Pay It Forward Hat!

My husband, Ralph, had to be in Dallas on business last week, so I tagged along. It’s always an adventure, as we are always looking for new places to discover. I suggested Italian for dinner, so we drove to the upper Greenville area, to a great place called Prego’s Pasta House. As it turns out, Prego’s seems to have quite a following. They’ve been around for years and the locals flock to this place. I can understand why. The food was some of the best I’ve had in some time.
A cute couple came in and they were obviously long time customers, as everyone greeted them cheerfully, welcoming them back. She was wearing a wonderful hat. I mentioned to Ralph that I really liked her hat a lot.
As we were getting ready to leave, we walked by this couples table and Ralph, who never meets a stranger  said, “my wife really loves your hat!”. She laughed and said, “oh really, it’s a Helen Kaminski hat. I got it at Neiman’s. You can get this hat at Saks Fifth Ave. too”. We continued to talk a bit and then she insisted that I try the hat on. Feeling a tad awkward, but she insisted… I tried it on and of course it fit perfectly. I handed it back to her and had some nice chit chat.
We left and as the valet was bringing our car around, Ralph ran back inside for something and the nice couple we had been talking to called Ralph over to their table again. The lady insisted upon Ralph taking her hat and giving it to me. Ralph brought it to me in the car. I was shocked! No way was I taking that hat from the sweet lady! That was just over the top!
I ran back inside to see the sweet lady and return her hat to her. She would not have it! She said when she realized we didn’t live in Dallas, she wanted me to have her hat.

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As we were talking, another lady, Sabrina, from Miami Beach, FL., approached us. She said, “I’ve been watching you all and listening to your conversation. Do you all know one another?” We said, “no, we just met.” Sabrina looked at me and said, “I can’t believe she just gave you her hat! I love this. I love paying it forward. That is what my company is all about.” As it turns out, Sabrina is a former Super Model and has been seen on the cover of magazines like Sports Illustrated! She also is a singer/songwriter and actress. The list goes on and on of her accomplishments. Sabrina gave me a card with her t-shirt business promo on it. I had no idea who she was until I went to her website much later. She was a very nice, un-assuming type of person, with a super sweet heart. Sabrina and her business partner Christopher, own a t-shirt company. See their tees at http://www.sabrinabarnett.com/ and learn more about what a great lady Sabrina is! Their t-shirt company prints bejeweled uplifting messages on their stylish tee’s that impower women. Christopher came over and said he was mailing Mimi, (the hat lady) a t-shirt for being such a wonderful “pay it forward” kind of gal.
I still cannot believe a perfect stranger gave me her expensive hat!

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The American Dream!

Home Ownership is still the American Dream!

Many things come to mind when the words The American Dream are uttered. For me, I immediately think of owning a home as the ultimate American Dream. After all, our family and our home is the center of our lives in America. We work hard at having a comfortable, beautiful home that’s full of love and life to share with our family and friends. Home is where we enjoy creating something that is all ours. We own it. It’s a place that reflects our personality, where we create our family traditions that will long be remembered and passed down through generations. It’s a place where we form our family values and is an expression of who we are.

Does it matter if we own a home or not? Over the past few months, our country has gone through some turmoil as it continues to work through a sad financial upheaval of sorts. The question of home ownership has been debated where some critics have said that too much emphasis has been put on the virtues of home ownership. Really? Who are these people? Have they forgotten that for hundreds of years the people in the United States have believed that property or home ownership is a core value of this county? We must remember who we are as a nation, what our core values are and where our families begin.

Home ownership still remains the dream of an American and will always make a difference in family relationships, values and our connectedness to the communities in which we live. In a recent poll, when asked if homeownership is a better financial decision than renting, 96 percent of homeowners said it was and 71 percent of renters agreed. Even in times where this country has been in a financial crisis, the vast majority of Americans still see home ownership as a smart decision…financial stability. Homeownership is a great way to increase your net worth…a slow wealth builder. With every payment, equity builds.

Be proud of your accomplishment if you are a home owner and if you are not, continue to work toward owning a home. Live THE AMERICAN DREAM!

First Time Home Buyers

People over 35 are not the only ones that want to live The American Dream of home ownership. Young Adults everywhere, see the importance of home ownership too. They are just as committed to having the American Dream of home ownership, as the generations before them. Young adults see home ownership as a wonderful environment within which to raise their families and create memories. They also believe that owning a home contributes to their financial goals where as renting is the same as throwing money away with nothing to show for it. However, everyone has to start somewhere and we all know you have to have a place to live while you are working and striving toward owning a home! Saving toward a down payment and incidentals needed to purchase their home is at the top of the things young adults are striving towards.
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I love working with first time home buyers. It’s a lot of fun to be part of their excitement and guide them down the path to home ownership. The first thing I want to see a couple do is get with a mortgage loan professional and get pre-qualified for their home. Once a dollar amount has been established, I know what price range we need to focus in on. After mortgage pre-approval, I like the couple to sit down together and make a wish list of the things they feel are important to them in a home. I like to think of the list in two categories….a “must have” and a “would like to have” wish list. Once they get an idea of what’s important to them, we can get busy selecting homes they think might be a good fit to go check out.

So many young couples are on top of things in today’s world and know, for the most part, what they are looking for and really have their act together. That was the case with my sweet young professional clients that allowed me to assist them in finding their first home in 2009. Jade and Marc were ready to go when they contacted me about a beautiful home I had listed in Avery Ranch. They did not have a Realtor®, representing them at that time. I started working with them and learned what saavy home buyers they were! They knew what they could spend on a home, had the money saved and had narrowed down the areas that they would and would not live in. They also had an idea of what they needed in the way of their wish list. After looking at homes on several occasions, we narrowed down what the most important items were for them. I found a home that hit the market in the area they wanted to live in, the price they wanted to pay and fit the criteria they were wanting. If fit the parameters and I put together the offer and in a short time we were at the closing table. Things could not have been more perfect.

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Watching the Grammies tonight and seeing Miranda Lambert sing “The House that Built Me” reminded me of an article I read recently that allowed Miranda to express what the song is about. In the article, Miranda talked about growing up in a house the she loved and wanting to go back to it again. Homes are the touchstone of our lives she says. That’s so true! The song came about when her co-writer came across an article about how houses shape us into the people we are and how that they play a role in our personal development. The house I grew up in has special memories and everytime I go back to the town I grew up in, I always have to drive by and look at it and wonder what the people are like that live there now. My thoughts go back to “the good ol’ days” where memories were made and my value system was instilled in me.

Mt Bonnell – I Love You!

One of the most beautiful areas of Austin is the magical paradise of Mount Bonnell. mtbonnellview

I have a special place in my heart for Mt. Bonnell for many reasons. One is the beauty of the area and the other is that my husband asked me to marry him at the top of Mt.Bonnell in Austin, Tx in 1989! When my husband and I were dating in the late 80’s, one of the many fun things we loved to do was find a private little spot on top of a hill to relax, sip wine and chat. What a great escape from the “real” world! We saw some pretty spectacular sunsets too! Since these special moments were so meaningful to us, it’s no wonder that when my husband decided to surprise me by popping the question and putting an engagement ring on my finger, that he would pick one of the most dramatic hills in all of Austin, as the perfect venue!

Not only are the panoramic views fabulous, on Mt. Bonnell, but the homes in the area are over the top, as well. Some of the finest, one of a kind, architecture in all Austin sit at the top of Mt. Bonnell and down below on Lake Austin. You rarely see architecture such as an 83 foot long cantilevered lap pool with transparent end, but you will, on Mt.Bonnell. Inspiring and innovative, to say the least.

Mt.Bonnell sits 775 feet high above our beloved city and is considered to be one of the highest points in all of Austin. It’s named after the founder, George Bonnell, who moved to Austin in 1839 and was Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Texas Republic.

If you haven’t made it to Mt. Bonnell, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Once there, you will understand why the people that live on Mt Bonnell, chose to make it their home. From Mopac, take 2222 west, to Mt. Bonnell and turn left. Park and climb the stairs to the top of the hill; an easy hike. Downtown Austin can be seen to the southeast and you can see the Hill Country to the west.