Holiday

Tips on How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

snowflake-1152.jpg__800x600_q85_crop By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon *Published: November 14, 2011

Is your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.

I'm lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.

Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.

Prioritize

The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.

If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.

Safety

Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.

Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.

Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.

Entryway upgrades

Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.

  • Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
  • Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow. 
  • Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
  • Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
  • Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.

Kitchen prep

Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.

  • To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
  • Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
  • If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.

Sleeping arrangements

If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house. 

To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.

Bathroom storage

Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.

If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.

Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).

What tips do you have for getting ready for guests this holiday season?

Find your next home with me! I'd love to hand you a set of new keys! www.KeyCaliforniaHomes.com

Happy Chinese New Year 2013, Year of the Water Snake

This is a great time to get your home in order with Feng shui!!!! The Lunar New Year dates from 2600 BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Because of cyclical lunar dating, the first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the mid-February. On the Western calendar, the start of Chinese New Year this year falls on Sunday, February 10, 2013 — The Year of the Water Snake.

San Francisco has the oldest and largest Chinatown in the United States and is home to the largest population of Chinese outside of China. The New Year’s celebration is a continuation of a tradition in Chinatown that had been part of the neighborhood since the 1860s, the Gold Rush days.

If you were born in 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, you were born under the sign of the Snake.

Like the houses of the zodiac in Western astrology, the animals of Chinese astrology are thought by many to dictate personality traits or even to impact world events in any year they rule.Snake and those born under compatible signs benefit from good fortune during a Snake year.

013 Prediction for Snake

Snake can expect good fortune in relationships and look forward to a time when they personally or professionally shine. It will be a year when Snake can easily overcome recent setbacks or obstacles experienced in 2012. Even though Snake may not have the income desired in the first half year, financial fortune comes in the second half year.

Snake Characteristics

Self-reliant Snake's characteristics are complex. Snakes don't like to ask others for advice and some see them as cold and calculating – not so, they are just being careful.They need to plan every detail before embarking on an objective. Snake has excellent communications skills, but they are creatures of few words. Quiet and unassuming, they prefer to work alone and are more often in the spotlight for real and lasting accomplishments than for attempts at garnering attention. Actually, they can be a lot of fun when they want to be and they exude a charismatic confidence that is quite sexy.They have the ability to shed adversity like a second skin, and their recuperative powers are legendary.

The list of famous Snakes includes: Oprah Winfrey, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pablo Picasso, Bob Dylan, James Joyce, Martha Stewart, Kanye West, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Sheen, Courtney Love, Howard Stern, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Source:

Your Home and the Chinese New Year

The Year of the Dragon should bring wealth and power. It begins on January 23, 2012 and ends on February 9, 2013.  You have an Astrological sign and so does your home.  Let's take a break from all the real estate numbers and statistics and have a little fun. 

So which homes are going to enjoy a prosperous and stress free 2012?

Goat: 2012 will be a wonderful year to remodel or relandscape.  If you can’t afford either, simply declutter, and reorganize, perhaps paint a room or two.  Home improvements made this year will be hassle free.

Monkey:   2012 will be a wonderful year for Monkey homes and these homes will be filled with love.   Plan on having a Valentine’s dinner, an anniversary party or a baby or bridal shower at your home this year.

Rabbit:  Rabbit homeowners have it made this year!  Inviting the boss to dinner?  You’ve got the raise AND the promotion.   Entertaining?  It will be the best party ever!  Selling your home?  The open houses and showings will be perfection!

Rat:  Rat homes are often ostentatious.  Rat homeowners should keep in mind “less is more”.  Declutter your home and closets. Donate your abundance, there are plenty who will enjoy your excess.

Tiger:  If you have been thinking of selling your Tiger home, 2012 will be an excellent year for you to sell at the highest possible price.  Tiger homeowners hoping to earn a little extra money should consider renting their homes to the studios in 2012.

And which just so-so?

Dragon:  Dragon homes typically open well to the outdoors.  To avoid disaster during the next Santa Ana winds it is critical that Dragon homeowners should have their trees trimmed.  Dragon homeowners who plant fruit trees this year will reap a bountiful harvest.

Horse:  Horse homeowners need to avoid waste in 2012.  Do not overbuy at the grocery store (the produce will go bad).  2012 is the ideal year for Horse homeowners to start a garden.

Pig:  Pig homes are susceptible to break-ins this year.  To avoid theft it is critical that  Pig homeowners take security precautions: dogs, alarms….. Something!

Ram:. 2012 can bring peace to those who reside in Ram homes.  Marital problems?  If you live in a Ram home they should be resolved this year.

Rooster:  It is critical that Rooster homeowners keep up with routine maintenance.  Prevention this year is key!  Contact a reputable termite company and have your home inspected for termites.

Snake:  2012 is going to be a year filled with jealousy and suspicion.  Snake homeowners need to find a way to not partake is these vices.  Sincerely compliment your neighbors and allow their home to outshine yours. 

And which homes will be be susceptible to misfortune?

Dog:  2012 could bring much discontent in these homes.  In order for dog homeowners to have a happy 2012 it is imperative, that they start each day counting their blessings. 

Ox:  Ox homes are sturdy and well built, but the people living in these homes are often poor communicators.  Ox homeowners need to have weekly family meetings in 2012.

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Los Angeles Real Estate Blog published a new post entitled "What does the Chinese New Year have in store for your home?" Published on 1/10/2012 1:41:00 AM, written by Phyllis Harb.

LA Chinatown Welcomes the Year of the Dragon With the 113th Annual Golden Dragon Parade

The Year of the Dragon is a significant year in Asian tradition: the dragon is sacred and symbolizes strength, luck and new beginnings. Throughout Asia and also in the U.S., cities are preparing for this important time of year with much fanfare and celebration—this is especially true in Los Angeles' most unique historic district, LA Chinatown. LA Chinatown hosts one of the largest New Year celebrations in the country with more than 125,000 attendees convening in the district for the weekend-long celebration.

LA Chinatown kicks off the Year of the Dragon the weekend of January 28 - 29, 2012, beginning with the 113th Annual Golden Dragon Parade. Attendees can enjoy hundreds of spectacular floats, decked-out cars, dancers and bands as they parade down the heart of Chinatown. This year's Grand Marshals include Disney's Mulan and Mushu and international bestselling author Lisa See whose book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was adapted into a movie in 2011.

The Chinese New Year Festival gets underway following the parade with cultural performances by some of the nation's best Chinese acts, children's activities and hands-on cultural workshops. LA Craft Experience (LACE), LA's premier artist's market will feature over 40 local vendors, offering shoppers a truly unique shopping experience.

Attendees can expect to nosh on traditional Chinese cuisine offered at many Chinatown restaurants as well as non-traditional dishes offered by food vendors and some of LA's hottest gourmet food trucks. Additionally, the wildly popular show Cupcake Wars will be on hand with 1,000 Chinese New Year-themed cupcakes for people to enjoy.

There are two festival sites with entertainment stages at each: 727 N. Hill Street on Sat., Jan. 282012 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Central Plaza at 943-951 N. Broadway on Sat., Jan. 28 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sun., Jan. 29 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.The 113th Annual Golden Dragon Parade is on Sat., Jan. 28 beginning at 1 p.m.

The always popular 2012 LA Chinatown Firecracker 5/10K run follows the Chinese New Year Festival on February 11 - 12. Visitfirecracker10k.org for more details.

For more information on the Chinese New Year Festival visit www.chinatownla.com or call 213-680-0243.

Keep watch because soon we will look at what the Chinese horoscope says about your home!

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SOURCE Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council LOS ANGELES, Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 

Holiday Hangover

Most of you probably do not want to hear the word "HOLIDAY" for at least a few more months!   However I must share with you my first first set of "Holiday Joys" with you.  Being new to Los Angeles really opens up so much fun and wonder for the holiday season.  We kicked off with the Halloween Festival in West Hollywood (if you have not had time to read that post please do now, it's full of excitement!) Then as we all know the world goes crazy over Christmas and ignores our wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!  In our home, we take the holidays one at a time so no cards, no tinsel, no trees, no gifts...NOTHING until after the Thanksgiving feast has been eaten!  

This is our first year not being around family so it was very unusual for us to not have people over.  My husband and I decided to scale it down!  Off we went to market to gather the feast for the day!  Mind you, my husband said we would SCALE it down since it was two of us, YET he came home with a 22lb turkey! (giggle) I guess that is scaling it down since we always get the ones that are 25lbs and up!  This year I did not make my mom's homemade rolls or eggplant casserole which is a tradition but we did have my husbands wonderful yams made with rum and brown sugar, mac and cheese, dressing, collard greens, and of course TURKEY.  The feast was set!  We are so Thankful for the Blessings we have and being able to move from Denver to Los Angeles was one of them and even though we did not have our family surrounding us we enjoyed being "together" and that is what it's all about.

On to Christmas!  Once again this holiday was one of family in our home.  Our house was the PLACE TO BE!  Normally we'd have tons of family. three times the amount of food, family singing, tree trimming, cards, and homemade hot chocolate for the season.  Christmas is a time for us to celebrate our beliefs in Christ and we do it up BIG!  Yet once again we experienced change.  We decided it would be a year for new adventures since we had no family around.  We headed up to Big Bear!  At least we would see some snow in California!  So on Christmas Eve, we fired up our DVD, played our favorite holiday movies and enjoyed being "together" (keyword for this post!)  The next morning we woke up, we watched our final favorite movie  "The Christmas Story" and prepared for the drive.  I made our homemade hot chocolate for the thermos and off we went.  When we left LA the weather was in the 70's and not feeling much like Christmas.  Traffic was heavy but as we climbed to our destination the season felt more and more like Christmas.  We started seeing the snow and the air became crisp!  Perfect day!

Once there we watched the snow tubers, played our Christmas music and went to dinner.  Just the two of us...once again blessed.

So for 2011 I must report to you that I am blessed!  Even though it was a year of major change, up's and down's and adventure, I am here!

So from me to you....HAPPY NEW YEAR, may your year be full of love and TOGETHERNESS!

(as for the New Year celebration, well...stay tuned!)

Peace, love and blessings from the Realty Goddess!

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Halloween in West Hollywood

Warning...this blog post is a long one! After you read you will see why it had to be!  Prepare yourself for Halloween in West Hollywood!

I have always enjoyed the Halloween holiday.  I loved going trick or treating when I was a child, and I loved handing out candy to the neighborhood kids when I became an adult.  I would even throw a treat in for the parents by giving them cups of hot apple cider so they could continue on the journey with their kids, but my husband, well....he LOVES Halloween!  Every year he gets into the season and plans cool outfits and ways to celebrate the holiday in true fashion.  He would even dress up to hand out candy to the kids!  But THIS year no candy for the witches and warlocks because it was our first Halloween in Los Angeles, the city where movies are made and the party never dies!

As the days got closer you could feel the excitement in the air.  Never had I seen SO MUCH to do over Halloween.  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) had an exhibit with Tim Burton's wonderfully twisted creations which we did not get to attend because it was sold out, the costume stores were full of wonderful and freaky things to delight the eyes and there seemed to be hayrides, mazes and haunted houses EVERYWHERE.  I had resigned myself to just handing candy out this year but hubby had other plans.  He was so excited that I got excited so on Halloween day he ventured out and obtained two great costumes for us so we could celebrate in the festivities of the Halloween Carnival in West Hollywood.

Ah yes, West Hollywood holds one of the largest Halloween parties in the world!  This party rivals Marti Gras in SO MANY ways.  Little did I know this would be one of the best Halloween's of my lifetime.

The evening started with my husband picking me up from work so we could get a jumpstart on the evening.  He also wanted to show me the treasures of his Halloween shopping. I was going to be an Egyptian and he had obtained the needed items to pull it off, at the last minute to boot!  How he manages to get these costumes is beyond me, but the labor of his day showed.  All I needed was a little bit of makeup and I was set for the evening!  We headed home and started the dress up!  I know,  I know...you want to know what he dressed up as, but you will have to wait on that for now!

We had been warned not to drive and that it would be best to catch the Metro. So we routed our way and planned our time carefully so we could jump in the pool of ghoul as soon as possible.  I am so glad we live close to the Metro, we headed to the station dressed to the 9's.  It was an evening of treats for the eyes.  It seemed everyone was headed to the same party so the train was full of ghosts, vampires, princesses, ax murderers and a host of other creatures.  One short ride to the bus stop and the night amped up.  There must have been 100 dressed up people waiting on the bus to get to the party.  All of us checking each other out, buzzing and ready to get the party started right.  After two buses PACKED full of people passed us up, it was our time to cram into the bus like sardines.  I am sure we were over capacity, there was NO way you could not get to know the riders around you intimately in some way because you had no choice of being pushed together.  As we bounced and bobbled down Santa Monica Blvd we chanted out street names, laughed together and helped create the pre-atmosphere of the night, even the bus driver was cool and sang out the stop names as we got closer.  

Final stop....FAIRFAX and SANTA MONICA, we all poured off the bus and streamed in droves to the party.  You just can't take it all in, so much to see, so much music, the lookie loo's, the street vendors with yummy smells of hot links, and my appreciation of the flats I had decided to wear instead of heels!  (HA) Yes a girl can only go so far in heels at a party like this!

On the way to the party, we decided we would stop into Hamburger Mary's to grab a burger, it was one of the places we had wanted to stop so tonight would be a perfect complement!  YUMMY, YUMMY and more YUMMY.  I can't tell you how HUGE the burger was but I was only able to eat a 4th of it and another patron decided it was worth a photo!  Blue Cheese, Onions, Sauces, the bun, oh my....I ate like the Egyptian Queen I was!  And all around us a free show of people dressed in costumes, we saw a "Lucy", a pirate, a flasher, Aladdin, and more than I can recall, and that was just the people standing in the line for the restroom!

Belly's full, still full of anticipation and ready to let loose, we finished off our meal and joined the parades of people headed to the main attraction.  The beauty of this night is the feeling of oneness.  Everyone was happy, not a fight in sight.  People taking photos with strangers, talking to each other like old friends and helpful if you had a question.

Then BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Let's get this party started!  The streets opened up to the masses.  Wall to wall crowds, all moving and grooving to the free music provided for soundtrack of the night.  West Hollywood KNOWS how to throw a party.  There were stages on each street, music pumping, people smoozing.  If I thought I had seen the best of the costumes on the way to the party, I was sadly mistaken.  Some people just know how to do it up right.  Now obviously you have the people who like to dress sexy, or want to just see people's eyes bug out, and you can bet there was plenty of those....but those who love Halloween to the core, well they just know how to blow the mind.  It's Hollywood ya'll, city where movies are the blood pulse of the town. Most are performers at heart and dedication to this holiday makes them rise to the occasion.  My favorite of the night was the creepy zombies that would make your blood cold.  Check out the one who would really made me take a triple take.

As we headed into the pulse of the party we let it all go, my stresses of the day, GONE!  Now was MY time to be something else, walk the walk, talk the talk and just enjoy my world around me. As you can see from my photo below, I had  many laughs that night.

We had a goal, we were headed to the Troubadour where there was no cover and dancing!  Mind you, this was about a mile away from where we entered the adventure so the parade was ON. We pushed, bobbed, weaved, pulsed, ooo'ed and ahhh'ed at the eye candy all around us, enjoying the time together, experiencing this new world together!  My hubby is a tall man so it was to our benefit that people tend to move out of his way when we are in thick crowds such as that night!  I grabbed hold to his hips, conga line style and off we went. Every once in a while we would stop to breathe and take photos!  This Halloween had to be documented!

Finally we arrived at the Troubadour and we danced, danced, danced and DANCED!  Oh, did I mention we passed LaToya Jackson on the final block?  Well we did and she was dressed up as a sort of clown, her voice was unmistakable and she was TINY.  (I digress)  Anyway, it was time to head back home, it was about 1am and the crowds had started to clear.  The confetti of the night showed on the streets and those who did not want the night to die still walked up and down getting every second of the time crammed into their memories.  The hike back to the bus stop was just as adventurous as the journey there only now it was police chasing hot dog vendors down the street, and sirens in the background.  Nothing serious, just the city putting into place the rules and regulations for ending the party.  There was even a riot guard ready for action in case of trouble!  OH MY...PARTY OVER

Tired but happy, we tracked on. Once we met our destination we had a brief encounter with a very drunk gentleman who decided that my hubby would be his best friend for the rest of the night.  He took phones calls, only to give the phone to us for tell the person on the other end that our new friend was just too happy" to talk, we finally had to ditch him because he thought he was coming home with us!  

Finally at our bus stop we waited along with other the other tired party people, we crammed on the bus, and endured the loud rantings of another drunk gentlemen of the night and fought the heavy eyes we were starting to feel.  Home, oh yes, HOME.  Happy and home!  What an evening, and I am so glad to share it with you!  Our first Halloween in West Hollywood and the experience is one to share with the masses.  

Oh, I guess I can let you in on what hubby was....he was a ZOMBIE FOOTBALL PLAYER! Done up all the way, he got all sorts of gasps and looks through the night, enough to make him one happy creature of the night! (don't ask, he won't let me upload a photo!---party pooper)

It was 3am before we were able to crawl into bed with visions of ghouls playing in our head, but not before one more treat from my loved one, we enjoyed a bag of Coconut M&M's to end the evening.  Thank you hubby, oh what a treat it was.

So now you see why this entry was so long, and I hope you felt it was worth your time to share with me! I enjoyed sharing my time with you!

To see more of the 2011 West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnival visit:  http://www.weho.org/index.aspx?page=845 

Peace, love and blessings from the Realty Goddess!

Follow me on twitter, facebook, yelp, google+ and foursquare! Maybe we can share some laughs and smiles along the way.