Turn Your Home into a Smart Home

Get Smart: 5 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Smart Home

By Mikkie Mills

Smart homes are rapidly gaining popularity. Being able to control numerous features of your home even while you are away is not only convenient, but it can increase security. There are all kinds of ways to turn your home into a smart home. Some are a little more expensive than others. The following five home automation steps can help you get started.

1. Control your appliances from your smartphone.
You can invest in new appliances that have this feature, or you can replace electrical devices, such as sockets or plugs, with a smart version. A smart power strip is another option. It is as simple as plugging it in and connecting your devices or appliances. Each plug in the power strip works independently. Android and Apple are supported by the power strip and you can control these devices from anywhere. You can turn any appliance on or off, get notifications when a television, computer, or other device is turned on, monitor carbon monoxide levels, and more.

2. Know how to control the security system.
Although most people have security systems in place, it is very beneficial to be able to control them from anywhere. When automated access is used, you can limit access to certain areas of the home, such as your office. In addition, your phone can notify you in the event of a problem even when you are not home. Cameras can be used so that you can see every room in your home from your smartphone. Outdoor cameras will allow you to see who has been on your property when you are at work or elsewhere.

3. Save energy by adding your heating and cooling to an automation system.
If you are gone all day and want to keep heating or cooling costs down, you simply lower or raise the temperature setting. Then you can put it on a comfortable level a half hour or so before you will arrive home. This gives the home time to warm up or cool down before you get home, so you are not heating or cooling an empty house. You can also control blinds with this system, allowing sunlight in for your plants and helping to warm the home during the winter.

4. Learn how to communicate with your home.
You can control your home using technology similar to what is used when you talk to your smartphone to tell it to dial numbers or look up information. Microphones and a software program which is put on your computer is the simplest way to set up your home to respond to voice commands. The system is set up to recognize words or a phrase to perform virtually anything from turning on or dimming lights to opening drapes, turning on music, enabling or disabling alarms, and more. If you want to know what the weather is like before going out, simply ask. The systems can be set up to answer questions, as well. There are many systems to choose from and with advances in technology, they are doing more and becoming less expensive.

5. Install a home theater system.
An automated home theater system will provide you with the feel of a movie theater in your home. Movies, videos, music, and more can be streamed throughout your home and even in outdoor areas used for entertaining. An app for your smartphone is simple to use to control all of this and more. Control the lighting for optimal viewing of movies. The sound can be adjusted, providing you with surround sound that is more like what is experienced in movie theaters.

These are just a few of the ways of making your home smart. Not only does an automated system in your home provide convenience and comfort, but it will also give you peace of mind.


When is a good time to sell your home?

7 Things to Remove From Your Home When We List It.

7 Things to Remove From Your Home When We list It
When listing your home, there are a lot of things to think about. How you stage your space should definitely be at the top of that list. While you may not have the means to bring in a pro stager, you can put your best foot forward by removing the following from your space.

Family photos. While these treasures may mean the world to you, personal items like this make it difficult for a potential buyer to imagine themselves in your space. Pack up these photos for the move—you’ll need to do this eventually anyway, so consider it a head start.

Odors. From a musky basement to the closet where the kitty litter box is kept, odors in your home are a huge turn off. Rip up mildewed carpet, open windows, light candles–whatever you need to do to keep a buyers nose from wrinkling.

Clutter. While you may love your corners stacked high with books and your shelves piled with mementos and knick-knacks, clutter can be distracting for buyers. Pick a few key items to leave out on shelves and pack the rest away.

Non-neutral design elements. Black lights in the basement or lacy, frilly curtains in the sunroom may seem fun to you, but these bold design elements can throw a buyer. Create a neutral atmosphere wherever possible.

Junk. Clear any old, unused items from your closets, storage spaces, basement and attic. You’re going to have to get rid of these items when you move anyway, so you may as well do this now so your buyer can envision their own items filling up these spaces.

Pets. While it may not be possible to banish your furry friends while your home is for sale, you can make sure they’re out of the way when a buyer is visiting. You never know what allergies or fears buyers may have, so put the animals outside or bring them over to grandmas for an hour, if possible.

Worn-out furniture. That sagging, stained couch in the basement may not be a big deal to you, but it can be an eyesore to an outsider. An empty space is better than a poorly furnished space, so adjust where needed.

When listing with me, I provide a complimentary stager, who will go over the items that need to be taken care of prior to staging and sale to help get you top dollar for your home.

Contact me for more details. Judy Gratton 206-276-3289

Dodge Winter Lawn Damage

Dodge Winter Lawn Damage
Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm.

Preventive steps from the lawncare experts at TruGreen can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements.

Snow Plow Damage

Install brightly-colored boundary markers along the edges of paved areas to help protect lawn and shrubs from snow plow and snow thrower blades. Lightweight wooden stakes, at least four feet tall with bright reflective tape and brightly covered fiberglass rods, serve as good markers. Avoid heavy metal, fence posts and other large objects, as they can pose a hazard to snow plow operators.

Cold Temperature Stress

More so than any other season, trees and shrubs are vulnerable to changing weather conditions during the winter. Wide temperature fluctuation and extremely low temperatures are the biggest factors of tree stress, meaning your trees are more susceptible to things like frost cracks, sunscald and winter burn.

Keep twigs and limbs from breaking under the weight of ice by carefully brushing away, whenever possible, any snow load from plants, which will reduce the weight on the limbs and decrease the damage. Placing a burlap cover around shrubs such as boxwood and yews will help reduce winter desiccation.

Proper fertilization can help keep your trees and shrubs healthy well into spring, and allow them to better tolerate winter. A service can help with tree and shrub services customized to meet your landscape’s every need, including applications to control overwintering insects, pests and mites.

Freezing Temperatures

Damage to plants, shrubs and trees as a result of sustained low temperatures can typically go undetected until spring or early summer, when plants fail to produce new growth. To help prevent damage, maintain a two- to three-inch layer of mulch to help protect the crown and roots from weather extremes.

Winter Dehydration

During the colder months of winter, plants cannot replace moisture lost from leaves and needles. This leads to “dehydration” – technically known as desiccation. To help avoid this problem, maintain proper watering late into the fall, or water during periods of winter thaw.

Ice Melt

Ice-melting agents, such as rock salt and products containing calcium and magnesium chloride, may accumulate in the soil and cause damage to plants. Use extreme care when applying ice-melting agents to prevent damage to your plants or concrete surfaces.

Source: TruGreen.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

How to Decorate for the Holidays, Hollywood Style

How to Decorate for the Holidays, Hollywood Style

By Gabrielle van Welie
Now that December is here, the pressure over who’s going to have the best holiday decorations is on. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: everyone else knows about the existence of Pinterest. So if you really want to win this contest, take a look at the often overlooked (possibly because of its impracticality) Hollywood-style Christmas.

Here’s how some of your favorite films decorated their homes…I mean, sets.

Just Friends

While you were distracted by Ryan Reynold’s fat suit, and later by Ryan Reynolds himself, Mr. Palomino was busy setting up those Christmas lights just right. While they definitely went down with a bang, his Hollywood-style home was definitely the best dressed in all of New Jersey.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

In Whoville, Christmas decorating is an Olympic sport. They are so good at setting up shop that even after the Grinch went ahead and stole all their decorations, they were able to get it all back up and running the day of. It does help that they had that Christmas light power machine or whatever. Definitely worth it.


Everyone thinks Buddy is crazy, but boy is that elf efficient. Look at how magical Gimbels looks. That’s just printer paper! His home decorations were top-notch, too. I guess they do teach a thing or two in the North Pole. Granted, dressing up as an elf might really help validate this whole setup.

Home Alone

The view at the McCallister residence is beautiful both inside and out. It balances perfectly between quaint and ready-to-invest-some-money. Of course, a house so elegant does land it on the burglary radar. That being said, as long as you don’t leave your kid home alone, it should all be fine.

Harry Potter

Now, if what you want is a magical Christmas, then Hogwarts should be your model. You won’t have spells to hold everything together, so some extra hands will be needed, but the outcome will be truly mesmerizing. Whether you just want to decorate your dining hall or host a ball for your guests, Hogwarts has just the thing for you.

Love Actually

All jokes aside, the best holiday decoration is the sight of your loved ones gathered around a Christmas tree. If you ignore how heartbreaking this scene actually is, and the fact that Alan Rickman…oh, man. I really set myself up for disaster here. Anyways, the point is: be inspired, but don’t sweat the holidays.

I’m going to go sob now.

Meet one of Bothell’s most extraordinary citizens, Bernadette Bascom

581721_10151565012653968_896868801_nBernadette is a force. Music is her power. She has been singing since she was a child. Her mother was a music professor in Baltimore, her father a minister. She started singing as a child and progressed to singing in a band in her teens.

Bernadette Meets Stevie Wonder

As a teenager she had a wonderful experience that helped shape her career. She attended a Stevie Wonder concert while in high school. She was able to make her way back stage, and met Stevie. They became fast friends. His manager was a member of her father’s church. So, the connection was strong. She didn’t tell Stevie she was a singer for several years. It wasn’t until she had moved to Seattle and was performing at a club in Olympia, Washington, with the group “Epicenterl”. She heard he was performing at the stadium there at the same time , so she called him to say hello, and he asked her what she was doing. She said she was performing in the club, and he was surprised. He asked why she hadn’t told him that she sang, and she answered “You d

Stevie Wonder with Bernadette at Parker’s

on’t tell Stevie Wonder that you sing!” He asked to hear some of her work, so she sent him a recording. He loved it! He called her and told her a ticket to Los Angeles would be waiting for her at the airport.  She became the first recording artist on Stevie’s recording label TAMLA.

Bernadette’s Career 

Bernadette performed with several bands over the years. She sang on a #1 hit with “Peoples Choice,” “Do it Anyway You Wanna.”  While on tour in Seattle in August of 1975, she fell in love with this area and stayed for some time.   The city had a thriving soul music scene in the 60’s & 70’s. She performed with the groups Epicenter and Acapulco Gold.  Stevie actually made a surprise appearance (photo above) at Seattle’s legendary Parker’s nightclub once while she was performing there with Epicenter.

Taking advantage of a new opportunity, Bernadette moved to Las Vegas with The Sunny Turner Show. Later, she performed at the New York, New York Hotel in The Motown Cafe for 10 years. She also began teaching in Las Vegas.  She developed a wonderful program for children called “Spell to Rhythm.” She also became a mother to her beautiful daughter Chokise in Las Vegas. Life was good.

Bernadette connects in Bothell

But, her heart was still in Seattle so she moved back in 2005.  Once here she heard that SAS (Secondary Academy for Success) in Bothell was thinking about starting a music program. Bernadette met with them and “The Music Project13423792_10153685787015920_4062908638062678623_n was born.  She started teaching a group of teens and many of them stayed with her throughout their high school years.   She also taught at several other schools including Timbercrest Jr. High in Woodinville.  While teaching there one of her young students kept telling her that her cousin, would love her class.  Eventually the young girl mentioned that her cousin was Sanjaya Malakar.sanjaya-malakar  At that time he was auditioning for “American Idol”. Bernadette did eventually meet with Sanjaya and became his voice couch.  They have remained great friends, and he attributes much of his success to her.

Bernadette expanded her teaching to Northwest University in Kirkland as an adjunct professor.

I met Bernadette in 2011 while attending a concert at Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle.  My husband and I had gone to see “Bump Kitchen” a great local funk and blues band. During the concert the band introduced a guest artist, Bernadette Bascom.  During the introduction they mentioned her connection with SAS (Secondary Academy for Success) in Bothell.

I need to explain a little bit about myself at this point. I have a son with disabilities. When he was in school he never participated in any school clubs or sports.  Not so much because he didn’t have the desire, but because he was never asked. Kids with disabilities often feel like outsiders and don’t have the self confidence to do it on their own.  My son was part of an inclusion and recreation program in Bothell called ” The Northshore Wranglers.”   The group had recently started expanding the services they offered.  When I heard of Bernadette’s connection to SAS, it made me think this might be an opportunity for the Wranglers.

During a break, I stopped her and asked if she had ever considered teaching people with disabilities.  Her response: “I would be honored.”

I scheduled a meeting with the director of the Northshore Wranglers, Cole Caplan, and Bernadette.  That was the beginning of a fabulous addition to “The Music Project.” Bernadette agreed to teach singing to any person interested through the Northshore Wrangler program.  The turn out was amazing, young people with varied disabilities showed up.  There was an instant connection between Bernadette and these kids.  I really hadn’t thought that my own son, who wears hearing aids, would be interested, but he was. At some of the first classes I was literally brought to tears.  Bernadette gave these kids who had never been asked to participate in anything before a voice, and they sang their hearts out!

Bernadette decided that this group would put on a holiday musical production.  So , in December of 2011 the first “Northshore Wranglers Music Project” program was performed. John Sharify with King 5 News got wind of the event, and produced a documentary on Bernadette and “The Music Project” called “Bernadette’s Touch.” bernadette-bascom-bothells-own The documentary won a National Emmy award!  That was the beginning of a wonderful creative connection between Bernadette and people of all ages with disabilities.  The Northshore Wranglers continues to have their singing classes in the spring, summer, and fall with a concert every December.  The next one is this coming Friday, December 2, 2016, at The Northshore Senior Center.  Admission is free. Donations for the Wranglers are gratefully accepted.


But, remember I said Bernadette is a force.  So, she must keep moving forward.  She was next invited by the Northshore School District to begin inclusion singing classes with mainstream and disabled students together.  The first class was held at Skyview Junior High last year. bernadette-bascom-bothells-own-jpg-2 In the spring they held their first concert at The Northshore Performing Arts Center to a full house.  This year her class is being held at Woodmoor Elementary School.

She continues to get requests for information about “The Music Project” from all over the United States.

Last year the old Anderson School  in Bothell was remodeled and opened as McMenamin’s Anderson School Hotel, Restaurants, and Events Center.  To honor people who have contributed to the Bothell community, McMenamin’s named rooms after them and had portraits painted of each individual.  Bernadette Bascom is one of those people.   In case you are looking for her room in the hotel it’s room 315. bernadette-bascom-bothells-own-jpg3  Her portrait is on the lower level just inside the south door.

Music has the power to heal, to create, to inspire.  Bernadette Bascom has taken that power and used it to touch so many lives.  She continues to perform, to teach in schools, universities, and privately. She continues to reach out with love to develop opportunities for others to grow and blossom.   Bothell is extremely fortunate that she has chosen to reside here.


For more information:  https://www.bernadettebascom.com/


For information on private singing lessons: 443-857-5940



The Most Expensive Homes on the Market This Fall

The Most Expensive Homes on the Market This Fall

By Adrienn Takacs
The word “luxurious” doesn’t even begin to cover the extravagance of Point2Homes’ recently released list of America’s most expensive homes. These incredible listings offer everything you can dream of—home theaters, large swimming pools, many acres of meticulously landscaped grounds, and more!

1. 594 Mapleton Drive
Los Angeles, Calif.

Bedrooms: 14
Bathrooms: 27

This estate, known as ‘The Manor,’ was designed in the French chateau style for TV producer Aaron Spelling and his wife in 1988—and if that weren’t enough, there have also been updates to the property since then. The mansion is situated on five acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, and is the largest and grandest private residence in Los Angeles.

2. 2000 S Ocean Boulevard
Manalapan, Fla.

Bedrooms: 33
Bathrooms: 47

Standing on a 15-acre tropical compound is this exquisite home boasting 33 bedrooms, 47 baths and a total of 62,873 square feet of living space. Regarded as one of the grandest estates in the world, this impressive listing is an island paradise, offering plenty of privacy and luxury to the happy new owner.

3. Great Island Road
Darien, Conn.

Bedrooms: 10
Bathrooms: 10

This 65-acre property is another waterfront island estate that will definitely sweep you off your feet. The listing boasts an incredible 10-bedroom Italian stone manor, a beach house, a boat house, and even your own private polo field!

4. 935 Hillsboro Mile
Hillsboro Beach, Fla.

Bedrooms: 11
Bathrooms: 17

This 60,000-square-foot palatial estate, nicknamed “Le Palais Royal,” was the first French-inspired palace in the U.S. If you want to feel like royalty, enter this Beaux Arts masterpiece to be greeted by lavish landscaping, 26-foot fountains and Versailles-esque waterfalls. The interior will leave you speechless—it’s decorated with imposing fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, Corinthian-marbled columns and floor-to-ceiling windows.

5. 90 Briar Patch Road
East Hampton, N.Y.

Bedrooms: 10
Bathrooms: 10

If you’d love to enjoy the ocean breezes each morning whilst sipping your coffee in your perfectly-landscaped back yard, then you need to check out this awesome property in New York. The listing comes with two large homes designed by Peter Marino, offering a total of 10 bedrooms and 10 baths, a large tennis court, a beautiful sundeck and a 4-car garage.

Guess the price of the most expensive home in the Puget Sound region.  Let me know what you think our local most expensive home is.  The answer that comes closest by Friday November 18th  at 5:00pm  wins a $20.00 QFC Gift Certificate!