Monday, September 5, 2022

Urban farming

I spent my summers on my grandparents farm in Marysville. This rural farm was the backdrop to a herd of Herefords, one ornery bull, the occasional pig, and chickens - lots and lots of chickens. My chore was to gather the eggs every morning. Being a suburbanite, entering a smelly coop and fighting off a brood of agitated hens in search of just laid eggs was not something I relished first thing in the morning. But my grandmother was a dear and I couldn't tell her I would rather muck the barn than face a bunch of pecking hens.

Sitting around the breakfast table, morning chores behind us, I couldn't help think how different these eggs tasted. I knew it wasn't her cooking - a product of the depression, grandma Black used too much salt and always overcooked her meals.

Around the corner from my home is a relatively new business Portage Bay Grange. This is a family run business with a mission to provide supplies, services and support for urban farmers. They accomplish this in their old fashion feed store in the heart of Seattle. It's a neat place to stop in, even if you're not ready to start farming.

But if you are thinking about it here are some great reasons that just might push you over the fence!

Farm Fresh Eggs - if you've never eaten fresh eggs you are in for a treat. Not only do they taste richer, creamier and just plain better, they are better for you. They have less cholesterol, less saturated fat, more Vitamin A, Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and Beta-carotene. Not to mention the egg shells are just gorgeous!

Teach Responsibility with pets that stay outside - whether it's gathering the eggs or cleaning out the coop there is work to be done every day. Making sure they are fed, watered and locked in at night are all important jobs that must be done in order to keep the hens healthy and safe. Not to mention, these clucky animals stay outdoors keeping the interior of your home feather free.

Create a self-sustaining life - Although there are some initial costs for the chicks and the coop, once you are up and running, the only expense is the feed and straw. Plus, it's exciting to know that you will have food no matter what happens.

Backyard entertainment - these 'girls' are fun to watch, especially when the feed bucket shows up.

Enrich your garden - chickens are great for the garden, They love to eat the bugs and grubs in the dirt that aren't always so great for your plants and their droppings are loaded in nitrogen which is wonderful for your garden.

Earn a little money or give farm fresh gifts - At over $4 a dozen for organic eggs, a few dozen farm fresh eggs is quite the treat for any cook.

Reduce waste - keep a bucket in the kitchen for fruit and vegetable scraps, they'll eat it right up.

Teach science lessons - kids learn by what they experience. Keeping chickens is a great lesson in where our food comes from to reproduction.

No rooster needed - You don't need a rooster to keep backyard chickens. They lay eggs just fine without them. These eggs won't hatch into chickens but most are just fine with that. Plus you'll stay on better terms with your neighbors sans the morning wake up call of a rooster.

Now that you know the benefits of having backyard chickens you might want to see how best to house them....of course, being a real estate agent I couldn't post just any old coop. I searched the net and found coops to match any style home and most with more curb appeal than my own home! Check these out.

For City of Seattle ordinance information on urban farming, click here.

I hope to see you at Portage Bay Grange.

Until next time.

la chasse au bonheur

Sunday, September 19, 2021

drop zones (stop clutter at the door)

Colder weather opens the door to a lot more stuff coming in the house! Most homes in Seattle don't have a formal entry - one just walks straight into the living room or center hall from the great outdoors. Given our need for rain gear, boots, umbrellas and the like, that can mean a lot of gear to corral at Point A. 

There are lots of pre-made, factory designed hall cubbies that you can buy for as little or as much as your budget allows. But I find these beasts too large for many of our homes, and rather boring to look at! I've compiled a few alternative ideas that are stylish (I think) and will help you deal with all that necessary cold and wet weather gear: 

no. 1 Place a piece of furniture near the front door. This piece need not be expensive. In fact, a vintage dresser reclaimed from the attic works brilliantly. If the space is narrow, then utilize a wall-hugging credenza. For ultimate function, make sure it has a few drawers (for personal gear). Wire or wicker baskets store hats, gloves, and scarves. Add a tray for keys and your daily mail and don't forget a lamp for a cheery 'hello'!
Consider using lanterns or candles for lighting if you don't have an outlet close by.
A simple piece painted adds a lot of welcome!

Don't forget fragrant flowers. Nothing is more yummy than a lovely smell when you walk through the door.

no. 2 Corral footwear (nothing is harder on floors than wet shoes) by placing a rack or basket on the floor. Be sure to line it with something that will keep the moisture away from the floor.

These trays are from Ballard Designs
no. 3 If you don't have a closet nearby, add a metal cloakroom stand with a hang bar and shelves for an instant entry closet! This one can be found at Ballard Designs

no. 4 Add pegs for bags, leashes, scarves, et al. For children in the house, mount shelves and pegs at a height that is ideal for their clothing and backpacks (this will make life easier as you are running out the door in the morning). 

Assign a hook (or basket) to each child. This clever mom uses a personalized tote for each child. 
no. 5 Unless you have stone at your entry, I recommend storing umbrellas in a bucket or umbrella stand just outside your front door...water works fast on wood floors.

Great use for an old mailbox.

Whether wet or dry, cold or warm, I hope these tips help you create an entry that functions in the most stylish way - your way!

Until next time, 

la chasse au bonheur

Thursday, April 29, 2021

the magic of paint

It was the summer of '93 when I first realized how a can of paint can transform a space. 

Finding myself in NYC for a few months, a dear friend opened her doors to me. And what doors they were. Located on the upper east side, her building was outfitted with a starched doorman, swanky lobby and fast elevators. Her apartment was spacious (for Manhattan). But for everything it had going for it there was one thing that just wasn't right. The stark white walls left you cold. 

So, while Tanya was off to Oslo, I picked up a brush and a few gallons of butter cream paint and over a long weekend her apartment was transformed into a space that was warm, inviting and simply delicious! 

I haven't put down a paint brush since. My father swears the only thing holding my house together is layers upon layers of paint. He's probably right. In fact, I am currently interviewing three neutrals (see below), with the winning one being the new color on my walls. 

Feather Down by Benjamin Moore

Stoneware by Benjamin Moore

Ballet White by Benjamin Moore

Paint not only transforms spaces, it is perfect for fixing flaws. Check out how you can use paint to your advantage. 

1. Make a small room look larger
Paint is a master of optical illusion and can appear to increase a room's square footage. Painting the walls and ceiling the same dark color blurs spatial lines and makes the room's smallness less noticeable. 

2. Make a dark room look brighter
Paint is the go-to source for style in a can, but the right color and finish can also add light to a cavelike room. "A high-gloss oil-base paint can be almost as reflective as a mirror," says interior designer Miles Red. One caveat to consider before you pick up your brush: the paint job has to be pristine, since a high-gloss finish will highlight any imperfections. 

3. Camouflage an eyesore
Ever wonder what the builder was thinking when he placed a radiator on the only wall that would allow art or in the most conspicuous spot in the room? Painting the wall and the radiator the same color helps to make art pop and the appliance to recede.  

4. Give floors an update
If your wood floors can't withstand another round of expensive refinishing, or if you can't bear the look of stain for another minute, consider painting them instead. You'll need to rough up the boards with sandpaper, damp-mop, cover up with a few coats of porch, floor or marine paint, then seal. 

5. Give cabinets and bookshelves a lift
Add a shot of color to any room by painting the backs of cabinets or bookshelves. The boring white backs of these dining room cabinets got a rousing shot of aqua. I love how that ties in with the dining room chairs. 

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Special thanks to Tanya Lochridge for introducing me to paint 30 years ago! 

Friday, March 12, 2021

signs of spring

Outside I hear the birds chirping and notice tiny buds on the bare brown branches. Could it be? Is spring really here? After the year we have all had, these are welcome signs, indeed - the beginning of nature's renewal, including our own.

For me, it signals the rebooting of garden parties, Sunday brunch and long chats with friends and family on the terrace, flowering white hydrangeas, vibrant green grass and, oh yes, a ton of work to get the gardens ready!

We're funny here in the Pacific Northwest. The moment we see the sun, we pull on the shorts and sandals (even if it's a balmy 45 degrees), and head outside. That might be why I find myself gravitating to my yard work and my 'to do' list rather than my real work. Here's my list so far:

Schedule pressure washing of drive, walkway, backyard patio and patio set
Elevate Property Services is fabulous! Connor 206.355.1524

Schedule window washer
Crystal Panes always takes care of my old, old glass! 206.284.5183

Clean gutters and downspouts
AA Window and Gutter Cleaners are the bomb! 425.821.3814

Service lawn mower
Who am I kidding? I have a service....but if I didn't, I'd be on this!

Pull out dead plants that didn't make it over winter and plant to fill holes.

Clean the fountain, service the motor, turn on, enjoy the birds playing

Change the furnace filter and smoke alarm batteries (every spring and fall)
Greenwood Heating is great for annual maintenance. 206.202.2633

Clean the BBQ grill and cover, pull out BBQ utensils and cookbooks

Test the water hose and spray nozzle front and back 
I like the FitLife Flexible Hose with nozzle 

Clean and condition teak bench
Starbrite Teak Cleaner works really well!

Locate and wash outdoor accessories like lanterns, linens, outdoor ware

Wash outdoor cushions and pillows, spray with a mildew protector
AllerTech No More Mildew is great. Honest makes a good one as well!

Fluff up front porch urns with new plantings
City People's is getting some great new color spots in.

Clean front porch ceiling and wax front door hardware

Pull out front porch screen and have repairs made prior to installing in June
Dunn Lumber is very helpful if you need to replace the mesh.

Well, work is calling and obviously I have some calls to make to make this all happen. If you need a copy of my preferred vendor resource guide, pop me an email with your address and I will send one off.

Happy (oh so close) spring, everyone!

Until next time

la chasse au bonheur

Friday, March 5, 2021

Springtime Curb Appeal

Whether you are getting your home ready for market (improving curb appeal has shown to increase not only your property's value, but also the property values of your entire neighborhood) or just itching to shake off the winter doldrums, these five tips will help you welcome spring and beautify your home.

1 Sidewalks and Driveways

This may be the first part of your property that your guests or prospective buyers step foot on, literally.

An affordable, virtually maintenance free option for sprucing up your paths is concrete stain. This do-it-yourself project can cost around $30 a gallon and requires very little prep work. Consider picking a color that is in the same color family as that of your home. A blue home could be happily complemented by a gray drive.

Another tip: fix cracks and uneven sections of your sidewalk and pathways. This project may require a bit more professional attention but will give buyers the right impression - that your entire home has been maintained.

2 Accent Door

It has been called the lipstick on the lady. It's inviting and it draws visitors, or buyers, in to your home. A plain door tends to recede into the background.

Consider a contrasting color to your home's exterior. On the color wheel, green is opposite red and yellow is opposite blue. Don't be afraid to be daring. Just a pint of paint can cover most doors and if you don't like the result you can try another color!

3 Trimming Trees


Stand in front of your home and take a close and fresh look at your trees and bushes. Are there branches that have become overgrown and now obstruct the view of your home? You want your landscaping to complement your home, not hide it. Trees, shrubs, bushes should just frame paths and entries, not obstruct them.


To trim tree branches yourself you can buy a pole pruner or chain saw. Or you can hire a professional who has experience in shaping trees. Keep in mine, however, that spring is NOT the time to prune flowering trees or maples. These types of trees should be pruned in late Summer or early Fall.

4 Early Spring Planting

The last frost date varies by area. It also varies from year to year. If you feel that your home will not see another frost then you may be safe to plant a few hardy annuals to add some pop of color to your yard. Even if a frost catches you by surprise, you can cover the plants for the evening to save them from succumbing to the cold.

Some plants that can give you an early burst of color:
     Pansies - these bolts of color can even survive Winter
     Calendula - these "pot marigolds" are a versatile plant
     Violets - heart shaped petals create vibrant color spots
     Other options - cornflower, foxglove, larkspur, sweet alyssum, dianthus

Cleaning out your garden beds also adds an element of neatness that conveys the right message!

5 Outdoor Lighting

Low voltage (12 volt) and solar lighting are good options for improving curb appeal. There are hundreds of designs of solar lights. These small fixtures generally sit on stakes in the ground and can be used to accent paths or gardens and are a great do-it-yourself option.

Also, consider using uplighting on trees to create night-time focal points. This is a great way to showcase your home for those driving by after work.

I better get busy!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

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.

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur