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Month: September 2012

Ask and Answer offers expert advice from home service professionals

Ask and Answer offers expert advice from home service professionals

Monthly networking event
Expert advice from home service professionals

The next Ask and Answer gathering is coming up Wednesday, Sept. 19th from 6-7PM, and this month we have several special guest professionals who have promised to be on hand to let you pick their brains.

In case you are new to Ask and Answer, it is an informal, monthly gathering of home owners, future home owners and home service professionals. This event provides an opportunity for you to get free advice by Asking questions of the pros. And as an added bonus, you can bring your business cards to pass out and Answer questions about your own line of work. Attendees use Ask and Answer as a networking opportunity to gain valuable leads to increase their own business. You can, too!

This month’s Special Guests are:

Laura Elfline, Business Manager for Mighty House Construction
“Mighty House Construction is a full-service general contracting company founded by a third generation construction specialist and a green building junkie. Mighty House specializes in innovative, sustainable transformations for your home.”  You can ask Laura about current trends in “green” building.

> Laurie Aull, Aull the Best Painting, 206-799-5988,
Laurie has over 10 years experience as a professional painter of interiors and exteriors. If you are the DIY type, come and pick Laurie’s brain about how to choose the right paints, brushes, rollers, etc.

> Irmi Jensen, lawn and garden specialist, 206-325-4677
Irmi is a one-woman shop, providing periodic and on-going yard care for local home owners

Ask and Answer is hosted by Alice Kuder and Savvy Seattle Women at the Prudential Northwest Real Estate office in Jefferson Square Shopping Center, West Seattle. The address is 4700 42nd Ave SW, Suite 600, 98116. There is plenty of free parking available on the street and a limited amount on the second floor of the underground parking garage (accessed from 42nd Ave SW).

Drop by on your way home from work; stay for a few minutes or the whole hour. We provide complimentary refreshments to ensure that you won’t starve before you can get your dinner.


Urban farmers and surplus fruit in Seattle

Urban farmers and surplus fruit in Seattle

 Attention urban farmers (intentional, or not)! Since yesterday’s post about how to donate the surplus fruit from your trees, I came across another option. Barter!

Crop Swap is a new website that facilitates trading between “urban farmers” and it’s not just limited to fruit. Trades can involve things such as eggs, flower bulbs, vegetables, etc.

Here is a link to a story about Crop Swap on the website.

41 Legs Urban Farm in Seattle’s Madison Valley neighborhood is a somewhat similar venture. I haven’t been able to locate much information about 41 Legs — including whether they strictly sell or also barter — but it is a group of at least 3 urban farmers who grow vegetables, raise chickens, ducks, rabbits and a pig! They have a page on Facebook, but not their own website (yet).

On a related note, has anyone else noticed how common it is becoming to find that your neighbors are raising chickens? Recently I have detected at least 3 new coops within a half mile radius of my house. (Roosters are not allowed, by the way, for obvious reasons, but I don’t think that message is being heeded much.)

Perhaps the increase started in August of 2010, when the Seattle Municipal Code was revised to allow city residents to raise up to 8 chickens per household. For a layman’s translation of the ordinance visit the website. Seattle Tilth is another local organization with a mission to “inspire and educate people to grow food organically.”

Here’s a link to another story on a site called, about a young woman by the name of Nina Finley, who turned her early interest in farming into a reality in her city home.

Whether it is fueled by a desire for eating healthier foods or a need to stretch the shrinking dollar, it seems there is an ever-increasing interest in urban agriculture. Or perhaps farming is just in our nature and we find ways to get back to it even when living in the city.

What about you? Any desire to grow vegetables or raise chickens?


Got fruit? Donate surplus fruit from your trees

Got fruit? Donate surplus fruit from your trees

Wild blackberries

Do you have fruit trees in your yard that produce more than your family can use? Consider donating the surplus fruit to one of the local organizations that will distribute it to needy families. Not only will they distribute the surplus fruit, they will come to your home and harvest it for you! How great is that?

Here is a link to a feature story on that tells you all about once such group called Community Fruit Tree Harvest Projects.

Need more incentive? For a small donation, another non-profit called City Fruit will check your tree to see if it’s healthy and prune it free of charge!

Community Fruit Tree Harvest is another gleaning project sponsored by the anti-poverty group Solid Ground. In their own words, “Solid Ground works to end poverty and undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty.”

City Fruit is another local organization dedicated to making use of surplus fruit. They urge us to join them in “reclaiming urban fruit!”

The mission of City Fruit is to “promote the cultivation of urban fruit in order to nourish people, build community and protect the climate. We help tree owners grow healthy fruit, provide assistance in harvesting and preserving fruit, promote the sharing of extra fruit, and work to protect urban fruit trees.”

Although the Rotary Club does not harvest fruit and vegetable directly, their Harvest Against Hunger program is dedicated to “Connecting farms, food banks and volunteers for statewide hunger relief.”  The project’s mission is “to secure fresh produce for distribution to thousands of hungry families and individuals throughout Washington State.”

Two more well-known local organizations that work tirelessly to end hunger are Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline. Again, they do not collect perishable food, but have many other ways you can help your neighbors in need.

If you are a professional educator, here is an organization whose website you should explore. Facing the Future. According to the website, “Facing the Future creates tools for educators that equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future.”

So the next time you step out into your yard and tiptoe around the fruit that is lying on the ground, spoiling, pick up your phone and call one of the groups listed here. Everyone benefits.

Know of other groups such as these? Please mention them in the comments section below.

Small homes offer big advantages

Small homes offer big advantages

Small home for sale!

Have you ever considered the big advantages to owning a small home?

In my first conversation with new clients looking to buy their first home, we always discuss their list of needs and wants (aka “must have” vs. “prefer”). This includes everything from  number of bedrooms and bathrooms to commute times and neighborhoods.

I am always interested to hear how much square footage my buyers would like. Most first-time buyers who are native to this area (whether a single person or a couple without children) estimate that they need at least 1000 sq. ft. of living space. Recently, however, I started working with a young couple who is moving here from Honolulu, Hawaii, where the price of real estate is significantly higher. They are used to living in such small spaces that 1,000 sq. ft. seems like a McMansion to them!


Living in a small home allows you to…

  1. Prevent back injuries (yours and your friends). Right from the start, moving into a small home costs less. You can rent a smaller moving truck and hire fewer helpers because it takes less time to move fewer belongings.
  2. Thumb your nose at the tax assessor. Personal property taxes are based on the combined value of your home and your lot. All other things being equal, the market value of a larger house is more than the market value of a smaller house, so the tax bill on a small home is less.
  3. Hire a maid.  It costs less to clean a smaller home; maybe you can afford a house cleaning service!
  4. Economize on flooring. Owners of small homes can often take advantage of bargain prices on flooring materials by shopping for remnants of hardwood, carpet, tile, etc.
  5. Avoid ladders. Most small homes are a single story, making it much more feasible to paint both interior and exterior walls yourself without risking a fall from a ladder. It’s also cheaper to hire a professional to paint your small home for you.
  6. Save on utility bills. It costs less to insulate, heat and cool smaller spaces. Consider using electric heat which eliminates the costs associated with furnace and duct work maintenance and allows you to heat just the rooms you are using.
  7. Spur your creativity. Smaller spaces inspire inventive ideas for maximizing every square inch of your home. Consider building a loft to take advantage of unused ceiling space. Or turn your stairs into drawers!
  8. Curb accumulation. The phrase, “Where would I put it?” will regularly run through your brian. When you have less space to fill, you tend to buy less stuff.
  9. Feel more secure. Smaller homes generally have fewer access points, i.e. doors and windows, so the bad guys can’t get in as easily without being seen/heard.
  10. Save travel time. Yes, it does take more time to walk from one end of a large home to the other and one floor to the next. Those seconds add up more quickly than you think, especially if you are running late!
Those are my Top 10 reasons for owning a small home. And here’s a bonus reason. Small homes are cuter than large homes!
If you are thinking of buying a small home, navigate to my Prudential Northwest Realty website where I have set up an automated small home search from various parts of metropolitan Seattle.
And here is a link to information about a terrific small home that is for sale in the Westwood neighborhood of West Seattle. (It happens to be my listing.) Call me today for an appointment to see it in person. 206-708-9800.