Category Archives: Miscellaneous & Funs Things!

Things to do and see, home projects, etc…

The Ranch Neighborhood Featured in “City Edition”

The City of Westminster publishes a small local newspaper every other month for the residents of Westminster.  The paper is called City Edition.  It is free, and citizens can subscribe to either a print version or an online version of the paper here: .

In the Dec 2012-Jan 2012 edition, the beauty of the homes, open spaces, Ranch Park, ponds & lakes, and beautiful vistas available in The Ranch and Ranch Reserve subdivisions was highlighted in a full-page “Featured Walk” article.  These subdivisions, as well as the open spaces, etc sit on a total of over 550 acres.  The subdivisions called The Ranch and Ranch Reserve contain homes built as early as the late seventies and as recently as the 2000’s.  As you may already know, these neighborhoods surround The Ranch Country Club, the only private country club in Denver’s  north metro area.  The Featured Walk article includes many opportunities to enjoy the views of the golf course and gives the reader/walker a nice bit of history about The Ranch development as well.

The article takes the reader on a nearly step-by-step, round-trip journey through the streets and  paths around the neighborhood.  The adventure starts and ends at 118th Ave & Zuni St.  The journey is approximately 3.66 miles of hilly terrain.  If you are not up for that level of physical activity, you may want to take the hike in segments.

I have driven or ridden my bike through many parts of the trip described in the article and it does not exaggerate the beauty of the views and some of the spectacular homes in The Ranch and Ranch Reserve.  After reading the article, I am looking forward to exploring the parts of the journey that I have not yet seen.

If you are interested in learning more about The Ranch and Ranch Reserve, or in taking a tour through these neighborhood, you can check out the article, on page 12, at:  

And, of course, if you would like to buy or sell a home in either of these beautiful neighborhoods, please contact me using the form below!

The End of “The Line”

Recently,my husband and I reluctantly let go of yet another link to the past.  We discontinued our land line phone service for our home. Now we rely on cell phones, texts, emails, and social networks for personal communications.  I must confess, that I was the last hold-out when it came to giving the land line the “heave-ho”.  Several years after my parents went wireless (they are in their seventies), I was still hanging on to the days of old.

Admittedly, my reluctance is just due to old habits dying hard.  Part of it is for nostalgic reasons. I am the kind of person that, even though I have the technology to read e-books (have used it many times and enjoy the convenience), I still like to read real paper books. I like the atmosphere and experience of going to the local library.  I like the physical experience of seeing, touching, and even smelling the vast array of books in the stacks of bookcases that reside in library. I find, there is almost a “reverence” for reading in libraries, and the good old days of “common courtesy” still is evident as people make the effort to speak in hushed tones so as not to disturb the other patrons. Something is lost in the leap to the higher technology of the e-book, with its reliance on batteries, staring at the same cold electronic display for every book, and the need to put on a noise-cancelling headset to drown out the sounds of the tv, radio, and conversations around you.

I feel the same about losing the land line for my phone.  Now, I have never had the “physical” experience of going to the telephone company to see and touch the phone lines.  And, unless something was terribly wrong with my handset, I never “smelled” a conversation on the land line.  However, something is lost/different in making the leap to the “wireless only” household.  Here are some of the reasons I wanted to keep the land line for so long:

1.  Okay, maybe I am being a little paranoid with this reason, but unlike conversations on cellphones, those on land lines are, at least theoretically, private.  Someone has to have a warrant to tap your phone and listen in without your knowledge.  When I speak on my cellphone, it brings to mind the early days of baby monitors, where if your neighbor had something on the same frequency, they could hear what was going on in your house through your baby monitor.  Now I don’t have any reason to think that someone is out there trying to listen in on my cellphone conversations (I am sure they are not that interesting), but there is something more appealing about the privacy associated with the land line. It just makes me feel more secure and “in control”.

2.  I used my land line for my business fax.  After “testing out” an online fax service for the past two-three years, I have decided that the online fax service is more trustworthy than my home fax machine in having copies and a record of faxes that are sent and received.  It can also be more convenient in that I can send files on my computer as faxes to other people.

3.  If I misplaced my cell phone in the past, I could always use my land line to call my cell phone.  The ringing helped me locate the cell phone.  The simplest way for me to address this problem without a land line, is to clip my cellphone to my waist and wear it everywhere (it makes quite the fashion statement).  I am sure there are probably other gadgets or technologies out there that also help you find your cell phone but I would prefer to keep it simple for now (“baby steps” please).  Right now, just losing the land line still feels a little like flying without a safety net!

4.  This is the reason that I think should be a concern for anyone considering “the end of the line” at their home.  Some cities do not have the capability to broadcast messages/warnings to its residents via a “reverse 911” to a cell phone.   They can do it for land lines, but not cell phones or internet-based phone numbers. Some reasons that a city might use a reverse 911 call out are:

  • Chemical spills
  • Natural Disasters
  • Fires
  • Missing or endangered child
  • Missing or endangered at-risk adult
  • Searches for armed and dangerous persons
  • Any other Emergency Management event that may affect the community such as a radiological release or homeland security threat

Several lives were lost this past summer in the wildfires in Colorado, because people did not have land lines and did not get the call to evacuate their homes.  Also, some emergency services available to residents also rely on your use of a land line when you call 911.  Some cities do not have GPS capability in finding out where you are when you call in an emergency on your cell phone (you have to be able to tell them where you are).  In terminating your land line, some of that lost functionality can be recovered by signing up for alerts from weather services or registering additional information with your city’s emergency services department.

The City of Westminster, where I am located, estimates that “more than 70 percent of 911 calls are made on mobile devices, making it difficult for emergency workers to determine the exact location of the call”.  Westminster has a service called “Smart 911”.  Citizens of Westminster are encouraged to sign up for the service and create a safety profile for their household.  The information you give is secure and kept private, and you can provide as much or as little information as you like.  With the service, you can describe the layout of your home, give medical information that might be needed in an emergency, give information on your vehicles, your family members and even your pets that might be relevant in case of emergency.

Smart 911 is supported by advocacy groups for people with autism, diabetes, epilepsy, hearing problems and people who are elderly.  For more information or to sign up for the “Smart 911” program, Westminster residents can visit  If you do not live in Westminster, Colorado, you will need to check with your city to see what the potential consequences are to not having a land line.

To sum up, although using only cellphones can be so much more convenient in some ways, something is lost at the “end of the line”- something valuable, that could literally be a matter of life and death.  For every technological convenience, there seems to be some kind of “equal and opposite” inconvenience at work behind the scenes.  To benefit from the cost savings of “cutting the cord” on the land line, I had to spend the time and effort to find other ways to compensate for the lost functionality and convenience. And I am not sure that doing all of those other things really replaced all the side benefits of the land line.

If you are thinking of discontinuing your land line service, or if you have already done so, I hope you will remember the “old timey” land line as fondly as I do.  Especially look into any lost safety services like those mentioned in item #4.  Looking at that list again, I think I want my land line back…


Merry Christmas vs Other Holiday Greetings

Every year, sometime after Thanksgiving, we start to give and receive a different kind of salutation.  Not just the usual, “Hi.  How are you”? , “Goodbye, see you later” or “Have a nice day”.  It’s something more special.  It sounds happier, more generous in spirit, more thoughtful and more sincere than the other greetings we use throughout the year.

So, I would think that a special greeting would be received in the same spirit in which it was intended.  But I have noticed growing controversy about which greeting should be used this time of year.  Should it be “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “Seasons Greetings”, “Happy Hanukkah”, “Happy Kwanza”, or something else?

In some cases, depending on which you use, despite your best intentions, the recipient of the greeting may be offended or hurt that you did not use the greeting that matches their specific culture, their religious beliefs, or lack of religious beliefs.  So, what are we to say that won’t ruffle anyone’s feathers?  Should we ignore the time of year, and just say the same thing we say all year round?  Does the “right” greeting depend upon whether the person offering the greeting is doing so in a personal interaction or in a business interaction?

In my personal life, if I knew absolutely that a person was of a specific faith or belief system, I would perhaps try to match up my greeting to fit that person.  However, I am not an expert or student of all religions and cultures of the world, so if I make an inappropriate choice of greeting, I expect that people who know me on a personal level, would probably forgive my ignorance.

But, what about in my professional role as a Realtor?  How do I greet the public during this time of year? What do I put on my advertising and promotional materials for the month of December?  This may seem like a silly question, but the answer could have serious consequences to my license and my business.  Realtors must comply with fair housing and anti-discrimination laws.

If I wished you a Happy Hanukkah in my December postcard mail out, how would you perceive that greeting if you were not Jewish?  Would you think that I was assuming that you were?  Or that I preferred only Jewish people for clients? Could that be interpreted as discrimination on the basis of religion?   If you were Christian, would you be insulted that I did not wish you a Merry Christmas instead?  Would you feel like an outsider, unacknowledged, or disenfranchised?  I would imagine that anyone might feel this way if the greeting were made specific to a religion or culture to which they were not a part.  Isn’t the intent of a special greeting to make the recipient feel good?

As both a Realtor and a human being (are those separate things?), my intention is to include everyone in my wish for a higher state of happiness, peace and goodwill toward mankind.  My “special greeting” at this time of year is not just for people who are “just like me”.  So, taking my personal beliefs out of the picture, here are some things I considered when making my selection of which greeting my business communications will use during this time of year:

1.  Merry Christmas:  Christmas is widely celebrated as both a religious and secular celebration.  For Christians, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus.  The secular component of Christmas includes a long history of symbols and traditions from many cultures & countries around the world.  (Check out this link for look at Christmas from a historical and cultural perspective- it may surprise you. ).  While perhaps the majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians, many do not.  If someone is not Christian, how would they interpret a “Merry Christmas” greeting?  In the religious context, or the secular context?  Do they celebrate Christmas in either context, or would they just feel that the greeting did not apply to them?  Since there is the potential for misunderstanding and exclusion with this greeting, I have chosen not to use “Merry Christmas” in my business communications.

2.  Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, etc:  From what I can glean from internet searches and personal experience, these holidays/celebrations are religious and culture or heritage-based, without a secular component celebrated by a broader segment of the United States.  Since I am looking for a greeting that speaks to the broadest range of individuals possible, I have also chosen not to use these greetings for business.

3. Seasons Greetings:  While all-inclusive (in that everyone in the same geographic area pretty much experiences the same seasons at the same time), this greeting just seems a little lame.  Isn’t the season at this time of year just called “winter”?  Although winter is considered the “holiday season” because it contains several holidays, it is also the season I associate with bone-chilling cold, more hours of darkness in a day, stark landscapes, slipping on ice, driving difficulties, etc..   “Seasons Greetings” just does not even come close to conveying the imagery in a wish for the comfort & warmth of a family gathering, happiness, peace, goodwill, etc.   So, “Seasons Greetings” is also not my choice.

4. Happy Holidays:   Well, although it is a bit watered-down and generic, this one pretty much encompasses everyone that celebrates either a secular, religious, or cultural/heritage-based holiday at this time of year.  It also imparts a wish for happiness and who doesn’t want to be happy?  So, “Happy Holidays” is the greeting that I have chosen for business communications in December.  It is what I would consider the broadest, most inclusive greeting, with the added bonus of being concise and able to fit it on a postcard!

If you don’t celebrate any holidays in December, maybe none of the above may suit you, but you still have my very best wishes for a happy & healthy life, full of peace, prosperity, joy and goodwill!

I hope no one will take offense when I say:

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Na-nu, Na-nu!  Live long and prosper!  And may “the Force” be with you! (Okay, maybe those last few were just for sci-fi fans).

Indoor Halloween Party Decorations

Here are a few ideas for indoor decorations if you are planning a Halloween get together this year.  I usually have a “cheap & easy” rule when it comes to decorating the house for Halloween.  I try to have a focal point for each room- not a ton of little things spread throughout the house (fewer items are easier to put up and take down, and take up less space in my already burgeoning crawl space the rest of the year).  The biggest challenge for me, is reigning myself in to either make only very inexpensive purchases, or re-use things I already have in a different way.  This could be re-purposing the “normal” things around my home or re-using Halloween decorations from previous years.  Here are a few ideas…

Decorate your wine bottles!  Here I have used labels that I printed using clip art of a skull and crossbones that’s a lot less expensive than buying pre-made labels.  Also pictured, are two wine bottles are wrapped like mummies.  I used cheesecloth that I soaked in tea, to give it an aged look.   I found the inspiration and the “how-to” for these at  You could glue on little “googly eyes” peeking out from the opening in the wrapping for a little added fun.  You can find those at a craft store.

Add these uninvited little guests (wired to the light fixture) above your food/appetizer table!  No party leftovers!

On the dining room wall, above the “buffet” cabinet, are a bunch of bats (a flock?, a herd? a gaggle?) – what ever you call them, they are flying this way.  In this case the bats are made from construction paper, folded at the wings joints to give it a 3-D look on the wall.  The bats are stapled to the wall (I used a swipe of black magic marker on the staples to eliminate reflection off the staple).  This was inspired by a project in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, Halloween edition.  (Could not find an online photo of theirs).  For my project, I added a full moon in the background.  I cut out a big circle on yellow poster board and painted it like  a “blood” moon.

This was the centerpiece for my dining table at a Halloween dinner party a few years ago.  The “tree” is a bunch of branches from my yard, spray-painted black.  The “shrunken heads” are made from dried apples that have a little faux fur glued to the top to simulate hair.  The inspiration for these came from here:  Normally the drying process can take up to 2 weeks, but you could probably speed that along with a dehydrator or your oven.

Instead of just adding Halloween stuff to your room, try temporarily replacing the normal stuff with the creepy stuff.  In this case I have used a painting, painted by my mother (an artist in Phoenix).  It is given the prominent spot above the fireplace temporarily replacing the wall clock I usually have in that spot.  If you are not artist or have a friend who can paint something “Halloween-ish” for you, you could alway use a grouping of photos (either your own or some free stock photos online).  Maybe something like black and white photos of gnarly trees or Victorian head silhouettes.

Okay- so this one broke the “cheap & easy” rule this year.  But it was fun!  This is my Halloween tree, reminiscent of the costumes and the trick or treating of my childhood.  The tree is topped with a witch’s hat.  There are pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns under the tree. Feather boas act as a garland.  Masks, novelty head dresses, black birds, spiders, & miniature plastic pumpkins filled with candy corn act as ornaments.  There are strings of purple and “candy corn” lights to make the tree glow.  I also made colorful “crackers” filled with wrapped miniature candy bars.  Not only do they add a little color to the tree, they can also act as party favors for guests. Variations on the theme might include using a Halloween village or train set under the tree…  maybe next year.

Here are a couple of my favorite places to find inspiration for Halloween decor.  But I think it is always more fun to put your own spin on the projects inspired by others.,,, and Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine (fall editions)

Happy Hauntings!

Haunted Houses & Other Stigmatizing Factors

This is the time of year when a lot of people pay to go to a “haunted house”.  They seem to enjoy the spooky, creepy, hair-raising experiences they might find in the safe, theatrical environment of a Halloween haunted house.  But how many of them would actually want to live in a real haunted house?  Is there even such a thing as a real haunted house?

You might be surprised at how often issues and questions about haunted houses have come up in my career as a real estate broker. Here’s a few examples:

  1. One of my Buyers once said she only wanted me to show her haunted houses- but only if the ghosts were friendly.  (Since there is no search field in the MLS that indicates whether or not a house is haunted, we had to just rely on the “vibes” she got went she viewed each home).
  2. Sadly, one of my Sellers told me her house was haunted by a relative, who had committed suicide in her living room.  She wanted to know if she had to disclose either the suicide or the haunting, or both.
  3. At meetings/trainings with other real estate brokers, I have heard many other agents tell stories of spine-tingling unexplainable events & infamous haunted houses in the Denver area that they have shown or listed.
  4. And then there are my personal experiences while touring homes with buyers- like seeing other people talking to someone they “see” but who is not actually visible to the rest of us in the room.  Or when showing a home across the street from a cemetary, hearing whispers, snippets of conversation & doors (that have been dead-bolted with a key) slamming loudly in other parts of the house, when the person next to you hears nothing at all…

All of the above circumstances, whether sad, creepy, horrifying, upsetting, etc…  if told to a buyer, may be psychologically stigmatizing- to the point where the buyer may choose not to buy, or maybe expect a large price reduction to overlook the stigma.  Does the seller or his agent have to disclose stigmatizing factors about a property?  What about other stigmatizing factors, like murders and felonies that may have been committed in the house? Or whether someone previously living there had AIDS?

Each State has it own laws regarding disclosure of psychologically stigmatizing factors in the sale of a home.  Maybe that is why there is so much confusion and anger among buyers when they find out- after they purchase a home, that they were not made aware of its “unpleasant” past.  In Colorado- for the situations mentioned above, neither the Seller nor the Seller’s Broker has an obligation to disclose such information.  Here is the law in Colorado on disclosure:

38-35.5-101. Circumstances psychologically impacting real property – no duty for
broker or salesperson to disclose

(1) Facts or suspicions
regarding circumstances occurring on a parcel of property which could
psychologically impact or stigmatize such property are not material facts
subject to a disclosure requirement in a real estate transaction. Such facts or
suspicions include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) That an
occupant of real property is, or was at any time suspected to be, infected or
has been infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or diagnosed with
acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), or any other disease which has been
determined by medical evidence to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through
the occupancy of a dwelling place; or

(b) That the property was the site
of a homicide or other felony or of a suicide.

(2) No cause of action
shall arise against a real estate broker or salesperson for failing to disclose
such circumstance occurring on the property which might psychologically impact
or stigmatize such property.

C.R.S. 38-35.5-101

As alluded to in the statute, material facts about a property are required to be disclosed.  That requirement is placed on both the seller and the seller’s agent- if known by them.  A material fact is something related to the structure itself, the mechanical/electrical systems, sources of water/sewer service, ownership rights, habitability, etc.  Failure to disclose a known material defect does carry legal consequences to both the seller and the agent. Things at are considered to be material facts are included in the Seller’s Property Disclosure form that is approved by the Real Estate Commission.  Here is the form for your reference:*.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251822041623&ssbinary=true.

For any facts (material or otherwise) about a property, the buyer should never rely on the seller’s property disclosure, or the seller or an agent (remember only things that are actually known can be disclosed).  Buyers should do their own due diligence by employing professional inspectors and surveyors to get the facts.  For non-material factors, buyers might try talking to neighbors (they are an excellent source of information) or searching government/police websites or doing other internet searches to see if there is anything in the house’s history that would be a psychological deterrent to their enjoyment of the property.

So, knowing what you now know about disclosure requirements, if you should ever find yourself owning a house where things go “bump” in the night- who you gonna call?  Well, that depends…  if you want to stay in the house- you could try calling “ghost busters” or an excorcist, or maybe try sprinkling holy water around the house with sage leaves, or any number of other remedies you may find on the internet.  But if you want to sell that house- call me!  I just might have a buyer that is looking for… now how would a realtor advertise this?… a place with a sense of “history”… a house with a real “presence“!

Halloween Dinner Party 2011

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.  It’s a kind of consolation prize for what always seems to be a summer that ends too soon! So, as summer starts to fade, I start planning my decor for Halloween.  Usually, it will involve, at the very least, outdoor decorations.  If I am having a dinner party or inviting friends over, it will also include indoor decorations.  I was playing with some movie-making software today, and thought I would post the resulting video to share with you the kinds of decorations I made last year.  This year, promises to be even better, so I will post that as well- in case you are looking for some ideas for your own home.  Enjoy!