Sunday, July 31, 2016

How long til fall ?

How many days over 110 degrees so far this year?  How many days over 100 degrees?  I have been watching the news a little bit and the weather is always a prime topic.  The newscasters  are talking about the “heat waves” elsewhere in the US.  What a bunch of babies!  Their heat wave is our cold snap.
In Arizona,  we have our calendar completely turned around.  We let our flowers die in the summer, and try to keep our grass green enough to not get cited by the city for brown  grass. Our lawns are lush and beautiful in the winter and our flowers are prolific.  I watch the weather and if there is a “freeze warning” I drag out the frost covers and cover it all.
What grass looks like if you don't water in summer.

Last year we had a couple of our trees trimmed by a tree trimmer that brought in the big chipper.  They turned our lawn water off.  We were out of town at the time and in a week our lawn was brown.  We were cited by the city for a brown lawn.  Really- As soon as we found out what had happened we fixed it.  Here is my dilemma- the city upcharges you based on your water use.  If you are a light user you pay $1.65 per gallon,  tier 2 is $2.85,  tier 3 is $3.55,  etc.  Trying to keep grass green is a nightmare.  So we considered fake grass.
Fake grass

We live on the corner of our subdivision.  We are the lucky recipient of all of the main power boxes, including the cable company.  We have one box in our front year and this year they added a second one because of some new fiberoptic.  I had a few discussions with the cable company about why we deserve to have all of the connections in our yard.  They really don’t care – they have easement rights

I asked them what would have happened if I would have put in the “fake “grass.  They said they would have cut it up to get to the wiring that apparently runs all over (or under) our front lawn.  So I decided that I need to just keep watering and do our best to be smart about it.  
Just visualize fall and you will feel better.

I love the fall, winter and spring here is AZ.  It is wonderful.  I guess if it were too nice in the summer we would be absolutely overloaded with people.  Now they stay away in the summer and just come when the weather gets nicer.  There are some advantages:
  • You can walk right into a restaurant.  Don't worry about a reservation.  Any one who can get away is already out of town.
  • We will see a lot of new movies.  You need to choose indoor activities and places with air conditioning.
  • I have a really good excuse not to exercise.  People die from exercising here.  So I need to wait for the temperature to go down.
  • You can't clean your garage.  See previous bullet.  You could die cleaning your garage.
I am thinking of a few leaf projects, for fall this year.  

This song has NOTHING to do with today's post but I heard it yesterday and I liked the lyrics.  It was on a country station and it is by Mark Wills.......

"It was 1970 somethin'
In the world that I grew up in
Farrah Fawcett hairdo days
Bell bottoms and eight track tapes
Lookin' back now I can see me
Oh, man. did I look cheesy
But I wouldn't trade those days for nothin'
Oh, it was 1970 somethin'"

Coming Soon:
My Catalog Obsession
Staging without renting furniture and selling in four days
The Birthday Club

Love, Ya-Ya

Saturday, July 30, 2016

California Dreamin'

I am in the home stretch now.  I will be escaping the heat soon.
On the Sun Deck at the Hotel Del Coronado

I was lucky enough to have a Mom and Dad who retired and moved to San Diego.  If you have never been you might want to consider this as a destination.  I am sure that is part of the reason that I love the beach so much.  I was there a lot.

My Aunt moved to San Diego  when my Uncle was in the Navy.  They never left.  This gave us a great place to visit.  Then my Brother moved to San Diego practically the minute he graduated from Iowa State, then Mom and Dad left.  I always hated those phone calls in  January about what the weather was like in Iowa.  The San Diego family loved to snicker that we were shoveling snow and they were watering their flowers.

San Diego has the beach (my personal number 1), the Zoo, Balboa Park, Coronado Bridge, the ferry, Petco Park ( I saw Paul McCartney there the last time he toured to San Diego), Lego Land, Sea World, Old Town.... and on and on and on.
Balboa Park

San Diego Zoo

My kids loved to do all of the amusement parks and I loved to go to the Beach.  My Mom was such a good Ya-Ya.  She would offer to take the boys for a week and do Disney, Zoo, Sea World, Knotts, Six Flags.  So I let her.  I have not stood in the Disney lines for a long time.  I am not a big amusement park fanatic.  I just love the weather and the ocean.  I can read a book a day just sitting on the beach.

Hotel Del Coronado- I call it Dorothy's House to the kids

I know it is NOT winter here in Arizona- but this is the time we are California Dreamin',  not in the winter so here goes......
California Dreamin' by the Mama's and the Papa's......................

"All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
I've been for a walk on a winter's day.
I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A.;
California dreamin' on such a winter's day."
Deep in discussion.  These two always have their heads together plotting something.
Hug the kids, make some music, and as I tell the kids , Have a Dance in your pants and a song in your heart"........

Coming Soon:
How Soon 'til Fall
My Catalog obsession
Staging a home, using what you have, 4 days on the market
The Birthday Club

Love, Ya-Ya

Friday, July 29, 2016

Top 5 Albums

I am in a little bit of a music phase right now.
The girls were just visiting so we had a Taylor Swift marathon.  The girls were dancing and singing at the top of their lungs and we had the music cranked up almost to max.  The girls had made magic wands with ribbons and washi tape that they could twirl around as they were dancing.  Marty went in the other room- he kept telling us to turn it down and that made us crank it up.  We told him just to go to the other room.

I have told you we are going to the Desert Trip in the Fall.  To say that I am excited is an understatement.  I actually started looking at the Lyrics from the artists that are performing so you might get a little sick of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, C,S,N and Y, The Who, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters.

We were listening to one of the Syrius channels recently and the DJ (do we still call them a DJ?) was talking about her favorite five albums of all time.  It made me think really hard- how do you choose you top albums of your lifetime or of all time??

It might be obvious but I have to choose a couple of Beatles- My top two would be Rubber Soul and Abbey Road.  We were at lunch in the spring  and there was a musician that played “I’ve Just Seen a Face”.  My DIL did not know that song,  I said it’s on Rubber Soul- She said what is Rubber Soul?  I was a little scared but of course I told her all about Rubber Soul right away.

Then I picked one of my favorite albums from college, Tapestry by Carole King.  Every song is a great one. 

Now it gets harder, just two to go.  Déjà vu- Crosby, Stills,  Nash and Young.  Reminds me of spring break,  freshman year of college.  I think we played it all the way to our destination and all the way back.  Hila- do you remember??

Okay,  one to go- now it is really hard,  do I pick the obvious- like Thriller, Eagles Hell Freezes Over, Beach Boys Pet Sounds??? I pick Hell Freezes Over.  We were at dinner with friends talking about music and favorite albums and I said Hell Freezes Over.  Our friend  told me that choosing an album that is kind of a Greatest Hits album is cheating.  So I guess I am cheating!

My Top Five:
1.        Rubber Soul- The Beatles
2.       Abbey Road- The Beatles
3.       Tapestry-Carole King
4.       Déjà vu-Crosby, Stills and Nash
5.       Hell Freezes Over- The Eagles

What is in your Top Five.? Ask your kids, see if they have been influenced by your music.  Talk about the albums with friends – it is a really lively conversation topic.

Here are a few factiods to help you.  I have looked up the top albums of all time.  There is a bit of controversy on if it is The Eagles Greatest Hits or Michael Jackson's Thriller.  I am combining two lists and here are other top selling albums:
Led Zeppelin IV
Pink Floyd- The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon
AC/DC-Back in Black
Billy Joel- Greatest Hits
Whitney Houston- The Bodyguard
Garth Brooks-Double Live
Shania Twain-Come On Over
Fleetwood Mac- Rumours

Can you name the top selling group and artists of all time????
1.  THE BEATLES- by a landslide
2.  Elvis
3.  Michael Jackson
4.  Madonna
5.  Elton John
6.  Garth Brooks
7.  Led Zeppelin
8.  Eagles
9.  Mariah Carey
10.  Celine Dion

Do you notice how there are not any current artists on this list????
This is NOT my list.  I do not even like a few of these artists.

"I've just seen a face I can't forget the  time or place ,
where we just met,
she's just a girl for me and I want all the world to see we've met"...........The Beatles, Rubber Soul, US version.

Keep singing and you might want to play a Beatles song or two,  They have held up pretty well to the test of time.

Coming soon:
How Long til Fall?
California Dreamin'
Catalog Obsessions

Love, Ya-Ya

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A wedding Rehearsal dinner from afar

A while back, both of our son’s were engaged to be married within a few months of each other.  They also planned their wedding dates a few months apart.  Wow- welcome to the world of the “Groom’s Mother".  Imagine how hard this was for me.  I love to hold parties, decorate, take pictures.  Now I am moved to the backrow as the Mother of the Groom.  Not that  anyone moved me to the backrow but we all know that the Bride and the Bride’s family are “in charge”.  All of us "Mothers of Boys" need to just wait to be asked to do stuff.  We cannot initiate anything.
Menu card and placecards.  You just need a computer, scrapbook paper and ribbon.  Also note the bride cookies- a little take home gift.  A snack for the late night hotel room.

Then one of the kids said they were marrying in Boise.  It made perfect sense, her family is in Boise but how will I make my tiny part of the celebration happen so far from home?
I alternated the bride and the groom cookies, you can see the groom cookie in the place-setting to the right

I had been to Boise with my future DIL once.  But I did not look around for a rehearsal dinner site.  I told the kids to just pick a good place and it would work out.  So they picked a beautiful restaurant in Downtown Boise.  The planning begins.
Tables from afar.  Candlelit and really pretty.  Thank you,  Boise!

I made the reservation, booked a party room and started figuring out a color scheme and menu. Black and white is good and works with what we did for the engagement party.  So black and white it was.  I paid no attention to wedding colors.  I just did what worked for a long distance party.
To Do:
·         Invites to the dinner-made by hand
·         Menu- the kids told me what worked for them
·         Menu card-Made by hand
·         Flowers
·         Candles and centerpieces
·         41 hotel rooms and counting....need to make goodie boxes
The calla lily flowers- thanks to Costco and the hand embellished candles.  Vase from IKEA.....staying on a budget.

I decided to do calla lilies in my centerpieces.  They remind me of a wedding and they are perfect with a black and white theme.  I ordered a boatload of calla lilies and asked for them to be drop shipped by Costco to the Mother of the Bride.  I could arrange them myself in my hotel room.  I wanted to do those simple arrangements of the lilies tied in a bunch with pretty ribbons.  Easy, peasy.  I bought the glass vases at IKEA and had them shipped to the MOB.  I was not keeping track of how many boxes were being shipped.
Another shot of the centerpieces.
I had many boxes sent to the MOB's house.  I am sure she thought I was insane.  As soon as we arrived in Boise we brought all of the boxes to our hotel room because I needed to start assembling.  All of the candles and the embellishments needed to be put together.  I needed to do the flowers.  I needed to assemble the goodie boxes.
The goodie boxes were quite an elaborate conglomeration but I will do another post just about that- too many details for one quick posting.

Tomorrow,  I will be posting about my top five albums of all time.  It is so fun to compile history and also to think about what memories I would like to have in writing for my Grandchildren.  Who knows if they will care but I care so therefore I am leaving a blog history about the past, the present and maybe a bit about the future.

I look at you and see the passion eyes of May
Oh, but am I ever gonna see my wedding day"
Wedding Bell Blues by The Fifth Dimension- I would have missed this group if I was in name that tune.  I definitely would have picked the wrong artist.

Coming Soon:
Top Five Albums
The Birthday Club
How Long Til Fall
My Catalog Obsession
California Dreamin'

Almost weekend and almost time for the Beach.  Don't forget your good deed for the day and hug those kids.
Love, Ya-Ya

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

40 Acts of Kindness

One of my clients reached a milestone this year, 40 years in business.  Wow, quite an accomplishment.  Today is my 11 year anniversary of starting my business and I am thrilled that I made it another year.  I actually hope to celebrate many more anniversaries.  I can't just blog, read and watch NetFlix.

This client decided to, as a company, do 40 Acts of Kindness, to honor their 40 years in business.  What a  cool thing to do.  I am so impressed and so proud to have a client with so much respect for others.

Some of the things they are doing include:
  • Taking water bottles to the homeless
  • Cooking dinner at a local non profit
  • Build a bear for the children's hospital
  • Blood donations

This reminded me of something that happened to us, Father's Day 2015.  We had scheduled brunch at a local restaurant.  There were the four Grand kids, our adult sons and their wives and my husband, a total of 10 people.  When we go out to celebrate something as important as Father's Day,  we order appetizers, drinks, entrees, and desserts.  Yes, there were four kiddos,  plus 6 adults.  We were having a wonderful time with the g kids all laughing and telling stories.  We were not the quiet table.  I think everyone knew we were there.

When we prepared to leave,  our son asked for the bill.  It was Father's Day and the boys wanted to pay.  The waitress said the tab was already paid.  I accused my husband of picking up the tab.  He said that he had not.  The waitress said a man at the bar picked up our tab.  Are you kidding me?  We wanted to thank him but he had already left the restaurant.  The boys then picked a table with a family to pay it forward and pay their bill.  We need to do this often.  It is such a sweet surprise for the recipient and so fun for you.

Pick up the tab for the person behind you at Starbucks.  Actually hold the door for the little, old lady walking into Barnes and Noble.  Let someone with a few items go in front of you in the check out line.  Buy bottles of water for the homeless.  Donate food at the food bank......

My last garage sale had bargain basement prices, loads of things for a dollar. At the end of the sale, we called a favorite charity and they had four vehicles ready to pack up our stuff.  The garage was clean in about 30 minutes.  Lots of clothing and household stuff that they could distribute or sell in their thrift shop.  I hit the lottery, my garage was cleared out.

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways,
No message could have  been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself and then make a change"-Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror

Coming soon:
Top Five Albums
The Birthday Club
Rehearsal dinner from Afar
How long 'til Fall?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Toes in the Water

Just a few days until beach.

I have figured out a way to have a little longer time than usual at the beach.  It is called using your computer from a remote location and working everyday.   Good news- no catch up when you get home either because I am caught up all the time. I can have more  time away and still not miss out on work.  I try to do my catch up first thing in the morning and then enjoy the day as soon as I can complete the updates.

If I have guests,  they  know that I work first thing.  I may not make the trip to the Zoo or Lego Land with them because I have some things to do,  but it is wonderful.  I have worked a lot of years and have not allowed myself this freedom until recently.

I was formerly a workaholic and never took more than a week away from work at once.  After all, the building would fall down if I wasn't there, right?  Wrong- nothing really happens.  There are many capable people who can carry the ball if I am out of touch.

Prepping for a beach vacation....
Can't wait any longer to start the prep.  I have rented the same condo for a number of years.  This year I am renting a different unit but in the same building, so I am not sure what to expect.

I have taken a bunch of bins of beachy things for the past several years.  My husband was not happy to lug this decorating stuff from AZ to CA just to make the rental look I am just taking my personal stuff.  I am a little nervous because I like things a certain way.  I already know where the Home Goods store is located, close by,  so if I have to I could pick up a couple of things.  There are also a bunch of cute shops in Coronado,  but no bargains like Home Goods.

Stuff to remember to take:
  • I pod/charger---I know I may be the only person without an I phone.  So I still have my music and our family playlist on an I pod 
  • Shuffle and charger 
  • Mini speakers plus charger 
  • I pad and charger 
  • Laptop and charger 
  • Phone and charger 
  • Beach chairs 
  • Beach umbrellas 
  • Beach wagon 
  • Beach rolling cooler 
  • Audio books for car ride 
  • Mini cooler for car 
  • Beach towels 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Hats 
  • Bike and lock and key 
  • Books- I have been saving some of my favorite authors for the trip
  • Magazines 
  • Spiral bound notebooks 
  • Halloween project 
  • Knitting projects 
  • Camera and camera stuff 
  • Blow up beds- just in case of overflow
  • Playing cards
  • Plastic drink cups

Clothes list:
  • Sundresses
  • Shorts
  • Tees
  • Jacket
  • Swimsuits
  • Cover ups
  • Flip flops
  • Sweatshirt
  • Extra glasses and sunglasses- I broke a pair of sunglasses at a Jimmy Buffett preparty (someone was tossing a beach ball right at my head) and lost my regular glasses later in the day.  I went without for a whole weekend in Las Vegas a few years ago.  I will never travel again without a spare of sunglasses and regular glasses.  Also I have a very strong prescription for both near and far,  so everything is airbrushed without my glasses.  Plus I could not read- not good.
  • Jewelry
  • Makeup- I try not to wear any but I still pack it.
  • Hair products
  • Skin care stuff
  • Blow dryer
  • Hot rollers
  • Sneakers
  • Sox
  • Underwear
  • Nightgowns

"Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand, Life is good today, Life is Good Today"-Toes by Zac Brown Band

Coming soon:
Top Five Albums on your personal list
Rehearsal dinner planning from afar
A complete condo reno- just to sell
Bucket List
Surfer Birthday Party
What to do on a Beach vacation
Staging a house using what you have- no furniture rented or purchased

 Enjoy your day and do a good deed.
Love, Ya-Ya

Monday, July 25, 2016

Our house is a very,very,very fine house

Our house is a very, very, very fine house........

Crosby, Stills and Nash knew how to write a song.  But how do you sell that very, very ,very fine house with two other houses for sale in the neighborhood?

I had the privilege of working alongside a great home stager for a few months.  I learned so much.  I loved it and have gone on to stage a few homes for family and friends all with great results.

The most recent house I worked on was for one of our kids.  That is probably the hardest because people are emotional about their homes.  When the kids said they were about to list their house I told them that I wanted to give them a few pointers on what to do to make their house memorable.  I wasn't sure if they wanted my advice...but they said they did,  so here goes.....

The week before they listed we walked through the house together.  The house was in great shape and was recently painted both inside and out.

Clean and fresh ?-check

There were a couple of other homes for sale within a block.  One of them had an open house so I went to take a look.  It was very nice but not memorable

Can they compete?-check

We need to get people in the front door.  The pictures need to be awesome.

Their house was very Pottery Barn.  Striped down and not memorable.  Nothing special.

So I started at the front door.  Boring.  Nothing to make a drive by want to come in the door.  So  I lifted a turquoise star from my fireplace mantle, an orange pot from my backyard and moved some decorative pots from their backyard.  The front door still needed some life, so off to Home Depot for some blooming flowers for the pots out front.  Magic, now you want to come inside- check.

The living room was a little dull too, all neutral colors, no spark.  We added decorative pillows in the orange and turquoise that were at the front door.  Wow,  what a difference a few pillows make.  The room came alive.  We added a tray to the coffee table with a bright pot on top.  Make them remember.  The house with the orange pillows-check.

The dining room table was nice but not tablescaped.  We added beaded place mats, beautiful dishes and glassware and Mercury glass candle holders with the chunky,  fake candles.  Make them want to sit down at your table-check.

The kitchen was recently gutted and beautifully updated but things were just not quite right on the soffits and the table was not set.  We found some great placemats in a closet, used their regular, everyday pottery and added a couple of accent small plates. To take it over the top we added fresh sunflowers that perfectly matched the stoneware.  Fresh flowers-Check.

Family room....another easy one, a few bright pillows and some fresh flowers.  Make them want to cuddle up in front of the fireplace.  Check.

Their bedrooms and office needed the same little spruce up.  Just pillows and a few plants and fresh flowers. Check.

The kids bathroom needed a  few bright towels that we pulled from my towel stash, another touch of turquoise with the already there grey towels and we were in business-check.

Back yard just needed a few rolled beach towels and a few pot spruce ups.  There were kids toys in the backyard and they were all moved to the side yard, still accessible to the kids for play but out of sight to the people looking to buy. Sold in three days amidst some stiff competition.

I have a few funny stories about homes I have visited.  Most people do not want to rent furniture and do the whole rent furniture staging, like you see on tv.  Most of the time you can make  a home look better with just a few simple touches and a trip to Home Goods and Home Depot. I also would add a trip to Trader Joes for some flowers,  especially when you first list and before pictures.  The pictures have to be good or your house does not even make it to the drive by.

Unsaid but critically important, choose the right realtor and price it right.  Our kids uses a longtime friend,  Brian Gubernick,  at Home Helper Consultants.  Thanks to Brian and his team for the amazing photos.

"Home where my music's playing, home where my love lies waiting, silently for me".....Homeward Bound- Simon and Garfunkel

Coming soon:
A rehearsal dinner from afar
How to pack for a beach get way
A girls outing and mini reunion
Ya-Ya's Bookshelf
A Boy's Baby Shower
Top Five Albums- another fun one

Keep singing and hug those kids and puppies.
Love, Ya-Ya