Thursday, August 18, 2011


I'm pleased to announce!   Although blogger has been a wonderful platform for the last four years, it was time to for a change.  I've officially graduated to the big leagues.  I purchased a domain name.  I'm relaunching my blog with a new look and new features.  It's still a work in progress but I'm thrilled with the results.  You can now search for homes (an important feature in a real estate blog).  You can catch up on my Twitter feed.  You can subscribe.  I hope you like the new look.  Feel free to comment about the new site or anything you think I should add to the design.   See you at the new site!        

*from this point forward you'll be directed from this site to

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gemma Redux Sample Sale

Gemma Redux is one of my favorite jewelry designers.  I first glimpsed her pieces on Gossip Girl.  (Don't judge...I love the clothes.)  Then I received a necklace for Christmas from my Mom.  Then I discovered her sample sale.  Yea.  I'm obsessed.

The latest sample sale is happening this week.  Go now because the inventory sells out quickly.  FYI- she also adds new creations throughout the day.  Check out what my hubby (kisses) purchased for my anniversary present below. 
Mixes chains with Kambaba jade
*photo from Gemma Redux website

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Sissie Jonassen's office nook via Design Sponge
When I saw this office nook yesterday on Design Sponge, I was instantly jealous.  My home office doesn't remotely resemble the photo above.  It's full of paper, pens, and books.  It isn't polished or well lit.  My husband also shares half the office because he works from home too.  I guess if one room has to look like a disaster, I'd rather it be the office vs. the living room.  Yet I'm envious of this clean space with perfect accessories. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Moment of Truth

We're in the midst of refi and we just received our appraisal.  Before I opened it, my heart was racing.  I was hoping (with fingers crossed) our lovely abode had appreciated.

You never know in today's market.  The last couple of years in real estate have been crazy.  Half of DC is under water and losing money by the bucketful on their homes.  We bought in 2007.  I was nervous for good reason.

I am thrilled to report it's valued at 116K over our purchase price.  That's right people.  I'm doing a happy dance around the living room.  That doesn't mean jack diddly if we decide to list our place in the near future but damn, it feels good. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

First Friday

2220 Q St, NW
2220 Q St, NW family/game room
2220 Q St, NW living room with view of kitchen and dining area plus loft
2220 Q St, NW roof top poo
2220 Q St., NW is one of the most remarkable houses I've viewed in a long time.  It is unusual, beautiful and really expensive!!  It's a four bedroom plus an office and den, five bath house listed for $4,995,0000.  It's 5,525 square feet and the yearly taxes are $16,020.  It features the standard amenities like hardwood flooring, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and beautiful bathrooms.  In addition, it has an elevator, a roof top pool and over 2,000 square feet of finished outdoor area.  In the middle of DC!

Sorry this is such a late post.  My internet has been down most of the last two days.  It's been very frustrating.

*photos via MLS

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hood Happenings

2213-2217 14th St., NW is slated for redevelopment
U St. Girl noted earlier this week that Mercadito Ramos had closed.  Curious, she confirmed that the building had recently purchased.  It's now slated for redevelopment.  Let the speculation begin about what type of new retail will arrive!
Jamica Joe's Jerk Chicken
POP reports that Ketcha Fire has been replaced by Jamica Joe's Jerk chicken at 928 U St, NW.  I can't be more thrilled.  For some reason, my husband took delight in repeating "Ketcha Fire" every time we passed that place.  We pass it often.  It drove me crazy!
Resdesign for corner of 14th and Wallach Pl., NW
The new building proposed for the corner of 14th and Wallach Place has been redesigned according to DC MUD.  A month ago, the initial building plans for the corner were rejected. 

I just noticed there's two new blogs about the 'hood:  U St. Beat and U St. Dirt.   Welcome!

*photos (in order) via U St. Girl, POP, and Urban Turf.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Obsession: Tuna and White Bean Salad

Tuna and White Bean Salad
This is one of my all time favorite summer recipes.  It's light, refreshing and you'll want to eat it again and again.  I made this for lunch when my girls and their new babies came to visit.  You can serve it as a sandwich but I like it on a bed of arugla that's been drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Bon apetito!

Tuna and White Bean Salad

2  6 ounce cans of albacore tuna.  One in water, one in olive oil
1  15 ounce can of cannelli beans, drained and rinsed
1  cup grape tomatos, halved
2  lemons
3  tablespoons fresh basil
2  tablespoons red wine vinegar
3  tablespoons olive oil
1  garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Drain tuna.  In a large bowl, add tuna, rinsed white beans and grape tomatoes.  Cut lemons in half and squeeze lemon juice over tuna, white beans and tomatoes.  Stir.   Add basil, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil.  Stir again.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Chill for at least an hour but preferably over night for the best flavors.  Enjoy on a bed of arugla or in a sandwich. 

*recipe adapted from

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Riveting Rooms

House in Merida, Mexico via HGTV's "House Hunters International"
The first study abroad program I attended was in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  While I lived in Cuernavaca, I was fascinated by the Mexican tile.  It's utilized in every room in warmer climates to keep the house cool.  It led to a life long love of intricate tile patterns and indoor/outdoor living.  Although I'm partial to blue tile, I love the floor featured above.  The neutral colors compliment the decor and add an elegant design element.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

How's the neighborhood?

Washington Circle
One of the most popular questions that home buyers ask in DC is "how's the neighborhood?"  It's a logical question.  If you're not familiar with an area, surely your real estate agent can give you the low down about safety.  Except we can't due to Fair Housing Laws. 

What are the Fair Housing Laws?  Laws that "prohibit the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings and in other housing related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody) and handicap (disability)."   That's the definition of the Federal law.  Each state has additional categories as well.  DC, in particular, also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Buyers find Realtors inability to tell them about the schools, neighborhoods, and safety frustrating.  I understand but I can't violate any of the Fair Housing Laws or else I get in big trouble.

There are a number of ways for a buyer to discover the information they seek.  My favorite sources are neighborhood blogs.  (See my Daily Obsessions).  Most neighborhood blogs aren't written by real estate agents.  Therefore, they can discuss crime, schools and the residents.

The Washington Post real estate section is another valuable resource.  Their "neighborhood" section allows a buyer to search all the pertinent topics. 

Buying a home has many intricate steps.  Doing research on neighborhoods is part of the process.

*photo via The Murphy Team website

Friday, August 5, 2011

First Friday

This week, several houses hit the market that caught my interest.  Normally, August is a slow month for real estate in DC due to Congress being out of session/people going on vacation. Not this year!
923 French St, NW exterior
923 French St, NW living room
923 French St, NW kitchen
923 French St, NW is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath row house listed for $699,900.  It's 1,890 square feet and the yearly taxes are $4,419. The house has been recently renovated.  It has hardwood floors through out, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, a spacious living room and dining room, sunny bedrooms and updated bathrooms.  There's a backyard (currently overgrown) with a lot of potential for a patio or a parking spot.  French St. is located in Shaw.  The house is several blocks to the Shaw Metro, the new library at the intersection of Rhode Island and 7th St, NW.  It's also a short walk to U St., NW.
1517 Kingman St, NW exterior
1517 Kingman St, NW living room
1517 Kingman St, NW roof deck

1517 Kingman St, NW is a historic 6 bedroom, 3 bath row house for sale at $980,000.  It's 3,168 square feet and the yearly taxes are $6,794.  It's a four level row house located on a quiet street behind the Studio Theatre.  It has hardwood floors through out, many original architectural details, three fireplaces, a private garden and a roof deck plus rental unit.  There's also a separately deeded garage that conveys with the house.  It's minutes to the Whole Foods on P St. and other Logan Circle amenities.  If you'd like to see if for yourself, it's Open on Sunday 8/7/11 from 1-4pm.

*Note:  Houses this size in Logan generally go for over a million.  I think it's priced aggressively because it doesn't have central a/c and the kitchen and baths need work.*

*photos courtsey of Matrix

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Real Estate Round Up

Update on the mandatory 20% down debate via Urban Turf.  Hoping ardently that this bill doesn't pass.  I can't imagine what it will do to the real estate industry.  As it is, buyers are often frustrated by the loan current loan process.  The stories I could tell!

Real estate apps that deliver by The Washington Post.  For all of you addicted to your iPhone and Android.

Singles dive into the real estate market from  It's good to have your own assets.

Sorting through lending fees from the NY Times.  This is why a GFE (good faith estimate) is important.  Once you have one, ask questions.  Know what fees your lender charges.

DC Council fixes foreclosure law.  As I mentioned in the last Real Estate Round Up, two of the largest title insurers in the US had decided to stop insuring foreclosures in DC due to foreclosure legislation.  Thankfully, DC Council realized what a huge problem this would be for the DC housing market and revised the legislation.  Whew.

*image via Urban Turf

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

oh joy! workshop

On Monday afternoon, I took a quick road trip (up and back) to Philly for a blog workshop by Joy Cho of oh joy!
Although I've done tons of research on blogging and what makes one successful, I've wanted "hands on" advice to make this blog more polished.  I love the aesthetic of oh joy! and she is very successful.  It sounded like a win win situation to me.   

Joy had a lot of good advice.  My two biggest "light bulb" moments?  I need to learn Photoshop *stat* and I need to get my cameras working again.  My blackberry and my husband's iphone cameras aren't good enough.

Cards galore
Overall, it was a fantastic experience.  The room was brimming with people with interesting ideas.  Look at those cards...creativity everywhere. 

I also had a quick glimpse of my cousin Josh, who lives in Philly.  You might remember me mentioning him in this post.  Nice man that he is, he brought me a delicious turkey, brie and caramelized onion sandie from Termini Bros. (holy Italian cookies! *swoon*) plus this lovely confection below.  Wasn't that thoughtful?  I brought an apple for dinner.  Needless to say, my sandie and chocolate/cashew treat were tastier than the apple. 
Termini brothers chocolate cashew confection

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Rue Magazine feature "750 square feet in Stockholm" pg. 124-137
Today, I'm focusing on good design in a small space.  Condo living in all cities=small spaces.  This is true whether it's DC or in this example, Stockholm.  My favorite features in this layout are the use of color and space saving ideas.  I also love the rustic floors with the modern dining room/kitchen.  It's a phenomenal contrast.  Check out the new issue of Rue for more international design.

Monday, August 1, 2011

DIY in the DMV

Chic Cottage Charm house
I stumbled upon this delightful blog, Chic Cottage Charm, about a couple in Arlington documenting their first home transformation.  As a real estate agent, I love blogs about older, dated houses being converted into something modern.  A lot of buyers can't "see" the potential in these types of properties.  Take a peek and check out the wonderful metamorphosis of this cottage.  It's impressive. 

*photo from Chic Cottage Charm