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Who Has The Fairest Kitchen Of Them All? | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on July 3, 2015 with 0 Comments

Who has the fairest kitchen of them all? It’s not a fairy tale, but the truth: Great-looking kitchens are magnets that lure potential buyers into a home. When your home is on the market, the kitchen must look its best—online and especially in person. Since so much time is spent in this room, it’s critical today to

Who Has The Fairest Kitchen Of Them All

Kitchen Ideas

focus on the kitchen—and make it look terrific.

First: Prepare to make a mental switch—the home is no longer the center of your family’s life, but rather, a property for sale. Second: Make your property truly show its value. More than a magic wand, you may need to do some serious housework.

By their nature, kitchens are prime targets for clutter, wear and grime. (What other room do we fill with so many gadgets?)

Who Has The Fairest Kitchen Of Them All

Here are some great tips on how to stage your kitchen to sell your home:

Stash Counter Stuff

Clutter—even if the counters and floors are sparkling clean—makes a kitchen look smaller. Clear all small appliances from the kitchen countertops—even the coffee maker, toaster, blender, etc. While your home is on the market, find a place to stow your counter stuff…then treat yourself to java or breakfast out.
Utensils, spices, canisters, tissues, chargers, TV, even countertop microwave should be stored, leaving the counters open and clean. Make sure mail, homework, and newspapers don’t collect in the kitchen. Designate a special shelf, drawer or box as a drop zone for this always-growing pile.

Focus On The Fridge

Who Has The Fairest Kitchen Of Them All

Kitchen Ideas

Remove everything from your bulletin board-cum-fridge door. Pack up the magnets, calendars, to-do lists, photos, kids’ art, homework and postcards. Put them in a special box marked ‘Fridge Art,’ so you can find them again after you move. Don’t forget to store away all the stuff from the top of the fridge, as well. Then mop the top down with a wet cloth and mild soap.

While you’re at it, this would be a good time to clean out the refrigerator. You’re going to throw out all the excess condiments and mystery freezer bags when you move anyway. Why not sooner than later? Don’t lose the overall effect of a sparkling kitchen when a potential buyer opens the refrigerator door to find old food and stains.

Universal Shine

Once you’ve defeated the clutter, it’s time to clean up. Cabinets collect grease and grime, but we sometimes don’t see it. Give your cabinets and appliances a deep cleaning outside and in. Buyers love a sparkling oven and microwave ready to receive their own dishes. Replace any outdated or worn cabinet hardware and tighten loose hinges and knobs.

While your home is on the market, switch to pumps for liquid hand soap and dish liquid. There’s nothing more off-putting than a bar of soupy soap. When you’re working the tile and walls, remove pictures, frames and patch hanger holes. Toss the old sink mat. Store (or toss) that drying rack—for now put wet dishes in the dishwasher rack to dry. For every showing, display unused dish towels.

Check your lighting and fans in the kitchen and make sure that all bulbs and switches work because buyers will.

The Nose Knows

Unpleasant smells are a turn off to buyers. Take out the garbage and recycling—daily. Potpourri and air fresheners are a plus. To clear cooking aromas burn a candle or put out fresh coffee grounds in a dish. Run a lemon through the disposal to freshen the air before a showing. Same goes for the sink full of dishes; do them every day or load them in the dishwasher or, while your home is on the market, use disposable dinnerware.

Get A Professional Opinion

Luxury Valley Homes

Have a safe and happy 4th of July

Kitchens can be a heavy traffic zone. Even if you declutter and clean up, some kitchens can still look ‘used.’ Visit a new home model to see how appealing an immaculate kitchen can be. Or flip through any home design magazine. Imagine you’re getting your kitchen ready for a photo shoot—which you are. Count on us at Scottsdale Real Estate in Arizona to advise you if a makeover makes top-dollar marketing sense.

When you’re ready to list your home for sale, contact us. We’ll work with you to show you how to showcase your entire home in ways that will make buyers write that perfect purchase contract…which is the point.

If you’re looking for a home check out  the currently listing that are available and updated every 15 minutes at Popular Sub-Divisions that are on the Scottsdale real estate market.

The Luxury Valley Homes team brings you the entire Maricopa County real estate market right here.

Do you want some more ideas for Luxury kitchen designs, have a look at Kitchen Design Ideas 

SPECIAL FORCES: The Early Years | Part II

Posted by on July 2, 2015 with 0 Comments

Special Forces: The Early Years – Special Forces (SF) grew out of the establishment of the Special Operations Division of the Psychological Warfare Center, activated at Fort Bragg, N.C., in May 1952. The Army allocated 2,300 personnel slots to make up the first Special Forces (SF) unit when the Ranger companies fighting in the Korean War were disbanded.


Special Forces Training

The 10th SF Group was established with Colonel Aaron Bank as the first commander. Concurrent with this was the establishment of the Psychological Warfare School, which ultimately became today’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

Col. Bank assembled a cadre of officers and NCOs to serve as the foundation of the new unit, and act as a training staff for the fledgling organization. Bank did not want raw recruits. He wanted the best troops in the Army, and he got them as former OSS officers, airborne troops, ex-Rangers and combat veterans of World War II and Korea. After months of preparation, the 10th SF Group was activated on June 11, 1952, at Fort Bragg. On the day of its activation, the total strength of the group was 10 Soldiers – Col. Bank, 1 warrant officer and eight enlisted men. Within months, the first volunteers reported to the 10th SF Group by the hundreds as they completed the initial phase of their SF training.


As soon as the 10th Group became large enough, Col. Bank began training his troops in the most advanced techniques of unconventional warfare. As defined by the Army, the main mission of the 10th SF Group was “to infiltrate by land, sea or air, deep into enemy-occupied territory and organize the resistance/guerrilla potential to conduct Special Forces operations, with emphasis on guerrilla warfare.” As Bank put it, “Our training included many more complex subjects, and was geared to entirely different, more difficult, comprehensive missions, and complex operations.”

After less than a year and a half as a full SF group, Bank’s men proved to the Army’s satisfaction that they had mastered the skills of their new trade.

On Nov. 11 1953, half of the 10th SF Group deployed to Bad Tolz, West Germany. The other half remained at Fort Bragg, where it was designated as the 77th SF Group. The split of the 10th and the 77th was the first sign that SF had established itself as an integral part of the Army’s basic structure.


Our Salute to the 4th Of July

For the rest of the 1950s, SF would grow slowly but consistently. By the end of 1952, the first SF troops to operate behind enemy lines in Korea on missions that remained classified for nearly 30 years.

Anti-communist guerrillas with homes in North Korea and historical ties to Seoul had joined the United Nations Partisan Forces-Korea. Known as “Donkeys” and “Wolfpacks,” the guerrilla units and their American cadre operated from tiny islands off the North Korean coast. The partisans conducted raids on the mainland, and rescued downed airman. Under the guidance of a select group from the 10th SF Group and other U.S. cadre, they eventually numbered 22,000 and claimed 69,000 enemy casualties.

On April 1, 1956, the 14th Special Forces Operational Detachment with select members from 77th SF Group, 12th, 13th and 16th operational detachments, under the cover unit of the 8251st Army Service Unit, transferred to Fort Shaffer, Hawaii from Fort Bragg, N.C., in June 1956. Shortly afterward, the 12th, 13th and 16th Special Forces Operational Detachment (SFOD) regiment were moved to Camp Drake, Japan under the cover unit identification of 8231st Army Unit. 1st Special Forces Group was officially activated on June 24, 1957 at Camp Drake, however, the activation ceremony was held on July 14, 1957 at Camp Buckner, Okinawa. On Oct. 30, 1960, all SF groups reorganized under the combat arms regimental system. 1st SF Group was regimented, 1st SF Group in recognition of its lineage with the First Special Service Force of World War II.

Why were the original teams consist of twelve (12) men? Next: The twelve-man teams.

Next Week: SPECIAL FORCES: Twelve Man Teams | Part III


The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS) at Fort Bragg, N.C., is one of the Army’s premier education institutions, managing and resourcing professional growth for Soldiers in the Army’s three distinct special operations branches: Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations. The Soldiers educated through USAJFKSWCS programs are using cultural expertise and unconventional techniques to serve their country in far-flung areas across the globe. More than anything, these Soldiers bring integrity, adaptability and regional expertise to their assignments.

On any given day, approximately 3,100 students are enrolled in USAJFKSWCS training programs. Courses range from entry-level training to advanced warfighter skills for seasoned officers and NCOs. The 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) qualifies Soldiers to enter the special operations community, and teaches them advanced tactical skills as they progress through their careers.

The Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center, operating under the auspices of the Special Warfare Medical Group, is the central training facility for Department of Defense special operations combat medics. Furthermore, USAJFKSWCS leads efforts to professionalize the Army’s entire special operations force through the Special Forces Warrant Officer Institute and the David K. Thuma Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

While most courses are conducted at Fort Bragg, USAJFKSWCS enhances its training by maintaining facilities, and relationships with outside institutions, across the country. In all, USAJFKSWCS offers 41 unique courses that give Soldiers the skills they need to survive and succeed on the battlefield.

Why did SF form the twelve (12) man teams?

SPECIAL FORCES: From Birth to Present Day | Part I

SPECIAL FORCES: The Early Years | Part II

Next Week: SPECIAL FORCES: Twelve Man Teams

Photo provided by SOC.MIL/SWCS – US Army

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage edges up to 4.02%

Posted by on June 27, 2015 with 0 Comments

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage edges up to 4.02%. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 4.02 percent this week from 4 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 3.21 percent from 3.23 percent.

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage edges up to 4.02%

Low Mortgage Rates Are History

Mortgage rates have increased in recent weeks, in the midst of the spring home buying season, as the economy has shown signs of improvement.

Government data issued Tuesday showed that purchases of new U.S. homes surged in the Northeast and West last month, as steady job growth over the past year has lifted the housing market. Sales of new homes have soared 24 percent year-to-date and are on pace for their best year since 2007. They’ve been bolstered by the additional incomes from employers hiring 3.1 million workers in the past 12 months and mortgage rates that remain low by historical standards despite their recent increase.

A year ago, the average 30-year rate was 4.14 percent; the 15-year was slightly above its current level, at 3.22 percent.

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage edges up to 4.02%

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage edges up to 4.02%

Home For Sale in Scottsdale, AZ

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged from last week at 0.7 point. The fee for a 15-year loan rose to 0.6 point from 0.5 point.

The average rate on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 2.98 percent from 3 percent; the fee remained at 0.4 point. The average rate on one-year ARMs declined to 2.50 percent from 2.53 percent; the fee rose to 0.3 point from 0.2 point.

Arizona, and particularly the Maricopa County area is following suit. We believe the end of the very low mortgage rates is going into the history books.

7 Must-Dos on the Day You Show Your House | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on June 25, 2015 with 0 Comments
7 Must-Dos on the Day You Show Your House | Scottsdale Real Estate

7 Must-Dos on the Day You Show Your House | Scottsdale Real Estate

7 Must-Dos on the Day You Show Your House | Scottsdale Real Estate

Don’t risk losing buyers because of little things you overlook. Check these off your list before you open the front door.

The “For Sale” sign is up. You’ve completed the big projects and the little tweaks, so you’re hopeful your efforts will pay off with a quick and profitable offer. But now comes the most critical part of the home-selling cycle: the day of a showing or an open house. A negative first impression can directly translate into dollars off a full asking price. Before opening the door to potential buyers the day of a showing, follow these tips from top Realtors and stagers all over the world.

1.  Detach from the stuff. Home experts agree the first and most important step to a successful listing is to emotionally separate from the house and the objects within it. Take down family photographs and religious items.

Letting go of the emotional connections to the items inside the home will make you more objective about any necessary changes and more open to Realtor and buyer feedback. To ease the selling process, embrace the idea that your house is a commodity that needs to be sold, and transfer any emotional connections to your new destination.

Don’t forget: Foyer tables, fireplace mantels and refrigerator doors are popular display spots for loads of personal items like holiday cards, children’s artwork, pictures and trophies. Pare down or clear off these spots for showings.

2.  Make sure it looks clean. Cleaning seems so obvious, and is inexpensive, but the lack of it is one of the biggest complaints agents hear. Hopefully, you’ve done the big scrub leading up to open-house day: carpets steamed, floors mopped, windows wiped, appliances scoured. But on the day of a showing, don’t overlook little details like crumbs on the table from breakfast, toothpaste remnants in sinks, half-full trash cans on display and dust bunnies in rooms you don’t frequent. Do a quick walk-through with a duster, reaching into recessed lights and corners, straighten the bedspreads in all the rooms, put away loose shoes in hallways and tuck away pet beds and bowls. For added visual appeal and a more spa-like vibe, switch to new, clean towels.

Don’t forget: Wipe down surfaces that people would naturally touch, such as stair banisters, hand rails and items that have inviting textures. People love touching things. Textures change everything, as they propel people into various good spots in their memories. Candles. Shells. A leafy houseplant that says, ‘Touch me’.

3.  Make sure it smells clean too. Besides a home’s visual appeal, nothing triggers more comments than scents. Diffuse cooking, pet and musty odors by airing out the home with open windows or air purifiers.

4.  Remove sight-line impairments. Artists, architects and designers are well versed in the simple trick of drawing the eye to something appealing, whether it’s a unique color, the next room or a special view. Eliminate items such as knickknacks, toys, small appliances and bath products that stop the eye, or worse, make spaces look smaller. Though many rugs add warmth and color, consider rolling them up if they break up a room disjointedly or if they obscure attractive selling points like stunning hardwood floors or beautiful tilework. Bathrooms, especially small ones, will look bigger without the rugs. If it’s a huge master spa bath with a coordinated rug, then it can stay if it warms up a big, cold space.

Comforting smells, like baking bread or brewing coffee, can be appealing to most potential buyers.

But beware of strong spray scents, candles or other products. Don’t leave plug-in air fresheners around your home. Some people are allergic to scents, and it only highlights that you have an odor problem.

Don’t forget: Pet foods, toys, litter boxes and blankets may have distinct smells. Stow these items or take them out of the house during showings. Have bins or baskets on hand to clear off counter tops, floors, tables and desks.  It’s a lot easier to put away one or two small bins than it is to have to find a spot for 15 different toiletry items.

Don’t forget: Store tablecloths and dish towels to accentuate a kitchen’s work space and appliances.  Kitchens look bigger if your eye does not stop at the dishtowel on the oven, dishwasher and sink.

5.  Improve traffic flow. Over time, homeowners become desensitized to what their possessions look like and where they are placed. The coatrack by the kitchen door, for example, might be practical for your family, but it can look like poor storage to a potential buyer.

Walk through each room and determine if the furniture arrangement contributes to a comfortable flow and use of space, or if it simply is that way because that’s how it has always been.

Don’t forget: Too little furniture can be just as bad as too much. A tiny couch in a large family room might prompt buyers to worry they’ll never be able to furnish the whole space. If needed, re purpose pieces from spare rooms to comfortably fill out an area.

6.  Create the “Goldilocks Effect.” No matter what time of day or year, the home’s temperature, lighting and noise levels should be just right during an open house. Room temperatures should be not too hot and not too cold. Blinds, shades and drapes should be open, and lights should be on.

 Don’t forget: Let in pleasant ambient sounds, from birds chirping outside to a soothing water feature. Calming music in the background, high enough to hear but low enough to not overwhelm, can do wonders.

7.  Be strategic about handouts and valuables. Documents about the home, especially with attractive photos, should be readily accessible. Property brochures and information should be placed in the foyer area, located on a console or table with some fresh flowers. Buyers can pick up that information upon entering or leaving.

Whether it’s an invitation-only showing or a large opening for the masses, it’s important to safeguard valuables, personal information and sensitive items. Stow small items like electronics, jewelry and prescription medications, and protect financial statements and documents.

Don’t forget:  Shut off and password-protect computers too.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes team at 480-595-6412


Filed Under: blog

Special Forces – From Birth to Present Day | Part I

Posted by on June 25, 2015 with 1 Comments

Special Forces – From Birth to Present Day | Part I – The first Special Forces groups originated from an elite combined Canadian-American unit that fought in the Aleutians, Italy, and southern France.

It was nick named the Devils Brigade, and formed on July 9, 1942, at Fort William Henry in Montana.

Merrill’s Marauders is known for their 5 major battles and 17 skirmishes in the China-Burma-India Theater.

Special Forces - From Birth to Present Day | Part I

Merrill’s Marauders

The Marauders’ greatest feat was their march through miles of thick Burmese jungle in route to the capture of the vital airfield at Myitkyina. Decimated by disease and battle casualties, the Marauders were disbanded after the battle, and replaced by the Mars Task Force, a similar infantry unit that fought in Burma and China until the end of the war. While with the Mars Task Force, First Sergeant Jack Knight earned the only Medal of Honor awarded to a special-operations Soldier during World War II.

Special Forces - From Birth to Present Day | Part I

Clyde Miller – Merrill’s Marauders

In the Southwest Pacific Theater, Lieutenant General Walter Krueger, the innovative commander of the Sixth Army, established an elite reconnaissance unit called the Alamo Scouts. The Scouts ran more than 80 reconnaissance missions in New Guinea, and the Philippines, providing accurate, timely intelligence for the Sixth Army.

In perhaps their greatest feat, the Scouts led a company of the 6th Ranger Battalion, and Filipino guerrillas in an attack on the Japanese prison camp at Cabanatuan, 30 miles behind the Japanese lines, freeing all 513 Allied prisoners. Never numbering more than 70 volunteers, the Alamo Scouts earned 44 Silver Star Medals, 33 Bronze Star Medals and 4 Soldier’s Medals by the end of the war.

In more than 80 hazardous missions, they never lost a man in action. Command Sergeant major Galen Kittleson, a Son Tay raider, began his career with the Alamo Scouts.

Lieutenant General Krueger also formed the 6th Ranger Battalion to provide his Army with the capability of conducting raids behind enemy lines. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci, the battalion commander, led the raid on Cabanatuan. Captain Arthur “Bull” Simons, a key figure in the early days of Special Forces, served as a company commander with the 6th Ranger Battalion.

Special Forces – From Birth to Present Day | Part I

Besides these organized special-operations efforts, a number of U.S. Army officers chose not to surrender at Bataan and conducted guerrilla operations behind Japanese lines in the Philippines. Major Russell Volckmann, who later played an important role in the birth of Special Forces, escaped from the enemy and with First Lieutenant Donald D. Blackburn, formed a Filipino guerrilla band in northern Luzon, which by 1945 consisted of five regiments. Colonel Wendell Fertig raised his own guerrilla force on Mindanao that ultimately totaled some 20,000 fighters. These men organized the insurgency against the Japanese and waged a classic guerrilla campaign until the end of the war.

In more than 80 hazardous missions, they never lost a man in action. Command Sergeant major Galen Kittleson, a Son Tay raider, began his career with the Alamo Scouts.

Lieutenant General Krueger also formed the 6th Ranger Battalion to provide his Army with the capability of conducting raids behind enemy lines. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci, the battalion commander, led the raid on Cabanatuan. Captain Arthur “Bull” Simons, a key figure in the early days of Special Forces, served as a company commander with the 6th Ranger Battalion.

Besides these organized special-operations efforts, a number of U.S. Army officers chose not to surrender at Bataan and conducted guerrilla operations behind Japanese lines in the Philippines. Major Russell Volckmann, who later played an important role in the birth of Special Forces, escaped from the enemy and with First Lieutenant Donald D. Blackburn, formed a Filipino guerrilla band in northern Luzon, which by 1945 consisted of five regiments. Colonel Wendell Fertig raised his own guerrilla force on Mindanao that ultimately totaled some 20,000 fighters. These men organized the insurgency against the Japanese and waged a classic guerrilla campaign until the end of the war. More on Merrill’s Marauders

1.   The lady that is pictured in the photo is holding a shadow box that helps memorialize Clyde Miller of Merrill’s Marauders.

2,   Merrill’s Marauders photo was originally published in Nimitz News, a publication of The National Museum of the Pacific War

How did this group help mission efforts?

Article:  Special Forces – From Birth to Present Day | Part I

Next: Part II – Special Forces: The Early Years

Rangers, SEALs, Raiders: Marines Resurrect Historic Name

Posted by on June 19, 2015 with 0 Comments

Rangers, SEALs, Raiders: Marines resurrect historic name. The Army has the Green Berets, while the eNavy is known for the SEALs. Now, an elite branch of the U.S. Marine Corps will officially be known as Raiders.

The Marines will rename several special operations units as Marine Raiders at a ceremony Friday, resurrecting a moniker made famous by World War II units that carried out risky amphibious and guerrilla operations. The exploits of the original Marine Raiders — who pioneered tactics used by present-day special forces — were captured in books and movies including “Gung Ho!” in 1943 and “Marine Raiders” in 1944.

The name will give a unique identity to the Marines’ branch of U.S. Special Operations Command, which includes special forces from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The Marines’ Special Operations Command, known as MARSOC, was formed more than a decade ago as part of the global fight against terrorism.

“Whereas most people in the American public probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you what MARSOC stood for, ‘Raider’ will jump off the page,” said Ben Connable, a military and intelligence analyst at the nonprofit research agency RAND Corporation.

Rangers, SEALs, Raiders: Marines resurrect historic name

Marine Raiders

After Friday, the formal names of eight units comprising some 2,700 Marines will include “Marine Raider.” Representatives from the units will gather in formation with their commanders to unveil their new battle colors while renaming citations are read.

In a news release, the Marine Corps said the renaming will give commanders a shorthand way to refer to special operations Marines, similar to the labels “Green Beret” or “SEAL,” in what it called “an official identity.”

Connable, the military analyst, said special operations Marines carry out raids on insurgents or terrorists, conduct deep reconnaissance and train foreign military — similar to their special operations counterparts in other branches.

Marines in MARSOC must pass a selection process that includes grueling swims and hikes, as well as specialized combat training.

Some Marines have worn the Raider emblems unofficially since 2003 when the branch’s first present-day special operations unit was activated for a deployment to Iraq.

Rangers, SEALs, Raiders: Marines Resurrect Historic Name

Connable said the resurrection of the Raider name was a positive move because it will tie a group set apart from the rest of the branch into the history of some of the most famous Marines. He said MARSOC wasn’t initially popular with some Marines because of the branch’s famous “esprit de corps” that includes pride in the group and the concept that all members are elite to begin with.

“The whole idea of ‘special Marines’ is unpalatable to Marines in general,” said Connable, a retired Marine officer.

Rangers, SEALs, Raiders: Marines resurrect historic name

Marine Raiders WWII Guadalcanal

During World War II, the Raiders were organized in response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to have a commando-style force that could conduct amphibious raids and operate behind enemy lines. Raider commanders studied unconventional warfare tactics, including Chinese guerrillas, and were given their pick of men and equipment, according to Marine historians.

Raider units were credited with beating larger Japanese forces on difficult terrain in the Pacific and they participated in key battles including Guadalcanal and Bougainville. They were disbanded toward the end of the war and the Raider name hasn’t been used in an official capacity since, said Capt. Barry Morris, a U.S. Marines spokesman.

“What the name ‘Raider’ does, it harkens back to the legacy that the Marine Corps has latched onto and has drawn a lot from, both in an esoteric and practical sense,” Connable said. “It is a remarkable legacy.”

Article:  Rangers, SEALs, Raiders: Marines resurrect historic name

By: Associated Press | Jun 19, 2015 |

July Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on June 17, 2015 with 0 Comments
July Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home | Scottsdale Real Estate

July Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home | Scottsdale Real Estate

July Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home | Scottsdale Real Estate

July is a great time to tackle outdoor chores, like pepping up that curb appeal before the Fourth, and to lighten up your home, from clutter to energy bills. With Independence Day right around the corner here in the States, it’s also a great time to show some patriotic spirit and give back to your community by supporting local businesses or donating items to charity. Here are 12 to-dos to consider putting on your list this month.

1. Keep tabs on irrigation systems and water usage. Make sure your prized blooms don’t wilt in the heat by checking your irrigation system regularly. If your area has limits on water usage, be sure to set your timer accordingly.

2. Extend the life of your driveway and paths. Attend to small cracks and chips before they have a chance to grow.

3. If you live in the U.S., honor Independence Day with Americana, folk art and locally sourced goods. As you are out shopping this month, make a point of seeking out goods made in the USA. From vintage folk art at a summer fair to locally grown tomatoes, there are lots of things you can buy to support local businesses and craftspeople.

4. Start a garden journal. If you don’t already keep one, consider beginning a dedicated garden journal. Filled with your notes on what you planted and how each plant fared, this little notebook will be worth its weight in gold when planting time comes again.

5. Donate extra produce to a local food pantry. Wondering what to do with that bumper crop of zucchini or tomatoes, once your neighbors and friends have had their fill? Ample Harvest is a nonprofit organization, helps link gardeners with local food pantries to feed those who are struggling. Check the group’s web site to find a local food pantry that will accept your garden surplus.

6. Increase shade in the garden. Cool off and spend more time outside comfortably with the addition of an umbrella, outdoor drapes or a shade canopy. If you have young children, consider setting up an extra umbrella or tent over their sandbox or favorite play area to avoid sunburns.

7. Cut summer energy costs. Keep window shades and curtains tightly drawn during the day to maintain a cooler temperature indoors — exposed windows will heat up your home like a greenhouse. Be sure all window air conditioning units are tightly fitted, with no cold air escaping. For those with central air, setting your thermostat to a higher temperature while you are out during the day will help keep costs down.

8. Go on a clutter-busting spree. Summer is a great time to pare down belongings. Try setting a timer for 15 minutes and see how many things you can get rid of … and if that felt too easy, do it again!

9. Paint something white. Evoke the whitewashed ease of a summer cottage or beach house with a coat of crisp white paint. Paint flea market furniture, old hand-me-downs or (for the brave) the walls and floor.

10. Clean fans and filters. Keep your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and air conditioning units running efficiently by cleaning and replacing filters regularly.

11. Wash windows inside and out. Let that summer sunshine in by giving windows a quick rinse with glass cleaner or a vinegar solution, then squeegee them dry. If you want to avoid using a ladder outside, reach exterior windows with a window-washing hose attachment or telescoping window washer.

12.Boost your home’s Fourth of July curb appeal. Whether or not your house is on the parade route, it feels good to freshen up porch plantings, trim hedges and hang those flags.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes team at 480-595-6412

$54 million VA spent on prosthetics in $24,999 payments | Fraud?

Posted by on June 16, 2015 with 0 Comments

$54 million VA spent on prosthetics in $24,999 payments could not help but catch the attention of the top procurement official at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

$54 million VA spent on prosthetics

VA Healthcare Fraud

$54 million VA spent on prosthetics in $24,999 payments – Fraud?

Employees in the purchasing department of a VA hospital in the Bronx, N.Y., had used government purchase cards like credit cards at least 2,000 times to buy prosthetic legs and arms for veterans.

Each time they swiped the cards, it was for $24,999. That was precisely one dollar below VA’s charging limit for purchase cards.

When word reached Congress about the $54,435,743 worth of prosthetics bought under such odd circumstances over two years — the subject of an inspector general investigation announced Monday — lawmakers demanded details. But they were told there was no documentation.

VA officials had prepared to tell Congress that the records had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, according to previously undisclosed records, until a senior adviser in the Secretary’s office pointed out that the timing was wrong and the excuse would not hold up.

$54 million VA spent on prosthetics

US Department of Veterans Affairs

The Bronx case was one of several acquisition practices Jan R. Frye described in an internal memo to Secretary Robert McDonald that accused the VA of mismanaging how its buys medical care and supplies for veterans.

Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, described a culture of “lawlessness and chaos” at the Veterans Health Administration, the massive health-care system for 8.7 million veterans. He said the agency has been spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal contracting rules to pay for medical care and supplies, wasting taxpayer money and putting veterans at risk.

Purchase cards are an appropriate way to acquire supplies or medical care that costs up to $3,000, Frye testified at a House hearing in May. But above that limit, the cards can be used for payment only if there is a certified invoice linked to a properly awarded contract. He said he suspected that the thousands of prosthetics put on cards in $24,999 increments was a sign that contracting staff was trying to get around writing contracts.

The Bronx case tipped Frye off to a wider use of purchase cards he said run afoul of federal rules. During an 18-month period that ended last year, he documented that up to $1.2 billion in prosthetics were bought with cards and without contracts, he testified.

Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin, responding to a request from Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), a Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is now looking into the prosthetics purchases as part of a wide-ranging review of Frye’s allegations. McDonald, after reading the 35-page memo, referred the contents to the agency’s watchdog.

VA officials had received an inquiry from Congress in September 2012 about the Bronx payments, but a letter signed by former secretary Eric Shinseki did not go out until July 2013. The agency had prepared to say that the records had been transferred to VA’s medical center in Manhattan, where they were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy, documents obtained by The Post show.

But in reviewing the claim that the records had been destroyed, a senior adviser in Shinseki’s office was skeptical. “Gemma — this isn’t going to work,” the adviser wrote in an e-mail obtained by The Post.

“The [congressman’s] letter was dated 26 Sept and the storm was 28 October. Yet we talk about visits in December 2012 and again in January. Not clear why we didn’t figure out in December that we lost the records and had to go back in January,” he wrote in April 2013.

“This is not cleared.”

Rice said in a statement Monday, “The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy was devastating and far-reaching, but the claim that all of these documents were destroyed strikes me as all too convenient and must be substantiated. We need to know exactly what happened to the documents, how and why this money was spent without written contracts, and who is accountable.”

The letter that finally went to Congress, signed by Shinseki, said simply:

“No contract files exist” and “there is no evidence of full and open competition” for the prosthetics bought in the Bronx.
Article by The Washington Post $54 million VA spent on prosthetics:



7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266 | For Sale

Posted by on June 13, 2015 with 0 Comments

7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266 – It’s all here for luxury living in north Scottsdale. Beautifully appointed Evening Star villa located in the guard gated community of Winfield. It’s on the Carefree side of Scottsdale.

7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266

Street View of Front at Twilight

This home is highly upgraded with a spacious kitchen for the discerning cook that has granite countertops, custom back-splash, breakfast bar, a large eating area, and stainless steel appliances, including a 30 bottle wine chiller. Custom stone-faced media center with a gas fireplace highlights the family room on the media center wall.

This home is decorated in neutral colors with custom window treatments throughout. It features a large master bedroom suite, luxurious master bathroom with separate shower, jetted tub and a large walk-in closet.

Other rooms include a formal dining area, guest bedroom, a second upgraded bathroom and study that complete the interior of this lovely home. 


7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266

Kitchen area with all the amenities.

The outside has access that’s just off the kitchen dining, and Master Suite. It features a spool (combination small pool and spa) BBQ, fireplace, covered patio, a mountain view to the east, flagstone patio, and a well appointed, and manicured backyard landscape. This home is move-in ready.

7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266


  • Lot: 8,807 sqft
  • Townhouse
  • Built in 2000
7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266

Family room features the media center with fireplace

Home Features

  • Barbecue
  • Ceiling Fan
  • Controlled Access
  • Doorman
  • Fireplace
  • Flooring: Carpet, Tile
  • Hot Tub/Spa
  • Jetted Tub
  • Parking: Garage – Attached, 2 spaces
  • Patio
  • Skylight
  • Tennis Court

Winfield Community Features

Winfield is a guard gated community with a 13,500 square foot community center plus an activity center.

Winfield Communities Amenities include:

7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266

Winfield Community Pool has beach entry and lap lanes

Olympic size beach entry pool
Fitness Center
Aerobics room
Social programs
Steam rooms
Men & Women’s locker rooms
Standing Rock Cafe
Eight lighted Tennis Courts w/2 clay courts
Tennis pro
Fitness Instructor
Meeting rooms
Media and billiard room
Ping Pong
Patio w/fireplaces and BBQ’s
Eight miles of hiking trails
and more.

This home is offered by the Luxury Valley Homes Team, Scottsdale Arizona Real Estate.

Scottsdale real estate inventories are currently lower than normal.

Article: 7348 E Crimson Sky Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85266


To Dos: Your June Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

Posted by on June 8, 2015 with 0 Comments
To Dos: Your June Home Checklist

To Dos: Your June Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

To-Dos: Your June Home Checklist | Scottsdale Real Estate

With the start of summer (and the end of school) this month, June is the perfect time to prep your house and yard for a season of relaxation and fun. And if you’ve fallen behind in your house chores, don’t worry — you can use this month to catch up, too.

Give your kitchen a summer refresh. Pull out the tools you use more in summer (hello, ice cream maker!) and put them in easier-to-reach places. Clear the counters to make room for fresh farm-stand produce, and declutter the cupboards and pantry.

Catch up on home maintenance. No one is perfect! If you’ve fallen behind on some home maintenance tasks, use the longer days and pleasant weather to your advantage and tackle a few projects you might have missed (like cleaning out your garage). Scan past months’ to-do lists for ideas.

Use your shed for more than junk. Once your garage or garden shed is cleaned out, put it to work as a potting shed, an art studio or a workshop. It’s more likely to stay clutter free if you’re using the space.

Ready the guestroom. Expecting overnight guests this summer? Prepare before they arrive, and you can avoid last-minute stress. Check that you have fresh sheets and towels, a bedside lamp, extra pillows and blankets, and a place to set their luggage.

Prep for summer fetes. Having some party staples (and ready-to-go gifts) on hand makes a month of graduations, celebrations and birthdays easier to handle. If you’re planning to host any parties this month, stock up on beverages, fuel for your grill and frozen party snacks now.

Clean out kids’ rooms and store memorabilia. Sort through kids’ art and school projects that come home at the end of the year and pick out a few special pieces to keep. Clean out bedrooms and playrooms, donating toys they have grown out of and putting summer favorites in an easy-to-grab spot.

Keep a handle on collections. Love hitting flea markets, yard sales and antiques fairs in summer? Whether you collect vintage kitchen tools or antique quilts, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Keep your collection all in one place, and be mindful of what will fit in your home comfortably before adding more pieces. If you don’t really need more (but love the thrill of the hunt), consider selling a few of your least favorite pieces to make room for new acquisitions.

Assess games and gear. Pull out the lawn games, beach toys and board games so they’re ready for enjoying during summer downtime. But be sure to peek inside those boxes. If the Monopoly money has gone missing, or you’re short on chips in the poker set, replenish or replace them. And if you never use that croquet set, give it away or sell it at your next yard sale.

Have dinner outdoors. Longer light in the evenings and pleasant weather make for perfect conditions for dining alfresco. Even a simple weeknight dinner feels special when enjoyed outside! If you want to make your outdoor dining area feel extra special, string up cafe lights overhead and line the center of the table with candles.

Brought to you by the Luxury Valley Homes team at 480-595-6412

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