Five Puget Sound Destinations to Visit

When you buy a home, you are also buying the area. Most of my clients are looking to the Puget Sound to find their perfect nook around the vast waters. I figured I could offer some incredible must-stop spots to explore and connect with local communities in the Puget Sound. These five Puget Sound destinations to visit will knock your socks off!

Separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island, Deception Pass is one of the most beautiful, and slightly terrifying, state parks in the Puget Sound. This destination is most famous for its high bridges that provide a spectacular view of the water. If you’re looking to explore the area on foot, getting down to the sound does not come as a challenge. Here lies jaw-dropping cliffs, secluded beaches, and immersive hikes for an all around wonderful PNW experience.

On the Puget Sound, the Point Defiance Park is a hot spot for locals and tourist alike. This park offers various hiking trails that restrict vehicles during certain times of the day for a truly enchanting experience. Another notable feature of this park would be its accessibility. In the last blog, we talked about scenic hikes, but what if you’re not a hiker? Point Defiance Park has it all offering two five-mile drive loops. This means that vehicles can drive through nature and enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of their own vehicle.

Coming into Spring, the weather is assumed to start warming up. Though, this doesn’t take away from the fact that warming up in the Puget Sound hovers around the 50’s. If your lovely home doesn’t include a hot tub, I may have the spot for you. Located in Port Angeles, the Olympic Hot Springs consists of 21 hot springs. These hot springs are surrounded by luscious rainforests making them the perfect sanctuary to destress.

The San Juan islands are a unique set of neighboring islands with rich cultures and communities.  Though these islands offer many different adventures, Lopez Island stands out from the crowd. There are many museums, shops, and cafes located on the island though it is most notable for its cycling. Starting in April, Lopez Island offers four routes at 5, 12, 17, and 31 miles. Whatever your pace, the “Tour de Lopez” is an invigorating experience you can’t miss out on!

Four Scenic Winter Hikes in Washington State

One of the best things about Washington State is that there is no off-season for outdoor recreation! When it comes to hiking, many favorite trails are open in the winter months, providing hikers with a completely new experience to the surrounding landscape compared to the summer.

Here are four of the best winter hikes around the state!

Palouse Falls State Park
Eastern Washington

Travel the 1.2-mile gravel loop around the canyon to enjoy every view of this beautiful frozen waterfall! To make the most of this winter spot, take advantage of the short trail and make it a sunset hike, enjoying the magic of the sun setting over the canyon rim. The trailhead starts at Palouse Falls State Park in Franklin County and is classified as moderate difficulty with an elevation gain of 50-200 feet.

Sol Duc Falls
Olympic National Park

Starting at the North Side of Olympic National Park, this short 1.6-mile out-and-back trail does not disappoint! One of the best parts about this location is that it is situated in a rainforest, so it remains open mostly all year long. Though hikers may not find snow, this trail provides the rainforest experience, waterfalls and even hot springs at a nearby resort! With the difficulty level classified as easy and an elevation gain of 200 feet, is the perfect spot for families and first-time hikers!

Gold Creek Pond
Snoqualmie Pass

Located in the Snoqualmie Pass area of the Cascade Mountains, this short loop has a 2.3 miles out-and-back trail that is a great spot for scenic winter views of the lake and surrounding evergreens! Because of the elevation level, this trail is almost guaranteed to have snow all winter long. With 100 feet of elevation gain and a difficulty level classified as easy, this is the perfect place for snowshoeing beginners!

Lake Wenatchee State Park
East Stevens Pass

With a classified difficulty level of very easy, a trail length of about half a mile and less than 50 feet elevation, our easiest hike on the list does not disappoint when it comes to winter scenery! Located in East Stevens Pass, Lake Wenatchee State Park provides breath-taking views of a snow and ice-covered Emerald Island located in the middle of the lake! Though the trail is easy, be sure to bring a backpack to keep your hands free to climb over a few rocks and fallen trees.

Safety First

Proper preparation for any outdoor activity is always of the utmost importance, so make sure to pack the following essentials:

  • Warm clothing
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight
  • Water and food supplies

Happy hiking!

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home!

We are almost there, 2021 is right around the corner! With this roller coaster of a year winding down to a close, it is no surprise that a lot of people are taking the time now to reflect and prepare their resolutions for the new year. If this year has taught us anything, it is that the comfort and up-keep of our homes is essential. This year, since we are home for the holidays, let’s show our houses a little love!

Here are a few New Year’s resolutions for your home!

Out with the Old

Decluttering is one of the best ways to start off the new year (especially after all the 2020 online shopping sprees)! Designate a space to put donations and take some time to go through each room and pull the items you no longer have a need or use for. In order to make things as seamless as possible, after you have gotten rid of your items, start organizing your space before buying tubs or baskets, that way you know exactly what you will need in order to complete your space.

Keeping in Shape

One area of our homes that needs a lot of love and attention are the systems and appliances. Keep up maintenance with your home systems this winter to ensure things are running smoothly and are not lacking in upkeep. Cleaning and repairing appliances are a huge payoff in the long-run, so make sure you keep your home running as smooth as possible by doing things such as maintaining your garage door, upkeeping your furnace and protecting your air conditioner through the winter.

Green Goals

A lot of people make it their personal resolutions to work towards living a more sustainable lifestyle, make your home a part of that goal with you! Not only will it help lessen your bills, but it will reduce your carbon footprint as well!

Some easy ways to start are:

  • make sure you turn off the lights when you leave a room
  • turn off your air conditioner/heat when you aren’t home
  • install LED lights
  • wait for your dishwasher and washing machine to be full before running them
  • switch to a low-flow showerhead
  • start composting!

The list goes on for ways to make your home more green, but this is a great way to start!

Clean Habits

Keeping your home clean can be a challenge, especially this year when our homes became schools and offices! To make cleaning easier to upkeep, create a weekly and daily cleaning schedule. Daily cleaning routines could include things like making sure all dirty laundry makes it into the hamper each night and all dirty dishes are put away in the dishwasher. For the weekly cleaning habits, designate a time that usually is free every week to tackle the big stuff. To streamline your cleaning, try to stick to one task at a time instead of working through each room individually. This will help things get done so much faster and will help keep your home looking spotless!

These home resolutions will help keep your home running smoothly into the new year and will make a huge difference in the long-run!

Happy Holidays and have a wonderful New Year!

How to Make the Most of Being Home for the Holidays

It’s no secret that the holidays are going to look a little different this year. This season, showing our love to those we care about the most looks like staying home and staying safe. As we joyfully anticipate the day we can be reunited again, we can take this holiday, in spite of all the year’s challenges, to reflect with gratitude for all that we do have to be thankful for.

Here’s some tips on how to make this holiday at home just as sweet!

Cyber Celebration

One of the most popular ways people are planning on celebrating the holidays this year is through virtual gatherings. Set up your device at the table and share your meal with the ones you love in the safest way! To make it feel even more connected, try using matching table settings or centerpieces, or have a shared recipe that everyone agrees to make together!

Doorstep Drop-Off

Since potlucks are out, try a new way to share treats this year! Create some holiday care packages to drop-off as a way to make everyone feel connected. Include things like table decor, cards to write what you’re thankful for to share at your virtual dinner, and homemade treats!

Relational Recipes

Take time to pass along or share family recipes! This could be a great year to involve kids and help them make some of the holiday recipes, teaching them through an activity and still connecting them with family. With a virtual family dinner, pick one recipe that everyone can make and share together over the meal!

Twists on Tradition

With the changes in place this year, holiday traditions may not look quite the same as they usually do. Make the most of your day and mix things up a little! Keep some traditions like watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or tossing around the football, but make some new traditions too, like having a movie marathon or a board game tournament!

Thankful at the Table

This year more than ever, take some time during the holiday to share what you are grateful for. Emotions have been high this year and taking some time to focus on the positive, to share thankfulness and gratitude with loved ones is a very intentional way to connect even when we’re apart.

Everything is going to look a little different this year, but these tips will hopefully help bring your holidays a little closer together!

How to Add Value to Your Home: A Fall Checklist

As the leaves begin to transform our neighborhoods into a beautiful palette of oranges, golds and reds and the cold weather leads to the packing away of summer clothes and the arrival of the highly anticipated “sweater weather,” our homes need to prepare for the coming winter months as well.

There are some small and simple ways to turn that fall checklist into an investment by tacking on a few more to-do’s that can add value to your home!

Gutter Clutter

With the falling leaves, it is easy for gutters to get filled up and clogged, which can end up causing rust and corrosion, not to mention potential exterior water damage. Do yourself and your home a favor and add mesh guards to your newly cleaned gutters to prevent future debris from piling up!

Roof Repair

Before the cold rain and snow hits, one major way to increase your home’s value and prepare for the winter is to keep up your roof maintenance. Take some time and do a thorough roof inspection, checking for any damage or possible leak locations. If you are looking to put your house on the market in the coming year, investing in a new roof appeals to potential buyers because it eliminates their need to budget for roof repairs.

Furnace Focus

The last thing your family needs to worry about in the dead of winter is issues with your indoor-heating system. Not only will inspecting and updating your furnace give you peace-of-mind when the temperatures hit freezing, but upgrades add value to your home by giving the low-maintenance appeal when it is time to sell.

Winter Windows

Window maintenance is essential when it comes to the internal temperatures of your home. Without proper care, your windows can make your home feel like a greenhouse in the summer and an icebox in the winter. Make some time to check your windows for air leaks and seal up any cracks between door and window frames, between trim and siding and wherever pipes or wires enter your home. This helps prevent moisture from getting in your house and it is a very inexpensive way to prevent major interior damage. Investing in new windows has also proven to be a major selling point in adding to your home’s value.

Clutter-Free Curbs

Before your sidewalks, walkways and driveway get buried in snow and rain, take time to clear any clutter and potential hazards from becoming hidden in the winter months. Raking, mowing and cleaning up outdoor areas not only prevents accidents, but also adds curb-appeal to potential buyers.

Though most items on the fall home maintenance checklist are simple and inexpensive, taking time to put a little extra energy and money into the areas that matter will make a huge difference when it comes time to put your house on the market!

How to Make the Most of Your Home Office

This year, our work environments have looked a lot different than we are used to. For the better part of the year, a majority of people have experienced working from home for the very first time. We all got to learn very quickly that an in-office workspace and a home workspace are two incredibly different working experiences. With the added distractions of new “co-workers,” online meetings and adapting to a whole new work life, the best thing you can do for yourself is to optimize your home office.

Here are some simple and effective tips to help you get the most out of your home work space!

Think Green

Do not underestimate the power of adding live plants to your workspace. Not only do they improve air quality, but live plants also supply calming effects to any environment. Plants have actually been proved to not only reduce stress, but also boost productivity!

Design a Nonwork Space

It can be overwhelming to walk into a room with only a desk and a chair and carry out a full work day. Create a space that is not designed specifically for work, for example, add a lamp and chair to create a reading nook or meditation space. This not only reminds you to take breaks throughout the day, but also helps prevent you from sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day as well.

Set Work-Life Boundaries

One of the most difficult aspects of working from home is the lack of structure, which can cause an overlapping between work life and home life that was not there before. Recreate some of that office structure by setting specific working hours (and sticking to them!), closing the door to avoid outside distractions, avoid eating or taking breaks in your office space and stick to your set routine to keep your working week consistent and more productive.

Utilize the Power of Scent

Scent is one of the most undervalued tools for enhancing focus and productivity. With the help of scented candles or essential oils, you can easily create an environment that subconsciously helps set you up for a more effective work day.

Make it Your Own

Just like you add things like photos and art to your office workspace, do not let the fact that you are in your house stop you from doing this in your home workspace! Little things like adding decorations can actually make a huge difference when it comes to your work environment. If you are spending most of your day in this space, for most of the week, make it your own and a space you can enjoy being in!

Brighten It Up

Proper lighting is essential when it comes to an office. Dark spaces can lower energy levels, strain your eyes and make it harder to focus. Whether it is natural light or lamps, brightening up your space is not only healthy for your eyes and increases productivity, but it also supports your mental health too!

These simple tips may seem small, but will make a world of difference when it comes to getting the most out of your home office!

August Produce Recipes

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With the last weeks of August slowing burning out, there is one major summer treat we are holding onto – produce!

There is nothing better than fresh produce, and August provides an abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables (and let’s face it, nothing beats berry season)! Another huge bonus of summer produce this year is that farmers markets are a safe alternative to indoor grocery shopping and it supports small businesses.

Take advantage of what is in season and try out some new recipes this August that are perfect for any outdoor grilling night!

Drinks

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Spicy Jalapeño Watermelon Margaritas

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Fresh Bellini Cocktail

Soups

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Zucchini Corn Chowder

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Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho

Salads

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Grilled Corn and Peach Cobb Salad

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Summer Squash Grain Salad with Corn and Feta

Entrees

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Roasted Pepper, Nectarine and Ricotta Grilled Pizza

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Tex Mex Rice and Beans with Zucchini

Desserts

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Balsamic Stone Fruit Sundae

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Mixed Berry Crisp (Gluten Free)

Grab your fresh produce and support small businesses and visit your local farmers market! Happy cooking!

August Produce Recipes

Creative Ways to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer (Without AC)!

Businesswoman Suffering From Heat In Front Of Small Fan At Workp

As we approach the dog days of summer, we are all looking for ways to keep our homes comfortable. Without air conditioning, it is a task that can prove to be a little challenging, but the good news is that there are some simple solutions to help (aside from adding a fan to every room of the house)!

Here are some of the simple and creative ways we are keeping our homes cool this summer:

Utilize Your Doors

Closing the doors of unused rooms can help control keeping the cool air in the areas of your home that are being used during the day. At night, take advantage of lower temperatures and open the doors to let the air flow through all the rooms of your home.

Close Your Blinds

Though it does not seem like much, keeping your blinds closed during the hottest parts of the day can keep a significant amount of unwanted heat from coming in through the windows. By keeping your blinds open, windows begin to have a greenhouse effect on your living space, by allowing heat to enter and then essentially trapping it inside. Another great alternative is using blackout curtains. Blackout curtains have the opposite effect of acting as a greenhouse, they keep heat out and act as a natural insulator, trapping the cool in.

Switch Up Your Sheets

It is always a good idea to rotate your sheets in the changing seasons to not only maximize a good night’s sleep, but to also make sure your body maintains a comfortable temperature during the night as well. Though materials like fleece and flannel are coziest in the cooler months, cotton is the best fabric for the summer since it breathes more easily and stays cool.

Use the Old “Fan A/C” Trick

This life-hack has been around for decades and still works just as well to stay cool on the hottest days. Take a large mixing bowl and fill it with ice (or ice packs) and place it in front of a large, rotating fan. Instead of blowing and mixing around the warm air, this allows the fan to circulate chilled, misty air around the room!

Reverse Your Ceiling Fan Rotation

Most people do not know that ceiling fans should be adjusted every season. By setting your fan to run at a high-speed counter-clockwise, the airflow from your fan creates an extra-chilled breeze that will quickly cool off any room.

Switch On Your Bathroom Fans

Bathroom fans are designed to lift all of the hot, steamy air from showers and pull them up and out of the house. Kitchen fans are designed to do the same things for our stoves when we cook. Utilizing these fans during the hottest parts of the day can help eliminate some of that extra heat trapped in these areas.

Cook Outdoors

Though it may not seem like it, simply turning on and using the stovetop or oven can add an exceptional amount of heat to your home. Instead of cooking indoors, take advantage of the nice weather and switch over your meals to cook on a grill or prepare some meal ideas that do not require heated cooking at all.

Take Advantage of the Night Air 

As soon as the temperatures start to drop for the evening, crack your windows and strategically set up your fans to allow cross-breezes to let in all of the cool night air. Then, in the morning, make sure to close your windows and blinds to trap that cold air in from the night before and keep the heat of the day out.

With so many more of us staying at home this summer, take advantage of all the creative ways to keep your living space the most comfortable and enjoyable!

Ways to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer Without AC

6 Steps to Starting A Home Garden

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We all have that list of things we have always wanted to do when we just “find some time.” One thing that this year has given us is just that, and a lot of it. During this season of staying home, many people are picking up new hobbies and taking this time to learn some new skills. Along with learning how to bake banana bread, starting a home garden has been one of the top pastimes people have begun to take on. 

With the unpredictability of store inventory over the last few months, the weather getting nicer and the monotony of staying inside all day growing with each passing day, the idea of growing produce in the backyard took off overnight.

Here are six easy steps to starting your own backyard garden:

1. Figure out the best location and layout for your garden

Location and layout play a big part in building a garden space that will provide the greatest opportunity for your plants to thrive. Take a moment to ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Do I have enough space to plant my garden in the ground or will my plants grow better in pots and planters?
  • How big does my garden space or pots/planters need to be to best accommodate the produce I am planting?
  • Are the plants I am growing going to need more sunlight or shade?
  • What type of soil do my plants require?

2. Prepare your soil

In addition to the right amount of sunlight and water, plants (especially produce) require the right type of soil environment to be successful. Take some time to find out what kind of soil your produce needs to succeed. Also consider:

  • What tools do you need?
  • What kind of fertilizer does your soil need?
  • Are you going to do countertop composting for your garden? If yes, what effect will that have on your garden?

3. Invest in starter plants

As more people begin their at-home gardening journeys, seeds are starting to become harder to come by in stores. The best tip nowadays, unless you are an experienced gardener, is to invest in starter plants! Especially with herbs, starter plants make it easy to get your garden started and growing fast. 

4. Set up a schedule

Once your garden is in the ground and ready to grow, set up a schedule for watering. Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining a successful garden. Be sure to match and measure your watering schedule around the weather in order to know whether you will need to water more or less than usual.

5. Maintain pest control

Along with watering, maintaining pests that love to snack on your newly planted produce is also a regular action needed to make sure your plants are thriving. Helpful tip: plant some marigolds! In addition to the pop of color and beauty they will give your garden, marigolds act as a natural pest control, attracting insects like ladybugs that prey on harmful garden pests. 

6. Harvest your produce

When your plants begin to produce, make sure you keep harvesting often. Harvesting at the right time allows your produce to begin preparation to start new growths. This will keep your garden happy, healthy and thriving!

Good luck and happy gardening!

How to Start a Home Garden

10 Moving Tips for an Easy Move

Couple In Room With Cardboard Boxes On Moving Day

Moving can be overwhelming and stressful, but it does not have to be. These moving tips are a sure way to make sure the entire process is easy, organized and less stress from start to finish. Let this process be one to enjoy, not dread.

1. Purge before packing. Packing and moving unnecessary items can make packing, and even unpacking, a bigger job than it needs to be. Here are some great items to purge:

    • Books
    • Cookbooks
    • Movies
    • Toys
    • Expired food
    • Toiletries and cosmetics
    • Craft supplies
    • Linens

2. Do little bits at a time. Packing is tiring, so you will want to break it up. Do not wait until the last minute, it will just add stress that you don’t need.

3. Make a packing list. This is a great way to organize your packing process. Start with rooms or areas that you will not need before you move such as books, items on shelves, etc. Really plan it out and set a timeline to each room. You will be sure to finish in time for moving day.

4. Use storage bags of various sizes. You can use these bags for multiple items that would otherwise be separate and loose in a box. Cords, screws/nails, silverware, pens/pencils, and bedside table drawers are just a few ideas to throw into a bag.

5. Tape bags of screws, nails, etc. to the item they belong to, so they stay together. Label the bag with what it goes to just in case it gets torn off or separated in the move.

6. Use towels, blankets, and pillows as padding for breakables. Do not pack them all together, instead, use them around items for additional protection.

7. Label cords and remotes with tape and a sharpie and put them all in the same bag or bin.

8. Along with what is in the box, label your boxes with the room they belong to so unloading is easier. When your friends or moving company unload the boxes, they can drop them in the room it belongs in.

9. If you can, hire a moving company to do the actual move. The moving company will come with all the tools to do the heavy lifting. They are usually more efficient, cutting the move time down tremendously. You can just sit back and supervise.

10. Have a moving party. If you cannot hire a moving company, ask for help and provide snacks, drinks and goodies for those who help. Your friends and family members will appreciate the thought.

I hope you found these tips helpful. May your next move be a little bit easier.

Moving Tips