Monday, December 28, 2015

an organized 2016

Every year, after the Christmas decorations are packed away, my husband and I go away for a few days to plan the new year. We spend the first day looking back at the past year's financials - income, expenses, and compare what actually happened to our past year's plan (I know, pretty exciting stuff!). But then, its off to dinner to laugh at our year of unexpected expenses, tight spots narrowly avoided and toast our health, family and each other. 

The next day is the long one - we start with our goals (travel, household improvements, and major, but not necessary, purchases), we add in our known expenses (tuition, college, mortgage, etc.), then work backwards to determine how much we need to earn in order to accomplish our goals. We discuss our individual business plans and finally, lay out our budget for the coming year! Some years we follow the plan, others, like in 2008, we throw it out the second floor window and improvise.

If this type of planning is something you are giddy about (or know in your heart you need), then stay tuned, because over the next month I will be sharing with you some great tools, tips and forms to create an organized 2016. 

My series will start with a Budget Planner (forms to help you determine your savings goals, household budget, logs for recording bill payment, donations and expenses, as well as a debt pay down worksheet, and a useful year-at-a-glance summary sheet). 

The following week we will create a Home Maintenance Binder (included will be forms for recording your annual home maintenance activities, vendor contact information, project planner master list, as well as a record for household purchases and the ever important record for paint colors used throughout the home). 

Week three will include all the forms needed to create a Menu Binder (menu plan, grocery list, pantry inventory, freezer inventory, and places to keep track of your favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes)

Finally, the last posting for the month will include forms like honey-dos, weekly and monthly cleaning lists, weekly chores and other valuable forms like this useful password log.

Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Breakfast with Santa

Call me silly, but I believe in Santa. I believe in the jolly old elf in the ruby red suit, who opens our hearts and makes us all young again. 

I love how just a hint of the big guy will send a child into uncontrollable delight. How millions of children wait up on Christmas Eve - with innocence and anticipation! We all need more of that!

Perhaps that's why I started hosting my annual Breakfast with Santa for clients, friends and families! Watching children I know, and their parents and grandparents spend quality, non-commercial time with Santa was my Christmas gift!

This year, I am hosting two events (because, let's face it, we need a little more Santa this year!). On Sunday, December 13th from 9-11:30am I will be hosting my annual Breakfast with Santa for clients, friends and families.

Then, from 11:45-1pm, Liz Suver and I will be hosting our first annual Photos with Santa for the Montlake Community.

If you are in town and free during any of these times, please stop by the Graham Visitors Center at the Washington Park Arboretum for a visit and photo with Santa (you will love him, he is amazing) and some breakfast fare!

I look forward to seeing you!

Until then,

la chasse au bonheur

Saturday, October 31, 2015

a clean home

To say I am crazy for fresh air is an understatement (my husband can attest to windows wide open even in the dead of winter).

Perhaps that's why I am such a home wrecker when it comes to those synthetic plug-ins, plug-outs and hang-ups. Just can't stand them. In fact, when touring houses with clients, I tend to do the seller a favor and remove their plug-ins from walls/countertops/behind the washer/wherever they hide them (I know, not cool, but I am doing them a favor).

Beyond the fact that a synthetic tropical/vanilla/maple sugar smell is always detected by the passerby; creating the question, "what are they covering up?", a lot of people are highly allergic to these products and let's face it - chemicals are never good (something we all learned in the eighties).

A number of years ago I represented a client whose auto immune system made it impossible for her to use chemically-laden cleaning products. At that time I was using bleach, bleach and more bleach. Thanks to Sally, I became familiar with more natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products.  In fact, she started me on my journey of making my own cleaning products - thank you dear, lovely Sally!

Below are a few of my very favorite, go-to recipes for a cleaner and greener home, a home that should start feeling and smelling like fresh air with the scent of clean riding on its back!

step one
Make a solution of 1 cup water, 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 2 drops of olive oil. Soak your cotton rags in this solution. Squeeze out any excess water, leaving them damp. 

step two
Pare the rind from 1 lemon and lay a couple of pieces on each smoothed-out cloth. 

step three
Roll each rag and store in a clean, airtight jam jar with an extra piece of lemon peel. 


Pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain, leave for 30 minutes, then flush with cold water.

Vinegar and baking soda works even better! Pour 2 Tablespoons baking soda down the drain followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let  bubble for 20 minutes, then flush with old water for 1 minute. 


Combine 2 parts vinegar, 1 part baking soda and 3 parts warm water. 

Dip a cloth in the solution and wipe down the walls, working top to bottom; rinse with clean water. 

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

happy haunting

I always love a good scare (when it doesn't involve work) and thought you might too!  Enjoy!
Craven Farm Pumpkin Patch
13817 Short School Road, Snohomish

Dr. Maze's Farm
15410 NE 124th Street, Redmond

Fox Hollow Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch
12031 Issaquah-Hobart Road SW, Issaquah

Remlinger Farms
32610 NE 32nd Street, Carnation

Bob's Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm
10917 Elliot Road, Snohomish
Hauntlake Cemetary
2236 East Blaine Street, Montlake
Now through November 1, stop by day or night to see this amazing display of spooktacular delight!

KUBE 93 Haunted House, Georgetown Morgue
5000 East Marginal Way, Seattle
Thurs-Sun through November 1st

The Pike Place Market Ghost Tour
1499 Post Alley, Seattle
Thurs-Sun through November 1st

KISS 106.1 House of Terror
19802 Highway 99, Lynnwood
Now through Halloween

Nightmare on 9 Haunted House
Thomas Family Farm, 9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish
Now through Halloween

Haunted Nightmare at the Nile
6601 244th Street SW, Mountlake Terrace
Please check for dates
Leavenworth Oktoberfest
Oct 9-10, 16-17

Pumpkin Bash
The Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle
October 24-25

Run Scared
Halloween, 10 am, Seward Park
5k run, 4k walk, free kids' dash

Halloween Train
Snoqualmie Train Depot
October 24, 25, 31

Boogie Nights 5k and Dance Party
Green Lake Community Center
October 30th, 7pm, 21+ years of age

The Best 80s Party Ever: Halloween Prom
Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th Street, Seattle
October 24, 8 pm, Advance tickets $12

Here are some on my watch list this year: Alien, Babadook, Birds, Blair Witch Project, Cabin in the Woods, Carrie, Conjuring, Dracula, Frankenstein, Halloween, Insidious, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It, Jaws, Nightmare on Elm Street, Night of the Living Dead, Poltergeist, Psycho, The Shining, The Thing.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Monday, September 28, 2015

country living

As our City Council, government officials and planning execs push for more urban density, finding greener pastures is becoming more difficult. Heading north to Arlington use to get you some countryside. My grandparents, Harry and Fannie Black owned a 20 acre cattle farm. 

My brothers and I spent our summers there. Our days were spent putting up hay, riding the tractor (and occasionally the cows),  taunting the bull, gathering eggs and picking dahlias. Dinner was overcooked, but always homemade and dessert was most likely canned fruit from the larder. After dinner, Grandpa and I took long walks through their small orchard. Before leaving the house, he would tuck a small salt shaker into his buffalo plaid shirt (I loved that shirt and how it smelled of his pipe tobacco). He would pick an apple, cut it deftly with his pocket knife, throw a little salt on it, then hand me a wedge with a sweet smile and never a word.  

Life was idyllic on the farm - some of my favorite childhood memories have Grandpa and Grandma Black's white farmhouse and barn in the background.

I realize that I'm not giving  my girls these same memories. Theirs are of an instant commute to downtown, a quick jaunt to a neighborhood park/lake/cafe, a 'turn your head quickly' thought as they see their neighbor through a bedroom window, and a vibrancy that comes from urban living. It's all good, but I miss the quieter, softer side of life, and I have missed showing that to them.

Perhaps that's why I have been so excited to list a charming country estate on Vashon Island this week.

Before I get to my sweet new listing, I must mention a property currently on the market just around the corner - Misty Isle Farms. It is perhaps one of the greatest privately landscaped properties in the country. The farm is situated on 47 separate land parcels, totaling 525 acres with 8 homes and many supporting outbuildings and is being offered for $43,000,0000.
MISTY ISLE FARMS - video tour

If Misty Isle seems a little daunting, or perhaps out of your price range, consider this new listing of mine - a 3+ bedroom, 3 bath home sited on 4+ rolling acres, next to a babbling brook and just a stones throw from Misty Isle.

Absolutely idyllic setting - 4+ acres of rolling hills,
mature landscaping and gorgeous gardens.
1,400' of covered porch allows you to soak
in the captivating views from any side of the home.
Gorgeous use of rustic materials combine to create a warm and inviting
backdrop to this thoughtfully designed open floor plan.
4,500+ sq. ft. home with 3+ bedrooms, 3 baths, sitting room, media room and more
Beautiful use of rustic materials like fir and brick.
Second floor sitting area with brick fireplace, gorgeous fir floors
and windows, captivating light and soaring ceilings.
Charming farm house kitchen with in-floor radiant slate floor, hand crafted
fir cabinets and windows, Russian stove, and gas stove top.

Located on a quiet lane, this updated take on country living brings together natural beauty and rustic styles with elements of modern materials. Built to exacting standards in 2001, this country home features an open-concept floor plan with expansive rooms anchored by two gorgeous brick fireplaces. Walls of fir wrapped windows capture the pastoral views and French doors lead to the wrap around covered porch and grounds beyond. In-floor radiant heat warms the slate and cement floors. Sitting room and master en suite are located on the second floor, and two large bedrooms, charming full bath and laundry/mud room are off the main living/dining/kitchen area. Fabulous space in the daylight lower level offer walk-out to the rolling pasture. Great wood working area, tons of storage and partially finished media room and guest suite complete this residence. Offered at $790,000. Co-listed with Heather Brynn of Windermere Vashon.

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The benefits of Townhome living

The Townhouse is design's answer to the demands of individuals looking for comfort, proximity to work and ease of maintenance. It merges the convenience of a condominium with those of a single-family residence to address the changing lives of many homeowners.

Living in a townhome is the perfect answer for many people who are looking for convenience, ease of maintenance, security and a feeling of community. These homes are similar to typical homes, but unlike single-family houses, they are connected to each other on either side of the unit. Townhomes bring the best of condominium and single-family living together.

For many, these advantages make buying a townhome a wise alternative to buying a single-family home -

For home buyers worried about square footage, a townhome offers a perfect solution. Generally buyers are able to afford more living space in a townhome than in a typical stand alone, single-family home. The townhome occupies a much smaller amount of real property, and builders use vertical space to get lots of square footage between the walls. Townhome builders design compact stairways and efficient hallways to give homeowners the greatest amount of square footage possible. The result is usually a much more convenient, comfortable, and spacious living area than would be achieved by purchasing a similarly priced single-family home.

Townhome living offers the benefits of limited responsibility and cost of upkeep for the property and yard. Since a townhome is attached to another dwelling, the exterior maintenance is drastically reduced. Most townhomes have smaller yard areas so yard work is minimal. To maintain a consistently well-manicured landscape, the front areas are typically maintained by homeowner association fee. The homeowner association bylaws spell out what the HOA is responsible for and what is expected of homeowners.  At the end of the day, less exterior maintenance translates to money saved.

Even though the units are connected, each unit remains separated from the rest due to a private entry to each property. The noise reduction provides a welcome benefit, because even though traditional town homes are built with neighbors on one, or both sides, no residents live above, or below you.

You own the land on which your unit is built and any outdoor living space attached to your home.

With neighbors close by, it is difficult for a burglar to go unnoticed. Most town home developments are well lit and the close proximity brings neighbors together. Often a sense of protectiveness between residents exists and many residents find meeting people and making new friends easier.

A townhome is the perfect alternative for people with busy schedules. Less maintenance is ideal for homeowners who lead fast paced lives, travel extensively, and who cannot dedicate time to the many chores associated with single-family homes.

For first-time buyers and retirees, or those who travel a lot, townhomes offer an affordable alternative to single-family homes.

If you think a townhouse is right for you, check out this fabulous, smart and sunny new listing ideally located between Capitol Hill and Madison Valley - with three bedrooms and two and a half baths, this 2007 built home captures stunning easterly views in a thoughtfully designed open concept floor plan ideally sited just a few blocks from fun shops, hip cafes + restaurants and grocery stores. Smart urban living with a great commute!

1,510 sq. ft. residence with captivating views.

Slate floors, fir doors and tall ceilings create a warm and inviting home

Gleaming hardwoods, artisan lighting, gas fireplace, and expansive use of windows
combine to create a gorgeous home.

Top of the line stainless steel appliances, including Cafe five burner stove and
plenty of maple cabinetry and granite counters makes this kitchen chef ready! 

Rare, private patio/yard/garden space is fully fenced
and is perfect for BBQs and entertaining. 

Sumptuous master en suite captures breathtaking sunrises and views.

Soaring ceilings, neutral color palette and lots of windows for great light.

Captivating easterly views of the lake, Bellevue skyline and Cascades beyond. 

If you would like more information on this new listing, please contact me.

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Friday, March 27, 2015

living coastal

I grew up about an hour's drive away from the Oregon Coast. As a child I didn't understand the gift. Since my youth, I've had the good fortune of traveling and seeing some of the prettiest coastlines this world has to offer. 

The Amalfi Coast, Italy
Half Moon Bay, California
The White Cliffs of Dover, England
The Scottish Coastline
Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

While I still have many miles left to see, my favorite will always be the Oregon Coast. Perhaps it's childhood memories that tug so hard on my heart strings, or the new memories I am creating with my two daughters.

Oregon Coast
My oldest has become an avid surfer - starting years ago with a lesson my mom arranged with Lexie Hallahan. Lexi is a schoolmate of mine from Lakeridge High and is the Director of Northwest Women's Surf Camps.  Renee has spent many hours in the chilly Oregon water. A favorite is Short Sands in Oswald State Park just south of Arch Cape. This is a stunning stretch of coastline that I highly recommend exploring.
Short Sands is a protected cove and a 20 minute hike from Hwy 101
Ready for some surfing

Our favorite town to stay is Cannon Beach. It's a laid back coastal town with great shops, restaurants and darling cottages to rent. We love Cannon Beach Vacation Rentals. They are always well organized, attentive and on call if you need anything. Our favorite rental so far is Quincy Cottage. It is the perfect place to kick back after a day on the beach. The kids love the location, I love its coastal vibe.

I love these salty boxy cottages with weathered shingles and chippy paint so much that I dedicated my lower level to this casual beachy decor....of course, it fits nicely with my daughter's penchant for surfing and all things ocean. When visiting Cannon Beach, I make sure to hit my favorite store - Sesame + Lilies. They have everything I could possible ever need, er, want for my home. I love it so much that I find myself thinking about driving down from Seattle just for a little shopping....but then who will pick up the kids from school? 

There are a million blogs out there dedicated to coastal decor, but I found a few tricks and will write about them on my next post!

Until then, enjoy touring this new listing of mine on the Kitsap Pennisula, between Kingston and Hansville. It is 18 acres with 1,313 feet of no-bank waterfront with two darling cottages. A gorgeous estate!


Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur