indistinguishable from natural stone which makes everything look more casual and rustic.

  • Small Mosaic Tiles: For smaller rooms with less space, you’ll want to go with smaller, more mosaic tiles. Tiles that are one-inch or smaller are easier to install in within the confines of a small room compared to a larger one. This type of tiling is also ideal for bathrooms since they are better at resisting moisture due to more grout lines and traction.

  • Vinyl Tile: If you’re looking to put tile in a basement or rec room, vinyl might be the way to go. It’s got more durability and the ceramic nature of it makes it able to resist more moisture. Many styles look very similar to wood and give the room they’re displayed in a more distinguished, refined look.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Relocating



Moving to a completely new area is always stressful. It always comes with some worries and concerns. And while some of these things may just naturally occur and be unavoidable, there is a way to weed out a good portion of that stress. Like most areas of life, spending as much time as possible preparing can save you lots of time later down the road. Before you fully commit to any move, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the cost of living? One of the biggest factors that determine the plausibility of a move. It’s critical to know the financial status of the area across many different categories. Making sure that the cost of living is within the scope of your price range will make all the difference in the world. You wouldn’t want to move all the way to a new area only to find out after that you couldn’t afford it in the first place.

  • Which areas/neighborhoods do I want to live in? You really should take time to know the ins and outs of the neighborhoods within your targeted area. In the case of bigger cities, the neighborhoods can be vastly different from one another. Finding a place where you’re comfortable will do more to ensure your happiness over time.

  • What’s my commute look like? Most people relocate because of a new job opportunity. So when that new job takes you to a new city and you’re looking for a place to live, make sure your commute is something that you can tolerate. After all, you’ll be making this commute twice a day, five times a week, so it’s definitely a point you’ll need to consider.

  • Can I see myself being happy here? Although it’s at the end of this list, this question is probably the most important one you should be asking yourself. At the end of the day, really take the time to figure out if relocating will make you happy. And while happiness in any big life transition is never guaranteed, if you can’t at least picture yourself being happy, then you might need to think long and hard about wanting to relocate at all.

Top Real Estate Scams To Avoid



Navigating the real estate market is hard enough without having to worry about being taken advantage of. Unfortunately, people can sometimes be swindled and manipulated throughout this process. The key is to take the time to comprehend and assess every step to make sure everything runs smoothly and doesn’t end up costing you any more money than it should. Here are some of the top real estate scams you should be aware of:

  1. Fake Landlord: Another good reason to always request to see documentation. While all established real estate agencies will always be able to provide you with the MLS and other details of the listing, be cautious of people claiming to be landlords without any credentials or documentation to back it up. Craigslist shoppers can fall victim to this scam because people will post photos of a house they know is open in hopes of getting you to pay a deposit at the very least. Doing research ahead of time can save you down the road.

  2. Money Upfront: One of the oldest scams in the book. Some criminals will show you photos of a beautiful listing and request you pay a deposit or fee before viewing it or seeing documentation. Don’t fall for this. You should never, under any circumstances, pay money for something you have not physically seen and can trace back to the source. Just to be safe, never commit to anything unless you’ve read the proper documents.

  3. Rushed Process: Anyone who’s gone through the process of buying a house knows that the steps can take some time. Scammers will try and move everything along a lot quicker than usual to get you pay them. So beware of impatient and pushy people who are trying to hurry along the process. These people are not on your side.

  4. A Price That’s “Too Good To Be True”: Remember that advertisement that you saw for that dream house that you’ve always wanted at half the price it should cost? Probably not. Because that typically doesn’t happen. If you see a price that’s insanely underpriced, there’s probably a catch. Beware of traps like these that catch prospective buyers who are desperate for a good deal.

How To Protect Your Bathrooms From Water Damage



The average family uses around 400 gallons of water every day. Most of that water consumption occurs indoors, with the bathroom being the area of the house where water flows most. Small leaks, drips, or clogs can create massive amounts of damage to your home in the long run, so it’s important to look out for any issues concerning the lack of water flow. Here are some helpful tips to consider when protecting your bathroom from water damage:

  • Toilets: First, you’ll need to check for any leaks in your water line. After that, look for any water stains on the floor. If you find any, this could mean that the toilet rim and tank need to be sealed more properly. Also, press down on the floor near the toilet. If it’s soft, it could mean there’s structural damage, and you’ll want to call a professional right away.

  • Showers/Bathtubs: Inspect the caulk. If any portions are cracked or loose, they may need to be replaced. Also look out for cracked tiles or missing grout since these can also lead to water damage. Beware of water puddles remaining in the bathtub as well since this can be a signal of structural weakness in the floor underneath.

  • Exhaust Fan: Your fan is important in controlling moisture in your bathroom. If it’s not working properly, you may want to consider replacing it. Be sure to inspect it for dust and mildew as well.

  • Windows: Check for any flaking paint or issues in the stripping and seals along the windows. You might need to either repaint or replace the seals if your find imperfections. For example, the stripping and seals help control humidity. If you let those wear too much, they aren’t able to effectively do their job.


5 Mistakes Buyers Make in a Hot Housing Market


house market

Anyone who has ever shopped around for a home knows how competitive a seller’s market can be. A beginner might think that a market with many homes for sale gives you better odds of landing one with a decent price, but you’d be surprised. Don’t let the prospect of competition deter you from fully committing to this process. There are few purchases in your lifetime that will be more important than your home, so it’s necessary to navigate the market using some insider tips to your advantage. Here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid when you’re looking to buy in a hot housing market:

  • Acting Out Of Desperation: It’s understandable to feel a sense of urgency when shopping for a home, but that should never drive you to making desperate decisions. The last thing you want to be in a seller’s market is to be impulsive. Sometimes when people have been looking at houses for a couple months, fatigue starts to set in and the desire to have the process complete and done with can come creeping in. But remember, you’re doing this to find a home you love. So don’t settle for less than that.

  • Hesitation: When you find a house you love, your safest bet is to have a direct, clear path to making your best possible offer. To do this, you should make sure all your paperwork and loan approvals haven’t expired and are ready to go. Any hesitation on your part could mean somebody else makes an appealing offer before you’re able to.

  • Overpaying: In a seller’s market, many homes will result in a bidding war. If you’ve been looking at houses for a while and been engaged in multiple bidding wars before, it can be tempting to overpay out of fear of losing another bidding war. But remember what your budgetary restrictions are and adhere to them 100% to avoid being in trouble down the road.

  • Not Being “Ready”: When the market is hot, you need to be ready at any time. This means looking at homes the very first day they come on the market. If you’re interested, you might even be able to make an offer that day and buy it before there’s any competition. In real estate, the early bird usually always gets the worm.

  • Expecting A “Great Deal”: When the market is hot, you’re unlikely to find any “great deals”. The fact is that there’s too much interest and demand for great deals to slip through the cracks during these periods of time. If your goal is to find a great deal during a hot market, you may be waiting a very long time.

Neighborhood Review: Redmond, Bellevue, and Issaquah



If you’re looking to distance yourself from the intensity and overwhelming traffic that comes with living in the city of Seattle, you might want to consider looking just a few minutes east to a few neighboring cities that are getting more and more popular every year. The demand for real estate continues to increase in Redmond, Bellevue, and Issaquah, and looking at the neighborhoods, it’s not hard to see why. Here’s a brief overview of what each neighborhood has to offer:

  • Redmond: Known to most as the home of Microsoft, Redmond is a beautiful city. With its beautiful parks and the Sammamish River Trail running right through the middle of the city, there’s plenty to do outdoors. The downtown area is home to many great bars and restaurants with the Redmond Town Center shopping plaza standing as its biggest attraction. While each of Redmond’s neighborhoods are distinct and appealing, the biggest problem the city seems to face is construction. With new condominiums going up year round, the construction (especially near downtown) can be a nuisance at times. But overall, Redmond is an amazing place to live with very friendly people.

  • Bellevue: With its high rise buildings and skyscrapers, visitors are always confusing Bellevue for Seattle. It’s a large city with a very diverse population. The downtown area is packed with trendy restaurants as well as the Bellevue Square mall, one of the most popular malls in the state. While its size allows for many different neighborhood options, there are minor crime issues in certain neighborhoods that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. If you’re looking for that big city feel without actually being a big city; Bellevue is your kind of place.

  • Issaquah: Recently many people have been migrating from Seattle to the lovely city of Issaquah to the east. With some of the best scenic and mountain views in the area, Issaquah’s popularity continues to rise every year. Here, you’re just minutes away from great hiking, trails, and a vibrant downtown area. The commute can be a little daunting at times on the highways (depending on the places you frequent), but luckily there are roads that run along each side of Lake Sammamish to give you a detour if need be. If you’re looking for a more quiet place to live that features amazing scenery, Issaquah might appeal to you the best.

    Featured photo courtesy of Jasmine via Flickr

How Technology is Affecting the Real Estate Industry


Business People hangout together at coffee shop

In this day and age, it’s pretty evident that technology is affecting practically every economic industry, and real estate is no different. Unlike other sectors, the impacts of technology on the real estate market has been more profound and less disruptive, but with people still operating the most essential role of providing advice, strategy, and counsel. Here are the biggest ways technology is affecting the real estate industry:

  • Transparency: The increase of an online presence has given the industry a much needed sense of transparency. Information regarding property listings and the overall function of centralized, searchable databases make it so that data and information can no longer be hidden behind paywalls and subscription models. Everything that’s needed is out there for any prospective buyer/seller to access.

  • Marketing: The digital age has brought up more cost effective ways to market your listings. Social media is now a useful tool that any real estate business can use to advertise properties for sale, or notify people of an upcoming open house. And with most real estate businesses having their own website, people can now see every single listing online before they decide to reach out to a realtor or other real estate professional.

  • Data in Real Time: Real estate research used to have to be tracked through past data. Now everything can be processed and analyzed in real time. As a prospective buyer, you can look at data that represents the housing market as it currently stands and use this data to your advantage. No more waiting!

  • Leasing Efficiency: With floor plans, availability, and other real estate data readily available, professionals now have all the leasing tools they need to make their jobs much more efficient. Efficiency on their end will ultimately mean more efficiency on your end as a prospective buyer.

Remodeling Projects That Pay Back



As a homeowner looking around your property, you might find yourself constantly seeing the potential for different remodeling projects. Maybe the kitchen needs new counter tops or the shower in the master bathroom needs an upgrade, but the point is that it can be hard to distinguish the remodeling projects that you WANT to do from those you SHOULD do. One factor that can help you prioritize the importance of your projects is to assess which ones are most likely to increase your return on investment if you ever wanted to sell your home down the road. Here are a few home remodeling projects that typically yield a higher return:

  • Landscaping: While this may come as a surprise to some, upgrading the landscape can really make the rest of your property stand out. Just by adding some flowering shrubs, flagstone walkway, and fresh mulch, you can have your landscape pop more than ever before. And prospective buyers in the future will definitely take notice as well.

  • Roof: Another critical remodel that (while pricey) usually yields a 105% return on the investment. If your roof has shingles that are missing or if there are stains on your walls/ceiling with lots of sunlight shining through the attic as well, these may be signs that your roof might be due for an upgrade.

  • Hardwood Floors: There are few things that stand out more to a prospective buyer than hardwood floors. Not only do they look beautiful, but they drastically reduce your time spent cleaning as well. Who wants old, dingy carpet when you can have hardwood?

  • Deck or Patio: Again, never underestimate the impact that remodeling your property’s outdoor area has on the overall value of your home. These summer months are so beautiful in Washington that prospective buyers are always looking for any excuse to spend more time outside. So why not remodel your deck or patio now so that you can feature your deck/patio as a main attraction of your home later if you decide to put it on the market.

Tips on Exploring a Neighborhood



There are lots of different ways to relax and unwind during the weekend. Some people go camping, others go for long hikes or bike rides, and some people just want to walk around and take in the experience of exploring a new neighborhood. This is especially helpful if you’re currently in the market for a new home. Sometimes you just don’t get the same neighborhood feeling from only looking at the home itself. You have to go out and experience the surrounding neighborhood for yourself. Here’s a few quick tips to consider when you go off exploring:

  • Have Loose Plans: You don’t want to adhere to a strict schedule of things to see. The goal is take everything in. Don’t walk with a specific route in mind, just go with what feels right in the moment and see where it takes you. After all, if you get lost there’s always Google Maps to bail you out.

  • Meet People: As you walk through the neighborhood, you’ll probably come across people walking their dogs or outside tending to their yard or garden. Strike up some casual conversation with them. See what they like/dislike about the area. This is also a good opportunity to see the neighborly culture at play. Some neighborhoods are more reserved where people just keep to themselves, and others are much more personable and social with one another.

  • Research Online: While you shouldn’t feel the need to come up with tons of specific places to visit or check out, doing some light research on the neighborhood and the surrounding shops, restaurants, and other local attractions could benefit you later on as you’re exploring. Especially when it comes time to stop somewhere for lunch.

  • Be Safe: The golden rule of exploring any unfamiliar neighborhood or area is to just do everything safely. Always be aware of your surroundings and make smart, informed decisions. While everything will likely be fine, it never hurts to be extra cautious so you don’t have to deal with any big problems down the road.

How To Make The Most Of Your Porch This Summer



There’s nothing better than walking outside on your porch in the morning and enjoying the calm and quiet as you begin your day. But like any other area of the house, the porch is a space that deserves proper attention and care. It can also be accessorized in different ways that complement the rest of your home. Here are some ways you can spruce up your porch and make it stand out this summer:

  • Pruning the Landscape: Plants and other trees that rest on the porch or the surrounding area should be maintained as much as possible. If both the porch and the landscape from your lawn are up-to-date, they’ll complement each other and make your property look more appealing overall.

  • Fresh Paint: This can include the walls, the furniture, the floor, and whatever other area of your deck requires new paint. The key is to make everything consistent. A fresh paint job in all areas of the porch will create consistency and improve your home’s visual aesthetic.

  • Furniture: Chairs, loveseats, you name it! There are many different furniture arrangements that can work on a porch. Not only does adding furniture make your porch look nicer, but it gives it a new purpose in having another area to relax and socialize with family and friends while you enjoy the outdoors.

  • Let There Be Light: The summer days can sometimes be too hot to bear the outdoors. But at night, the temperature lowers and becomes cool and comfortable. You’ll be able to spend more evenings on your porch if there’s sufficient lighting that encourages activity. Don’t let the sun going down prevent you from still enjoying the outside air!

Beautiful Bungalow on the Edge of the Lake Sammamish Shore!



Ready to reside in an amazing lakefront property with a beautiful space for outside dining? Well you’re in luck! Experience the best in waterfront real estate with this beautiful Sammamish home that’s located at 821 E Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE!

This 3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bathroom property sits at the shore’s edge of Lake Sammamish. Soak in the best parts of waterfront real estate with a property that features not one, but two homes! The smaller second home is a cozy 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow with a great room and kitchen!

Specifications of this property include 75’ of waterfront, plenty of street parking and multiple decks for al fresco dining! And you’ll be able to experience the calm morning quiet by taking your boat out on the lake from your massive dock! This beautiful bungalow can be enjoyed as-is, or you could always expand or remodel the property by hiring an architect to plan the home of your dreams!

If you’re interested in this home or would like more information, please contact Margo Allen and view the listing page!

What to Ask at an Open House


open houses

There is an art to navigating an open house. Many people think (as a prospective buyer) that they should just be observant and take mental notes on the things they like/dislike, but an open house is a great opportunity to get more information about the home from the listing agent. Here are the top questions to ask the listing agent at your next open house:

  • Why are the owners selling?: Motivation is really important when it comes to why someone is selling their home. When you ask this question, take note of what kind of response you get from the listing agent. If you notice they’re hesitating or being extremely vague or unclear in their response, take caution as there may be more things wrong with the home than they’re letting on.

  • Any problems?: While some states lawfully require people to disclose any and all problems on a property for sale, other states don’t. So it’s always a good idea to talk to the agent directly about what (if any) problems exist. However it’s still highly recommended to do a home inspection anyway later along in the process if your interest in the property persists.

  • Any price changes?: Knowing if there has been any fluctuation in the home’s price is critical, especially later on in the negotiating process. Homes that are on the market for a long time tend to also lower the asking price in return. Keeping track of all this information can keep you one step ahead.

  • HOA Costs/Assessments?: Many people forget to ask about the Homeowners Association in the early stages of buying a home. It’s important to know what the monthly costs are for the HOA since those can be quite extensive, especially if you’re looking at a property with a lot of shared amenities (pool, gardens, etc). Also, assessments are another cost that can sneak up on you. Ask your listing agent if there have been any assessments recently or if there are any planned.

Waterfront Property Moving Tips



There are many reasons why waterfront living is considered the pinnacle of home living. Nothing beats the ambience and atmospheric calm of going into your backyard and overlooking a beautiful lake instead of just a fence. Are you planning on moving to a waterfront property sometime soon? Well here are a few quick tips to consider during the strenuous moving process:

  • Narrow Driveway: Waterfront homes typically reside at the end of of very long/narrow driveways. Sometimes these driveways can’t be navigated easily by moving trucks. Make sure you double check to make sure you moving truck can both fit and be able to navigate within the confines of your driveway.

  • Accessibility: If you’re moving to a home that’s located on an island or only accessible by ferry, you’ll have to account for that when it comes to your moving truck. Certain ferries have size/weight restrictions on the types of vehicles they allow to board. You’ll want to make sure your moving truck will be able to get on/off the ferry smoothly.

  • Make Lists: This is more of a tip for moving in general and not as specific to waterfront property, but lists are a must. There are so many things to track and account for during a move that you’ll always want to be a step ahead of everything. Carefully crafting lists of all tasks that need to be accomplished on moving day will definitely help make sure everything goes according to plan.

  • Stay Calm: Perhaps the most important tip. We all know how stressful moving can be. And while the stress may not be completely avoidable, it shouldn’t be overwhelming you. If you find yourself feeling really tense, just take a few moments for yourself, take a few deep breaths, and remember that everything is going to work out in the end. After all, you’re moving into a waterfront property!

Lakemont Real Estate For Bellevue’s Best Neighborhood | Bellevue Property



Stately in stature and timeless in design, welcome to luxury living at its finest with this beautiful home located at 6560 163rd Pl SE in Bellevue!

This 5 Bedroom 4.5 Bathroom property is situated on a sunny, flat shy acre with an interior that features a smart floor plan with soaring ceilings and walls of glass to bring the outside in. Complete with scads of crisp custom millwork and miles of gleaming hardwoods that create a rich, sophisticated ambience, you’ll feel right at home!

Make the most of your summer by relaxing in your flat, private, and sunny backyard as you overlook your gorgeously manicured gardens! You’ll also be able to enjoy entertaining al fresco on your massive outdoor deck, and relax at the end of the night with a soak in your hot tub! With this home, you’ll be getting one of the best in Bellevue Real Estate!

If you’re interested in this home and would like more information, contact Margo Allen and visit the listing page to view some photos! This one will go fast, so don’t hesitate to schedule a visit!

Backpacking Trips in the PNW For Summer Getaway


backpacking trips

There’s really no place on Earth like the Pacific Northwest. Where else can you see high alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, rugged coastlines, and granite peaks like you can here? In fact, it’s the beauty of this area that draws people to the trails for backpacking trips. Looking to schedule a long backpacking trip of your own? Here’s a list of the top spots you’ll want to hit up this summer:

  • Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park: A very challenging hike, Wonderland circumnavigates the 93 miles of trail along Mt. Rainier. With pristine lakes and miles of beautiful rain forests and landscapes, there’s really no place like it. Permits are either secured by a yearly lottery system or given on a walk-in basis for travelers.

  • Timberline Trail, Mount Hood Area: One of the most iconic and scenic trails in all of Oregon, this 40 mile round-trip loop will introduce you to waterfalls, meadows, glaciers, and volcanic landscapes. Not an easy hike by any means, but the views and landscapes are well worth it.

  • Enchantment Lakes, Leavenworth: Mountain goats and big climbs await you at the trails at Enchantment Lakes. The views are jaw-dropping, but the trail isn’t as popular due to the strict permitting process which takes place between May 19th and October 31st. Nonetheless, if you’re serious about backpacking, you’ll want to add this spot to your backpacking bucket list.

  • High Divide, Olympic National Park: For a hike with moderate difficulty, High Divide might be the place for you. Featuring stunning views of Mt. Olympus, old growth forests, and high alpine scenery, Olympic National Park has some of the most diverse backpacking trails in the entire Pacific Northwest.

Lake Sammamish Waterfront Living!



Tranquil, pristine waterfront living awaits you at this beautiful home located at 3110 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE #9 in Bellevue!

This 4 Bedroom 2.25 Bathroom property has breathtaking lake and mountain views from every vantage point in the home! Featuring floor to ceiling windows that bathe the home in natural light, along with a wide open floor plan, you’ll have all the space you need to enjoy yourself! You can enjoy a latte in your remodeled kitchen or your beautiful patio as you listen to the sound of waves lapping at the shore’s edge.

The property sits in the highly coveted gated community of Sammamish Shores where you can enjoy 350’ of no bank waterfront, 2.5 acres of manicured grounds, and a community dock with moorage, swimming pool, hot tub, party room and sauna! Live the ultimate life of luxurious waterfront at this one-of-a-kind property!

If you’re interested in this home and would like more information, contact Margo Allen and visit the listing page to view some photos! This one will go fast, so don’t hesitate to schedule a visit! There’s also an open house on Friday, May 26th from 10am-12pm, so feel free to stop by then as well!

Camping Checklist for Summer


Summer Camp

Planning on a camping trip this summer with your friends or family? Great! There’s no better time to go outside and experience the beauty of Summer in the Pacific Northwest. But the last thing any camper wants to do is leave something behind that they’ll need for the trip. Here’s a list of some of the camping supplies you should definitely bring with you on your next outdoor adventure:

  • Shelter:

    • Tent

    • Ground Cloth/Tarp

    • Extra Stakes

    • An Axe or Hammer

    • Dust Pan/Brush

  • Bedding:

    • Sleeping Bag

    • Sheets/Blankets

    • Pillow

    • Air Mattress/Sleeping Pad

    • Air Pump/Air Mattress Repair Kit

  • Clothing:

    • Shoes/Boots

    • Pants/Belt

    • T-Shirts, Socks (extra socks), Sweatshirt, Underwear

    • Rain Gear

    • Swimsuit

  • Cooking:

    • Large Water Jug/Bucket

    • Coolers/Ice

    • Matches/Lighter

    • Trashbags

    • Soap

    • Paper Towels

    • Utensils

    • Plates

  • Personal:

    • Tooth Brush

    • Deodorant

    • Razor

    • Feminine Products

  • Miscellaneous:

    • First Aid Kit

    • Sunscreen

    • Lantern (With Extra Batteries)

    • Sunglasses

    • Money/ID/Phone

    • Road Flares

While this list doesn’t represent every single thing to bring with you, it’s a good foundation to start. You’ll want to make sure you dedicate a good amount of time to planning and double checking that you have everything you’ll need. Talk to your group about which activities you’ll want to do on the camping trip and make sure you bring all the necessary items associated with those activities. Remember, if you cover your bases ahead of time and go through your checklist thoroughly, you won’t have to worry about anything once you get there and just be able to relax and enjoy yourself!

Pacific Northwest Lake Campsites



While there are many great places to camp across this country, there’s probably no area more recognizable and beautiful than the Pacific Northwest. With our signature trees, mountain ranges, and beautiful greenery that glows across all kinds of different plant life, there’s no better place to experience the great outdoors. So this summer, get your family/friends together and head outdoors for a camping adventure! Wondering where to go? Here’s a few of the most popular campsites the northwest has to offer:

  • Moran State Park, Orcas Island: Freshwater lake adventures await you at this 5,200 acre park. There are four freshwater lakes to explore along with great hiking trails, swimming beaches, and boat launches too. Also feel free to fish for kokanee, cutthroat, and rainbow trout at Cascade Lake as well!

  • Fairholme on Lake Crescent, North Olympic Peninsula: Located on the west end of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Fairhome is the ideal camping destination for boating. Many visitors bring their kayaks and canoes to this deep and stunning lake. However, there are no reservations for this site so it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis.

  • Willaby on Lake Quinault, SW Olympic Peninsula: On the south shore of Lake Quinault, tucked into a mossy forest, you’ll find Willaby. With even more gorgeous lake views to enjoy, Willaby has its own boat launch to get you out on that water in no time. But remember, the lake is part of the Quinault Indian Nation, so you’ll need a Tribal Fishing Permit and Boat Decal which can be purchased from local merchants.

  • Ike Kinswa State Park, Mayfield Lake: Swimming and water-skiing are two of the most popular activities at Mayfield Lake. The 46,000 feet of freshwater shoreline draws campers year-round, but even more so in the heat during the summertime. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a fishing pole when you’re there as well!

Ways To Purify the Air at Home



Allergy season is upon us! And while the weather is starting to turn for the better, the cost comes at increased allergens and decreased air quality. Are you taking the necessary measures to increase the air quality in your home? If not, here are some different ways you and your lungs can start breathing in better air:

  • Increase Ventilation: One of the leading causes of low air quality is moisture buildup. When you properly ventilate your home, moisture decreases. This means you should be making sure you’re doing everything you can to eliminate indoor moisture (after cooking or taking a shower for example) by making sure the air is ventilated and no moisture has the chance to group together.

  • Beeswax Candles: These candles ionise the air and can also neutralize any toxic compounds or contaminants in the air. Pure beeswax candles burn slowly so you won’t have to replace them all the time, while also burning with almost no smoke or scent. Just make sure to avoid paraffin candles that are petroleum based since those do more harm than good by releasing benzene, toluene, and soot into the air.

  • Air Filters: You can always use HEPA air filters to get rid of unwanted contaminants from your indoor air. Just make sure they are changed regularly in order to maximise the health benefits.

  • Salt Lamps: Crystal products that are salt based tend to reduce airborne irritants, pathogens, and allergens by pulling water vapor out of the air. The most popular is the Himalayan Pink Salt lamp, which can also be left on all night and improve air purification even when it’s turned off.

  • Eliminate Dust: While it’s common knowledge that indoor dust can lead to poor air quality, it’s important to remember that you should always be using a damp cloth when collecting dust opposed to a dry cloth (which is more likely to just spread the dust around and be inhaled by you rather than eliminated).

5 Home Improvement Projects for the Summer


home improvement

While the winter months might have left some of us dragging our feet over plans to begin new home improvement projects, summer is here, and those home improvement projects are still waiting. So now is the perfect time to start! Here are five possible home improvement projects you can complete this summer:

  • Windows: It’s always a good idea to get those windows looking beautiful as summer begins. Taking time to make sure they’re clean can add to their lifespan. If your windows are a little outdated, it might also be a good idea to replace them altogether. Studies have shown that installing high quality windows are extremely energy efficient and can yield up to a 74% return on investments.

  • Roof: Less rain in the summer months also means that it’s the perfect time to replace that roof that’s been needing attention. High quality asphalt shingles can handle winds up to 130 mph while yielding up to a 70% return on investment.

  • Exterior Painting: Low rain in summer can also provide you the dryness necessary to completely repaint your home. Here in Washington, it’s hard to go a few days without rain, so it’s best to take advantage of the sun while you still can.

  • Deck Addition: Host friends and neighborhood barbecues by building an addition to your outdoor deck. Wood decks typically yield a 71% return on investment and can increase the overall value of your property.

  • Winter Preparation: You might also find that the summer months are a lot less intrusive for you and your family when it comes to installing insulation and making other preparations for winter. If you get these home improvement projects out of the way now, you’ll be thankful you did come winter.

Seller Secrets for This Summer’s Real Estate Market



Well, the summer real estate season has officially begun. Now is the time when people start spending those weekends visiting listings and open houses. If you’re in the market to sell this summer, there are a few things you should know before you dive in. Here are a few seller secrets that you’ll be able to use to your advantage this summer:

  • Don’t Exaggerate: When you mention the details of your listing, you don’t want to exaggerate. There’s nothing worse than a prospective buyer showing up to your listing only to be immediately disappointed by something that was drastically embellished in your real estate listing. While it may seem like an effective strategy to get people through the door, more often than not prospective buyers will be instantly turned off once they realize your listing over exaggerated its features.

  • A Listing Shouldn’t Sit Long: Usually, if a home has been listed on the market for more than four weeks, it means the price is probably too high. That’s why it’s important to list your home accurately from the start. That way you don’t appear desperate by substantially lowering the price weeks later.

  • Appeal to the Season: Fit your home to appeal to the summer season. Buyers are more inclined to purchase a home if they can immediately envision themselves living there. For the summer season, real estate professionals suggest staging smaller/shorter furniture around the house. This will make the rooms and other areas of your house look bigger and stand out more.

  • Hire the Right Agent: Probably the most important part of selling a home. A bad agent can cost sellers potentially tens of thousands of dollars. Make sure you thoroughly vet and research different agents before making your choice.

Summer Music Festivals


music festivals

While you’re outside this summer enjoying time on the lake or hiking trail, why not take time to check out some of the music festivals taking place around the area? Seattle has developed its own signature sound over the years and has also been a popular concert destination for musicians across many different genres. Here are a few festivals going on this summer that you might be interested in checking out:

  • Chateau Ste Michelle Winery (Woodinville, WA): Throughout the entire summer, Chateau Ste Michelle hosts summer concerts. Woodinville is also famous for its wineries in general, so be sure to grab a bottle of wine and bring everything needed for a picnic. The seating is all outdoor on a large lawn facing the stage, so you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful weather along with your music.

  • ZooTunes (Seattle, WA): On June 20th & August 15th/16th, the Woodland Park Zoo hosts outdoor shows. This is an ideal way to experience live music with the family. Nothing pairs better with music than adorable baby otters, right?

  • Bellingham Festival of Music (Bellingham, WA): All throughout July, cruise ships will idle in the background as the chamber players play at this orchestra festival. The guest musicians scheduled to perform this year are Jeremy Denk and the Calidore String Quartet. If you find your way to the north part of the state, you may want to stop and check this one out.

  • Jazz Port Townsend (Port Townsend, WA): To all the jazz lovers out there, one of the nation’s oldest jazz workshops culminates in a series of live performances in a beautiful state park that’s perched above the Strait of Juan de Fuca, continuing later into the night at some other different venues as well.

How To Negotiate Repairs After Home Inspections


home inspection

Contrary to popular belief, the “deal” is not done right when you sign the contract on a new home. A lot of the time, deals are negotiated after the home inspection between buyers and sellers. The key is to be prepared when you reach this stage of the process. Here’s a few tips that might help:

  • Cash-Back Credit: At the close of escrow, you can ask for a cash-back credit and use that money to repair things that may still need fixing post inspection. Usually sellers on their way out of a property lack the motivation to get these things taken care of themselves. With your cash-back credit, you won’t have to rely on them to get something fixed. You can handle it yourself to make sure it’s done right.

  • Look at the Big Picture: When you’re looking over the inspection report, consider the plans you have for the future of your property. If you’re considering a complete remodel in the bathroom or kitchen, taking the time to work out the little fix-ups in this areas may not be worth it right now. You’ll limit your costs by only using you cash-back credit to fix issues in areas of the property that aren’t going to be fully remodeled.

  • Keep Your Eyes Wide Open: This ties back to what was mentioned earlier. Just because you’ve signed doesn’t mean the deal is completely done. A real estate transaction is never complete until the deed is transferred and money trades hands. Never complete and sign your original contract assuming that you’ll be able to negotiate things after the inspection. If the inspection comes back absolutely flawless, you’re not left with much of a bargaining position. This is especially harmful in a competitive real estate market. A seller can always pass on you and your offer and move on to the next one.

    Featured photo courtesy of Gabriel Farrel via Flickr


What To Do On A Summer Staycation



It’s not hard finding things to occupy your time when you’re on vacation for a couple weeks. But if those weeks stretch into months, you’re going to have a lot more time on your hands. So how do you extend that vacation mindset? Well here are a few tips to help you make the most of your summer staycation:

  • Get A Job: Make that vacation work for you! Getting a summer job is a great way to kill time and give yourself some extra spending money to enjoy on your down time. You’ll also get to meet new people as well and learn more about the area you’re staying in. Many popular summer areas will hire seasonal employees to help with the increase in tourists.

  • Take A Class: Ever wanted to start taking yoga classes but never had the time? Well here’s your perfect opportunity! Learn a new skill or improve one you already have by taking some classes in the area. There are usually plenty of options to choose from!

  • Day Trips: So you’ve explored the local area, now it’s time to branch out! Go on a day-trip and visit some of the more remote places. Find a good hiking trail, or maybe a beautiful waterfront. In fact, it’s a good idea to be asking the locals as often as possible for recommendations on some of their favorite spots.

  • Relax: You’re on vacation after all. Remember why you’re there. If you’re filling your days with the same stress and chaos of your life back home, you’re not “vacationing” right. Make sure that no matter what, you always make time to relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself.

Classic,Pristine Home in Lakemont!



Experience complete comfort and stellar Olympic Mountain views at this beautiful property located at 6436 166th PL NE in Bellevue!

 This 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom home lives large and boasts a small floor plan! With gleaming hardwood floors, high ceilings, and walls of windows that create a warm and inviting living space, you’ll feel right at home.

 Feel luxurious in an extensively remodeled gourmet kitchen, as well as a master suite with a 5 piece bath complete with a huge walk-in closet. And with such a large, sunny yard and outdoor dining area, you’ll be able to host a large number of guests comfortably throughout the entire summer!

 If you’re interested in this home and would like more information, contact Margo Allen and visit the listing page to view some photos! This one will go fast, so don’t hesitate to schedule a visit! There’s also an open house on Friday, May 26th from 10am-12pm, so feel free to stop by then as well!

Canoe/Camping Trips: A Few Tips For Beginners



Going on your first canoeing/camping adventure? Awesome! Now that the warm weather has arrived, there’s no better time to grab your gear and explore the great outdoors! But as with everything else in this world, there’s a few things you’ll want to consider as a beginner before you head out. Here’s a few general tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan Carefully: It’s best to consult with your companions beforehand to have a general plan/guideline for your trip. Is this going to be a relaxing, laid-back weekend? Or will this be a challenging adventure? Making sure you know exactly what you’re going to be doing and knowing where you’re going to dock/camp will put you ahead of schedule when the time comes. The last thing you want is to get there and spend the next few hours planning. Do your research ahead of time to make sure you don’t waste any unnecessary time with menial tasks.

  • Always Wear Life Jacket: Even if you’re Michael Phelps, it’s always best to wear your life jacket at all times on the water, no matter who you are. Why risk it? The more secure and protected you are means less things for you to worry about and more fun!

  • Inform Others About Your Trip: This is another good security measure to take. Anybody going on a long, remote canoeing/camping trip should send an itinerary to a family member or friend that outlines your destinations and your camping site plans. That way, if there’s an emergency that leaves you stranded out in the wilderness with no way to contact anyone for help, the search party will know exactly where to look.

  • Prepare For Any Weather: Sun, rain, heat, or cold. You want to make sure you’re prepared for any weather that comes your way. Don’t be that person who forgets their rain jacket at home or needs to borrow everybody else’s sunscreen all weekend. Take the time before you leave to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.

Lake Fishing Hotspots in Washington


fishing hotspots

Washington is home to some great bodies of water. Not only are these used for swimming, boating, and kayaking, but they’re used for great fishing as well! Take time to unwind from all the stress in your life by relaxing near the water with your fishing pole at these favorite Washington hotspots:

  • Southwest: Riffe Lake in Lewis County is one of the best and largest options to experience many different species of fish. Smallmouth bass, along with several species of trout and salmon like to settle near the deeper water in Riffe Lake. Swofford Pond, which is reasonably close, is a more secluded fishing spot that’s home to catfish, panfish, and even a couple giant brown trout!

  • High-Elevation: There are several lakes that are located within Cascades National Park, which includes Gorge Lake and Diablo Lake. Here you’ll get to see a high population of wild rainbow trout along with several other trout and salmon species. Washington’s largest cold-water inland lake, Lake Chelan, is also home to lake trout, rainbow trout, and chinook salmon throughout its 35,600 acres.

  • Urban Spots: Luckily for Seattle residents and those who live close by, you can still experience great fishing without having to travel hours to remote locations outside the city. The Puget Sound is home to many species of trout, perch, and bass. Both Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish are quite well known for fishing as well. In fact, residents living near the coasts of these lakes can sometimes be seen fishing right from their deck!

Remember, in order to go fishing anywhere in Western Washington, you need a fishing license, which can be easily purchased at sporting good stores and bait shops across the state.

Best Kayaking Spots in Washington



There are a lot of great things to love about living in the Pacific Northwest. But above all, the endless list of activities to experience in the beautiful outdoors seems to be the first thing people think about when they think about this wonderful area. What better way to experience the outdoors than kayaking out on the water? Here are the top kayaking spots around the area that you should definitely check out:

  • Seattle Area: Experience the beautiful city views on the water and cap it off with a bite to eat afterwards at Angua Verde Paddle Club and Cafe. There’s also Moss Bay which is another kayak center that allows you to explore the houseboat communities, University of Washington, Ballard Locks, and Gas Works park! Another great family spot is Ballard Kayak which is located at Golden Gardens Beach.

  • Eastside: Over in Tibbetts Beach, kayak rentals are on a first come, first serve basis at Issaquah Paddle Sports where you can experience kayaking on the beautiful Lake Sammamish. Or feel free to go on a kayaking adventure on the neighboring Lake Washington with Woodmark Waterfront Adventures out of Carillon Point in Kirkland.

  • North Cascades: Along the Skagit River you can find Diablo Lake, famous for it’s turquoise water color and the fine glacier sediments that feed into the lake, with campgrounds, visitor centers, viewpoints, and hiking trails all within close proximity. Also check out Lake Whatcom which offers about 10 miles of water to kayak through. The boat launch is located at Bloedel Donovan Park in Bellingham and the lake itself is home to frogs, salamanders, and 125 different bird species.

  • South Sound: Ruston Recreation Rentals at Owen Beach sits on the shore of Point Defiance Park and is an excellent spot to rent kayaks and explore the south of Puget Sound. Beautiful views of Mount Rainier, Vashon Island, and Gig Harbor are all available for you to take in. Or feel free to check out the Foss Harbor Marina where you’ll get to see a clearly visible view of the Tacoma skyline.



Lake Sammamish Adventure: Things Every Paddler Should Know



Nothing beats a calm and relaxing morning on the lake kayaking. While estimated to be over 4,000 years old, kayaks were first used to hunt on inland lands. Luckily we get to enjoy them now as a recreational activity. Are you thinking of becoming a paddler yourself? Here are the top things that every paddler should know:

  • Steadying Your Boat: A good trick to know when getting in/out of your kayak is to keep it steady by placing your paddle across the kayak (just below the cockpit) while keeping one end extended to the shore. After that, just grab the paddle shaft and cockpit rim with one hand as you ease in/out of your kayak.

  • Bring A Dry Bag: The last thing you want is to get all your valuables wet. Make sure you tightly pack a dry bag with no bulky items and softer items toward the top while making sure it’s not too full. Press down on the bag to purge out all the air, and fold it instead of rolling it before sealing it up tight.

  • Safety First: Make sure you’re properly stocked with the right safety equipment before you go out. This includes items needed for an emergency like a phone and map, as well as a wet suit. And even if you’re an experienced swimmer, it’s very important to have a life jacket on. The life you save might just be your own.

  • Learn Basic Techniques: To avoid overworking yourself and losing stamina to wasted paddling techniques, search Youtube for some basic/fundamental paddling movements and information. That way you’ll get a visual aid that you’ll be able to come back to when you hit the water for the first time.


Classic Shared Waterfront Property!



Feel right at home in a property that’s both impressive in stature and timeless in design! Experience the pinnacle of luxury and comfort with this breathtaking Sammamish home located at 3202 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE!

This 4 Bedroom 3.5 Bathroom is located in a private enclave of luxury homes that overlooks mountains, the beautiful Lake Sammamish, and features a shared waterfront with your own boat slip on a great dock, along with a lakeside cabana at the water’s edge!

The interior features miles of granite laid throughout a stunning gourmet kitchen, a large media/workout room, spacious wine-cellar, and a dreamy master suite that has it’s own covered deck, fireplace, and luxury 5 piece bathroom.

If you’re interested in this home and would like more information, contact Margo Allen and visit the listing page to view some photos!

Tax Tips To Consider When Buying A Shore Or Vacation Property



Taxes; the second certainty in life. Are you considering upgrading from that vacation home rental into a property you own yourself? If so, we have some tax tips that can help save you some time and confusion later down the road. Here’s a list of some tax tips you should consider when buying a shore or vacation property:

  • Local/State Taxes Are Deductible: Along with your mortgage interest, both the state and local estate taxes (which are paid on a second or vacation home) are generally deductible. Check with your local tax law guidelines for clarification.

  • Renting Out = Deduct Costs: If you don’t use the home for personal use for at least 14 days, you qualify for the corresponding deductions. Expenses that are deductible may include mortgage interest, real estate taxes, casualty losses, maintenance, utilities, and insurance.

  • Capital Gains Tax After Selling: You’ll likely be subjected to paying a capital gains tax once you sell your vacation home. The exception would be if you converted your vacation home into your primary home. But be aware, you must have lived in that residence for two to five years prior to sale to avoid the tax. But those years don’t have to be sequential.

  • Never Claim A Loss: Unfortunately, you won’t ever be able to claim a loss for the sale of a personal residence, no matter how much the market may turn on you. However, you can claim a capital loss on an investment property, depending on the nature of the loss and whether you have offsetting gains.


Tips For Vacation Home Rentals



Spending quality time with your family at your home base is great, but you know what’s even better? Being able to relax and go on a vacation with them! Traveling to experience a new destination and share new experiences helps bring families closer together, but finding the proper vacation rentals can be a real pain. Here are some tips to consider when looking at vacation home rentals:


  • Research, Research, Research: This tip is so important we said it three times. Your biggest ally when looking at vacation home rentals is information, and the only way to get the proper information needed to make an informed decision is to do the research. Compare prices and check for misrepresentations before paying or signing anything. Remember, this shouldn’t be a rushed decision. Only pull the trigger once you’ve carefully considered everything.

  • Consult Multiple Sources: While this could be put under research, getting first-hand opinions of the area (and the property) by talking to different people will help put you a step ahead. Speaking with different real estate professionals can even assist you in finding a better deal elsewhere you may not have been familiar about before. The point is that you’re likely not as familiar with this new vacation area as others might be. So let them impart their knowledge on you before you finalize anything.

  • Read ALL of the Contract: This may sound obvious, but you won’t believe how many people forget to read everything in their contracts. It’s absolutely critical that you carefully review and inspect every single section. Getting someone to help you look it over is fine, but make certain each part is looked at, especially the sections that detail your liability for damages.

Things To Repair In Your Home Before It’s Too Late



Every homeowner has some kind of to-do list regarding their prospective home improvement projects. They may write it down on paper or keep it in their head, but either way there’s always a list of things to be done around the house. Deciding which things to fix now and which to fix later can add a lot of stress to your already busy schedule, but here’s a quick list to help inform you of a few things around the house that need be repaired sooner rather than later:

  • Gutters: While it’s not a fun task at all, cleaning out your clogged gutters is a must. When gutters get clogged, it makes it so water gets trapped instead of being able to flow out. This water buildup can cause your siding and trim to rot, and it can also be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

  • Leaky Faucets: While small leaks look harmless, it not only wastes water, but the water buildup around the surrounding areas can cause more rot while also leading to the addition of pests, mold, or mildew.

  • Faulty Wiring: Does using blender cause your lights to flicker? Are you finding that your light bulbs burn out quickly? These are potential warning signs that your home may have electrical problems, which can lead to fires. It is best to have this issue looked at immediately by a professional.

  • Driveway Cracks: Any cracks in the driveway that are wider than 1-inch are best at by a professional. Larger cracks can cause water to become trapped and freeze if it gets could enough, which can expand the crack.

Steps to Allergy-Proof Your Home



Statistics show that allergies affect about 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children, and that number is steadily increasing more and more over time. Completing certain precautionary steps in your home cannot only limit your exposition to allergens, but it can also stop them from even developing at all. Here are some ways you can help make your home more allergy-proof:

  • Keep Home Cool/Dry: Decrease the buildup of mold and growth of dust mite by keeping your home cool and dry year-round. A study at Wright State University showed a significant decrease in allergens in homes that kept the relative humidity below 50%. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help maintain those humidity levels, so if you’re serious about maintaining the humidity, you can always buy a hygrometer at your local hardware store to accurately test the humidity levels in your home.

  • Vacuum Often: This is a must for homes with wall-to-wall carpeting. Experts recommend vacuuming at least once a week and using a special double-lined bag with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter which will wind up trapping more of the allergens that like to bury themselves in your carpet fibers.

  • Ventilate: A little fresh air never hurt, in fact, it may just help a lot in this case! If you don’t live in a humid area, open your windows and doors for a bit to circulate some fresh air inside. Combine it with a fan for even more air circulation! However, those with pollen allergies should be cautious when letting fresh air into the house. Last thing you want is to replace one irritant allergen with another!

  • Dust Frequently: Your home’s hard surfaces and floors can collect quite a bit of dust as well. Dust rags, damp mops and rags are the best ways to collect the dust instead of a feather duster, which is more likely to spread the allergens back into the air when being used.

Lake Sammamish Bungalow on the Shore’s Edge!


lake sammamish

Looking for cozy lakefront real estate with a beautiful space for outside dining? Well you’re in luck! Experience waterfront living at it’s best with this beautiful Sammamish home located at 821 E Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE!

This home is a 3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bathroom property that lies at the shore’s edge of Lake Sammamish. Experience waterfront real estate at it’s best with a property that features not one, but two homes! The second is a charming 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow with a great room and kitchen!

Specs include 75’ of waterfront, tons of street parking and multiple decks for al fresco dining! And what better way to experience the calm quiet of the morning than taking a boat out on the lake from your massive dock! This wonderful home can be enjoyed as-is, or you could always hire an architect and plan the home of your dreams on this one-of-a-kind property!

If you’re interested in this home or would like more information, please contact Margo Allen and view the listing page!

Tips for Fertilizing Your Lawn



Getting sick and tired of looking at your brown, post-winter lawn? Well now is the perfect time to remedy it and fertilize! Studies have shown that the amount of time spent fertilizing affects not only lawn appearance, but its maintenance levels as well. Like most things, putting in some hard work now can save you more time later. Here are a few quick fertilizing tips that will help make your lawn look like the best one in the neighborhood:

  • Use a Broadcast/Rotary Spreader: For larger lawn areas, a broadcast/rotary spreader will work very well. Make sure to fill the hopper over a tarp so you can easily gather any fertilizer that spills. Also, apply the fertilizer around the perimeter of the lawn first before moving inwards to cover the rest.

  • Drop Spreader: Looking for more controlled fertilizer distribution? Try using a drop spreader! While they do cost a bit more, if you’re tending a typical suburban sized lawn, it’s well worth the investment.

  • Fertilizer/Water: About a day or two after applying the fertilizer, you’ll need to thoroughly water your lawn. After the grass dries, apply more fertilizer before lightly watering one more time. The second watering is important because it will wash the fertilizer off the grass blades to better allow it to absorb into the soil beneath. Also try not to fertilize right before an expected downpour of rain since that much water can wash away all the fertilizer, rendering it useless.

  • Grasscycling: This refers to the practice of letting grass clippings lie on the lawn after cutting. Grasscycling can provide up to 25 percent of your lawn’s fertilizer needs all on it’s own, which of course saves you time and money. It’s not required for you to have a specialized mulching mower in order to grasscycle, but you might want to replace your current mower blade with a mulching blade which will cut the grass into smaller pieces that will decompose quickly.

Garden Projects For Early Spring



Spring has officially sprung! And what better way to celebrate than by starting a new garden project! Ensure that your garden is the most beautiful one in the neighborhood by implementing these little projects:

  • Prepare Your Lawn: While your first instinct may be to focus on the flowers or the garden bed, make sure your lawn is in its most pristine condition. Nothing complements a beautiful garden more than a lush, healthy lawn. However at the same time, nothing can detract more from a beautiful garden than an unkempt, browning lawn. Start by raking the lawn to remove any dead grown or winter debris. This will also help bring light into the soil, encouraging the grass to grow.

  • Prepare The Beds/Prune: Start removing all the winter mulch, unless it’s well composted. If it is, you can work that into the soil’s top layer along with some well-rotted manure and leaf mold. Also don’t forget to prune any buds before they bloom or you’ll irritate the tree and get a tiny crop.

  • Divide Perennials: The perfect task for early spring! Encourage more free plants to grow by dividing the perennials. You can plant the divisions in a separate section of the garden, or share them with other garden lovers!

  • Tidy Up Outdoor Seating Area: What use is a garden without an area to admire it? Adding some chairs or a bench near your garden will give you a place to relax, unwind, and admire your hard work. Go even further by adding a few decorative pieces to both the garden bed and the seating area around it.

Tips on Purchasing Waterfront Property



Considering buying waterfront property? Well there’s a few things you need to know. While buying a house can be a complicated process in general, purchasing waterfront property is much more complex, so it’s important to do the necessary research before moving forward. Here are a few quick tips to consider as you navigate the waterfront housing market:

  • Find An Agent Specializing in Waterfront Property: This may seem unnecessary, but the added knowledge and experience from a real estate professional who specializes in waterfront property can save you down the road. They’ll know the right questions to ask and what to look for when determining the value of a property.

  • Consider the Land, Not Just the Property: Due to waterfront property being more scarce, the value tends to be higher. This value includes not only the house, but the land around it. Even if you love the house that’s for sale, make sure you completely consider the property around it before committing to purchase. Discuss this with your lender and real estate professional to determine your property value versus your land value.

  • Set Up Financing ASAP: Due to waterfront properties being in higher demand, lenders tend to only consider extremely qualified buyers. It’s possible that you may have to look into getting a jumbo loan or restructure your other financing, so it’s best to get that taken care of early as possible so you don’t have to rush to get it all done later.

  • Learn the Responsibilities: With waterfront property comes more landscaping tasks and maintenance requirements. Make sure you check with your lender and the local Homeowners Association to review any mandatory fees or rules concerning the upkeep of your property.

  • Talk To Neighbors: Visit some of the surrounding homes on the water and ask them what it’s like living in the area. This would be a perfect time to ask them questions about any of your fears/anxieties concerning the purchase of waterfront property. Chances are they’ll be more upfront and honest about certain characteristics that the buyer might be trying to hide.

How To Decorate Your Front Porch Or Entryway



Your front porch/entryway is usually a visitor’s first impression of your home in general. And while this area of the house usually doesn’t get much use until the warmer months arrive, it’s still important that it look its best! Here are a few decorating tips that can help you make the most of your front porch and entryway:

  • Lead With Your Walkway: Use your walkway as an opportunity to lead your guests down a decorated path that is at least 3-4 feet wide. Inserting some plants and shrubs along the side of the walkway can accentuate the design of not only your entryway and front porch, but the surrounding landscape as well.

  • Farmer’s Market Front Porch: Add some life (literally) to your front porch by placing different herbs and flowers around it. This way, your guests will be greeted with beautiful color and wonderful smells before you’ve even answered the door.

  • Furniture: Nothing makes an area more inviting than some furniture. Adding an outdoor daybed or some patio chairs can help bring more comfort to your entryway, while also encouraging yourself and guests to spend more time out on the patio. Feeling like unwinding at the end of the day? Grab a book and a glass of wine and kick back outside in your new patio furniture!

  • The Unexpected: While flowers and furniture are standard design accessories for a patio, set yourself apart from the pack by including something unexpected in your entryway. It could be some vintage end tables, a few decorative suitcases, or a quirky garden gnome. The key is to look for something strange, yet oddly fitting to your patio’s aesthetic.

  • Featured photo courtesy of ntm1909 via Flickr

Watering Your Lawn: The Right Way


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With sunshine making its way back into the Northwest’s weather cycle, that means a probability of less rain in the coming months. Less rain also means less natural water for your lawn. Now for those of you with modestly sized landscapes, this may not be a problem. But for those with a giant landscape and lots of grass, an adjustment is needed to make sure your lawn is healthy and green. Here are some lawn watering tips that can help save you money and time:

  • Water Early: Beat the heat by getting out to water early in the morning before the sun is out. In the middle of the day, the sun is too overwhelming and the water will evaporate too quickly. Don’t water late in the evening as well since resting water on the grass blades can provide the perfect conditions for fungus to grow, which causes lawn diseases.

  • Soak 6 Inches Into Soil: Wondering how much to water? Experts recommend watering until you moisten the soil about six inches down. For the first time, have a shovel nearby to test the soil and measure when you hit the mark. Also, make sure to time yourself so that you won’t need the shovel the next time!

  • Use Pulsating Sprinkler, Not Oscillating Ones: Besides built-in lawn sprinkler systems, a pulsating sprinkler that’s connected to a hose and projects water horizontally is the preferred choice. Oscillating sprinklers tend to cover less ground and are less accurate because they’re more affected by wind.

  • Irrigation Timer: Sick of having to wait patiently until your sprinklers are done? Set a timer and keep it with you in your pocket. That way you can enjoy yourself and spend time on something else while your lawn gets the hydration it needs!

The Do’s and Don'ts of Cleaning Electronics


Electronic device

Now that we’re well into 2017, it’s safe to say that our reliance on electronics is more prevalent than ever. People are using them in so many different areas of their daily-life that it’s like they’ve become part of the family. And just as you should care for your family member, you should care for your electronics as well. Keeping them clean is one of the foundational steps you must take to ensure their longevity. Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to cleaning your electronics:

  • Laptops: With all the little crevices and edges, there’s a lot of area to cover on a laptop. Not to mention all the bacteria that accumulates. Make sure you’re using a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution to wipe the screen. For the keyboard, use a brush to dust off dirt, then get a can of compressed air to force out dirt between the keys. Make sure your laptop is off while you do this. DO NOT use a vacuum or any powerful suction force on your laptop at any time.
  • Cell Phones: Again, you’ll want to use a microfiber cloth to regularly wipe away sweat and grease. Make sure your phone is off before you open the phone to clean the inside. A good disinfecting solution is to prepare 1 cup water and a few drops of vinegar or rubbing alcohol. When you’re done with the cleaning, let it dry before you turn it on again. DO NOT use any spray cleaners directly on the screen or use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. The excess heat could permanently damage your phone.
  • Cameras: Use a damp cloth to wipe the camera’s body. Remove the battery and memory card before using a soft brush to wipe away any dirt that’s collected in these crevices. For the lens, go to a camera shop and purchase a lens pen. DO NOT use a cloth to wipe the lens or use any detergents on the the camera. Remember, there are a lot of sensitive and expensive parts on a camera, so if you’re having trouble or have any questions about cleaning it properly, visit your local camera shop and ask for their assistance.

Finishing a Basement: Things You Must Know


basement finishing

While basements may not be the most popular rooms in the house, they still deserve to look their best and function properly. This can sometimes mean a lot of work to schedule, but it’s important not to take on too much at a time. A good thing to remember throughout the entire process would be, “Plan big, begin small, and fail fast.” Here are some other points to consider as you finish your basement:

  • Keep it Dry: Any leaking water or any dampness around the basement needs to be taken care of immediately. The obvious signs would be pools of water or drips, but also look for cracks in your foundation walls and repair them if necessary. The last thing you want is a buildup of mold.

  • Learn About Permits: It’s important to check with your local municipality to see if finishing your basement will require any permits. Even though they’re not always necessary, if you’re planning on doing any plumbing or electrical work in the basement, it’s possible you’ll need to have someone  to inspect everything and sign off before you move forward.

  • Insulation: When it comes to basements, it’s important to keep the cold out and the warmth in. Insulation doesn’t just help you control the temperature of the basement, but it also adds another layer of moisture control as well. You’ll also want to choose insulation that has a vapor barrier on each side, and although certain code requirements may restrict it, spray foam insulation is another option you can go with.

  • Stick to the 8 Major Phases: This is the general order in which to finish your basement: 1) Framing 2) Electrical 3) Plumbing 4) Audio/Visual 5) Drywall 6) Painting 7) Trim and Doors 8) Flooring. There are also special cases where the HVAC unit in the basement will need work done as well, so make sure to consider that if your HVAC unit needs some improvement.

Featured photo courtesy of Mark via Flickr

Home Heating Hazards To Watch Out For



Statistics show that 16% of residential fires originate from heating equipment. Now while that may not be an overwhelmingly high number, it’s high enough that it could still happen in your home. Luckily, there are a few simple solutions to help eliminate the potential of a fire. Consider these point as you assess the heating hazards in your home:

  • Don’t Leave Space Heaters Unattended: Space heaters are primarily used to heat certain rooms without having to resort to your HVAC system. But since they’re a common fire hazard, it’s important to remember to turn these off when they’re not in use, and to also clear away any flammable materials (such as furniture, clothes, curtains, and books) near the unit.

  • Keep the Chimney Clean: Chimneys that haven’t been cleaned for a while can have a lot of buildup against the sides. This buildup is called creosote and it’s a highly combustible substance that’s made up of a combination of smoke, gases, vapor, tar, ash, and natural condensation. Make sure your chimney is regularly cleaned to avoid creosote buildup.

  • Check Your HVAC Unit: Like most things in your home, your HVAC unit will degrade and breakdown over time. If it’s been awhile since you performed a maintenance check on the unit, it would probably be a good idea to do so. Something like a cracked heat exchanger can pose risks such as carbon monoxide poisoning, so it’s best to be safe and make sure the unit is in top shape.

  • Featured photo courtesy of Roberto Cipriano via Flickr

Tips for Preventing Pest Infestations



There’s nothing good about pest infestations. One day it can be just a few bugs, the next week it could be thousands. If you’ve started noticing an increase in pest traffic throughout your house (particularly one area), then it’s in your best interest to get on top of the problem ASAP. Here are a few quick tips on how to prevent pest infestations:

  • Seal the Gaps: It’s important to search your home for any unsealed gaps or entry points. These entry points are how pests multiply and find their way through your home. Check for cracks near windows and doors, holes in window screens, and especially near light fixtures.

  • Eliminate Standing Water: Many insects (such as mosquitoes) thrive in environments with standing or small pooled water. They need access to water to breed, so ensuring that there is no standing water anywhere on your property will definitely help discourage pests who like to congregate there.

  • Maintain Garbage/Clutter: This means putting seals or lids over all garbage bins in the house, especially those that contain food. Insects are drawn to heavy food odors, and leaving that odor in your house could mean unwelcome insects will follow. Organic material is a great breeding ground for insects, so even if you have a compost bin, make sure it’s covered and as far away from the house as possible.

  • Replace Rotten Wood: If the wood on your property is soft, wet, or beginning to show signs of degradation and decay, you’ll need to have it replaced. Soft or damaged wood is another breeding ground for pests, so keeping it off your property is a must.

Tips to Help Prepare Your HVAC System for Spring



With the cold weather (hopefully) behind us, it’s time to start preparing for the warm weather to come. That means adding another task to your spring cleaning duties: Preparing your HVAC system for the Season. Here are five quick tips that will help ensure you don’t run into any unexpected HVAC problems:

  • Assess the Unit: Carefully inspect the HVAC unit to to see if there are any pressing maintenance issues right off the bat. If there are, this will give you time to make a detailed list of all the things you’ll need to fix so you don’t have any surprises later in the process.

  • Air Filter: Experts recommend replacing your system’s filter at least once every month. But don’t worry, this is an easy task you can accomplish yourself. Simply purchase a new filter at the store and use it to replace the old one. Be sure to check the filter every few weeks during use to ensure it’s functionality.

  • Seal Air Leaks: Have an HVAC technician take a look at your ductwork to see if there are any leaks. Studies show that a leak in the ductwork can reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system by as much as 25 percent, so make sure that gets thoroughly checked.

  • Thermostat: If your thermostat is not programmable, it may be time to invest in one that is. A programmable thermostat allows you to make more specific and diverse selections on your HVAC unit which can help lower your energy bills over time.

  • Consider Upgrading: If you’re making your HVAC to-do list and find that the list is getting too large, it may be time to upgrade to a better unit all together. Faulty or dysfunctional units can create way more problems if left unattended. Consult with your HVAC technician to see if upgrading is the best decision for you and your home.

    Featured photo courtesy of PRODagny Gromer via Flickr

Kid Friendly Spring Activities


kid friendy topics

Now that we’ve all set our clocks forward for Daylight Savings time, it’s time to prepare for the Spring sunshine that follows. Sometimes finding constructive, kid friendly activities can be difficult. After all, school only keeps the kids occupied during the week. But what about the weekend? How do you keep your kids busy and active? Here’s a quick list of a few kid-friendly Spring activities that will help bring out the joy this season:

  • Enjoy the Lake: While the water may still be too cold to swim in, that doesn’t mean time at the lake should go to waste! The kids can always build some sand castles, go out on a boat or kayak, or just lounge around the beach while the family enjoys a cookout.
  • Sports: Have your children join a little league baseball or peewee soccer team to fill that weekend time. Not only will they be having blast while they get to play with their friends, but they’ll be getting great exercise as well!
  • Aquarium: Tired of being outside? Well, stop by the Aquarium! Kids always love looking at all the animals, and they’ll even get to learn a thing or two. If you’re going to the Seattle Aquarium specifically, be sure to visit the sea otters!
  • Hiking: Take advantage of all this beautiful Northwest scenery and get the family on the hiking trail!
  • Camping: Step it up a notch and turn your hiking trip into a camping trip! Nothing says family bonding like gathering over a campfire, eating some s’mores, and sleeping underneath the stars.

How To Deal With Your Neighbor’s Construction



We all desire to live in a neighborhood that’s peaceful and quiet. But a neighbor’s construction project can put a damper on your tranquility. Instead of just letting this minor annoyance turn into full-blown stress, consider these tips that can help you cope with the loud noises and chaos of your neighbor’s construction:

  • Communicate With Your Neighbor: As soon as the construction begins, walk over to your neighbor’s house for a friendly chat. Approach them respectfully and kindly ask how long the construction project will last, what hours of the day they’ll be working, and any other questions you’re curious about. If you have concerns about loud construction noises during a particular time, express these concerns to your neighbor. Remember, the goal here is not to create conflict between you and your neighbor, but to open a dialogue to gain information and understanding between both parties.

  • Leave the House: If you find that the construction noise is overwhelmingly loud, leave the house for a while. One of the most recommended tips for stress relief in general is to change your environment. Instead of letting the stress build, let it go by transitioning to a more quiet area.

  • Noise Cancellation: If you can’t avoid the noise, you can always do your best to block it out. Putting in some earplugs or playing some music with headphones can help decrease your stress levels when the noise becomes too much to handle.

  • Breathe, Relax, and Think Positively: At the end of the day, there’s really nothing you can do about your neighbors construction. It will be over when it’s over. In the meantime, focus on bettering yourself by taking deep breaths and doing whatever it takes to make you feel relaxed. Accept the areas of your life you cannot control and focus on the one area you can; You. Take this obstacle as a challenge and use it as an opportunity to better your mind and body.

Spring Cleaning Tips



As the cold weather slowly begins to subside and spring approaches, the time has come to prepare for spring cleaning. While it’s not the most exciting prospect, spring cleaning gives us a chance for a fresh start at the beginning of a new season. Here are a few spring cleaning tips that will help you get through the process in one piece:

  • Plan/Make A List: Don’t risk any last minute cleaning tasks. Plan out properly and make a list of everything that needs to be cleaned to save yourself from added stress down the road.

  • Teamwork: Every chore is easier with a little assistance. Enlisting the rest of your family to help will drastically reduce the time spent cleaning. Children as young as five can offer their assistance with minor tasks while you focus on the larger ones. Don’t forget to reward the hard work of your team to encourage them to help you again the next time cleaning time rolls around.

  • Limit Use Of Paper Towels: Save yourself some money and help conserve the environment by turning old clothes and fabrics into cleaning rags. For example, E-cloth, a general purpose glass and polishing cloth, only requires water to use which limits your use of cleaning chemicals.

  • De-Clutter: Use this cleaning time to get rid of old items and belongings around the house. More clutter means more things accumulating dust that need to be cleaned later. Pair your spring cleaning with a yard/garage sale to make a few dollars on the side!

Remember to be thorough and detailed with your cleaning to make it last. A half-effort approach to cleaning just means you’ll have to clean again sooner than later. So you might as well go all out now and save yourself time later!


How To Care For Your Mattress



Sometimes that sleep in your bed at the end of a long, stressful day is all you need, and a well-maintained mattress can make all the difference. Since every homeowner deserves a good night’s sleep, here a few quick tips that will help you make the most of your mattress and keep your rest peaceful and comfortable:


  • Flip It: It’s the one mattress tip we’ve all been told. But how often should we be flipping our mattresses? Some say every four months, some say every six, some say once a year. The reality is that mattresses should be flipped every two months. This ensures there’s no lasting, uneven wear on the coil springs that help provide you support.

  • Mattress Pads: Nobody wants staining damage to their mattress. Getting a washable mattress pad will help absorb any spills before they can soak through your mattress.

  • No More Bouncing: This one’s for all the parents out there. Not only is bouncing on the bed bad for the mattress and box springs, but it can also fracture the bed frame with the possibility of damage to your bedroom wall if it’s resting behind your bed frame.

  • Vacuuming: It’s not just for the floors. Besides keeping your mattress generally clean and fresh, vacuuming removes skin flakes, dust, and potentially dust mites as well. Do this at the same time you flip your mattress for the perfect mattress maintenance 1-2 punch!

It’s as simple as that. It may seem like an insignificant chore and cleaning procedure, but never underestimate the power of great sleep. Your mattresses is the foundation of your sleep, so it’s always best to make sure that foundation is solid.

Hire A Contractor? Or Do It Yourself?



Renovations and home improvement projects can be a common practice for homeowners. But how do you distinguish a job to hire out from a job you can do yourself? The endgame goal is always the same. You want your new project to look great. But at the same time, you don’t want to pay high prices for something you could easily do yourself. Here’s a quick few tips to help put this homeowner’s dilemma in perspective:

  • Doing It Yourself: While cost is usually a strong motivating factor when it comes to doing a project yourself, it shouldn’t be the only factor. After all, doing a project wrong or incorrectly could potentially increase your costs even more in the end. That’s why it’s important to first assess the project in its entirety before making a decision. Do you have all the knowledge and tools needed to complete the project? Do you have the time and energy to see the project through all the way to completion? Are you prepared to deal with any necessary licenses or permits? These are questions that you need to carefully consider before you decide to take on a home improvement project yourself.

  • Hiring A Contractor: There are a few areas of home improvement that statistically tend to be more suited for professionals. One particular area is water. Minor changes like fixing a faucet or changing a showerhead aren’t bad to do yourself, but anything that deals with the modification of your water/plumbing system as a whole would probably be best for a professional. Electrical repairs are another area where the caution and danger involved in completing the job should not be underestimated. Lastly, any gas appliance repairs or asbestos removal should pretty much always be handled by a professional. Again, jobs like these can have overwhelming and costly consequences if they’re not handled properly.


Ultimately, doing your research ahead of time to really calculate the difficulty and cost of the job is what’s going to put you in a position to make the best decision. Confidence in yourself and your own abilities is a great thing, but don’t let pride get in the way of completing your home improvement project the right way.

Helpful Tips To Avoid A Burglary



While it may not be an epidemic in your area, your home is still always susceptible to burglary. Most criminals who are looking to break into your home are looking to do so quickly and quietly. And while there’s never a fail-proof option to prevent a burglary from happening, there are things you can do to make your home less appealing to a criminal who’s looking to steal your belongings:

  • Lights: The main thing a criminal is looking for when stalking a house is evidence that nobody is home. Motion lights that ensure every side of your house is covered are more likely to deter someone from targeting your home.

  • Security Signs: Even if you’re not ready to install a complete security system, having a few signs around the house that give the impression of a security system could be all that’s needed.

  • Landscape: Make sure that any small trees or shrubs are trimmed so that a criminal cannot use them to hide. Also adding some plants that are prickly in nature around the landscape serves as a great bonus defense.

  • Neighbors: It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes. Maintaining a friendly relationship with your neighbors can really help when it comes to home security. Neighbors can always be an extra line of defense against crime when you’re away from your home for large periods of time.

  • Secure Doors/Lock Windows: This may seem like a no brainer, but unlocked doors and windows are the main points of entry for burglars. Securing the door also means more than just making sure it’s locked. It means checking the quality of the lock and the door itself. As for windows, make sure they’re always locked. Especially on the first floor, which is where most window break-ins occur.

Aside from 24/7 surveillance and security, there’s nothing you can do to 100% prevent a burglar from entering your home. But being proactive and observant to your home’s security vulnerabilities could make all the difference when it comes to discouraging a wanna-be burglar.

Decor Disasters to Avoid


decor disaster to avoid

When it comes to decorating a home, there are so many different choices and options that it can make the whole process seem overwhelming. Homeowners oftentimes worry about making the wrong decisions concerning design, which is why they usually hire professionals. But knowing a few quick tips could put you in a more confident position to take the wheel when it comes to decorating your home.


  • Set Goals/Plan: What do you want out of this space? What will you use it for? It’s good to ask yourself these questions in order to set realistic goals that will help put purpose behind the design plans. It’s a lot easier to narrow down your options when you have a specific goal for the space in mind.

  • Too Much Color: Homeowners have a natural instinct to use very strong, bold colors in their spaces. While this may sound like a good idea in the beginning, it can be a lot harder to live with down the road. Limiting the range of your color palette and staying away from anything too bold could also benefit if/when it comes to reselling the home.

  • Bathrooms & Kitchens Are Work spaces: While aesthetic should still be considered in both of these areas, practicality should take the front seat when considering the design. Making sure these spaces have a lot of light and storage is key to increasing their comfortability.

  • Don’t Exceed Your Budget: Calculating your budget in the planning stages is critical because it lays the foundation for all the decorating. Remember, the budget should determine the design, not the other way around.

  • Clutter: You’ve heard the saying, “too much of anything can be a bad thing,” well whoever said that could have been an interior designer. Filling your space with too many items and accessories causes nothing to stand out. Keep it simple. It’s better to have a few main pieces to showcase rather than overcrowding the area.


Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of redecorating! Empower yourself by setting goals and doing all the proper planning and research necessary to ensure you’ll have a beautiful interior space for years to come

Determining the Value of Your Outdoor Space









People looking to buy new homes will always factor in the outdoor space before they make a decision, especially if the home itself has a high square-footage amount. So if you’re selling your home, it’s always a good idea to appraise the value of the outdoor space because it could drastically affect the amount of offers you get, as well as the amount of those offers. Here are a few points to consider when determining the value of your outdoor space.

Big City Demand: If you’re living in a big city and selling a house with a sizable outdoor space, you’re in luck. Due to the low availability of homes with outdoor areas in big cities, the demand is quite high. Homes with outdoor spaces sell for considerably more money, and the competition amongst buyers will help raise the price as well.

Views: Does your outdoor space overlook a lake, some mountains, or anything else of interest? If it does, you’ve already added a considerable amount of value to your property. People (especially those buying higher priced homes) always fall hard for a great view.

Trees: This is an area with both pros and cons. On the one hand, having trees in your outdoor property are great because they can provide shade and privacy while also being aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, potential buyers can see large trees as a potential hazard during high-winds and storms. Carefully inspect all the trees on your property to gauge how they will fare to buyers.

Amenities: Fire pits, outdoor bars, hot tubs, and pools are just a few outdoor amenities that can increase your property value. Making sure these are presented neatly and clean when prospective buyers come by could make all the difference.

Condition: Last, but certainly not the least. The value of your outdoor area is going to depend highly on its condition. Making sure everything is properly landscaped, cleaned, and repaired will go over well with prospective buyers. If they see something outside that looks unkempt or unmanaged, it could make a big impact on their decision. So make sure your outdoor space is in top condition before putting it on the market.

Big City Demand: If you’re living in a big city and selling a house with a sizable outdoor space, you’re in luck. Due to the low availability of homes with outdoor areas in big cities, the demand is quite high. Homes with outdoor spaces sell for considerably more money, and the competition amongst buyers will help raise the price as well.

Views: Does your outdoor space overlook a lake, some mountains, or anything else of interest? If it does, you’ve already added a considerable amount of value to your property. People (especially those buying higher priced homes) always fall hard for a great view.

Trees: This is an area with both pros and cons. On the one hand, having trees in your outdoor property are great because they can provide shade and privacy while also being aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, potential buyers can see large trees as a potential hazard during high-winds and storms. Carefully inspect all the trees on your property to gauge how they will fare to buyers.

Amenities: Fire pits, outdoor bars, hot tubs, and pools are just a few outdoor amenities that can increase your property value. Making sure these are presented neatly and clean when prospective buyers come by could make all the difference.

Condition: Last, but certainly not the least. The value of your outdoor area is going to depend highly on its condition. Making sure everything is properly landscaped, cleaned, and repaired will go over well with prospective buyers. If they see something outside that looks unkempt or unmanaged, it can
make a big impact on their decision. So make sure your outdoor space is in top condition before putting it on the market.

The best thing to remember when determining the value of your outdoor area is to look at it like a stranger with fresh eyes. What works? What doesn’t? Digging deep to find the answers to these questions could make a huge difference in your home’s ultimate selling price.
  • Featured photo courtesy of Jay Parker via Flickr

Lakefront Property Landscaping Tips



With the weather slowly starting to warm up and the start of Spring only weeks away, it’s a great time to start thinking about how to make the most out of your landscape. Nothing compliments a lake view better than beautiful flowers spread throughout a well-designed yard and garden.  Here are a few tips that can help make your landscape look like a feature story on HGTV:


  • Try not to disturb any existing natural plants that are at or near the waterline. These plants have most likely developed deep root systems that help prevent erosion, and also exist as a potential habitat for local wildlife.

  • Make sure any new plants that are being added can flourish in the local environment without needing too much assistance. This helps protect water quality due to less use of pesticides and fertilizers that would be otherwise needed to protect the landscape.

  • Placing shrubs on the upper bank is not only effective from a design perspective, but from a practical one as well. Shrubs on the upper bank will be able to benefit from the drier soil conditions and also serve as an observational tool to measure the extreme high waterline.

  • While the upper bank is better for plants that thrive in drier conditions, the lower bank needs to consist of plants that do well in damp soil. Being close to the water line ensures that plants on the lower bank receive more natural water, which ultimately means less maintenance for you.

Don’t delay! Start working on that landscape today so you can save time and energy later down the road! And when the weather gets better, you’ll be the one relaxing outside in your established landscape while your neighbors will just be getting started.

Best Time to Sell and Buy a Home



best time to sell house







Even though buying or selling a home can be an exciting experience, there’s a lot of stress that comes with it. The housing market seems to always be in a constant state of flux which can make the whole process quite confusing. When is the best time to buy? When is the best time to sell? Knowing a few key pieces of information can help maximize your potential in the housing market.


  • Selling A Home: Most people are told that spring is the ideal selling season, but this can be misleading. While the housing market is extremely competitive for prospective buyers in the spring, all that competition can negatively impact the selling price of your home due to the wide range of housing available. But studies have shown that holidays and the winter season can be extremely beneficial for sellers. Any point in the year is always filled with motivated buyers, so selling during winter could increase your selling price due to the fact that most people wait until spring or fall. Less housing on the market during winter means your listing could receive more attention, and potentially more offers.
  • Buying A Home: Just as holidays and Winter are the best time for sellers, Spring and Fall are the best time for buyers. Again, increased housing inventory is always going to give the buyer more of an advantage in the marketplace since it provides more options. While the process of buying a home can be quite time consuming, dedicating the time to research will help you enormously as you navigate the housing market. Visiting many different open houses and comparing different listing prices side by side will help you make a more informed decision at the end of the day.

The biggest thing to remember when buying/selling a home is to consider all the trends and dynamics of the housing market. As we all know, the housing market can change very quickly, so staying on top of the latest information and data will maximize your success.

Get Your Boat in Top Condition with These Maintenance Tips


boat maintenance







Having a boat is a fun luxury. But keeping it in great condition can be the ultimate chore. Even though it’s still winter and the weather is a few months away from being ideal, it’s never a bad time to consider the best ways to maintain your boat. Here are some helpful tips that will ensure your boat is in prime condition the next time it hits the lake!

  • Cleaning: You’ll need a sturdy scrub brush with a long handle to remove all the grime and salt that’s been accumulating on your boat. Make sure the brush isn’t too rough or you could potentially damage your boat’s finish. Other items to have with you are a bucket, mop, cloths/towels, washing pads, and sponges. And don’t forget some quality, environmentally friendly soap as well! The act of cleaning itself can be physically demanding at times, so stretch those muscles since you’ll be putting them to work. After you’re done scrubbing, don’t forget to rinse off the boat and let it dry before you apply any wax. Remember, a clean boat is a happy boat!
  • Seasonal/Winter Storage: Putting your boat away for the winter is the best way to prevent it from being damaged by the harsh elements. First, take it out one last time to observe any issues or anything that will need fixing. After that, clean it one last time and get it dry before changing the oil and antifreeze. Next, you’ll want to apply fogging oil and protect the driving belts by placing them in storage until the spring. Last, check for any remaining maintenance tasks before covering up the boat and saying goodbye for the winter.
  • Safety Gear: Boat activities are  great fun, but at the same time we shouldn’t neglect safety protocol. Stocking up on life jackets, safety signals, flares, and a fire extinguisher will ensure that you’re protected in an emergency situation and will keep boating fun.
  • Engine Maintenance: Your boat deserves to look beautiful on the inside too. Cleaning your boat’s engine should be an annual ritual at the end of every boating season. Whether you do it yourself or opt to have it done by someone else, it’s a crucial part of the maintenance process. Combining WD-40 with a cleaning cloth is usually good enough to remove grime, dirt, and grease. For older engines, a powerful de-greaser may also be necessary.

Maintaining your boat today is the best way to keep it running so you and your friends can be having fun for years to come!


Picture Perfect: Pacific Northwest’s Not-So-Hidden Gems








The Pacific Northwest is full of beautiful scenery worthy of your Instagram posts. Panoramic mountain views, crystal clear lakes, wild woodlands, and steep cliffs, are some of the spectacular scenes that will inspire the photographer in you:


Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish is Greater Seattle Area’s hidden gem that stretches 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. This charming lake doesn’t just offer a breathtaking view to the tourists and locals, it also offers the daredevils and adrenaline junkies many available water sports: waterskiing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and fishing,. Lake Sammamish has water sports and activities for everyone. Of course, you can also just simply laze around and enjoy the view. Camping is available in the area if you want a vacation closer to nature.


Smith Rock State Park

Tagged as one of the seven wonders of Oregon, Smith Rock State Park attracts thousands of climbers. This park is located in Central Oregon near Redmond and Terrebonne. Whether you come for bouldering, sport climbing or traditional climbing, Smith Rock offers a challenging place for the enthusiasts. Don’t have any plans to climb? You can hit Phil’s trail with your mountain bike or enjoy caving, paddle boarding and even golfing in the Deschutes.


Bellevue Botanical Garden 

This charming garden spans a 36-acre area including display gardens, meadows, forests and wetlands. You can join your friends and family for a laid back trip perusing numerous gardens such as the alpine rock, Yao Japanese, ground cover and native discovery perennial border. If you plan on growing your own garden, you can get expert tips from the tour guides. The gardens have guided tours where you are given much information on healthy gardening practices.

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park provides recreational activities for locals and tourists who are up for a casual hike. This 3,115-acre park is filled with native wildlife and Washington State history. Native Americans, loggers, the US army and miners have considered this park their home over the years. Feast your eyes on natural charmers such as the forest, streams, cliffs, wetlands and caves that house different species such as bobcats and black bears. You can also enjoy horseback riding and even trail running in this park.

Rialto Beach

Rialto beach is a beautiful sight for the beach lovers. Its pounding waves and views of the offshore islands called sea stacks differentiate Rialto beach from the others. With the Pacific Ocean in the background, you can stroll around the area and enjoy the sea breeze as it invites you to unwind. This picture-perfect beach also provides an opportunity to spot whales and seals.

Do you already have a place to visit in mind? If so, start packing your essentials, get your Instagram app ready and head to these charming Washington locales.

  • Featured photo courtesy of Al_HikesAZ via Photopin


Home Staging 101: Sell your Home Fast with these Tweaks









Home staging prepares a property for sale in the real estate market. Consider staging as something similar to a facelift, or cosmetic surgery–its aim is to display and highlight the best aspects of a home in order to entice buyers, and also add value to the property, allowing it to be sold sooner. With the right techniques, you can make your property seem bigger and more spacious, make it feel homey or polished, and if you do it right, it can be someone else’s dream house!


Home staging is important, because it allows buyers to envision themselves within the home, something that is difficult when they’re presented with an empty space. In order to bring out the best in your property, we’ve collected a few tips which may help you during a sale.


  • Declutter

One of the simplest, yet most important staging tip is to avoid clutter. Buyers do not want to see disarray within their could-be future home. Eliminate furniture that shows wear, tear, and aging. This will help give your house more breathing room. Also, get rid of icky bathroom tiles! Those are always a glaring, red flag for interested buyers.


  • Give every room good lighting

Lighting plays a big role in how you want your space to feel. Slightly dimmed, softer lights for a romantic master bedroom, bright and even lighting for your family room–whatever your decisions are when it comes to lighting, don’t forget that it sets the ambience and atmosphere of your home.


  • Give your space a neutral wash of color

Cool-toned greys or warm hues of tan will complement almost any accent. It will make your space look and feel versatile for the next owner’s decorating plans. However, don’t forget to accessorize your furniture with bits and splashes of bold color in order to prevent your home from looking too boring and drab!


  • Fill up your closet

During home tours, buyers will attempt to visualize themselves using the space you’re selling. They’ll take a look at every room and attempt to imagine if they can derive the same comfort you do from your home. Fill up your closet to let them know there’s space for their own clothing. Depending on the time of the year, coordinate the clothes you display; thinner, lighter clothes for summer, and thick coats for winter.


Whatever your home staging plans are, don’t forget to have fun and allow fragments of your lifestyle and personality to peak through. The changes you make for your home don’t have to be too big and costly. It can be as simple as cleaning up the rooms and rearranging the furniture to present your space in the best possible way.


Think Green: How to Start Organic Gardening








While spring may be more than a month ahead of us, you can use the time to plan your landscaping projects. Even better, you can use the time to strategically plan for an organic garden. Organic gardening allows you to eat fresh produce while reducing the amount of pesticides and toxins in the environment.


Add a touch of color and lush green to your landscape with these organic gardening tips:


Check the condition of the soil

Ensure that your soil is in its best condition by sending a sample to your local agricultural office. Good soil helps build strong and productive plants. Knowing the quality of your soil helps you customize your gardening program. If your soil isn’t in good condition, you can still make the most out of it by ensuring that it has plenty of humus. Building up your soil encourages helpful microbes and other microorganisms. Healthy soil allows plants to thrive and resist pests and disease.


Plan and design your garden

Once you have improved the condition of your soil, it is time to decide on the amount of space you’ll use for your garden. When deciding on a space, consider the type of produce that you’ll grow in your garden.


Choose Productive Plants

Think of the best plants that will grow in your climate region. Since we have short cool summers locally, planting eggplants and peppers won’t work. These plants love warm weather. Consider the economic value of your plants too. For example, corn may be cheap but planting it can be tedious. An additional tip is to find plants that complement one another. These plants include potatoes and corn as well as beans and squash.


Start Small

If you are just starting with your gardening, start small. Avoid planting all the plants that you want to eat. This makes gardening more manageable. While you learn the ropes of organic gardening, you can expand each season. Also rotating crops each year reduces disease and pest concerns while correcting nutrient deficiencies.


Share and Barter

Reduce the cost of heavy equipment and other gardening materials by borrowing materials to your neighbors and sharing yours too. Consider bartering seedlings with your family and friends.


Organic gardening may be labor intensive but it can be good for family bonding. You can ask your family members what plants they’d love to grow and let them help you with your gardening.


Fitness Hacks to Jumpstart your 2017









In case you weren’t able to read the previous blog posts, we were tackling the topic of fitness and your well-being goals for 2017. Exercising isn’t just meant to achieve your ideal “bikini body” and control weight. Regular physical activity enhances your cardiovascular strength, reduces the risk of high blood pressure, boosts your energy, and generally improves the quality of your health. Whether you’re signing up for the gym or you’re more comfortable working out in your homes, we have a list of apps you can download on your smartphones to help motivate and inspire you to workout religiously, and a few fitness wearables that you can use to keep track of your progress.

  • MyFitnessPal is an application for Android and Apple devices that counts your calorie intake through its huge food database. The creators believe that calorie-counting is the easiest way to keep track of one’s food intake.
  • Wireless Earphones are your best buddy when you’re out to sweat copiously. The right tunes can set the mood for exercise and get the blood pumping!
  • FitBit’s Alta Tracker helps you organize your goals by keeping records of your training progress. It’s stylish and not too chunky, so it can definitely pass off as a good-looking workout accessory.
  • Sworkit stands for “Simply Work It”, and it works for personalized digital training. This app stores exercise videos that are demonstrated by trainers. It’s especially useful for people who need to be guided through an activity plan, but prefer to workout at home. You can select your desired workout length, and areas you want to target.


Just remember that by the end of the day, your best accessory is motivation. The devices and applications listed above are only meant to be supplemental. Ultimately, it’s you who seals the deal, and decides whether a trek with nature is worth your time. Only a few things look better than a person who genuinely enjoys getting fit and strong! Mental health plays a huge role in whether you get the body you desire or not, so always remember to face each gym session or outdoor run with optimism and positivity!

Lifestyle Changes to Make in 2017









Yearly, cases of adult obesity and onsets of chronic diseases like hypertension in the United States increase by an average of 18-20%. Both are usually attributed to poor lifestyle–high cholesterol diets, nutrition-deficient food and a glaring lack of physical activity. The best way to welcome the new year is with good health and a positive disposition. Sluggishness, fatigue, and mastering the art of couch potato-ing isn’t the way to go! Jump-start your 2017 with a few health tips from us.


Online Fitness Apps & Plans

Exercising is the best way to shed off unwanted pounds and revitalize your energy! You don’t have to jump right into the heavy-duty workout, some light running and cardio training for a solid week will condition your body for the more substantial movements.

  • Fitness Blender offers a variety of 2 to 8 week workout plans depending on your needs, whether it’s for weight loss, toning, or body strengthening, and they also include healthier meal alternatives to aid you with your change of lifestyle.
  • XHIT Daily is a Youtube account offering free workout videos for those who prefer to exercise in the comfort of their homes, and offer several installations of high intensity workouts that you can complete in 3 to 10 minutes.
  • Kayla Itsines’ BBG Plan is, in other words, the Bikini Body Guide, meant to gear and condition your body for toning and strengthening, and get you ready to flaunt your hard work whenever you want. She offers a 12-week program, workout bundles, and clean-eating tips as well.


Get yourself a reliable fitness guide that will track your health progress, will motivate you to keep exercising by giving you new and fresh routines every now and then, and guide you towards an overall body-positive outlook!


Detox Water

It’s not just alcohol that you have to side-line when you’re on a night-out. Carbonated drinks and flavored liquids, like juices are commonly referred to as “empty calories”. They give you high sugar content but are scarce in terms of nourishment. They’ll quickly turn into love-handles if you don’t watch out! Water can be plain-tasting, but it is refreshing, and essential to the hydration of your body. Adding exciting natural flavors to your water to make it more invigorating is a trend in 2017! Lemons slices, strawberry chunks, mint leaves, cucumbers, and watermelons are among the most common ingredients in infused water. They help flush out the toxins in your body, stave off unhealthy cravings, and give you a boost in energy!


Smoothies, to Catch Zs!

An overall lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain–and not the healthy kind! It leads to increasing hunger and appetite, and when overlooked, may escalate to obesity. It is also a leading factor to a number of health deficiencies, like diabetes. Sleep deprivation ages your skin, makes you forgetful, slows down your reflexes, and in general, just affects how you function in day-to-day situations. Lately, smoothies that encourage melatonin production–a hormone that helps you sleep soundly–have become a popular option for the overworked individual. Bananas, almonds, walnuts, lettuce, cherries, passionfruit, and honey are just some of the foods with natural melatonin properties. Whip up a fresh batch of smoothie with them and get a refreshing sleep every night!


Being healthy doesn’t have to be the torturous, bland, painful journey that you probably imagine it to be. If you employ a positive attitude towards the success of your well-being, then your trips to the gym and no-cheat days will certainly give results and you’ll benefit by avoiding many health risks from unhealthy living.


Maintenance Checklist: How to Kickstart the year with Well-Kept Home









Start the year right with your annual home maintenance. Even though it is  tedious, regular home maintenance will extend the longevity of your home.  Save big time on repairs and prevent breakdowns by keeping up with routine maintenance throughout the year. Breeze through the demands of your home maintenance using this checklist:

Clear out the clutter

Now that the holiday is over, it is high time to store your Christmas decorations. Wrap your Christmas ornaments carefully so you can use them again. Keep them in boxes or tubs and secure them in your storage area.

Clean up your closet

Over the course of the year, your closet has accumulated stuff that has become unnecessary and unusable. Take advantage of your free time by organizing your closet. Sort your clothes and decide which ones to keep, throw out or donate. Use hangers, shelves and bins customized for your needs to increase your storage space.


Spruce up your kitchen

If your new year’s resolution included eating healthier food at home, then start at your kitchen pantry. Clean your kitchen and get rid of junk food, unusable utensils and appliances. Remember that toaster oven you had when you were young? If it cannot be repaired anymore, toss it away. Rearrange your pantry so your fruits, vegetables, juicer and blender are easier to access. Every time you want to create healthy smoothies, you can do so easier.


Inspect Exteriors for Ice Dams

Check your exterior for ice dams to prevent leaks and damage. Make sure that your entrance is clear of snow and ice. If you have severe ice dams, avoid removing them by yourself since it can be dangerous. Contact your local snow removal contractor to remove the ice dams for you.  


Update Home inventory

The start of the year is the perfect time to conduct a home inventory. This makes dealing with your insurance company easier in case of theft or natural disaster. Check your exterior first and take a video or pictures of your home including your landscape, hardscape, patio, outdoor kitchen and other features. Take close shots for each of them. Take note of helpful information such as purchase price, measurement, serial numbers and measurements. Do the same inside, covering each room along with your appliances, furniture and other important stuff.

Map out your remodeling goals for the year

Are you planning on adding  a room, repurposing your garage or repainting? Keep a date book to manage appointments, contractors and your finances. Use online resources for ideas and references.


Maintaining your home can be daunting but with the right preparation and tools, you’ll be able to navigate through the process and be on top of your game.

Test the Waters: Must Try Lake Sammamish Water Activities

Lake Sammamish Water Activites








There is more to Lake Sammamish than meets the eye. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie who wants an intensive water sport or a local who wants to enjoy the lake in a different perspective, Lake Sammamish guarantees entertainment.  Most of the homeowners enjoy living near the lake due to its luxurious amenities and family friendly water activities that include:


Test your balance and enjoy the fresh wind as it whips your face while you ski. Lake Sammamish has a local water ski club which organizes activities such as racing events that peak from March until September. However, if you are a non-member, you can simply take advantage of boat and Jet Ski rentals near the area.


While water skiing is a favorite activity throughout the year, skiing during summer or fall can give you the most enjoyable experience. The reduced boat traffic and perfect Indian summer conditions during late September gives you the best Lake Sammamish experience.


If you prefer a more laid back water activity, Lake Sammamish takes pride of its aquatic resources. The lake is home for schools of fish such as salmon, yellow perch, largemouth bass and trout to name a few. However, the abundance of salmon varies depending on the season. While there are no fishing piers, angling is still possible year round from the shoreline.


Channel your inner surfer in this thrilling water activity. Lake Sammamish offers a perfect venue to show off your board tricks. With boat and jetski rentals abounding in the area, you will be more than ready to take your wakeboarding skills to the next level. If you are a beginner, don’t fret though. This water activity can accommodate anyone who has the guts to brave the waters and have fun. Bonus tip: If you have experience waterskiing, wakeboarding comes easily.

Water Tubing

For the hot days when you just want to dip in the cool water or laze around under the beautiful sun, water tubing is the answer. However, if you want to explore the lake but don’t have your own boat, you can rent a paddle boat, kayak, canoe or even a stand up paddle board. Bask in the glory of the gorgeous sun as you relish the lovely views on Lake Sammamish.


Stand Up Paddle boarding

Suitable for people of all ages, paddle boarding lets you explore Lake Sammamish from a different perspective.. Witness the beautiful sunrise or sunset as you paddle across the lake. If you don’t have paddle board, you can rent it from Issaquah Paddle Sports on the State Park. As soon as you master standing on the paddle board, you are good to go and enjoy the tranquility of the water. Whether you want to actively explore  or just chill in the waters, stand up paddle boarding will satisfy.


Kill two birds with one stone in this entertaining and physically challenging water activity. Kayaking serves as a good way to work your abdominal and arm muscles as you paddle on both sides, twisting your muscles in the process. Kayaking is also a kid-friendly activity so bring the whole family to make some lasting memories together.


Lake Sammamish offers many activities that you and your family and friends can enjoy throughout the year. For beginners looking for a new adventure, these water sports provide  great opportunities to learn new tricks and skills while enjoying the local scenery from a different perspective.


2017 Interior Design Trends: How to Make your Home Picture Perfect









Welcoming the new year with some crisp and fresh home decor is just what every household needs to start 2017 right! Here are a few accent and renovation ideas that will spice up any part of your home.


  • Shades of Green

Pantone’s color of the year is Greenery. From the name alone, you can expect to see leafy-colored variations. From deep emeralds, vibrant lime, to soft pastel olives, any hue of green is in this year. The color is supposed to evoke the sensation of spring–refreshing drinks, and the invigorating feeling of the outdoors. Incorporating green into your household will provide comfort away from the hectic pace of the world outside your home, and invite  the essence of nature and peace.


  • Upholstered Bedheads

The master bedroom is one of the most important spaces in any home, and a simple trendy accessorizing you can do is to give your bed’s headboard a bit of furnishing. To save yourself from buying a new bed frame, it’s easier to have it customized using a local furniture restoration shop. Give yourself a restful sleep and wake up on the right side of the bed everyday with your beautifully upholstered headboard,although, sleeping in may become a little too tempting!


  • Texture: Matte Finish & Cork

Interior Design in 2017 promotes contrasting textures that work beautifully when paired together. Dark, jewel-toned paints with a matte finish go well with the warmth of cork. Balancing the subdued and bold creates  captivating accents for your home.


  • Private Floor Layout

Remember all those magazines featuring glass-encased houses with a layout that is supposed to connect the rooms within your home? Well, in 2017 those are out. One problem that an open-floor design allows is the inevitable mingling of smells from your kitchen to the bedroom or receiving area. This year is all about private, modern living.

Whatever your decorating plans are for your home, remember that your comfort should come first before anything else. 365 days of using furniture and drapes that you’re not in love with is not going to help you relax in your own space. Happy decorating!

Real Estate Investment: Condominiums vs. Houses









What should you consider before investing in either?

A property investment takes a considerable amount of deliberation, planning, and funding. Your budget speaks loudly for the kind of property you can invest in, but if you’re not short on finances, then the sky is, as they say, the limit. If money is not an issue, here are four things you might wish to factor into your estate investment decisions.



Recently, condominiums have become a favorable option for a lot of consumers investing in property. Because of urban living, condominiums are often located within the sphere of business districts, making them prime choices for the on-the-go individual. And since most business districts are already congested, it has become seldom to see home developers creating subdivisions in these areas. Houses are frequently built in suburban areas, to radiate a feeling of more privacy.


Rules of Ownership

Houses allow for more autonomy and control over home improvement decisions. Remodeling and renovations done on houses are less likely to be monitored and restricted, as opposed to those done in condominiums, where the owner has to subject his space for scrutiny and inspection. Consequently, a homeowner also has to shoulder more responsibility in terms of maintaining the property. Yard and landscape caring becomes the obligation of the holder.



Statistics on metropolitan and modern living show that the people who typically invest in condominiums are either single, young professionals, start-up families, or empty nesters–parents whose children have grown up and moved out of their family home. Those who spend on condominiums generally require less area for themselves, and more convenience. On the other hand, houses grant more flexibility in space for big families and their possessions. And since condominiums are mostly built in downtown areas, they offer more hustle and bustle, and less tranquility. However, condominiums add more convenience to their advantage because they offer the use of facilities that are not readily available to regular homes, like gyms and pools.



Both condominiums and houses offer price resilience, mostly depending on the where they are located. Commonly, houses are priced higher than condominiums within the same area. Suburban houses are worth less than those directly in the urban sphere. Houses are fairly more susceptible to value appreciation, since land is readily available to the owner. Condominiums on the other hand, are sensitive and get hit the fastest when the market declines, and becomes less profitable when offered for sale.


What’s really important about property investment is the your inclination and lifestyle. Condominiums are usually built at the heart of the city’s activities and therefore mean more noise and rush, but are also closer to job opportunities. Houses are commonly constructed on the outskirts for more privacy and exclusivity. Take the time to discern on your options before becoming a certified homeowner.

#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 17



Seattle Seahawks






#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the San Francisco 49ers.  


  • Tackles This Week: 65
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $6,500


Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:


  • Total Defensive Tackles for 2016: 232
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $35,000


Seahawks pulled out a win, which puts them in the number 3 seed for playoffs. They will host a wild card game this Saturday at home. Keep going strong, #Hawks! Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!

  • Featured photo courtesy of  Maxinux40k via Photopin


New Year, New Home: Small Tweaks to Prepare your Home before Selling


New Years signal a rise of activity from home buyers and sellers looking to have a fresh start. If your New Year’s resolution includes selling your home, these practical tips can help achieve your goals:

Add a fresh coat of paint

 Adding a fresh coat of paint to your home can leave a good impression to your potential buyers. Using wallpaper instead of paint can deter prospects since it presents a lot of patterns that can give an outdated look to your home. When painting your interior, choose light colors to give the illusion of wider and larger space. Using neutral colors help prospects visualize their plans. 

Pay attention to your interior

Besides painting your interior, consider updating your floor. Ask professional help to clean your carpet or consider switching your carpet with hardwood floors. For older bathroom tiles, you can apply new grout or have them replaced with new tiles. De-clutter and remove extra furniture and other personal items. This can help buyers envision their things in your property. 

Improve your landscape

Increase your curb appeal by mowing your lawn and trimming the branches close to the siding of your house. Clear the stray branches and leaves that block your driveway and gutter.  

Perform necessary repairs

If the winter season has ruined your gutters or your siding, then start repairing them. A little touch ups go a long way. The goal is to make your home in the best condition possible. 

Reduce energy cost

You can make your home more appealing to your prospects by making your home energy efficient. Simple improvements can reduce your energy costs. Check your HVAC ductwork for holes that can lead to leaks. Seal your ducts to extend the life of your units as well as cut on energy costs. 

Once the New Year starts, there will likely be a surge of inventory from sellers who were holding off on their home listing.  These simple tweaks will help attract future buyers and improve your chances of selling your home.

#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 16









#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.


Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the Arizona Cardinals.  


  • Tackles This Week: 126
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $12,600


Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:


  • Total Tackles for 2016: 1038
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $103,800


Seahawks fell short on a win, but did pull out a big win for #TackleHomelessness and knocked this campaign over $100,000! Keep going strong, #Hawks! Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!


  • Featured photo courtesy of  Monica’s Dad via Photopin


Holiday Cleanup: How to Tackle Post Celebration Mess


Holiday Cleanup







Cleaning up after Christmas celebration is a tedious job we all dread. However, the longer you delay cleaning, the more tedious it can get. Tackle your holiday mess wisely with these tips:

Sort your leftovers

Toss anything that sat out at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. These foods include salads, dips, appetizers, cheese and even vegetable platters. Cover with foil or plastic wrap the leftovers that you intend to consume later. You can also transfer them to smaller containers before storing them in the fridge.

Clear the counter

Scrape the dishes, cooled grease and gravy from the pans into your kitchen trash bin. This will save you time and help your pipes. Seal your bin and take it to your back door or outdoor garbage can. Fill your grimy pans and pots with very hot water mixed with dishwashing liquid. This is to loosen the tough dirt in the pot.  Set them aside and pay attention to your other dishes. Now, stack your dirty dishes into your dishwasher, add detergent and start the cycle. Once you are done, you can wash the pots and pans that you soaked with hot water.


Watch out for stains

Is your carpet stained by wine or desserts? Tackle them right away. The longer they sit, the harder they are to clean. Get a thick and absorbent cloth and place it over the stain. Add a few drops of white vinegar on the stain  and blot it with a dry cloth. If your floor has meat stains, remove them using meat tenderizer and white vinegar. For candle wax drips, remove them using blunt knife. For hard stubborn wax, place a cloth over the stain and iron on a low setting to melt the wax.

Tackling the post celebration mess that needs urgent attention is the first step towards Christmas cleanup. Once you are done with the worst messes, you can proceed to less pressing matters such as your decorations and trimmings. Be as organized as possible and don’t just toss them in boxes to avoid tangling and possibly destroying them.  It is a good idea to put each light strand in its own plastic bag.  You will be happy you did that come next December.




#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 15


#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 15

The Seahawks were on fire Thursday night, crushing the Los Angeles Rams with a score of 24-3! Now, let’s see if they also pulled out a big win during Week 15 of the #TackleHomelessness campaign! 

#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the Los Angeles Rams.  

  • Tackles This Week: 64
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $6,400

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

  • Total Tackles for 2016: 976
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $97,600

Keep going strong, #Hawks! Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!

  • Featured photo courtesy of  Shi Devotion via Flickr

How to Prepare your Home While you are on Holiday Vacation



Are you planning to go on vacation during the holidays? Whether you’ll be gone for few days or several weeks, these steps will help secure your home and lower your utility bills:

Mind your Appliances

Minimize unnecessary costs byunplugging appliances that don’t need to stay plugged in such as the TV, coffee maker and microwave. Turn off water valves that connect to your sinks, dishwasher and washing machine. Unplug and reset thermostat so your AC unit or heater won’t waste energy.  Use the “vacation mode” of your water heater while you are away. Alternately, you can lower the temperature to save energy.

Prepare your Pets and Plants

If you don’t have plans on bringing your furry friends with you, leave them on a boarding facility or a pet sitter. Be specific with your instruction such as food, medicines and their favorite toys. You can ask a friend or neighbor to drop by your house and water your plants. Again, provide specific details about your plants as well as their locations.

Make your house look occupied

An empty looking house attracts burglars. You can temporarily stop your mail delivery or ask a neighbor or friend to collect your mail. Contact your local post office and ask to put your delivery on hold while you are away. Also, you can leave a few lamps on throughout your house. If your vacation is longer, use automatic timers to turn on and off your lights at different intervals. You can also monitor your home even while on vacation through CCTV. You can stream live video or record clips from your mobile device.

You can ask your neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you are away. This will help you make the most out of your holiday vacation without worrying about the condition and safety of your home!

*Featured photo courtesy of  Michael via Flickr

#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 14



#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the Green Bay Packers.  

  • Tackles This Week: 64
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $6,400

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

  • Total Tackles for 2016: 912
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $91,200

Seahawks fell short on a win for their record, but did pull out a big win for #TackleHomelessness. Keep going strong, #Hawks! Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!


  • Featured photo courtesy of  Mike Morbeck via Flickr



Fun Christmas Games to Try with the Family



Tis the season for family reunion! After the presents have been opened and food consumed, it is time to hype the crowd with this list of games, guaranteed to break the boredom and add some fun to your celebration.

Name that Carol Picture Game

Print out pictures that best describe Christmas songs and have everyone guess the title. Whoever guesses the most titles wins. To appeal to younger crowds, you can replace the pictures with emojis that sum up the title of the song. You can play this game after eating your favorite apple pie.

Build a Snowman

This game requires rolls of toilet paper and orange and black construction paper. Cut out two circles for the snowman’s eyes and the orange paper to resemble a snowman’s nose. Divide into groups of two where one serves as the volunteer. The volunteer will be wrapped around with toilet paper then tape on the eyes and nose. The team that finishes their snowman first wins.

Candy Cane Hunt

Bring the house down with this fun game. Hide a set of wrapped candy canes throughout your home and let everyone hunt, find and collect them. This kids-appropriate game is guaranteed to entertain both kids and the young at heart.

Pin the Red Nose

Outline reindeer face using construction paper eyes. Blindfold a player and give them the red nose, guide them towards the reindeer and let them figure out where to put the nose.

Unwrap the Gifts Challenge

Add a twist to the usual unwrapping of gifts. You will need two oven mitts and wrapped gifts for this game. Double or triple wrap the gifts. With everyone circling around, ask players to unwrap the gifts while wearing the mitts. Whoever unwraps the gift first wins!

No matter what games you choose to play, remember to have fun with friendly competition. Embrace the holiday spirit by being a good sport!

Featured photo courtesy of  San Diego Shooter via PhotoPin




#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 13



#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the Carolina Panthers.

Tackles This Week: 51
Amount of Money Raised This Week: $5,100

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

Total Tacks for 2016: 848
Amount of Money Raised This Season: $84,800

Seahawks pulled out another big win this week for both their season record and in regards to #TackleHomelessness. Keep going strong, #Hawks! Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!




You’ve probably heard about the water shortage in a lot of parts of the world, and the expectancy that in the next 10 years, more countries and states will be equally as affected, and maybe you want to make a conscious effort towards water conservation. What we have for you are several ingenious tips that can help you manage your water consumption and in the process, save yourself a few bucks.   

1.) Be vigilant when it comes to leaky faucets

A few drips of water from your faucet may become a full-blown plumbing issue when you neglect to remedy it immediately. Be on the lookout for faulty pipes and save yourself from the hassle of a future nonfunctional faucet, and the cost it demands for a plumbing team to repair. Take the time to stock up on the basic plumbing tools, be a certified emergency-ready homeowner, and prevent your money from going down the drain—pun intended.

2.) Take fewer baths and more showers

Baths are such an indulgent experience. You get to have the luxurious scent of bath bombs, the warmth of coconut pumpkin-scented candles, and the richness of a glass or red wine, but the amount of water it takes to fill up a tub makes it inefficient in conserving water. In comparison, military-reminiscent showers are more clinical, and less romantic, but are simultaneously less costly and more practical.

3.) Update your old toilets

Around late 1990s, several state governments have enforced the limitation of toilet water for flushing to 1.6 gallons of water or less. Models that were issued before the restriction used as much as 4-7 gallons of water! Now, newer models are introducing “low-flow” toilets, and are becoming so economical, that some were reportedly using only as much as 1.28 gallons of water. By simply replacing your outdated toilets, you can expect less zeroes on your next water bill.

4.) Recycle gray water

Save the water you rinsed your laundry with, and use it to clean your garage floors. During the possibility of a rain shower, you can opt to collect rainwater in a drum and use it to water your plants. And if you’re determined to conserve as much clean water as possible, you can work with grey water to wash your toilets.

Whether it’s a residential or commercial establishment you’re in, your deliberate attempts to lessen water consumption will not only affect your incoming water bill, it will also ensure that the future generations get to experience the joys of clean, unspoiled water.

#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 12


#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 12

#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  

  • Tackles This Week: 75
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $7,500

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

  • Total Tacks for 2016: 797
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $79,700

A sad loss this week as the Seahawks bow to Tampa Bay! Seahawks will hope to pull out another win next week but are thrilled this week still proved successful for #TackleHomelessness. Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!

Black Friday 101: Shopping Goals Unlocked


Black Friday 101: Shopping Goals Unlocked


With Thanksgiving at the doorstep, no doubt your home is alive with the smells of that gorgeous stuffed turkey, that sinful pumpkin and pecan pie,  the aroma of fresh cinnamon, melting butter, and perfectly seasoned gravy. But beyond that deep-seated love for food that you and your family share, is a Thanksgiving sequel that you wouldn’t want to miss: Black Friday deals.

Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, and this is accompanied by major retailers placing extreme markdowns on their merchandise. The shopping malls will surely be packed, streets will be bustling, and everybody will be armed with their credit cards and wallets, and while you want to  score the best value for you money, you will also want to avoid the unnecessary stress of battling the shopping lanes with hundreds of other consumers. But don’t fret, we’ve got your back. Below is a list of tips that can help you accomplish your shopping goals.

1.Know your merchandise

Researching might take up a bit of your time, but it will help you determine whether you’re swiping that credit card at the right place. A lot of websites drive traffic by releasing a compilation of Black Friday ads before the big day, and this will allow you to gauge how much regular prices are in comparison with their discounted prices. You can back this up with the use of online price-comparison sites, like PriceRunner and Google Shopping that will help you make the right shopping decisions.

2.Create a Shopping List

Prioritizing what you actually plan on purchasing will save you time, in case you get carried away by the assortment of displays on sale. Set aside the window-shopping and impulse-buys after securing your essentials.

3.Watch out for Shady Doorbuster deals

In an attempt to create huge profits and take out competition, some retailers charge merchandise below the market price in order to hook consumers into buying, and overlook the fact that the nominal price could be due to poor quality. Look out for no-brand products sold at a deceptively enticing price point and save yourself from defective merchandise.

4.Carry cash and discount coupons

If you’re afraid of overspending, two ways to avoid it is to: carry cash because spending stops when you run out of greenbacks, and use discount coupons to land yourself bigger savings and more purchases.

Ultimately, you have to remember that joining the Black Friday escapade means you have to gear yourself up for long queues at the register, lots of shoulder and other body parts bumping, and a huge crowd!


Featured photo courtesy of Total TaiTai via Flickr


#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 11


#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 11

#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the Philadelphia Eagles.  

  • Tackles This Week: 75
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $7,500

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

  • Total Tacks for 2016: 722
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $72,200

Wow! Seahawks have continued on their undefeated home game streak making this game number 5. Seahawks pulled out another win and another large donation to #TackleHomelessness. Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!

Fun and Fab Activities to Try This Thanksgiving Weekend


Fun and Fab Activities to Try This Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And while the first order of business is to get the biggest and most sumptuous turkey come dinner time, you should also start thinking of activities to entertain your loved ones. Besides the usual football, you can bond with your family and friends while doing these:


Beat the Bird Thanksgiving Fun Run


Thu, November 24, 2016

9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

SHOES-n FEET Shoe Center

15015 Main St # 102

Bellevue, WA 98007

Shed off the extra pound you put on the night before! This fun race is held on the morning of Thanksgiving. It is kick started by the Turkey who will be beaten by the participants. This family friendly run is also open for young participants who can run as far as 1 kilometer. Whether you win or not, you still get to support the underserved and disabled in Sierra Leone. Now, that’s the kind of thanksgiving that we want.


Thanksgiving Break camps

When: November 26 -27, 2016


Harness your kid’s baseball skills by enlisting them on Thanksgiving camps. The camps focus on improving exit velocity finishing the swing and head down drills. Your kids will also learn creating a repetitive delivery, different grips and locating as well as finishing. This will also give you some time off to do your chores at home while your kids are at play.


Snowflake Lane at the Bellevue Collection

November 25 – December 24, 2016

7:00 PM

575 Bellevue Square

Bellevue, WA 98004

Got plans the night after the thanksgiving? Spend your weekend right by seeing your favorite seasonal characters sashaying and singing down Bellevue way. Enjoy the nightly winter wonderland with swirling snow and holiday music in the background.

Family Ornament Paint Party

Friday, November 25, 2016

4:00pm – 6:30pm

Wine Not Paint

905 SW Rimrockway, Suite 103

Unleash your inner artist in this fun event. Take your coat off, go get some drinks and get acquainted with different people whose interests are the same as yours. Don’t have a formal training in painting? No worries. The artists will provide you a systematic direction to recreate a piece of art that you like. This activity doesn’t require artist license or any experience. The only limit is your imagination. So go ahead and indulge!

Whether you are spending Thanksgiving with your family or alone, you can always find fun and entertaining activities that match your interests and lifestyle. Plan out your Thanksgiving weekend and make it worthwhile.

#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 10


#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 9

#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the New England Patriots.  

  • Tackles This Week: 73
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $7,300

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

  • Total Tacks for 2016: 647
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $64,700

Wow! In an unfavored prediction, Seahawks pulled out another win and another large donation to #TackleHomelessness. Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!

The 3Cs in Preparing your Home for Winter


The 3Cs in Preparing your Home for Winter

Is your home ready for the coldest time of the year? Even before the bone-chilling winter sets in, you must take time to winterize your home. You can save a lot from repair and energy bill costs while extending the lifespan of your HVAC units and ultimately protecting your home. Enjoy your cup of pumpkin spice latte while you cozy up in your cocoon with these winter tips:

Call your HVAC contractor for maintenance

Have a professional inspect your HVAC units to ensure its optimum performance. Ask your contractor to tune up your furnace and inspect clean and heating ducts. A regular maintenance of your HVAC equipment is better than costly repairs. This is to ensure that your units are still energy efficient and can perform optimally. Checking your heating equipment as early as now saves you a lot of time than queuing for repairs when it breaks during the winter.

Clean your Gutters and Yard

Check out your gutters for grime and trash built up from the past season. Clogged gutters can cause ice dams that keeps your drainage systems from functioning. When ice dams melt, this can cause leaks and damage to your home. Make sure to clean everything and check whether the pipes are free from any obstruction. You can run water in your gutter to check if it is still performing well. Avoid possible damage and injury by trimming dead branches that could possibly break due to the snow weight.

Cover up Pipes and Cracks

Pipes are vulnerable during freezing temperatures. Protect your pipes from damage by using insulation sleeves. Keep your pipes warm using foam cardigan or lagging to reduce the heat lost as well as insulate pipes. Cover up gaps and cracks in your foundation and walls to prevent the chilly air from entering your home. You can also invest in caulking or foam to keep your home warm.

Winter is coming and days are shorter. These simple tips can help you stay warm, cozy and practical come the chilly season.

#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 8


#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 8

#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare week after week! Here’s how we did this week against the New Orleans Saints.  

  • Tackles This Week: 79
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $7,900

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

  • Total Tacks for 2016: 479
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $47,900

Wow! The Hawks are really pulling together and #TackleHomelessness is off to a great start as a result. Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!

Halloween Special: Fun Activities to Try this Halloween Weekend!


Halloween Special: Fun Activities to Try this Halloween Weekend!

Halloween Special: Fun Activities to Try this Halloween Weekend!

Tired of roaming around the neighborhood to get some good old sweets? If you have outgrown this traditional Halloween activity, check out these fun halloween activities right up your neighborhood! Forget about house parties and enjoy these community events guaranteed to keep boredom at bay:


Scream for a Cause in Nightmare at Beaver Lake 2016

October 20-31 2016 @ 2526 244th Ave SE, Sammamish, WA 98075

Scream your lungs out as you trail the most terrifying haunted house on the eastside. The Nightmare at Beaver Lake is a 100% volunteer production where the proceeds go to college scholarships, local family and other institutions. Gather your friends and take part in this annual fall community event.


Walk with the Zombies

October 29 @ Hailstone Feed Store

Witness zombies totter as they look for some brains in the annual Downtown Zombie Walk. You can tag along your family and watch these zombies shuffle to the good old tune of “Thriller” and “Time Warp”. Who knows? You might learn a step or two.


Challenge your Sense of Adventure at SpookFest Zip Scare

October 28-29, 2016 @ South Bellevue Community Center, 14509 SE Newport Way

This activity is not for the weak of heart! Take ziplining to the next level by zipping in the dark. Don’t fret though! Riders and platforms will be brightened with glow-sticks for safety. Are you ready to conquer your fear of heights and dark? Zip the night away with this exhilarating activity.


Spend Quality Time with your Furry Friends

October 29 @ 1355 NE Hemlock Ave.

Got  plans with your pets? If not, join into Brightside Animal Center’s Halloween Pet Photo and Costume Contest Fundraiser. Bring your furry pals and dress them with fancy, spooky or cute costumes and get a chance to snag the first prize.

#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 7


#TackleHomelessness Update: Week 7

#TackleHomelessness is a charity partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks that is aimed at addressing the growing issue of homelessness in the greater King County area. Every time the Seahawks defense takes the field, we’re keeping track of how many tackles they make. Why? Because every time the Seahawks make a tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides resources to homeless and at-risk youth.

Check back with the Margo Allan blog every week to see how we’re doing! If the Seahawks defense is as good as it’s been under Pete Carroll’s tenure, we expect Windermere will make major contributions to YouthCare every single week! Here’s how we did this week against the Arizona Cardinals.  

  • Tackles This Week: 82
  • Amount of Money Raised This Week: $8,200

Here’s how the Seahawks are doing up to this point in the season:

  • Total Tacks for 2016: 400
  • Amount of Money Raised This Season: $40,000

Wow! Even though it was a difficult game to watch, the outcome for #TackleHomelessness in this week’s game paid off. Here’s to many more successful weeks for the Seahawks and the #TackleHomelessness campaign. Go #Hawks!


Featured photo courtesy of NinjaWeNinja via Flickr


Home Repairs That Should Never Be Put Off


16448251 - building a new home and roof

No matter what shape your home is in, it always seems like there is some for home ongoing maintenance that needs your attention. But let’s take a minute to think about this, is their some maintenance that you can afford to put off? Today, we’re going to share with you a short list of residential repairs that should be addressed as soon as you notice them.

Anything Involving Your Roof – Leaks, missing shingles, and especially sagging roofs, often mean that water is pooling somewhere in your home. If not addressed immediately, minor damage can balloon into a major issue that will put your whole home at risk.

Cracked Foundation – Your home is only as good as it’s foundation. Living on the lake in Seattle is practically an invitation for water to somehow impact your home. It’s important to check your foundation on a regular basis as all the surrounding moisture can cause your foundation crack, compromising your most valuable investment.

Any Kind of Leak – Leaks in your gas line or your pipes is a dangerous in any home. Make sure your home’s pipes are water tight, then you’re at an immediate health risk. Gas poisoning and mold are entirely possible if these issues corrected after a long time.

Shoddy Electrical Systems – Outdated electrical networks in a home are a huge risk for electrical fires. If you’ve recently come into an older home, it’s important to have the wiring inspected. Telltale signs for poor electrical work includes flickering lights, circuit breakers blowing without warning and warm/hot switches.

If you want tips for minor home repairs, you can also check out our blog “DIY Solutions for Minor Roof Damage”!


Featured photo courtesy of priscillapwood via Flickr

Windermere Real Estate & The Seahawks #Tacklehomelessness


Windermere Real Estate & The Seahawks #Tacklehomelessness

Earlier this year, Windermere Real Estate partnered with the Seattle Seahawks as the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks. Like any true Seattleite, we celebrate Blue Fridays and erupt in cheers whenever the Legion lays down the Boom. With the #Tacklehomelessness campaign, you’ve now got another reason to turn it up to 12 every time the Hawks step on the turf!

What is #Tacklehomelessness?

Anybody who has watched the Seahawks since 2011 knows that they are known for their bend-but-don’t break defense. Since 2012, the Legion of Boom has ranked in the Top-5 for Total Defense, and that trend shows no sign of slowing down! For every tackle the Seahawks record, Windermere donates $100 to the Seattle-based YouthCare nonprofit. Our goal is to tackle this serious and curable issue of youth homelessness! We’ll provide you with an update every week for the rest of the season, to see just how well we are doing.

So far, the Seahawks have recorded 248 tackles through 4 weeks of football. That means we’re donating $24,800! So this coming Sunday, while you’re watching the LOB take on the red hot Falcons, remember to remind your friends on social media about the #Tacklehomelessness campaign!

If you would like to hear more about how you can help with YouthCare, please contact Margo Allan. We would love to get you connected!


Featured photo courtesy of M I K E M O R R I S via Flickr

Avoid These Mistakes When Preparing to Make A Down Payment


Avoid These Mistakes When Preparing to Make A Down Payment

Keeping A Portion As “Loose Change” – If you’re in an industry where a portion of your paycheck is in tips, it’s important to make sure you regularly deposit those tips into an interest-bearing account. By keeping your entire down payment in a bank, you don’t run the risk of losing cash, and the money starts accruing interest as soon as it’s in the bank!

Depositing Large Portions Last Minute – Related to the previous point, depositing a large portion at last minute (even if it’s perfectly legitimate money) raises a red flag in a lender’s eyes. In a lender’s eyes, large deposits are assumed to be loans. If you’re receiving assistance from a family member in the form of a gift, or you’re cashing out on an investment, make sure you give the money time to sit in your bank account.

Tying Your Funds Up In High-Risk Investments – If you’re near the point of making a down payment, don’t risk a setback by investing it on a high risk investment! Keep your down payment out of investments like stocks or other high yield investments that require a long term approach. If you feel compelled to invest the money somewhere, consider a CD or a Money Market Account.


Shiplap: Interior Design’s Bizarre and Fascinating New Trend


Shiplap: Interior Design’s Bizarre and Fascinating New Trend

You’ve likely seen shiplap boards before (even if you didn’t know what they were called). Only difference is, you likely saw them used as a siding material for home exteriors. However, these durable, wooden, boards have caught on as an all the rage material for interior design.

What’s the Deal With Shiplap?

Shiplap boards actually gained it’s notoriety on HGTV’s hit design show “Fixer Upper” due to the hosts habit of incorporating the material in several of their interior design projects. But it goes beyond just the “As Seen On TV” factor. Industry experts like that shiplap adds just enough texture to a wall without being too busy, it offers a neutral appearance that can be tailored to the homeowner’s preference.

How Do I Install It?

Before doing anything, we recommend that you paint your shiplap boards whatever color, stain, or finish you want before installation. Once settled on that decision, installation is easy. Start at the bottom of a wall and screw the shiplap board in. Then, since the wooden boards have interlocking grooves, you can slide the rest in, having the boards all sit on top of each other. For your own piece of mind, you should screw the rest of the boards in.

Have you installed shiplap boards inside of your home? What’s your experience with this new trend? Tell us here!

Featured photo courtesy of herefordcat via Flickr

You Can Take It With You (But It Doesn’t Mean You Should)


You Can Take It With You (But It Doesn’t Mean You Should)

You’ve gone through all the hurdles to get the house of your dreams and there’s just one more to go: Moving. The packrat in all of us says that it’s hard to let go of anything. You might have an endless list of rationalizations as to why you need to keep the entire VHS collection of Frasier, here’s a list of household items that you should kick to the curb to start your new home off on the right foot!

Old Towels & Linens – It’s probably been years since you’ve bought fresh bath linens, and nothing feels better than fluffy, new, towels! Instead of disposing your old bath towels, consider repurposing them as cleaning rags.

Closet Clutter – Remember that old sweater with the stretched out neck hole? If it took this article to remind you that it was there, then it’s likely not going to be worn any time soon! Collect all your outdated clothes and bring to your nearest Goodwill, they could find a great use for them.

Duplicate Cookware – Take inventory of your kitchen supplies. There’s no need for a surplus of spices, multiple bread pans, old appliances, etc. that won’t have a place in your new home. You can always repopulate your kitchen with a more updated arsenal of cooking gear.

Extra Cables – With all the new technology we’ve accumulated over the past ten years, there’s undoubtedly some stray cable lying around that doesn’t belong to anything important. Find all the cables that clutter up your home and dispose of them accordingly.

Outdated Paper Records – Most paper records like old tax returns and mailing lists are safe to keep for about 5 years. Unless you’re disciplined about keeping your records clean, you’ve likely got records that are older than that, get intimate with your paper shredder and do some spring cleaning!


If you want to know the most and least competitive housing markets in Seattle, head over to our blog “The Bidding Burden: The 10 Most/Least Competitive Eastside Housing Markets”! 

DIY Solutions for Minor Roof Damage


DIY Solutions for Minor Roof Damage

While September has been uncharacteristically warm, stormy Seattle weather will be inevitable. If you’re a veteran to the Seattle rain, you’ve undoubtedly seen a bucket on the floor as it collects water. Anticipate the coming storm by making sure your roof is in tip top shape! While most industry experts would advise against self-diagnosis and repair for roofs, a your family handyman should be more than capable to correcting minor roof repairs. Here are a few tips for some DIY leak repair:

Safety First

Always make sure your roof is capable of bearing your entire weight. If it feels treacherous, don’t risk it and call a contractor who knows how to cope. Playing fast and loose with your roof can make your roof collapse, hurting you AND exacerbating the problem on your roof. Once you’re on the roof, make sure you’re anchored to your roof. Most recommend a chimney, but you can tie yourself to anything that is sturdy and stable enough to support your weight in case you slip and fall.

Spotting the Leak

Unless there is a gaping hole in your roof, spotting a leak can be tricky. Telltale signs of a leaky include cracked roofing, expanding or warped shingles, and any sings of mold. These types of issues are the most common contributors to causing leaks, once you’ve spotted them, use your best judgement to determine if you can correct the issue on your own or if it’s time to hire a contractor.

Replacing a Shingle

Most residential roofs use shingles. In order to repair a leak, you’ve got to remove the problem shingles and replace them with fresh ones. Start by removing the nails that keeps the shingle anchored. Lift the shingles above the damaged area to safely remove the problem shingle. Once removed, use roofing nails to place and secure the new shingle. If you want to added assurance, use an adhesive on the heads of the nails to make sure it stays in place.

How Homebuyers Have More Leverage Now Than They Realize


House owner/real estate agent giving away the keys - house out of focus

There are two things that are certain in life, death, and a hot June/July real estate market. If you are a homebuyer that found themselves constantly striking out in the summer, don’t despair, the tides are turning in your favor! Taking into account national housing market trends, a seasonal forecast, and a little bit of econ101, we believe that autumn 2016 will be a market that favors homebuyers.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the real estate market is due to slow down now that September and fall have arrived. Compare the busiest month for real estate (June) to the slowest (December). On average there are 75% more sales! Houses move fast in June! But here’s where things get interesting. While sales are high in summer and slow down in fall, the available inventory on the housing market typically varies no more than 20%.

Simple supply and demand suggest that sellers can’t afford to make demands in the winter. While the homebuyer will be in the driver seat at the negotiating table, it’s important to still come prepared when you get down to brass tacks. When you’re negotiating on price make sure to have these things in order:

  • Pre-approved mortgage
  • Have a flexible asking price
  • Be represented by a realtor you trust

Come to the table with this list in order, and you’ll be more than prepared to walk away with the home of your dreams at a price you can afford!

Conventional wisdom suggests that the real estate market is due to slow down now that September and fall have arrived. Compare the busiest month for real estate (June) to the slowest (December). On average there are 75% more sales! Houses move fast in June! But here’s where things get interesting. While sales are high in summer and slow down in fall, the available inventory on the housing market typically varies no more than 20%.

Simple supply and demand suggest that sellers can’t afford to make demands in the winter. While the homebuyer will be in the driver seat at the negotiating table, it’s important to still come prepared when you get down to brass tacks. When you’re negotiating on price make sure to have these things in order:

  • Pre-approved mortgage
  • Have a flexible asking price
  • Be represented by a realtor you trust

Come to the table with this list in order, and you’ll be more than prepared to walk away with the home of your dreams at a price you can afford!

Ready to finally own a home? If you’re looking for an alternative solution to the conventional mortgage from a big bank, check out our blog Alternative to a Mortgage: The Hard Money Loan!


Featured photo courtesy of NJRealtorRay via Flickr

Prepare Your Bathroom Remodel Budget With These Estimates


Prepare Your Bathroom Remodel Budget With These Estimates

Bathrooms are often one of the first rooms we think of when the idea of home renovation comes up. If you’ve got your sights set on a future renovation, building up a sufficient amount of savings for the renovation is a great first step. But how do you determine that magic savings number you should aim for?

We’ve gathered a list of the most common upgrades that homeowners incorporate in their throne rooms and made an upper and lower limit that you can expect for each service. These estimates are based on the size of the bathroom, the quality of the materials you’re using, and how much you’re altering the existing plumbing.

  • Cabinets: $4,700 – $7000
  • Shower: $3,000 – $4,800
  • Countertops: $2,800 – $4,100
  • Bathtub: $2,600 – $4,100
  • Flooring: $2,500 – $3,600
  • Lighting: $1,100 – $1,700
  • Toilet: $340 – $480
  • Total: $17,040 – $25,780

Do these figures raise alarm for you wallet? Don’t worry! Bathroom renovations are often considered one of the most effective returns of investment for improving your property’s value. And the best part about renovations is you can pick and choose what needs and update and what’s fine as it is.

Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment?


Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment?

Alternatives to traditional energy continue to grow in influence across the country, and the most common choice for residential properties is solar energy. But are they worth the investment, especially in Seattle’s dreary climate? Here’s a bare bones cost analysis so you can make the decision for your own home!

Installation Price

In Seattle, the solar panel installation can run anywhere between $3,000 – $5,000 per kilowatt installed. Most industry experts suggest a 5 kilowatt system is sufficient for a single family home, so the average solar panel system will cost anywhere from $15,000 – $25,000.

Potential Discounts

There are tons of national and local discounts that homeowners can claim if they install solar panels in their home. The most common one is the 30% federal investment tax credit that will be available through 2019. North Carolina State University has created a Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, just plug in your zip code and determine what deductions and credits you qualify for! Here’s the list for the city of Sammamish.

How Long Before Solar Panels “Pay For Themselves”?

On average, a 5,000-watt solar panel system produces 10,833 kilowatt-hours per year. On a per year basis, homeowners can expect an average of $2,002 in savings due to their solar panels. If you’re given no deductions, then it will take about 12 years to pay off the installation cost through the savings on your energy consumption. Current solar panel technology is expected to last 20-30 years.

Is Solar Energy Right For Me?

According to Solar Power Rocks, Washington state is the #26 state for solar energy, we have a few great incentives available to curb the start up costs. Before you decide, consider your home’s physical location and the direction it faces. The ideal conditions for solar panels are a north/south facing roof with minimal obstruction from trees or tall buildings. If this sounds like you home, then solar power might be an excellent option to consider!


Fabulous Fun Events to End your Summer Right!


Fabulous Fun Events to End your Summer Right!

Summer is almost over, so it’s time to take a break from work and zero in on the stuff that makes life more fun. If you’re in for some real-life activities, then forego netflix and get outside to enjoy all your city has to offer!

  • 25th Annual Paws Walk

Saturday, August 27, 2016  |  9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Marymoor Park

6046 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE

Redmond, WA 98052

Pet Lovers, this is your time to give back to you lovies! The Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is holding their annual 5k Fundraising Dog Walk at Marymoor Park this Saturday, August 27. Bring your family, friends and canines with you and help save lives of injured, orphaned and homeless animals with every step you take and donation you make!

Exciting after-walk activities like animal-friendly food trucks, dog agility course tracks and demonstrations, a beer and mimosa garden await those who are joining the benefit walk.

Visit their website for more information and to register!

  • Highlands Day

Saturday, August 27, 2016  |  12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Blakely Hall and Village Green Park
2550 N.E. Park Drive
Issaquah, WA 98029

What better way to end summer in Issaquah than enjoying this epic summer celebration with your family? Dress up your kids (and you too) in fun super hero costumes, enjoy live performances, bazaars, booths and other fun activities!

Know more about the event here.

  • Fantastic Fly-In Festival

August 26 – Opening Festival 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Downtown Issaquah
232 Front St N
Issaquah, WA 98027

August 27 – @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Paragliders Take off point is at Poo Poo Point Landing Zone
Spectators Viewing Point is at Paragliding Landing Zone

The festival is set to kick off on Friday Night from 6pm-9pm at Downtown Issaquah with an array of fun-filled art activities for kids, live music and other festivities. The event continues on Saturday afternoon at Paragliding Landing Zone at the Chirico Trailhead along Issaquah Hobart Road on Tiger Mountain where spectators can gather and be bedazzled by costumed paragliders taking off the skies!

Check out Downtown Issaquah activities at

  1. Art & Beer II: Featuring the Art of Shari Crandall

Sat., Aug. 27, 3-8 p.m. and Fri., Oct. 28, 4 p.m.

Juniper Brewing Company

1950 SW Badger Ave. # 103

Anyway, Art and Beer enthusiasts, here’s the event for you! Juniper Brewing Company of Redmond is back with their annual “Art & Beer” art exhibition featuring paintings and photographs of Shari Crandall along with fourteen other regional artists including Leland Pershall, Linda Shelton and Chris and Laura Wald.

  1. Painting Party at Wine Not Paint

905 SW Rimrockway, Suite 103

Phone: 541-408-7424


Here’s another booze and art combo! Tap on the inner artist in you, create masterpieces and call it your own. Wine Not Paint is “upscale sip and paint, social art studio where anyone can be an artist”. Wine Not Paint’s painting parties is a fun way to meet new people while discovering the artist in you. You can bring a date, your family and friends. Don’t worry about not having any art experience, Wine not Paint’s resident artists will guide you step by step in creating your masterpiece.

The studio opens at 12:30pm. To sign up, go to or call their office at 541-408-7424.

  • Art in the Garden

Saturday and Sunday

August 27 & 28, 2016   |  10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

12001 Main St, Bellevue, WA 98005

Visit the 5th Annual Art in the Garden at Bellevue Botanical Garden this weekend and look for the perfect garden art piece for your home! The garden will be transformed into a gallery of art and plants showcasing the fabulous art pieces and plants of more than 40 Pacific Northwest Artists.
Entrance is free!

When I Should Refinance?


When I Should Refinance?

Historically low interest rates on home loans have homeowners everywhere interested in refinancing. While the possibility of savings is always a tempting scenario, you shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees. Consider your entire financial situation before refinancing, here are the factors we recommend you focus on:

  • Compare Your Rate to Current Rates – If there is a major difference in your mortgage’s interest rate and the current rates, then re-financing is a great option. “Major difference” means any difference greater than 1%. In some cases, you can save up to five figures over the remaining life of your loan!
  • Determine If You Can Afford to Shorten Your Loan’s Life – In most cases, homeowners will opt for a boilerplate 30 year mortgage. We recommend doing a comprehensive budget and determine how much you would pay on a 15 year loan. If your family can afford to pay more up front, simultaneously refinancing and restructuring will save you a lot of money at the cost of higher upfront payments.
  • Consider How Long You Plan to Live In Your Home – Refinancing isn’t free. In general, 30 year loans will run 3-6% of your loan amount. Since the goal of a refinance is to take advantage of lower interest rates, you’re looking for the long-term payout. Moving before you can truly experience the benefits of a lower interest rate will defeat the purpose of the refinance. Most experts suggest that it takes three years for the lower insurance rates to offset the upfront closing fees. If you want to move before that window, refinancing might not be fore you.

And if you are considering an alternative solution such as a hard money loan, read our blog Alternative To A Mortgage: The Hard Money Loan!


Alternative To A Mortgage: The Hard Money Loan


Alternative To A Mortgage: The Hard Money Loan

Families with alternative lifestyles, unique living situations, or who would prefer private investors or companies, might consider a hard money loan, an alternative solution to the tried and true mortgage from a big bank. The person receiving the loan has to go through less hoops than a mortgage, at the cost of a shorter term, a higher interest rate, and without the fear of credit scores.  If you are buying a property for the following reasons, then a hard money loan might be the right move for you:

Flipping a Home – If your intentions are to sell a home shortly after purchase, then you don’t want to be on the line for a 15 or 30 year mortgage payment! Hard money loans will help you get the capital you need to make the necessary improvements on the property, and pay it back with the profits.

Property Investing – Similar to house flipping, if you find some prime real estate that you only intend on renting out the space, then getting together the appropriate cash in a hard money loan  is a great way to capitalize on the opportunity fast.

Credit Trouble – If you have a bad credit history, then getting a fair mortgage is next to impossible. It’s important to note that we only recommend a hard money loan in this situation if you’re in a stable financial situation and you have plenty of cash on hand to supplement the loan.

Do you have any experience with hard money loans? Share your opinion and experience with these alternative loans here!

Margo Allan: Keying Into Your Home’s Value


Margo Allan: Keying Into Your Home’s Value

Trying to get a good read on your home’s value? Finding that perfect sweet spot can be tricky. Overprice and you’ll have a tough time finding a buyer, but underpricing will prevent you from fully realizing the returns of your investment. Consider these tips for getting an accurate read of your home’s value!

Get a Ballpark Estimate Online

With help from sites like Zillow,, and Red Fin, you can get a good idea of your property’s value. especially is a quality resource, it can price your home based on data like square footage, and sales prices of comparable homes. While the estimate isn’t gospel, it can help you find a suitable range.

Get in Touch With a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents are in the business to get the best deal possible. If you’re trying to get a valuation of your home, contacting a real estate agent that understands the local market, and what types of features your home has to offer will help you make the ideal price for your home.

Consider How Your Home Does With Current Market

From there, consider looking up how similar homes are performing in your real estate market. Does your home have several of these desirable features? Is it in one of these competitive neighborhoods? If yes, then you might be able to bump the asking price up a bit.

Price With Your Mind, Not Your Heart

Don’t add the sentimental value to the monetary value of your home. While at the time, your property is precious to you, giving your home too big of a price tag can scare off many potential homebuyers that might fall in love! Keep your feelings detached while you’re settling on a price.


Featured photo courtesy of julietkay via Flickr

The Bidding Burden: The 10 Most/Least Competitive Eastside Housing Markets


The Bidding Burden: The 10 Most/Least Competitive Eastside Housing Markets

Land is in high demand on and around Lake Sammamish. Families from all over the country wanting to come to Seattle for the booming tech industry and some of the best schools the nation has to offer. Naturally this means that competition and bidding wars are at an all time high. If you aren’t in the mood for fighting with your dollars, we have gathered a list of the top 10 most competitive housing markets, and the top 10 least competitive ones.

Least Competitive Markets

  1. Medina
  2. West Bellevue
  3. Cottage Lake
  4. Mercer Island
  5. Woodinville
  6. Kirkland
  7. South Issaquah
  8. Kennydale
  9. Union Hill-Novelty Hill
  10. Kenmore

Most Competitive Markets

  1. Redmond
  2. Northern Issaquah
  3. East Bellevue
  4. South Bellevue
  5. West Central Bellevue
  6. Juanita
  7. East Central Bellevue
  8. South Sammamish
  9. Newcastle
  10. North Sammamish

Rankings for both of these lists were made based on stats courtesy of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The ranks for formulated based on the final sale price to list price ratio. When a home sells above it’s listing price, this is usually attributed to a bidding war. If you want to avoid the slog of a bidding war, then use both of these lists while beginning your home buying process!

Determining The Right Mortgage For You: 15 Year or 30 Year


Determining The Right Mortgage For You: 15 Year or 30 Year

Home Mortgage Concept


When it comes time to apply for a mortgage, many future homeowners get overwhelmed with the nitty gritty details of all the different types of mortgages. While it’s a natural thing to get stressed over, focusing on the details is missing the forest for the trees. While there’s not enough time in the day to cover every single detail of mortgages, we can help you understand one critical component: The difference between a 15 year and a 30 year mortgage.

Why Get a 30 Year Mortgage?

The main benefit of a 30 year mortgage is obvious, the homeowner enjoys lower monthly payments at the cost of a longer loan life. Families that feel uneasy about their financial situation   (inconsistent pay checks, single paycheck families, multiple children, family member with high medical bills, insecure line of work, etc.) should consider this option as a way to lower their month to month housing costs. However, remember that the interest on a 30 year mortgage adds up over time, meaning that the final amount you spend on the mortgage will be more.

Why Get a 15 Year Mortgage?

Compared to the monthly payment of a 30 year mortgage, 15 year mortgages cost more monthly, at the benefit of saving more long term. Not only are the interest rates lower, but they are also only applied over a 15 year time period. Families that can afford to pay more (double income families, steady jobs, small families, etc.) now can save upwards of $100,000 on their total mortgage payment thanks to halving the life of their mortgage and the accruing interest.

Bottom Line

Like every major financial decision, it’s important to take a financial inventory to know where you stand. If you feel like your family can afford to tighten the ship for a few years, it might be in your best interest to consider a 15 year mortgage!


Featured photo courtesy of All Western Mortgage via Flickr



Cut Costs By Mastering These Home Maintenance Skills


Cut Costs By Mastering These Home Maintenance Skills

Homes and automobiles have a lot in common. Most notably, both have routine services required to maintain their tip top shape. And whenever maintenance is involved, the more of your man hours you put into it, the less you have to pay someone else to get the job done. Here are five household maintenance jobs that are much easier than you would think!

Cleaning Gutters – Clogged gutters are practically begging for water related disasters in your home. As we transition from summer to fall, expect this project to be a must for a predictable Seattle wet season. Estimated Time: One afternoon.

Unclogging Drains – As soon as you notice a clog in your drains, you need to address the issue. Either using a drain snake or a chemical drain cleaner will do the trick. If you want to avoid clogged drains all together, clean your drains once every couple weeks for best results. Estimated Results: 1-2 hours per drain.

Cutting the Water Supply – Anytime you’re dealing with your home’s plumbing, cutting the water supply is a must. Become familiar with your home’s water lines, especially where your main water valve is located (usually found in the basement). Estimated Time: Five minutes.

Patching Up Wall Dings – If a home is inhabited, it’s walls will be dinged. What they don’t tell you is that the average person is more than capable of patching up minor damage in dry wall with nothing more than a spackling knife, some wall putty, and a little elbow grease. Estimated Time: 30 minutes (One day of drying time not included)

Changing Air Filters – Cut costs on your monthly energy consumption by keeping your HVAC in an optimal state. Routinely cleaning or replacing the filters is an easy, DIY way to improve air quality in your home, as well as keep your HVAC at its best. Estimated Time: 1-2 hours.


And if you plan on putting your house on the market, head over to our blog, The Most Attractive Home Features For Homebuyers, for some helpful tips!

The Most Attractive Home Features for Homebuyers


The Most Attractive Home Features for Homebuyers

Home renovation conventional wisdom always recommends taking on a project that keeps costs low while maximizing your property’s listing price. While it doesn’t hurt to increase your property’s value, consider an alternative factor. Lake Sammamish is a hot market right now, to attract the best buyers, you have to invest in the most attractive features. In a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, they found the top ten most wanted features home buyers look for in a home. Here’s the list:

  • Energy-Star Rated Appliances
  • Laundry Room
  • Energy-Star Rating for Whole Home
  • Exhaust Fan in Bathroom
  • Exterior Lighting
  • Bathroom Linen Closet
  • Energy-Star Rated Windows
  • Ceiling Fan
  • Garage Storage
  • Table Space for Eating in Kitchen
  • Walk-In Kitchen Pantry

While an exhaust fan in a bathroom might not be as sexy as a walk-in pantry, the former might be more effective in finalizing the sale of your home! If you’re having a tough time determining how you should allocate your renovation budget, consider informing this list to make your decision!

Concert this Thursday at Pine Lake!


Concert this Thursday at Pine Lake!


Beat the heat and cool off this week with a concert at Pine Lake Park! Take your family, significant other or friends, and enjoy a free concert and the beautiful scenery.

Here are the details!

When: Thursday, July 28, 2016

6:30-8 p.m.


Pine Lake Park

228th & SE 24th St

Sammamish, WA 98075

*Bring your own food for snacks or dinner, or purchase a hamburger dinner onsite from the Sammamish Rotary. Ice cream is also available and sold  by the Sammamish Kiwanis.

*Parking for this event is available at Pine Lake Park, Discovery Elementary School and South Sammamish Park and Ride.

Thursday’s Musical Feature: Borrowed Time, a Styx cover band that recreates rockin’ greatest hits from this classic band!



Upcycling: Turning Your Trash Into Treasure


Upcycling: Turning Your Trash Into Treasure

“Upcycling” is a way of repurposing and refurbishing items specifically for your home. The beauty of upcycling is the near limitless possibilities! Your only restriction is your imagination. Consider these tips if you’re looking for a fun DIY upcycling project for the weekend.

Use Items In Your Home – Do you have old furniture that you’re getting ready to replace? Items like coat racks, old table legs, and much more can be repurposed, if you need inspiration check out what internet tastemakers have done with some of their household items.

Look for “Good Bones” – When you’re upcycling, a liberal helping of elbow grease is implied. Most of these projects will take time and effort to complete. When you’re picking potential items for your project, look for furniture with in tact frames built out of sturdy materials.  

Don’t Trash It, Save It – If something in your home breaks, don’t toss it right away, there could be some redeeming qualities for it. Find a good place to store these damaged items in case you ever get struck with inspiration for their use.

If You Can’t Beat It, Make It – One of the major trends in furniture and fashion these days are vintage and retro inspired pieces. You can get that retro look yourself by finding authentic retro furniture and repurposing it, without having to pay the department store mark up!


Thanks for reading! And if you or someone you know is about to move, head over to our blog “Secure Your Identity Before the Big Move” for some tips on how to secure your personal information!

Secure Your Identity Before the Big Move


Secure Your Identity Before the Big Move

Big and small moves alike force you to distribute a ton of personal information. Whether one of your college-age kids is coming home for the summer, or you’re moving your family across state lines, several different companies will get ahold of your personal information. Keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands by following these identity security tips!

Handle Personal Documents With Extra Care

Before you move, take inventory of your sensitive documents. If you can make sure these are personally moved, that’s the ideal situation. Shred any old documents that might still contain info like your SSN. The less changes for an information breach the better.

Update Your New Address

When you’re moving, government agencies, newspapers, and insurance companies don’t necessarily know. Notify the important companies of your new contact information so they don’t end up sending your private information to people that shouldn’t have it! Here’s a checklist of agencies that should know you’re moving:

  • Social Security
  • The IRS
  • The DMV
  • Utility Companies
  • Newspapers and other subscription publications
  • Insurance companies
  • Schools and alumni associations
  • Financial institutions
  • Credit card companies
  • Doctors and medical facilities

Do you have any other preventative measures you use to protect your identity? Tell us about them here!

Tips For Organizing Your Garage


Tips For Organizing Your Garage

Are you looking for a weekend project? Consider cleaning and organizing the garage! Getting your garage in order is a major undertaking, but if you commit a hot summer weekend to doing some good housekeeping, your garage can be an organized masterpiece.

Get Rid of Items You Don’t Need – The first part of of organizing the garage is figuring out what you do and don’t need. After all, why try to find a spot for those old golf clubs that haven’t seen the light of day for over a decade? If you think somebody else will find your hidden treasures useful, make a run to your local Goodwill.

Items That Shouldn’t Be In Your Garage – There are a number of goods that you shouldn’t keep in your garage. If you find any of the following in your garage, consider moving it. Paint gets ruined in extreme temperatures. Paper products attract roaches. Refrigerators are an energy sink in poorly insulated spaces. Pet food will attract unwanted critters like raccoons and squirrels.

Keep Items Off The Floor – There are so many ways to hang up gear in your garage, some conventional, and others are straight up creative! Slat walls and peg boards are featured in any neat and tidy garage, and their generic design allows for flexible use. In recent years, homeowners have used an IKEA Stolmen Post to hang up awkwardly shaped items like bikes  and gardening tools.

What are some of your favorite tricks for decluttering your garage? Share it with us!

And if you have an outdoor kitchen, head over to our blog, Northwest Outdoor Kitchens: Your Summer Culinary Paradise” for some useful tips!

Northwest Outdoor Kitchens: Your Summer Culinary Paradise


Northwest Outdoor Kitchens: Your Summer Culinary Paradise


Outdoor kitchens are not your dad’s charcoal grill. These flame searing command centers allow the master chef in your family to prep, grill, and serve your cut of beef of choice. But compared to the indoor counterpart, the outdoor kitchen has a number of factors you need to take into account before you buy all the appliances that make it possible. Here are some of our favorite tips:

Consider Your Environment – Most of the appliances you’re purchasing aren’t necessarily designed with outdoor use in mind. So When you’re choosing products, either find appliances that are suitable for your climate, or get the proper weatherproofing materials so your gear isn’t damaged overtime. When in doubt, go with stainless steel. It’s the safe bet for enduring even the most harshest elements.

Build It To Size – Pick out the grill, sink, cabinets before you design the dimensions of the island and other associated housing. By designing the kitchen around the appliances, you’re allowing yourself a lot more flexibility on what types of appliances you can use.

You Can’t Have Enough Storage – Storage space is critical for any type of kitchen! Install cabinets and drawers to put all your cutlery, grill tools, and any other items that you plan to use exclusively in the outdoor kitchen.

Do you have an outdoor kitchen? What are some of your favorite things about your outdoor culinary paradise?

Featured photo courtesy of Chicago Roof Deck and Garden via Flickr


Unusual Lawn Games, and the Whole Nine Yards!

Unusual Lawn Games, and the Whole Nine Yards!

Are you hosting a BBQ in the near future? Then undoubtedly you’ll want to entertain your guests with some fun games. Make your next BBQ one to remember by breaking away from the traditional croquette or badminton and try some of these contemporary games that gained popularity over recent years:

Ladder Ball – Think of this game like horizontal horseshoes. Players toss bolas (a pair of balls connected by string) at a specially designed ladder for the game and attempt to hit one of the rungs. A complete ladder ball set is portable and easy to set up, perfect for last minute set up!

Kubb – Also known as “viking chess” Kubb has garnered a ton of attention recently. The object of the game is to knock over your opponents “kubbs” or wooden blocks. Both teams toss wooden dowels at the opposing kubbs. Many describe the game as a combination of horseshoes, bowling, and a dash of chess strategy.

Spike Ball – Fans of volleyball and handball will be drawn to this silly variant of the sport. The game uses a tiny trampoline (made with the game in mind) and a rubber ball. Players serve and alternate spiking the ball into the trampoline. The first team that is unable to return a spike loses the point for that round.

Have a lawn game that you enjoy that we didn’t feature? Tell us about it! We would love to hear from you.


Outdoor activities such as a BBQ bash are indeed common during summer. But with higher temperatures also comes higher utility bills. If you want to reduce your electricity use, read our blog, “Make Your Utility Bills Drop As Temperatures Rise”!


Make Your Utility Bills Drop As Temperatures Rise

Make Your Utility Bills Drop As Temperatures Rise

It’s getting hotter in Washington (even the northwest gets hot in the summer), and that means higher utility bills if you use your home’s electronics liberally. Here are four useful tips for beating the heat!

Get Drapes or Use Window Film – In the summer, cold air tends to leak out of homes, so your HVAC has to work harder to maintain the climate. Windows are a major offender in this department, but there are a few ways you can combat it. The economic options include installing drapes or using a window film to block some of the heat out. If you want to spend a little more, consider installing multi-paned windows.

Clean Your Air Filters – Old air filters get congested with dust, dander, and other allergens, reducing the effectiveness of your HVAC. Consider getting the air filters changed so air can flow freely and your HVAC won’t have to work as hard.

Mulch Your Lawn/Garden – A healthy layer of mulch helps the soil and your plants to retain moisture for a lot longer, reducing how much water you have to use and how frequently you water your plants.

Insulate Your Home – Like we said above, homes lose cold air during the summer. A great way of reducing the amount of air your home leaks is insulating the walls, a simple insulation foam sprayed into your walls is a cheap, effective solution.

High temperatures shouldn’t mean high electricity bills. Be vigilant when it comes to saving electricity and stay safe as well as we head into the 4th of July weekend! (READ: Firework Safety Over 4th of July Weekend)

Firework Safety Over 4th of July Weekend

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Dry grass and combustible materials are a deadly mix, yet it’s a quintessential part of celebrating Independence Day! Remember that fireworks are actually banned all around Lake Sammamish, but if you find yourself in a city with more lax pyrotechnic laws, keep in mind these safety rules to make sure that everybody has a safe and fun 4th of July!

Never Give Fireworks to Small Children – If you have to question whether it’s appropriate for a child to handle fireworks, then they likely are too young to handle fireworks. Of course, you know your children better than anybody else, there isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s mainly a question of maturity.

Keep Water Readily Available – Fireworks have unpredictable trajectories, no matter what kind of prep you do. Always have a hose, bucket of water, or other water supply ready just in case something goes haywire.

Light Only One Firework At A Time – Fireworks intended to be used as packaged. Most injuries with fireworks come from experimenting by firing off multiple mortars at a time. Reduce the chance of accident by only using the firework as the manufacturer intended.

Never Re-Light Duds – If a firework doesn’t shoot, never attempt to re-light it! With the shortened fuse you’re just increasing the likely hood of the firework exploding in your hand.

Only Shoot Fireworks Upwards – Aiming anywhere other than the sky risks the firework hitting flammable objects, or even another person. Use the tried and true gun rule “Only point at something you intend to shoot” when handling fireworks.


And if you’re hosting the ultimate 4th of July party, make sure you plan things ahead of time! Read: Declare Independence From Boring 4th of July Parties This Year!

Declare Independence From Boring 4th of July Parties This Year!

fourth of july

With the Fourth of July a week and a half out, it’s time to start preparing for the festivities. If you have the honors of throwing a patriotic party this year, then it’s time to start planning! We’ve got a couple of big picture decisions that you should think about before getting down to the details.

Plan Your Menu – Are you going safe with hamburgers and hot dogs, or do you want to do take the time to make your uncle’s classic baby back rib recipe? Will you do the whole BBQ by yourself, or do you plan to do a potluck? Answer these questions and you’ll be off to a great start.

Get Your Decorations in Order – Figure out what kinds of decorations you’ll want to have at your home. Of course you’ll need a large American flag, but that’s just the beginning. Consider bunting, streamers, tablecloths, and any other decorative swag that features the stars and stripes!

Bug Prep – July is the height of bug season, especially on the lake! Consider investing in a walled canopy, bug zappers, and bug repelling candles to keep those pesky insects at bay!

Land Some Lawn Games – What good is an outdoor BBQ without entertainment? Consider some classics like croquette or badminton; if you’re in the mood for trying a new game, the classic Swedish game Kubb has gained a ton of popularity in recent years!

Ideas for Personalizing Your Backyard Haven

Outdoor Backyard

So you’re moving into your dream home on the lake and everything is perfect; almost everything at least. You’ve bought a property with a backyard that could use some love. But where do you begin? Consider these four tips for making your very own backyard haven:

Center it Around a Water Feature – Water features like koi ponds and mini waterfalls give your home a neat differentiating factor. If you go this route, a well-installed water feature is a great object to center your backyard’s design around!

Green is Good – One of the best colors you could use in your backyard is green. An overabundance of what is universally regarded as the natural color will give your backyard an authentic feel that you can’t go wrong with.

Wildflowers Attract Wild Beauty  – Want visits from hummingbirds and butterflies? Scatter some brightly colored wildflowers throughout your backyard! These beauties will come flocking to your yard during the summer months.

Make it Look Natural – Choose plants whose leaves are voluminous. Lots of homeowners these days are preferring highly dense clusters of plants to make their backyard look overgrown rather than artificially grown. For best results, only attempt this in a backyard that has no fence to create natural border fence for your home.

Have any big upcoming landscaping projects for your home? Tell us about them! We would love to hear your ideas.

Man Cave 101: Tips For Building Your In Home Sanctuary

Happy Father’s Day! In honor of the Day of the Dad, we’re going to talk about inner sanctums, or more commonly known as man caves. If you’re thinking about building your very own man cave, consider these tips!

Determine it’s Purpose – Man Cave has quickly become a catch all term for specialty spaces in homes. A quick good image search of a man cave, and you’ll find that it can be anything from a home theater, billiards lounge, home bar, even a recording studio! Before doing anything, figure out what you want this space to be, then start ironing out the details.  

Make a Budget – Determine how much money you’re willing it pour into your man cave. Remember that the more you tailor the room to your interests (for example, decorating with a Seattle sports theme), the more difficult it will be to sell your home. Take that into account before making the investment!

Express Yourself! – Find art pieces and furniture that compliments the theme you’re going for. For example, if you’re a sports enthusiast, deck your room out with memorabilia from your favorite team. If you’re into music, hang up some of your all time favorite records. The point is, you need the space to reflect your personality and interests so you feel at home.

Do you have a man cave? What are some things you’ve done in yours to make it feel like your space?

Critters Keep Out! Margo’s Tips for Keeping Your Garden Pest Free

critter garden pests

Summer means season pests, but we’re thinking more towards the furry variety. Moles, squirrels, gophers, even deer all pose threats to your well manicured plants and budding gardens. Today we’ll discuss how they can damage your foliage, and what you can do to protect against them.


Problems Caused: Burrowing moles can tear up your grass, leaving networks of tunnels, dirt mounds and other issues all across your lawn. Not only does this look bad, the dirt mounds can also be hazardous to your lawn mower!

Solution: For non lethal solutions, consider a cutting off their food supply by killing the insects they love to eat. If you’re dealing with a persistent mole, there are a variety of above and below ground traps to consider (harpoon-style, scissor-jaw, and choker-loops for example) that all offer a quick and painless death.


Problem Caused: If you have bird feeders, squirrels are known to pick them clean. In addition to raiding gardens and digging up lawns, squirrels love chewing siding and nesting in attics which can lead to damage in your home!

Solution: An holes in your roofing and eavestroughs should be covered to discourage entry. Wire-cage traps are a great solution if you believe they have already gotten in your home.


Problem Caused: Gardens are like buffets to rabbits, they will pick at any veggies, herbs or fruits you decide to grow.

Solution: A three foot tall mesh fence will get the job done. Make sure you partially bury the fence so the rabbits aren’t able to crawl underneath!


Problem Caused: Deer eat up to seven pounds of foliage a day, one full afternoon in your lush backyard is all a family of deer need to do significant damage to your plants!

Solution: An 8 foot tall fence is a great start to keeping deer out. If you don’t want to blockade your backyard, a healthy dose of repellents can be applied to plants to deter deer from nibbling on your plants.

The Art of the Deal: Negotiation Tips for Home Buying

negotation home buying

So you’ve found your dream home, and you’re about to put down an offer. But before officially getting the home, there is that period of negotiations that can be smooth sailing, or unpredictably long. We have gathered some useful reminders and tips to keep in mind while you and the current homeowner try to settle on an agreeable price.

Exude Confidence – Presentation is a big part of deal making, and poor confidence is like blood in the water when you sit down at the negotiating table. Carry yourself with confidence and poise for the best results.

Be Prepared for a Process – Remember the purpose of a negotiation, so that two parties can compromise while still getting the most beneficial for their side. Don’t be disheartened if you can’t come to a resolution after the first or second meeting as negotiations open!

Be Familiar with the Market – Keep up with how homes within the nearby market are selling, this way you can get a frame of reference for how much the home should sell based on the market trends.

Avoid Direct Contact With the Seller – There is a reason that the real estate agent is there, he’s the middleman between both parties. Make sure you use him! If the seller ever tries to contact you directly, refer him back to the agent. Also make sure to be polite and courteous to your agent for best results.

Don’t Sweat Small Differences In Price – If the gap between you and the seller is a couple thousand dollars, the difference will be negligible in your monthly mortgage payments (think less than $20 a month). Don’t let a minor disagreement in price be the reason you don’t settle into your dream home!

You’ve almost crossed the line into home ownership, just get over this final hurdle, and you’ll be a proud homeowner before you know it!

Reminder: The Washington Waterfront Home Tour Returns This Weekend!

Waterfront House Tour

Margo Allan is participating in the 2016 Washington Waterfront Home Tour, and it’s just around the corner! If you’re interested in living on the water, the Washington Waterfront Home Tour is the perfect way to browse some of the finest properties around the area and see if the lifestyle on the lake is right for you! Think of this event like Restaurant Week but for waterfront property.

We will be participating in this year’s Washington Waterfront Home Tour from 1pm-4pm on June 11th and June 12th at the following properties:

5104 NW Sammamish Rd, Issaquah

1058 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE, Bellevue

3110 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE, #14, Bellevue

18176 SE 41st Place, Issaquah

If you want more information on the Washington Waterfront Home Tour, please visit their website here:

The Art of the Deal: Negotiation Tips for Home Buying

So you’ve found your dream home, and you’re about to put down an offer. But before officially getting the home, there is that period of negotiations that can be smooth sailing, or unpredictably long. We have gathered some useful reminders and tips to keep in mind while you and the current homeowner try to settle on an agreeable price.

Exude Confidence – Presentation is a big part of deal making, and poor confidence is like blood in the water when you sit down at the negotiating table. Carry yourself with confidence and poise for the best results.

Be Prepared for a Process – Remember the purpose of a negotiation, so that two parties can compromise while still getting the most beneficial for their side. Don’t be disheartened if you can’t come to a resolution after the first or second meeting as negotiations open!

Be Familiar with the Market – Keep up with how homes within the nearby market are selling, this way you can get a frame of reference for how much the home should sell based on the market trends.

Avoid Direct Contact With the Seller – There is a reason that the real estate agent is there, he’s the middleman between both parties. Make sure you use him! If the seller ever tries to contact you directly, refer him back to the agent. Also make sure to be polite and courteous to your agent for best results.

Don’t Sweat Small Differences In Price – If the gap between you and the seller is a couple thousand dollars, the difference will be negligible in your monthly mortgage payments (think less than $20 a month). Don’t let a minor disagreement in price be the reason you don’t settle into your dream home!

You’ve almost crossed the line into home ownership, just get over this final hurdle, and you’ll be a proud homeowner before you know it!

Join Us for the 2016 Washington Waterfront Home Tour!

The Washington Waterfront Home tour returns June 11 – 12! This annual event is an opportunity to view some of the finest luxury waterfront homes the state has to offer, all in quick succession! If you’re mulling over the possibility of owning a home on Lake Sammamish, now is the best time to kick the tires on a few select properties! We will be participating in this year’s Washington Waterfront Home Tour from 1pm-4pm showcasing homes at the following addresses:

5104 NW Sammamish Rd, Issaquah

1058 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE, Bellevue

3110 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE, #14, Bellevue

18176 SE 41st Place, Issaquah

If you want more information on the Washington Waterfront Home Tour, please visit their website listed here:

De-Clutter Your Home In Time For Summer

de-clutter home summer

Major reorganizing is easy, with a little brawn, an afternoon, and a vision, you can completely transform a room! But what about the finer side of spring cleaning, the dreaded c-word? How do you manage clutter? We’ve got a few suggestions and tips that you can use in your home to help free up the flow and make your home feel a little less cramped.

Focus On One Room At A Time – “Clutter” is such an obscure term that can mean different things to different people. When de-cluttering, only do one room at a time so you can focus on the total completion of each individual space.

Fill Up a Trash Bag – Part of de-cluttering is as simple as deciding what items in your life are excess. When we de-clutter, we challenge ourselves to filling up one trash bag of items that we no longer need and either throwing it away, or donating the contents to our local Good Will!

Invest in Drawer Organizers – Drawer organizers are a lifesaver when it comes to keeping your desk, kitchen, and bathroom drawers in check. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and are incredibly affordable! You won’t even recognize your drawers by the time you’re done with them.

The “Closet Hanger Experiment” – As made famous by Oprah Winfrey, the closet hanger experiment is a great way to purge your life of any excess clothing. It’s simple: Start by hanging all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, hang it back up with the hanger facing the normal direction. After a set period of time, revisit your closet and see what hangers are still hanging in the reverse direction, this will give you a clear idea of what you wear, and what you don’t!

What are some of your favorite tips for eliminating clutter? Tells about them here!

Hot House Marketing Tips For A Hot Summer


Like the weather in the upcoming months, the real estate market in Washington is about to be hot hot hot! With so many potential suitors for your home, making sure it looks it’s very best, and it’s marketed properly is critical to getting the most on your property investment. Here are all the latest marketing trends that real estate agents are using to find a home buyer that is a match made in heaven.

Make The Front Yard Appealing – The front yard is your first impression above all else. So ask yourself, what would you rather buy? A home with a rainbow flower bed and well-trimmed lawn, or a front yard with a tangle of weeds? Presentation goes a long way!

Sell A Lifestyle – Remember selling on the waterfront is just as much as selling the luxury lifestyle that comes with living on premium real estate. Keep the curtains open, have nautical themed decorations around your home, even highlight whatever watersport equipment you have. Anything that can make a buyer daydream about summers on the lake will play in your favor.

Be Flexible – Summer months are prime vacation months, this makes it difficult to predict when homebuyers will be available. You want to get as many eyes on your home as possible, so it’s important to keep a flexible schedule so you can be out at a moment’s notice! You never know when the perfect buyer will want to visit your home.

As the summer comes around, make sure you’re keeping up on seasonal sale strategies! By doing so, you’ll sell your home before you know it.

Featured photo courtesy of our 2030 109th Avenue NE, Bellevue listing! Sure to delight any fitness enthusiast—check out the listing!

How to Enjoy a Stay-cation on Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is coming, and if you’ve put off planning a getaway, have no fear! Why bother with traffic, finding a cabin, and all the hassle of getting away when you have the perfect canvas to paint your long weekend on at Lake Sammamish? Consider some of these ideas to make the perfect Lake Sammamish “stay-cation” this Memorial Day weekend!

Break Out the Watersport Equipment


While it’s a ways out, the 10 day forecast on suggests that we’re in for a hot Memorial Day weekend! Temperatures are supposed to get as high as 85 degrees, so what better way to enjoy the weather than to take the boat out on Lake Sammamish?

Host an Impromptu Lawn Game Tournament


While most of your family and friends might be out of town, those that are still around will likely be eager to take advantage of this nice weather by being social. Why not get the gang together for some lawn games? Activities like bocce ball, badminton, croquette, and corn hole are always a big hit once the weather turns for the better!

Host a BBQ

Memorial Day

If lawn games and watersports aren’t your speed, why not have the neighbors and your friends come over for a quick BBQ? If you don’t have time to plan all the logistics, have fun with it and make it a potluck that anybody can participate in.

With any of these ideas, you can transform another day on the lake into one to remember! What are your favorite ways to spend Memorial Day weekend? Share them here!

Welcome to 2030 109th Ave NE, Bellevue!


A family of athletes won’t want to let this brand new listing get away, it’s too good to pass up! Complete with sport court and a community baseball field, today’s featured listing is a premium Bellevue property, located at 2030 109th Ave NE, Bellevue 98004, within walking distance of Bellevue Square!

This home is a 5 bed, 3.75 bath is a great room concept that was recently renovated with a 21st Century aesthetic. The game changer with this home is the easily accessible sport court and nearby baseball field. Imagine spending the day entertaining guests with a day of tennis, basketball, and softball, all capped off with a relaxing evening of dinner and drinks that you prepared in this recently renovated kitchen. Your home will be the place to be during hot summer months thanks to all the easily accessible outdoor activities! And on the days you don’t feel like entertaining, relax in your master suite, complete with a 5 piece master spa! This Bellevue property is perfect for introverts and extroverts alike!

If the athletic gene runs in your family and circle of friends, then you won’t want to pass up on this Bellevue property! Contact Margo Allan today to schedule a showing of this beautiful home.

Staging Your Home For Sale

staging home sale

Accentuating the parts of your home that make it amazing is a critical step for making the final sale. The best way to do this? Staging, or rearranging your home specifically to make it look attractive to potential homebuyers. Here are some of our favorite tips that you can use when preparing to stage your home for the sale.

De-Clutter the Home

Rooms tightly packed with furniture look small and cramped. Professional home stagers will on average remove half of the furniture in a home in order to make the rooms look more spacious. The best advice to de-cluttering your home is only include the bare minimum in every room, let the homebuyer’s imagination fill out the details!

Grouping Your Furniture

Make sure every piece of furniture in your home has an intended purpose in the staging. Referring back to the de-clutter rule above, any lone pieces will make the space look too cluttered. For example, in your living room, consider placing a couple armchairs around your coffee table so the visitors can imagine themselves sitting down for a chat.

Re-Arrange The Furniture

Just because your furniture has an intended purpose in your home, doesn’t mean it can’t be repurposed for a staging. The recliner in your den might look great as an extra piece to tie the master bedroom together! That wall art in the dining room might make a great conversation piece in the grand entry. Play around with your furniture and see what works.

Incorporate High Quality Lighting

Well lit rooms go a long way towards making living spaces look attractive. interior paint jobs look more dynamic, the strengths of a room are highlighted easier, and the room itself feels much more welcoming when it’s well lit!

Remove Your “Footprint”

Remember, you’re selling your home to other people, not yourself. While your personal collection of Audrey Hepburn posters might be a point of pride, they might detract from your prospective home buyers. Try to make your home as much of a blank canvas as possible; this way potential buyers can imagine their own design on their home!

What are some of your favorite tips for staging a home? Share them with us here!

Scam Files: The Straw Man

scam straw man

While the residential housing market continues its slow and steady climb to recovery, so too are are the number of mortgages scams on the rise. What seems like a well-intentioned assistance at debt relief is nothing more than an attempt to swindle you out of your money, and possibly even your home. Today, we will discuss a popular mortgage scam technique and what you can do to remain vigilant against it.

Name: The Straw Man

Target: Homeowners with bad credit, or homeowners that struggle to pay their mortgage from month to month.

Summary: A scam artist finds a person (or a straw man) with good credit offers to “buy” the victim’s house and rent it to them at the price of a new lower mortgage payment. The scam is fronted as a solution to reducing the homeowner’s mortgage payment while simultaneously helping to fix their damaged credit score so the homeowner can eventually buy their home back with a favorable loan. The scam artist stages a fake sale to their straw man buyer.

While the homeowner thinks a sale happens, the scam artist ends up pocketing the proceeds of the sale as well as the money that is intended for the mortgage payment.

Result: The victim has missed mortgage payments, is out whatever money they used to pay their phony rent, has further damaged their credit, and is at risk of being evicted.

How to Protect Yourself: NEVER make a payment on your home to anybody besides your original lender. If your lender requests you make a payment to somebody else, get it in writing. If you find that you can no longer afford your mortgage, sell your home to avoid further financial strain. Remember to never try to maintain a lifestyle you cannot afford!

Welcome to 18176 SE 41st Place, Issaquah!

Issaquah property

Lush foliage and a breathtaking view are yours if you take advantage of the latest featured listing available through Margo Allan. The Issaquah property at 18176 SE 41st Place is a chic display of contemporary architecture and interior design.

From the back of the home, the two features that draw the eye are the easily accessible wraparound deck, and the seamless blend of masonry with the diverse plant-life. Enjoy 75’ of waterfront which includes a massive dock and boat lift. Families with nautical aspirations will fit in nicely in this home!

Inside, you’ll instantly feel at home in this great room concept home. Rich espresso hardwood floor and white walls are the standard, both of which are complemented by secondary red accents on cabinets and walls. The kitchen is an open space, and you have a dynamic, refreshing view of the lake and mountains right from the countertop!

This 5 bedroom 2.25 bathroom masterpiece of a home is a dream come true. But it likely won’t be available for long. If waterfront property is something you seek, then contact Margo Allan today about a showing for this home.

Why Is My House Not Selling?

House Not Selling

Earlier this week, we talked about how spring and summer are the notorious busy seasons of the real estate market. If your house is on the market, but nobody is biting, then you might not believe that statement. Here are five potential reasons for why your home isn’t being seriously considered on the housing market:

Your Asking For Too Much 

Being optimistic about your home’s value is fine, but you still have to be realistic. Re-evaluate your home and how much your asking for. It couldn’t hurt to test the waters with a more modest asking price!

Your Home Is Run-Down (Or At Least Looks That Way)

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is a phrase you’ll never hear in real estate. Most people these days aren’t looking for fixer-uppers, they want a home they can settle into right away. If the photos of your home are unflattering, or if your home looks like it needs a little love, then it might drive away potential buyers.

Your Fingerprint is Too Evident

Kids’ rooms with cartoon themes or a 70s Game Show themed entertainment room are a hard sell. Families want to put their own mark on a new home, not inherit somebody else’s mark!

Poor Advertising

What kinds of advertising efforts have you gone through with your home? If you’re only doing minimal advertising, consider posting your listing on Zillow or any other real estate website. You’ll notice an immediate impact in traffic!

If you have any other questions about how to attract more homebuyers, contact Margo Allan! We would love to help you market your home.

Seasonal Home-Selling

Seasonal Home Selling

Conventional wisdom argues that the best time to sell a home is in the spring. The logic makes sense—families are excited to get out of the house after bleak weather, and the transition for schooling is much easier after the current year concludes. But that’s not to say that there are advantages for marketing your home in the unofficial real estate “offseason”. Ultimately, when you’re trying to find the perfect time to sell your home, you have to consider what kinds of homebuyers you want, it’s a simple question of Quality or Quantity?

Marketing in The Spring/Summer

Spring and Summer are without a doubt the busy season of real estate. Families with children are looking for their new home before the start of the next school year. When you’re marketing a home (especially a home with waterfront property), people want to see it when the water is glistening, and your flower bed is in bloom. Spring and summer have more selling opportunities, but often times, these buyers are casual buyers that are in no rush to put down an offer.

Summary: Summer and Spring bring more opportunities, not necessarily better opportunities.

Marketing in The Fall/Winter

The real estate market comes to a crawl during the fall and winter. With all the holidays and storm-filled weather reports, you’ll find that there simply aren’t many people looking. But consider this, the people who are looking during these dull months are more serious than your average spring homebuyer. Either a job relocation, an unexpected child, or another lifestyle change that demands immediate relocation will cause these homebuyers to be less picky when choosing a home.

Summary: Fall and winter will bring fewer opportunities, but they are higher quality opportunities.

Keep these tips in mind when you are thinking about putting your home on the market, and you’ll maximize your property’s value!

Pet Safety Tips for Your Family’s Dog

Pet Safety Tips Family Dog

You’ve likely noticed the weather has made a drastic turn for the better this past week. Before you know it, it’ll be time to get the boat and the family on the water! And who is more of a member of the family than your beloved dog? But before you get Spot in a life jacket and on your boat, you should consider if he’s actually ready to be on the open water. Here are some of our favorite boat safety tips:

Determine if they’re a water dog: If your dog is old, or just has a natural aversion to water, then perhaps it’s best if he doesn’t join your family on the water.

Gradually acclimate your pet to being on a boat: Younger dogs need to ease their way into water activities, including hanging out on the boat. Have them explore the boat while it’s docked for familiarity, turn on the engine to see if the loud noises bother him, and training him on boat specific commands (sit, stay, on/off boat, etc.) are all good steps towards preparing them.

Buy a pet-friendly life jacket: Just because your dog can swim doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the proper safety equipment. A life vest that fits and keeps your dog buoyant is a must.

Have plenty of water to avoid dehydration and overheating: Breeds with thick coats will inevitably get hot on the water. Make sure they stay hydrated by having plenty of safe to drink water available for them.

Have seasickness medication on hand: Motion sickness isn’t exclusive to people! Make sure you have medication available to feed your pup just in case they look like they’re getting sick from the constant jostling of the boat.

Before you have fun on the water, it’s important to take all the precautions to make sure that everybody will have fun. Follow these steps so every member of your family will enjoy their day on the lake!

Garden and Lawn Prep Tips for Spring

Lawn and Garden Tips Spring

Lawns, gardens, and other residential foliage during seasonal transitions require a lot of maintenance to prolong their life through the winter, and to look their best in the summer! As we transition from summer to spring, here are some of our best tips for what you can do to prep your foliage so it can look it’s best.

Check Your Lawn Care Equipment

Before getting started, do a quick inventory on your equipment. Check things like your lawn mower’s blade, your rake, and other commonly used garden tools to see what you’ll need to pick up from your local hardware store.

Clean Out Any Winter Debris and Weeds

Once you’ve got all the necessary equipment, start by cleaning up any debris that accumulated over the winter. This can be anything from leaves, fallen branches, or dead branches on your foliage. Prune, cut, clean, etc.

Re-Seed Bare Patches in You Lawn

Any dead patches of grass can be corrected by re-seeding those areas. Make sure you know what species of grass your lawn is so the entire lawn looks uniform!

Aerate Your Lawn

Aerating your lawn allows for vital nutrients to easily reach grass roots. When done properly, your lawn will grow in lush and be much healthier than non-aerated lawns.

Mow Your Lawn to a Height of 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 Inches

Keeping your lawn in this ballpark length reduces the likelihood of weeds taking root. The rule of thumb for mowing your lawn is never remove anything more than 1/3 of the total length of the grass, this reduces keeps your turf soft and reduces the likelihood of weeds taking root.

These tips are a great starting point for making your lawn the envy of the neighborhood this summer!

Keeping Dogs Safe in the Outdoors

Dog Safety

When it comes to our pets, we do everything in our control to ensure that the home is safe and poisonous items are out of reach. But, when you’re out with your dogs at a park or around the neighborhood — you don’t know what could be lying in bushes or on the trails that could send your animal to the hospital!

Staying vigilant to where your dog is noseying around is key as well as identifying common outdoor items that are detrimental to their health. (If you don’t have a comprehensive list of indoor items your dog shouldn’t get ahold of—check out this article from Pet Education.)


Getting out of your element is the whole point to hiking, but it will also provide more opportunities for you and your dog to be exposed to unfamiliar plant life.

The top thirteen plants to keep your pet away from have poisonous leaves, twigs, and sometimes the seeds: Wild Cherry, Chokecherry, Yew, Bracken Fern, Clovers, Horsetail, Poison Hemlock, Ponderosa Pine, Buttercups, Foxglove, Foxtails, any mushrooms, and Milkweed. Check out this article from the Central Washington Animal Agriculture Team for photos of the plants, and further descriptions of plants and the type of distress they cause. Other types of plants like poison ivy and poison oak only cause severe rashes, but the oil can stay in your dog’s coat and be transferred to you.

Bonus Tip: Modern Hiker offers a few great tips for hikers and their four-legged companions to ensure a great time on the trail and at the end of the day.

Urban Trails

While you’ve worked hard to keep any toxic plants out of your yard and garden—other residents who don’t have animals may keep a few nefarious flowers at the end of their fences and within reach from the sidewalk. Here are a few flowers and plants to keep an eye out for thanks to this article from The Seattle Times: European yew, hemlock, daffodils, larkspur, lily-of-the-valley, iris, wisteria, azalea, bleeding heart and oleander, rhododendrons, and deadly nightshade. (Basically any berries, foliage, and flowers that look pretty and shiny!)

We love a good walk with our pets to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors—and rightfully so since we live in a beautiful area! Unfortunately, this picturesque part of the state isn’t like Willy Wonka’s factory where everything is edible, and so keeping an eye on your dog, and what they’re getting into, remains just as important as loving them and tending to their well-being.

5104 NW Sammamish RD, Issaquah, WA 98027

5104 NW Sammamish Drive 5104 NW Sammamish Drive

Issaquah real estate is quickly becoming a commodity in today’s housing market, thanks to it’s distance to Bellevue and the virtual “blank slate” these properties offer to the buyer. The listing at 5104 NW Sammamish Road in Issaquah is a perfect example of this type of property. While a charming little home on it’s own, there is plenty of opportunity for starting fresh with brand new construction!

The lot is just shy of a full acre (.996 acres to be exact) and already has plenty of foliage on the lot, including a modest garden and fruit trees. If you dream is to build a home completely from scratch, this lot is a prime opportunity! MacPherson Construction has full architectural plans available specifically for the lot. Rather than buying a home that was somebody else’s dream, you can build your own right on this piece of Issaquah real estate! All the feasibility & permit work has been filed, just say the word and MacPherson Construction can break ground.

If you’re interested in viewing the blueprints for this lot, or seeing the property for yourself, schedule a showing with Margo Allan! We’d love to show you around or tell you more about the proposed design for this Issaquah real estate.

801 E Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, Sammamish

801 E Lake Sammamish

Pristine luxury can be yours by purchasing this piece of premiere Lake Sammamish property. A Tri-Level, 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home like the one at 801 E Lake Sammamish Parkway NE is perfect for the high-powered family that is looking to make a big statement with their home. The home is an instant benchmark for how luxury homes should be built; every facet of the home was fabricated by artisan homebuilders, and it shows!

Every floor of this Lake Sammamish property is a highlight reel of luxury rooms. The main floor has a formal and informal dining area, depending on your mood and occasion, a formal great room with fireplace, and a coveted, covered, deck with the best view of the lake. The upstairs is a dedicated master suite, complete with accommodations like a 5 piece marble bathroom, 3 additional bedrooms and a fireplace. Entertaining can be done in style on the home’s lower level which sports a second great room, 2 kitchens, a billiards room, and the home office!

All 65 feet of this waterfront Lake Sammamish property can be yours, but only if you act fast! Contact us today about scheduling a showing, we’d love to show you around.

1058 W Lake Sammamish Parkway NE

Coastal Charmer!

“Life is better at the lake,” will become your daily mantra if you take residence at our latest featured listing. The piece of Bellevue real estate at 1058 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE is a sight to behold. Nestled in between diverse foliage is a recently renovated property that sports a generous fifty feet of lakefront, complete with dock. Minimal, if any, work is required to make this home the perfect place to adopt the lakefront lifestyle!

This three bed, three bath home has wall to wall hardwood floors, an open floor plan on the main level, and a world class kitchen complete with all the latest stainless steel appliances. The master suite is a sight to behold. It has it’s own private floor, complete with a deck for you and your sweetheart to look out at the majesty of the lake!
If you’ve been searching for Bellevue real estate, your search ends here. But only if you act quick! Contact Margo allan today to see this waterfront listing at 1058 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE, Bellevue, WA 98008.

Welcome to 3110 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE, #14!

3110 W Lake Sammamish

Sammamish Shores; one of Bellevue’s most coveted communities has an available home! The community on 3110 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE has a Bellevue property available for purchase!

This home has 3 beds and 2.25 baths and features an open floor plan on the main floor. Windows all about the home drink in natural light without the feeling of privacy invasion. The waterfront is your backyard, either enjoy a quick dip, or take in the view from the waterfront deck. Show off your cooking chops in a kitchen that would make even the most accomplished chef envious. The kitchen comes with a granite countertop wet bar, stacked ovens, a full range, and dishwasher.

Being a resident of Sammamish Shores comes with a variety of communal amenities. Residency includes access to the pool, hot tub and sauna, as well as access to the communal Bellevue property, complete with 350’ of docks with moorage! Getting to know your neighbors will come second nature thanks to these amenities.

Even by Bellevue property standards, the Sammamish Shores community is in a class of its own! Your opportunity to be part of this esteemed community is here, but only if you act fast! Contact Margo Allan today to schedule a showing.

Welcome to 411 Windsor Drive SE!

411 Windsor Drive SE

The golf aficionado in your family will jump for joy with the latest Sammamish property to hit the market. 411 Windsor Drive SE in Sammamish is a stones throw away from the esteemed Windsor Greens golf course (right next to the 12th hole), the ideal way to spend spring and summer afternoons!

This 4 bed 4 bath home is an icon of sophistication and luxury living. One step inside and you’ll immediately fall in love with the home’s espresso hardwood floors and rich, grey, walls. Highlights of this home includes a spacious, main level master bedroom (complete with a 5 piece spa bathroom and walk-in closet), a world class kitchen, and who could forget the wine cellar with enough space to satisfy even the most expansive wine collection! As the weather warms up, just imagine having guests over to dine alfresco thanks to your outdoor kitchen and dining area! This piece of Sammamish property is your slice of vacation, only the vacation never ends!

If you’re interested in seeing this Sammamish property, then schedule a tour with Margo Allan! We’d love to show you around this stunning property.

Sammamish is for the Birds!


*Edited April 14 at 8:45 a.m. — REI is offering a “Bird Friendly Communities!” class on Tuesday, April 26 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Eastside Audubon! 

There’s nothing quite like the first call of a robin in the Spring! If you have heard them as well and caught the birding bug, the Greater Seattle area and Sammamish offers a multitude of resources, experts, and outings to find species, distinguish birds from their call, and meet like-minded birders who can enhance the experience

If you’re new to the world of birding, take a glance at Audubon Washington’s website that is full of advice for good birding. Below are a few tips we’ve gleaned to get you started:

  1. Do a bit of research and study about birds before you visit a trail.
  2. When in the field, remember to look at the bird and not the book.
  3. Walk and talk softly: walk heel-to-toe and hold your arms out away at your sides to avoid creating noise.
  4. Look at a place first with your eyes before raising the binoculars.
  5. Your hearing is your most valuable tool. Your ears will help you locate birds, and point you in the general direction of the bird.


Beginner: Popular parks like Marymoor Park in Redmond and Weowna Park near Issaquah also double as pristine birding trails and host an abundance of birds.

In the early Spring, seasoned birders often find: Willow Flycatchers, Common Yellowthroats, Mountain Bluebirds, Western Tanager, Bullock’s Oriole, and a variety of Warblers. The park is at the tip of Lake Sammamish, and it’s slough provides a peaceful resting area for ducks, grebe, coots, Belted Kingfishers, Green Heron, Wilson’s Snipe, and American Bittern. Larger birds, like Bald Eagles, can be found high in the trees.

Moderate: If you’re up for a challenge, Audubon Washington showcases several hikes, trails, and loops that can feature as much as 250 of Washington’s 346 species! Through Audubon Washington, you can purchase maps, each are around $5, that include detailed descriptions of birds, where to hike, and advice. (For more birding loops, see the apps below.)

Regardless if you’re a new or master birder, going out into the brush and spotting birds with accuracy is a rewarding and fulfilling experience! And, thanks to today’s technology and organizations, it’s never been easier to get to know more about birds, identify them, and connect with birding communities!


Featured photo courtesy of wcn247 via Flickr.

Home Remodeling Don’ts

Home Improvement Projects

Earlier this week, we discussed the big picture of learning how to break into the world of do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Let’s expand on this topic a little more by discussing some important things to avoid when you’re taking on a home improvement project. We’ll also offer a useful alternative to the original idea!

Buying Cheap Materials – The rule of thumb is simple: “If you can’t afford to do it, then wait.” Cheap materials might save you a buck in the now, but are you really saving money on carpet when a couple years later you have to replace it because it couldn’t hold up to high traffic?

Alternative: Take a little bit of time to research the options of materials, don’t just settle on the final price! While you might spend a little more, doing the job right is always worth it.

Skipping the Prep Work – Don’t assuming everything in your bathroom has to go! Perhaps the current paint will go well with your new tiles. Remember that there are some steps in a renovation that can’t be undone, and correcting those mistakes can be costly!

Alternative: Figure out what needs to be changed and devise a plan, the more detailed the better! You could end up saving yourself a lot of extra work, and money with an effective plan.

Ignoring Lighting – Take into account your home’s light set up. Just because a paint sample looks great in a well lit showroom, doesn’t mean it will in your kitchen’s dim lighting.

Alternative: Always request samples of any fabric or paint to bring home so you can see how it looks in your home. This way you can make the most informed decision of how a product will look inside your home.

Going Too Trendy – Every trend has a shelf life. Remember there was a time when shag carpet was the dominant trend in flooring. When you’re picking out design options seriously ask yourself if the product you’re choosing is going to stand the test of time, or if it will be a sign of the times by the turn of the century.

Alternative: It never hurts to stick with class design trends. Granite countertops, hardwood floors, and neutral color walls/tile will rarely go out of style! If you really want to add personality to your home, let it be in something less permanent like wall hangings and other decorations.

Breaking Into DIY Before You Break Your Home!

DIY Home Projects

Becoming a DIY master doesn’t happen overnight. While some have a knack for home improvement, more often than not having the experience is critical to a job well done. Since spring is on the horizon, it’s almost certain that you’re going to consider taking on some kind of DIY task. Here is our definitive guide to DIY and whether or not you’re in over your head.

Do You Have All The Tools? Being short a highly specialized tool is fine, but if you’re missing something as basic as a hammer? There’s a good chance that you’re inexperienced. If you find yourself making a trip to the hardware store for half a dozen tools, you might want a contractor.

How Early Did You Plan? Having a goal is great, but having one without a plan? Not so much. If you’re working on your project without much of a plan, then you might want a contractor.

Is Electricity Involved? If complex wiring is involved, the average joe will almost always screw something up, or worse, shock themselves! Don’t mess with wires, let an experience electrician take care of the job.

Are You Working With Unfamiliar Materials? On average, DIYers commit more than 61,500 accidents a year due to working with unfamiliar materials like wood, brick, metal, or even paint! Taking on a big project with something you have little experience working with? Leave it to the pros.

There’s nothing wrong with getting into DIY projects, just make sure you’re noting taking on too much too soon! Start small, consider hanging a shelf or taking a woodworking class first to hone your skills. You’ll be a pro before you know it!

The Weekend Bathroom Challenge: Transforming Your Bathroom Fast and On A Budget


Most times when we think of bathroom renovations, our minds immediately run to the major fixtures, like the sink and the toilet. If you’re purely interested in transforming your bathroom’s look, there are a couple of modestly priced ideas that can change the cosmetic appearance of your bathroom:

Update Decorative Items

There are plenty of items you can replace in your bathroom that will immediately make it look like a fresh new space. Consider finding a fancy shower curtain or purchasing new bath mats. Most interior design experts agree, one of the first things people a drawn to in a bathroom is the shower curtain since it’s usually in the center of the space. Plants can also add life to the bathroom!

Consider Utilizing Unconventional Items

Getting creative with the types of items you include in your bathroom can really make it stand out. One of our favorite tips is picking up a conventional desk organizer to sort your toiletries! There aren’t many concrete steps to this tip, it just takes a little creative thinking to execute!

Wall Mount Shelves, Decorations, Etc.

If you have a little extra blank space on your walls, hanging pictures, shelves, or even extra cabinets is a potential solution. These new items can add more personality, or help you declutter your bathroom, one thing that is all too common in bathrooms!

Update Color Scheme

If your bathroom has an non-tile walls, a great weekend activity you can do is apply a new coat of paint! If you have a color in mind, getting the right paints and sufficient brushes is all it takes.

What are some of your favorite tips for redoing your bathroom? Share them here!

*Love the featured image in this post? You should see the rest of this gorgeous Tuscany-inspired chateau! Open House is this Sunday, March 20 from 1-4 p.m.!

What’s Good In Sammamish In The Next Week

Sammamish Saturday Events

There are a couple of great events in Sammamish over the next week, and we’re in the know on some of the best options! See some of our favorite events that are coming up these next few Saturdays:

Master Gardener Workshop: Growing Veggies (March 12th 1:30 – 4:00 PM)

The Snoqualmie Valley Clinic WSU Master Gardeners are pleased to announce their fifth annual In the Garden workshop series. The workshop is held at Sammamish City Hall. Unable to make this one? No problem, In the Garden series meets on the second Saturday of each month through June!

“Make It A Clay Day” – Inclusive Sculpting Event (March 19th 1:00 – 3:00 PM)

Located in the EX3 Teen & Recreation Center, “Make it a Clay Day” is a hands-on event for special needs students. They are paired with a peer of their age that serves a mentor as professional artists and instructors lead in a course of sculpting! Parents are encourages to come and meet with other families over coffee to talk about their children. Pre- Registration is available now!

Know of any fun community events coming up? Share them with us on our Facebook page!

Houseplants that “De-clutter” Your Home’s Air

Houseplants that de-clutter home's air

Indoor air quality is affected by several competing factors. Home cleaning products, pets, even your furniture can all pollute your home’s air. One of the easiest, low-maintenance practices you can do to purify your home’s air is keeping potted plants in your home! Here are some of the best plants at filtering pollutants out of the air:

Aloe Vera

A resilient plant that is usually looked at as a “starter plant” since it requires so little maintenance.  

Removes formaldehyde and benzene, two common chemicals in home cleaning products and paints.

Spider Plant

Arachnophobes need not fear, spider plants are any homeowners best friend! These plants look like a common fern with whit flowers sprouting at the ends of the plant.

In addition to removing formaldehyde and benzene, spider plants also filter out carbon monoxide.

Snake Plant

Snake plants revel in high humidity, making them perfect for bathrooms. Maintenance is easy, most advise that snake plants actually get under-watered for best results.

Snake plants help filter out formaldehyde.

Weeping Fig

If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, weeping figs are a little maintenance intensive, but their benefits are well worth it! These plants prefer bright light, and generous watering cycles.

Weeping figs assist in filtering trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde

Chinese Evergreen

So long as you keep the Chinese Evergreen in a warm climate, it should remain healthy. The beauty of a Chinese Evergreen is it’s ability to filter out any kind of pollutants from the air, in fact the more exposure they get, the better they are at filtering!

Do you have any of these plants in your home? Tell us what you think of them!

Why Buying Beats Renting Today!

Buying vs Renting

Buying a home in the Puget Sound area beats renting in less than two years, according to a new study. The “breakeven horizon” – the number of years after which buying is more financially advantageous than renting – is 1.9 years.

Why the short timeframe?


Interest Rates


Zillow Rent Index


If you paid the average cost of monthly rent towards  

a mortgage payment instead, here’s what you could buy:

Based on principal & interest on a 30 year mortgage at 4% interest with 0% down.



Monthly mortgage: $2,666
Home value: $558,400


Monthly mortgage: $2,401
Home value: $502,900

Snohomish County 

Monthly mortgage: $1,884
Home value: $294,600


Are you ready to invest the money you spend on rent to buy a home?  

I’d love to answer any questions you have, and walk you through the entire process. Call me and we can get started.  

Garden Prep Tips for Spring

Gardening and Lawn Tips

Lawns, gardens, and other residential foliage during seasonal transitions require a lot of maintenance to prolong their life through the winter, and to look their best in the summer! As we transition from summer to spring, here are some of our best tips for what you can do to prep your foliage so it can look it’s best.

Check Your Lawn Care Equipment

Before getting started, do a quick inventory on your equipment. Check things like your lawn mower’s blade, your rake, and other commonly used garden tools to see what you’ll need to pick up from your local hardware store.

Clean Out Any Winter Debris and Weeds

Once you’ve got all the necessary equipment, start by cleaning up any debris that accumulated over the winter. This can be anything from leaves, fallen branches, or dead branches on your foliage. Prune, cut, clean, etc.

Re-Seed Bare Patches in You Lawn

Any dead patches of grass can be corrected by re-seeding those areas. Make sure you know what species of grass your lawn is so the entire lawn looks uniform!

Aerate Your Lawn

Aerating your lawn allows for vital nutrients to easily reach grass roots. When done properly, your lawn will grow in lush and be much healthier than non aerated lawns.

Mow Your Lawn to a Height of 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 Inches

Keeping your lawn in this ballpark length reduces the likelihood of weeds taking root. The rule of thumb for mowing your lawn is never remove anything more than 1/3 of the total length of the grass, this reduces keeps your turf soft and reduces the likelihood of weeds taking root.

These tips are a great starting point for making your lawn the envy of the neighborhood come this summer!

Tips for Picking Patio Furniture

Tips for Picking Patio Furniture

Spring is just around the corner! It’s time to break out all the patio furniture, or possibly upgrade it for a new season. While you’re shopping for new patio furniture, there’s a different set of rules than your run of the mill living room and bedroom furniture. Here are three of the most important characteristics you want to look for when outfitting your patio:

UV Resistant Finishes/Fabric

If you’ve ever seen old patio furniture, one thing you’ll notice is the faded look it has. Furniture that bakes in the sun all day long will lose it’s color! The best way to avoid this is by looking for products with UV resistance or color fade resistance.

Sturdy Products

Sturdy means something different with outdoor furniture. Don’t purchase furniture with thin, cloth, fabrics or anything that uses glue to keep the structure together. Rather, look for thick fabrics and furniture that is held together by screws.

Mold, Mildew, and Rust Resistant

Outdoor furniture, especially when it’s on Lake Sammamish, implies water. Whenever water is involved, there is always the potential for mold! If moisture is a concern for your furniture, then only buy furniture that is resistant to water damage like rust or mold.

If you plan on taking up residence on the water for a long period of time, then only buy the most sturdy, weather resistant products available! You’ll be glad that you bought the appropriate products for your home.

Featured photo courtesy of Night-thing via Flickr.

Ahead of the Vacation Curve

Ahead of the Vacation Curve

It’s never too early to start planning your summer vacation! If you and your family are longing for exploring the outdoors, you know just as well as any Washington native that you couldn’t be in a better place to get in touch with nature! Here are a couple of cool road trip ideas that you can go on if you’re trying to get out of the house:

Washington Waterfall Road Trip

If you have a free day with the family, consider making a trip around the Olympic Peninsula and tour all the gorgeous waterfalls in the area! According to Google Maps, if you’re efficient, visiting all 7 signature waterfalls on the route takes about 10 hours, and the views along the coast are absolutely breathtaking!

Highway 101 Road Trip

Highway 101 stretches all the way down the west coast, cutting through many must see natural destinations like the massive Redwood Forest, the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and who could forget beautiful Oceanside, Oregon? The great part about a road trip down Highway 101 is the trip itself can be as long or as short as you like! Just plot the destinations and hit the road.

What are some of your favorite places to travel during the summer? Tell us about it here!

Featured photo courtesy of kevin76 via Flickr. Featured photo is of Comet Falls near the Mount Rainier National Park!

Renting Your Home Out Through AirBnB

Renting Your Home Out Through AirBnB

AirBnB has changed the way homeowners and travelers book lodging around the world. Did you know that in Summer of 2015, over 17 million people used AirBnB to book a stay for their vacation? Homeowners on Lake Sammamish have no reason not to list their property, it’s an easy stream of revenue, especially if you travel regularly in the summer. Tourists visiting Seattle will be instantly won over by the breathtaking views that only communities in the Northwest can say they own! But how do you go about getting your home listed on AirBnB? It’s simple! Follow these steps:

  • Advertising Your Home – Listing your home is easy on AirBnB, and it’s free! Just go to their “List Your Space” page, fill out the fields, and you’re set!  
  • Respond to Requests – Once you’ve published, people that want to stay in your home will contact you. You can either have potential guests contact you for a reservation request, or they can book your space through Instant Book, a program that keeps track of your home’s available dates.
  • Prepare for Your Guests – When you have a guest booked, it’s time to prepare for their arrival! Anything you would do for a family member coming to town, do the same for your AirBnB guests. Tidy up the house, leave a fun guide to your favorite spots around town, anything that might make their stay memorable!

Does setting up your home for AirBnB sound too good to be true? See for yourself! Visit their “How to Host” page for more information!

2016 Economic and Housing Forecast

Margo Allan

The National Forecast

Although a positive number, the forecasted rate of growth suggests that we will be modestly underperforming in 2016. On a positive note, oil prices are likely to remain well below long-term averages, which puts more money into consumers’ pockets in terms of disposable incomes. However, I believe that consumers are likely to continue to save rather than spend which will constrain growth. That said, there is certainly no recession on the horizon-at least not yet-and a strong dollar will act as a bit of an anchor.

We are rapidly approaching full employment (generally considered to be when the unemployment rate drops below 5 percent). As such, growth in employment has to be driven more by population growth rather than a return to employment. 2015 saw an average of around 210,000 jobs created per month and I believe that this is likely to slow to an average monthly gain of 190,000 new jobs.

As mentioned above, we are heading toward full employment and, as such, the national unemployment rate cannot trend much lower. That said, the less acknowledged U-6 rate (which includes those working part-time and those marginally attached to the workforce) will remain elevated at around 8%, signifying that there is still some slack in the economy and room for the rate to drop a little further.

The Federal Reserve has begun the long-awaited tightening of monetary policy and we will likely see the Fed Funds Rate continue to move higher over the next two years. Inflation has yet to respond to the low unemployment rate, but it will.
The core rate of inflation should remain in check and the overall rate could stay below long-term averages as a function of stubbornly low energy costs. Should we see a shift in OPEC’s position relative to oil supply, the overall rate of inflation could rise more rapidly. Oil prices, therefore, will remain in focus during 2016.

The National Housing Market Forecast


5. I am taking the Fed at its word when it says that monetary tightening in 2016 will be gradual and heavily data dependent. Accordingly, I expect only a modest uptick in long-term rates in 2016. Furthermore, as long as the Federal Reserve continues to reinvest the dividends that it is receiving from their bond holdings-which is highly likely-the yield on the key 10-year treasury will remain low and hold mortgage rates in check. This is only likely to change after the general election, therefore suggesting that rates will remain very attractive relative to their long-term averages.

Access to credit, specifically mortgage instruments, has not been easy for many would-be homebuyers but that is set to change. I believe that we will see some improvement, specifically for borrowers with ‘near-prime’ credit. This will be of some assistance to first-time buyers; however, credit quality will still be higher than it needs to be.

I anticipate that we will see some improvement in overall transactional velocities in 2016, but unfortunately, demand will still exceed supply. Prices will continue to rise, but at a more constrained pace than seen over the past few years. This will be a function of modestly rising interest rates as well as slightly improving levels of inventory. I anticipate that we will see more listings come on line as more households return to positions of positive equity in their homes.

I believe that builders will start to build to the entry-level buyer, filling a huge void. Additionally, I see the total number of new home starts increase quite dramatically in 2016 as banks start to ease lending and builders start to believe that the downward trend in homeownership has come to an end. This will help to absorb some of the pent-up demand currently in the market.

Any story regarding foreclosures will be a non-story as the rate will continue to trend down toward historic averages. However, we will see the occasional uptick as banks work their way through their existing inventory of foreclosed homes. Move along. There’s nothing to see here.

There are several substantial reasons to expect an increase in Millennial buyers. Firstly, early Millennials are getting older and starting to settle down, and even with modestly higher mortgage rates, rents are likely to continue to trend upward, and this will pull many into homeownership.
Secondly, more favorable mortgage insurance premiums, additional supply from downsizing boomers, and growing confidence in the housing market will lead to palpable growth in demand from this important-and substantial-demographic.
To conclude, it appears to me that 2016 will be a year of few surprises-at least until the general election! Because it is an election year,
I do not expect to see any significant governmental moves that would have major impacts on the U.S. economy or housing markets .

Find the original post here.

Valentine’s Day for the Whole Family

Valentine's Day for the Whole Family

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, and chances are you’ve already made reservations at that romantic spot on the water, hired a sitter, and perhaps picked up a little something special for your spouse. In the event that you aren’t one of those that’s prepared—down to the last-minute details—here are some fun ideas to make this Sunday a lovely day for you, your significant other, and the rest of your family!

Family Valentine’s Day Meal

Kick Sunday off right with a sweet Valentine’s Day themed breakfast or brunch! The tried and true heart shaped pancake with strawberry syrup is always a crowd-pleaser, or try something new! Here’s our favorite site for exploring creative recipe ideas.

Fun Gestures to Get Through the Day

You don’t have to make a grand gesture to show you care. Writing your family little love notes, or offering to go to their favorite spot in the city are great ways to personalize Valentine’s Day in a way that only they can appreciate it!

Do Something for the Less Fortunate

Showing love doesn’t have to be exclusive to the people you know. Volunteering as a family at your local food shelter, hospital, or retirement home is a wonderful, selfless activity that allow your kids to learn about the importance of looking outside of themselves. Afterwards you can reward good behavior with a special treat!

There are plenty of off-beat ways to make Valentine’s Day a family holiday! If you haven’t planned yours yet, then these ideas can make your February 14th one to remember!

Welcome to 16940 SE 38th Place, Bellevue, WA 98008

Waterfront and breathtaking mountain views are on your horizon if you take the opportunity of owning the Bellevue real estate listing 16940 SE 38th Place in Bellevue, Washington. Nestled into it’s own nook on Lake Sammamish, this 2 bed, 2.5 bath property is the perfect slice of waterfront for a small family that wants an intimate and private home.


The real difference maker of this property is the world class kitchen. Complete with stainless appliances, and cherry faced cabinetry, a polished African mahogany bar, and a perfect view of the lake and mountain, you’ll never want to leave the kitchen! Watching the world go by as you prep your next meal has never been easier!


This waterfront property includes community beach access with a covered picnic area, and a conveniently located dock! Seize the opportunity to own Bellevue real estate by scheduling a showing of the listing at 16940 SE 38th Place! We’d love to show you around and see if it’s the right fit for your family.


Address: 16940 SE 38th Place, Bellevue, WA 98008

Speedy Spring Clean Tips

Speedy Spring Cleaning

Spring is just around the corner. Here is your friendly reminder that before you take the boat out of the garage, you’ve got to clean the cobwebs off first. It’s time for spring cleaning! If you go into it with no real plan, spring cleaning can be a long, laborious task that no one enjoys! But if you follow these tips, your next house clean will be a breeze!

Make a Plan

When you’re organizing your home, it helps to be, well, organized. Devise a detailed plan on how you will tackle the task of cleaning your home. Having a check list will show you just what you need to do in order to make your home ready for spring.

Go Room By Room

Organize all your tasks by the room they will be done in. Complete every single project in a room first before you move onto the next one!

Break Up Big Chores

Does something like cleaning the garage out feel like an overwhelming task that will never be accomplished? Don’t worry, just break the big tasks up into several little jobs, before you know it, you’ll be finished with cleaning the

Break Cleaning Up Into Multiple Days

Only work on cleaning when you’re at the top of your game. If you’re feeling burnt out after a long day of hard work, cleaning will only leave you frustrated, and your home won’t be cleaned to the best of your ability. It’s best to tackle spring cleaning only when you’re fresh!

Have a plan, and you’ll be prepared to take on even the biggest cleaning projects! Going in with spontaneity will cause you to miss something you didn’t anticipate, or potentially not have all the supplies you need to complete the job.

Cutting Edge Tech You Can Integrate in Your Home

There’s lots of interesting new pieces of consumer technology out there that can be a great enhancement to any home. We’ve gathered some of the more popular tech from 2015 and put them in one convenient place! Here’s an overview of some of our favorites for any homeowner.

Chromecast (Price $35)


You’ve probably heard of these gadgets without having a clue about what they actually do. The Chromecast acts as a “bridge” between your computer or smart device and your TV, allowing you to cast your device on for your guests to see! Chromecasts support hundreds of streaming apps too, including Netflix, HBO, Youtube, Google Play, and Pandora; all in stunning HD! Gone are the days of unwanted cables running all over your home!

Sonos Sound Bar (Price $700)

Sonos Sound Bar

For the audiofiles out there, the Sonos Sound Bar is on the cutting edge of audio technology. It’s easy to install, and is WiFi compatible. Whether you’re looking for high tech audio for your TV, or your record player, a Sonos Sound Bar offers crisp, high texture sound!

Amazon Echo (Price $179)

Amazon Echo

Dubbed the “Star Trek computer at home” (CNET), Amazon Echo does a little bit of everything, think of it as Amazon’s very own Siri. It plays music, puts off high quality audio in every direction, provides traffic updates, breaking news, and weather reports! More sophisticated users can even control their lights and other smart home devices using Amazon Echo! Pull up your favorite album, or listen to an audio book while you’re completing housework!

It’s hard to imagine that some of the tech feature here is what our parents envisioned the future to be like! Get your own slice of the future today by picking up one of these futuristic tools!

Apply Yourself to Cleaning These Common Kitchen Appliances!

Cleaning Kitchen Appliances

With all the raw foods that come in and out of your kitchen, there is no understating the value of regularly maintaining its cleanliness! We all know about regularly changing sponges, keeping clean countertops, cutting boards, etc. But what about those appliances that don’t often get the disinfectant love? Here are a few common household appliances that can stand to be cleaned more than they currently are:

Keurig Coffee Maker – Instant coffee machines like Keurigs are great for those that are on the go, but their spots often get congested with gunk and residual coffee beans! This can compromise the flavor and the amount of coffee it pours out. Regularly cleaning your Keurig ensures the highest performance for your machine.

Microwave – Microwaves are prone to splatters and food getting all over the inside of the appliance. And cleaning it is easier that it looks! Just get a lemon and a half cup of water. Squeeze the lemon juice into the water and microwave the solution for three minutes. After letting it stand for 5 minutes, get a wet cloth and clean the mess on the inside!

Stovetop – Especially in active kitchens, the stove top will see a lot of stray food on the top. Using an all purpose cleaner, a sponge, and some paper towels, you can clean your stove in as little as a few minutes!

Fridge – It’s hard to see just how messy your fridge is when it’s stocked with food, especially in the back! Don’t believe us? Take an afternoon to clean it out, you’re bound to find some kind of expired food nestled away in the back!
Have any other appliances that you believe aren’t cleaned nearly enough? Share them with us, we’d love to hear from you!

Actions that Can Negatively Influence Your Home’s Final Price

Margo Allan—sold

The real estate market is a complex game with a lot of unspoken rules. While there are plenty of seemingly innocent statements that you can make to your real estate agent, they can be detrimental to the final sale price of your property! Here are a couple of common pitfalls statements you should be aware of while searching for an agent.


  • Don’t Say Anything Before You’ve Signed an Agreement – While you conduct your search for a real estate agent, it’s important to withhold as much information as you can about your financial situation, specific information about the listing, or even personal information without signing a written agreement. The written agreement ensures that they will only represent your interests throughout the negotiation process.


  • Setting a Non-Negotiable Asking Price – Telling your agent your absolute lowest you’re willing to sell your property could cause your home to sit on the market longer than anticipated, driving down it’s value due to the lack of demand. Keeping your ideal price to yourself allows you to see all the options, and it opens up the negotiating table.


  • Insisting to be Present at all Showings – Sellers that want to be present on all showings tend to make buyers feel uncomfortable. Let the home speak for itself when somebody wants to see it and you’ll surely get a buyer that’s willing to play!


  • Telling Your Agent You Have All The Time in the World to Sell – Telling your agent there is no rush on selling your home will give them the impression that your listing is less of a priority. A lack of urgency can cause your home to sit on the market too long, causing its value to artificially deflate!
  • Telling Your Agent You Are Moving Due to Extraneous Circumstances – Letting your agent know that you’re going through a divorce, economic hardship, or even a bad illness that’s forcing you to sell will put too much urgency on the agent. If buyers know there is a real rush to sell, then they will have more leverage during negotiations.

“I Can Fix That!” Signs of a Bad Contractor


Your home is one of your most valuable assets. Anytime you want to renovate it, you have to make sure the team you hire will increase your home’s value rather than decrease it. Screening contractors to find the right one usually does the trick, but every so often a bad apple gets through. Here are a few signs to look out for when your new contractor breaks ground on your project:

  • “Oops” – Typically paired with the sound of shattering glass or a loud crash, this famous phrase is NEVER attached to good news. One time might just be an unfortunate accident, but more than that? Your contractor is in over his head.
  • When You Correct Their Mistakes – Blatant errors that are obvious to the average joe suggest that your contractor is either under-qualified or just plain lazy!
  • Poor Attention to Detail – Notice that there is a lack of tape measures on site? Did the contractor bring you a hand written slip of paper with only three items and call it an “estimate”? Tread carefully, this might suggest that the contractor doesn’t quite have his act together.
  • Messy Worksite – A messy worksite might suggest that the contractor doesn’t take pride in his work. Can you really trust hiring an individual who sees your home as nothing more than a paycheck?

If you suspect your contractor isn’t the right fit, don’t be afraid to show him the door! Save yourself time and money down the road.

Get the Most Bang For Your Renovation Buck

Get Bang for Renovation Buck

There is power in picking your battles, this couldn’t be more true in home renovation. Unless you’re working with an infinite budget, you’re going to have to prioritize how you decide what upgrades are vital, and what can be put off for the time being. But how do you decide between the necessary and the superfluous? One strategy we prefer is determine which renovations offer the highest ROI. Remodeling magazine published a great article on cost vs. value of renovations, here are the top four jobs sorted by the return on investment:

  • Attic Insulation (fiberglass)

—Job Cost – $1,268

—Resale Value – $1,482

—Return on Investment – 116.2%

  • Manufactured Stone Veneer

—Job Cost – $7,519

—Resale Value – $6,988

—Return on Investment – 92.9%

  • Garage Door

—Job Cost – $1,652

—Resale Value – $1,512

—Return on Investment – 91.5%

  • Steel Entry Door  

—Job Cost – $1,335

—Resale Value – $1,217

—Return on Investment – 91.1%

If you’re interested in learning more about Remodeling magazine’s analysis on cost vs. value, read the rest of their article! There’s tons of great information to sort through that will help you arrive at your own conclusions on what renovations are worth doing.

Sammamish and Redmond Elementary Schools Rank in the Top 10 for Test Scores!

Top Ranking Elementary Schools

As if you didn’t already have sufficient reason to find a house in Sammamish or Redmond, we have yet another excellent reason for you to consider! Add early childhood education to that ever-growing list. When ranking Washington elementary schools by their test scores, 5 of the state’s top 10 schools are in either Sammamish or Redmond. Here’s a complete list of the nearby schools, accompanied with where they rank on the list:

  • Blackwell Elementary (Sammamish) (1st)
  • Rockwell Elementary (Redmond) (3rd)
  • Rosa Parks Elementary (Redmond) (8th)
  • Alcott Elementary (Remond) (10th)

None of these schools have standardized test scores below 96, meaning that you can trust these institutions to get the most out of your child. If you want to get your child off on the right foot, then consider an elementary school near Lake Sammamish—you can’t go wrong!

Plan Ahead! What to Expect Living on the Lake

Living by the Lake

Living on a lake sounds like owning your own slice of paradise, but it’s not always a day at the beach! Here are a few things you’ll need to plan for if you choose to live on the lake!

  • Dock, Boat and Related Maintenance – As you can expect, anything that spends a majority of its time in the water will naturally erode due to water damage. This goes for your boat and any related moorage that you might have on the water. Routine maintenance is critical to ensure these costly investments remain in the best condition possible.
  • Soil Erosion – Much like your man-built structures, the natural environment erodes over the course of time. If you’re worried about your landscape being damaged by high tides, we recommend looking for properties that have a bulkhead or retaining wall that serves as a barrier between the lake and your backyard.
  • Required Insurance – At the very least, you’re going to need flooding insurance. Living close to the water comes with some inherent risk, you don’t want to put your possessions or property at risk without having the appropriate coverage!
  • Knowing How to Swim is a Must – If you’re going to have readily accessible water by your property, then you’ll want your entire family to be strong swimmers. Having experienced swimmers is important for making sure that your guests don’t get harmed if they ever decide to take a dip.

Before you fully commit to buying a lake house property, consider some of these additional points. It’s important to know what you’re getting into before you take the plunge!

Is Lakeside Living Good For Your Health? We Think So!

living new lake good for your health

You’ll often hear the financial benefits of owning a home on a lake. But have you ever considered the physical and health benefits that are associated with lakeside living? While it might have more to do with the life style associated above all else, there is something about that fresh lake air that can’t be beat!

  • Lower Blood Pressure – How many times have you imagined the following image: Waking up to a view of  the sunrise, it’s shimmering reflection stretching across the body of water. How does this image make you feel? Serene? Waking up to views like these are a dime a dozen on the lake! Living here gives you more opportunities to stop, smell the roses, and truly relax!
  • Plenty of Exercise Opportunities – Some of the most popular activities around a lake include: nature walks, jogging, swimming, canoeing. Living right next to a lake is an invitation to a free gym!
  • More Time Outdoors – Who doesn’t want to spend time outside when you’re surrounded by such effortless beauty? Living on the lake means more time outside, all the natural light and air is good for your skin, lungs, and of course, your well-being!

It’s hard not to adopt the lifestyle that is associated with living on the lake, especially when all these wonderful benefits are literally in your backyard!

Winter Lawn Tips

Winter Lawn Tips

One of the benefits of winter is the lawn requires very little maintenance during this season. Even so, if you’re feeling ambitious this winter, there are a few things you can do to make your lawn come in lush a bright in a couple months. Consider these winter lawn care techniques:

  • Winter Fertilizing – Early winter is the perfect time to fertilize your lawn, especially before the cold really sets in. Doing a thorough job of fertilizing your lawn will help the grass retain any nutrients they lost in the summer. Skip this step if your lawn has been particularly frosty of late.
  • Mow As Appropriate – Mow your lawn as short as possible at the start of winter. Leaving the grass tall is very inviting to critters like mice and moles that want a warm place to sleep! Don’t let them destroy your lawn you spent all summer manicuring.
  • Keep Your Lawn Clean – Remove any furniture, toys, etc. from the lawn. The weight of some of these objects can be stressful on the grass and create dead spots come spring time.
  • Don’t Walk or Park on It – Walking on the grass in the winter can make it difficult for your grass to grow in healthy if it sustains constant traffic. Especially don’t let people park on your lawn as that will only invite weeds and crab grass to grow.

Following this simple, yet effective lawn care tips will help make sure your grass grows in as expected come spring time!

The Secret to A Super Seahawks Party

The Secret to a Super Seahawks Party

For the fourth straight year, the Seahawks are in the playoffs. Know what that means? It’s time to get your family and friends together and root for Russell and the gang as they make their third Super Bowl run in a row! If you’re hosting, then it’s time to get entertain beastmode style. Here’s your overview of the game itself, and how you can host the best Seahawk soiree!

Kickoff Time: Sunday, January 10th, 10:05 AM

Channel: NBC

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings

Fun Facts To Impress Your Guests: Russell Wilson is having a historic season. Not only is he the first quarterback in Seahawks history to throw for 4,000 yards in a single season, he’s also the only quarterback in NFL History to pass for 4,000 yards, 30 touchdowns, and rush for 500 yards.

Tips For Hosting a Playoff Game:

  • Know Your Audience – There is such thing as over-dressing a party! If your audience is more into the game rather than the social experience, then don’t stress about the little details so long as your TV works!
  • Get Creative With Your Game Day Snacks – Playoffs are win or go home. Don’t save your best snacks in case (heaven forbid) the Hawks lose! Have fun with it. We recommend something fun like Doug Baldwings, or a bowl of Marshawn’s favorite power pellets.

Make Sure You Have Ample Space – The key to a successful playoff party is making sure everybody is comfortable and able see the game. Take into account the amount of seating you have available BEFORE you make your guest list.

Guilty Pleasure Snacks for New Years Eve

With only a week of turnaround between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, a lot of people that host a New Year’s function do most of their planning on the fly. Of course this includes finding appropriate food to serve. Whether you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party, or a party for the NCAA football games, consider some of these options!

Meat Lovers Pigs in Blankets 

Meat in a Blanket

Kicking the meats as your New Year’s Resolution? Have one last hurrah with this guilty pleasure of ham goodness. Simply wrap some mini sausages with bacon, bake them, and presto! The perfect appetizer for the meat lovers in your life.  

Mini King Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes

Crab cakes, despite their luxury, are pretty easy to make! And with a proper muffin tin, mass producing mini crab cakes is a cake walk. Just mix crab with parmesan, egg, cream cheese, and egg, sprinkle a little panko mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for five minutes, and you’re done!

Sugar Coated Pecans

Sugar-Coated Pecans

Snack nuts are a great addition to any party spread. And who doesn’t love a liberal helping of sugar? Combine the two, you’re guaranteed to have a hit at your New Years party!

Cracker Tray & Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

Spinach dips are great for their easy to execute instructions. Just grab the ingredients from your old family recipe (NOTE: If you don’t have an old family recipe, a recipe you find online will suffice), throw the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and after a proper mix, let them chill in the fridge for six hours. Before you know it, you’ll have a splendid spinach dip for your guests to enjoy!

The trick to a great appetizer is unique flavors that are easy to mass produce. Any of the suggests above exceed both requirements without question!

Crab Cake photo courtesy of arsheffield via Flickr and Spinach Dip photo courtesy of smiteme via Flickr.

Entertaining During the Holidays? Consider a Party Game!

Holiday Party Game

Anybody who’s hosted an event can attest to how stressful it can be. While making sure all the details are just perfect, some hosts forget the most important piece: making sure that your guests will be entertained! Most party experts will agree that simple is better, so why not break out a party game or two to get your guests to loosen up? These are some of our favorite games to break out when we have guests over.

Apples to Apples – Apples to Apples quickly became a crowd-pleasing favorite for parties since it burst onto the scene in 1999. It’s an easy game to jump into and perfect for the ebb and flow of a typical holiday party!

Pro Tip: If your audience is older, they might also like “Cards Against Humanity,” Apples to Apples angsty older brother.

White Elephant Gift Exchange – Most times holiday party is focused around the White Elephant. What makes White Elephants effective is it just takes a little effort on all the guests behalf in order to pull it off!

Catch Phrase – Just like the gameshow classic “Pyramid,” Catch Phrase is a game that requires thinking on your feet and fast answers. Unenthusiastic people need not consider, they might not find this game entertaining!

Charades – For your friends that have the acting bug, consider charades! Nothing is more entertaining than watching your friends try to work through a particularly difficult charades game.

Making your holiday party the standard for next year doesn’t take much effort. With the assistance of a well-selecting party game, yours will surely be the crowd favorite!

Great Christmas Housewarming Gifts For Your Host or Hostess

Fun Christmas Housewarming Gifts for the Host

With the holidays in full swing, you will undoubtedly attend a holiday party or two. Want to tip your hat to the host or hostess? Show your love to them by bringing a gift showing your gratitude! We have gathered three popular suggestions for you to consider:

Glassybaby Products – What is Glassybaby? They are artisan-crafted candle holders made my people in our own backyard! Glassybabys have been all the rage age holiday gifts for a couple years now, and the trend has little sign of slowing down. The best part? A small portion of the proceeds of every Glassybaby purchased goes to charity!

Mugs – What’s winter without getting cozy with a warm beverage in your favorite mug? The beauty about a good mug is they can come in a variety of sizes and they can be tasteful, humorous, or show off the drinker’s pride in their favorite sports team or hobby!

Bottle of Wine – What holiday party would be complete without a liberal dose of wine? Even if the host has an ample supply, getting a nice bottle of wine for the host is a great way to say thank you for their hard work!

Quality of Life Reminders to Winterize Your Life

Quality of Life Reminders to Winterize Your Life

We hope that you’ve taken the precautions to stay prepared in the event of disastrous, winter weather. Just in case, we would like to take this opportunity to give you friendly reminders of the little things you can do to keep your family and your home safe this winter season!

For Your Home

The most common dangers you can expect with extreme colds are frozen pipes or clogged drains. Here are our favorite preventative tips:

  • Disconnect any outside hoses from their spigots.
  • Make sure your gutters and outdoor drains are clean of any debris.
  • For pipes that are in your home’s exterior walls (for example, the ones in your kitchen sink), they need to stay warm. Keep the cabinets containing them open so you can get heat to them.
  • Have a steady trickle of cold and hot water running in faucets to prevent stagnant water from freezing.
  • Keep your home at least 65 degrees.
  • Keep in mind where your water shut off valves are in case a pipe bursts.

For Your Car

Engine parts are often susceptible to overheating, but it’s the fluids you have to worry about in the winter. Here are some tips for keeping your car in proper shape through the chilly season:

  • Get an oil change if it’s been more than half a year. Oil can coagulate, which can be tough on the battery and ignition.
  • If your battery dies and it’s frozen DO NOT try to jump start it. It will likely rupture or explode.
  • Tires lose pressure in cold weather (don’t believe us, take Bill Belichick’s word for it). Check your tire pressure and inflate your tires accordingly.
  • DO NOT set your parking break in below freezing temperatures. It can freeze up, leaving you no way to move your car.

Stay on top of your home and car during the winter months and avoid unnecessary damage that can come with the winter!

Featured photo courtesy of Rahul. R via Flickr.

Be Prepared with Flood Insurance

Prepare with Flood Insurance

Heavy rainfall is in full effect right now, so it’s time to bunker down, light a fire, and snuggle up to the comforting sounds of the rain. But, it’s not all quilts and cocoa during a rainstorm: there are inherent risks to owning lakefront property! For starters, your home is far more likely to fall victim to flash floods than other properties. If you’re either looking to buy property on Lake Sammamish, it is strongly advised that you purchase flood insurance.

Flood insurance is handled by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). They establish flood insurance policies and their premiums based on the risk of flooding in your area. The NFIP is increasing the premiums of flood insurance, and since most mortgage lenders will require you to buy some sort of coverage, the premiums the previous homeowner was paying won’t accurately represent what you will pay.

If your heart is set on buying a home on Lake Sammamish, then we recommend you visit with a a flood insurance carrier to get a more accurate representation of the types of premiums will provide suitable coverage. Being prepared for the worst is always better than having to get prepared during the worst! Here are a few helpful resources on flood insurance:

Featured photo courtesy of stevet31 via Flickr.

Staying Prepared for a Power Outage

Staying Prepared for a Power Outage

With all the storms that have swept through the state, it’s important to be prepared for the event of a power outage. We have gathered some of the most important safety tips that homeowners should keep in mind when they find their home’s power supply has been cut.

Food Safety – Perishables that are stored in your fridge or freezer will now be at risk. Only open your fridge when absolutely necessary. As odd as it may seem, buy ice. Storing your most necessary food in an ice chest with ice is the best way to keep it from spoiling if you expect to be without power for more than a day.

Make Sure Drinking Water is Safe to Drink – Typically when power goes out, it means that the water purification systems in your local area won’t be operating. Filter your water using a washcloth, paper towel, or coffee filter. Also boil your water as an extra precaution.

Consider Investing in a Generator – Keep your house running at least at minimal settings (fridge, heating, etc) by purchasing a small generator. Generators are a great way to keep your house from being completely shut down during an outage, saving you money on restocking your fridge, and keeping your family comfortable.

Keep Warm – Without power, your HVAC will obviously not be running. If you have a fireplace, try to keep a good fire going, and keep everybody warm with food, warm beverages, and of course an ample supply of blankets.

Have Fun Activities to Keep the Family Entertained – Cabin fever tends to take over during a power outage. Make sure you have an ample supply of books, board games, and other fun activities to keep everybody entertained.

For more helpful tips, check out the tips provided from your own town’s website or your electricity provider.

Featured photo courtesy of Vilseskogen via Flickr.

Get Into the Holiday Spirit With Snowflake Lane!

Holiday Snowflake Lane

If there is one place in the entire Pacific Northwest that knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s Bellevue!  A case in point, Snowflake Lane, everybody’s favorite holiday spectacle! Between the toy soldier drummers, festive music, and nightly snowfall along Bellevue Way, everybody has something they can enjoy at Snowflake Lane. Here’s a brief overview of what you can find by attending this exciting winter wonderland:

  • When: Nightly at 7:00PM from now through December 24th.
  • Where: Activities happen at Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, and Lincoln Square
  • What: Guests can see meet the cast of fun characters that make Snowflake Lane the memorable event that it is! There are over 250 characters, including drummers, dancers, stilt walkers, princes, princesses, and of course, Santa himself!
  • Why: What better way to get into the holiday spirit than by relishing in snow, showmanship, and merriment? Snowflake Lane is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year, don’t miss out!

Snowflake Lane is a one-of-a-kind holiday event, take the family down to Bellevue Square to enjoy the spirited festivities!

Featured photo courtesy of kathleenleavitt via Flickr.

Helping Others Give Thanks

Helping Others Give Thanks

As we all know, Thanksgiving is the time of year where we give thanks and express our gratitude and appreciation for friends and family. While being thankful might come naturally for you, there are many people in the Pacific Northwest that can’t celebrate with the luxury of a huge dinner and relaxation. During this time of year, we always like to encourage one another to donate to their local food bank or clothing charities. Below is a couple of our favorite organizations that you can give to as a small way to help those less fortunate than ourselves this Thanksgiving season.

Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank – The Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank is collecting holiday gifts, food, and of course volunteers, to assist this holiday season! Find out about how you can best lend your resources by visiting their website for upcoming events and products that may be in demand!

Goodwill of Seattle – The Goodwill of Seattle is looking for all types of household items and reusable clothing. They have a local donation site in the Sammamish Highlands that can collect all types of electronics, clothing, and more! Visit their website for directions and hours of operation.

They say that a single snowflake doesn’t feel responsible for the avalanche, but several small gestures can make a major impact in our community! Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours.

Featured photo courtesy of Tony Webster via Flickr.

Thanksgiving Family Fun!


With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it likely means you’re going to be entertaining family from out of town. We’ve taken the time to find three fun events that you can attend with your loved ones from now through Thanksgiving weekend.

Seattle International Comedy Competition Finals (Redmond)

The biggest turing comedy festival is the Seattle International Comedy Competition. 33 of the world’s most talented comedians (from the U.S., Canada, UK, Europe, Australia and Africa) have been competing, and it all comes down to the final 5. Watch these talented comics compete for top honors at the Kirkland Performance Center!

Theatre: My Fair Lady (Issaquah)

The Village Theater is putting on a performance of one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time, My Fair Lady. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity by seeing this cast’s lovely rendition of the classic play. The best part? Shows run from now until the first week of January, with weekday matinees and several shows on weekends!

Turkey Trot 5k Fundraiser Run (Sammamish)

Want to avoid Thanksgiving Day guilt with a little healthy exercise? The city of Sammamish is hosting a Thanksgiving Day 5k Fundraiser Run! Grab your running shoes, get a good stretch in, and go participate in this great fitness event!

When you live in the Lake Sammamish area, entertaining guests is a breeze! Consider these events, or browse the event calendar in your city to get an idea of any of the other events in your area!

Featured photo courtesy of gerardov via Flickr.

Capitalize on the Market: How to Sell Your Lakefront Home in the Winter

Selling Lakefront Homes in the Winter

There is value in marketing your waterfront home during the winter months. The lower number of homes on the market means less supply for the demand, and those that are shopping are more likely to act on a home they really like. If executed properly, a lakefront home marketed in the winter can sell above market price and quicker than if you market it in the spring. Make your winter marketing efforts a success by considering these tips:

Provide Winter Visuals (If Capable) – If snowy weather is common, then including photos of your home freshly peppered with snow is a must! Make sure the visuals are staged properly, this means images of lights on, clear pathways and serenity on the lake. Anything that can give your potential buyers a “cozy” vibe should be done.

Winter Dock/Deck Safety – If your dock is notoriously slick during the winter, make sure they know it. Do what you can to make the dock safe to walk on during the winter so your buyers can check it out.

Highlight the Lifestyle – Exactly as you would brag about your home’s potential for boating and swimming in the spring and summer, in the winter you want to highlight the benefits of lakeside living in the winter. Promote any fire pits, fire places, and related winter activities that you will likely participate in! Remember, you’re selling a lifestyle as well as a home!

Provide Personal Testimonies – Share your experience with the buyer! Include a written letter to the future owner of this home and tell them about what you think of the home, lake, and the neighborhood. You experiences will likely rub off on them.

Follow these tips when marketing your home in the winter. If you need any assistance, make sure to reach out to Margo Allan with all your questions!

Featured photo courtesy of MarkMoz12 via Flickr.

The Required Documents for Pre-Approval

Pre-Approval Documents

Last week, we touched upon the value of getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Today, we will explore what a typical pre-approval process looks like, specifically the different documentation that you’ll need.

  • Proof of employment and income – The mortgage lender will request a list of employers for the at least two years. In addition, the lender will want proof of income for at least 3-4 months like W-2 forms and pay stubs. All of this is necessary to demonstrate that you’re capable of making payments.
  • Tax documents – Anything like tax returns and W-2 statements will be included here. Since tax documents are required for mortgages, these are almost always requested during a pre-approval.
  • Breakdown of bank account history (one year) – In addition to understanding how much you have in the bank, the lender will want to get an idea of your spending history and budget to make sure you can afford the home you’re looking at.
  • Credit History – Credit information is important for the lender to have access to so they can measure your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Social Security – Anybody who is going to be on the mortgage loan will need to provide their social security number. This is required so the lender can verify your identity.
  • “Gift” letters/letters of recommendation – If you have a family member that intends to assist you with the down payment, then you must provide a gift letter to verify that the money is actually a gift.

This is a short list of the most commonly expected requests of a mortgage lender. Keep in mind that a pre-approval process can vary depending on the mortgage lender.

Featured photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver via Flickr.

Featured Real Estate: 8420 SE 47th Street, Mercer Island, 98040

8420 Mercer Island Real Estate

Contemporary and and 1950s design are a perfect match in the real estate listing on Mercer Island. Located in 8420 SE 47th Street, Mercer Island 98040, taking up residence in this highly coveted neighborhood has never been easier!

Centered around a sprawling, yet inviting great room, you will feel at home with it’s open floor plan and lake facing windows that drink in the natural beauty of the lake. This 4 bedroom 2.5 bath listing has plenty is spacious, yet cozy, perfect for families of all sizes.

The exterior sports fully matured, garden variety plant life that you would expect of the most prized Mercer Island real estate. Spend afternoons enjoying their splendor from the comfort of your massive entertainment deck, or be one with it as you stroll around the property.

Take advantage of this opportunity Mercer Island real estate by contacting Margo Allan about a showing today!


Drive southbound on Island Crest Way. Turn right at SE 47th street. At the end of the private lane, turn left. House will be to the west at the end of the lane.

Margo’s Financial Housekeeping Tips Before You Check the Market

Financial Housekeeping Tips

House hunting is an exciting process, but it’s easy to get caught up in the imagined life you will lead in your new home. Before you start picking out new furniture and color schemes, do these less flashy housekeeping items to make sure your family is ready for the move.

Find Out Your Credit Scores – Credit is king when it comes to applying for a loan. Knowing your credit score allows you to determine what kinds of loans and houses you will realistically qualify for. The bare minimum for today’s market is within the 640-660 range, but scores of 700 and upwards will get you better rates.

Determine Your Debt-To-Income Ratio – The commonly accepted rule of thumb when it comes to budgeting for a home is 28% of your gross monthly income. When you get an idea of how much you can afford on a monthly payment, start building your nest egg by treating that money as “practice payments” that can be used in the future.

Start Building Your Savings Account – Building your savings helps you become financially flexible. Banks that see that you have a sizable savings are more willing to give you a loan as they can see you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. Having a rainy day fund can also help you be prepared for upkeep and maintenance of your home.

Get Pre-Approved For A Mortgage – Starting what is already a lengthy process will help you get ahead in the approval process. Getting pre-approved before you walk through that first house lets you know exactly how much you can afford, and expedites the entire process.

House buying is a marathon not a sprint. And just like any distance running, being prepared well in advance will give you a leg up on your competition.

Featured photo courtesy of MarkMoz12 via Flickr.

Timing the Market: Buying A Home In the Winter

Housing Market In Winter

Considering moving, or at least looking at what’s on the market? The timing might not be better than right now as we enter winter. According to a study conducted by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, from 2011-2014, there is no better time than now to hunt for homes being sold below their actual value. What leads to what can only be described as the “Winter Shift” in listing prices? There are a number of contributing factors, including:

Poor Weather – If you live in Seattle and have been anywhere near a window over this past week, you would know that the weather changed drastically. Most homebuyers aren’t interested in looking at homes amidst the poor weather, or their desired listing may be difficult to reach due to poor conditions on the roads!

A Tight Holiday Schedule – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all take place within less than three months. That means parties, visiting relatives, and preparing for all these traditions! Most people don’t have time to go house hunting, which ultimately leads to…

Less Competition Between Buyers – There are less buyers on the market, meaning that sellers have to compete with each other to close. The most immediate way to get the leg up on competing listings? List your property slightly below value.

If the thought of moving has crossed your mind at all this past year, you might want to consider perusing the market now. You could be pleasantly surprised by the bargains that are available!

Featured photo courtesy of ldrose via Flickr.

Lake Sammamish Open House Tour!

Lake Sammamish Open House Tour

Superb Suburb: Sammamish Ranks in Nation’s Top 50 Suburbs

Sammamish Suburb

Anybody who has lived on the Lake knows that Sammamish, Washington is one of the best kept secrets in the country. Thanks to MSN’s “Best 50 Suburbs” list, you have definitive proof of that fact! In the 2015 edition of the list, our very own community ranks at #39 out all the nation’s qualifying suburbs.

Thanks to the high median income, our dedication to the motto of “Building Community Together,” the low 5 percent unemployment rate, and a nationally low crime rate, we have become a model suburb that cities everywhere are looking to mimic! So to all the lovely families that have done their part to make Sammamish the place to be, give yourself a well deserved pat on the back! With your contributions, it’s not hard to believe that Sammamish will be on the list for years to come.

Featured photo courtesy of schmich via Flickr.

3110 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE #6, Bellevue 98008


One of Lake Sammamish’s most prized communities has available real estate; Sammamish Shores. The 3110 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE #6 listing is a piece of Bellevue real estate that is part of the highly regarded, gated, waterfront property, Sammamish Shores.

This 3 bed, 2.5 bath home is perfect for small families that value the privacy and safety that comes from these elegant homes. The open floor plan with wall to wall hardwood flooring redefines what it means to have a fluid and cohesive design. The modern kitchen, library, and great room all transition into one another with ease! The listing includes a 2 car garage and plentiful storage.

Being a resident of Sammamish Shores comes with a variety of communal amenities. Residency includes access to the pool, hot tub and sauna, as well as access to the communal waterfront property, complete with 350’ of docks with moorage! Getting to know your neighbors will come second nature thanks to these amenities.

Bellevue real estate doesn’t get better than a property in the Sammamish Shores community, come visit 3110 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE and see what all the fuss is about!


Take W. Lake Sammamish to gate at Sammamish Shores. Turn right after going thru gate. Unit is on the left close to the end.

Unplug Your Kids! 4 Fun Autumn Activities

Unplug Your Kids Autumn Activities

As the nice weather heads south with the birds and the kids or grandkids spend more of their time indoors, entertaining them becomes a more demanding task. Sure they can plop in front of the TV or computer, but what about interacting with them? Foster positive relationships with your kids with any of these fun indoor activities!


  • Fall Puzzle – Interactive activities like puzzles are a great way to spend time with children. They are a big picture goal that involve short term planning in order to be accomplished. This allows your kids to flex their problem-solving muscles in a fun, low-stress way!


  • Baking – Kids are always dying to help. Don’t suppress a child’s inner chef (even if it means a less-than-perfect dessert)! Even if it’s as little as fetching ingredients or utensils, it’s important to encourage curiosity whenever a child shows interest.


  • Pumpkin Carving – Halloween is next weekend, so now is the ideal time to begin carving pumpkins! Help your kids find the perfect stencil or design to carve into their pumpkin, it’s a perfect way to let them expressive their creative side!


  • Fall Themed Arts and Crafts – There are countless autumn themed arts and crafts that use easily accessible fall items like leaves, pinecones, etc. Make a homemade bird feeder, pinecone windchimes, faux stained glass with fallen leaves, and much more! Finding fun, creative, ideas is as easy as a quick Google search!

Break the mold by finding fun ways to spend these autumn days with your kids. There are plenty of activities that you all can have fun participating in!

Featured photo courtesy of Dark Dwarf via Flickr.

2420 W Lake Sammamish PKWY NE Redmond, WA 98052

October 15, 2015

Redmond Real Estate

Relish the breathtaking view of 2420 W Lake Sammamish Parkway in none other than serene Redmond, Washington. This real estate listing is a real treat for any prospective buyer that put elegant style and premium craftsmanship above all else.

The true calling card of this real estate listing is the fully loaded kitchen, complete with top-of-the-line, designer cooking appliances, a generous amount of countertop space, and the luxury of radiant heated floors. Ever meal will feel like a five star dining experience as you dine with the finest lake and mountain view as your backdrop.

The design of this home captures the perfect balance of plenty of space, while still feeling cozy and intimate. Retire to the private master suite, spend an evening by the cozy fire on the main floor, or shoot the breeze with friends and family on the expansive deck.

Whether you are a large family, or you have long-term guests, this home is more than capable of accommodating to all your needs. In addition to several guest suites, this home sports a private full private apartment and a lakeside cabana, perfect for hosting guests, or having an early morning breakfast before a day on Lake Sammamish!

2420 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE Redmond, WA 98052 is a property unlike any other you will encounter! Contact Margo Allan today to schedule a showing for this real estate listing.

Seattle Event Spotlight: The Seattle Home Show Oct. 23rd-25th

Seattle Home Show

October 23rd-25th is just around the corner, which means it’s time for the latest Fall Seattle Home Show, the Northwest’s largest consumer home show. Homeowners from all over are invited to browse the hundreds of booths that host some of the top minds of the industry. Here is a primer for the event so you can get an idea of what to expect:

  • Who – Any homeowners that want ideas for their current or next home are welcome! The Seattle Home Show brings in several of the industry’s experts to get you updated on the latest trends in residential fashion and design.
  • What – A gathering of hundreds of residential designers, contractors and custom artisans showcasing their work! The perfect opportunity to peruse new products for your home or yard.
  • Where – The event will be held in downtown Seattle at the Centurylink Field Event Center.  Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $3 for kids 7-15 years old. Kids under 7 get in free!
  • When – The event takes place October 23rd through the 25th. Doors open at 10:00 AM and the show goes until 6:00 PM.
  • Why – Because the best minds in interior and exterior design will all be together in one convenient location. Anybody that wants to renovate their home can’t afford to miss this event!

If you’re in the market for renovating your home, or you’re starting from scratch, then you shouldn’t waste this opportunity! Get down to the Seattle Home Show next weekend and see the incredible stuff the vendors have to share!

Keep Scavengers Away With These Preventative Measures!

Scavengers Preventative Measures

Neighborhoods all along Lake Sammamish are sharing the habitat with many types of wildlife. While many of us know to leave the homes of woodland creatures undisturbed—raccoons, squirrels, deer and bears aren’t always inclined to return the favor. If you’re worried about wildlife invading your property, consider a few of these preventive measures:

  • Don’t Leave Out Food – Scraps, bones from a chicken dinner, and other types of food waste should be kept indoors. Bears and other animals for example can smell food from up to twenty miles away! If possible, we recommend keeping all trash receptacles indoors.
  • Secure Your Garbage Cans – If you need to leave your trash cans outside (for example on garbage day), then secure the cans to at least reduce the potency of the rotten food smell. Hardware stores sell “clams” that can be used to secure trash cans. Consider cleaning your garbage cans every so often too.
  • Protect Gardens and Water Features – If you have an exotic fish pond or vegetable garden, both of these features are magnets for small animals. The best way to protect from animals rooting through either of these is installing an electric fence, and picking any foods that are ripe enough to eat.
  • Seal Off Any Entryways In Your Home – Keep your eyes out for any holes in your home’s siding or mounds in your lawn. Both of these are telltale signs of unwanted invaders!
  • Hire Professionals to Drive Critters Out – If any unexpected guests do take up residence on your property, the safest way to take care of the issue is to hire a professional. They can help you safely remove the critter with doing minimal damage to your property.

Protecting your home from critters is as simple as doing your due diligence. Follow our tips to keep your home safe from these scavengers!

Featured photo courtesy of Dezz via Flickr.

One More Merry Weekend At Marymoor Park

Merry Weekend Marymoor Park

Despite being in the middle of Autumn, it looks like Lake Sammamish is in for yet another sunny weekend. Natives to the pacific northwest know that it’s important to take advantage of the unprecedented phenomenon by getting out of the house and enjoying what could possibly be the last sunny weekend for several months.

If you’re looking for something spontaneous to do, but want to avoid any large festivals and events, we recommend getting down to Marymoor Park! Marymoor gets more than 3 million annual visitors — while everybody is likely busy, no time could be better to enjoy the park without the large crowds it draws!

Consider some of these fun activities if you want to visit Marymoor this weekend:

Take Your Dog to the Dog Meadow or Dog Beach

Designated parts of Marymoor are dog-friendly, off leash locations! If you have a well socialized dog, consider bringing it down to the Dog Meadow to run or swim.

Visit the Community Gardens

Marymoor has a small patch of beautiful gardens that visitors can stop by. Get down their for a visit before the weather turns!

Organize a Pick-Up Sport

Have a sports enthusiast in your family? Marymoor has fields for soccer, football, softball, and tennis courts

Walk Along the Sammamish River Trail

Relax with a leisurely walk along the Sammamish River Trail, you can even visit the Lake Sammamish boardwalk where the Sammamish River feeds into Lake Sammamish!

It’s no question that we are fortunate with how long we have experienced the nice weather on Lake Sammamish. Take advantage of these precious last days by getting out to Marymoor Park, you’ll be glad you did!

Featured photo courtesy of Travis S. via Flickr.

Turn Your Halloween Into a Hallo-win!

Halloween Hallo-Win

September 28, 2015

Break out the pumpkins and autumn leaves, it’s decorating season! Halloween is a little more than a month away, but it’s never too early to get ready for the first of several holidays! Consider these tips while you prepare for all the fall-based festivities:

Use Common Fall-Themed Decorations

Want to have a festive-looking home, but don’t have the time to for all the seasons? The best solution for this is to find some common autumn themes to incorporate in your decorations. Save yourself the work of decorating once in October, then once again in November.

Clever Pumpkin Uses

If Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes are any indication, then pumpkins are in vogue! From traditional uses like Jack-O-Lanterns to fun centerpieces, pumpkins and gourds have always been a hallmark of the autumn holidays. Use them liberally around your home to create that unique harvest vibe.

Custom Fall Wreaths

Wreaths aren’t only meant for Christmas! Creative people everywhere have begun making their own wreaths for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Making your own isn’t difficult, especially since arts and crafts stores sell seasonal kits to make these possible!

Autumn Simmer Pots

The appearance of your home is only the beginning when it comes to decorating. Nothing quite gets you in the holiday spirit like familiar smells of the season. Simmer pots are pots filled foods like cinnamon, apples, orange peels and more that will make your home smell like the holidays! There are plenty of recipes online that will teach you how to make your own distinct smell.

You don’t need to be a professional to create extravagant decorations. Take these tips into consideration when you want to turn this Halloween into a Hallo-win!

Halloween Hallo-Win

Featured photo courtesy of ScottSchrantz via Flickr and the body photo is courtesy of Pahz via Flickr.

9611 SE 72nd Street, Mercer Island, 98040

Mercer Island Waterfront

Lush foliage and modern chic come together in harmony on the property at 9611 SE 72nd Street. Located on Mercer Island, this listing comes with everything that a prospective waterfront homebuyer in Washington would hope to fall in love with during the home buying process.

Notable features of this listing is a sprawling grass lawn, 55’ of waterfront, deep water moorage, three fireplaces, four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and we’re just getting started. The lake facing walls feature several windows, a perfect staging area for breathtaking sunrises as they paint Mt. Rainier in morning pastels! This home is the standard that all Washington waterfront homes should be compared to.

Complete with vaulted ceilings, wall to wall carpet, and hardwood accents, everything about this Mercer Island home breaths modern luxury. Entertain your inner somalia with the in-house wine cellar, or spend days entertaining in your guests out back. Either way, there aren’t enough hours in the day to fully enjoy this Mercer Island Home!

Waterfront listings like 9611 SE 72nd Street on Mercer Island don’t come around too often, contact Margo Allan today to schedule a showing!

We Need YOUR Help! - The Eastside’s Month of Concern Food Drive

September 22, 2015

Eastside Food Drive

The people of the Eastside time and again prove that we are part of a tight knit community that is more than willing to make contributions to something bigger than ourselves. Take for example the two week (from September 12- 26) “Eastside’s Month of Concern for the Hungry,” where residents are encouraged to make contributions to their local food banks. While our community is certainly on the rise, there are still several families in our own neighborhoods who struggle to make ends meet. These people shouldn’t be denied the bare necessities. Your help is truly appreciated.

The “Eastside’s Month of Concern for the Hungry” is a call-to-action to our community to lend a helping hand to our own. Donations can be made from 10:00AM – 4:00PM at the following locations:

Sammamish Safeway Store

Pine Lake Shopping Center QFC

Klahanie Shopping Center QFC

All the donations go directly to the Redmond Hopelink or the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank. With only a couple of days to go in the food drive, we at Margo Allan encourage everyone in our community to make an effort to donate what they can to make life a little easier to for the less fortunate in our area! Together we can make the Eastside the pride of the state!
For more information on  “Eastside’s Month of Concern for the Hungry” please visit

Eastside Food Drive

3113 E Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE, Sammamish 98074

3113 Lake Sammamish Parkway

Nestled neatly in between a pair of lush trees, the piece of real estate on 3113 E Lake Sammamish Parkway NE in Sammamish Washington is located in the heart of Lake Sammamish’s sunset coast. Feel like royalty every day as you arrive through the grand entrance gallery which leads to a majestic display of curved windows that over look the lake in all it’s glory.

Entertaining guests will become second nature on this piece of real estate that is complete with a gourmet indoor and outdoor kitchen, an intimate outdoor living room, a tranquil waterfall, hot tub, and of course an oversized dock for your days filled with water sporting bliss!

Seize the opportunity to own 104 inches of Lake Sammamish real estate by scheduling a showing for the 3113 E Lake Sammamish Parkway NE property with Margo Allan today!


Driving Northbound on E Lake Sammamish Pkwy. Drive past Inglewood Hill Rd. House will be approximately 14 blocks on your left.


See what Seattle Curbed, the Puget Sound Business Journal, and the Sky Valley Chronicle said about this secret garden estate!

Rake In Long Term Savings: Cleaning Your Roof and Gutters

Clean Your Roof and Gutters

September 15, 2015

Last week we talked a little bit about getting ready for the upcoming rainy months. The most important aspect of the home a homeowner should worry about in these months is the integrity of their roof and the ease of access water has to their gutters. Failing to pay attention to these areas is a leading factor in long-term water damage to your home’s siding and foundation! Get properly prepared this autumn and follow these steps for cleaning your roof and gutters:


  • Get the proper tools: Modern gutter cleaning tools make leaf removal easier than ever before. And getting proper extending attachments can make gutter cleaning easier than ever. No ladders required!
  • Do an eye test – Once finished, do a quick check of your gutters and make sure everything is properly cleaned (this can be done when you do your roof inspection).
  • Clean a couple times throughout autumn – If your home is surrounded by deciduous trees, then you will likely need to clean the gutters a couple times during the fall. Once as the season transitions – at the end of fall – should do the trick.


  • Get on top of the roof – The only way you can really make sure your roof is in good shape is if you (or an expert that you trust) takes a look at it. While the weather is nice, get on top of the roof and do a thorough inspection to get an idea of the scope of the job.
  • Remove ALL foreign objects – Anything that isn’t a shingle or a chimney should not be on your roof. Letting leaves, broken branches, etc. sit on your roof all winter long – you’re running the risk of damage to your roof via water buildup and stress from unwanted weight.
  • Check for loose shingles, leaks, etc. – Do a quick once over of your roof and make sure everything looks good. If you don’t feel comfortable in your ability to assess the state of your shingles, consider contacting a roofing professional.

Making these little preparations now will save you a fortune in the long run. Spending a weekend getting your house in order for the seasons is always much more with it than spending a fortune to repair major structural damage.

Featured photo courtesy of Andrew Codrington via Flickr.

Fall Into Seasonal Prep!

Fall Into Seasonal Prep

September 10, 2015

Labor Day is often considered symbolic as the transition from Summer to Autumn. So there is no better time for you to transition your home with some essential fall and winter preparations. Take a look at this list of our favorite tasks you can do to get ready for the change of the seasons.

  • Clean Out the Gutters – It doesn’t take a meteorologist to tell you that autumn in Washington is wet. Very wet. Make sure your gutters are ready for the inevitable downpour by getting all the leaves cleaned out!
  • Seal Gaps in Doors and Windows – Drafts in your home are much more noticeable when the birds and temperatures head south! Make the proper corrections by sealing those drafts before it’s a much bigger problem.
  • Inspect Your Furnace – Anticipate a cold winter rather than hope for a mild one! Hire a trusted professional to look at your furnace before the mad rush sets in. You’ll be thankful once that first snowfall comes around.
  • Inspect Your Chimney – Flue blockages and creosote build up can be lead to devastating fires or poor ventilation in your home. We recommend hiring a chimney inspector once a year to make sure everything checks out and is working properly.
  • Properly Store Seasonal Equipment – Make sure you’re properly putting away your kayaks, paddles, and other summer gear. Unsure on the proper storing methods? Don’t worry – we’ve got your back!
  • Invest in Roof Repairs – With the potential for snow, rain, hail, and wind, it’s important to make sure that your roof is in it’s best possible condition! Do a quick once over to ensure there aren’t any leaks, loose shingles, or foreign objects on your roof.

For all the mirth and merriment that comes with the autumn and winter months, there are some associated risks too. Do your due diligence and make sure your home is prepared for whatever the changing seasons has in store!

Featured photo courtesy of edenpictures via Compfight.

Take the "Labor" Out of Labor Day and Eat Out

Labor Day Weekend is upon us, and that usually entails out of town guests like friends, families, or in-laws coming for a quick jaunt in the northwest before the weather turns (unless it already has like this year!). Give your guests a proper taste of Seattle and the great northwest with some of these culinary gems:

Pine Lake Ale House

For the beer snob in your family, we suggest none other than Pine Lake Ale House. Located in Sammamish Washington, the Ale House is home to over twenty beers on tap at any time, from northwest mainstays like the Mac and Jack’s African Amber to more creative flavors like the Fearless Peaches & Cream Ale. Not to mention the food is great too! We recommend the Prime Rib French Dip.

Tipsy Cow

One of the best burgers joints the area is without a doubt the Tipsy Cow in Redmond. Complete with hefty burgers for all flavor pallets (including the heart attack inducing “Rockstar” to the more modest “The Bird is the Word”) and a liberal serving of fries, you will be certain to fall victim to a food coma!

Jak’s Grill

Jak’s Grill is a chain steakhouse in the Pacific Northwest with locations in Issaquah, Laurelhurst, and West Seattle. They serve exclusively cornfed, Nebraska raised beef, only the best for your guests! Dining out never felt more like home than a dinner service at Jak’s Grill.

Black Raven Brewing Company

Located in Redmond, Black Raven is a small brewery ran by beer lovers, for beer lovers. Favorites include their award winning Trickster IPA, and the Three Sundays Oaked Triple. If you want to brag to your family and friends about the best microbrews Washington has to offer, you cannot go wrong with the Black Raven!

Your guests will be impressed with the different flavors that you can find right in your backyard. All of these experiences are a laid back, yet delicious culinary experience, they won’t be disappointed!

Featured photo courtesy of Steven Depolo via Flickr.


Talk It Out: Dealing with Disgruntled Neighbors

September 3, 2015

Dealing with Disgruntled Neighbors

Let’s face it, you can’t pick your neighbors. It’s an inconvenient truth, but the sooner you can accept this fact, the sooner you can work on resolving issues with those neighbors you might not see eye-to-eye with. Start your experience in your new home on the right foot by using these conflict resolution tools to your advantage:

Meet Your Neighbors

Put a face to all your neighbors. It’s easy to give into anger when an anonymous person does something that bothers you. Take the opportunity to go and introduce yourself to your neighbors, offer to have them over for dinner, etc. Positive encounters with one another will make conflict resolution much easier.

Use Your Resources

You have several resources at your disposal whenever you come to a misunderstanding with a neighbor. Consider filing a complaint with your local Home Owners Association or talk to another neighbor that might have had trouble with this same person.

Address Issues Early

Don’t let a problem fester. If your neighbor has no idea they are doing anything wrong in the first place (such as leaving their boat parked on the street), you’re at just as much fault for not letting them know their behavior bothers you.

Pick Your Battles

Remember a neighborhood is a community of several different families, there will be times that you probably won’t be able to reach your desired outcome. Learn to back down in some instances so that you and your neighbors can maintain positive relationships down the road!

While it’s unlikely that you will get along with all of your neighbors all of the time, being proactive and keeping lines of communication open can greatly reduce the amounts of conflict you will have with your neighbors. Try using some of these tactics the next time your neighbors are having a party the night before your big presentation.

Featured photo courtesy of s m i l e y via Flickr.

What they Don’t Tell You After Giving the Keys: Homeowner Expenses

What they Don’t Tell You After Giving the Keys

August 2, 2015

Stop me if you’ve seen this scene acted out an advertisement. A happy couple steps out of their minivan as a well-groomed real estate agent pulls the “For Sale” sign out of the ground. He hands over the keys and drives off, the happy couple in his rearview mirror as they wave goodbye. But every time, the story stops there. We never find out what happens to that happy couple. There are a lot of expenses that are associated with owning a home, and it goes beyond the down payment or the mortgage!

Property Taxes

As of 2012, the state of Washington ranked 23rd in average property taxes per person (about $1345 for those keeping score). Keep in mind this average is likely higher for residents of highly coveted locations like Lake Sammamish or Bellevue.

Homeowners Insurance

There are many other expenses that should fall to the wayside before homeowners insurance. Insurance is one of those luxuries that feels like a burden, until you need it most. It’s better to be prepared than to have to get prepared!

Maintenance Repairs

As time goes on, appliances and the materials your home is made of will grow outdated. Keeping your home in tip top shape should be an expected expense among home owners everywhere. According to U.S. News & World Report, you should spend 1-4% of the home’s value annually on maintenance.

Homeowners Association Fees

In certain communities, the Homeowners’ Association grants access to common services and areas like community pools, landscaping services, and sports courts to name a few. Paying these dues should be taken into consideration if you would like to get the most out of your community!


It’s common for landlords to cover the costs of utilities in their monthly rent. Of course, once you own the house, you’re the landlord now. Thus, making you responsible for those monthly utilities obligations.

When you’re in the market for a new property, consider all these costs while you search. The asking price is certainly not the final expense when it comes to your home—take these factors into account, so you don’t fall victim to living outside of your means!

Like the featured photo? Check out the 9916 Ranier Avenue Listing!


Getting Your Kayaks in a Row: Tips for Storing Seasonal Gear

August 25, 2015

All good things must come to an end. The summer sport season in Seattle is no exception! As the seasons chance, it’s time to put away the kayaks and croquette sets in exchange for snow shovels and holiday decorations. Most watersports gear is pretty delicate, and therefore needs to be stored with care – otherwise you risk damaging expensive equipment! Consider these storage tips when it’s time to pack it in:

Determine the Required Storage Space

Before you start moving anything, measure the dimensions of the different gear you plan on storing. Then compare it to the free space you have available in your garage/shed/attic/etc. Once you figure out how much space you need to “create” for your gear, you will learn how much work you have to do.

Learn the Best Storage Practices For Your Equipment

Most specialty summer equipment require special storing practices to ensure they remain in pristine condition. Do a little bit of research on your equipment and make sure you are following the best practices for storing your gear!

Install Wall Hooks

The #1 secret to reducing clutter in your garage or shed is keeping items off the floor as often as possible. Installing industrial strength wall hooks and mounts in your garage is a great way for keep objects of all sizes off the floor and safe all winter long. Note: Make sure you are clear on how much weight your mounts are capable of holding before installing.

Handling products with care will add years to their life, so doesn’t it make sense to store them with care? Follow these steps and keep your water gear in mint condition for years to come!

Featured photo courtesy of camflan via Flickr.

Enjoying the Outdoors is a Walk In the Park With Sammamish Walks!

August 20, 2015

Getting outdoors is a must during the summer, especially since Seattle has experienced an unprecedented streak of nice heather throughout these summer months! Most people associate getting outside with physical exertion through rigorous activities like waterskiing, bicycle riding, or even a challenging hike. But what about the rest of us who want to experience the warmth of the sun on our skin without the challenge of hiking Mailbox Peak?

Luckily, Sammamish Walks is a site run by volunteers with a passion for walking trails! They work hard to keep people informed on some of the best local walking trails that are complete with relaxing scenery and well-marked trails. The group is so passionate about being in nature, they even organize monthly Saturday walks! Walks are lead by wildlife experts, naturalists and park commissioners; they know these trails well and will help you get the most out of the scenery.

Here is a complete list of the rest of the season’s planned events. Scheduled walks take up to two hours, so be sure to pack accordingly! Take part in fellowship and the joy of the great outdoors with other members of your community by joining one of the remaining Sammamish Walks – you won’t be disappointed!

Featured photo courtesy of ebis50 via Flickr.

A Fresh Look at Produce: The Local Farmers Markets and You

August 18, 2015

Everybody loves locally produced goods and organic products. What better place to find it than your local farmer’s market? Check out these four local farmers markets for the best in family friendly fun and organic goods!


In addition to the variety of fruit, vegetable, and flower vendors, the Sammamish Farmers Market is chock full of family friendly activities, hosted multiple times a week! In fact, August 19th there will be a kid’s activity at 4:00PM, followed by a flute concert at 5:30! A full day of fun awaits, come for the locally grown produce and artisan good, stay for the unique entertainment opportunities! The Sammamish Farmers Market is open ever Wednesday until the end of September.



Running every Saturday until the end of September (last official date being September 26th), the Issaquah Farmer’s Market thrives during summer months! Signature vendors at the Issaquah Farmer’s Market include live cooking demonstrations, fresh-baked treats, local produce, hand mixed spices, and on-site Master Gardeners!



The Bellevue Farmers Market is open twice a week. Thursday times will be available until October 15th, and Saturday times will be available until November 21st. Highlights of the Bellevue Farmers Market include a variety of sweet treat vendors (toffee, caramels, hazelnuts, to name a few), bakeries, and wares from countless local farmers!



The Redmond Saturday Market Runs every year, May through October. Over one hundred unique vendors set up shop at the Saturday Market throughout its yearly run, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for! Every Saturday there are family friendly events. This weekend? The local favorite Zucchini Races!

A day full of fun and delicious food isn’t hard to come by at the farmer’s market. Consider any of these four markets the next time you find yourself with a summer afternoon to spare!

Featured photo courtesy of 9.81 meters per second squared via Flickr.

It’s Not All Surf and Sunshine: Fun Activities on the Lake

August 13, 2015

Worried that you didn’t get the most out of your summer? Don’t fret, with 2015 being one of the hottest Seattle summers in recent memory, it’s realistic to believe that we’re due for at least another month of sunshine and nice weather! Watersports are all the rage, especially on Lake Sammamish! Don’t waste a moment and try one of these many exciting aquatic activities while the weather is still appropriate.


For the boating enthusiasts, waterskiing and wake-boarding are becoming increasingly popular mainstays on the lake. Nothing beats the exhilarating feeling of standing up on your skis (or board) for the first time of the watersport season!


You don’t have to be a skiing expert to enjoy any boat based watersports. Inner-tubing is an equally entertaining sport, with hilarious results! But be warned, level of enjoyment may vary – depending on your driver.

Stand-Up Paddle-boarding

In recent years, stand-up paddle-boarding has picked up major traction among watersport enthusiasts in Seattle. Unlike similar aquatic activities (think windsurfing or traditional surfing), there is no pre-requisite of wind in order to get started. Note: This sport is not recommended to the equilibrium challenged.


A Northwest classic, getting out on the lake is easy with a kayak or canoe. The activity can be as relaxed or intense as you require. It’s perfect as a social activity, or as a rigorous workout. Just find a buddy, grab some paddles, and enjoy!

Ebright Creek: A Premier Fishing Spot in Sammamish

Apples, Starbucks, and of course, Salmon runs. These three things are synonymous with Washington state, and while some are a more seasonal affair than others, they are all deeply rooted in the Pacific Northwest culture. August and September is salmon season, many native species are returning from their journey out to the ocean to their spawning grounds. The best part? You don’t have to travel hours outside of the city to find a great fishing spot.

In fact, Ebright Creek feeds directly into Lake Sammamish! This stream is the last viable salmon fishing location in the city of Sammamish, and it’s often active with hundreds of salmon running through each day! The salmon that run in Ebright Creek is a rare species called the Kokanee Salmon. Add in the fact that the creek is conveniently located just outside of Sammamish, planning an afternoon of fishing is quick and easy!

You don’t have to plan a weekend trip in order to see the natural beauty of Washington, it’s already in your backyard on Lake Sammamish! And of course, after you haul in a bounty, there is plenty of time to try out a recipe or two while we’re still in grilling season!

Featured photo courtesy of USFWS Pacific via Flickr.

Design Trade Offs: Time, Cost, and Quality

August 6, 2015

Personalizing your home through decorations and home improvement projects is a never-ending process. Anybody who truly wants to make their home a testament to their personality, rarely stops at “just one more project.” As design trends and new appliances change and improve overtime, you will never be “finished” with your home. Keeping all that in mind, when you do take on an interior design project, there is one important concept you should keep in mind: The Design Trade Off Triangle.

The concept is simple. On any project, whether it be interior design, a home improvement project, or something completely unrelated to your home, there are three factors that go into completing it: quality, cost, and time. In virtually everything, a person heading the project will have to sacrifice one of these factors in order to get the most out of the other two. Take for example a bathroom renovation. Suppose you want it to look great, but you don’t want to break the bank. In order to accomplish those goals, you will need to spend additional time doing research on the steps of a bathroom remodel, looking up products, potentially even taking time out of your own schedule to complete the project. In this example, you are sacrificing time in order to get a high quality bathroom that doesn’t cost a fortune.


On all of your home improvement projects, the best thing to do before starting is outline your goal for the project. Which of the three factors will you need to sacrifice on the design trade off triangle? Can you afford to spend a little extra cash? Do you want the project to take little time? Would you rather make sure the job looks great by hiring a professional? These are all questions you should ask yourself before jumping right into a home improvement project. Coming up with honest answers to these questions will make sure you come up with a solution that you are satisfied with at the end of the day!

Movers Wanted! How to Transition into Your New Home Without a Hitch.

August 4, 2015

The “For Sale” sign has been taken off the lot. All the paperwork has cleared and your loan has been approved. The hard part of the home buying process is complete. Now that the financial housekeeping is squared away, it’s time for a more literal housekeeping–the packing and moving process. Consider these invaluable tips when you’re getting ready to move into your new home.


Take Inventory

Before doing anything, make a comprehensive list of everything that needs to be moved. Determine what things you can move on your own, and what you will probably need assistance with.

Research Moving Companies

If you have several large pieces of furniture that you don’t feel comfortable moving on your own, consider hiring a moving company. Before you make your choice, do your due diligence and only hire a highly reviewed company that you trust.

Clean Out the Fridge

If you plan on moving your fridge or freezer, make sure you either eat, throw away, or otherwise have a plan for any of it’s contents. Nothing is worse than opening your fridge and realizing that that frozen casserole spoiled overnight in the moving van!

Order New Items at Your New Address

If you are planning on outfitting your new home with all new furnishings, save yourself an extra trip or two by listing the shipping address as your new address!

Make Sure Items Are Properly Packed

When you start packing your belongings, do a little research to make sure that you are properly storing everything! For example, round objects (like records and dishes) should be packed horizontally rather than being placed flat in a box. Doing a little research while packing is an extra measure to make sure you minimize damage to your belongings!

Properly Label Boxes

Once a box is entirely packed, mark on the outside of the box clearly what it contains! This saves yourself the frustration of unpacking each box to determine what room it has to be moved to.

Personally Move Items With Sentimental Value

If you are worried about the well-being of an irreplaceable item (family photos, heirlooms, collectibles, etc.), then don’t go through the stress of your movers handling said item. Handling those precious valuables on your own is much better for your peace of mind.

Allow Your Movers to Help

If you hired movers, allow them to do their job. Remember they are professionals and you hired them for a reason! They’re meant to make your move easy and seamless.

The key to a stress free move is being proactive in your planning. Putting off preparation for the last minute is only asking for trouble. Follow these tips, and your move should be accomplished with no problems!

Photo courtesy of bjornmeansbear via Flickr.

BBQing With a Pacific Northwest State of Mind

July 31, 2015

As July comes to a close, it’s hard to imagine that the summer is already close to coming to an end. It’s time to take advantage of the nice weather while it’s still here in the PNW. Soak up the sun, get a good swim, and of course, fire up the grill! But rather than sticking to the tried and true, consider these fun barbecue recipes that have strong ties to the nautical flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Perfecting any of these recipes can make your home the envy of Labor Day Weekend!

Barbecued Piggy Scallops

Recipe Link:

Unexpected pairings are often the most memorable. Take for example this bacon wrapped scallop recipe! Follow this one closely and you will get a tender scallop with a strong flavor. Total cook time is only 18 minutes–being refined has never been easier!

The Seattle Dog

Recipe Link:

What once started as a niche hotdog cart novelty has become a mainstay amongst locals all over Seattle. The most notable trait of the Seattle dog is a liberal dollop of cream cheese. In addition, top that puppy off with Walla Walla onions, some stone ground mustard, and sauerkraut for good measure.

Cedar Planked Burgers

Recipe Link:

If you have a bit of time on your hands and don’t mind the additional labor, consider this spin on a barbecue classic. Cedar Planked Burgers takes the all-american dish and gives it a five star appeal, complete with Bobby Flay’s red wine barbecue sauce! Be warned, this dish is pretty labor intensive, and should only be attempted for small gatherings.

Grilled Salmon

Recipe Link:

Salmon is a Northwest staple when it comes to summer grilling. This specific recipe is a traditional take on the fish that has a nice tangy flavor. Be careful when grilling salmon though, it’s very easy to overcook and dry out if you don’t carefully attend to it!

Any of these dishes are certain to be popular with any! With the summer being a little more than month you have plenty of time to try out and perfect these unique dishes.

Featured photo courtesy of Filipe Lucas Frazão via Flickr.

4 Tips for Finding Your Dream Home

Finding Your Dream Home

July 28, 2015

Everyone is always on the hunt for that diamond in the rough home. You want a top dollar waterfront property while paying pennies on the dollar. Dream homes are always attainable, but you need the right approach. Consider these four real estate tips from Margo Allan while looking for the home of your dreams!

1) Hire Real Estate Agent You Trust –  A good real estate agent is a trusted ally when it comes to the home buying process. Their industry expertise and insider perspective on market trends will guarantee you the best options possible. Before opening a single house listing, find a real estate agent that has your interests in mind.

2) Create a List of Needs vs Wants – Expecting to find a home that neatly meets all your requirements is virtually impossible. Think of all the features you are looking for in your home – which ones are compromises and which ones are deal breakers? For example, you might absolutely desire waterfront property, but don’t necessarily need boat docking. Or, you might need three bedrooms for your whole family, but walk-in closets in each room isn’t necessary.

3) Have a Realistic Budget -The more luxuries you want, the more expensive your home will be. After you have devised your Needs vs Wants list, do some research to get an idea of how much a home you’re looking for will cost. Steps two and three are often done simultaneously as results in one can often influence the other. Make a strong effort to find a realistic budget that is within your family’s financial means.

4) Be Open to Fixer-Uppers in Good Neighborhoods – The cheapest house in a great neighborhood will always be better than the best house in a bad neighborhood. While the finished product might not where you want it, if you’re willing to invest a little bit of money into improving the property you will most certainly get a return on your investment. Remember, you can always fix your home, but the neighborhood is built in!

Advantages of Lake Living

July 22, 2015

Purchasing property on Lake Sammamish is much more than owning property, there is a certain lifestyle that comes with it. For t