One of the things we have found helpful during this time of sheltering in place, is to implement ways to stay in safe, yet personal contact and communication with our community. We have been spending more time with our families, enjoying long phone calls with friends, and have been engaging in nearly daily Zoom meetings with our colleagues. In addition to these important and gratifying ways to stay in touch, we have also been supporting our local small business owners.
In previous blogs, we have shared small business resources for those who are unable to operate and need financial assistance. And, what about those who are still open and operating? Can you share a way you have found to support the local small businesses near you, in a safe and affordable way? We would love to hear who they are and what you love about them so we and others can support them too! Here are just a few of our favorite local small businesses and how we are supporting them during this time.
The time of year for outdoor libations and good BBQ is upon us! And with that, one of our favorite local restaurants during this time is Aptos Street BBQ. Their carefully prepared meats, barbecued to perfection, are sure to hit the spot for any meal. A new favorite of Joell’s, and the newest addition to the menu, are the BBQ breakfast tacos, a delicious, easy and affordable breakfast on the go!
No Sushi Shortage Here!
There are many things to be grateful for in the beautiful town of Aptos. Now we can add a wide variety of great sushi places to that list! Whether it is Sushi Garden, Akira, or the newest addition – Poke Bowl Aptos, you are sure to get fresh and delicious sushi. Corin and her family have been getting takeout from Sushi Garden and Akira, while Jarah has been frequenting Poke Bowl Aptos a couple of times a week for her and her son – an avid poke bowl lover!
With extra time at home and a shortage of things to do in public, many of us have been digging our old bikes out of storage. And with that also comes an array of bike necessities. Whether you have a flat bike tire, need a new helmet for your child, or are shopping for a new bike entirely, Epicenter Cycling is open and safely servicing our community. Corin experienced them strictly enforcing social distancing guidelines, only allowing one customer in the store at a time, and they are also offering curbside pickup for pre-ordered items. Check them out for all of your bicycle needs!
Finding a Way to Celebrate!
What better way to face adversity and depressive times than to find a way to be happy and things to celebrate? Wood Worm Party store in Capitola is helping us all do just that! Jarah was able to enlist their help in delivering a fun and exciting Easter celebration to her children with their creative curbside Easter basket delivery service. They are offering birthday balloon bouquets, available for curbside pickup or delivery, and have a wonderful variety of baking supplies for all of you who are spending this time at home getting back in the kitchen. Wood Worm Party store is a great long time local small business and we want them to stay!
Don’t Forget Our Non-Profits!
We understand that many of us are challenged financially and are on a tight budget. However, for any of you able to help, or looking for ways to have a positive impact, The Human Race of Santa Cruz is still active and working hard to raise money for all of our local non-profits. You can find a variety of non-profits and worthy causes on their website and can donate during their online giving campaign which is running until May 9th.
On a personal level, each member of The Mower Group has been working hard to raise money for a local non-profit, DomiNic’s Place, founded by our very own Joell Mower. We have been honored and amazed at the generosity still coming forth from our community during this time.
What Does “We are here for you!” Mean to You?
Like you, we have all received emails from different entities saying “We are here for you!”. What does that mean to you when you receive the same from us? We really want to know the answer to that very important question, as The Mower Group is all about you. How are YOU doing? What do YOU need during this time? How can we be of service to YOU? Our business has been and will always be built on the premise of “It’s all about you, our clients.” Some things will never change! We are looking forward to receiving and implementing your replies. Thank you for your time and attention!
Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! In the years past, this day has been celebrated with various community events. Activities that bring us together in celebration of our beautiful planet. However, as we know all too well, this year is anything but normal. Despite the shelter in place this year, we can still celebrate this important and special day. Here are three creative ways to celebrate Earth Day this week, from the comfort of your home this year.
Join the Big Sur Marathon Foundation – Just Run!
The Big Sure Marathon is an annual favorite tradition of many locals. The run is canceled this year. Therefore, they have founded this youth program. Just Run is a local youth fitness program developed by the Big Sur Marathon Foundation. They are now offering a free at-home fitness program. It aids and supports children and parents in getting physical activity at home. This program encourages parents to keep track of miles run or walked by their children and submit these miles to the Just Run website.
While adhering to local health mandates and shelter-in-place orders, parents and their kids can still get some physical activity. Furthermore, get activity in and have a fun way to earn rewards for this activity and keep each other accountable. This is also a fun way to get grandparents and family friends involved in physical activity. Work to match each other’s miles logged in your own towns and cities. It is also a great way to get outside this week. Enjoy some sunshine, and take in the beauty of our Earth.
Keep in Touch With Your Community
One of our favorite parts of celebrating Earth Day is community events. Coming together in the sunlight and the fresh air. Enjoying good food and joining a constructive activity to celebrate our beautiful planet. With all in-person events canceled this Spring, many people are engaging in video chats, social media sites, and even virtual dinner parties and BBQs on forums like Skype or Zoom. However, there is a large portion of our community that is uncomfortable engaging in these computer-based activities. Furthermore, many people don’t have access to join them.
Local Aptos resident, Nicola Balmain has come up with a great solution for this very issue that we can all take part in. Nicola, with help from her neighbors and other community members, has put together a chat-style phone line. Using Grasshopper, Nicola and her team have come up with a secure and easy way for anyone in our community to find someone to chat with. “The way I’ve been explaining it to people is it’s like having a coffee shop chitchat with your neighbors, but we’re just making that available via the phone,” Balmain said.
“The concept is people, they’re confined to their home, they’re in isolation. They’re not getting out. I live in a neighborhood where we would pop down to the coffee shop each morning to walk our dog and we’ve kind of befriended several elderly in our neighborhood. They look forward to that kind of check-in every day. That was kind of the principle behind it — gosh, they must be really feeling challenged without that socialization.”
Loneliness can be a dangerous thing for the mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, finding a way to keep our community engaged and helping to cure lonliness is a great way to connect as a community for Earth Day. The check-in and chat phone line is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, at 888-278-6704. Give this number a call if you are feeling lonely or just want to chat with someone today.
Get Outside and Do Some Earth Day Activities!
This week Santa Cruz has blessed us with some great weather for our Earth Day celebrations. With a week full of temperatures in the 70s and blue skies, the outdoors have never been so inviting! So, take this as an opportunity to get outside in your very own yard and celebrate Earth Day. Whether you have children at home with you or not, here are some fun and creative ways to enjoy your very own slice of the outdoors this week.
- Garden! Whether it is planting flower seeds, getting around to that vegetable garden you’ve been talking about for years. Even just pulling weeds around your patio. Get outside and into your garden!
- Do a scavenger hunt! Whether walking your neighborhood or just your yard. Come up with 10 things you want to find on your scavenger hunt and find them. These things can be simple: a pinecone, an earthworm, a four-leaf clover, or a blue jay. Make a realistic but challenging list, and mark them off one by one. See how long it takes you and enjoy our great outdoors for every minute of your hunt.
- Nature Belts?! Have you ever heard of a nature belt? Have you ever worn one? These fun crafts are a lot of fun to create and require some hunting and gathering to do so. How We Learn has come up with this clever activity where you simply wrap a piece of duct tape around your child’s waist, or your own, sticky side out, and then get to walking. On your nature walk, as you find treasures you stick them on your nature belt. Before you know it you will have a beautiful belt made up of pebbles, flowers, leaves, and maybe even a penny or two!
In addition to the above recommendations, there are hundreds of companies and websites offering live streaming events for Earth Day this week. Everything from a National Geographic neighborhood safari tour to live science lessons from NASA can be found online this week.
We hope you can all find a little time this week to get some fresh air, enjoy some sunshine, and take in the beauty that is around us everywhere on this Earth – even the beauty in our very own yards.
Looking for something fun and easy to do with your kids this weekend? For most of us, Easter weekend and our celebrations look a little different this year. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still create fun memories with your family and do something festive. Here are three simple do-it-yourself Easter crafts. Try one this weekend, using things you likely already have laying around your house.
Egg Carton Spring Chicks
After you’re done making your Easter brunch deviled eggs save your egg cartons. These egg carton chicks from Typically Simple are a fun and easy way to recycle and reuse those egg cartons you have laying around. All you need is egg cartons, a little paint and a brush, glue, scissors, a marker and some paper. If you’re like most parents with kids in the house these things can be found scattered amongst your children’s backpacks. And the process is as simple as this:
1. cut apart two egg holders form the carton.
2. trim off excess edges and glue the two pieces together
3. paint and allow time to dry
4. add a beak and some eyes with your paper and markers
It’s as simple as that! You can get extra creative if you have any crafting feathers laying around and make some wings or hair. Use your completed spring chicks as your dinner centerpiece arranged on a cute platter or around your home as a spring decoration.
Easter Party Hats
Having an intimate Easter party at home – just you, your kids, and your sweat pants? Add in some DIY bunny party hats to make your family day more festive and keep your kids laughing. All you need for this fun Easter craft is cardstock in various colors, scissors, marker, glue dots, a crafting knife, and some twine. The House That Lars Built came up with this adorable craft, and they even offer an easy to follow template for this exact bunny hat craft. Head over to their site to print out your template and the full set of instructions.
Easter Egg Wreath
One of our very own local Santa Cruz mamas and friends, The Birth Project did this adorable craft with her two kids this week. All you need for this clever craft are some paper plates, markers, glue, and decorative craft supplies such as glitter, pom poms, or stickers. You merely cut out your wreath, cut out some eggs, decorate them all differently and fun, and glue them onto your wreath. String a ribbon through the top, hang, and enjoy the festive view! Check out The Birth Project’s website for more fun ideas and some empowering and powerful labor and delivery stories from local Santa Cruz moms.
Wishing you and your families a fun, safe, and happy Easter holiday. With love, from The Mower Group and our families to yours!
International Women’s Day is a globally recognized holiday that has been celebrated across the world since 1909. It has become a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. The day is aimed at helping nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women, helping women gain full and equal protection under the law, and improving women’s participation in global development.
Women In Real Estate
The Mower Group knows all too well what it is like to be a working woman in today’s modern world. Currently comprised of three women, The Mower Group is proud of the experience and knowledge this helps us bring to the table. Joell Mower, our lead agent in The Mower Group, has been a working woman in real estate for over 32 years. With shelves of awards and years of accolades to boast about, Joell proves that it is not only possible to balance motherhood and womanhood with a successful career, but it is possible for both to thrive.
Corin Mower Routh brings an interesting background to her real estate career and The Mower Group. With over 15 years of experience as a Human Resources Director, Corin is experienced at working with others, problem-solving, and ensuring that all parties in each transaction are delighted with the results.
Jarah Sakamoto began her career in real estate and with The Mower Group with a strong marketing and legal compliance background. With over a decade of experience working in legal compliance in the healthcare field, Jarah is adept at combing over contracts and reports with efficiency and a careful eye.
The Mower Group and David Lyng Real Estate are also proud to share that our very own Morgan Lukina is the 2020 President of the Santa Cruz County Association of Realtor’s Board of Directors. Morgan is another prime example of a powerful and successful woman in real estate that is paving the way for the rest of us and proving that women truly can do it all.
Some Powerful International Women’s Day Quotes
There is no better way to uplift your mood or start your day than with a powerful quote. Inspirational quotes can inspire, incite reflection and change, and help to unite us across generations. Here are some of The Mower Group’s favorite International Women’s Day quotes.
“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” –Unknown
“To tell a woman everything she cannot do is to tell her what she can.” –Spanish Proverb
“Well-behaved women rarely make history.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
“A charming woman doesn’t follow the crowd; she is herself.” –Loretta Young
“The best protection any woman can have is courage.” –Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“Where there is a woman, there is magic.” –Ntozake Shange
“There’s nothing a man can do that I can’t do better and in heels.” –Ginger Rogers
“Above all, be the heroine of your life. Not the victim.” –Nora Ephron
“Girls should never be afraid to be smart.” –Emma Watson
“Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.” –Stephanie Bennett-Henry
“A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink.” –Gina Carey
“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” –Katherine Hepburn
“She believed she could, so she did.” –Unknown
“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.” –Malala Yousafzai
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” –Margaret Fuller
“We all have a ‘Wonder Woman’ inside of us.” –Unknown
“I can and I will. Watch me.” –Carrie Green
“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” –W.E.B. Dubois
“The most beautiful thing a woman can wear is confidence.” –Blake Lively
“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman must do what he can’t.” –Rhonda Hansome
Although a home may be beautiful, clean, and well-styled, this is not a substitute for professional staging. Staging a home for sale is not a new concept, but it is a practice that is gaining popularity in the current real estate market. It can be difficult for sellers to detach from their personal items and their ideas of how their home should look. However, professional home staging can take a listed home to a whole new level and appeal to many more buyers. Here are some reasons why we love good staging and what we think it can do for your listed property.
Let Your Home Do The Talking
While your home speaks to you and reminds you of all things pleasant and comfortable you have to ask yourself, what is your home saying to a potential buyer? Our homes are personal. That is okay because we live there. However, how you live in a home is not how you sell a home. Our homes often tell a story of our life – our travels, interests, hobbies, and memories marked everywhere with artifacts and photos. When listing your home for sale you don’t want potential buyers to know the story of your life. You want them to imagine the story of THEIR life fitting into your home.
The main goal of staging is to let your home do the talking. Make your home speak to potential buyers in a compelling and positive way. A well-staged home will let buyers know whether the layout will fit their needs. Whether that extra bedroom would be a good office for them. Or, whether or not the size is right. Staging your home helps to depersonalize it. Although no one wants to live in a depersonalized home, it helps potential buyers to see how they can make the home their own.
Be Memorable For The Right Reasons
Whether we like it or not, buyers and agents tend to recall homes with special labels they create for them. I’m sure you recall your first home hunt. All the names you and your agent came up with for the ones you viewed. The apple house was the one with the apple-themed kitchen and decor in every corner. The musician’s home was the one with guitars propped up on the walls and posters in every room. The cat house was the one where you kept stepping around cat beds, scratching posts, and litter boxes as you navigated the hallways.
A well-staged home will not be free from goofy and entertaining labels. However, the labels received will be memorable for the right reasons – not for the insignificant or distracting ones. Every home and property has special and distinguishing features. This is what you want to accentuate when showing your home to potential buyers. Earning labels such as the home with the grand entryway, the home with an open layout, or the home with the outdoor living space are ones that are sure to get you a second viewing and eventually a great offer.
Why Not Do Home Staging Yourself?
Many sellers ask their agents, why can’t we rearrange and stage the home ourselves? Sure staging has its inconveniences. It costs money. Some of the items you use or like to see on a daily basis will be moved around. And, the home you have grown so used to living in will begin to feel like it’s not your own anymore. Unfortunately, staging is not a DIY activity. Good staging requires an unbiased third party to enter your home with objectivity and neutrality. It requires a good eye for design and natural beauty of homes. Most importantly, it requires the ability to honestly tell you what furniture works for your space and what does not.
Often times homeowners take these suggestions personally but do your best not to. Your home stager is not saying your furniture is ugly or outdated, they are merely letting you know that it doesn’t accentuate the best feature of the room or is drawing attention away from the most noteworthy accents of the home.
Hiring a stager doesn’t mean all your furniture must go. The best stagers can work with what you have, rearranging and relocating your furniture and decor to accentuate the best features of your home. They will most likely relocate some of your belongings to the garage or outdoor storage places, but they can often utilize a lot of your existing furniture. With the addition of a few hand-picked pieces from their collection and some well thought out wall and shelving decor, your home will be ready for showings in no time.
Let Your Property Shine
Staging is by no means a requirement for our listings, and many homes sell just fine and rather quickly without staging. But we have found that a simple and professional staging job can really bring out the best features of a property. For homeowners interested in selling their home in the shortest amount of time, and for the most money possible, appealing to a large variety of potential buyers is important, and that’s exactly what staging can do for your home.
If you are thinking of selling or are in need of professional home staging for your upcoming listing reach out to The Mower Group. Although we don’t provide staging for our clients, we have some great local contacts who are true professionals at home staging and do a beautiful job with the listings we refer them.
Whether it’s the start of the new year or the promise of that tax return, many homeowners begin to plan upcoming household projects in January. Proper budgeting and planning the right project for the right season is important. However, the most important part of doing home improvements is hiring qualified and trustworthy tradesmen. By hiring the right tradesman for your project you can rest assured that your project is in good hands. Hiring an incompetent tradesman can come with a slew of problems. Incorrect work, unfinished work, and in some extreme cases even legal disputes. Here are some helpful tips from The Mower Group to consider anytime you plan to hire outside workers for your home projects.
Do Your Research
One of the best ways to start your hunt for a good tradesman is by researching local recommendations in your area. Yelp, Google, and Facebook reviews are a great place to start. Narrow down your list to the top two or three with the best reviews. Many homeowners are now sharing information on Nextdoor which is a great idea! With Nextdoor you can hear directly from your neighbors and people in your community about which tradesmen they use. Ask about their home project results and their personal experiences with them.
Narrow down your list of potential hires to the top two or three recommended. Then, check to see if they are an Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). BBB Accredited Businesses agree to a separate set of standards including honest advertising, fair pricing, trustworthy work, and many others. Additionally, on the BBB website, you can search whether the business has complaints, reviews, and any scam alerts.
Ask For References on Your Tradesmen
You are not obligated to hire a tradesman just because you have contacted them to inquire about a project. One of the first questions you should ask the tradesman is for a list of local references you may contact regarding their work. If they are unwilling to provide you with references or do not have any, this may be a red flag. If they do provide you with references ask them about the services performed and their overall experience with the tradesman and their work. Some other good points to check up on with references is whether the tradesman stayed within the estimated budget for the project and if they completed the work on time.
Get Multiple Quotes
For any home project, we recommend shopping around and getting at least two to three quotes. There are many skilled tradesmen around. Therefore, you will likely end up with two or three that have good reviews and have provided you with solid references. Request a bid from each of them. Ensure each considers the same project criteria when making your estimated quote. Keep in mind that the lowest bid may not always be the best bid. In fact, if one bid is significantly lower than the other two this may be a red flag. The tradesman may intend to cut corners on the project or use lower quality building materials. Having multiple quotes for one project may be time-consuming. However, providing yourself with options is well worth the wait.
Don’t Leave Loose Ends When Hiring Tradesmen
Once you have found the tradesman you want to work with, wrap up all loose ends to the hiring process. Always ensure your tradesman has the necessary license and insurance to accept work in your county. If your project requires work permits, ensure that your tradesman and you discuss this, who will obtain them, and how they will be paid for. Do not allow anyone to do any additions to your home without the proper permits – this can cause huge headaches in the future so it should be avoided at all costs.
Get your quotes in writing, including estimated completion time. Finally, arrange a payment schedule that works for both parties, and ensure you never pay for a large scale project upfront. It is best to stagger the payment plan so the final payment for the project is not due until the project has been completed, giving you ample opportunity to inspect the tradesman’s work on your home and ensure satisfaction.
Doing projects around the house and making home improvements can be a lot of fun. Not only does it allow you to get creative with designs, color schemes, and other personalized details, but it is also a great way to improve the value of your home. However, your home is a very valuable asset so it is important you don’t just let anyone do work on it. Make sure you do your homework and hire qualified people for the job, ensuring your home is treated with the respect and love you would want for it – it is YOUR HOME after all.
The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on your past year’s performance and to establish new goals for yourself and/or your business. Whether your New Year’s goals are personal or professional, the most important part of setting goals is to make them realistic and attainable. It’s a great opportunity to push yourself to do better in some area of your life. Here at The Mower Group, we are excited about the new year ahead and the goals we’ve set for ourselves.
Our Main Priority for 2019
Our main priority for the next year is to give our clients the best real estate experience of their lives, while also ensuring each person who comes into contact with The Mower Group gets a feel for our “secret sauce”. This doesn’t only include our buyers and sellers who are gracious enough to trust us with their real estate needs; this also includes the mortgage brokers, escrow and title company personnel, fellow real estate agents, fellow David Lyng Real Estate staff, inspectors and tradespeople, and everyone else behind the scenes that makes our real estate world go round. We hope to achieve excellent service that is above and beyond expectations. And, we aim to fine-tune the secret sauce of The Mower Group, while ensuring everyone we work with knows exactly what our secret sauce is.
What is The Mower Group “Secret Sauce”?
The secret sauce of our business is the unique touch we put on every transaction; it’s what sets us apart from all the other professionals in our industry. Business expert Tim Berry calls the secret sauce of a business the magic, the differentiators, the competitive edge, and our personal favorite – the heart of the plan.
We want our clients to have an unforgettable experience when they work with us, and for each person to get a bit of our secret sauce along the way. Real estate can be the most stressful and challenging transaction of a person’s life, and here at The Mower Group, our aim is to ease that stress and make everything run as smoothly as possible. What is the heart of our plan? What exactly is our secret sauce? When you experience it you will know the answer to that very important question!
It’s the way we work together, the way we work with others, the care we put into each home we list or help someone purchase, the understanding for each unique situation, the time devoted to making the lives of our clients easier, it’s the very reason we are in the real estate business in the first place.
Our Hope for 2019!
Of course, we hope to help as many people as we can to buy their dream homes, or to sell their home in order to embark on the next chapter in their lives. More than that, our hope for 2019 is that we leave every person who works with The Mower Group with that inexplicable feeling you get when you know things are just right. The feeling that you are cared for, the feeling that you belong with this group of people, the feeling that you made the right decision, and trusted the right people. Our hope is that you will each have the opportunity to experience the feelings that are associated with The Mower Group’s secret sauce!
Here’s to wishing you all good health, happiness, and prosperity to add to your own secret sauce in 2019 and always!
Happy New Year,
Joell, Joe, and Jarah!
The Mower Group