Saturday, November 26, 2011

Buyers Beware, 5 Hypnotic Home Staging Techniques- and How to See Through Them.

We all know how important home staging is if you’re trying to sell a home. It’s equally important when you’re buying real estate for exactly the same reasons. Just like a person you meet on a blind date, staging is all about highlighting assets and deflecting your attention from any flaws. As a buyer, you have to learn to look past the staging and see what lies underneath.

That’s not as easy as it sounds because clever staging can be hypnotic. I once had a client who called this the "vortex of cute." If you hear yourself oohing and aahing over wall hangings or a fabulous sectional, watch out!  Even if you’re buying a furnished home, which is rarely the case, you're focusing on the wrong thing.

Understanding hypnotic staging techniques will help you break their spells. Here are five of the most common, along with corresponding tips that will help snap you back to reality so that you can really see what you’re buying.

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #1:  Tiny Furniture. I’m sure that you’ve gone through your closet at one time or another to put together an outfit that made you look smaller than you are (fine, then – I’ll speak for myself!). Well, house staging aims to accomplish the exact opposite. By opting for very small furniture, rooms can be made to appear much larger than they really are.
That can be a problem if those rooms don’t accommodate your lifestyle.

I’m not recommending you turn away from a potential home just because it won’t fit your Nana’s custom-made-for-her-13-kids-and-their-spouses dining room table. But if the 'kids bedroom" won’t fit a standard-sized bed and dresser,  or you’d have to be the size of a Barbie doll to fit on the chaise lounge that the living room is sized to fit, you’ve got a problem.

Should you fall in love with a place that's heavily staged with tiny furniture, bring measurements of your furniture and a tape measure on your second look to make sure they’ll actually, comfortably fit.

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #2: Camoflauge and Cover-Ups. Just like baked cookies can make a house smell homey, gauzy wall and window coverings and soft music can make it seem positively dreamy. Downside: they can also camouflage a whole lot of nastiness. Don’t be fooled: investigate. You need to know what the natural light and sounds will be like after the gauze is gone, so ask for the music to be turned off and throw open the curtains. Then look outside the various windows to see what’s out there – I’ve seen power poles, neighbors’ patchwork roof repairs and even, once, a backyard dog fighting ring, obscured by gorgeous window coverings.

Speaking of looking, make sure you draw back any and all coverings, and open all closet and cupboard doors. I know a homeowner who only found out after she had purchased her home that the built-in microwave was powered by an extension cord. She hadn’t wanted to snoop, so (much to her electrician’s subsequent delight) she simply didn’t check behind door #17.

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #3: Activity Props You’ll Never Use. Don’t you just feel all warm and fuzzy when you walk into a room with a lovely crib and a baby mobile? See a room with well-organized shelving and a craft table and you immediately imagine yourself scrapbooking or quilting. Yoga mats and meditation pillows almost make you want to find your mantra, but also make a room seem more serene than it will ever feel when you actually live there (considering you’ve never said a single ‘om’.)

Come on, now - this is you we’re talking about. Unless you have—or plan to have—a baby or already do crafts or meditate, you need a home that will fit your lifestyle, your needs and your wish list. So when you feel yourself being swayed, just make a list of the activities you actually do in your current home and want to do in your new one, and pay attention to whether a given prospective property actually has space for those items.  (I’ve heard that stamp collecting can take up almost as much space as cultivating orchids – who knew?!)

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #4: Any item that seems to be there strictly for appearances. Décor can often hide or diminish the appearance of flaws that seem like small potatoes in light of the overall fabulosity of the place, but can actually prove expensive to change. So check for items that seem like they might have been put in just for looks—including curtains, rugs, paintings and doorways with no doors on them—and then don your sleuthing hat to figure out what flaws they might be concealing.  Water stains and wall cracks can be covered up (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not) by area rugs and wall hangings, and wonky floor plans can be staged as more open by taking the doors off their hinges.   

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #5:  Neighborhood staging. Before you get off investigative mode, you’ll also want to check out the neighborhood. Not the staged neighborhood -- the real thing, warts and cars on the lawn and screaming schoolkids and all. I've actually seen neighbors move their cars and refrain from their normal (noisy) activities when there’s an open house on the block. Even without that kind of intentional neighborhood staging, most open houses are held on a relatively calm days of the week and times of day, when traffic is light and noise is low.

To get the real scoop, make sure to visit the house at different times of day and on different days of the week in order to determine what the noise levels are like at evenings and weekend. You also want to make a point of showing up at the hours you’ll normally be coming and going, so you can check to see how easy it is to get in and out of the driveway vis-a-vis traffic and what the noise levels are like at evenings and weekend.

Agents: What staging see-throughs have you developed over the years?

Buyers and Sellers: What about you? What staging techniques have you found to be powerful – or pitiful?
Article by Tara-Nicholle Nelson@Trulia 11/14/2011-broker in San Francisco CA

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Case of Emergency!!

August 23, 2011
  One of the strongest ever recorded earthquake in the east coast shakes Washington D.C. and the Metro area this afternoon at 1:51 pm.  Until this news posted no death is reported but some people injured. According to the U.S. Geological Survey  the quake  initially recorded the quake at 5.8 magnitude but later upgraded it to a 5.9. 

    So as we all know, in August the East Coast experienced both a 5.9 magnitude earthquake as well as Hurricane later that week.  For those of us who have lived in this area our whole lives, this is unusual news. As such, most of us were unprepared or scared by these events, since they didn't fit into our sense of reality in our lives. Perhaps because of climate change, we need to rethink what we need to be prepared for, and to experience. This week in October, we also had a freakishly early ice/snowstorm..which downed trees and left millions without power. Millions are still without power up the East Coast, and it may still be another week before they get their electricity restored.
    This is not meant to scare anyone..these are pretty much freak occurances around least for the past hundred years.
    I was home alone in August working on my computer when the earthquake whole house was shaking, and then I thought that perhaps my washer and dryer became possessed like in those scary movies- they were dancing the jitterbug in my laundry room, and by that time I thought- uh oh, I'm going crazy and  hallucinating because I have NO IDEA what is going on here. (I have never experienced an earthquake before.) 
     And then finally the laundry room stopped screaming metal noises,the earth and my house stopped shaking, but I continued to personally shake for about another hour and a half. Luckily we didn't lose power, and a few minutes later CNN told me that we had an earthquake, which in some ways was comforting, and in other ways, confounding to me. Nevertheless, now I know what it feels like, and have been educated by experience.
    But it made me aware that we need to know what to do in these situations, as evidenced by how me, people in DC and all the surrounding areas, all up and down the East Coast...did things exactly WRONG as we should have, so I am sharing some valuable information with you all ...not only us in the East Coast, but travelers to the West Coast and all over the globe, in case you find yourself in a confounding experience like we did. Please read and try to remember in case of an emergency.
This is an eye opener. Directly opposite of what we've been taught over the years!


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save untold lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries.  I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years.  I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake.  Every child was under its desk.  Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles.  It was obscene, unnecessary, and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles.  I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them.  This space is what I call the 'triangle of life'.  The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured.  The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the 'triangles' you see formed.  They are everywhere.  It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Most everyone who 'ducks and covers' WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE, are crushed to death.  People getting under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position.  You should too in an earthquake.  It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void.  Get next to an object, next to a sofa, or a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created.  Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight.  Brick buildings will break into individual bricks.  Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed.   If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward, you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of frequency', (they swing separately from the main part of the building).  The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated.  Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs.  The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged.  Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway.  The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them.  All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact.  Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct.  The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and Paratrooper to film this practical, scientific test.  We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside.  Ten mannequins did 'duck and cover,' and ten mannequins I used in my 'triangle of life' survival method.  After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results.  The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.  There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the 'triangle of life.' This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA, Canada, and Latin America, on the TV program Real TV.

Spread the word and save someone's life...The Entire world is experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yesterday in Our Garden, A Doe and Her Twin Bambis

I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.
Ellen DeGeneres

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Dog, a Cat, and a Rat

If they can do it, why can't we?..., via  here.

   This is a video of a homeless man in Santa Barbara and his pets.  They work State Street every week for donations.    The animals are pretty well fed and are mellow.  They are a family.  The man who owns them rigged a harness up for his cat so she wouldn't have to walk so much (like the dog and himself).    At some juncture the rat came along, and as no one wanted to eat anyone else, the rat started riding with the cat and, often, on the cat!    The dog, will stand all day and let you talk to him and admire him for a few chin scratches.  The Mayor of Santa Barbara filmed this clip and sent it out as a holiday card.

Don't worry, I promise you that this is a simple story on youtube about 1 man and his mission, and it's just over 2 viruses or anything. oxoxPaula

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My GE Oven Fire

 My house was built in 1995, the last house that was built in the Quince Haven neighborhood in Gaithersburg, or North Potomac MD.  We are the second owners, and have done some updating since we moved in, but our wall oven was the original.
   Last month, after preheating the oven, I put some vegetables in the oven to roast, and continued making supper. Moments later, I was surprised by a bright light coming from the oven. Luckily, I was just steps away, because there was a flame in there burning around and on the element about 6 inches high!!  I grabbed my baking dish out of the oven quickly, and the flames rose higher. I quickly closed the door..and the flames continued.  I turned off the oven, and the flaming continued.  I threw some flour on the flames- bad idea...that stuff burns. 
   First of all, I knew that the fire wasn't caused by grease or dirt in the oven, because my oven was quite clean. Not perfectly clean, but there were no drips or spills and I had cleaned the oven recently.
  The fire kept burning, and I quite frankly was getting in a panic because I wasn't sure where this fire might lead to. The fire started on the right side of the lower burning element and was traveling around the shape melting the metal and the sheath it was encased in. The door was closed but this fire wasn't slowing down.
   Luckily I wasn't home alone and my daughter's boyfriend ran downstairs to the basement and found the fusebox...he didn't know where it was but me in my panic must have given him ok directions, and he found the fuse switch for the oven and turned it off.  Finally, the fire went out.
   I don't know who marked our fusebox so well with each and every switch- maybe it was the engineer who lived in our house before us, but I am most grateful that everything was so well labeled. 
   If your fusebox isn't labeled well, I would suggest someday soon, before you need it, that is a project well worth its time to do. The other suggestion is not to leave an oven or stove unattended...who knows what may have happened with the fire if no one noticed it. Make sure smoke alarms are working too.
   Below are photos of the meltdown and our response when I contacted GE about the fire. The fire began at the red pen and finally went out when it reached the blue pen, when the electricity was turned off to the oven at the fuse box.

A closer view.

   I emailed GE and they said they are sorry it happened, and gave me the phone number of a GE repair service.  I called the service and made and appt. and they said it would be $99 to come to the house, plus parts and labor, with the $99 deducted from the final bill.  I cancelled the apt. cause why would I want to spend who knows how much on repairing an oven from 1995. 
   I emailed GE with photos, complained, and they said they will waive the $99 service call house fee, or would I like a $50 client rebate certificate, because they value my business.  What do you think?  Wall ovens are expensive ($1000+-$3000)..I'm researching them right now.  Meanwhile, I did "google" GE oven fires, and I see that I'm not the only one this has happened to. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


That's the rallying cry these days heard around the country.  Yes, government is useless!...Well, except for when they do things right...LIKE Maryland JUST DID.

A new phone service and website were recently established for traffic and weather reports, incidents, and tourism.  Dial 511 on your phone, cell or landline, or for cameras of traffic, information on road contruction, bridges, back ups, delays and more.  You can also sign up for alerts by phone or email if you have a regular commuting route that you would like covered for alerts.

Brought to you by:
Everybody wants to eat at the government's table, but nobody wants to do the dishes.  ~Werner Finck
I'm tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn't work. Of course it doesn't work. We are supposed to work it. ~Alexander Woollcott
Applause, mingled with boos and hisses, is about all that the average voter is able or willing to contribute to public life.  ~Elmer Davis

Anyway, check out this new 511 service! It's also available in VA, PA, and DC too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's FAIR TIME! And maybe it won't be too HOT to enjoy it! See you there! MoCo Rocks!

   It's time again for the Montgomery County Fair, which is hosted each year at the Fairgrounds just off Rt. 355/Frederick Ave in Gaithersburg. Plenty of parking ($5) or park at Lakeforest Mall and take the shuttle bus for free. There's so much to see, do and eat there!  From the entertainment, the farming, quilting, art, food extravaganzas, rides, farm exhibits, community interests..and if the weather is a bit cooler than it has been recently (less than 100 degrees), it might be a lovely way to spend a day or evening enjoying what MoCo has to offer. Opening Friday August 12-20th, 2011. Special rates and attractions on different days. Free Senior Day..etc. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chinese Generosities in MoCo MD

   On Saturday it was a sunny nice day so I ran out to do some shopping to stock up on fruits and vegetables. One of my most favorite places to go is the Grand Mart on Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg.  (I nicknamed it the Chino/Latino market.)  To me, this store is very special- it's like a food museum where I wander the aisles and wonder about what I am seeing. They have the most amazing produce section, with many kinds of mushrooms, greens, onions, peppers, eggplants, bananas, oranges, potatoes, things and kinds you have never seen before- a plethora of produce and fish and meat and hot sauces and soy sauces and rices, etc.,  the likes of which most Americans never have seen or have the opportunity to try in most grocery stores. And all at Great Low Prices! Cauliflower-99cents a head, an amazingly delicious Basa fish from VietNam-$2.99/lb. Latino juices, spices, tortillas, cheeses, an array of taste tempting Indian breads, spices, and so many things that I can't even list the categories. Even Lebanese Labne! Anyway, I stocked up and came out of the store, and it was pouring rain.  There was a lady outside the store on it's site selling floor fans, flavored iced teas,  glass leftover containers, and discounted porcelain dishes, and we began to chat about the unexpected rains.  I decided to wait a bit to run to my car, hoping the rains would let up a little..which they did. Meanwhile though, the lady selling stuff outside offered me some containers of the iced teas..she said- for you, for free.  That was so sweet, but I didn't accept cause I wasn't really thirsty, plus I had iced coffee waiting for me in my van. Not so significant an event, until Sunday.  When I began to see a trend......

   On Sunday, Paul and I went out to do a little shopping for some other things, actually wedding presents, when we decided to check out another Asian Market - Kam Sam Supermarket on 300 N. Washington St. in Rockville- just off Rt. 355 and on to N. Washington, and down about a block on the right. (There is also another store at 4316 Markham St. in Annandale, VA.)  This store is also quite interesting, and we found the things we were looking for..good selection of foods, but also a good selection of Asian plates and dishes.  Much smaller than Grand Mart, but the prices and selections of items were quite good.  When we were checking out, the clerks were so nice and cheerful and friendly to us that they gave us for free, the items below.  Maybe it doesn't hurt that Paul speaks some decent Mandarin, and I know a little too..I can maybe speak like a Chinese baby. They were quite generous, friendly and kind. We used to live in Taiwan, Okinawa and Singapore. It reminded me of why we loved living in Asia- such kind generous and friendly people.
   Next we stopped at Maxim's, the Asian market on Rt. 355 that has been there for many compare and shop a bit more- almost across the street from the last store. We found the prices on almost all that we compared were a bit higher here than for Kam Sam, but they also do have good selections. Also, not so grand and big scale with selections like at Grand Mart.  Again, so friendly, generous, they gave us for free these interesting drinks of grass jelly at checkout. I think all these folks are encouraging us to continue shopping at their supermarkets. Fine with me - I love their prices and marvelous choices of interesting foods.  (I've never drank grass jelly drink- I'll let you know on how that turns out.  Any opinions are welcome on this.)
   So folks, if you haven't taken the plunge to wander into some of MoCo's fine ethnic grocery markets, please do - you won't be sorry. Most of these stores are open daily, every day, 8 am - 8 pm.  You will feel quite welcome there.  We certainly did. Thank you Grand Mart, Kam Sam and Maxim's for being Special, and for making us feel that way.
   And tonight I made a real nice and healthy dinner of rice, broccoli, chicken, and eggplants- 3 stirfry dishes.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ratings for a Selection of US Popular Beaches - Is Your Beach Safe and Clean?

NRDC, Natural Resources Defense Council, lists popular U.S. beaches and rates them based on various criteria. NRDC's star-criteria rewards beaches that only exceeded health standards less than 5 percent of the time last year and over the last three years, and for the following best practices: testing more than once a week, notifying the public promptly when tests reveal bacteria levels exceeding health standards, and posting closings and advisories both online and at the beach.

They granted Super Star Status to only 4 beaches this year- 2 are in Delaware, one in Minnesota, and one in New Hampshire.  For us locals, that's mighty good news for us who frequent Dewey Beach and Rehobeth. To see the full USA report, Click Here.  If you head to the might want to check this includes CA and lots of other states too.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gaithersburg Book Festival, The Rapture, the Preakness and a Birthday Party

Saturday, May 21st, in Gaithersburg is the 2nd Annual l Gaithersburg Book Festival (click there for more info) at which we are all looking forward to.  We will be attending in downtown OldTowne Gaithersburg at the site of the City Hall Grounds on Summit Ave., just off Rt 355, Frederick Rd. and by St. Martins Church there. The weather is expected to be beautiful, after a week of clouds and storms..although the worst bypassed us north and south of here this week. Book presentations, authors, workshops, discussions, poetry, and musical entertainment.  Free admission, parking around the area, in Old Towne, and shuttle bus from Lakeforest Mall.  See you there!  for a great day!

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 10 am - 6 pm.
Afterward, for Paul and me, a birthday/Preakness/Rapture Party of a dear friend and past RE client (Bonnie) of many years. I hope you will join us at the Book Festival!..I suspect you won't be disappointed! Art and literature soooo enrich our lives, and it's so fun, good, and expanding to reach out to the authors who have shared their lives with us, and to share our lives with them. And for them to teach us their skills and passions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

She Loved being brushed and cuddled, right up to the very end.

These are our two cats, Jasmine on the top of the chair, and Sushi below.
Sadly, we lost our 16 year old Sushi on Saturday evening to kidney failure, a battle she had been waging for weeks, but lost. Paul and I were with her when she passed over the Rainbow Bridge.
It was very difficult for us to say goodbye to her - she was such a sweet soul and such a good cat all her life.  It was almost as hard letting our adult "kids" know that she had passed on.  She brought us much joy, as well as lots of her lovely white hair all over our black clothes. 

Cats are Wonderful Friends
Gentle eyes that see so much,
paws that have the quiet touch,
Purrs to signal "all is well"
and show more love than words could tell.
Graceful movements touched with pride,
a calming presence by our side --
A friendship that takes time to grow --
Small wonder why we love them so.

And God asked the feline spiritPerhaps this is the reason why she became ill, and it was weeks before she passed.  But we decided early on that if she wasn't suffering, we would go the distance with her, and as it seemed to be, she went in her own time, at home, where she loved to be.

Are you ready to come home?

Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul

And, as a cat, you know I am most able

To decide anything for myself.

Are you coming then? asked God.

Soon, replied the whiskered angel

But I must come slowly

For my human friends are troubled

For you see, they need me, quite certainly.

But don't they understand? asked God

That you'll never leave them?

That your souls are intertwined. For all eternity?

That nothing is created or destroyed?

It just is....forever and ever and ever.

Eventually they will understand,

Replied the glorious cat

For I will whisper into their hearts

That I am always with them

I just am....forever and ever and ever.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This may help.  GasBuddy can locate the cheapest and most expensive gas stations around Maryland as well as other states around the country.
There also is a feature on that site where you can calculate how much a trip will cost you by factoring in the make and model of your car, and the distance to the final destination.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Announcing New Babies to the World!

While we don't have any new babies directly in our family, we have friends who do. It's so exciting and heartwarming.  This is baby Sebastian.

And with the new babies, come new Baby Names. While this isn't earthshattering news, I think most people find it interesting to see the most popular names of babies as the years go on.  The Social Security Administration has just announced the most popular names for 2010.

Top 10 Names for Girls:

2. Sophia
3. Emma
4. Olivia
5. Ava
6. Emily
7. Abigail
8. Madison
9. Chloe
10. Mia

Top 10 Names for Boys:

1. Jacob
2. Ethan
3. Michael
4. Jayden
5. William
6. Alexander
7. Noah
8. Daniel
9. Aiden
10. Anthony

Top Five Trending Names for Girls:

1. Maci
2. Giuliana
3. Tiana
4. Quinn
5. Adalynn

Top Five Trending Names for Boys:

1. Bentley
2. Kellan
3. Knox
4. Enzo
5. Karter

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Dozen Recipes for Leftover Easter Eggs

Got a few too many leftover Easter eggs on hand? With the 12 hard-boiled egg recipe ideas here, they'll likely disappear quickly.
Leftover Easter Egg Recipe Ideas
Getty Images
Got a few too many leftover Easter eggs on hand? The good news is that, if left in their shells, hard-boiled eggs will keep in the fridge for up to a week. But with the 12 hard-boiled egg recipe ideas here, they'll likely disappear a lot faster than that. In fact, you might find yourself boiling another dozen. (A note on safety: Be sure to use food-grade dye for your eggs and don't eat eggs that have been out of the fridge for more than two hours total.)
Southwestern Egg Salad Sandwich: Mash chopped eggs with a potato masher or a fork along with some mayo, a little chipotle in adobo or chipotle chile powder, lime juice, salt and sliced scallions. Place on a sandwich roll along with sliced avocado.

Egg Quesadilla: Brush one side of a burrito-size flour tortilla with olive oil. Place oiled side down on a baking sheet. Scatter shredded pepper Jack cheese over the tortilla, top with sliced hard-boiled eggs, green salsa and cilantro sprigs. Top with more cheese and another tortilla. Brush top of tortilla with oil and bake until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is crisp.

Eggs in Purgatory: Make a spicy tomato sauce with onions, garlic, a little bacon (if you like), tomatoes and some cayenne. Slice hard-boiled eggs about 1/2-inch thick, place in a shallow pasta bowl and spoon sauce over.

Potato and Egg Salad: Boil Yukon gold potatoes in their jackets until tender. Drain; peel while still warm, cut into thick slices and toss with a little vinegar (I like sherry or rice vinegar, but it's really your choice). Let sit 30 minutes then toss with hard-boiled egg slices, finely chopped red onion, a little mayo, and a little mustard. If you like, jazz it up with some ham, shrimp or cooked chicken.

Eggs with Asparagus and Parmesan Cheese: Do a riff on an Italian classic that usually has poached or fried eggs atop roasted asparagus. Trim ends of asparagus, then cut them in half crosswise. Place in a bowl, toss with olive oil to coat and roast at 400 degrees until lightly browned and crisp-tender. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and panko breadcrumbs and roast a few more minutes until cheese has melted. Top with chopped hard-boiled eggs and chives, and if you like, a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
Quick Egg and Vegetable Hash: Cook some chopped onions, diced red pepper, and thinly sliced peeled carrots in a combo of butter and vegetable or olive oil until the onion is golden brown and caramelized. Add diced cooked potatoes and cook until the potatoes are nicely browned. Add chopped hard-boiled eggs and just a little cream or half-and-half; cook until eggs are heated through.

Not Your Usual Egg Sandwich: Use a baguette or a couple of slices of thick whole-grain country bread. Spread hot pepper jelly on both sides of the bread and top with arugula, sliced prosciutto and sliced eggs.

Warm Bacon, Spinach and Egg Salad: Cook a few slices of bacon until crisp, save the bacon fat and whisk it together with red wine vinegar, red currant jelly (or a little brown sugar) and toss while still warm with fresh spinach and sliced sautéed or grilled portobello mushroom caps, hard-boiled eggs cut in wedges and crumbled bacon. If you don't want to use bacon, omit it and make the dressing with olive oil.

Rich and Creamy Salad Dressing: Halve hard-boiled eggs and separate yolks and whites. Push yolks through a fine-meshed strainer. Whisk in olive oil, mustard, a touch of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss with a hearty lettuce, such as romaine, and garnish with chopped egg whites. Variation: Combine sour cream, mustard, yolks, and mayonnaise for a creamy thick dressing.

Norwegian Butter Cookies: This treat is a perfect use for egg yolks. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, 2 mashed hard-boiled egg yolks, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Beat until well combined. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and, if you like, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom. Fold in 1 cup all-purpose flour. Using a teaspoon measure, drop cookie dough mixture 1-inch apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until golden around edges and set. Cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Meatloaf with Eggs: Put together your favorite meatloaf mixture. Pat half of it into a loaf pan, then make a trench lengthwise down the center and place a row of hard-boiled eggs in the trench. Top with remaining meatloaf mixture, patting it down to enclose the eggs and bake.

Gratinéed Eggs: Make a white sauce by melting 3 tablespoons butter and whisking in 3 tablespoons of flour, cooking over medium-low heat until just beginning to turn golden. Whisk in 2 cups milk, a little nutmeg, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in about a cup of shredded sharp cheddar (or more if you like). Spoon some of the mixture into an 8 x 8 baking dish that's been brushed with a little butter. Place 6 to 8 thickly sliced eggs in the dish and top with more sauce. Sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and bubbling.

This article was an AOL original. 
Read more:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunday Seeds

My mind is a garden. My thoughts are the seeds.
My harvest will be either flower or weeds.  Mel Weldon

Sunday was such a beautiful day here, after the storms, flooding and tornados nearby on Saturday.  Paul and I took the opportunity to do some springtime gardening to prepare for the summer.  He planted grass seed and took care of the lawn, and I planted flower seeds.  Let's see what comes up!

Monday, April 18, 2011

These Folks Don't Need Anymore Business, But Still, if you want Food Nirvana....

Or have a celebration, or want a meal to "die for", this is the place!  We had old friends come and visit Saturday from out of state, so despite the Tornado Watch and Warning, we took the Metro to King Street in Alexandria VA, and met them for dinner.  They took us to this place that the first President Bush and his wife used to frequent.  It's a Peking Duck place that is in a small strip shopping mall in Falls Church VA.  Peking Gourmet Inn, 6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church VA 22041   The food surpassed any expectations we had.  The place is always crowded with people waiting...I suggest reservations if you plan to go there sometime.

If this were your last meal on earth, you would die happy.  Thank you Clay and Peggy, and Tracy, for the wonderful evening and fun times, and delicious meal extravaganza! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This is Crucial - Don't Mess This Up


Photography is one of the most important parts of listing a house, and in most cases it will be the determining factor as to whether or not a buyer will decide to visit the home in person. Most people begin their home-shopping online on the internet. So it is critical to make the proper preparations before the photo shoot. When it comes to photography, less is more. While it may seem a bit silly, the best mantra to repeat as you’re making preparations is “pretend nobody in particular lives here.” Project a lifestyle that your homebuyer will be attracted to…clean, happy, organized, pleasant, spacious and neutral.
The best advice is to gather some large boxes or plastic containers and go to each room and de-clutter. Put non-essential items in separate boxes and keep out of sight as long as your house in on the market. Boxes with essential items can be set just outside of the room where I will slide them out of the way during the photography session.


Move cars out of sight
Close garage doors
Remove trash cans, gardening tools, etc. from sight
Stow children’s and pet’s toys out of sight
Coil hoses
Open patio umbrellas and set out cushions
Uncover bbqs, pools, spas
Make sure your garden is shown in the best possible light - flowers, lawn mowed, etc.


Replace all burned out bulbs (we will take pictures with every light on)
Turn ceiling fans off
Clean well and de-clutter every room
Beds made, lovely quilts, serene room atmospheres
Valuables and medications out of sight or locked up
Open window coverings (unless they are concealing a less than desirable view)
Remove most, if not all, personal photographs
Clear kitchen countertops of almost everything, with the exception of one or two decorative items
Conceal garbage containers
Remove everything from the top and sides of fridge (pictures, kids’ art, magnets, etc.)
Remove non-essential throw rugs (foyer, baths, kitchen, hallways)
Clear the bathroom countertops of ALL toiletries. Leave only a few decorative items or a floral or plant arrangement. Put out best towels. Make sure everything is super clean.
Empty the shower of shampoos, etc.
Remove all signs of pets (bowls, rugs, pillows, etc.)
Remove any table coverings
De-clutter fireplace mantel

General Requests

Please note that it is extremely important that the home be in “photograph-ready” condition prior to our arrival. The sessions usually take anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours and we sometimes have multiple shoots on a day so we need to stay as close to schedule as possible. In the event a home is not ready for photographs, we will either shoot “as is” or return at a later date and time, losing valuable internet timing and interest in your home. Also, a shoot on a sunny day is preferable. From these photos we will be making your home brochures, as well as posting your home on 10-20 internet sites.  So you want to put your best face on for this extremely important aspect of marketing your home for sale.  : )

Thursday, March 31, 2011



Give us a call and we will devote all of our experience, expertise, energy, marketing and negotiating skills to work Just For You!   ( Of course, we are still working with some interested buyers..who may be looking for a home just like yours.) 

Call Paul at 301.963.2020 direct for advice, consultation, or to list your home if you want it sold quickly and for the best price.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What your MD HOA and Condo Associations may be keeping a secret from you!

On May 4, 2010, Governor O'Malley signed into law Maryland SB 224, the so-called "Right-to-Dry" legislation, which requires condominium associations, homeowner associations, and cooperatives to allow homeowners to install clotheslines on their property.

The actual law follows:

There are exceptions for historical properties...see actual legislation on the link above.

Maryland is open to "going green" !

Saturday, March 26, 2011



Selling your home may seem simple, but there are taxes, fees, insurance and other expenses that buyers and sellers must prepare for.

Here is a list of the traditional distribution of expenses in Montgomery County, MD. Certain regions of the country and state vary in these customs. Keep in mind that some of these items are negotiable by both parties at the time of the offer, excluding some expenses required by the State and lender to be paid specifically by the seller.

The BUYER typically pays:

Notary fees
Escrow Fees
Document preparation (if applicable)
Recording charges for all documents in buyer’s name
Termite inspection
Tax pro ration
Homeowner’s transfer fee
All new loan charges (except those required by lender for seller to pay)
Interest on new loan from date of funding to 30 days prior to first payment date
Assumption /Change of Records fees for take-over of existing loan
Beneficiary Statement fee for assumption of existing loan
Other Inspection fees (roofing, property inspection, geological, radon, etc.)
Home Warranty
Lender’s policy
Fire Insurance Premium for first year
Broker Administrative fees
50% of State and County Transfer & Recordation Taxes
Title Insurance Premium: Owner’s Policy/Lender's Policy
HOA fees

The SELLER typically pays:

Real estate commission
Escrow fees
Notary Fees
Any bonds or assessments
Recording changes to clear all documents of record against seller
Any unpaid homeowner’s dues
Broker Administrative Fees
Tax pro ration (for any taxes unpaid at time of transfer of title)
Home Warranty
Any judgments, tax liens, etc. against the seller
Statement Fees, re conveyance fees, and and prepayment penalties
Interest accrued to lender being paid off
Payoff of all loans in seller’s name (or existing loan balance if assumed by buyers)
Any loan fees required by buyer’s lender
Document preparation fee for deed
Applicable city transfer/conveyance tax
50% of State and County Transfer & Recordation Taxes
Final electricity, water, gas, oil, cable bills.
Current updated HOA docs for the buyer's inspection

These are the main expenses and fees that need to be considered by the Seller and the Buyer. If I seem to have missed something, or you want to discuss or ask questions, please leave a comment below or phone Paul for further clarifications and estimates for your own purposes and situation. He will be happy to explain them to you. We aim to make your home sale and purchase as clear and simple and profitable as possible for you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An Even Bigger Investment Than Your House is Your Mortgage!


To read more about it, read this article that was in the Washington Post recently, on March 12, 2011. In conclusion, I suggest if you are interested in purchasing a home, the sooner the better if you want the best financing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Bus Service from Gaithersburg to BWI Airport, Hourly!

ICC Bus Route 201 operates between the Gaithersburg Park and Ride lot located at I-270 and MD 124 in Montgomery County and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in Anne Arundel County. Buses leave the Gaithersburg Park and Ride lot and travel south on I-270 to I-370 that turns into MD 200, the ICC. Service continues on the ICC to the Shady Grove Metro Station. Upon leaving the Metro Station, the service returns to the ICC and travels to the Norbeck Park and Ride on Norbeck Road at MD 97. The route then follows MD 28 to MD 198 to the Burtonsville Park and Ride lot, continuing north on Rt. 29, east on MD 32 and north on I-95 to I-195 to BWI Airport. The route terminates at the BWI MARC/Amtrak Rail Station.

$5 each way, discounted for seniors and those with disabilities.

The No. 201 operates seven days a week with hourly service accommodating 14 daily round trips, with intermediate stops. The 47-mile trip takes approximately 75 minutes.

For more detailed information, click here...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mondays Don't Have to Be Blue - You can make them Happy!

Did you know that Clydes of Tower Oaks in Rockville offers half price wines and half price oysters and raw bar every Monday from 3 - 7pm? They also have half price raw bar all days of the week at different hours. The wine special is only on Mondays at this location. They offer a lovely atmosphere and monthly dinner specials too with a varied menu of delicious healthy choices.

For more information on how to make your Mondays special, you can find more information here and click on What's Happening on the bottom bar on their website. Other Clyde's locations also have other specials that you may be interested in too.
They have a wonderful selection of wines as well as oysters from around the world.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Wish My Grandmother Could Have Seen This - It Would Have Made Her So Happy!

At my grandmother's surprise 90th birthday party with her "girls". (Three daughters and she also raised my aunt. My Grandmother is in the blue, my Mom is on the far right.)

Paul and I moved to Maryland in 1983. Well, I was born here, but grew up mostly in Pennsylvania, where most of my relatives live too.

Everytime my mom and grandmother came to visit us here in MD from PA, my grandmother would lament on how crazy it is that we were never allowed to have clotheslines in any of the homes and neighborhoods that we lived in. (We have lived in 5 homes since moving to MD.)

"How can you have fresh smelling sheets?" "The sun and fresh air makes your laundry smell good and stay bright." These were some of her reasonings.

Keep in mind, probably from the time she was a girl, till when she passed away around 10 years ago at the age of 98, even in the dead of winter, she hung sheets and other laundry out to dry. She even sewed these really cute little bags that hung on hangers to keep the clothespins clean and handy on the line.

She would shake her head and say that our neighborhoods are certainly crazy.

Today I was attending a Continueing Education course at Village Settlements in Kentlands (Gaithersburg) for the two year renewal of my Realtors License, and this course was Maryland Legislative Updates.

I was surprised to learn in class that on May 4, 2010, Governor O'Malley signed into law Maryland SB 224, the so-called "Right-to-Dry" legislation, which requires condominium associations, homeowner associations, and cooperatives to allow homeowners to install clotheslines on their property. The new law, effective on October 1, 2010, adds section 14-130 to the Real Property Code, "Installation and Use of Clotheslines on Residential Property."

This would have made my Grandmother so happy! To be fair, my Mom also hung her clothes out back on the line, but she never bugged me about not having a clothesline at my home.

To read more about the law, click on this link. I believe historical properties are exempt from this ruling.

I guess Maryland is "Going Green"!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thirteen Things Your Burgler Won't Tell You

First of all, I have to apologize for not upkeeping my blogging. I realize that I love to be a reader more than a writer...but I will try to do better in this regard.

So last week Paul and I were away out of town for the week on some business that we needed to take care of, and while we were gone, 6 homes on our street in Quince Haven Estates were broken into and robbed.

In fact, our next door neighbor awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of his garage door opening, went downstairs, and scared away two intruders in the garage of their home. He phoned the police and they came right away but couldn't find anyone. Our neighbor also phoned us since he knew we were out of town, but thankfully, our home was not hit. Plus the police did look all around our house too for any problems.

The other day, I got this email about burglaries, (timely, for sure) from a friend, and I thought I would share this email with you.

You can never be too cautious. One thing I heard was that not everyone had their cars/vans locked, and with the automatic garage door openers, that is an open invitation for criminals.

Here is the email:

Also good for people who are alone see the last section re car alarms.

THIRTEEN THINGS YOUR BURGLAR WON'T TELL YOU 1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator. 2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier. 3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste... and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have. 4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.. 5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway. 6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy. 7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too. 8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door - understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather. 9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.) 10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet. 11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms. 12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me. 13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at 8 MORE THINGS A BURGLAR WON'T TELL YOU: 1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook. 2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors. 3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again... If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature. 4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it? 5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets. 6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address. 7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation. 8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in. Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky ; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job WASP SPRAY A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead. The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection... Thought this was interesting and might be of use. FROM ANOTHER SOURCE On the heels of a break in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self-defense experts have a tip that could save your life. Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School. For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed. Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them." Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says, "spray the culprit in the eyes". It's a tip he's given to students for decades. It's also one he wants everyone to hear. If you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray. "That's going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out." Maybe even save a life. Put your car keys beside your bed at night Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr's office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies. This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime. P.S. I am sending this to everyone I know because I think it is fantastic. Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem. Please pass this on even IF you've read it before. It's a reminder Please share this with all the people in your life.

Some of these things I find kind of suspicious, cause really, when we have workers in our homes who need to use the bathroom- I am gracious, or I always give them cold water drinks when they are working need to be nice to others ...but then again, I always check door and window locks whenever any service people have been around. It's not that I don't like or trust them...I just don't want to be stupid. Cause everyone knows, the most charming con men are the best at what they do.

I have been seeing police cars cruising our neighborhood lately...multiple times per day..quite nice guys..chatting up the moms with kids picking their children up from the bus stop or walking their dogs and such..but I heard our homeowners association is paying extra or is someway involved in this schedule.

Also, I feel a little guilty about posting this, cause we have had some great hard working yard work guys come and take care of downed trees, put in sidewalks, all kinds of things, and I am sure they are good honest guys. I give them water and let them use the bathroom anytime they want..and they work really hard for each dollar they earn. I do respect them.

I'm not really worried. I have guard kitty cats, and pretty old electronics, and no jewels. My photos are my favorite treasures. On the other hand, no bad guys better come here and make me afraid. oxoxP