Do You Hear Crickets Chirping?

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It has been a crazy few months around the Southern Homestead.  So much to do in so little time that I have neglected one of the things I love to do most….write my daily adventures.  Hence the title of this post…the long time sound often used to denote nobody or nothing is around or listening.

Let’s see if I can catch y’all up here…

I spent almost every waking moment from January until 2 weeks ago purging, cleaning, primping and staging our home for sale.  I sewed new throw pillow covers for pretty much every room in the house (14 in all!), there was touchup painting and cleaning and washing the insides of cabinetry, then set finishing touches in every room.   I even cleaned windows, inside and out, in subzero temps.  As a Realtor, I know the importance of maximizing your homes potential for a quick sale.  All that hard work paid off as we listed and sold within a week for over our asking price.  Then, just 5 days later, we bought a condo apartment.  Another whirlwind of emotions with the end result being we have the next chapter in our life to look forward to.  More on that in a later post though.

In between all the house staging/selling hoopla, I managed to finally somewhat master the spinning wheel I borrowed from my Aunt and Uncle last summer.  Once I figured out that moving parts were gummed up and employing help from hubby to rectify them, I was off to the races.  As when I learned to spin on the drop spindle last Summer, the first output of so-called yarn was laughable at best.  So I sat for about an hour a day, usually evenings or early mornings, spinning from roving (prepared wool) that was on the rough and scratchy side (practice fluff) and  I now have a skein of yarn that can actually be made into something without falling apart.

DSC02895Bob the loom is still set up with a project as well.  A scarf that I am weaving with some handspun yarn created last Fall on my drop spindle, of which it is about half done.  I need to get that finished up and off the loom before the loom gets taken apart for the big move.

DSC02903Packing has also commenced, along with more purging of *stuff* in the crawlspace.  I tossed an awful lot of things into that deep canyon while prepping the house for sale.  A crawlspace is great place to store things, but it is so huge, that before you know it, it is filled to the brim with things that you no longer use or need but don’t have the time to get rid of.  Time to knuckle down now though if I want to be out of here in 60 days.

So my living room is set up with empty boxes and there is a staging area in the crawlspace for garage sale items, which is probably at least half the stuff in there if not more.  The rest will be donated or recycled in some fashion.  I detest sending anything to the landfill unless it is broken and of no use to someone else. Hubby and I are very environmentally conscience which comes from years of cottage life experience as well as our own morals of what we want for the planet. Hence my gardening/self-sustaining practices.  Of which, TODAY is the day I finally start my seed planting for the garden.


DSC02901I was delayed a week or two by the house selling routine.  I couldn’t very well have a living room window full of seed starting trays and pots, people would think it was a greenhouse, not a living room.

Cooking has also of taken a back seat lately, I cook to feed ourselves, but haven’t had time to experiment with anything new and exciting, which is a bummer as that is something I really like to do.  Once the move is done and we are settled into the new digs, then I will get my creative chef’s hat back on.

So that is about it in a nutshell, the important things anyway.  I will post quick updates as we move along with the move, but I hope for a return to a normal routine come June.  Just in time for all things blooming and growing in the gardens and the peacefulness of summer at the Northern Homestead.


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Flip Flop Beach Bag

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In my *real world* job, I help clients find their next new home and/or help them sell their existing home. The entire time I am dealing with people, I am carefully watching for indications of favourite colours, trends, interests, tastes and anything else I can pick up from them (unknowingly of course).  I then utilize this information to come up with a tailored and personalized closing gift.

Like this Beach Bag.

Which is for Deb (same name, cool eh?), who LOVES flip flops.  She has the largest collection of actual flip flops I have ever seen in one household, along with flip flop nic knacks, a flip flop table lamp, flip flop wall mounted decor, and many other things.  If it is in the shape of a flip flop, then she pretty much has it.  So it wasn’t hard to come up with an idea for a closing gift.

During my last trip Stateside a month ago, I hit up JoAnn’s Fabric stores as I was certain they would have some flip flop fabric.  To my surprise, the one and only pattern that they used to carry was long discontinued.  Dang it.  Next step was the internet.  What a wonderful thing it is too.  In no time I found a website ( that carried oodles of fabrics depicting flip flops in a variety of colours and backgrounds.

Perfect.  With the fabric chosen and ordered, I set about coming up with a pattern to use.  I did have one that I had used before, but wanted something larger to hold more towels, lotion, books, sunglasses, camera, etc.  I located several on-line, but couldn’t make up my mind which one would be best so ended up taking ideas from 2 different patterns and incorporating them into one.

Here is how it turned out….


DSC02487The bag is fully lined and features two inside pockets, one on each side and 2 outer pockets on each end with elastic encased in the seam allowance along the top to hold things in.



DSC02485 I also made a zippered cosmetic case, attaching via a tether that you can un-clip to use in your purse.  Finished dimensions are 14″ high x 17 1/2″ wide x 11″ depth.  Pretty darn roomy.  I will be adding some additional goodies inside the bag before I deliver it next week and I know she will absolutely go nuts for it.

Meanwhile, I think I am going to make another one for myself, after all Mexico is coming up soon ;)


P.S.  I will be detailing how I made this one for a future blog post.

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This and That & Things In Between

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Hi! How are you?!  Where the heck have you been?!!
I have been looking for you everywhere.

I know, I know… I said I was going to be posting *regularly*…but in my defense, there are just too many things happening around here that are keeping me from sitting down to this medium.

This will be a fairly short post, just snapshots of what is happening in the Southern Homestead…

Bob the loom is naked.  It is time to plan the next project now that my table runner is complete although it will be heading to the Northern Homestead as the kitchen table there is a varathaned white pine and much better suited to the bright colours than the walnut dining table here.

DSC00949I also have a B-I-G sewing project to start.  We have a very large, square patio umbrella over our hot tub that is in desperate need of replacement.  Since I can sew and am very thrifty (cheap), why pay $500-800 for a new umbrella to be made when I can make it myself?  Here is the chosen fabric, a grey and white checkerplate pattern…all 12 yards of it, and picked up on sale to boot.

DSC00939Now that Spring is here (sort of), my little plant pots are filled with dirt, seeds and love that are now showing little green sprouts of sunshine with the promise for a great harvest to come.

DSC00962But the most challenging and time-consuming project has been the basement bathroom addition….

DSC00909 DSC00955The PITA part of busting the concrete floor for hooking up new piping is done and hubby cemented over the hole, then applied a layer of self-leveling cement, which he will probably need to do again before we start tiling.  Meanwhile, the back wall is re-vapour barriered and ready for inspection by the City and he managed to drywall the outside of the bathroom wall amongst a bunch of little electrical projects that needed doing.

DSC00952He was so very busy this weekend and is sore to boot.  Poor guy had to head back to work today for a rest from all the manual labour.  I best take it easy on him if I want the project finished.

While he was busy playing with concrete and drywall, I was playing with paint (and managed to sell a property in between) in the laundry room.  The walls are a pale, butter yellow and the floor is a rustic brown shade, which still needs to be finished and will get done this week.

DSC00970The walls have been primer white for the last 8 years, I figured it was about time I got around to applying some actual paint.

I still need to get back to the de-cluttering (mostly my closet!) and with the warm weather finally here, I am rushing to get inside projects done as I have a few outdoor ones to tackle.

Life is always busy, so make sure you take the time to stop and smell the roses so to speak…or have a beer on the patio in the sun.

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No Time For…

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I am cleaning out the garden, cleaning up the house, knitting up a storm, making tomatillo salsa, drying herbs, doing laundry, catching up on my accounting (dang HST return), packing for our trip on Thursday AND working in between.

So…. I am officially on vacation until at least October 16th.  Adios. Hasta Luego, Catch y’all later!

For my Canadian family and friends ~ Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

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How to care for your Trees…

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I bet you are wondering what the heck is she doing now?  She does so much on so many different things, she can’t possibly be into the tree business too!

Relax.  I am not ‘into’ the tree business other than to keep my own trees barely pruned and alive. But sometimes I get myself into a situation where I need professional help (yeah, you can stop laughing now) with large, overgrown trees and/or limbs hanging precariously over a house, car, swimming pool or heaven forbid the beach cabana manned my Manuel the bartender.

If this happens, I call Andy.  I just love Andy.  He genuinely enjoys me pestering him.  Pretty sure he does, cause he dishes it right back to me.

Andy is a Brit.  He came to this country with wonderful dreams of opening his own tree care business in this vast…well, tree covered land of opportunity.  Wise choice.  Better than heading to the Sahara.  Andy is also a client of mine, along with his lovely wife who handles the important details of scheduling/bookkeeping and making his lunch everyday.  They both have graciously employed me 3 times now, yes 3 times! in helping them with their real estate needs.  Either I have them completely snowed or they genuinely enjoy my wit and humour….not sure which.

But back to the tree business.  I have personally used Andy’s expertise in tree care/removal in my real estate business with other clients and him and his team are top notch professionals.  Therefore, if you have a tree (or trees) that needs special attention – please call Andy, don’t call me, as I have not climbed a tree since I was 12!

Great Lakes Tree Service has been providing Burlington and surrounding areas with professional tree care and removal service.  Our customers have come to know us for our exceptional customer service and thorough project completion.  We have full liability insurance and WSIB coverage so you will always have peace of mind when we work for you.  
We offer a full range of services which include:  Tree removals, thinning, pruning, cabling, deadwooding, stump grinding, fertilizing, tree surveys and arborist reports.
Great Lakes Tree Service offers Priority Emergency Service no matter the time of day to help you through any tree related emergency.
Call Great Lakes Tree Service for a Free on-site quote!
Tel: (905) 659-8844




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Organizing a Home Office

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Is organizing your home office space high on your Resolutions List for this year? Yes, I know that we are well into July, but it is even more imperative that you stop procrastinating (or lounging pool-side) and get the job done now before it’s time to make next Year’s Resolutions.
Organizing a home office isn’t as daunting when you have the tools and know-how to overcome your clutter.
Did you know that 50% of all households have at least one member of the family that works from home or has a home office space?  and that being productive is a direct result of being organized?  and being organized can lead you to more money? So…what are you waiting for?
The first step in being organized is to CLEAR CLUTTER….clutter is the bane of all work from homer’s.  It is insidious in nature really…one minute it isn’t there, and then overnight (or two or three or twenty-seven) you can’t find your computer mouse one morning and you blame the cat.
What makes up clutter?  Endless little pieces of paper, ‘notes’ to ourselves about whatever it is we need to do and when, files heaped upon one another looking like a ready made diving board into your cuppa joe for your pet guinea pig.  Bills that have been paid as well as ones waiting for your bank account to deem them worthy enough to be paid….all this paper truly gets in the way of productivity.  Not to mention all the little things that you use in a home office.. i.e. staplers, staples, paperclips, pens, pencils, markers, scissors, stickynotes, etc… all stuffed in random locations or laying around waiting for their time in the limelight.
So to clear all this clutter, you need to answer a few questions….
What do I need to keep?
What can I keep it in?
How can I keep clutter from taking over after a clean sweep? 
Start off first with sorting all your writing instruments, stapler, staples, etc., and invest in some trays and holders from your local office supply store and designate a space/holder for all these items. 
Next, clean out ALL the desk drawers, start from scratch, vacuum the dust bunnies out of them and wash them down, now place all the holders you just purchased for your desk implements in and organize them by drawer as to how often you use them (for pens/pencils. etc, you may want to keep a cup holder on your desk, but they can equally be kept in a drawer, out of sight), top drawer gets the frequently used items and so forth.
Files and Paper ~ Do you really need to keep all that paper? In this day and age of technology, almost everyone has a printer/scanner/copier, if not, invest in one, the prices of these machines are very affordable and also an expense item on your tax sheet :) .  Now scan and store the documents that are a MUST-HAVE on your computer’s hard drive (remember to have a back-up location set in place, talk with a computer techie to get a back-up system up and running to avoid data loss), then SHRED the hard copies.  Shredding hard copies will make an immediate difference in the space you have.
If you MUST keep hard copies, utilize colour-coded file folders and have a place OUTSIDE of your home office space to store them (invest in Banker’s Boxes, as they make great storage boxes for files and can be kept in your basement / crawlspace with easy access).  Colour code files by category, such as green for financial, blue for personal, red for utilities, etc., keep the most recent files (12 months and under) in a file cabinet in your office, anything older is relegated to the Banker’s Boxes in the basement.  If you do not have a file cabinet, invest in one, they will be easier to find than combing through mountains of them stacked on your desk.
Mailings & Labellers ~ If you are in sales and tend to do a lot of mailings, invest in a label printer that allows you to save all your contacts, then you can just set it to print and away you go.  Have a specific drawer just to hold all your envelopes, labels, stamps.
Electronic Appointment Organizer ~ If you are still in the dark ages of the 80′s and do not own a Blackberry/Android/iPhone or Email Program, it is time to drag yourself at least into the early 2000′s.  You do not need the calendar on the wall with a million sticky notes stuck to it and your computer screen.  Organize all your appointments in an electronic calendar.  Synchronize these with other family members who are sure to have the same devices (especially the younger family members who have saved their paper route money to buy the latest/greatest gadget) so everyone is on the same page about daily life and to also keep your work appointments organized.  My Blackberry is worth it’s teeny weight in gold to me, I set reminders on to-do’s and have all my appts logged in it as well as my full business contact list (just make sure you back up your PDA regularly to avoid losing valuable data).
Computer CD’s, etc. ~ I don’t know about you, but I seem to have one very full desk drawer designated to hold all the computer programs that have been purchased over the years…. I mean some of these pre-date Windows 95!  Sit and go through them all and keep only the most relevant ones and toss the remainder into the garbage.  Then grab an empty shoe box, label and store all these CD’s in with your file boxes in the basement….and voila! an extra drawer just became available to hide your chocolate stash!
Books/Shelving ~ if you have a book-case or closet, invest in wicker bins/decorative baskets to hold bulkier items and sort through all the books and banish the ones you no longer need/want to a re-use centre.  You don’t need to keep every single Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys novel you ever read from your youth taking up valuable shelf space.  Keep only what is relevant to your business life at this point in time.
Decor ~ lastly, home offices need not be sterile and boring.  Paint the room a colour that suits your personality, if you like purple – go purple!  If you are more of a beige person, then add splashes of colour by selecting bright window treatments or chair cushions for some added zing.  Having a pleasant space to work in also makes you more productive!
Once you have pared down, tossed, recycled and organized your home office space, keeping it that way is simple.  Be diligent in taking 5 to 10 minutes at the end of every day to sort, store or shred items so that when you ‘leave the office’ at the end of the day, it looks exactly how you found it in the morning.
So I ask you again… what are waiting for?!  Get yourself moving to a more organized and productive YOU….then you can go back to sipping a margarita pool-side and enjoy the rest of the summer season.
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My Publishing Debut….

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I know what you are thinking, she already ‘debuted’ a couple weeks ago…she must be losing it…But stick with me, this is different…this is for REAL publishing in a REAL magazine! 

Being a Realtor® here in Canada, we have access to some pretty awesome publications that are available to us and one of my favourites is REM – Real Estate Magazine (Canada’s premier business publication for the real estate industry, and yes, I took that from their site).

It is published once a month and when it comes in, I grab my cuppa tea and head over to the comfy couch to take it all in, cover to cover.  There are a couple of long-standing columnists that I look forward to reading as well as there are numerous articles and trends  that keep me abreast of what is happening in the real estate industry from coast to coast.   

Well, a few months back, after going through February’s issue and seeing a ‘cooking’ columnist (and it was about this time that I was developing this web/blog site) I thought, I can not be the ONLY Realtor® out there that enjoys gardening, there had to be others that would perhaps appreciate my trial and error attempts and small victories in my garden patch.

So with a leap of faith, I pitched the idea of ‘The Real Estate Gardener’ to the Editor and I was genuinely shocked that they indeed liked the idea! So after I picked myself up off the floor, I got started on editing the article I first sent in (apparently I had to whittle it down to 800 words….800 words! sheesh, do you realize how little that actually is?!) so it would fit into the space they were alotting me.

So, without further ado, here is the link to my publishing debut of ‘The Real Estate Gardener’ in REM Magazine…I hope you like it…

The magazine is put out in paper and an on-line format, so now I must get busy getting a couple months ahead on articles to send in…. I am so flippin excited!!! and just so you know…this blog post to the very end is 347 words.



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And the winner is….

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Happy Tuesday folks!  First, I want to thank all you great and kind people who entered for a chance to win either an Apron or a Clothespin Bag in my Site Launch/Giveaway Contest. 

I have had some really positive feedback from so many people and I look forward to writing and updating this blog pretty much daily…and henceforth, that you all still appreciate my ramblings!

So without further delay, shall we get on with the draw for a winner?!


tap…tap…tap…..(those are your fingers on the desk right?)


And the WINNER IS:

Betty Bartusevicius!

Betty, you shall be receiving an email from me this morning asking which of the La Gitana Creations you would prefer and then I will get it out to you.

Thank you again for all the support and I hope to see you following along in my Homesteading Endeavours!



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And the Seller’s Market Continues….

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Stats are in for April 2012 in the Hamilton-Burlington area, and no surprise, we are still experiencing lower-than-normal inventory levels for this time of year which is driving up the average sales price, specifically in Burlington.

Burlington’s Average Sales Price is up a whopping 16.5% in April 2012 as compared to April 2011. This includes both Freehold (Detached/Townhomes) and Condominiums (Townhomes/Apartments).

Burlington’s Average Sales Price in April 2011 was $395,266 and for April 2012, it jumped to $460,586.

The Average Sales Price for Hamilton did not fare as well as Burlington.  While the number of Sales was up by 2.1% for April in Hamilton, the Average Sales Price actually fell by 1.8% to $287,574 for April 2012.

Bidding wars are the ‘norm’ this Spring in Burlington.  I had a fabulous listing that received 2 offers within 48 hours of it hitting the MLS.  Properties that are priced on the money and are in great condition, are selling like hotcakes.  Ones that need work and are over-priced, are sitting. 

What does that say about the Realtor® that takes these types of listings?

That they are wasting their time, effort and marketing dollars trying to attain an unrealistic price.  They are also doing a disservice to their clients by allowing the client to ‘run the show’ so to speak. 

When a Seller hires a Realtor®, they are hiring their expertise and guidance.  You wouldn’t hire an electrician and then proceed to tell him how to do his job would you?  No different in the world of Real Estate either.

Allow your Realtor® to do their job without interference.  You will attain a greater Sales Price and less aggravation in the long run!


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