January 6, 2019

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Spending the Holidays With The People You Love

It's the most wonderful time of the year and holidays are always best spent with family. With all that has happened for the past year, it's a great time to reconnect with your loved ones, a time to bond and catch up and just be grateful for the time spent together.

However, not all people get to spend the holidays together with their family. There are those who are working, or families that are separated by distance or just plain busy over the holidays. And for some, this is their reality and a sad account of what holidays should be.

Research shows that families who spend more time together share stronger emotional bonds. Spending time as a family is associated with a sense of belonging and enhanced communication, particularly with children, who have higher academic performances and are less likely to have behavioural problems.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, it is essentiaal to remember that the most important part of the holidays is spending quality time with those you love. It's a wonderful chance to forget everyday stresses and remember what life is really all about; friends, family, laughter, love, graciousness, gratitude and spreading warmth and smiles.

It's a season of softened edges, with the worldwide acceptance and anticipation that it is okay, if not completely expected, to be with those you love to enjoy well deserved and absolutely cherished family time.

There are also many other notable and positive benefits of relaxing and spending time with those special people in your life who you can truly let your guard down around.

To get the most on your holiday experience, be sure to focus on experiences, not things. Let’s remember what the holidays are really about: spending time with your loved ones, showing generosity and being grateful for what you have. Research shows that experiences bring you more happiness than things, so focus on communal, low-cost activities such as potluck dinners and free community events that you can do with your family or loved ones. Even home-based, low-cost activities such as playing a board game, gardening, camping, arts and crafts, cozying up for a family movie or playing outdoors have a big impact on the health of a family.

They make everybody in the family feel closer emotionally to each other, which is always a good thing. These mundane everyday activities are known as a family’s ‘core’ activities, whereas those that require more time, money and planning (special events, vacations) are called ‘balance’ activities. Both of these are deeply related to a family’s ability to better adapt. The strengthening of family bonds is one of the important benefits of family time.

Spending time with family is a positive activity, which can be enhanced even further when woven with simple or complex family traditions. And the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to create and foster traditions within the family that you can keep for generations to come.


November 22, 2018


Today I am reminded how thankful I am for so many things, but this year I wish to call out specific groups of people, so here goes:
THE HEROES: Amongst us are some people who have experienced enormous challenges, whether health related, or those affected by the horrible California fires, the hurricanes in Florida, family loss and challenges and other personal challenges that some of us can comprehend only if we have experienced similar circumstances. To you heroes, I say an even bigger THANK YOU, not just for the way you conduct yourself through trying times, but more so for allowing all of us to feel so fortunate for our good fortune.

November 21, 2018

Tri Valley Market

November 18, 2018

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Hi everyone,

Please have a safe weekend - if you are in town please avoid any unnecessary outdoor activities. The Cal-Stanford game along with outdoor markets and marathons have been canceled as the official AQI in Oakland and Berkeley is now steady at 250 with many independent readings over 300.
Please note that levels above 100 are unhealthy for those with health issues, levels above 150 are unhealthy for all, 200 are very unhealthy for all, and over 300 is hazardous.
Berkeley Ace Hardware got 3,000 masks earlier today and there may still be some available if you're in search of one.
The weather is expected to alter around Wednesday with different wind patterns and much-needed rain.
Please take precautions and keep in mind those who are in evacuation centers and/or who have lost loved ones due to the fire.

August 6, 2018

Rising Rates Affect the Cost Too

Mortgage rates have risen 0.5% in 2018 on 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and experts expect them to continue to increase. Buyers paying attention to the market understand the relationship that inventory has on pricing; when the supply is low, the price usually goes up. Rising interest rates can affect the cost of homes also.

When interest rates go up, fewer people can afford homes. Lower numbers of buyers can affect the demand, which could cause prices of homes to come down. The question is how much do the interest rates have to go up to affect demand?

As the rates gradually go up, the affect may not be noticeable at all except for the fact that the payments for the buyer have increased.

A ½% change in interest is approximately equal to a 5% change in price. A $300,000 mortgage at 4.5% for a 30-year term will have a $1,520.06 principal and interest payment. If the mortgage rate goes up 0.5%, it would affect the payment the same as if the price had gone up 5%. The difference in payments for the full term of the loan would be $32,547.

There are some things beyond buyers’ control, but indecision isn’t one of them. If they haven’t found the “right” home yet, it is understandable. However, when that home does present itself, the buyer needs to be ready to make a decision. If they are preapproved and have done their due diligence in the market, they should be able to contract before significant changes occur in the mortgage rates.

July 30, 2018

Replace It Anyway

If it's not broken, why would a homeowner consider replacing something as expensive as a toilet when there may be other things in the home to replace that provide more aesthetic appeal. Don't be too quick to ignore the functionality and the reliability of this basic convenience.toilet.jpg

The first rationalization might take place at the economic level. A water-saving model could easily pay for itself in a few years and then, there is the good feeling of participating in the conservation of our natural resources.

Having to plunge a toilet more than once a week could motivate a homeowner to spend money on a replacement especially, if having made repairs to the flapper and fill valve didn't solve the issue.

Maybe your existing toilet has ugly scratches that make it difficult to clean. Maybe there are cracks in the tank or bowl that you're concerned will develop into a leak at the worst possible time.

The average cost to replace a toilet is around $400 with models ranging more and less based on the features and brands. Round toilet bowls tend to take up less room, are less expensive and better suited for children. Elongated bowls generally take more room, have more powerful flushing action, more comfortable, more stylish and cost more.

Replacing the shut-off valve for the toilet could be a good thing to do while you're replacing the toilet. Generally, it is as old as the toilet and having a reliable valve that works could be very convenient in a future repair or emergency.

There are a variety of videos on YouTube that could give you the confidence to do it yourself or simply, to have a better understanding of the scope of the project

July 23, 2018

Before You Leave Town...

Along with all the planning of what you're going to do and where you're going to stay, consider this checklist to make you feel more comfortable while you're away from home.

  • Ask a trusted friend to pick up your mail, newspaper and keep yard picked up to avoid an appearance of not being at home.
  • Stop your mail (USPS Hold Mail Service) and your newspaper.29938746-250.jpg
  • Don't post about your trip on Facebook and other social media until you return; some burglars look for this type of announcement to schedule their activities.
  • Do notify police or neighborhood watch - especially if you're going to be gone for more than just a few days. Let your monitoring service know when you'll be gone and if someone will be checking on your home for you.
  • Light timers make it look like someone is home. Set multiple timers for various times to better simulate someone at home. There are plug-in modules for lights and appliances that would allow you to control them from your phone while your out of town.
  • Do unplug certain appliances - TV, computers, toaster ovens that use electricity even when they're off and to protect them from power surges.
  • Don't hide a key; burglars know exactly where to look for your key and it only takes them a moment to check under the mat, above the door, in the flower pot or in a fake rock.

These easy-to-handle suggestions may protect your belongings while you're gone while adding a level of serenity to your trip.