Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Story

It’s the day before Christmas, and I wanted to share a story that my, now, 78-year old father shared several years ago about a particular Christmas Eve almost 50 years ago.  Every year, someone asks him to tell the story, so I wanted to pass along what has become a part of our Christmas story-telling traditions. 

Several years ago, Dad was on a plane traveling home from another part of our world, and was reminded when he saw no signs of Christmas or the birth of baby Jesus, just how far we had come from that great event many years ago.  Ten days in lands where the birth of the Christ child is not a part of their daily lives reminded him to think of that blessed event in Bethlehem which has changed the lives of those we know and millions of others that we don’t.

As he pondered the difference this great event made in our world and how much more is needed for peace on earth, he began to think of Christmas past.  He remembered that Christmas years ago as a child, when he got the little red wagon he wanted so much.  Not only could he play with it and make believe, but he could also use it to haul in the firewood for the iron cook stove from the nearby woods.  There weren’t a lot of gifts in those days, but they still heard the Christmas story at their little church on the mountain in middle-Tennessee.  That seemed more important than the gifts, anyway, and the story seemed so “clear” with life on their little farm.  He just couldn’t imagine a baby lying in their manger.  They didn’t have sheep, but he envisioned the shepherds on their mountaintop and at night he could see so many bright stars.  But, he wondered, how did they know which was the star over Bethlehem shining down on the manger where Jesus lay?

His thoughts moved ahead to his first year in college and going home for Christmas was a major challenge.  He took the bus from Knoxville home to Bon Air, TN.  Then he walked through the snow for 3 miles to get home.  It seemed a long way in the cold, but now that he’s older, he found that slight.  After all, Mary rode a donkey all the way to Bethlehem and she was great with child.  His trip home for Christmas was so trivial in comparison. 

A couple years later, while in veterinary school at Auburn University, he and my mom traveled home for Christmas with their first born, my sister, who was about 6 weeks old at the time.  He had paid for her doll on the installment plan; he and mom were working their way through vet school, and funds were tight.  So, it was go home for Christmas in Tennessee for all the family to see their new born child.  

Years later, they left Tennessee and moved to Texas for him to go to graduate school at Baylor University.  As you may know, graduate fellowships aren’t very much support, especially when you have a family, too.  But on Christmas Eve, there was a knock at their door.  Much to their surprise, it was a Jewish friend of theirs and his children.  His friend immediately exclaimed, “I’m your Jewish Santa Claus and we bring gifts for all your children!”  He might as well have been one of the wise men who brought gifts for baby Jesus.

Back to his flight home, many other thoughts of Christmas past came to his mind.  After 10 days in a world without Christmas, he returned to Hong Kong.  Upon arriving at his hotel room, the music of Christmas was playing!!  What a joy to be reminded of the season.  Christ indeed still lives!

Many hours and thousands of miles later, he was back in Knoxville,  He realized throughout the city, every creature was moving.  The town was all decorated for Christmas.  The crowds rushed about the city from mall to mall, in shop after shop in pursuit of toys made in China, the latest iPod or Xbox.  There were toys of mass destruction containing mercury and lead.  The newest DVDs, and cell phones for text messaging people so you don’t actually have to “talk” to them!  As he began to get discouraged, thinking, “This is not what Christmas is about!” it was time to take toys to Morgan-Scott, which is the annual Christmas project he and mom’s Sunday school class participate in together.  There were seven vans and trucks loaded to the brim to bring good cheer to the little children in the underprivileged, under served community just outside of Knoxville.  Their minds were filled with joy as they made their way through Oliver Springs, Wartburg, and Sunbright, because they could make Christmas special for this group of needy families.

But his heart was still not overjoyed.  He had to wonder, “Does the star still shine over Bethlehem?  Will there ever be peace in the middle East?”  We worry about our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan…everywhere.  We pray for their safety and wouldn't it be a blessing if wars could stop and all people could have the peace the baby Jesus’ birth proclaimed?  We pray for God’s powerful hand to show the way, but he already did----if only everyone believed.

It’s now the day before Christmas.  Thoughts of family, Christmas dinner, sharing with one another our memorable Christmas times, our blue Christmases, and maybe even the “Grinch Stole Christmas” Christmas.  There are health issues, economics, family, relationships and emotional issues.  It can be a time of great joy or one of major concern.  It is often so busy, we can’t appreciate a “real” Christmas. 

But the most awesome experience he will always remember was one Christmas almost 50 years ago, while our family was living in Kingston, TN.  He was one of the JC’s delivering Christmas boxes to the needy.  Naturally, as the local veterinarian, he was assigned the “out of town”, more rural requests.  The evening was getting late, and on Christmas Eve, he was driving as fast as he could between stops so he could get home for our family’s own Christmas preparations.  He had one more basket to go.  It was getting dark, and he was met at the door of a brand-new house, by an angry man who demanded to know why he was so late.  He noticed through the doorway, he had already received 2 other boxes from other sources and informed him they made their deliveries on schedule!  He couldn’t believe what he was hearing!  Thinking fast, he looked at his list and asked him his name.  (He already knew his name, but kept it covered with his thumb.)  When he told him his name, he said, “Oh I’m sorry….I am at the wrong house.  You aren’t on my list.”  (This was untrue, of course, but he would deal with that later.)  He walked back to his car and left, not knowing what to do with the undelivered box.  He drove through the night trying to decide what to do, when he saw a dim light in the distance.  It was not a bright star as guided the shepherd or the wise men, but he was neither, so he followed it.  The road was unfamiliar, and grew narrow.  Soon, it was not paved at all, and it was too narrow to turn around.  He could still see the dim light ahead in the distance, so he continued to drive toward it.  Eventually, he arrived at the source of the light.  He found a small wooden shack.  He knocked on the door, and a young lady answered.  The contents of the house were very modest, with furniture and cabinets made of sawmill lumber.  She had a plain scrub pine Christmas tree decorated with handmade paper chains and under the tree was a 5# bag of potatoes.  She had two children, one of which was a young baby lying in a hand-made, box-like cradle for a bed. 

He asked the lady her name.  When she replied, he said, “I’m so glad to find you!  I’ve been searching all night!  I have a Christmas basket for you from the Jay Cees in Kingston.”  “How can this be?” she said.  Again, he told a little White Christmas lie.  “But I know you!  I have my sources, so wait here until I can get your Christmas box!” 

He brought in the ham, the staples, fresh fruit, some candy and a few toys.  She was shocked and happy.  But before she could comprehend what was happening, he wished her Merry Christmas, and drove through the night.

Finally, he made it to Highway 58. As he traveled home late that Christmas Eve, he thought he heard a voice say, “Don’t worry about the lie---you don’t have to be a shepherd or wise man to worship the Christ child.  But tonight, you had a glimpse of what they experienced 2000 years ago.”

Today is the day before Christmas.  I know there are many amazing and miraculous Christmas stories out there, but I wanted to share one that is special to me and my family.  May you all enjoy the blessing of the birth of the Christ child. Merry Christmas to all and to all a season of blessings!

One final comment, which is something Dad failed to mention, that was later pointed out by my mother:  Dad went back later to try to find the wooden shack where he delivered the last basket, and it was no where to be found.  He never found the house.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Santa Has Been Spotted in Warner Robins!

Santa has been spotted, and he is making the rounds of Houston County in the next couple weeks.  It looks like our community is ready to welcome him with lots of Decked Halls and Jingling Bells!

This Saturday is the day for parades!  Warner Robins, Perry and Centerville will be marching all day!  The 55th Annual Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade will be Saturday, December 1, starting at 10 am. The parade will commence at the intersection of Watson Blvd. and Houston Road. Local artist and rising Nashville star Colby Dee will be this year's Grand Marshal. Bundle up and head on out for a fun morning!  Later in the day, bring the family out to Perry to enjoy Christmas at the Square in Downtown Perry on Carroll Street, on Saturday, December 1. The Christmas Parade starts at 4 pm, and runs from Main Street down Gen. C. Hodges Blvd. Centerville will host their Annual Lighted Christmas Parade a bit later at 7:00pm, and should commence close to the new library on Gunn Road. 

The Perry Area Historical Museum will host an "Old Fashioned Christmas" at the museum on Saturday, December 1, from 1:00-3:00. The museum is located at 901 Northside Drive in Perry. Come enjoy a delightful old- fashioned Christmas with friends at the Perry Museum. The event will be hosted by characters from Perry's yesteryears, showcase a special Christmas exhibit, provide carolers for a Christmas sing-a-long, and teach the children how to make Christmas crafts. There is no admission charge and refreshments will be served. For more information, go to their website:

The second annual HODAC Christmas Tour of Homes will be held on Sunday, December 2, from 2-6 pm. There will be six beautifully decorated homes in Statham's Landings Subdivision. There are lots of great door prizes and raffle items available again this year. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 the day of the Tour. You can purchase your tickets at any of the following locations: Hodac on Watson Blvd., Golden Key Realty on S. Houston Lake Road, SunTrust Bank on Watson Blvd., SunTrust Bank on Hwy 96, SunTrust Bank on Houston Lake Road, Phillip's Furniture on Watson Blvd., and the Landings Golf Club Pro Shop. Tickets are $20.00 before the tour and $25.00 the day of the tour. All proceeds to benefit HODAC, Inc. founded in 1971, which provides education, prevention and intervention programs and services that impact the health and welfare of Georgia citizens locally and throughout the state.

Also on Sunday, December 2, at 6 pm, come back to Perry for the traditional Lighting of the Christmas Tree and storefronts by the Perry Players Lamplighter. Free hot chocolate, free Picture at the Manger, and more.

Santa will be at Golden Key Realty on Saturday, December 8, from 2-4 pm. Come see what Mrs. Claus and her elves have in store for the kiddos this year!  They have lots of games, activities, and refreshments you won't want to miss!  Great photo opp to include in your Christmas cards this year! Golden Key Realty is located at 526 S. Houston Lake Road, Warner Robins, GA.  

Christmas on Carroll in Perry is Saturday, December 8, with stores and restaurants keeping extended hours.....6-8 pm. This is another chance to Shop Small, supporting and keeping our small businesses thriving in our community.

The Perry Players Community Theater will perform "Southern Hospitality" at the theater located at 909 Main Street in Perry. Shows are December 7-9 and December 12-16 at 7:30 pm. Sunday matinees will be performed at 2:30 on December 9th and 16th. The play is a sequel to last years hilarious show "Christmas Belles" with everyone's beloved characters, and introducing some new ones, too! The favorite Futrelle sisters are back in a whole new mess! This time, their beloved hometown of Fayro, Texas is on the verge of extinction, so the sisters have to band together in a desperate attempt to save it.  Along with all the despaire, add an engagement, full blown mid-life crisis, a Civil War battle reenactment and a dead body.  The combination is sure to be a  hilarious good time! For more information and/or to get tickets, click on the link to the Perry Players website

Runners and 10k-ers, grab your shoes and come out to Lane Southern Orchards on Sunday, December 9 for The Pecan Tree 10.4K. Start time is 3:04 pm, with registration starting at 2:04 pm. The race will be run through the pecan groves and along smooth, dirt roads. The proceeds from the race go to support GA 4-H and Peach County 4-H.

The Museum of Aviation will host their most popular workshop of the season: Science with Santa. Geared toward kids from pre-K through 5th grade, participants will perform a wide-range of experiments with a holiday theme. Since Santa loves science too, he will also be there to take pictures with each student. Come join Santa, December 20, 9 am to 12 pm. Cost is $30.  To register, go to the Museum of Aviation's website and go to the event calendar and educational events to pull up the registration form.

Have a festive time this month!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Do You and Warren Buffett Have in Common?

I am in a small ladies investment club that meets monthly. We each have a stock that we study and report on each month, as well as reporting on any good information we have found on stocks worth considering for purchase. Yesterday, as I was reviewing the news of the stock market, I stumbled upon an article on Warren Buffett. I say I “stumbled”, but I actually Google him every month to see what he is doing, and if he has done anything notable. I like to learn from successful people, and when you are looking at improving your financial health, he is a good one to follow. The surprising thing I learned about this man is that he seems to be remarkably normal: He has a favorite chair with a stack a books piled up next to it that he refers to and reads daily, he reads several newspapers every day and he eats ICE CREAM for breakfast! But when I hear the word “billionaire”, I think of an untouchable celebrity that lives in a mansion, drives an expensive car, and has a different Rolex for every day of the week. However, for this billionaire, what I found out is that he has lived in the same house for over 60 years. He bought his current home in 1958 for $31,500. He drives a 6 or 7 year old car. And, he reads a LOT. Interestingly, a good amount of the information he acquires is from the internet. FREE information, which he would gladly pay half his net worth just to have the information available.

We had a wonderful sales meeting this week at Golden Key Realty. My broker, Gwen Giles, does an exceptional job sharing good advice with her agents, and this week was awesome. Her ideas are practical and easy to implement, if you will just follow up and do as she suggests. The best information in the world won't do you any good if you don't do anything with it! If you refuse good advice, your plans will fail. But if you take good counsel, you can watch them succeed! The bottom line for this week's sales meeting, in summary: READ. Every day. Pick up a book and read 10 pages every day. Not the fluff-stuff, the trashy novel, or latest celebrity magazine. Pick up a good non-fiction book that will help improve your business, whether your business is selling real estate in central Georgia, flying a C-17 for the United States Air Force or building and leading a high-performing team to have a successful Black Friday sale!

I love to read. I always have. I have stacks of books in my office. I have stacks of books on my bedside table. I have a Kindle in my purse that I pull out when I am stuck in traffic, waiting on an appointment or sitting at a home inspection. I love that we have such easy access to so much information! As I read through the daily Facebook posts this month of Thanksgiving, I enjoy reading the shared blessings and thanks of my internet friends. I realize how thankful I am for all that I have and all that is yet to be. But I am also thankful for the basic foundation I got in Kindergarten: Reading, writing and arithmetic; skills that allow me to absorb and use the loads of available information and apply it everywhere. I am especially thankful that I learned how to multiply double-digits in the 70's. If I had to learn it using today's math, I would never get out of 5th grade!

So I want to leave you with a recommendation of one of my favorite books, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. In these times of economic struggle, it is a good read for anyone that wants to learn some good, practical financial tips. You might be surprised who could be living next door!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Affordable Care Act

I have had several people ask lately about the Affordable Care Act that is part of the new health care bill that goes into effect January 1, 2013.  The question is: Does the new law impose a 3.8 percent tax on profits from the sale of my home?
The answer is, no, with just a few exceptions. The new 3.8% tax will apply to the “unearned” income of “High Income” taxpayers. “Unearned” income is earnings from capital investments, such as capital gains, rental income, dividends and interest income.  The taxable portion of the unearned income that is subject to both income and the new Medicare tax is the amount of income gained from these sources, minus expenses associated with earning that income.  "High income" is considered as those with individual incomes over $200,000, or $250,000 for couples that file their taxes jointly. 
The sale must net a PROFIT of $250,000 in the sale of your PERSONAL residence, or the first $500,000 for married couples, in order to incur 3.8 percent tax.  Again, only those with Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGI) over $200,000 per year (or $250,000 for couples filing jointly) will be subject to the tax.   With these high figures, very few people will be affected. But don’t think that those with incomes over $200,000 ($250,000) are automatically taxed:  It still won’t apply unless the PROFITS from the sale of the PRIMARY RESIDENCE are $250,000 or more ($500,000 for married couples).  According to the Internal Revenue Service, in order to qualify for the $250,000 ($500,000) exclusion, you must be the owner of the home, and have lived in it as your primary residence for at least two years out of five years prior to the sale of the property. This exclusion does NOT apply to vacation homes or rental properties.  Using the September 2012 national median sales price of $183,900, as reported by the National Association of Realtors, you can see the vast majority of homeowners will not be affected, since the sale of a $183,900 home could not possibly generate a $250,000 profit.
If you have questions, or would like to discuss the sale of your property, I would be happy to help.  Please give me a call at 478-973-2684 or send me an email at:

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm a Leader. Unless It's Dark. Then You Go First!

Halloween brings out the creepies, ghosts, and goblins!  Haunted houses have us paying to be scared senseless. But as I was driving to a listing appointment yesterday, I had to laugh about a memory of a creepy house that a client wanted to see, years ago, before I moved to Georgia.
As a brand newly licensed Realtor® in the State of Tennessee, I was eager to please my clients, willing to go the extra mile in order to find them a perfect, new home.  Little did I know, the “extra mile” was going to take me on a 10-county house-hunting expedition!
While I was an agent in Tennessee, my keypad gave me access to every lock box in the state---I had no limits to where I could sell properties, as long as I was willing to make the drive.  I lived in Knoxville, but if someone wanted to see a property in Memphis, I could show it to them.  Now, of course, I wouln't go to that extreme-I would simply refer a client to a Memphis agent.  But you get the idea.  The advantage was that if we had clients that wanted to see properties in outlying counties, it wasn’t a problem.
I was working with my second client as a Realtor®, and I was ready to impress them with my knowledge of the area and newly-learned skills I had gotten in the classroom.  I was ready to give them a tour of Knoxville, but they wanted to see properties in remote locations, as well.  They weren’t particular about what county they lived; they just wanted it to be rural, with privacy and acreage.  They were fine with a house that needed some repairs:  They were cash buyers, so my search required no limits as to whether the house was a fixer-upper or not.  I went to work searching for properties in their price-range, with the minimum required acreage and house that was suitable for the needs of their family.  In order to have several properties for them to consider, they asked me not to limit the search by county.  The search ended up with properties expanding across 10-counties:  Knox, Blount, Anderson, Morgan, Sevier, Roane, Grainger, Union, Loudon and Jefferson counties. 
Now, in the life of a real estate professional, you never know what each new day will bring, which is one of the things most appealing about being in the business.  It is also one of the things that causes the most anxiety….but can make for some great stories!  So, here goes:
We traveled through Knox County. We searched high and low in Loudon County, and a few places in Blount County with elevations that made our ears pop. We drove up hills in Sevier County that made my brakes rebel and smoke on the way back down.  In spite of the miles racking up on the odometer, I was still good with it.  I was driving a Ford Expedition that was going through gas like water, but I was bound and determined to make sure my clients were well taken care of.  (I even had a cooler of bottled water and a basket of snacks in the back seat in case anyone needed refreshment!)
The day was coming to an end, and they wanted to see one more…..The one they thought for sure was,  “The One.”  It was located in an unincorporated town in Morgan County called, Petros.  (Pronounced Pee-Tross.)  Petros, at one time, was a coal mining town, and the home of Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary (which closed in 2009).  The movie, October Sky, filmed several coal mine and town scenes in Petros. 
To give you a little history and to set the stage for the showing that night…..Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary is an old prison that opened in 1896.  The original prison was a wooden structure, but was later replaced in the 1920s with a castle-like building constructed from stone mined by prisoners from a rock quarry on the property.  As of 2008 Brushy Mountain was the oldest operating prison in Tennessee.
The prison is almost completely surrounded by rugged wooded terrain in a remote section of the Cumberland Plateau. Escape attempts were infrequent and almost always unsuccessful. The best-known escape attempt occurred on June 10, 1977, when James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., escaped by climbing over a fence, along with six other inmates.  Ray was captured less than two days later in a rugged mountain terrain less than three miles from the prison.
In its final years of operation, Brushy Mountain had a capacity of 584 inmates, of all custody levels.  It kept a maximum security designation due to the ninety six bed maximum security annex within the prison walls. These ninety six beds were used to house the states most troublesome inmates.
So this is where the house was that my clients wanted to see:  In Petros, TN. They were ready to buy, and I was ready to write an offer!  So setting aside all sense fear and anxiety and putting on a confident face, we headed up to Morgan County to find that the house had no electricity turned on, and the sun was well on its way down behind the hills.  We were soon to be in the dark…..In Morgan County…..Where James Earl Ray had escaped from the pen back in the day.  No problem. I can do this. These being my earlier, less experienced days, I didn’t have a “tool kit” put together that held all the tools of the trade I now keep in my car, such as a flashlight.  But since it was dusk, we could still see a bit from the outside.  The INSIDE of the house was another story.  For some reason, all the windows in the house were covered with wrapping paper, so no light was able to come through the windows.  The walls were paneled throughout the house, adding to the darkness of the building.  We pretty much had to feel our way through the house as our eyes adjusted to the lack of light.  I kept telling myself, “It’s fine…What are you expecting to find?  A dead body? Perhaps an escaped convict?”  Come on!  I can DO this!  We headed to the back of the house to check out the last bedroom at the end of the hall.  Ready to point out the closet features of the home, I opened the closet door and had to jump out of the way of SOMETHING falling out of the attic space in the top of the closet!  I turned around and bolted out of the house, most likely screaming some absurd, high-pitched squeal that did nothing to add to the professional image I was trying so hard to maintain! 
Back in the car, heart pounding, and sure a dead body had just fallen through the ceiling, I realized I had left my clients in the house.  Catching my breath and trying to get my heart rate back to a comfortable pace, I looked up to see that they were on the way out of the house and headed toward the car.  They got in the car with a chuckle (and I am sure a big eye-roll), and stated, “Now THAT was one deadly foam mattress pad!”
I didn’t get nominated for Realtor of the Year that year.
But, I did sell them a house.  Just not in Petros.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tomorrow is Halloween, so here are some tips to keep the kiddos safe! Have a Happy Halloween!

•A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. 
•If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
•Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat. 

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
•Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
•Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
•Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
•If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
•Never cut across yards or use alleys.
•Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
•Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!
•Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

© 10/09 American Academy of Pediatrics

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moving In and Out of Season

October is one of my favorite times of the year.  Not only are the temperatures more comfortable, but the evolution of the seasons from autumn to winter has special characteristics that I always look forward to.  The changing of the leaves always makes me feel re-charged in one sense, and relaxed and content in another.  Along with the better weather, there are so many activities and events going on during the fall, and we are never at a loss for things to do. 

This past weekend, I traveled with my family and a couple friends to stay the weekend in the Smoky Mountains.  Being a native of East Tennessee, those Great Smoky Mountains were pretty much in my backyard as a child.  I moved to upstate (Ithaca) New York when I was 12 years old, where I also experienced tremendously beautiful scenery.  Quite remarkably, the area I lived was very similar to East Tennessee with its gorges, waterfalls,, lakes and mountains.  Fall in upstate New York is breathtaking, and a wonderful place to live!  I remember the magnificent Ithaca sunsets on Cayuga Lake that are the subject of songs and photos, and backdrop to many special events. 

This past weekend in Tennessee, the leaves were peaking, and the color was breathtaking! We took the scenic route back to Georgia this time so we a better view than just interstate.  I am so glad we chose to take the long way home because there was so much to see!  Along with the usual wildlife, we saw a herd of elk in a field---not something I have ever seen before.  We drove past some places from my childhood and early college years that were especially meaningful to me and my family, for one reason or another. A lot of history and heritage for my family in those mountains, and I am blessed to have such warm memories.  I came home in an especially peaceful state of mind.  

Back in the 80's, when it came time to go to college, I headed back to the hills of Tennessee to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  After graduating, I lived there for nearly 23 years prior to moving to Georgia 7 years ago.   I love having friends and family in many parts of the country!

Moving can be stressful, or it can be an exciting adventure.  I have always tried to keep a positive perspective on relocation, and the opportunity to make new friends and experience new things.  Whenever I have moved to a new area, I have worked quickly to learn as much as I can about my new home.  Having an incurable curiosity, this works to the advantage of my clients, as I can be a  community resource of information.  I love to introduce and welcome our new neighbors to this area.  I am sympathetic to the challenges of getting established in an unfamiliar place, and work hard to help my clients overcome any hurdles that may come up.

Starting out completely unfamiliar with my new middle Georgia home, I had a lot to learn!  After lots of research and loaded with lots of great information, I decided to create a Facebook page to share.   If you want to find out what's going on in and around Houston County, Georgia on a daily basis, be sure to check it out:  For more home tips, ideas and real estate, check out my other page at  And of course if you, or someone you  know, have any real estate needs, please give me a call! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall is in the Air!

Fall is in the air!  I don't know about you, but I am loving these cooler temps!  What a relief from the 100 degree Georgia summers we have!

Here is a fun fall recipe that is fun to take to parties, potlucks and get togethers.  Fellow Golden Key Realty colleague an awesome cook, Caren Bridges, was kind enough to share this recipe with me several years ago, and I have made it many times since!

Apple Cheese Ball

Mix together 10 oz. shredded white cheddar cheese, 1 t. garlic powder, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. ground cayenne pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped apple and 8 oz. softened cream cheese. Chill 30 minutes. Shape into a tight ball. Put 1/2 cup paprika in a zip-lock bag and add cheese ball, tossing gently to coat completely with paprika. Put it on a serving plate and add a stick of cinnamon for the stem and a bay leaf or two for leaves.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to Basics

I have to admit, I have a secret, guilty pleasure.....The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  But don't judge me.  Where else can I spend an hour a week, realizing how utterly, absolutely, and quite simply,  NORMAL, I am?  Well, ok.  I can watch Judge Judy and REALLY feel normal…and exceptionally intelligent.  But in the world of so-called “real housewives”, amidst all the money, cars, mansions, diamonds and fame, the only thing those “real” housewives seem to be is real UNHAPPY!  They make it obvious money doesn't buy happiness.  The drama of their lives portrayed every week on reality tv makes me realize how satisfying my simple life is.

Recently, I went to a financial planning presentation with my husband, and came away with a couple of  pearls.  Not in the literal sense----some pearls of wisdom.  What are your grandparents doing in their retirement (or what DID they do?)  Did they retire at the age of 65?  Did they have enough money to live comfortably?  We listened to the discussion, with most sadly reporting that their grandparents weren't able to retire because that they never had enough money to cover their expenses.  Many people in the room shared similar stories.  My husband and I realized we are blessed.  Our grandparents had set some really fine examples for their grandchildren:  Don't spend everything you make.  But did we listen?  Not a chance.  We did more than just the opposite.  We didn't just spend everything we made----we spent MORE!!!!   After all, that is the American way, isn’t it?   Fortunately, realizing the error of our ways after the help of some really educational workshops and classes, we are back on track.  (Thanks, Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University!)

The bottom line is, we need to get back to the basics.  When we are struggling to figure out why things aren’t working out the way they should, we should resolve to get back to the basics.  Why don’t we just stay there since that is what works?  Why do we find it so necessary to change what is working?

Since it is football season, let’s take a look at the game. The BASICS of the game.  Football, or baseball, both of which are big in my family, provide some great lessons. The rules of the game have been the same since the first ball was thrown.  The results are predictable:  You show up for practices, you focus, you play as a team, you work hard, you play hard, and you might win the game.   Although the effort is not easy, the concept certainly is.  No perks without the works.  You work hard, you play hard, you win, you are rewarded and you get to celebrate. Are amazing athletes just born amazing?  Did he/she just show up for the game and play like a pro?  Of course not!  You have to crawl before you can walk, practice before you play to win, start where you are and go from there.  In real estate terms, your first home is going to be a starting point for eventually moving up to the big “dream home” you are creating on a "pin-board"!  Realistic expectations are critical to know the difference between a good real estate opportunity and avoiding biting off more house than you can chew.  First-time home buyers, especially, need to understand this.

On a visit back to my hometown one weekend for a football game,  I stayed at my parent’s house.  I was sitting at my mom’s vanity in the bathroom putting on my makeup, and saw a tray of colognes and after shave that belonged to her and dad.  Although my dad has traveled all over the world during his career, picking up exotic perfumes as gifts for mom, and awesome colognes for himself, none of them took me back to a favorite memory from the past than one small bottle with the little red ship.  The scent took me back to when I was a four-year old, and dad and I would pile into the old, green “woody wagon” after breakfast.  (And breakfast, by the way, was always hot and on the table at the same time every morning.  Lucky me!)  He would drop me off at nursery school on his way to the office...And he always wore that scent with the little red ship on the bottle.  Expensive?  Nope.  Memorable?  Absolutely!  Every time I smell that scent, it takes me back to the 1960's in Columbia, MO.  So is there a big, expensive price tag that makes the best memories?  Is it the house they now live in and have worked for their entire lives what makes my most cherished memories?  Of course not-it is the journey and the memories we made over the years to get to where they are now that are most important.  My parents raising four kids, getting us to after-school events, practices and activities (and attending every game, recital or competition), sending all of us to college with mom staying home to coordinate and make sure it all happened as it should:  Was it easy?  Heck, no!  I know how much time, effort, money and energy it takes to get that all done, now that I am an adult and have done much of the same for my three kids.  I know they made their MORE than fair share of sacrifices.  But those memories are the foundation for which I build my own adult life.  Those memories make me the wife, mother, friend, and professional that I am.  It is the most simple things that have taught me the best, most important lessons and that take me back and make me smile.

So when I watch the “Real Housewives”, and I laugh and smile, it is not because of the quality or content of the show.  It is more of a "smug" smile, because I am content and happy with all that I have and know, and that I am rich beyond belief with amazing memories, family, friends, clients and colleagues that add value to my life every day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

365 Things To Do in Warner Robins, GA

New Facebook Page: 365 Things To Do In Warner Robins Ga

Are you new to Warner Robins? Are you moving to Warner Robins, GA? Have you been there for a while and just looking for something new to do? At some point in the last 6 years, I have been all of the above!

I am a Realtor in Warner Robins.  Two of my favorite things about being a Realtor:  1.)   I get to meet a LOT of new people, and 2.) I love being a "Community Hostess".  In other words, my garden of friends is constantly growing and I love being the point of contact as a resource for where to go and what to do and sometimes, who to do it with!   As soon as I moved here six years ago, I got busy checking out the area, and want to share what I have found 
over the years!  It has been a fun ride, and now I want to you to come along!  I have found the people in Warner Robins (Houston County) are what make this an awesome community---a community that welcomes newcomers with open arms because that's how we roll.....It is our way of life.  With Robins Air Force Base right here in town, we have folks coming and going constantly.  As I am sure you can imagine, this is bittersweet:  It is awesome to always be meeting new people with loads of different backgrounds and experiences, but sad when we have to open our arms again with goodbye hugs when they are ready to PCS or move to their next location.

For those that are here, or are going to be here, I will be posting info on local (Warner Robins, Kathleen, Perry, Bonaire, Centerville, Byron, Ft, Valley, Macon, etc....) businesses, activities, events, etc. every day, so stop by often!  I may even expand on out a bit to Savannah, since I am especially crazy about Savannah and it is less than 2 hours from here.    I am a pretty good social detective, but...... If you know of something that might be of interest to others, please let me know so I can get it on here!  The more info the better!

For more fun stuff, stop by my other Facebook page,   Janie Pugh of Golden Key Realty 
.  Lots of household tips, recipes, party ideas, funny pix, local info and more!  And of course, I will occasionally post real estate listings, but I promise not to wear you out with them!  

Have fun!

Janie Pugh, Realtor
Golden Key Realty

Mobile: 478-973-2684