Spring Cleaning

 

Happiness is … a freshly cleaned house!

Surely, we are dealing with a global pandemic, but since we are stuck indoor more than usual, we can take advantage of this opportunity and give some attention to our biggest and most valuable asset: OUR HOME!

INDOOR

  • Dust crown moldings, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Wash curtains and wipe down window seals.
  • Did you know that you can use a lint roller for a more effective result on lamp shades?
  • Change the air filter and smoke/CO detectors batteries.
  • Wash or wipe down window blinds.
  • Wash all windows – inside and outside. You will be surprised what a difference a clean window makes.
  • Wash the walls in the most traffic areas.

LIVING AREA

  • Clean area rugs, vacuum any carpeted area and steam clean as well if possible.
  • Move the couch and vacuum any surprise hidden underneath.
  • Remove extra clutter, dust electronics and add a touch of color with pillows, throws and flowers.

KITCHEN

  • Scrub and disinfect all household trash cans.
  • Deep clean and disinfect microwave, oven and dishwasher.
  • Clean, disinfect and organize your freezer and fridge.
  • Organize and revamp your pantry. Make sure you get rid of expired products and organize your spices too.
  • Scrub the back splash area,  clean under the kitchen sink and disinfect the garbage disposal.

BATHROOMS 

  • Descale shower doors if you live in a hard water area.
  • Check bathroom fan for any mildew and clean.
  • Organize underneath the sinks and shower caddy/ storage shelves if present.
  • Unclog drains and caulk shower and bathtub seams if applicable.
  • Don’t forget to organize your medicine cabinet and toss any expired medication.

BEDROOMS

  • Vacuum carpet concentrating under the bed and near the baseboard areas.
  • Vacuum the mattress and wash or change pillows and bed sets.
  • Organize closets and remove seasonal outgrown clothing.

LAUNDRY ROOM

  • Clean dryer vent and remove left over lint.
  • Wipe and disinfect washer and dryer doors and clean out the soap dispenser.
  • Tide up and organize laundry room cabinets/shelves.

GENERAL AREAS

  • Have kids donate outgrown toys and clothes.
  • Wash all stuffed animals.
  • Clean and organize desk drawers.
  • Check and toss junk mail – shred unnecessary documents.

OUTDOOR

  • Sweep porch patio/deck and remove cobwebs
  • Power wash the driveway and deck.
  • Clean up the gutters and touch up exterior paint.
  • Wash outdoor garbage cans and recycle bins.
  • Refresh the landscape areas with some fresh mulch. Remove weeds, spray some weed control and plant some colorful annuals.
  • Hold off on putting down grass seed until May or June, when temperatures are warmer.

Embrace the New Season and Happy Cleaning!

 


Posted on April 7, 2020 at 10:24 pm
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts |

How to keep your sanity during Covid-19

 

If you are wondering how you can keep your sanity during  Covid-19 outbreak, you have come to the right place!

It seems just yesterday we received the news about this new respiratory disease first detected in China and now classified as “pandemic”. On March 16th the White House announced a program called “fifteen days to slow the spread”, which is a nationwide effort to slow down the spread of Corona-virus through the implementation of social distancing.

No man is an island, and it takes all type of people to make the world go round. Human beings are meant to be around other people, even the ones that sometimes drive us crazy. A lack of social support and emotional connections can have a strong effect on our mental health.

With work places, schools and other social gatherings shut down, we are finding ourselves in a new environment-one that we are not accustomed to and can be very hard on some.

 

Here some tips on how to cope with this temporary circumstances.

 

  • When working from home, establish a routine. Yes, hours may drastically differ from the usual office ones, but keeping structure gives us a sense of organization and guidance. By establishing structure, we wake up with a sense of ownership and order of our life. Make sure you drink plenty of water and munch on healthy snacks. Don’t forget to take a couple of breaks! Walking the dog or watering  plants are some examples.

 

  • Social distancing limits the ability to be physically close to someone, but doesn’t limit the ability to go “outside”. Make sure you spend some time enjoying the sun and the outdoors. We are so lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest, where we are surrounded by a multitude of beautiful scenery in every direction. There are plenty of nature trails, State Parks, beach walks and just beautiful spots off the beaten path. Don’t feel like going out? If you are an art lover like me, here is a list of world known museums to visit from your own couch.

 

  • This may be the perfect time for those small house projects you have been putting off. Organize your shed or garage; give your yard a boost and prep your garden for the arrival of Spring; declutter your closet and organize it. If you are planning on slowly updating your home, painting walls, changing hardware and staining cabinets are small projects that can make a big difference to the eye.

 

  • During stressful times, our mind and body can suffer too. Self care should be a priority. First and foremost, eating healthy has great benefits for our body and well being. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and pack your meals with protein and the recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies. Reading books and listening to music, is proven to lower blood pressure and relax the body. Take a bubble bath, practice yoga, meditate or pray. Don’t forget to list things you are grateful for – in times like these, it is easier to fall into negativity. By reminding ourselves the things we are grateful for, we train our brain to produce more dopamine, which encourages the brain to “search” for more positivity.

 

” Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they are supposed to help you discover who you are”

 

 

 

 


Posted on March 19, 2020 at 5:30 pm
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , , ,

World Museums to visit

The current Covid-19 virus is immobilizing a lot of people at home. While travel bans are taking effect all over the world we can all gather around something that has been uniting us for so long: the “Beauty of Art”.

 

 

Here are some world well known museums you can visit from the comfort of your home.

 

  • Vatican’s Museum in Rome – The Vatican’s Museums is where you will find the Sistine Chapel, one of the most tourist attractions in the world. Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, these museums boast one of the world’s greatest art collection. You can find virtual tours HERE

 

  • National Gallery of Art in Washington – The National Gallery of Art and its attached Sculpture Garden is a National Art Museum in Washington D.C. The museum was privately established in 1937 for the American people by a joint resolution of the United States Congress. Both buildings display an enormous collection of European and American paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the Present. Enjoy virtually through video tours of current exhibitions HERE

 

  • Louvre in Paris – The Louvre Museum is the world’s largest art museum. Located on the right bank of the Seine, it is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as the Louvre Castle in the late 12th to 13th century under Phillip II. Opened in 1793 with an exhibition of only 537 paintings, its number was later increased under Napoleon. Nowadays the “Musee do Louvre” contains more than 380,000 and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments. Enjoy some exhibitions and events HERE

 

  • Uffizi Galleries – The Uffizi Gallery is a prominent art museum located in the historic center of Florence. One of the most important and visited Italian museum, it is also one of the world’s largest museum. It contains a large collection of priceless works, particularly from the Italian Renaissance. HERE the web-page.

 

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also knows as “The Met”, is located in New York City and it is the largest museum in the United States. Its permanent collection contains over two million works from classical antiquity to modern art. Founded in 1870 for the purpose of bringing art to the American people, “The Met” maintains not only extensive holdings from around the world but also encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, customs and antique weapons and armors. Explore the museum online HERE

 

 

 


Posted on March 14, 2020 at 6:02 pm
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , , , , ,

Chuckanut Drive – A Detour Worth Taking

 

After living in Whidbey Island for a few years I finally decided to venture out and take the cliff-hugging drive along the Chuckanut Drive, a detour worth taking.

SR11 is a 21.28 mile long highway that serves Skagit and Whatcom counties, in Washington.

I started the drive in Edison, the town of kindness, and made my first stop at the Breadfarm. If you love carbs as much as this Italian gal, you will be in love with this bakery. Founded in 2003, Breadfarm is an artisan bakery focused on the production of rustic breads and pastries, only using high quality natural and organic ingredients. I just love their olive baguettes, ham & cheese croissants, herbed focaccias and thumbprint cookies!

 

Once leaving the town of Edison I proceeded to Chucknut Drive to begin my scenic tour.

Here are my 5 top recommendations for the Chuckanut Drive:

  1. Rhododendron Cafe – This is a popular cafe’ and restaurant which features a monthly rotating menu’, with cuisine from different parts of the world.
  2. Bat Caves Trailhead – A famous trail also known as the Oyster Dome Trail. It is a very steep and densely wooded trail but once you get to the top you will be able to enjoy views of the San Juan Islands and Samish Bay. Fun Fact: The bat caves are home to Townsend’s big-eared bats.
  3. The Oyster Bar – You will definitely enjoy an incredible view combined with an amazing lunch. Did you know? The Oyster Bar used to be a shack where oysters were sold to passing drivers.
  4. Taylor Shellfish Samish Farm Store – At this location they have been growing oysters on about 1,700 acres of Samish Bay tideland for about 100 years. The shop sells clams, oysters, mussels, salmon and so much more.
  5. Clayton Beach – Clayton Beach parking lot is the access point to Larrabee State Park, Washington’s first state park in 1915. Larrabee State Park has 2,700 acres with two lakes, a campground and miles of hiking trails.

 

forest, state park, trees

 

I ended my excursion in Fairhaven, a town well known for  its frequent festivals and Victorian charm. Filled with lots of artsy shops and delicious restaurants, Fairhaven is a popular tourist destination.

I particularly enjoyed the Iron Rooster Bakery with its traditional pastries, croissants, quiches and my beloved macaroons!

 

historical town, visiting town

Have you taken this drive? If so, do you have any recommendations for next time I go?

Click here https://www.scenicwa.com/chuckanut-drive for more info.

 

 

 


Posted on March 3, 2020 at 12:53 am
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts |

Six Hard Truths of Selling your Home

 

 

preparing to sell a house

 

You may be aware of the fact that we are in a HOT Seller’s Market with low inventory, however let’s not forget that in order to maximize the value of the property we need to face some hard truths.

 

  1. Make sure your Realtor knows the current market conditions – I always recommend potential clients to interview more than one Realtor. Among several things to consider, make sure you both feel comfortable working together and most of all don’t be afraid to ask questions. A competent local agent should feel comfortable in explaining today’s market stats and be well aware of the local trends in your neighborhood.
  2. Clean and uncluttered homes sell – One of the greatest return in money is decluttering and deeply clean your home. Getting your house ready to sell is no joke, but having a home that is clean, fresh and inviting, makes all the difference.
  3. Homes priced right sell – I understand that maybe overpricing your home seems like you are building room for negotiations but by doing so you may just price out the right buyer. Research finds that homes lingering on the market usually sell less than their list price.
  4. Repairs left undone will end up costing you more – Home repairs done prior to going on the market could add dollars to your bottom line. If you’ve been meaning to address some repairs to your home, do NOT wait any longer! It will be less expensive to complete the tasks BEFORE you sell your home since buyers want to buy a home that is ready to go!
  5. Selling a house is inconvenient – Yes, sometimes showings may happen at inconvenient hours or when you are finally home after a long day at the office BUT think about the potential buyers work schedule. That day and time may be their only opportunity to preview your home and denying it may decrease the interest of your property.
  6. Buyers love to renegotiate after a home inspection – Be prepared! If your home needs a major repair that will be an excuse for the buyer to reduce the price. As previously discussed, it is best to address repairs prior hitting the market but if you have no intention of addressing the issue then make it well known ahead of time and disclose the fact so that the purchase price reflects the defect.

 

For more questions and service beyond the sale, call me.


Posted on February 28, 2020 at 1:05 am
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , , , ,

Septic System Care

 

A septic system is a delicate biological machine. It functions because of the actions of bacteria and properties of the soil. If not maintained, this biological machine could shut down, a very unpleasant and costly setback. Therefore, it is crucial to care for your septic system by watching what goes down the drain, reducing water use, inspecting regularly, pumping when necessary and protecting your drain field and reserve area.

 

septic system care

 

Do not flush the following items into your septic system:

Coffee grounds, paper towels, disposable diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins, pesticides, cigarette butts, condoms, fats, grease and oils. Paints, disinfectants, varnishes, photographic chemicals, waste oils, pills and unused medication. Poisons, dental floss, medicine, kitty litter, paint thinners.

Septic DO’s and DON’Ts:

    Do have your septic system inspected every three years if it is a conventional gravity system and annually for all other systems.
    Do take the FREE septic 101 class on line or in person from Island County Dept of Health.
    Do talk with a professional to see if your system would benefit from having a filter installed.
    Do spread wash cycles out over the week rather than washing many loads on one day.
    Do become familiar with the location of your septic system components.
    Do have your septic tank pumped out as needed.
    Do use water-conserving devices. Low flush toilets and showers heads are commonly available.
    Do remove or prevent trees with large root systems growing near the disposal field.
    Do maintain grass over the disposal field to use some of the water and to prevent erosion.
    Do keep surface water runoff away from the disposal field.
    Do not wait for signs of failure. Inspect your system regularly.
    Don’t pay $10,000 to $20,000 for a new system because of lack of maintenance.
    Don’t overload the system with high volumes of water. Septic systems require time for the solids to settle to the bottom or they may be flushed into the drain field causing your system to fail.
    Don’t allow large amounts of fats, oils, grease, chemicals or solvents to enter the system.
    Don’t cover the tank or drain field with asphalt, concrete or any impermeable material.
    Don’t use any septic tank additives. They are not beneficial and even with additives, regular pumping of solids is still required.
    Don’t connect basement sump pump to the on-site system.
    Don’t connect backwash from water treatment devices directly to the on-site system without professional advice.
    Don’t enter a septic system without proper ventilation. Sewer gases can be fatal.
    Don’t allow vehicles or heavy equipment to drive over or park on the disposal field. This may compact the soil and crush the piping.
    Don’t put in a separate pipe to carry wash waters to a side ditch or woods.
      • You can also gather more info at the Island County webpage

    here

    For more information and service beyond the sale, call me!

 


Posted on February 26, 2020 at 12:33 am
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , ,

“Bayleaf on Whidbey”

 

Does food make you happy? It sure brings a big smile to my face and one of my favorite go-to places here in Whidbey Island is Bayleaf on Whidbey.

Located in Downtown Coupeville, Bayleaf is so much more than a store! It is heaven for the foodies, for the wine lovers and for anyone that is willing to try new foods from other countries as well.

This local business offers a variety of Epicurean delicacies, specialty foods, ready to eat snacks, local goodies and a vast assortment of wine, beer, champagne and cider to accompany your recipes. Gluten Free and Organic options are also available.

Other local businesses are supported within the store and you can purchase delicious eats like smoked Penn Cove mussels, Screamin’ Banshee bread (so good!), local honey and jams, and Whidbey Island Winery wines.

If admiring all this appetizing food makes your tummy rumble, rest assured you are in the right place. With indoor and outdoor seating, you can walk by the cheese case and discover a big selection of cheeses, Pâté and cured meats. Sandwiches, antipasto and cheese platters are just a few of the several options to satisfy your cravings.

Bayleaf on Whidbey offers a catering service among the online shop and personalized gifts, perfect for family, friends and clients.

Make sure to subscribe to their mailing list and don’t miss out on any upcoming events here !

valentine's day, valentines chocolate shop local, bayleaf store

cooking with italian sauce, cooking with sauce cooking and drinking, variety of wine

 

 

 

 


Posted on February 8, 2020 at 1:03 am
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , , , , ,

Seabolt’s Smokehouse Restaurant

 

Located in the heart of Oak Harbor, Seabolt’s Smokehouse is a family owned business in operation since 1978.

Seabolt’s Smokehouse products are produced without any added preservatives or artificial flavors. Their salmon is cured to perfection and smoked slowly in their smokers using only locally grown alder wood to guarantee a great flavor and continue the Pacific Northwest style tradition.

Alder wood is not widely known like Cedar or Hickory, but its delicate, subtle and slightly sweet flavor makes it the perfect go-to smoke flavor.

Growing up in an Island myself (Sicily, Italy), I love freshly caught fish so it is definitely a treat having a meal at this specific restaurant.

For lunch I highly recommend their Caesar Salad with freshly grilled salmon, perfectly topped with Parmesan cheese and a side of delicious cheesy ciabatta bread.

For dinner I absolute love the well know Penn Cove mussels or the fresh local Dungeness Crab.

You can’t go wrong with any of their delicious dishes. After all, Seabolt’s has been voted Whidbey Island’s best seafood restaurant with the best Clam Chowder and best Fish & Chips.

To make things even better you can purchase their products online as well. Custom baskets are available as well. I have ordered a few of those for my clients and always received great reviews.

Serving quality food over the years ensured that Seabolt’s Smokehouse has earned a great reputation compelling guest to return continuously.

Go ahead, dig in!


Posted on February 3, 2020 at 6:15 pm
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , , , , ,

Little Town Cottage in Oak Harbor

 

Located in the heart of Oak Harbor – inside “The Loft on Fidalgo & Dock” building – resides a store full of charm and pleasant scents.

Little Town Cottage is a local business run by owner Maria Rodriguez for the last two years. The care and dedication involved are apparent the moment you step through the door. Inside you will experience a great atmosphere filled with amazing customer service and a variety of bath products, home décor, and refurbished furniture.

What makes this local store a unique place to shop is the abundance of homemade bath products – lotions, soaps, bath bombs, body butter etc. – all handmade in the store itself.

Maria produces about 300 bath bombs every other day and doubles that amount during the busy season. Her favorite products to make are frosting soaps and bath bombs. Make sure to try those!

Natural ingredients are used throughout the store. No usage of preservatives, only natural items like oils and food items such as coffee beans, turmeric, milk, oatmeal and honey.

Maria also uses clay in her products, which has nice properties for the skin and is beneficial in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, and helps draw out impurities.

One of the latest best sellers is the Bee Pollen soap. It has fifteen natural ingredients, including organic raw honey, coconut milk, arrowroot powder, and bee pollen powder.

If you haven’t had the chance to visit this business, I highly recommend you do.

For additional questions and service beyond the sale, call me!


Posted on January 23, 2020 at 12:32 am
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , , ,

Hardwood Floor Restoration

Because of their natural appearance, hardwood flooring has always been a popular and preferred choice among homeowners.

Nice hardwood floors can add value to your home, but unfortunately they are often neglected and end up dull and rough looking. Fortunately, through the process of refinishing and restoration, it is possible to bring your hardwood back to life and unlock its hidden beauty.

You’ll need to make a choice: DIY or hiring a professional?

If you are not an expert, the project will take longer but it will end up saving you some money. You may be able to rent the proper equipment from major home improvement retail stores, BUT the machines may end up being inferior compared to the ones the professionals own. Another thing to keep in mind is that often when novices attempt to sand floor, they rarely sand floors properly. As a result, the stain doesn’t penetrate evenly, the results are blotchy and the finish will not last as long.

If you decide to hire a professional make sure you do your research and check any and all reviews the company may have. Unfortunately, among reputable contractors, there are a few who will give a cheap estimate and thus offer a poor result.

The images below are from a home I sold to my client a couple months ago. She did her research and decided that hiring a professional was her best option. As you can see, the results are just breathtaking!

      

For any recommendations and service beyond the sale, call me!


Posted on January 11, 2020 at 11:00 pm
Simona Groves | Posted in Simona's Blog posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,