Author Archives for Karen Gill

Oh, The Places We’ll Go (with our dogs)

Hail to the Queen!

For all dog lovers out there, myself included, my attention is drawn to any event that features  furry four legged buddies.  I’m currently a Golden Retriever owner, this my second one, a rescue dog, but my daughter who lives in Atlanta has always loved Corgi’s, so when I noticed this “Corgi’s in the Park” event, I told her I’d go and check it out.  And what a special day it was for these sweet Corgi’s and their owners  at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. Corgi lovers from all over the area, even some from out of state, were on hand to play and bond with other owners and show off their stuff. Many dogs, and even some owners, came in costume as they met in the fenced in ballpark, some walking, some running and dogs having fun wrestling. There were tents set up to keep dry in case of a shower, music,

Corgi’s Under The Sea

and Two Scotts BBQ making a slightly chilly fall day well worth the trip. I chatted with many owners and was educated by a couple, finding that Corgi’s are the smallest of the herding dogs originating in Pembrokeshire, Wales, they are the preferred breed of British Royalty, (hence the Queen Elizabeth and Prince William pictures at one of the tents) and also that there are 2 distinct breeds; a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, recognized because they don’t have a tail, and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. I am so happy I went to this event because I also fell in love with these pups. Thanks to Jari Brey  for organizing this event which also raises awareness for Paws With A Cause. Dog lovers, put it on your calendar for 2018 !

Wonder Loaf

Michigan vs. Michigan State

Cutest Ear of Corn ever!

Sombrero Guy

Favorite Motorcycle Rider

Sweetest Face

 

 

 

Moving With Kids

Did you know that plenty of experts consider moving during the school year the BEST time to move? What is the reasoning here? Moving to a state, city or even a new neighborhood in the summer may leave a space of a month or two before your child has an opportunity to meet new friends vs. jumping right into an established routine which may allow them to adapt faster to a new environment.
In working with relocating families for over 30 years, I’ve witnessed 4 and 5-year-old children assume the toys in the house they purchased will stay with the house, while worrying that their own toys and pets will be left behind. I’ve seen the nervous anticipation of an 8 or 10-year-old anxious to meet new friends while fretting about being “liked” at their new school. I’ve seen the sadness and downright rebellion of a 16-year-old boy as he blocked out his parents best efforts at making the move as smooth as possible. But, moving happens as we live in a time when relocation due to job changes are far more common than years ago when families stayed in the same home from kindergarten through high school. 

So, what can you do to make your move easier on your kids? Once you have decided on the home and have been through inspections and all is smooth sailing toward closing, see if you can tour the house once again with your family. Take pictures of the house, the yard, and each child’s bedroom. Visit the school, or at least drive by and take another picture. Another major concern of middle and high school kids? Knowing what the kids wear to school because they want to fit in! When you get back home, help them make a wall map marked with the old house and the new, add the pictures, and maybe add some places of interest that they will see once moved. Lakes, parks, the zoo, a possible new dance studio, team sports, etc. If you can’t get some of these, ask your Realtor for help. Most of us are as anxious as you to see your family happily settled in your new home.

TRANSITIONS

How can August be finished already? The last of summer vacations give way to getting the college students organized, packed and settled on campus, going over school supply lists and going through clothes to see what fits and what’s needed for the new school year for high school and elementary school age kids.

college dorm life

For some of us it’s time to start planning our winter getaways before the first snowflakes fly, because you know how fast Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas come and go, heavy sigh. If raising children is behind you, maybe it’s time to think about moving from that way to large of a home you currently own and where you raised your family, and downsize into a smaller ranch style home or condominium. But where to start?

Finances are of major importance so consulting with your financial advisor followed by having a market evaluation of your current home with a Realtor is a great place to begin. Get an idea of what your home will sell for and what you will net after closing costs. A knowledgeable agent will also give advise as to what improvements will give you your maximum sales price. I typically leave my sellers with “A” lists of what must be done, “B” lists of what would make your home stand out over other competing homes, and “C” lists of what would be nice to see finished but not necessary if “A” and “B” have worn you out.

downsizing

time to move into a smaller home?

Once you have a plan, this  process can take a week, a month or even more for you to be market ready. Start going through your basement and purge, give away or box all that has been hanging around for years. Go through your closets and cupboards and do the same. If you’ve been in your home 10, 20 or more years you know what I’m talking about. My own experience had me wondering why did I save 30 flower vases or my husband to save what seemed like a million cans of paint, car polish and wire?!? Do an area, a cupboard or a closet every few days. It may seem like an  overwhelming task but START. The good housekeeping fairy isn’t coming by, your grown children will applaud you for it, and you will be ready to start your new adventure. Life is full of transitions, turn the page and start that next chapter.

A Winter Visit to Mackinac Island

As a Realtor, driving through the snow and showing homes in the winter can occasionally be a challenge in Grand Rapids. When one of my lifetime clients considered purchasing a summer home on Mackinac Island I was up for the task. What I discovered though, was that this trip would be one of the most memorable times of showing homes of my career. Northern MI Realtors have more fortitude and can have way more fun!

The adventure began with a 4 hour drive north, stopping at a favorite stop in Cadillac, Clam Lake Beer Company for lunch. I highly recommend them for their extensive menu, great food, and of course spirits and craft beer. Crossing the majestic Mackinac Bridge at night was a first for me. At 5 miles in length, it’s the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere! For the feint of heart, they have vehicle escort service across the bridge.

Then it’s rise and shine at 6:30 to catch the 8:00 Star Line Mackinac Ferry to the island. The usual 20 minute summer ride can take more than twice that long as the boat cuts through the ice. Meanwhile, we are toasty warm inside the boat with an occasional sneak outside to photograph and video.

 

getting around via winter taxi

winter taxi

Upon our arrival, the docks were busy with construction workers unloading lumber and supplies as this is the season for hotels and shop owners to get their projects done before tourist season. We saw windows being replaced, front porches partitioned off in plastic while buildings were undergoing a facelift. Our hotel was the only one open this weekend, and we were very happy with the accommodations at the  Pontiac Lodge. There was one restaurant open,  Cawthorne’s Village Inn (same ownership as the Grand Hotel) where Planked Whitefish is a favorite. I especially liked that they had the Grand Pecan Roll, a fudgy ice cream classic featured at the Grand Hotel.

The Mustang Lounge was our alternate choice that was open for food and drink. Our server/bartender  Miranda made a great Cosmo, instantly adding her to my friend list. They also serve breakfast, lunch and appetizers. Except for historic Doud’s Market which has been servicing the island with groceries since 1884, all of the other stores and eateries were in hibernation and the street was filled with parked snowmobiles and the occasional horse drawn island taxi. Our host, and listing agent for our home tour was Billy Borst from Mackinac Island Realty. My client, Cindy, rode shotgun behind Billy and I scored the sled and off we sped through the snow covered streets, up and down hills to view available inventory and see some pretty exciting scenery. Showing homes by snowmobile was a first for me!

We also did a lot of on foot touring that day. From Mission Point Resort  through Main Street to the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Hotel  The sky was blue and even in the crisp afternoon the sight of the Grand Hotel closed for the season sparked memories of Jack Nicholson and the movie “The Shining” but there was no sign of the 2 little girls or boy in the hall or voices of “redrum”. Imagination run wild!!!

Grand Hotel in winter

Grand Hotel closed for the winter

In the evening we joined my daughter, Alicia and her partner Thomas for a twilight cross country ski trail lined with lanterns. Beautiful groomed trails took us past the Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf rock formations and ended at a bonfire complete with hot chocolate.

Twilight XCountry Trail

Twilight XCountry Trail

Arch Rock

Arch Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following a fabulous meal and a good nights rest, we were back out in the morning to take a taxi to the airport. The ferry doesn’t run on Sunday’s in the winter, so taking a small plane to the mainland was our only option. I don’t mind saying I was slightly terrified. William, the pilot, assured me that he had 15 years of flying experience so Cindy and I along with our 2 other flying companions hopped in the plane, me in the co pilots seat. It’s a 5 minute plane ride from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace and the views of the Mackinac Bridge were fabulous. I found myself disappointed that the ride was over so soon. As I left the island after our winter view,  I am now anxiously awaiting my return trip for our closing on Cindy’s new condo at the end of April. Then, of course there is always the Lilac Festival, Fourth of July, the Labor Day walk across the bridge, etc. etc.  ………..

flying over the Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Island Air transportation to St. Ignace

with Alicia VanHeulen, Thomas Birks, Cindy Idema & me, Karen Gill

snowmobiles parked everywhere on Main Street

Ada Moorings

Ada Moorings, Ada MI

Ada Moorings

Ada Moorings is comprised of 230 single family homes and condominiums and offers a lifestyle unlike most with a walkable community built around 200 acres of scenic trails and private nature preserves. Imagine peaceful morning walks via the community trails to the Grand River boat launch for kayaking, canoeing or watching your favorite Forest Hills high school team rowing in unison while they practice for regatta’s.  Walk to Ada Park to watch your kids play soccer, enjoy the playground with your toddlers, picnic with your entire family , play tennis or join an adult softball league. Take a bit longer stroll or a bike ride past the covered bridge or into the charming village of Ada where there are delightful shops, salons, a spa, coffee shop, several restaurants including Schnitz Deli, Vitalie’s Italian, Zeytin’s Turkish, and more. A favorite for dessert is Spoonlicker’s frozen yogurt shop. With the newly designed village underway it is a scene out of a Norman Rockwell Christmas print. Located in Forest Hill’s Central schools, or attend the full Spanish or Chinese language immersion schools.

037 038 036

 

New Listing in Ada Open Sunday 1-3

It’s easy to fall in love with this home and the area surrounding it will blow you away!!! Located at the end of a cul-de-sac with a gracious front porch just waiting for a couple of Adirondack chairs and conversations with your friends and neighbors. Step inside to over 3,000 finished sq. ft. starting with a roomy entry foyer with newer engineered hardwood flooring and built in accessory niche, a formal dining room, a great room with 2 story windows and palatial ceilings surrounding a fireplace. 002-front-elevation 008-dining-room 012-living-room

Entertain around the adjoining dining area and open kitchen with warm cabinetry. a center island for extra storage and seating, and a corner sink overlooking the beautifully maintained gardens, shrubs and trees and your professionally manicured yard with upper and lower decks and underground sprinkling. Also on the main floor is a king-sized master suite with spacious walk in closet, and a bath to pamper with duel sinks, and garden tub with glass block window.

022-master-bedroom 024-master-bathroom

Upstairs are 3 bedrooms, a full bath with double vanity and a loft area with ample space to serve as a home office for this owner. The lower walk out level offers a fantastic family/game room finished with Quality Edge high tech insulated wood panels providing sound and noise control, perfect for your home theatre experience. If you need another bath, there is a framed in and rough plumbed bath ready for an easy finish and plenty of storage leftover. Stop by and see us at 7645 THORNAPPLE CLUB – Buttrick to Grand River to Ada Moorings and read more about Ada Moorings in our neighborhood post.

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