Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 26

Thank You For Your Service - Happy Memorial Day!

by Desi Sowers

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

National Moment of Remembrance

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

Juggling real estate responsibilities with carpools, school schedules and extra-curricular activities can be challenging.  But it is possible to do so successfully.  While a career in real estate offers flexibility that can’t be found in other industries, it is still demanding with you being on call 24/7. It is important to find a balance between work and life that enables you to enjoy both. Time management is the key to finding the balance that works for you.  Here are some strategies to help:

  1. IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES - Make a list of what is most important in your life. Divide the list into categories such as business, family, health, and spirit.  Then think about how much time and energy you spend on each of these areas.  Try to write down what percentage of your time is being used for each.  If you find that the majority of your time and energy is going to one area, that means the others are likely suffering.
  2. ORGANIZE YOUR PHYSICAL WORK SPACE - A cluttered work space can be detrimental to decision making. Set your work space up to promote focus, especially if you work from home.  Make sure you have a dedicated space for your work that is separate from your personal living space. 
  3. CREATE MORE THAN ONE TO DO LIST - Three different types of  to do lists will help keep you organized.  The first should be what you need to do TODAY.  The second should be what needs to be done THIS WEEK. Finally, you should have a master to do list of things that are coming in the future. When a task comes at you, you can plug it into whichever list is appropriate.  Make sure to include family activities in your list as well so that you don’t have conflicts.
  4. UNPLUG AND UNWIND - Sometimes you need to unplug from technology to work at a deeper level.  You will be amazed at how much you can get done when you slow down and let your creative juices flow.  Set aside an hour here and there during your week to break away from email, social networks and texting.
  5. PLAN AHEAD - Take time at the end of each day to look ahead at what is in store for tomorrow. Tie up loose ends so you can make a clear break while transitioning from your work life to your personal life.   It is in your best interest to control your own time and how you use it rather than letting clients dictate it.

The truth is, nobody can do it all.  When you allow yourself to become overwhelmed with tasks and to do lists, everyone suffers; your clients, your family, and especially you.  Finding your work-life balance is the most important step you will take toward finding success and fulfillment in all areas of your life.

A Brief History of Easter Eggs

by Desi Sowers

When you think of Easter, certain things come to mind. This Christian holiday evokes thoughts of sunny spring days, rebirth, bunnies and eggs.  Decorated eggs, egg rolling and egg hunts have all become a vital part of the Easter celebration as we know it today. Yet the custom of painting hard-boiled eggs during spring time pre-dates Christianity. In many cultures around the world, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth. For thousands of years, Iranians and others have decorated eggs on Nowruz, the Iranian New Year that falls on the spring equinox.

Many people believe that the Easter has pagan roots.  While Christians celebrate it as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, during ancient times in Europe pagans revered the Spring Equinox as the return of the sun God — a rebirth of light and an emergence from the lean winter. Venerable Bede, an English monk who wrote the first history of Christianity in England, argued that the word Easter is derived from the goddess Eostre.  English and Germanic cultures believed Eostre to be a pagan fertility goddess, but there is no evidence of her outside of Bede’s writings.  In fact, in most other languages, the word for Easter (Pascua in Spanish and Pasques in French for example) derives from the Greek and Latin “Pascha” or “Pasch” for Passover.

The painting of Easter eggs is a beloved tradition, especially among the people of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches who dye eggs red to symbolize the blood that Jesus shed on the cross.   The priest blesses the eggs at the end of the Easter service and distributes them to the congregants. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell symbolizes Jesus rising from the dead.

Fun and games with Easter eggs have become popular ways to celebrate the holiday over the years. Hiding eggs outdoors provides a fun activity for children as they search for them and fill their baskets on Easter morning. The Easter egg roll represents a re-enactment of rolling away the stone from the front of Jesus’ tomb. The White House Easter Egg Roll is an annual event held on the lawn of the President’s residence on the Monday after Easter. 

Spring Forward.... Into A New Home!

by Desi Sowers

“With rushing winds and gloomy skies

The dark and stubborn Winter dies;

Far off, unseen, Spring faintly cries,

Bidding her earliest child rise;

MARCH!”

~Bayard Taylor

 

Get ready to spring forward this weekend!  Daylight Saving Time is upon us again and this Sunday, March 12 at 2 AM it will be time to move our clocks ahead one hour.  While losing an hour of sleep is never fun, it does come with a perk…the end to dark winter nights as evenings see more light.  This springtime clock change continues the long tradition started by Benjamin Franklin to conserve energy.

Have you ever wondered why we change the clocks at 2 AM?  Most people aren’t awake at that time, but there are good reasons why we do it then. One reason is that it is late enough that most people will be at home, with few bars and restaurants being affected.  Also, it prevents the date from switching to yesterday; imagine the confusion if we changed the clocks at midnight back to 11 p.m.!  Finally, it’s early enough to decrease the impact on early shift workers and early churchgoers.

With today’s technology, many of our clocks change themselves (our phones, cable boxes etc.), but nonetheless, don’t forget to SPRING FORWARD this weekend!

Happy Valentine's Day!

by Desi Sowers

Celebrating Love!

Just hearing or seeing the date, February 14th, conjures images of hearts and flowers in our minds. Valentine’s Day.  A “holiday” named for St. Valentine.  A day set aside each year to celebrate love.  But how did Valentine’s Day begin?  And who is St. Valentine?

Have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day got its name?  While it is believed that the name came from a saint, the origins of how it became attached to a day to celebrate love are a bit of a mystery. One legend claims that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.  When the Emperor during that time decided that single men made superior soldiers than those with wives and children, he outlawed marriage for young men.  Valentine felt this was unjust, so he defied the Emperor and continued to secretly perform marriages for young lovers.  Another story contends that Valentine may have sent the first “valentine” letter while imprisoned in a Roman prison.  He allegedly fell in love with a young girl, possibly the jailer’s daughter, who visited him during his confinement.  It is said that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine”, an expression that is still used today.  While we may never know the true story about St. Valentine, the common theme throughout these stories is that he was sympathetic, heroic, and most significant…a romantic figure.

The origins of Valentine’s Day began with a pagan festival during the month of February. By the end of the 5th century, February 14th was declared Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius. It wasn’t until much later that the day became associated with love.  During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in England and France that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the date should be celebrated as a day of romance. While Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400.  The oldest known Valentine known of was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.  It is also believed that King Henry V hired a writer to compose a Valentine note to a woman he admired.

It is believed that people began exchanging hand-made Valentine’s in America in the early 1700s.  By 1840, a woman named Esther Howland was selling the first mass- produced Valentines in America. Known as “the Mother of the Valentine”, she created elaborate cards using real lace, ribbons and colorful paper. Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, and estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making it the second largest card sending holiday behind Christmas.

You are the HEART of our business. Thank you for your continued loyalty and support.

Happy New Year 2017!

by Desi Sowers

It’s Just Another Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne.

 

I’m sure you’ve heard this song during the holiday season and like many, have wondered what it means. The character Harry in the film When Harry Met Sally asked, “What does this song mean?  My whole life I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean that if we happen to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?” To which Sally replied, “Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.”

Sally got it partially right. In 1788 a man named Robert Burns sent the poem ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to the Scots Musical Museum. He told them that it was an ancient song, but that he had been the first to record it on paper.  The phrase ‘auld lang syne’ roughly translates as ‘for old times’ sake’, and the song is all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year. It is sung all over the world, evoking a sense of belonging and fellowship and a touch of nostalgia. So, when Auld Lang Syne comes on the radio or is played at a New Year’s Eve party you are attending, think about the meaning behind the words…remember 2016, the good times and the bad, and keep the friends and family that were there for you close to your heart.

Here are some fun facts about New Year’s Eve:

  • If you are in Las Vegas, Disney World or New York City on December 31st, you will be in one of the three most popular places to ring in the new year in the United States.  Sydney, Australia is the most popular spot for celebrating internationally.
  • The first New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years to when Julius Caesar was the Emperor of Rome.  He was the first to declare January 1 a holiday.
  • Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The top resolutions are to lose weight, get organized, spend less, save more, improve health and quit smoking.  Approximately twenty-five percent of Americans give up on their resolutions by the second week of January.
  • Many people ring in the new year by popping a bottle of champagne. Nearly 360 million glasses of sparkling wine are consumed by Americans on New Year’s Eve.
  • About 1 million people gather in Times Square in New York City to watch the ball drop. The Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop came about because of a ban on fireworks. The first ball in 1907 was 700 pounds and was lit with 100 25-watt lights. The current ball puts the old one to shame (thanks to technology). Today, it is covered in 2,688 crystals, is lit by 32,000 LED lights, weighs 11,875 pounds and is 12 feet in diameter.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, have a safe, happy and healthy NEW YEAR! 

Courtesy of Desi Sowers, Remax 8

The True Meaning of Christmas and Fun Traditions!

by Desi Sowers

 

“But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come ‘round…as a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.”

Charles Dickens

 

 

The True Meaning of Christmas

Per Wikipedia, the "true meaning of Christmas" is a phrase with a long history in American pop culture. It first appears in the mid-19th century, and is often given vaguely religious overtones, suggesting that the "true meaning of Christmas" is the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. But in pop culture usage, overt religious references are mostly avoided, and the "true meaning" is taken to be a sort of introspective and benevolent attitude as opposed to the commercialization of Christmas which has been lamented since at least the 1850s. The poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (1822) helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. An early expression of this sentiment using the phrase of "the true meaning" is found in The American magazine, vol. 28 (1889):

"to give up one's very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas".

The phrase is especially associated with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843), in which an old miser is taught the true meaning of Christmas by three ghostly visitors who review his past and foretell his future.

The topic was taken up by satirists such as Stan Freberg and Tom Leher during the 1950s and eventually by the influential TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, first aired in 1965 and repeated every year since. The phrase and the associated moral became used as a theme in numerous Christmas films since the 1960s.

 

As you gather with family and friends to celebrate this year, take time to think about the origins of some of the traditions of Christmas.

  • Santa Claus – his story begins in the 4th century with St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra (an area in modern day Turkey). St. Nicholas was known to be a generous man especially devoted to children. Because he was so kind and benevolent, rumors began that he could perform miracles.  He became the patron saint of Russia and was known for his red cape and flowing, white beard. He has his own feast day that is celebrated on December 6…a day of gift giving and charity. The story of St. Nicholas was passed down through generations and his name transformed over time. The Dutch called him Sinterklaas. Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace and Sinterklaas would reward good children by placing treats in their shoes. This tradition traveled to America with Dutch colonists and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.
  • Christmas Trees – the decorating of fir trees originated in 16th century Germany where trees would be adorned with apples, roses, candies and colored paper.  The Christmas tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, from his native Germany.  The first Christmas trees in America were introduced by Pennsylvania Germans and became popular by the middle of the 19th century.
  • Mistletoe – mistletoe was used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They held the plant in high esteem because it had no roots, yet remained green throughout the winter season.  The ancient Celts thought that the plant had magical healing powers. It was also seen as a symbol of peace and it was said that when enemies met under mistletoe, they would lay down their weapons and embrace. Scandinavians associated the plant with Frigga, the goddess of love. This is perhaps where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began.  It is thought that those who kiss under the mistletoe have the promise of happiness and good luck in the year to come.
  • The Christmas Wreath – The Christmas wreath is another tradition that has been around for a long time.  The first wreaths were created from fresh evergreens. Because they are green year round they were the obvious choice for winter months.  The word “wreath” is derived from an English word meaning “to twist”, such as in a circle.  Some believe that initially wreathes were hung on doors in Ancient Rome to represent victory.  The circle shape with no beginning or end represents eternity or life never ending.

While celebrating with these ancient traditions and with your own family traditions this year, may you be surrounded by peace and joy. 

The Season of Giving

by Desi Sowers

The holidays are a time for togetherness and fun.  Whether you are decorating the Christmas tree or gathering around the Menorah or simply celebrating the joy of the season, spirits are high and love is in the air.  But unfortunately, the holiday season is not fun for everyone. For some people, it brings with it financial strain, stress and loneliness.  This is the time of year when those less fortunate need comfort and assistance more than ever.  Here are a few ideas of how you can make this a season of giving and compassion for those in need. (click links for more information)

  • Angel Tree Sponsors. Each year, sponsors ranging from neighborhood associations to private companies volunteer to place Angel Trees in high-traffic areas within their community, organization or office. Many sponsors provide a tree as an added donation along with promotional materials to inform their community, members or staff of the program along with confidential information about the children, who will benefit from their generosity. The sponsoring organization also serves as a collection point for the gifts, and provides secure storage until a volunteer from The Salvation Army can collect the gifts for distribution along with food and meals to help needy families enjoy the holiday season.  Click on the link for other opportunities through the Salvation Army.
  • Radford Elf Shelf is a 100% volunteer organization whose mission is to offer dignified Christmas assistance to low income families in Radford in the form of gifts for children newborn-18 years of age and food vouchers for any income eligible families.  Click on the link to see how you can help. How to Help
  • The Dwelling Place Food Bank is 100% volunteer operated. Volunteers are needed each morning seven days a week (10am-11:30pm) to collect food from local merchants. Volunteers are also needed to distribute to the general public on Wednesday evenings.  In all, there are over 25 volunteer posts that need to be filled each week to effectively operate the food bank.
  • Toys for Tots Southwest Virginia Location a personal favorite! The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. The principal Toys for Tots activity which takes place each year is the collection and distribution of toys in the communities in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located.  In communities without a Reserve Unit, the campaign can be conducted by a Marine Corps League Detachment or group of men and women, generally veteran Marines, authorized by Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to conduct a local Toys for Tots campaign. 

No matter how you find a way to GIVE during the holidays, bringing joy and comfort to others is the best gift of all! 

Merry Christmas from Desi Sowers!

New Home New Traditions

by Desi Sowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this is your first holiday in your new home, it is a perfect time to start some new traditions!  When you move, you don’t leave everything behind.  You bring your belongings and your memories and yes, your traditions.  But a fresh start in an unfamiliar house is just the inspiration you need to begin unique traditions that will make that house feel like your home.

Check out these fun ideas for creating new traditions:

  • Take and annual family photo. Choose a theme or a pose that you can recreate every year.  Label the photos with the date and create a photo book or framed collage with them.  It will be so much fun for your family to see how everyone changes through the years. Creative Family Photo Ideas
  • Incorporate a cultural tradition.  No matter what holiday you celebrate, you will find a cultural tradition to go with it.  Make it a family activity to research your heritage and make new discoveries about how your ancestors celebrated.  Multi-Cultural Holiday Celebrations

     
  • Gratitude. Sometimes we take all that we have for granted. A wonderful way to experience the holiday spirit is to express gratitude.  This can be a fun and meaningful activity for the whole family.  Go outdoors and find a branch to use to hold your “leaves of gratitude”. Cut leaves out of colorful paper and each day have family members write something they are grateful for on a leaf. Then hang the leaves on the “tree” to create a beautiful reminder of all that is right with your world!  Gratitude Tree

If you are still in search of the perfect house to make your new home, contact

Desi Sowers for all your real estate needs! Happy Holidays!

The New River Valley Holiday Main Streets

by Desi Sowers

Main Street-Blacksburg VA

Historic Main Street in the heart of Blacksburg is decked out in holiday decor.  Walk along the brick sidewalks enjoying the decorations and visit locally owned businesses for that perfect gift. 

On Friday December 2nd from 3-8 PM the town comes to life with singing, lighting of the tree and a performance of TubaChristmas.  Line up along Main Street and enjoy the Holiday Parade at 7pm.

Main Street-Radford

The town of Radford is home to a thriving Main Street this holiday season, with a nice mix of shops, and eateries.  Wreaths on light post, decorated trees in shop windows and greenery all around add to the festive flare.

Main Street-Christiansburg

Take in the lovely architectural styles including, Colonial Revival and Queen Anne, along Main Street this holiday season.  Stroll along the sidewalks taking in the decorations and shops along the way.

 

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 26

Syndication

Categories

Archives

Each Office Independently Owned and Operated