SECRETS TO MAKING YOUR HOME WORK FOR YOU

With the way the Real Estate market is today, many of my clients that used to have large homes will save money buying a small home in the same neighborhood.  Also, many families are short selling their homes and finding themselves moving into a new rental home.  Whatever your situation is, it is important to make your home work for your families needs.

Buying a small home can have many advantages and benefits for your family and your pocketbook.

A small home has many advantages over larger homes.  They cost less to purchase and cost less to maintain, but making the transition to smaller square footage can be difficult unless you know how to make every inch count.

The first thing to remember is to be flexible.  Instead of defining every room with a single purpose, allow each are to adapt to your needs and be able to make changes as needed.  Just because your home has a master suite doesn’t mean you are bound to cram three kids into a second bedroom and keep the master for yourself and your spouse.  It could be hard to give up the large bedroom, but giving your children the extra space may mean they now have room for all their toys and they won’t have to have a play area in the living room.

Make things as multi-purpose as possible.  Downsize the amount of food you have in your kitchen pantry and repurpose that space into an intimate library or general utility closet.  A large walk-in closet can hold clothes and serve as your crafting corner.  A breakfast nook in the kitchen can double as an eating area and mini office.

Most homes today have multiple televisions, gaming systems and computer stations.  Scaling back to one TV/entertainment zone can inspire family togetherness and ignite more daily interaction  Another advantage to a smaller home is being able to easily keep an eye on kids, pets and guests.  Since everyone is in close proximity, it is easier to hear what’s going on throughout the house.

Always take advantage of outdoor space.  Even the tiniest patio or private deck can provide extra room for the family to spread out.  Install all-weather curtains or shades to create privacy and lay down a waterproof rug to give it a cozy feel.  A small cafe table is perfect for dining, doing homework, reading or relaxing.

Financially a small home will save you money each month.  A more modest living space equals less energy consumption which equals lower utility bills.

Learning to work with your individual space is a fun challenge.  The more you embrace the livability of your small home, the easier it becomes to see opportunities around every corner.

BENEDICT ARNOLD

231 years ago today Benedict Arnold let his anger and desperation make him do the unthinkable.  In today’s hard times, many people are looking to get out of bad situations and it is sometimes a struggle to know how to do that.  Keep your head up, try to look at the glass half full, surround yourself with helpful people, and always stay true to yourself…. These are things that Benedict Arnold did not do.

During the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold was an American hero.  On September 21, 1780 Arnold created a plan to work with British forces.   Benedict Arnold became synonymous with the word “traitor.”

Arnold was born January 14, 1741 into a well-respected family in Norwich, Connecticut.  He joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in 1775.  Arnold helped in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga and was making a great name for himself.  In 1777 five men of lesser rank were promoted over Arnold and over the next few years he married for the second time.  Arnold and his wife lived a very lavish lifestyle and accumulated substantial debt.

The debt and the resentment of being overlooked in a promotion where motivating factors in Arnold’s choice to become a traitor.

In 1780 Arnold was given command of West Point in New York.  Arnold contacted the head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and his men in exchange for a large sum of money and a high position in the British Army.  When he met with Major John Andre to finalize the pact, his plan was foiled.  Arnold fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut.

 

ARE YOU SAFE IN YOUR HOME?

When your family is home, it is important to have peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones are as safe as they can be.   It is easy to be comfortable in our home and forget some simple things that can help keep your family safe.

1.  Make sure your exterior house numbers are easy to read from the street so emergency crews can find your home.

2. With everyone using cell phones for 99% of calls, it is important to make sure that children know calling 991 from a home phone will provide a faster response than calling from a cell phone.

3.  Check smoke alarms every month and replace batteries once a year.  I know this is really easy and everyone knows to do this, but it is also very easy to forget.

4.  Make sure you also have a Carbon Monoxide detector outside all sleeping areas.  Where I live, this is now a law but it is a good idea for everyone.  Carbon Monoxide is hard to detect until it is too late.

5.  Clean out the dryer vent regularly.  Many home fires are a result of dirty dryer vents.

6.  Make sure you block inappropriate content on the internet to protect your children.  This includes the computer, cable television, Xbox, Playstation, etc. Remind your kids not to talk to strangers online.

7.  Be discreet on your facebook, twitter, etc.  Don’t give out personal information such as your home address, when you will be out-of-town, etc.  This is important to remind your children when they are telling their friends what they are doing.  Teach your children to only post things that they have already done so people don’t always know were they are.

8.  Also remember to lock all doors and windows and to keep some lights on a timer to detour unwanted guests.

OLD GLORY

Another name for the American Flag is Old Glory.  Old Glory is actually a specific flag made in 1824 for Captain William Driver.  Old Glory was made with 24 stars and 13 red and white stripes representing the original 13 colonies.  Old Glory traveled with Captain Driver on his ship and circled the globe twice before retiring with him to Nashville.  When the Civil War began in Tennessee, Old Glory was sewn inside a quilt and it stayed hidden until 1862.  Old Glory never flew again, but it now lives in the Smithsonian.

The current version of the US flag was designed by an 18 year old high school student, who only received a “B-“ for his efforts.  Robert Heft, challenged her teacher that a design proposal accepted by Congress would deserve an “A”.  The teacher did change Heft’s grade to an “A”, and by presidential proclamation his design was officially adopted as the nation’s flag in 1958.

6 US flags are currently stationed on the moon.  They were put there by Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17.  Other countries who have/had flags on the moon include, the Soviet Union, EU and India.

When folded properly, the US flag is shaped like a triangle with only the stars showing. If you have exacting standards, it usually takes 13 folds: the same number of original colonies.

WHAT MOVIES ARE “THEATER WORTHY” TO YOU?

I used to see previews of up coming movies and try to decided….to see, or not to see?  Today, instead of asking if I am going to see the movie or not I ask myself if the movie is “theater worthy” or not?

MY DEFINITION OF THEATER WORTHY:

A movie that is worth spending $69.00 to see it now

$42.00 for 4 regular tickets at $10.50ea + $27.00 for popcorn and drinks

* ($14.00ea for 3D movies)  ($15.50ea for Imax 3D movies)

-versus-

Waiting a month to watch the movie at home for $4.50

$1.00 to rent the movie from redbox + $3.50 for microwave popcorn and sodas

Since our family does a lot of camping, most of the time we opt for the less expensive, wait a month approach.  It is a win, win to save money and have great movies to watch while camping.

I know that some movies are “not the same” unless you watch them on the big screen.  Watching movies like Avatar and Transformers on the big screen does allow you to experience and enjoy the movie differently than watching it at home.  Although today’s home televisions are amazing, the movie theater experience is like nothing at home, unless you are sitting next to the baby that won’t stop crying.

What movies are Theater Worthy to you? 

DO YOU KNOW WHY THE U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS CALLED “UNCLE SAM”?

On September 7 1813, the United States officially gets its nickname, “UNCLE SAM”….. Do you know were the name comes from?

Samuel Wilson was a meat packer from Troy, New York and he supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812.  Wilson would stamped the barrels with “U.S.” for United States.  The soldiers began to refer to the grub as “Uncle Sam’s.”  The local newspaper picked up on the story and Uncle Sam eventually gained widespread acceptance as the nickname for the U.S. federal government.

In the late 1860s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam. Nast continued to evolve the image, eventually giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that are associated with the character today. The German-born Nast was also credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus as well as coming up with the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party and the elephant as a symbol for the Republicans.

Today’s, more famous image of Uncle Sam was created by artist James Montgomery Flagg.  In Flagg’s version, Uncle Sam wears a tall top hat and blue jacket and is pointing straight ahead at the viewer. During World War I, this portrait of Sam with the words “I Want You For The U.S. Army” was used as a recruiting poster.

In September 1961, the U.S. Congress recognized Samuel Wilson as “the progenitor of America’s national symbol of Uncle Sam.” Wilson died at age 88 in 1854, and was buried next to his wife Betsey Mann in the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, New York, the town that calls itself “The Home of Uncle Sam.”

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR REALTOR

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and have lived in Discovery Bay since 1993.  My husband Ernie and I have three children span over several years.  Ernie is my best friend and a great husband and father.

Our oldest daughter Elyssa (22 years old) has recently graduated from Sacramento college.  She fell in love with and married Nick, who is currently in the Army.   Nick and Elyssa are now expecting a baby girl.  Their daughter is due January of 2012 and we are all excited about her arrival.

Our middle daughter Hailey (16 years old) is a Junior in high school and is excited about getting her driver’s license next month.   Hailey is a very smart, beautiful and strong girl.  She was born with a back disorder that gives her chronic pain and she misses a lot of school because of doctors appointments and pain.  She works very hard to take college prep classes in school and maintain her grades even with her lack of attendance.

Our youngest child is Hunter (8 years old) and he is in the third grade.  He does very well in school and receives good marks for his behavior.  Hunter is a dirt bike racer and spends all his free time at the race track.  Hunter has a website (www.hcrproducts.com) that follows his life as a dirt bike rider.

I love my family and value the time my husband and I have spent together and the amazing memories we have shared over the years.  I am so proud of all my children and excited to see what is to come.

THE MEXICAN WALKING FISH

My daughter came across this cute looking fish and of course she said “Mom, I want one..”  I had not seen these fish before so I did some research to see what this fish was and found that it is not really a fish.  The Mexican walking fish, also known as the axolotl (pronounced ACk-suh-LAH-tuhl) is a very unusual animal.  The axolotl is not even a fish, it is an amphibian aquatic salamander.

It has a rare trait of retaining its larval features throughout its adult life.  It will keep its tadpole-like dorsal fin, which runs almost the length of its body, and its feathery external gills, which protrude from the back of its wide head.  The axolotls differs from most other salamanders because they live permanently in water.  In extremely rare cases, an azolotl will progress to maturity and emerge from the water, but most are content to stay on the bottom of lakes and canals.

The most unusual thing about this animal is that if it looses a limb, it can reproduce another one in about 8 weeks.

They pray on small fish, worms and insects, they have a life span of 10 to 15 years.  The female Axolotl can lay up to 1000 eggs at a time.  They contain poison glands so their pray must think twice before eating the little salamander.

The axolotl is nearing extinction. The axolotl mainly was native from Lake  Xochimilco and Lake Chalco, but, unfortunately, these lakes have already  disappeared or diminished, and most of these species are kept in hatcherys.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL

Next week is the kickoff of the 2011 NFL Football Season.  After the “Lock-out”, little training and a shortened pre-season, how will the first regular season games play out.  With no teams on a bye the first week, Thursday September 8th will be the kickoff of the first game of a week of great football.  Check your local listings and don’t miss your local team.

Thursday, Sept 8

  • Saints at Packers

Sunday, Sept 11

  • Lions at Buccaneers
  • Falcons at Bears
  • Steelers at Ravens
  • Bengals at Browns
  • Titans at Jaguars
  • Giants at Redskins
  • Cowboys at Jets
  • Bills at Chiefs
  • Colts at Texans
  • Eagles at Rams
  • Seahawks at 49ers
  • Panters at Cardinals
  • Vikings at Chargers

Monday, Sept 12

  • Raiders at Broncos
  • Patriots at Dolphines

The American Professional Football Association was founded in 1920 at a car dealership in Canton, Ohio.  Jim Thorpe was elected as the first president.

In 1948, the Rams became the first team to have a helmet insignia. The distinctive Ram horns were hand-painted onto the helmets by the team’s halfback, Fred Gehrke.

Willie Thrower was the first African-American quarterback in the NFL.  He played for the Chicago Bears in 1953.

1960 the Baltimore Colts had the first cheerleading squad in the NFL.

Monday Night Football first aired in 1970

In 1979, John elway was drafted out of high school to play professional baseball for the Kansas City Royals.

“All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night” by Hank Williams Jr. debuted as the Monday Night Football theme in 1989.

Before his 2003 rookie season, tight end Antonia Gates had not played football since his senior year in high school.

Receiver Wes Welker, who tied the league record for most receptions in 2007 (112), went undrafted in the 2004 NFL Draft.

In 2007, LaDainian Tomlinson was offered the spot on the cover of the Madden NFL 08 video game.  He turned it down, and Vince Young was selected instead.

With almost $1 billion in yearly revenues, the NFL is the world’s richest professional sports league.

The Oakland Raiders were originally named the Oakland Senors thanks to fan voting. After being ridiculed by the media for several weeks, the team changed its name to the Raiders (which finished third in the voting).

Dan Reeves, Tony Dungy and Mike Ditka have all appeared in Super Bowls as players, assistant coaches and head coaches.

Emmitt Smith had the same number of rushing yards in his last season as he did in his rookie season (937).

Ronnie Lott received All-Pro honors at three different positions (cornerback, strong safety and free safety).

Eli and Payton Manning are the only set of brothers to play quarterback in a Super Bowl. They are also the only brothers to both win the Super Bowl MVP award.

For a year’s supply of footballs for the NFL, it takes 3,000 cows to supply the leather.

The Vikings Defensive Lineman Jim Marshall once picked up a fumble and ran it all the way back the wrong way to score a Safety for the 49’ers.

GET WELL SOON STEVE JOBS

I take for granted the changes in my life that has come at the had of Steve Jobs.  I can do my work from any office or home that has a computer.  I can sit on the coach with my laptop and connect with people.  While standing in line at the grocery store I can surf the web.  Waiting for my number to be called at DMV I can play games and download new apps.  I am able to look for places around me, get directions to my destination, and order things online as I travel.  I can now work from anywhere at anytime thanks to Steve Jobs and his idea to create personal computers.

Today Jobs has stepped down as CEO with an undisclosed medical illness.  I am sure I am not alone in wanting to wish him a speedy recovery and thank him for his efforts in expanding our technology through the years.

 

Steven Jobs was born February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, and in 1961 his family moved to Mountain View, California.  He loved electronics and spent a lot of time working in the garage workshop of a neighbor who worked at Hewlett-Packard as an electronics manufacturer.  Jobs enrolled in the Hewlett-Packard Explorer Club at the age of twelve and was introduced to his first computer.  While in high school Jobs attended lectures at the Hewlett-Packard plant. On one occasion he boldly asked William Hewlett , the president, for some parts he needed to complete a class project.  Hewlett was so impressed he gave Jobs the parts, and offered him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard.

1972 Graduated from high school and enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon

1974 Dropped out of college to visit India and study eastern religions

1975 Joined a group known as the Homebrew Computer Club

1976 Joined club member Steve Wozniak to form a company designed to make personal home computers called The Apple Computer Company

1976 Sold circuit boards (the boards that hold the internal components of a computer) while they worked on the computer prototype

1977 The Apple II had first year sales of $2.7 million.

1980 The company’s sales grew to $200 million within three years.

1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh with small pictures called icons.  It did not sell well because it didn’t provide high quality printing.

1985 Jobs resigned from his company, though he retained his title as chairman of its board of directors.

1986 He purchased Pixar from filmmaker George Lucas and created Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, etc.

1988 He hired some former employers to create a company called NeXt.

1988 The NeXT computer was introduced that everyone loved but it was too costly and could not link to other computers

1996 Apple purchased NeXT Software for over $400 million and Jobs returned to Apple as a part-time consultant to the CEO

1997 Apple entered into a partnership with its competitor Microsoft.

1998 The IMac was introduced which featured a powerful computer at an affordable price.

1999 The IBook was unveiled.

2000 Jobs became the permanent CEO of Apple with the IPod, IPhone and IPads following.

2004 Jobs was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his pancreas. 

2009  Jobs underwent a liver transplant.

2011  January, Jobs went on a medical leave and operations were handed over to Tim Cook

August 25, 2011 Steve Jobs steps down as CEO but says he will remain a presence in the company.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF DEBT

In today’s tough economic credit market, it’s harder than ever for someone starting out on the road to financial responsibility to establish strong credit.  Knowing how to increase your credit score as well as avoid debt as an adult.  A few key credit facts can go a long way toward helping teens and young adults establish a positive credit history that works in their favor when it’s time to start making big decisions. 

1.  YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE CREDIT CARDS TO START A CREDIT HISTORY:  Most people open a credit card account and vow not to only make a few small purchases to begin a credit history.  In most cases the charges on the card become more frequent and payments are less often and before you know it the card is maxed out.  It is advised to start a credit history with accounts other than credit cards to show your responsible financial behavior.  collaborating with a responsible adult to put another account in a teen’s name, such as a telephone, cable, garbage, or other bills can show a positive credit history.

2.  GO GREEN AND CARRY CASH:  It is really easy to swipe a card every time you make a purchase, but in most cases it is difficult to really know how much money is being spent each day.  When you carry cash, it is easy to see how much money is available until your next payday.  Seeing the cash can help you decide if the purchase is really important and ensure you have the funds available and avoid debt.   

3.  KEEP YOUR CHANGE:  When you are using cash, you have an opportunity to receive change that can be used as a savings.  Decide what works best for you whether it is having a change jar at home that you fill up every night, or it is removing all the dollar bills from your wallet each day and saving them.  Having an extra savings set aside is great for buying something extra or for unforseen expenses. 

4.  AVOID DEPARTMENT STORE CREDIT:  Never sign up for a department store credit card.  They catch you when you are reaching for your wallet, stressed about spending money and offer you a great deal.  They offer you a discount on your purchase just for opening an account.  They do this because they know they will make a lot more on fees and finance charges when you charge your purchase.  In most cases the department store finance charges are way higher than a regular Visa or MasterCard.

5.  GROW INTO A CREDIT CARD:  If you would like to get your child ready for a credit card, think baby steps.  Start with a pre-paid card that allows them to spend only the money that has been put on the card in advance.  Next open a checking account that allows them to use a debit card.  Make sure to remind them to only spend money that has been deposited in advance and avoid overdraft fees.  When they are ready for a credit card, start with a low limit low fee card to be used for small purchases and paid each month.

It is very smart to have the credit talk with your kids often.  More than 80% of graduating college seniors have credit card debt before they even have a job.  With the job market as tight as it is today, they may not have a way to repay their debts after graduation.  Make sure your children start early and have the knowledge they need to avoid credit pitfalls.

 

WHAT DOES THE TITLE COMPANY DO?

Real Estate Transactions are lengthy and very detailed.  It is important when buying or selling a home that everyone does their job correctly to make the sale go smoothly.  The Real Estate Agent, Mortgage Lender, home inspection, appraiser and the Title Company all have to work together and have a specific job to do.  The title company does many things during the purchase/sale of a home, most importantly they ensure a “clean title” and disburse all funds.

A title company’s primary duty is to conduct an abstract search on title from many agencies including County Recorder, Federal and State Agencies, and County and City Offices.  Before a buyer can take possession of a piece of property, you have to make sure that the seller has the legal right to sell the home.  A title insurance policy protects from various defects such as another person claiming an ownership interest, improperly recorded, fraud, forgery, liens, encroachments, easements, unpaid taxes, and other items that are specified in the actual policy.

The title company works as a third party so neither the buyer or seller can claim the money was mismanaged or used for the wrong purposes when closing on a home.  All funds are deposited into an escrow account and held until both the buyer and seller have complete all requirements in the purchase and sale of the home and agree to all terms, at which point the title company disburse all funds as agreed upon.

In short, the primary job of the title company is to protect both the buyer and seller equally as a neutral party in the transfer of Real Estate.

 

GENTELMEN START YOUR ENGINES!

Since my family are very big race fans, I thought I would share some interesting facts about The Brickyard.  On August 19, 1909, the first race was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now the home of the world’s most famous motor racing competition, the Indianapolis 500.  

Built on 328 acres of farmland five miles northwest of Indianapolis, Indiana, the speedway was started by local businessmen as a testing facility for Indiana’s growing automobile industry. The idea was that occasional races at the track would pit cars from different manufacturers against each other. After seeing what these cars could do, spectators would presumably head down to the showroom of their choice to get a closer look.

The rectangular two-and-a-half-mile track linked four turns, each exactly 440 yards from start to finish, by two long and two short straight sections. In that first five-mile race on August 19, 1909, 12,000 spectators watched Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win with an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour. The track’s surface of crushed rock and tar proved a disaster, breaking up in a number of places and causing the deaths of two drivers, two mechanics and two spectators.

The surface was soon replaced with 3.2 million paving bricks, laid in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar. Dubbed “The Brickyard,” the speedway reopened in December 1909.  In 1911, low attendance led the track’s owners to make a crucial decision: Instead of shorter races, they resolved to focus on a single, longer event each year, for a much larger prize. That May 30 marked the debut of the Indy 500–a grueling 500-mile race that was an immediate hit with audiences and drew press attention from all over the country. Driver Ray Haroun won the purse of $14,250, with an average speed of 74.59 mph and a total time of 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has been held every year, with the exception of 1917-18 and 1942-45, when the United States was involved in the two world wars. With an average crowd of 400,000, the Indy 500 is the best-attended event in U.S. sports. In 1936, asphalt was used for the first time to cover the rougher parts of the track, and by 1941 most of the track was paved. The last of the speedway’s original bricks were covered in 1961, except for a three-foot line of bricks left exposed at the start-finish line as a nostalgic reminder of the track’s history.

*  Today race cars travel around the track at an average speed of 230mph.

*  Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City all can fit inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, which covers 253 acres.

*  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest spectator sporting facility, with more than 250,000 permanent seats. If the seat boards from the grandstands at IMS were laid end-to-end, they would stretch 99.5 miles.

*  Indy cars accelerate from 0 mph to 100 mph in 4 seconds.

TOP 5 SIGNS OF A BAD REAL ESTATE AGENT

If your home is listed for sale and it just won’t sell, it may not be your real estate agent’s fault–after all, home sales were down more than 40% in August over the same time last year.  However, there are many ways to gauge if your agent is doing a good job.  

1. Lack of Communication:  If you haven’t heard from your real estate agent in a few weeks, it’s time to find a new one.  Even if no one has called for a showing of your home, or your agent hasn’t found any homes that meet your requirements as a buyer, he or she should be touching base with you regularly to keep you up to date on the work being done on your behalf.  After all, there’s no doubt you’re thinking about your home transaction almost daily–as an agent acting on your behalf, shouldn’t your real estate agent be keeping you in mind?

2. Lack of Leadership:  If your real estate agent agrees with you on every point, this is the sign of someone who’s eager to please–not someone who’s committed to doing the best possible job at representing your interests in the real estate market.  When it comes to pricing a home for sale, insist that your agent produce the research that was used to arrive at that price.  

3. Unable to Listen:  In contrast to #2, your real estate agent should also be able to listen to your wants and needs.  The agent and the buyer/seller don’t always have to agree, but in the end they are someone that is acting on your behalf.  Your real estate agent is the expert and should be able to take the lead, but they will have to be someone willing to allow you to have the final word in the end.

4. Too Much Pressure:  While you should seek out a real estate agent who is knowledgeable enough to have an educated opinion and confident enough to (respectfully) voice it, if you feel your agent pushing you in any particular direction, this should send up a red flag.  Especially when you’re buying a home, there is no real reason an agent should want you to buy any particular home over another.  If you get the feeling you are being steered toward certain homes, make sure you address this and in the end are purchasing what you want.

5. Lack of Follow-Up:  Whether you’re buying or selling, many real estate agents think their job ends on the home’s possession date.  This is the day upon which the transaction is considered complete, and the real estate agent is paid.  An agent who calls beyond this date to address any follow-up questions you might have and to ensure that you’re happy with his or her work is going above and beyond what is required and showing a commitment to customer service.  After all, at this point your agent’s commission check has already been signed, so this level of care is a great sign of an agent who is willing to do what it takes to make you happy and keep your business in the future.

The Bottom Line:  As in every line of work, there are great real estate agents and there are terrible ones. However, in a tough real estate market like this one, you might have to gauge their performance on more than just a speedy transaction.

THIS WEEKS GROOVY HISTORY

This week marks the anniversary of Woodstock, the most famous music festival in rock ‘n’ roll history, which took place August 15-18, 1969.  The grooviest event in music history, The Woodstock Music Festival was full of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll in upstate New York.

Conceived as “Three Days of Peace and Music,” Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang. Their idea was to make enough money from the event to build a recording studio near the arty New York town of Woodstock. When they couldn’t find an appropriate venue in the town itself, the promoters decided to hold the festival on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York–some 50 miles from Woodstock–owned by Max Yasgur.

By the time the weekend of the festival arrived, the group had sold a total of 186,000 tickets and expected no more than 200,000 people to show up. By Friday night, however, thousands of eager early arrivals were pushing against the entrance gates. Fearing they could not control the crowds, the promoters made the decision to open the concert to everyone, free of charge. Close to half a million people attended Woodstock, jamming the roads around Bethel with eight miles of traffic.

Soaked by rain and wallowing in the muddy mess of Yasgur’s fields, young fans best described as “hippies” euphorically took in the performances of acts like Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  The most memorable moment of the concert for many fans was the closing performance by Jimi Hendrix, who gave a rambling, rocking solo guitar performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

With not enough bathroom facilities and first-aid tents to accommodate such a huge crowd, many described the atmosphere at the festival as chaotic. There were surprisingly few episodes of violence, though one teenager was accidentally run over and killed by a tractor and another died from a drug overdose.  A number of musicians performed songs expressing their opposition to the Vietnam War, a sentiment that was enthusiastically shared by the vast majority of the audience. Later, the term “Woodstock Nation” would be used as a general term to describe the youth counterculture of the 1960s.

Max Yasgur was paid $75,000 for the use of his alfalfa field for the venue.  32 bands performed and as an unknown and unproven business concern, the organisers, Woodstock Ventures, had to pay inflated sums to get the top rockers to sign up.  Jefferson Airplane were the first, paid $12,000, double their usual fee. Even hippy band The Grateful Dead demanded cash in hand before they would play, as did Janis Joplin and The Who. 

About two dozen ticket booths should have been in place to charge $24 admission, but they were never installed because of a the crush of festival-goers.  Attempts to get people to pay were abandoned on day one, the fences were torn down and Woodstock was declared a free event.  Organisers at Woodstock Ventures were at least $1.3m in debt afterwards.  It took more than a decade for backers to recoup money, through audio and recording rights.

Several acts that were scheduled to perform did not make it to the stage.

  • Jeff Beck Group (The band broke up in July, forcing cancellation)
  • Iron Butterfly (Stuck at the airport)
  • Joni Mitchell (Joni’s agent put her on “the Dick Cavett Show” instead)
  • Lighthouse (Feared that it would be a “bad scene”)
  • The Moody Blues (took a gig in Paris at the last minute)
  • Ethan Brown (Arrested for LSD three days before the event)

Some declined the invitation to attend

  • The Beatles (John Lennon said he couldn’t get them together)
  • Led Zeppelin (Got a higher paying gig)
  • Bob Dylan (Turned it down because of his disgust for hippies hanging around his house)
  • The Byrds (Turned it down because of a melee during their performance at an earlier Pop Festival)
  • Tommy James & the Shondells (they said they were misinformed about the size and scope of the event)
  • Jethro Tull (thought it wouldn’t be a big deal)
  • Spirit (They had other shows and wanted to keep their commitment)
  • Mind Garage (Figured it wouldn’t be a big deal so they took a different gig)

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED….. destroy all evidence you ever tried

Many of my clients are frustrated and discouraged about the state of our economy and their personal situations.  My family laughs that I am always a “glass half full person” and try to always find the light at the end of the tunnel.  So I thought today I would share some evidence of successful people throughout history that hit bottom just before soaring to the top.  It is always important to learn from your mistakes and failures only to use it to your advantage.  Instead of saying NEVER TRY, NEVER FAIL….. think about the success you might find after you fail…..

HENRY FORD (FORD MOTOR COMPANY):  Fords early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

SOICHIRO HONDA (HONDA):  Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbors, finally started his own business.

AKIO MORITA (SONY):  Sony’s first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn’t cook rice, just burnt it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn’t stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.

BILL GATES (MICROSOFT):  Gates dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.

MICHAEL JORDAN:  Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

BABE RUTH:  You probably know Babe Ruth because of his home run record (714 during his career), but along with all those home runs came a pretty hefty amount of strikeouts as well (1,330 in all). In fact, for decades he held the record for strikeouts. When asked about this he simply said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

HARLAND DAVID SANDERS (COLENEL SANDERS):  Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.

WALT DISNEY:  Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

ALBERT EINSTEIN:  Most of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.

THOMAS EDISON:  In his early years, teachers told Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in a design that worked.

FRED ASTAIRE:  In his first screen test, the testing director of MGM noted that Astaire, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire went on to become an incredibly successful actor, singer and dancer and kept that note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of where he came from.

SIDNEY POITIER:  After his first audition, Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?” Poitier vowed to show him that he could make it, going on to win an Oscar and become one of the most well-regarded actors in the business.

THEODOR SEUSS GIESEL:  Today nearly every child has read The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, yet 27 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

STEPHEN KING:  The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and the rest is history.

ELVIS PRESLEY:   But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

THE BEATLES:  When the Beatles were just starting out, a recording company told them no. They were told “we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,” two things the rest of the world couldn’t have disagreed with more.

FROM MY KITCHEN TO YOURS (SAVE TIME AND MONEY)

If you are looking for easy cooking ideas, single pot cleanup, and cutting your food and energy costs with low heat cooking, then IT IS TIME TO DUST OFF YOUR RETRO 1970’s SLOW COOKER and save yourself time and money.  As advertised…..this Rival Crock-Pot is “The Working Woman’s Dream!”  Although you probably can’t purchase one for $14.77 anymore, if used right it is well worth the expense.

Save Time:

Using a slow cooker is very easy to do….just layer your food and forget it.  It is not only hands free cooking, it is eyes free cooking.  You don’t have to stand around and monitor the food because there is no boiling over or burning.  You can spend more time with your family and friends and several hours later the food is done and  ready to eat.

Slow cookers allow you to make a meal for the entire family in one dish.  You will not be in the kitchen all night cleaning several pots and pans, one pot and your done.  Remove the slow cook insert, give it a good soak and it will clean right up.

Save Money:

When you use a slow cooker for 7 hours you will use over 50% less energy than using your stove for 1 hour.  This will translate to a lower energy bill and more money in your pocket.

When using a slow cooker, you can buy a cheaper cut of meat.  Because you will be cooking the meat over a low heat for a longer time, the meat tenderizes and will make great stews and soups.

Buy a larger cut of meat and make several meals in one.  (chicken breast for dinner, chicken noodle soup for lunch, chicken tacos the next day) or (pork roast dinner, pulled pork sandwiches for lunch, and soup the next day) etc.

I love getting up in the morning, and putting all of my ingredients into the slow cooker and heading out for my day.  When I return home in the evening, the house smells fabulous, and dinner is ready to put on the table.  Using a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker is a smart choice for many different reasons.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CROCK-POT RECIPE?

My families favorite recipe is: Roast

  • Place 1/2 (large can) cream of mushroom soup in bottom of slow cooker
  • Salt and pepper large roast and place in pan
  • Cut 1 onion into strips and spread over roast
  • Peal and cut carrots and place in slow cooker
  • Peel and chop potatoes into quarters
  • Add the remaining cream of mushroom soup and a little water
  • Cook all day and enjoy!

THIS IS BULL

My son and I went to the County Fair this weekend and I found myself very concerned about the cows.  It started off very fun when we saw the biggest cow I had ever seen, I wasn’t even sure if it was a cow.  I asked the girl grooming him if it was a cow and she said it was a STEER (a castrated male cow).  It was so big because it had been raised since birth for meat and it was up for auction later at the fair.

We continued inside the fair and looked at the pigs, sheep, and goats.  We pet the animals and walked down until we got to more cows, but these cows looked completely different from the ones we had just seen.  They were soooo skinny I couldn’t believe it.  I think we were able to see every bone and I had to ask the girl “why are these cows so skinny?”  She told me that they were dairy cows and all of their vitamins go directly into the milk and that they were also going to be up for auction.

What a difference in the two cows, the way they are raised, and the food they eat.  I know that cows are used for dairy and meat, but I never know that they are cared for differently depending on what they will be used for.  I always thought that cows eat hay and grass and you get what you get, but it looks like a lot more is put into the art of breeding the perfect cow.

It takes around 3,000 cows to supply the 22,000 footballs, the NFL uses every season.

A boy cow is a BULL, and “altered” boy cow is a STEER.

A cow can’t vomit.

Cows give 60 lb. of milk a day.

There are more than 800,000 cows producing milk in California.

Cattle outnumber humans in 9 states: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

It takes a cow 283 days to give birth once it is bred.

Beef is the number one source of zinc in the human diet in the United States.

No two cows have exactly the same pattern of spots.

The cow must be a mother before she will produce milk.

A cow that weighs 1000 pound can produce an average 10 tons of manure every year.

An average cow produces 30 lbs of urine and 65 lbs pounds of feces daily.

A newborn Holstein calf weighs about 100 pounds and can walk within one hour after birth!

Cows live to on average 6 to 7 years.

The oldest cow till date was Big Bertha, which died just 3 months shy of her 49th birthday.

A cow spends 13 hours a day lying down and up to 8 hours a day eating.

A cow gives in her lifetime enough milk to fill 200,000 glasses, and gives 18,000 lb. of milk every year.

It is possible to lead a cow upstairs but not downstairs, because a cows’ knees can’t bend properly to walk back down.

 

IF YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT…….

If you are what you eat…. than what does that say about the clothes you wear?  Below are some mug shot photos of people who probably should have thought twice before getting dressed that day.

So a little lesson……Think about what you are planning to do before you get dressed in the morning.  If you are going to be breaking the law, make sure you look good for your mug shot.   Enjoy!

CELL PHONE 411

This last week my son had a dirt bike race in Washington and we traveled 12 hours to get to the event and camped for the week with friends.  (see more about the trip at www.hcrproducts.com on my son’s racing blog)

While camping we got into a conversation about my daughter’s new cell phone.  A friend of ours was giving me a hard time for making my daughter put an otter box cover on her iphone.  He told me that it was borderline abuse to have my teenage daughter have such a large phone.  Since my daughter and I just had a huge disagreement the day before over the use of the case, he was not helping me at all.  Having purchased my iphone three years ago and dropped it many times, I am convinced that the otter box is necessary for my daughter so she won’t break her phone.  Lets face it…..it’s not like I bought her a huge Motorola brick phone….it’s an iphone in a cute pink case.  Is that so bad?

He kept insisting that I had “ruined the iphone” by putting such a large case on it and that her friends will make fun of her when she goes back to school.  He thought I should just wrap the phone in bubble wrap to make sure it stays safe.  Of course my daughter was thrilled that he would maybe talk me out of making her use the phone case, but no such luck.  I am thinking when she can afford to replace it, then she can take care of it as she wishes.

I started thinking about all the different phones I have had over the years and how far our cell phone technology has come.  Remember Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street using his Motorola DynaTAC.  Since 1983 many different phone styles have come out and new functions were continually being added…what will they think of next?

The original Motorola cell phone was a little to big to fit into a pocket and over the years the sizes have gotten smaller and smaller.  The technology and ability of the phones has also changed over the years.  The phones began to flip close and slide open.  You were able to not only call someone, but send them a message via text.  The screen went from black and white to full color and touch screens.  You could use your phone to take a picture or to surf the web.  You could listen to music while checking your email or talk on the phone while you watch a movie.  Instead of calling someone, now you can see them with the video phones.

FUN FACTS

200,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo (two hundred trillion) text messages are received in America every day……that is more than an entire years worth of regular mail received in America.

The average teen sends 3339 text messages each month

42% of teens can text message blindfolded

Texting is the #2 use of cellphones….#1 is checking the time

In 2010 Americans spent $42.8 million on cell phones

In 2009 300 million mobile apps were downloaded…In 2010 5 billion mobile apps were downloaded.

There is more than 3.3 billion active mobile phones in the world.  (equal to half of the entire world population)

People throw away more than 125 million cell phones each year.

Two thirds of mobile phone users use the backlight of their phone as a flash light.

AND DON’T FORGET TO GET A CASE FOR YOUR IPHONE BEFORE THIS HAPPENS TO YOU….

COOL APPS

My son has my phone over loaded with apps that he keeps finding.  He is allowed to only get the free apps of course.  He recently found one that was fun for us both and kinda goes along with my blog.  The app basically gives random fun facts, which I love!

JUDY SCHEINDLIN (Judge Judy) HAS A $25,000,000 SALARY, WHILE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBERG HAS A $190,100 SALARY.

-Wow… forget about hoping my kids become a doctor…

CHEWING ON GUM WHILE CUTTING ONIONS CAN HELP A PERSON FROM PRODUCING TEARS.

-Can’t wait to try this one!

A GIRAFFE CAN CLEAN ITS EARS WITH ITS 21 INCH TONGUE

-Yuk

PEARLS MELT IN VINEGAR

-Very good to know right?

MOSCOW WEATHERMEN CAN BE FINED FOR INACCURATE WEATHER FORECASTING

-I love this one.  Because I do so much outside, I hate when the weather is wrong.  The other day the weather man said “Mostly sunny with some clouds and a chance of rain.”  What?  I think he covered everything….maybe just say “we have no idea!”

THE FIRST COUPLE TO BE SHOWN IN BED TOGETHER ON PRIME TIME TELEVISION WAS FRED AND WILMA FLINSTONE

-Television shows have come a long way since then

To be continued…..

FUNNY/BAD MLS PHOTOS

As a Realtor we work many hours, but only get paid if we actually sell a home.  With this in mind, you would think that we would do everything we could to show potential buyers the best features of a home and make a quick sell.  When looking at some of the MLS ad’s people write, we can find typo’s which you could say is an honest mistake.  How do you explain why an agent would use a bad picture to represent the home they are selling?

I am not saying that I don’t take many bad pictures, but I hope that I am not including them in my MLS listings.

MAKE SURE THE ROOM IS IN FOCUS

I THINK I WOULD HAVE SKIPPED THIS ROOM.

A CANDLE DOESN’T MAKE EVERYTHING LOOK BETTER.

IS THAT AN EXTRA LARGE PAIR OF UNDERWARE IN THE WINDOW?

SOMEWHERE BEHIND THIS OVERGROWN SHRUB IS A HOME FOR SALE.

IT IS A GOOD IDEA NOT TO TAKE PHOTOS AT NIGHT.

A PICTURE OF AN ASHTRAY, FEBREEZE, CLEANING SUPPLIES, AND INSECT SPRAY IS NOT THE BEST SELLING IDEA

THIS PICTURE SHOWS EXACTLY HOW DANGEROUS THE STAIRS ARE.

IS THE HORSE FOR SALE OR THE HOUSE.

 

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED!

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 Commander, Neil Armstrong made history as the 1st man on the moon.

Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin blasted off on July 16, 1969.  Four days later the three-man crew reached the moon.  Collins stayed in orbit around the moon and took pictures while Armstrong and Aldrin entered the lunar Module called the Eagle.  The Eagle landed down on the moon and Neil Armstrong was the first to exit onto the moon’s surface.

As Neil Armstrong stept onto the moon he said:

“THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN….ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND”

Armstong and Aldrin walked around the surface of the mon for three hours doing experiments, and collecting drilling samples, moon dirt and rocks.

They put a U.S. flag on the moon and also left a sign.

HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON

JULY 1969, A.D.

WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND”

The astronauts completed their mission and returned to Earth atmosphere on July 24th.  A parachute opened to safely lower the Columbia into the Pacific Ocean.  After landing in the Ocean, the crew were retrieved by a helicopter and taken to the recovery ship, the USS Hornet.

With no more manned moon visits planned it is nice to remember the great accomplishment made by those three men all those years ago.

THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH – IS 56 YEARS OLD

Walt Disney wanted to build a place where children and parents could have fun together.  The original plans for the park were on 8 acres next to the Burbank studios where his employees and families could go to relax. Although, World War II put those plans on hold. During the war, Walt had time to come up with new ideas, and creations for his magical park. It was soon clear that 8 acres wouldn’t be enough.

Walt found a rural 160 acre spot in Anaheim, California.  On July 21, 1954 construction began with clearing acres of citrus trees and moving horses to make room for the park.  Walt looked to his movie studio staff for help in making realistic castles, mountains, ships, etc.  They created 20 attractions in five uniquely different lands.  (Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, an Main Street USA)  Opening day was 12 months later on Jul 17, 1955 and after a total investment of $17 million and it was time to open the gate.


The highly anticipated opening day festivities, including the dedication and a parade, were covered by ABC with a 90 minute live special, ‘Dateline Disneyland’, was hosted by television personalities Art Linkletter, Ronald Regan and Bob Cummings.  Ninety million viewers witnessed the fantastic results of one man’s dream come true.

The grand opening did not go so smoothly.  11,000 invitations had been mailed to the studio workers, construction workers, the press and officials.  Counterfeit tickets were used and by mid-afternoon, over 28,000 ticket holders were heading for Disneyland causing unprecedented traffic jams.

although everything appeared to be magical, many things did not go as planned.  A 15 day heat wave raised temperatures up to 110 degrees and due to a plumbers strike, few water fountains were operating.  When the gates opened workers were still planting trees and in some areas paint was still wet.  The asphalt had been poured just that morning and some ares were very soft.  Rides broke down shortly after opening and restaurants and refreshment stands ran out of food and drink.  A gas leak in Fantasyland caused Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland to close for the afternoon.

During the event, Walt Disney was unaware of the chaotic situation. He was being shuttled from one part of the Park to another for the ‘Dateline Disneyland’ broadcast. It wasn’t until later that he became aware of the negative reaction to Disneyland.  Walt immediately summoned his staff, and measures were taken to deal with the problems of low ride capacity, congested walkways, traffic jams and slow food service. The press was invited back for a private “second day” to experience the true Disneyland.


Disneyland Park was then opened to the public and crowds started to gather in line as early as 2 a.m.  The first person to buy a ticket and enter the park was David MacPherson with admission ticket number two, as Roy O. Disney arranged to pre-purchase ticket number one.  Ten years after opening over 50 Million visitors had come through the gates.  Today, more than four decades later Disneyland’s success is world-renowned.

The park was turning a profit by its second year of operation, and new rides were planned.

All of Disneyland is constructed at 4/8 scale.

Disneyland is home to more than 40 rides and attractions.

More than 400 items are collected by Lost and Found each day.

On an average day, park guests generate more than 30 tons of trash.

Disneyland recycles 4 million pounds of cardboard, paper, and other materials annually.

Over 4 million burgers, 3 million fry orders, 1 million gallons of soda are served each year.

Sleeping Beauty Castle stands only 77 feet tall but looks larger due to forced perspective scaling architecture.

The castle is trimmed in 22 karat gold leaf to ensure it glitters even on cloudy days.

Steve Martin used to work in the Magic Shop in Disneyland.

Disneyland’s address is 1313 Harbor Boulevard.

  • M is the 13th letter of the alphabet, making the address MM for Mickey Mouse.
  • If you turn the address sideways it looks like 2 sets of mouse ears.

SILENCE YOUR CELL PHONES PLEASE

When I went to the movies this weekend to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I was wondering how much they must have spent to make the movie.  Between paying the actors and all the special effects, it is amazing how much money must be spent.  I thought I might look at some of the successful movies made over the years:  (numbers are based on box office sales only)

THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIES EVER MADE

05-25-2007  Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End  Budget  with a budget of $300,000,000 this movie grossed $960,996,492

11-24-2010 Tangled Budget  with a budget of $260,000,000 it grossed $586,581,936

05-04-2007  Spiderman 3  with a budget of $258,000,000 it grossed $890,875,303

07-15-2009 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince  with a budget of $250,000,000 it grossed $933,959,197

12-18-2009  Avatar  with a budget of $237,000,000 it grossed $2,783,918,982

06-28-2006  Superman Returns  with a budget of $232,000,000 it grossed $390,874,000

TOP BOX OFFICE HITS

12-18-2009  Avatar  Budget $237,000,000 – Gross $2,783,918,982 – Profit $1,154,959,491

12-19-1997  Titanic Budget $200,000,000 – Gross $1,842,879,955 – Profit $721,439,978

12-17-2003  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Budget $94,000,000 – Gross $1,119,027,325 – Profit $465,523,663

06-11-1993  Jurassic Park Budget $63,000,000 – Gross $923,067,947 – Profit $398,533,974

05-19-2004  Shrek 2 Budget $70,000,000 – Gross $919,838,758 – Profit $389,919,379

SMALLER BIG PROFIT MOVIES

Movies that didn’t see huge gross sales, but the return on investment was huge.

09-25-2009  Paranormal Activity  Budget $15,000  Gross $196,681,656

03-21-1980  Mad Max  Budget $200,000  Gross $99,750,000

05-07-2004  Super Size Me  $65,000  $29,529,368

07-14-1999  The Blair Witch Project  $600,000  Gross $248,300,000

10-01-1968  Night of the Living Dead  Budget $114,000  Gross $30,000,000

WHAT ABOUT THE LOOSERS…..

03-11-2011  Mars Needs Moms  Budget $150,000,000  Gross $39,549,758  Loss -$130,225,121

06-17-2011  Green Lantern  Budget $200,000,000  Gross $139,883,956  Loss -$130,058,022

04-27-2001  Town & Country  Budget $105,000,000  Gross $10,364,769  Loss -$99,817,616

12-17-2010  How Do you Know?  Budget $120,000,000  Gross $48,668,307  Loss -$95,665,847

06-24-2011  Cars 2  Budget $200,000,000  Gross $215,829,515  Loss -$92,090,243

06-22-2007  Evan Almighty  Budget $175,000,000  Gross $173,219,280  Loss -$88,390,360

As you can see….making movies is very big business, when the movie is a hit there is a lot of money to be made.  It is amazing that Paranormal Activity was filmed with a $15,000 budget after seeing the budget of the rest of the movies.  Next time you go to a movie, I wonder what the movies budget will be and what kind of profit it will make????

HOW MUCH CAN I BORROW?

In today’s market it is important to have good preparation of all aspects of buying a home.  Understanding some simple terms and what they mean to you, and the seller when you are purchasing a home is very important.

You need to know the difference in being pre-qualified for a mortgage and being pre-approved for a home loan.  Misusing these terms can mean acceptance or denial of an offer.

Pre-Qualified
Getting pre-qualified is the initial step  in the mortgage process, and it’s generally fairly simple. You supply a bank or  lender with your overall financial picture, including your debt, income and assets.   After evaluating this information, a lender can give you an idea of the mortgage  amount for which you qualify. Pre-qualification can be done over the phone or on  the internet, and there is usually no cost involved. Loan pre-qualification does not include an analysis of your credit report or an in-depth look at your ability to purchase a  home.

The initial pre-qualification step allows you to  discuss any goals or needs you may have regarding your mortgage with your  lender. At this point, a lender can explain your various mortgage options and  recommend the type that might be best suited to your situation.

Because it’s a quick  procedure, and based only on the information you provide to the lender, your  pre-qualified amount is not a sure thing; it’s just the amount for which you  might expect to be approved. For this reason, a pre-qualified buyer doesn’t  carry the same weight as a pre-approved buyer who has been more thoroughly  investigated.

Pre-Approved
Getting pre-approved is the next step, and  it tends to be much more involved. You’ll complete an official mortgage  application, and then supply the lender  with the necessary documentation to perform an extensive check on your financial background and current credit rating.  From this,  the lender can tell you the specific mortgage amount for which you are approved.  You’ll also have a better idea of the  interest rate you will be charged on the loan and, in some cases, you might be  able to lock-in a specific rate.  With  pre-approval, you will receive a conditional commitment in writing for an exact  loan amount, allowing you to look for a home at or below that price level.  Obviously, this puts you at an advantage when dealing with a potential seller,  as he or she will know you’re one step closer to obtaining an actual mortgage.

The other advantage of completing both of these steps –  pre-qualification and pre-approval – before you start to look for a  home is that you’ll know in advance how much you can afford. This way, you don’t  waste time with guessing or looking at properties that are beyond your means.  Getting pre-approved for a mortgage also enables you to move quickly when you  find the perfect place. When you make an offer, it won’t be contingent on  obtaining financing, which can save you valuable time. In a competitive market,  this lets the seller know that your offer is serious – and could prevent you  from losing out to another potential buyer who already has financing arranged.

Last Word

If you are interested in purchasing a new home, I can help you find a mortgage lender to help you get Pre-qualified and Pre-approved so you know exactly how much you can borrow!

IS THERE REALLY MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT?

When my children help me load the dishwasher I always find myself re-arranging the dishes they put in…..Did they see where the cups go when they took the clean dishes out?  Do they put them in the “wrong” spot so I won’t ask them to load it again?  Is there way right or is my way right?

Every time I go to someones home for dinner, I see a different way to load the dishes…..Is there a wrong way and a right way, or is there really more than one way to skin a cat?

I decided to do a little reasearch and I found that as long as you follow a few simple rules, it is OK if the arrangement varies.

  1. Everything loaded in the dishwasher should always face the middle because most dishwashers have the water spray from the center out.
  2. Never cover the soap dispenser door… avoid blocking this area to ensure the soap will be dispersed correctly.
  3. Load large items at the sides and back of the dishwasher.
  4. The top rack is best for glasses, mugs, cups, small bowls, plastic and delicate items that are more fragile but dishwasher safe.  Glasses should be placed upside down in between the tines, not over them.  (They’re less secure when placed over the tines, increasing the risk of damage….plus, the tines can cause food and water to get trapped inside.  Place any utensils that will not fit properly in the silverware basket on the floor of the top rack.
  5. The bottom rack is best for pans, baking dishes, oversize bowls, and plates.  All items should face down and toward the center sprayer.
  6. Load silverware with handles down (sharp knives can be loaded with handles to avoid injury)  Be sure to mix spoons, forks, and knives to prevent them from sticking together.

10 WAYS TO GUARANTEE A MOSQUITO BITE

It has been around 100 degrees lately and the nights have been beautiful.  I was outside one night this last week and now I am itching like crazy from all the mosquito bites.  I’m sure I am not alone when I say “I hate mosquitoes!”

Ever wonder why Mosquitoes bite?  Only female mosquitoes bite humans and animals, males feed on flower nectar.  Female mosquitoes need protein for their eggs, and must have blood in order to reproduce.  Since males don’t bear children, they prefer nectar.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?  First mosquitoes don’t bite at all….The mosquito pierces the upper layer of the skin with her proboscis, a straw-like mouthpart that allows her to drink fluids.  Once the proboscis breaks through the epidermis, the mosquito uses it to search for a blood vessel in the dermal layer underneath.  When she locates a vessel, the mosquito releases some of her saliva into the wound.  Mosquito saliva contains an anti-coagulant that keeps your blood flowing until she is finished with her meal.

Your immune system realizes something is going on, and histamine is produced to combat the foreign substance. The histamine reaches the area under attack, causing blood vessels there to swell.  It’s the action of the histamine that causes the red bump, called a wheal.  When the blood vessels expand, nerves in the area become irritated by the swelling.  This irritation is the itchy sensation that annoys us.

WHY AM I A MOSQUITO MAGNET?

Why do some people get bite while others can sit outside all evening without a single bite?

Some people give off the right combination of sight and smell….

10 things you can do to guarantee a mosquito bite:

1. Keep breathing: Mosquitoes detect carbon dioxide in the air, so the more you breathe, the more likely you are to become a blood meal. Carbon dioxide clues the mosquitoes in to the presence of a living, breathing, blood-pumping animal nearby. Once they sense it, mosquitoes usually fly in a  zigzag pattern through the CO2 plume until they locate the source.

2. Run around: Mosquitoes first locate potential victims using their sight, and anything moving will be deemed worthy of a second look. Go outside and flag them down by taking a job, moving around or jumping up and down.

3. Skip the shower:  That’s right, the more you stink, the easier it is for a blood-seeking mosquito to find you.  Drop the deodorant and skip the soap because mosquitoes love B.O.

4. Wear perfume or cologne:  In contrast to B.O, mosquitoes also like strong floral sense.  Bathe yourself in the strongest perfume money can buy.

5. Sweat a lot:  Perspiration is the perfect combination of mosquito attractants – moisture and odors. Head outdoors on a hot, sticky summer evening, and work up a sweat. The mosquitoes will thank you.

6. Stay warm:  Think of mosquitoes as heat-seeking missiles. The warmer you are, the quicker they’ll find you. Though mosquitoes can’t sense your body heat from a distance, once they get within a few yards, your warmth will lure them in.

7. Dress in dark colors:  Research shows that mosquitoes respond best to dark colors, especially blue. Put away your light color shorts and white shirt; instead, try your jeans and a black t-shirt.

8. Use alpha hydroxy products on your skin:  Lactic acid, which our bodies produce naturally, is a big draw for mosquitoes. It just so happens that many skin care products contain lactic acid, too, and so might help boost your chemistry with these blood-seeking bugs. Look for lotions and creams labeled “alpha hydroxy,” which provide the most lactic acid.

9. Don’t change your socks:  Yes, this is based on scientific research, mosquitoes love smelly feet.  The smell of a 3-day old sock was irresistible to mosquitoes.

10. Drink beer:  Studies show people who’ve had a few beers score the most mosquito bites at the barbecue.

-Mosquitoes fly at speeds between 1 and 1.5 miles per hour…slower than butterflies, bees and other insects.

-A mosquito’s wings beat 300-600 times per second.

-Mosquito mates synchronize their wing beats to perform a lover’s duet.

-Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on Earth, because they carry many deadly diseases.

-All mosquitoes require water to breed.  Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in the smallest amount of water.

-An adult mosquito may live 5-6 months.

-Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from 75 feet away.

-Mosquito repellant does not repel….. it hides your sent from mosquitoes.

YOU THINK YOU KNOW SOMEONE?

As a little girl I had my collection of Barbie dolls, her closet full of clothes, and her awesome pink car.  Barbie had everything a little kid could think of… a dream house, a motor home, beauty salon, a mini mart, horse stables, etc.  I only recently found out that Barbie has a real name, parents, and a story.  It made me wonder, after all these years what else didn’t I know about my friend Barbie?

HER STORY

In 1959 George and Margaret Roberts gave birth the Barbara Mllicent Roberts who was later nick named Barbie.  They were from a fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin and Barbie went to Willow High School.  Barbie has five sister and a brother Skipper (1964), Twins Totti & Todd (1965), Stacie (1992), Kelly (1995) and Krissy (1995).  Altlhough through the years Barbie had many pets, her first pet was a horse named Dancer.  Barbie’s fell in love with Ken Carson who was born in 1961.  Barbie and Ken split in February of 2004, but the couple decided to reunite in February 2006.

HER HISTORY

Barbie was created by Ruth Handler and her husband Elliot Handler co-founder of Mattel Toys.  Ruth named her after her daughter Barbara Handler.  Barbie’s middle and last names were added later after sales skyrocketed and the doll’s history was questions.  Ken was named after Ruth and Elliot’s son.

Barbie was first introduced at a New York Toy Fair in 1959.  The first ever Barbie had a blond ponytail, eye-popping black and white bathing suit, stylish open toed shoes, dark eye makeup, and golden hoop earings.  During this time a gallon of gas was 25 cents, the average annual wage was $5,000 and the first Barbie sold for $3.00.  In the first year over 300,000 Barbie dolls were sold.

THROUGH THE YEARS

Over the years Barbie has changed with the times.  Her fashion, occupations, and ethnicity has been very obvious over the years but even her face and body has changed.

The original Barbie had high arch eyebrows and eyes that looked to the side.  The doll wore a swim suit and came as a blonde or brunette.

Throughout the 60’s Barbie’s eye makeup became softer and she had less of an eyebrow arch.   She had many different hairstyles from a bouffant bubble cut, to a bob.  In 1967 Barbie became a little mobile and was given a new Twist ‘N Turn body.

In the 70’s Barbie’s received a new face sculpt including the addition of forward facing eyes and an open smile with pearly white teeth.  Her hair became more long and loose and she was given a suntan.

In the 80’s the first African-American and Hispanic Barbie’s were introduced.  Instead of changing her face, the biggest change with Barbie was her bold and excessive wardrobe.  With shoulder pads, scrunchies, big belts and leggings with many neon colors.

In the 90’s it was all about the hair, teased bangs and perms.  Totally Hair Barbie was the best-selling Barbie doll to date.

In 2000 Barbie got another new body makeover featuring a more athletic physique, and her first belly button.  She toned down the glam with a more natural looking makeup and now has two-toned blonde hair.

FUN FACTS

Barbie has had over 43 pets including 21 dogs, 12 horses, 3 ponies, 6 cats, a parrot, a chimpanzee, a panda, a lion cub, a giraffe, and a zebra.

Barbie has over 1 billion paris of shoes.

Each year Barbie receives over a hundred new additions to her wardrobe.

Barbie’s first job was a fashion designer, she has since had over 100 different careers.

Barbie has modeled many wedding dresses but has never been married, she has also never been pregnant.

Barbie’s BFF since 1963 is Midge.  Barbie was the made of honor in Midge’s wedding to Alan in 1991

 

HOW MUCH IS A PINCH AND WHAT IS A DASH ?

My Grandmother was an amazing cook and it was always fun to watch her in the kitchen.  She never used a recipe, she would just through ingredients in and the results would be delicious.  I, on the other hand, can follow directions to the letter and it would never come out as good.

I would often call her for cooking advice, and I can remember how frustrated I would get trying to figure out what she was saying.  She should tell me to “put in some sugar,” or “add some salt.”  I would always say “how much should I put in” and her response would be “you will know……just a pinch.”  BUT I NEVER KNEW!

I found a conversion chart saw that a pinch and a dash is an actual measurement…..who knew?

UNUSUAL CONVERSIONS

  • a Hint = 1/2 drop
  • a Drop = 1/64 tsp (1/2 smidgen)
  • a Smidgen = 1/32 tsp (1/2 pinch)
  • a Pinch = 1/16 tsp (1/2 dash)
  • a Dash = 1/8 tsp (1/2 tad)
  • a Tad = 1/4 tsp
  • Juice of an orange = 1/2 cup
  • juice of a lemon = 3 Tbls

STANDARD CONVERSIONS

  • 3 tsp. = 1 Tbsp.
  • 4 Tbsp. = 1/4 cup
  • 16 Tbsp. = 1 cup
  • 1 cup = 8 fl oz
  • 2 cups = 1 pint
  • 2 pints = 1 quart
  • 4 quarts = 1 gallon

ABBREVIATIONS

  • tsp = teaspoon
  • Tbsp = tablespoon
  • c = cup
  • pt = pint
  • qt = quart
  • gal = gallon
  • lb = pound
  • oz = ounce
  • fl = fluid
  • lg = large
  • sm = small
  • pkg = package

SUBSTITUTIONS

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch = 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter = 7/8 cup oil + 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar = 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar = 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 clove garlic = 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice = 1/2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 cup oil = 1/2 lb butter

HAPPY COOKING

WHAT’S IN A WORD – FUNNY TRANSLATIONS

After my last post I decided to look a little deeper into the meaning of some real estate terms often used.  Sometimes things are very accurate, but sometimes things are not always what they seem…….

  • Corner lot – noisy intersection of two busy streets
  • Will help finance – owner knows they’re asking too much
  • Cathedral ceilings – a bear to heat
  • Well below market – nobody else wants it
  • Great starter home – standing room only
  • Easy freeway access – noisy freeway traffic day and night
  • Low maintenance lot – no yard; the kids will have to play in the street
  • Meticulously maintained in the original condition – the appliances are 50 years old
  • Ready to remodel – the house is about to collapse; you will have to invest twice the asking price in remodel before you can move in
  • Newly remodeled kitchen – 50-year old cabinetry and faucets have been replaced with cheap modern equivalents
  • Ready to move in – the interior has been painted with one coat of cheap paint
  • Desirable neighborhood – this little house is extravagantly overpriced because the neighborhood has a snobbish reputation
  • 1 car garage – you can drive your Ford Escort into the garage but there is no room to open the door
  • Partial mountain view – you can see the tip of Mt. Diablo if you climb on the roof
  • Territorial view – good view of your neighbor’s bedroom window
  • Build sweat equity – the house is not inhabitable
  • Efficiently designed kitchen – the kitchen is too small to fit two people at the same time
  • Doll-house – tiny place filled with ugly knick-knacks.
  • Secure location – the neighbors dog barks all night
  • Country living – too far from anywhere to drive to work
  • Cozy – not a single room could fit a full size bed
  • Close to all amenities – the backyard is a shopping mall parking lot
  • Must see inside – the outside is ugly
  • Motivated sellers – subtract 15% from the asking price
  • Near transportation – Amtrak train goes through the backyard, every 15 minutes, day and night
  • Just available – previous owner just died on the premises, hope you don’t believe in ghosts

How will you find a creative way to describe the flaws in your home when you plan to sell?

FOUND YOUR DREAM HOME…..OR NOT ? ? ?

When you bought or sold your home what did the Realtor description say about the house????  I love that every home ever sold always has a positive description, only to find out that the home is nothing like advertised.  I know that most homes have something good at one time or can be good, but most of the time that is not what is reflected in the description:

Custom designed 3 bedroom 2 bath home in a great location.  Many unique features that are one of a kind.  You won’t find another home like this, so act fast before it is gone.  Priced to sell this home is a must see and is move in ready.

Sounds like it might be the home for you right?…..Well maybe it is.  Or maybe it might be one of the homes below….they are totally fun but I don’t know if they are my dream homes.  OK I will admit it I would totally live in one of these homes.  lol

IS REFINANCING A GOOD OPTION FOR ME?

Despite all the doom-and-gloom reporting, not every homeowner in the U.S. has negative equity right now. And with interest rates still hovering near record lows, those with equity are likely asking themselves whether it’s a good time to refinance. Well, is it? Let’s take a look:

Average interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.51% a week ago (according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest survey), the lowest level since last fall.

The average outstanding home loan carries an interest rate of about 6% (Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft told The New York Times last week).

So if you took advantage of low rates last fall or in 2009, you probably won’t see much savings by refinancing now. But if you haven’t yet refinanced since 2008, you might want to check in and see what kind of savings refinancing might afford you.

Cashing out: What’s enough equity?

Refinancing used to almost always mean the owner was taking some cash out in the process. That’s because values had climbed pretty steadily (and steeply in many areas) for several years in a row – so most homeowners could afford to cash out to maybe send their kid to college, work on a new addition to the house or remodel. But today, the story is much different.

Even if you have equity, it may not have climbed enough for cashing out to make sense. In fact, the NYT reports that some owners are even putting cash in to up the equity on their homes.

So what’s enough equity by today’s standards? Times have changed and 20% is once again a magic number. Many lenders aren’t even going to allow you to cash out if it means dipping below that.

Refinance options for the equity starved….. OK, but what if  you have less than that? Can you still refinance to take advantage of low rates?

The good news is that there are some programs out there that may make this possible. If you have little or no equity, you can ask your lender about the Home Affordable Refinance Program. If you have an FHA loan, you can check out FHA Streamline Finance, which may make sense for you.

So even if your equity is pretty low, there are options. Point is, with rates this low, it’s a good time to sit down and discuss whether refinancing would improve your loan situation. We all know that rates are fleeting and what’s here today may be gone tomorrow.

As a Realtor we can help you find a lender that can help you make the best decision for you!

A HOME WITH A MYSTERY

The Winchester Mystery House covers 6 acres with 160 rooms, 40 bedrooms,  13 bathrooms,47 fireplaces, 6 kitchens, 40 staircases, 3 elevators, 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 52 skylights, 2 basements, and 1 shower.  This home has many things, but it has no reason for the way it was built.  It has been assembled, disassembled, and reassembled numerous times with no master plan or design.  Stairs lead to nowhere, floors have doors and windows in them, doors open into solid walls, and some doors open to nothing.  All of this because of Sarah Winchester’s obsession to keep the building continuously under construction for 38 years.

WHO IS SARA WINCHESTER:  Oliver Winchester was the co-owner of a successful shirt manufacturing business. In 1857, just before the U.S. Civil War broke out, Winchester took over the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. The company, which would later be renamed Winchester Repeating Arms Company, was responsible for revolutionary advances in rifle design. With repeating rifles, a soldier could fire several times without reloading, and sales of the weapons soon made Winchester both wealthy and famous. His son and heir, William Wirt Winchester, married Sarah Pardee in 1862.

Sarah gave birth in 1866 to the couple’s first and only child, Annie, who died before she was two weeks old. Annie’s death affected Sarah deeply, and for years she withdrew from the public and her family alike. In 1880 Oliver Winchester died, leaving his fortune to his son William. But the following year, William died of tuberculosis. This left Sarah the only heir to the Winchester fortune, an inheritance of US $20 million, plus nearly 50 percent ownership in the company, which paid her $1,000 per day.

The distraught Sarah visited a Boston psychic (a common practice at the time) who told her the deaths were revenge from the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles, and that Sarah could escape the spirits’ wrath by moving west and building a house that would never be finished.

THE HOUSE:  In 1884 Sara moved from New Haven, Connecticut to San Jose, California. She bought an unfinished, eight-room farmhouse near San Jose which is now known as the Winchester Mystery House. She soon started building 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next 38 years – and she never stopped.

Sarah spent over $5 million building and rebuilding the bizarre Winchester House, but it didn’t ensure her immortality. She died in her sleep on September 5, 1922 at the age of 82. Upon her death, construction stopped abruptly.

SUPERSTITIONS:  From moving because the psychic told her to, to her repeated use of the number 13, it is certain the Sara was superstitious.  There are 13 bathrooms; 13 palm trees line the driveway; most of the windows have 13 panes; a sink drain has 13 holes; a chandelier that originally had 12 lights was modified to have 13; and so on. It is also frequently said that she slept in a different bedroom every night.

In 1906, the Winchester house rose seven stories high.  When the great earthquake struck San Francisco, part of the Winchester house was damaged, including the bedroom in which Mrs. Winchester was sleeping that night. Although she was unharmed, she believed the spirits were trying to tell her something. As a result she had the front portion of the house blocked off, and continued construction elsewhere.

CONFUSE EVIL SPIRITS:  Sarah worked hard to discourage the ghost from following her around the house.  She made a labyrinth of rooms and hallways, suddenly she would push a button, a panel would fly back and she would step quickly from one apartment into another…unless the ghost was extra watchful and quick, it would loose her.  She would open a window an apartment, not to get fresh air, she would climb out onto the top of a flight of steps that took her down one story only to meet another flight that brought her right back up to the same level again….all inside the house.

Columns were installed upside down, stairs that lead to the ceiling, doors that go nowhere and that open onto walls, chimneys that stop just short of the roof, etc.

BEAUTIFUL HOME AND GROUNDS

DOOR THAT OPENS TO NOWHERESTAIRS THAT GO TO A WALL

TODAY:  After her death the house was turned into a  tourist attraction and was later declared a California Historical Landmark.  Today the home is still open daily for tours.

FREE SUMMER FAMILY FUN

The kids are out of school and the weather is heating up, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money to keep them entertained.  Try to look for ways to keep them active the “old school” way and also a few new ideas.  Below is a few of the activities that can help you save some money this summer. 

Free Behind The Scenes Tours:  What’s it like to work at a TV station? How does the mail get from point A to point B? Let the kids take a behind the scenes tour to find out. You can tour many places simply by asking. Be creative when choosing locations to visit. If your kids are interested in animals, tour a veterinary hospital. If they like baseball, set up a tour at your local stadium.  Get a group of kids and parents together and make your own free field trip.  (think:  movie theatres, restaurants, bowling alley, police stations, etc)

Free Building Workshops:  Some home improvement stores offer free building workshops that help kids build everything from a bird house to a miniature school house. Kids get free aprons, goggles and the required tools and supplies to build their own project with the help of the store’s employees.  The most popular kids workshops are through Home Depot and Lowe’s. Home Depot’s kids workshop is usually the first Saturday of the month and the Lowe’s Build and Grow clinics are usually every Saturday.

Go To A Free Movies:  Check your local movie theatres…Many movie theaters offer summer movie programs that are free (or maybe cost $1.00). The movies are often on weekday mornings, and typically are movies that are a bit older, perhaps last year’s hits. However, there are usually movies offered some days for small children, and other days for older children. Popcorn and soda may even be discounted during these special showings.  Not all theaters participate, but it’s definitely worth looking into in your area!

Rent A Free Movie:  Redbox is offering a free movie code on the first Monday of the month throughout the summer.  Regular price is just $1!

Vacation Bible School:  Churches hold Vacation Bible School as an outreach of their ministries.  Members of the church as well as non-members are invited for a free week of fun.  Kids sing songs, learn Bible lessons, make friends, create crafts, perform in skits and learn how to treat others, among other valuable lessons.  Each church has its own age guidelines but 3 and up usually benefit the most from Vacation Bible School.  The older kids can volunteer to help and still be a part of the fun.

Library Events:  The library is an excellent venue for story time. But did you know there are even more activities for kids at the library that won’t get them shushed? Most libraries offer free summer reading programs. Kids sign up to read a certain amount of books over the summer. The library than awards prizes and holds a party for the eager readers at the end of the reading program.  Check your local library for all the events they offer over the summer.

Free Arts and Crafts at Museums:  Introduce art appreciation at a young age. Museums are reaching out to future artists through free kids’ programs that encourage them to create their own works of art.  Story time ties book illustrations into the art you find in the museum. Kids enjoy craft time, paint, use clay and a variety of other mediums to enrich their art experience.  Check your local museums for more information.

Free Bowling:  Check your local bowling alleys…. most locations offer up to two free games of bowling every day of the summer.

Enjoy The Outdoors:  Go for a bike ride together, draw with sidewalk chalk, play in the garden hose, plant flowers, go fishing and take advantage of the beautiful weather. Kids love playing outside, and it can be fun for the whole family. Just make sure to use sunscreen, and take along some bug spray

Camp Out In Your Backyard:  Do you have a tent? Why not put it up in your backyard and go backyard camping one evening? Try building a fire in a fire pit and roasting marshmallows or making s’mores or grill hotdogs. If you feel like you don’t have the place in your own yard to do these things, consider asking a friend who may have a better area if you can use their yard to camp out. They may even want to join you, making the experience all the more fun.

Camping Fun:  Free family activities at Bass Pro Shop– On Saturdays and Sunday through July 5th, from Noon – 6 pm you and your family can enjoy their laser shooting gallery, shooting range, s’mores cookout, crafts, and more completely FREE!

State or Craft Fair:  Most fares are usually free and provide hours of entertainment.  Check your local State Fair or for and Arts and Craft Fair.

Be a Tourist In Your Own Town:  Check out local free attraction in your area and learn about your community.

Free Local Community Events:  Check your local paper or community calendar…Most communities offer free concerts and community events.

Get Wet:  Play with a garden hose, run through sprinklers, or get a squirt gun to cool off.

Window Shopping:  Go to a mall for some window shopping and free air conditioning.

Free Museums and Parks:

  1. Get free general admission to participating museums, zoos, science centers, botanical gardens and more on the first full weekend of every month just by presenting your Bank of America card.
  2. Target is sponsoring free museum admission and more this summer throughout the US
  3. Many National Parks offer fee-free weekends this summer to more than 100 National Parks that usually charge entrance fees.

Sports:  If you love baseball, but can’t afford the major league prices?  Find a minor league game.

A Day At The Park:  Make a local park passport and each day attend a different park.  Grade all the different parks and find a new favorite place to play.

Beach or Lake Fun:  Call up some friends or take the family to a local beach or lake for a free day of fun.

Hiking or Biking:  Most areas have local trails or green belts to explore.

Plan a Pot Luck BBQ or Pool Party:  Set a theme….Invite friends….Let each person bring a different food and drink for everyone to enjoy.

This summer try to keep the family busy and save money at the same time.  Try to find creative ways to make the ordinary free activities fun.

THE MOST EXPENSIVE HOME IN AMERICA

The construction of the White House started in 1792 and the total cost was $232,372.   According to Zillow.com even with todays declining market, the White House would sell today for $308,058,000.  Now that’s a great profit……in 219 years George Washington would have a $307,825,628 profit .  Now that was a great investment!

The White House has approximately 200 people work in the home each day and over 6,000 visitors a day walking thru making it the most popular home around.  The 6 levels, 132 rooms, 32 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 7 staircases and 3 elevators accommodates all the people who live in, work in and visit.  The home also has an indoor tennis court, a swimming pool, movie theater, running track, billiard room and a bowling lane.

Having a home that is 55,000 square feet on 18 acres of land would not be cheap to buy, and the cost to maintain the home would break the bank.  The annual budget for “the care, maintenance, repair and alteration,  refurnishing, improvement, heating, and lighting, including electric  power and fixtures, of the Executive Residence at the White House and  official entertainment expenses of the President,” runs about $9,260,000  or about $25,370 a day. The cost of lawn and garden care around the White House is included in the $5,427,000 a year spent to maintain the grounds of all the Capitol-area federal buildings.  In order to paint the entire outside surface of the White House, it would require over 570 gallons of paint.

George Washington never actually lived in the White House, though he oversaw its construction.  The first President to occupy the White House was President John Adams in 1800.  At various times in history, the White House has been known as the “President’s Palace,” the “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion.”President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.

HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE…OR WINTER SOLSTICE

June 21, 2011 is Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere….

the first  day of summer and the longest day of the year.

Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is  most inclined towards the sun.  The word “solstice” actually derives from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere  (to stand still).

While it is Summer Solstice today in the Northern Hemisphere, it is actually Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, where it is the shortest day of the year.  Because 90% of the human population lives in the Northern hemisphere and only 10% lives in the Southern hemisphere, most people are celebrating Summer Solstice today.

The Northern Hemisphere includes all of North America, the northern reaches of South America, about two-thirds of Africa, all of Asia excluding (parts of  Indonesia) and all of Europe.   The Southern Hemisphere includes most of South America, one-third of Africa, all of Antarctica, a small sliver of Asia (parts of  Indonesia) and all of Australia/Oceania.

Throughout time, the Summer Solstice has been celebrated by  different civilizations. The Celts and Slavs celebrated the first day of summer  by lighting bonfires to increase the sun’s energy. The Chinese mark the day by  honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light. The most enduring celebration of Summer Solstice ties in with the Druids, who celebrated the day  as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth.” To this day, many still believe that June  weddings are lucky. Perhaps, the largest modern day celebration for Summer Solstice occurs every summer in England. Thousands  gather every year to welcome the sun on Summer Solstice at  Stonehenge. Here in the United States, Santa Barbara in California celebrates Summer Solstice with a parade and festival.

HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE….AND WINTER SOLSTICE!

DON’T GET PUZZLED….IT’S JUST FOR FUN ! ! !

I remember when I was in school my teacher would give me puzzles to try to solve in between class work.  I had gotten pretty good at the puzzles back in school, but that was a long time ago.  Have some fun and see if you can figure out the meaning of each picture……….The first one is SEVEN SEAS.  Don’t scroll down until you have tried and are ready to see the answers.

HOW DID YOU DO?

1. seven seas
2. split level
3. forgive and forget
4. missing you
5. downtown
6. lucky break
7. he’s by himself
8. see through blouse
9. first aid
10. west indies
11. six feet below ground
12. backward glance
13. tricycle
14. reading between the lines
15. cross roads
16. three degrees below zero
17. neon lights
18. just between you and me
19. one in a million
20. broken promise
21. you are out of touch
22. life begins at forty
23. jack in a box
24. growing economy
25. up before eight
26. just around the corner
27. apple pie
28. making up for lost time
29. standing ovation
30. I understand you undertake to undermine my undertaking

IT’S YOUR DAY DAD

Although the idea of Mother’s Day was originated in 1907 and declared an official holiday in 1914, Father’s Day came about much later.

In 1909 Sonora Dodd from Spokan, Washington wanted a special day to honor her father.  Her father, William Smart, was a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise her and her siblings after his wife had died in childbirth with their sixth child.  Dodd thought he deserved a day as much as any mother and with the Mayor of Spokane’s help she had a Father’s Day celebration the following year.  The celebration was held in June because it was the month of William Smart’s birth.

The bill to officially recognize the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day was signed into law in 1972 by President Richard Nixon.  Congress apparently resisted efforts to recognize the day prior to 1972 for fear the holiday would be commercialized instead of simply recognizing the importance of parenting.

95 million Father’s Day cards are given out each year in the United States

Father’s Day is the fourth-largest card sending occasion

50% of the cards are purchased by son’s and daughters

20% of the cards are purchased by wives for their husbands

30% of the cards are purchased for grandfathers, sons, etc.

  • Father’s Day is celebrated at different times around the world.
  • In Australia, the first Sunday of September is observed as Father’s day
  • In Finland people celebrate the festival on the second Sunday of November.
  • In Thailand, December 5 is celebrated as Father’s Day.

MY GRANDPA

MY FATHER

THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN

THE LAWS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE HAVE CHANGED…I THINK

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE????  My third child is learning to read and I can’t help to realize how crazy our language is.  It is difficult to teach something that makes no sense and over the years it is getting harder and harder.  I can start with “I before E except after C” but then it all goes down hill.  Over the years a simple word like good has changed to neat – sweet – dope and sick.  With my children spread out every six years…..these are some of the changes the English language has had in my house over the years:

1997:    (we added words to a sentence to make it more great)  Things were like totally awesome.  She for sure was so ready to go cruising.

2003:   (we changed the meanings of the words)  Sue’s friend rocks and her outfit was phat.  Dawg the party was sick then we bounced to Joe’s to chill, it was tight.

2009:  (we try not to spell any words)  2day R kids look 4 ways 2 m8k shrt cuts.  2nite Sue gave 411 2 R BFF, s000 GR8.   B4N

I can’t blame our kids….I don’t understand why things are the way they are either.  Sometimes I think it might be easier to just invent a more understanding language.  Maybe it is just me but lets look at some of the problems with the English Language.

Words have different meanings:

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  13. They were too close to the door to close it.
  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

Words don’t mean what they say:

  1. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; no apple or pine in pineapple.
  2. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.
  3. Quicksand works slowly
  4. Boxing rings are square
  5. Guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig
  6. Writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
  7. If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth?
  8. One goose, two geese. So – one moose, two meese?
  9. If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
  10. If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
  11. Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
  12. Have noses that run and feet that smell?
  13. How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are the opposites?
  14. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple

Dreamt is the only English word that ends in the letters MT

The words racecar, kayak and level are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes)

A 12 letter word is the longest word typed with only the left hand – Stewardesses

A 9 letter word is the longest word typed with only the right hand – polyphony

The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing

The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet

There are only four words in the English language which end in ‘dous’: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous

Words in the English language that have all five vowels in order – abstemious, facetious, annelidous, and arsenious

Words in the English language that have all five vowels in reverse order – duoliteral, subcontinental, and uncomplimentary

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard

FLAG DAY

SORRY I MISSED FLAG DAY…….JUNE 14th…..BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!  I wanted to share the history of how Flag Day came to be.  One man’s idea and persistence made a difference……what is your idea?

In 1776 July Fourth was named the day to celebrate America’s Birthday, but the idea of celebrating the Flag began in 1885.

BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Frdonia, Wisonsin Public School to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as Flag Birthday.  In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.

On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, continued Cigrand’s plan by holding ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York.

On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.

On April 25, 1893 The Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America adopted a resolution requesting the Mayor of Philadelphia and all other in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th and the day be known as Flag Day.  Two weeks later a vote was held and it was a unanimous yes.

In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings. With BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the moving spirits, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, was organized for the purpose of promoting the holding of Flag Day exercises.

On June 14th, 1894, under the auspices of this association, the first general public school children’s celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks, with more than 300,000 children participating.

Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially
established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

CAN YOU GUESS THESE FLAGS OF THE WORLD?

WHERE’S THE RENT ? (landlord humor)

When writing a letter to anyone you should always check your spelling and sentence structure………..Below are a few funny letters written to Landlords that I thought you might like:

The toilet is blocked and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared.

This is to let you know that there is a smell coming from the man next door.

I request your permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

I want some repairs done to my stove as it has backfires and burnt my knob off.

I awoke this morning and found my water boiling.

I want to complain about the farmer across the road.  Every morning at 5:30 his cock wakes me up and it is getting old.

Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

The toilet seat is cracked:  where do I stand?

Could you please send someone to fix our bath tap.  My wife got her toe stuck in it and it is very uncomfortable for us.

Our kitchen floor is very damp, we have two children and would like a third, so will you please send someone to do something about it.

I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is running away from the wall.

Will you please send someone to mend our cracked sidewalk?  Yesterday my wife tripped on it and is now pregnant.

It’s the dogs mess that I find hard to swallow.

50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are plain filthy.

These are all in good fun…..I am a Landlord and I sure hope my tenants don’t think of me like this:

What do you have if you have a landlord buried up to his neck in wet cement?
Not enough cement.
How many landlords does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
One.  One landlord holds it and the whole world revolves around him.
What do UFO’s and honest landlords have in common?
You hear about them but you never see them.
How do you save a drowning landlord?
Take your foot off his head.
When landlords die, why do they bury them 600 feet underground?
Cause deep down they are really nice guys.

ARE OWLS ONLY AWAKE AT NIGHT ?

Every morning I drive my daughter to school and we see what looks like a small owl coming out of a hole in the ground.  Every morning we see the two owls and I say “It can’t be an owl the sun is out.”  I have always known that owls sleep during the day and live in trees.  My daughter keeps telling me it is an owl, but I keep telling her it can’t be….they look like an owl or bird, but come out of the ground like a gopher.  I finally figured it out and, yes I will say it…..My Daughter Was Right!

It is an Owl….A Burrowing Owl

I didn’t know that some owls don’t sleep during the day like I had always thought.  The burrowing owl are smaller with long legs and are found throughout open landscapes of North and South America.  They like dry open areas such as agricultural areas and deserts with low vegetation.  They roost in burrows like a prairie dog.  Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are active during the day although they tend to avoid the mid-day heat.  Most hunting is still done from dusk until dawn and like most owls they use their night vision and hearing to their advantage.

Since my 15 year old daughter knows more than me about owls, I was thinking that I would find some facts she might not know:

  1. An owl has three eyelids.  One for blinking, one for sleeping and one for keeping the eye clean and healthy.
  2. Owls eyes are supported by bony eye sockets and they cannot turn their eyes.  Instead owls rotate their heads up to 270 degrees.
  3. The Barn Owl can eat up to 1,000 mice each year.
  4. Not all owls hoot….owls make a wide range of sounds such as screeches, whistles, barks and hissing.
  5. During the nesting season, owl calls can be heard up to a mile away.
  6. A group of owls is called a parliament
  7. Baby owls are called owlets.
  8. Female owls are usually larger and heavier than the males of their species.
  9. Owls eyes are a little different from other animals.
  10. The owls ears are crooked…one is further forward and one higher than the other.  When the owl hears a sound they know what direction it is in by which ear hears it first.
  11. Owls have velvety thick and soft feathers that absorb sound.  The silent flight makes it easy for the owl to sneak up on its pray and allows the owl to keep hearing the prey in the dark.
  12. The tiniest owl is an Elf Owl.  Elf Owls are usually 5-6 inches tall and weighs about 1 1/2 ounces.

I hope I was able to teach my daughter, and maybe some of you, something previously unknown about Owls.

KNOW YOUR MARKET BEFORE YOU SELL

Want to know the best strategy for selling a house regardless of how the economy is doing?  Know your market.

Part of knowing your market is knowing where your market is – where it ends and begins, because your market is not your city, your state or your region. Your market is your neighborhood. It’s your school district. It’s even your street and block.

Real estate agents know this, of course. But homeowners also need to have a grasp on this. If you’re out there thinking of selling your house or thinking about the prospect of relocating later this year, next year or even the year after, you need to grasp what constitutes your market, what kinds of homes are in it and what other things affect its value like schools and crime.

How do you get to know your market?

Get local with news. Start doing web searches about the schools in your neighborhood and crime (if it exists). This will help you understand the desirability factor of your home’s location. Things change – just because your schools were the best in the state when you bought your home six years ago, doesn’t mean they are today.

Become a casual web surfer. Check out current for-sale listings for your neighborhood. Track any trends you see such as average time it takes to sell, price reductions, number of bank-owned homes for sale. This will help you to get a sense of how fast things are moving and what kind of supply and demand dynamic is happening near your home.

Take a leisurely stroll through some open houses next Sunday. Sure, you may aggravate the real estate agent who’s trying to get the house sold, but you’ll get a sense of what’s out there. What kinds of houses does your home compete against? What kinds of upgrades do they have that yours doesn’t? What price ranges are you seeing for homes similar to yours?

Whether you’re getting ready to sell soon or not, I think it’s important for all homeowners to really understand their home’s value in current conditions. As we’ve seen these last few years, times change and values are not always predictable.

Understanding your home’s value is key to getting your house sold. Staying on top of trends on your street is the only way to prepare yourself for pricing right.

SHOULD MEN HAVE BABIES?

It is interested to think about men getting pregnant and having children, while women stay by their side and support them.  How this impact everything we know now….. I think our world would be a lot less populated! 🙂

Seahorses have always been very interested to me…they are so different and look nothing like the “normal” fish we are used to seeing in the water.  Although I love the look of the seahorse, I recently found some interesting facts about this unusual fish.

The most interesting thing to me was the fact that the male seahorses give birth to the babies!  The male seahorse has a pouch just below his chest that he uses to carry his young.  During courtship, the female will lay between 5 to 2,000 eggs directly into the male seahorse’s pouch.  The male seahorse then fertilizes the eggs and nourishes them as they develop in his pouch.  The pregnancy lasts two to five weeks and his stomach becomes distended just like a pregnant woman until he gives birth the young.  Seahorses are monogamous and the appreciative female performs courtship dances daily to exhibit her loyalty.

The average seahorse lives up to four years, and they become able to reproduce at the age of six months.

35 different species of seahorses exist and they range in size from a quarter of an inch to over a foot long.

They come in many different colors, and can change color to match their surrounds.

They are found in warm shallow water in beds of sea grass.

Seahorses can look in two directions at once.  It uses its swivel eyes to watch its prey without moving.

Just like fish, the seahorse breathes through gills.

The seahorse has no teeth, it only eats live food and it swallows its food whole.   The main food for the seahorse is shrimp and other Crustaceans, and young seahorses can eat over three thousand brine shrimp a day.  They eat by a snatch-sucking movement of their snout.

Seahorses do not have a stomach; they eat constantly to help get enough food to digest.

BUY USED AND SAVE MONEY . . what will you find?

Over the years we have become a society that buys items, uses them for a while, and then gets ride of them or upgrades to the next big thing.  Today people are juggling purchasing wanted items with the need to cut back spending.

Some items are better used than new and you can save yourself some cash.  Most times we can buy better quality merchandise used than we could have afforded new.  Some items are not used often enough when purchased to affect the quality of the product.  You are not always able to find exactly what you are looking for when you buy used, but you may also find the unusual item that you will treasure.  Consider buying these items used and save yourself some hard-earned cash: 

FURNITURE:  Estate sales, garage sales, and second-hand stores are great places to pick up used furniture.  It may take you some time to find what you are looking for, but furniture is a huge expense and a place to save a lot of money.  I collect antiques and I purchased all of my “one of a kind, antique” bedroom furniture from second-hand stores.  The pieces don’t match, but they are all cherry wood and I love that they have a ton of detail, style, and character.  I could have never found anything like this new and the price didn’t break the bank.

DVD’s and VIDEO GAMES:  Many times when we buy a new DVD we watch once, maybe two or three times and then it sits in the cabinet with the other 100 DVD’s we have.  Now we use the $1.00 movie boxes to rent new movies, but sometimes we find one that we must have.  If you buy DVD’s used for your local video store, thrift store, or garage sale you can save 50-90%.  If you are worried about disc scratches, your local video store will give you a money back guarantee.  Most game stores will allow you to sell your old games to them allowing you to exchange games for little to no cost.

CLOTHES:  Most clothing items either go out of style, fall apart, or no longer fit, so why buy brand new?  Places like Plato’s closet and second-hand stores sell gently used, name brand clothes for a fraction of the price in the department stores.  It takes time to look through racks, but you never know what you might find.

TOOLS:  Good quality tools can last for many, many years.  Why buy something in the store for $50 when you can probably find it at a garage sale for less than $5.  Unless you use tools for your occupation, used tools are usually a reasonable and less expensive option.

BOOKS:  Buying books used from places like Amazon.com can save you over 75% even after you pay shipping.  Shopping at garage sales for books you may like is a cheap way to stock up without spending a ton of money. 

Cutting back and buying used can be done many different ways.  The above ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, so when you NEED something, try to find it used to help save your family some money. 

When you are shopping for great deals…..you never know what you might find…..

 WHAT WILL YOU FIND?

 

HOW MUCH WOULD YOU SPEND ON A FIXER-UPPER ….MILLIONS ???

When searching for the most expensive homes for sale in America, many different style homes come up.  If  you had the money….What would you buy for $100 Million?…. Would you spend $75 Million for a “fixer-upper” ?

 Spelling Manor
 594 S Mapleton Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90024
For Sale: $150 Million

The Spelling Manor is at the top of list and is said to be one of the most expensive home for sale in the U.S.  The current owner Candy Spelling (widow to late TV producer Aaron Spelling and mother to actress-turned-reality TV star Tori Spelling)  put the home up for sale last September.  The Spelling family purchased this home from the legendary entertainer Bing Crosby, and it is reported that Spelling is downsizing from “The Manor” to a two-story Los Angeles condo she purchased for $47 million last year.

The Manor is a French-chateau-style estate sits on 4.7 acres and illuminates luxury at every turn. Unique features of the three-story, 56,500-sq ft home include a 17,000-sq ft attic with a barbershop and salon, rooftop garden, two-lane bowling alley, service wing with staff quarters, China room, gift-wrapping room, and wine tasting room.

Tranquility
525 Highway 50, Zephyr Cove, NV 89449
For Sale: $100 Million

 The second most expensive home reported on the market is “Tranquility” located in the state of Nevada.  This home was originally listed in 2008. 

The 210-acre property is situated on its own private lake with a total of eight separate buildings including a 20,000-sq ft main residence. Also included on this rare piece of Zephyr Cove real estate is an art studio, boat house pavilion, gym with indoor basketball court, horse stable, two par-3 golf holes, and a 16-car garage. As if that wasn’t enough to explain the $100 million price tag, the prestigious property also comes fully furnished.

Versailles
6121 Kirkstone Lane, Windermere, FL 34786
For Sale: $100 million

 The gigantic Windermere, FL mansion, known as “Versailles,” is reported to be America’s “largest single family home under one roof.” The palace-like estate, architecturally inspired by the royal residence of Louis XIV.  The home was listed for sale May 2010 and although still under construction it is offered for $75 million as-is, or $100 million finished.

Situated on a 10-acre peninsula along the shoreline of Lake Butler, the 66,800-sq ft is blueprinted to include every thinkable amenity a homeowner could imagine.  The Versailles features 13 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, three pools, a baseball field, two tennis courts, grand hall, two grand staircases, two-story wine cellar, indoor roller rink, movie theater with a balcony, and his-and-her offices separated by a two-sided, 12-ft aquarium.

Frank Woolworth Estate
 4 E 80th St, New York, NY 10075
For sale: $90 Million

Retail magnate Frank W. Woolworth commissioned three townhouses to be built for each of his three daughters back in 1911. This one, designed by renowned architect Charles Pierpont Henry Gilbert, was completed in 1916 and is the biggest of the three. With a $90 million asking price, it became the priciest listing on the Manhattan real estate market when it was posted for sale this past March.

The 35-ft wide, 7-story home boasts 18,000-sq ft, and has 10 bedrooms, 11.5 bathrooms, three kitchens, a paneled library, elevator, 14-ft ceilings, private gym, and a formal dining room with seating for up to 50 guests.

WHEN YOUR READY TO BUY…….I AM READY TO HELP !

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH HAS BEEN?

As long ago as 3000 BC, people have been using anything from a twig, to feathers or bones to clean their teeth.  The bristle toothbrush, similar to the type we use today was invented in China in 1498 with bristles made of coarse hairs taken from the back of a hog’s neck and attached to a bamboo stick or bone.

William Addis of England is credited with creating the first mass-produced toothbrush in 1780.  In 1770 he had been placed in jail for causing a riot.  While in prison, he decided that the method for teeth brushing of the time (rubbing a rag on one’s teeth with soot and salt) could be improved.  He took a small animal bone, drilled small holes in it, obtained some bristles from a guard, passed the bristles through the holes on the bone and glued them.

Boar hair was not an ideal material because it retained bacteria, and didn’t dry well.  The Boar hair bristles were used until 1938, when nylon bristles were introduced by Dupont de Nemours.  The first nylon bristle toothbrush, made with nylon yarn, went for sale on February 24, 1938, and was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush.

In January 2003, the toothbrush was selected as the number one invention Americans could not live without, beating out cars, computers, mobile/cell phones and microwave ovens.

On average the Tooth Fairy is paying $2 per tooth according to Money Magazine

32% of Americans cite bad breath as the least attractive trait of their co-workers

The average American will spend 38.5 total days brushing their teeth over a lifetime

73% of Americans would rather go grocery shopping than floss

Dentist recommend that a toothbrush be kept at least six feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles released when flushing the toilet.

Adults with post-high-school degrees had an average of three more teeth than those without a high school diploma

Just like a fingerprint….everyone has a different tounge print

The most valuable tooth belonged to Sir Isaac Newton.  In 1816 one of his teeth sold in London for $3,633.00 (In today’s terms $25,700.00)  The tooth was set into a ring

You should replace your toothbrush often….to destroy built up bacteria, you can wash your toothbrush in the dishwasher.

MY KIDS MADE ME WHAT FOR MOTHERS DAY……

What a Mother’s Day!  I woke up and started getting things ready for breakfast.  All the kids came in with flowers and cards.  The card I got from my oldest daughter and son-in-law said Happy Mother’s Day Grandma………What?  They told me that the were going to be having a baby!  So exciting……even thought I feel like I am a little young to be a grandmother. 🙂

The rest of my cards were also great and my middle daughter and my son wrote me some pretty great notes.  My husband gave me five cards in one which was cool.  We ate breakfast and it was time for an activity…..

This year I wanted to have everyone do a “family project” together.  I love the time we all spend together doing family projects…and usually we end up with some pretty cool stuff  (although we have had times when we just made a mess.)

Since I don’t have any kind of green thumb, or own any live plants….I thought we could try to make a TERRARIUM.  Saturday I went to the store and found a couple great glass containers and bought the needed supplies.  (I wanted to make one for my mother and have my kids make one for me) 

The kids each took turns putting in a layer and then all worked together to put in the plants and creat a scene.  We had a lot of laughs and made a huge mess.

When we were all done……we did it!  It looked sooooooo cool!  Complete with people camping on the beach and a dear coming out of the “forest”.

If you are interested in making a Terrarium…. this is how we did ours:

  • layer 1…..Small rocks to cover the bottom
  • layer 2…..soak dried moss in water for one minute and cover rocks
  • layer 3…..cover dried moss with unfertilized soil
  • layer 4…..fresh moss on top and decorate with rocks, sand, and figurines

Place a lid on the container to seal the terrarium and lock in moisture. 

What would your terrarium look like?

THANKS FOR EVERYTHING MOM!!!  I LOVE YOU!

TEEN LOCATION VERIFICATION

I have three children and my husband and I spread our kids out six years apart.  I have been raising kids for many years and I have many more to go.  Over the years many things have changed, and I am sure that it will continue to change.

Let me first say that when my oldest daughter (now 22) was younger our town was so small that everyone knew everyone and if she was going to get into any trouble….I would find out about it.  We loved the small town family feel and raised our daughter to always “Make Good Decisions.”  A phrase I said every time she left the house.

With my middle daughter (now 16) I still always remind her and her friends to “Make Good Decisions.”  Our small town has grown a little over the years and instead of relying on the neighborhood to insure our kids safety…..I now use technology to help me do that.

I recently came up with LOCATION VERIFICATION (LV)….and now all of my daughters friends use it as well.

I used to call the parents of the home she is going over to confirm that the parents are home…..now she takes a picture with the parents and sends it to me.  When she goes to the movies with friends….she takes a picture of all them inside the theatre.  When she is at the mall…..she takes a picture in a store.

Throughout the day I can text her LV? and she sends me a picture.  This is a win, win, win…….my daughter loves to take pictures of herself, I love to see how creative she gets, and we can let her do more without having to worry.

Now her friends parents have caught on and their kids are taking LV pictures at my house.  Friends that had to be home by 10pm before now can stay later thanks to the added security we get with LV pictures.

My son is only 8 but he wants to play along also, we like to take silly LV pictures and send them to his sisters.  My Mother sends some to me, I send some to my kids…..we make it a fun game and I can see that my daughter is safe.

The next time your child wants to go over a friend’s house or you want to make sure they are at the beach, ask for a LV and have them give you a LOCATION VERIFICATION.

LV?

CINCO DE MAYO

The fifth of May (Cinco de Mayo in Spanish) is a national holiday in Mexico, although the day is celebrated on a larger scale in the U.S.  This day is often confused with Mexican Independence Day which is celebrated on September 16th.  Cinco de Mayo is actually the anniversary of the battle of Pueblo that took place between the Mexicans and the French on May 5, 1862.   

It all started with a credit default in 1861, and after years of struggle Mexico was bankrupt.  That year, President Benito Juarez “issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for a brief period of two years, with the promise that after this period, payments would resume.”  The French, weren’t interested in waiting around, so they invaded Mexico to retrieve their payments and tried to take over the country. 

The Battle of Puebla was a victory of a small Mexican Army (led by Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza) of 4,500 soldiers over the French invasion of a well-armed, professional army (led by Napoleon III) of 8,000 soldiers.  The battle lasted for 4 hours and marked a turning point in Mexican national pride. 

Although the battle of Puebla slowed the French, they returned with 30,000 troops the following year and captured Puebla.  The victory of Puebla amounted to little from a military sense, it nevertheless meant a great deal to Mexico in terms of pride and hope.

The Mexican community celebrates more than 365 festivals each year.  Cinco de Mayo is only one of them.

The Cinco de Mayo celebration started in the US in the year 1967 when a group of California State University students decided to hold the first Cinco de Mayo commemoration in the United States.  They did this because they felt there was no Chicano holiday and therefore thought of starting this tradition.  They wanted something to recapture their history and decided that the Battle of Puebla was symbolic. This helped them to connect it to their struggle for the formation of a Chicano Studies program at the university.

The largest Cinco de Mayo event in the world is held in Los Angeles, CA where more than 600,000 people celebrate.  Denver, Colorado and St Paul’s, Minnesota also draw hundreds of thousands of participants to their celebration.

The Mexican flag is green, white and red. The traditional meaning of the colors is thought to be that green stands for hope and the independence movement; white for purity and religion and red for Spain and union. The emblem in the middle consists of an eagle and a snake, based on an Aztec legend.

Margaritas have always been the unofficial drink of Cinco de Mayo, but they didn’t even exist until 1930….maybe another day to celebrate?

GARDEN TIPS AND FUN FACTS

March 20th was the first day of Spring and at my house it was heavily raining and it felt more like the middle of Winter.  The sun has now arrived and it is starting to feel more like Spring.  With the sun arriving, it is important to remember to care for our lawns, gardens, plants, etc. 

With more families planting gardens to save money at the grocery store I thought I would share some fun trick and facts about gardening:

  • Check with your local nursery for discarded planting trays, used disposable pots, etc.  You can recycle them and use them in your own garden.
  • When you buy produce in little baskets (like berries, cherry tomatoes, etc.), save the baskets & use them for organizing around the house or garden, or even for seed starting planters.
  • Use small laundry baskets for harvesting your produce. Poke a few small drain holes in the bottom of the basket, and you can hose off the produce outside. Let them drain in the baskets, and save yourself from having to do the clean-up in the kitchen!
  • Have plants that need extra irrigation?  Save your milk cartons.  Poke drainage holes in it, and bury it near a plant (or between plants) that need extra watering.  When making your watering rounds, fill the container with water.  Water then slowly leaks out directly into the soil at the level of the roots.  Using this method, you don’t lose so much water to evaporation, as if you were watering on the ground surface level.
  • Keep your melons from rotting as they ripen by placing a flat stone (or concrete) beneath the fruit.
  • Save that old empty parmesan cheese shaker – and fill it with a mixture of fine seeds and sand.  Then simply shake to spread the seeds as you’re planting.
  • When should you transplant trees and shrubs?  Any month that has a “R” in it….September, October, November, December, January, February, March and April.  Never May, June, July or August.
  • When your hands are badly stained from gardening, add a teaspoon of sugar to the soapy water the wash them.
  • Plant a few sprigs of dill near your tomato plants to prevent tomato worms on your plants.
  • Onions, apples and potatoes all have the same taste.  The difference in flavor is caused by their smell.  Pinch your nose and try it – they will all taste sweet.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower are the only vegetables that are also flowers.

FRUIT OR VEGETABLE?

A VEGETABLE is an edible part of a plant……The root (beet), the leaf (spinach), or the flower (broccoli)

A FRUIT is the edible ripened ovary of a seed-bearing plant

Sometimes your produce might be a fruit AND a vegetable…..for example, a tomato and a watermelon are both edible parts of a plant and they are also a ripened ovaries which contains seeds. Therefore they are a fruit AND a vegetable.

Tomatoes are the world’s most popular produce, more than 60 million tons are produced every year, more than banana’s.  There are at least 10,000 varieties of tomatoes, from small cherry ones to Ponderosa (which can weigh over three pounds)

Watermelons are very healthy, contain no fat or cholesterol and are high in fiber content, potassium and vitamins A and C.  The world record-holding watermelon was more than 260 lbs.

BATHROOM TIPS (PART 1)

UNCOMMON USES FOR COMMON BATHROOM ITEMS.

FOGLESS BATHROOM MIRROR:  If you would like to see your reflection in the mirror after a shower to shave or do your hair try this tip next time.  Before you get into the shower coat the mirror with non-gel toothpaste and wipe it off with a soft cloth.  When you get out of the shower the mirror will be clear.

SINK CLEANER:  While you are at it….the same tube of non-gel toothpaste, can clean your sink.  Rub the toothpaste on a sponge, scrub sink, rinse and the sink will be shiny and clean.  The toothpaste will also kill any odor coming from the drain pipe.

TOILET BOWL CLEANER:  Drop a few Alka Seltzer tablets into the toilet, wait for 25 minutes and with a few swipes of you toilet bowl brush you will have a sparkling clean toilet bowl.  Plop, plop, fizz, fizz oh what a relief it is!

JEWELRY CLEANER:  While you are at it….. put an Alka Seltzer tablet in a glass of water and place dirty jewelry in the cup.  After about 10 minutes remove the jewelry, scrub with an old toothbrush, rinse and wear.

PAINLESS BANDAGE REMOVAL:  Apply baby oil to the edges of a bandage before pulling it off.  You will avoid pain and hair removal.

PICTURES STUCK TOGETHER?:  Unstick a photograph by sliding a length of dental floss under the corner of a photo that’s stuck to an album page or another snapshot. Work the floss between the two surfaces to separate them without damaging the picture.

BATHROOM FUN FACTS:

Americans use 433 million miles of toilet paper a year. (enough to stretch to the sun and back)

The average home sink has 100,000 germs per square inch and the average home toilet seat only has 100 germs per square inch.

Paper towels decrease hand bacteria by 29 percent, a hand dryer increases it by 162 percent.

The first toilet cubicle in a row in the least used and usually the cleanest.

WHY REAL ESTATE INVESTING MAKES MORE SENSE THAN EVER

Statistics show that investing in real estate and owning rental property is still one of the best ways to invest, even in our current market conditions.  The fact is now is the best time to purchase investment property for most people.

 Having investment property is not for everyone…….It could be labor intensive, and it’s not very liquid.  Holding onto the property will most likely give you greater return.  This is why you are more likely to “make” more money purchasing investment property than you may be able to “make” in other investment vehicles.

During the current market conditions, most homes have dropped in value.  In California we have many people loosing their homes and moving into rentals.  With the increase of these, home sales have dropped and our rental market is high.  investors can take advantage of this and put extra cash in their pocket.

Lets look at an example of a home currently on the market.  I found a home for $150,000 it is a 3 Bedroom + loft/office, 2 1/2 Bathroom, 1595sqft, 2 car garage, close to schools and shopping, move-in ready home in a nice neighborhood.  This would be a perfect investment home.

  • $160,000 purchase price (including closing costs, negotiated price and closing costs – estimated)
  • $30,000 down payment (may be less than 20% depending on the type of loan)
  • $1,300.00 a month estimated mortgage, taxes & insurance (depends on loan and interest rate)
  • $1,600.00 a month is the amount this home can currently be rented
  • $300.00 profit each month 

With these numbers it will take you 100 months to make back your down payment, but don’t forget the other values owning rental property brings.  Each year you own the home you will receive an extra income tax deduction.  The hope is that you can make just a little money each month and hold onto the home until the market values go up and you can sell the home for a much larger profit.  A few years ago investors would purchase investment property and have a negative cash flow each month, that is not usually the case today.

These are rough numbers and every situation is different.  It is important that you talk to a Realtor to see what your numbers might look like.

EMAIL ME TODAY TO LOOK AT YOUR SITUATION AND SEE IF BUYING AN INVESTMENT HOME IS A SMART DECISION FOR YOU!

IS YOUR CAR DRIVING YOU INTO DEBT ?

After a post I did a few weeks ago ARE YOU 70% OF AMERICA? detailing that 70% of America live paycheck to paycheck.  I was wondering how prepared people are for unexpected expenses.  A major expense that can really hurt a household is automotive repairs.  My husband is a mechanic and he is always approached by friends and neighbors looking for car advice.

When the “Check Engine” light comes on in your car, it can be very scary.  When that little light comes on it can be something simple or a repair that can cost you over thousands of dollars.  The questions is…..How do you know what the light means?  Just taking the car into the shop to find out what the light means can cost a pretty penny.

THINK FREE!  Before you take your car into your local dealer to find out what to do with the “Check Engine” light, consider all your options.  Your local parts store such as Autozone or Kragen often offer a free diagnostic check of your vehicle.  The systems from the local parts store may not have as significant equipment as your car dealer, but they can usually help determine what is wrong with the car.  This free option is definitely worth a try and a great way to start.    

Once you know what is wrong with your car, consider taking it to a smaller local mechanic instead of a large dealership.  Use the information provided by the free diagnostic center to contact local mechanics and ask how much they charge to repair the problem.  Let them know that you are calling around for estimates because some shops may do the work at a reduced rate just to get your business.

In some cases you may be able to save money buying the parts yourself.  Some shops may charge an hourly rate and mark up the parts as well to make a little extra money.  If a local shop will charge you by the hour and you can purchase your parts from the local auto store or on-line, and pay the shop for only the hourly rate to fix the car.  Make sure to get an estimate of how long the job takes in advance. 

When possible, save money and purchase used parts.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to used new parts in most cases when repairing your car…..but sometimes you can cut corners.  If you need a new head light, door handle, bumper, or non-mechanic part consider a salvage yard or used part dealers. 

Some small jobs can be done at home.  Not everyone is handy with automotive repairs, and some vehicles have computers, hard to get to engines, or require special tools to fix most problems.  If you are a little handy and you know what is wrong with your car, sometimes you can look on-line and watch videos on youtube that will walk you through fixing your own car.  It is not recommended to have an unlicensed repair person fix safety elements of your vehicle such as brakes, steering, etc.  If you need to replace the spark plugs, look on-line to see if it is something you might be able to do yourself.

Don’t forget preventative maintenance!  To avoid often expensive trips to the mechanic, try to follow the scheduled maintenance plan that is suggested for your car as outlined in your owner’s manual.  preventative maintenance can save you money throughout the life of your car.

  • 1902 the first speeding ticket was issued.
  • 1916 55% of cars in the world were Model T Fords.
  • 1922 the first gas gauge appeared in cars
  • 1929 the first car radio was invented
  • 1938 Buick introduced the electric turn signal
  • 2002 SUV’s accounted for 30% of all cars sold

IS SAINT PATRICK’S DAY ALL WRONG ?

 Did you know that St. Patrick was not Irish…..blue was Patrick’s favorite color not green…..bacon and cabbage was served in Ireland not corned beef…..and bars are closed on St. Patrick’s Day.

How did we get the traditions we have today?

ST. PATRICK:  St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century.   At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate.  They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity.  During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.  After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped and traveled to Britain.  After a fifteen year religious training course he was ordained as a priest and sent to Ireland with a mission to convert Irish to Christianity.

Patrick was very successful at establishing monasteries and converting the Irish country to Christianity, but this upset the Cletic Druids.  Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time and continued his quest.  His mission continued in Ireland for thirty years until he retired, and then died on March 17 in AD 461.  Since his death, the day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since.

St. Patrick’s Day custom came to America in 1737  and was celebrated in Boston.  Today people celebrate with parades, wearing green, and drinking beer.  St. Patrick’s Day is popular also because it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring.  People say it has become the first green of spring.

BEING PINCHED:  People wear green to avoid being pinched.  It is thought that wearing green made you invisible to leprechaun’s and fairy creatures who would pinch anyone who they could see.  People began pinching those who didn’t wear green as a reminder that leprechaun’s would sneak up and pinch them.

GREEN:  The color of St. Patrick was not green…..it was blue.  In the 19th century green became used as a symbol of Ireland.  Ireland’s flag has green, the beautiful green landscape, and because the day is so close to spring, and the color of the shamrock, all contributed to the color changing to green.  People wear green to pay tribute to Ireland, bring in good luck, and avoid being pinched.

CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE:  Back in the day the Irish had lots of cheap pigs around and bacon and cabbage was the staple dish for most Irish rather than beef.  New York bars started offering a “free lunch” to the Irish construction workers who were building NYC (it was the cheapest meat, and cabbage was the cheapest vegetable.)  They would offer this “free lunch” with the purchase of a couple beers or shots of whiskey.  The corned beef soon became known as the “irish’ food.”

SHAMROCK:  Three is Ireland’s magic number for several reasons.  The shamrock was used by Patrick to explain the Trinity (How the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements in the same entity.)  The shamrock was also the symbol for Past, Present & Future.  Followers would wear shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day to represent how Patrick used the shamrock in his teaching as well as the Irish’ luck of the number 3.  The  three leaves today mostly symbolize Hope, Faith & Love…If you find a fourth leaf on your shamrock it would stand for luck.

LEPRECHAUN:  The Leprechaun is an Irish fairy that looks like a 2 foot tall old man who dresses like a shoemaker.  According to legend, leprechaun’s are unfriendly, live alone, pass the time making shoes, and possess a hidden pot of gold.  Leprechaun’s had nothing to do with St. Patrick or the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, until 1959.  Walt Disney released a film called Darby O’Gill & the Little People, which introduced America to a very different sort of leprechaun. This cheerful, friendly leprechaun is a purely American invention, but quickly evolved into an easily recognizable symbol of both St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland.

It is so interesting how traditions get started, changed, and carried out.  Don’t forget to wear green, pinch those not wearing green, eat some corned beef and cabbage, and have a green beer. 

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

OUR NEW KING CAKE TRADITION

My son-in-law is graduating from Army Boot Camp tomorrow so yesterday my oldest daughter and I, along with his parents, flew from California to St. Louis and drove two hours to our hotel.  After waking at 4:30am and traveling all day and into the night, we arrived at our hotel, The Red Roof Inn. 

Because of the illnesses that have been in the family and the planning of the our trip, I had no idea that yesterday was Fat Tuesday.  When we arrived at our hotel excited to shower and sleep, the lady at the counter told us that in honor of Fat Tuesday we had to take a piece of King Cake and see if we can find a baby to win a prize…..What? 

Of course we were very confused but as we love a road trip and the adventure that comes when we go anywhere, we got really excited to see what it was about.  immediately my daughter started jumping up and down and screaming that she had found the baby…..a little gold plastic baby (a little creepy but so exciting.)  It was as if she had won the lottery and we were all going to be set for life.  She instantly said she was going to name it Baby Carlos (from the movie The Hangover) and we taped the baby to her shirt so she could carry it around with her.  When we finished laughing we asked the lady what we won…..

A year of good luck and a free night stay – not exactly the lottery, but the experience was priceless!  Of course I had to look up the information of the King Cake, so here you go:

As part of our Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child.  The idea is that the Kings searched for the baby and waited to find him.  It is celebrated twelve days after Christmas, this is also the day Mardi Gras begins.  Mardi Gras ends with Fat Tuesday which is the day before lent.  Although the king cake can be eaten throughout Mardi Gras, most people choose to wait till Fat Tuesday for the celebration. 

The King Cake is a rich Danish dough braided and baked in a ring or oval shape and topped with traditional Mardi Gras colors.  Inside every cake is one tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold).  The person who finds the baby in their slice of King Cake will be rewarded with good luck.  That person is also traditionally responsible for providing the King Cake at next years party……..

I guess we just started a new tradition in California!

RAINBOWS WITHOUT RAIN – FIND YOUR POT OF GOLD

 

A rainbow occurs when sun is behind us and shines into the rain in front of us.  When the light reflects off the water it acts as a prism and the rainbow is created.  As you drive closer to the end of the rainbow, you also get further away from the pot of gold.  As you drive towards a rainbow, it keeps moving further away so finding the pot of gold at the end of it is not a reality.  It is important to make your own pot of gold by saving your monthly income any way you can…. avoid spending extra money at the grocery store.

Save money at the grocery store by passing the bakery section.  If you bake your own pastries, cakes, pies, cookies, etc., instead of purchasing them pre-made in the store, you will have better control of the ingredients you are putting in your body and have money left over in your wallet.  Baking a cake will make your house smell wonderful and is a lot cheaper than a store-bought pre-made cake.

This is also true for ready-made meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It is very convenient to buy the pre-packaged, ready-made meals and deserts, but in most cases these items can come at a high cost.  In preparing these foods you will be able to adapt the ingredients to your diet and taste as well as save money.

It is a good idea to buy in bulk and make large quantities of your favorite meals.  You can then freeze these meals for low-cost pre-package convenience later. 

I try to take an average desert and make it fun for everyone.  My kids loved my rainbow cupcakes.  I took regular yellow cake mix and added food color to make rainbow layers.  (purple, green, blue,  yellow, orange, red)

Bake, cool, frost and enjoy!