Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Little Late, I Know...Meaning of Twelve Days of Christmas


Well, I know that Christmas is over (regrettably) and the New Year is approaching, but I still feel in the Christmas spirit (probably because I still have all my decorations up...I know, I know...it's bad luck to have them up after the New Year, or so my Gran would say, but I just can't seem to take them down...they make the home feel so cozy and warm and I just love my Snowflake Tree!)...anyways, I've digressed...

Before Christmas my grandmother sent me an e-mail with the true meaning to the Twelve Days of Christmas song. At the time, I thought, oh this is interesting and would be a great thing to write about...but then there were presents to wrap, parties to throw, Christmas lights to see and cookies to make...so I'm a little late.

So you've probably wondered what maids a milking, lords a leaping and french hens have to do with Christmas? I know that I've always thought it a little strange, but there's actually a lot of history and meaning behind the song. You see, in England from 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith openly. So, in order to teach the young Catholic children the true meaning of Christmas, someone wrote this song. Only the church members knew what the partridge in the pear tree, five golden rings or any of the other elements really stood for.

Here are the real meanings:

Partridge in a Pear Tree is Jesus Christ

Two Turtle Doves are the Old and New Testaments

Three French Hens stand for Faith, Hope and Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Four Calling Birds are the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Five Golden Rings recalled the Torah or the Law, which are the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

Six Geese A-Laying stands for the six days of Creation (Genesis 1)

Seven Swans a Swimming represents the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy (Romans 12:6-8)

Eight Maids a Milking are the Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) *(See the bottom of the post for these)

Nine Ladies Dancing are the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control (Galatians 5:22)

Ten Lords a Leaping are the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) *(See the bottom of the post for these)

Eleven Pipers Piping stands for the eleven faithful disciples: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James (Does not include Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus)

Twelve Drummers Drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed *(See the bottom of the post for these)


**Eight Beatitudes:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit
2. Blessed are those who mourn
3. Blessed are the meek
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
5. Blessed are the mercifun
6. Blessed are the pure in heart
7. Blessed are the peacemakers
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake

**Ten Commandments:
1. You shall have no other gods before me
2. Do not make an idol
3. Do not take God's name in vain
4. Remember the Sabbath Day
5. Honor your father and mother
6. Do not murder
7. Do not commit adultery
8. Do not steal
9. Do not bear false witness
10. Do not covet

**Twelve Points of Belief in Apostles' Creed:
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell (the grave).
5. On the third day, he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
7. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
8. the holy Catholic church,
9. the communion of Saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and life everlasting.


Did you have any idea that that one little song could have so much meaning to it? It teaches a lot about the Christian faith and I'm sure helped the young children remember these key points. I hope everyone had a wonderful, healthy and happy Christmas with their family and friends. And I want to wish everyone a prosperous and healthy 2009.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update on Scam Alert: Renter's Beware!

Just wanted to quickly fill you in on everything that has happened since I last posted about the renter's scam alert. My husband decided to respond to the Craig's List ad pretending to be interested in renting the home (our listing). He was e-mailed a response along with a renter's application that he was supposed to fill out and return. Well, being the computer genius that my hubby is, he built a computer program where when the spammer clicked on a link it would log his computer's IP address and we could use that to determine where this crook is located.

Matt (the hubby) replied to the scammer and told him his application was attached in the link. Of course, the greedy, up-to-no-good person clicked on the link--the computer captured their IP address and my husband had what he needed. We found out that the person is in Africa, Nigeria to be exact; which makes us feel a little better that they are so far away.

The best part was after the scammer clicked on the link, the following message was sent to them:

"This is your IP address: _______________. We know you have been trying to scam our listing at: ___________. We have logged your IP address and determining your location as we speak. The authorities have been notified and will be looking for you. MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

I thought this was too funny and hopefully scared them into not doing this anymore. We were able to get Craig's List to remove their first ad, but it didn't stop them from posting a second ad; we've had Craig's List remove that ad too. Matt used the IP address to find out who their Internet service provider is and he's going to inform them of what this person is up to.

Unfortunately, we received a call from a woman interested in renting the property; she made the mistake of e-mailing the scammer and sending him the filled out rent application. Thankfully she had not yet sent him money, but she had been asked to send money through Western Union. Before she sent the money, she drove to the property, saw our sign and called us up. I feel so bad for her, because although the scammer did not ask for her social security number, they did ask for a great deal of information. Matt told her to watch her credit reports carefully to make sure no new credit cards were opened in her name and things like that. I really hope nothing bad happens to this lady because of this.

So, please please be careful out there. People are getting desperate to make money and will try to pull just about anything. Be very wary of who you give your personal information to. And be extremely careful when sending money; especially through Western Union which is what most scammers use.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Macy's Pink Pig


The Macy's Pink Pig ride is a fun thing to take your kids to during the holiday season. It's a long time Christmas tradition for Atlanta which got its start in 1953 as a children's ride through Rich's toy department. Children could ride Priscilla the pig for only $.25; today the ride costs $3.00 per child or you can print a 2-for-1 coupon on the Website: http://www.macys.com/campaign/pinkpig/index.jsp

Due to rising popularity, another pig was later added in the mid 1960s and the two were relocated to circle the Rich's Great Tree on the roof. The ride was briefly part of the Atlanta History Center's Candlelight Tours' display during the 1990s and was used by Egleston Children's Hospital's Festival of Trees from 1996 until 2003.

In 2003 the Pink Pig ride returned to Atlanta's Macy's at Lenox Square Mall. The ride today occupies a 1950s themed tent on the upper level parking deck. The ride travels through a storybook of the original Priscilla and all her companions.

Kids of all ages enjoy this long held Atlantan tradition and at the inexpensive fare of $3.00 per person, it is a cheap way to create a wonderful holiday memory. You even get an "I Rode the Pink Pig" sticker.

It's open from now until January 4th and the operating hours vary depending on the day. For more detailed information, please visit the Website: http://www.macys.com/campaign/pinkpig/index.jsp and click on the INFO tab.

Also, a portion of the proceeds are donated to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.


*The information in this post, along with the picture was obtained from http://www.macys.com/campaign/pinkpig/index.jsp

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Punch You Should Try...


Apple Pie Punch

I found this recipe on the Internet and tried it out at our annual Christmas Party...the consensus is that it's a winner; you should try it too. It's very simple, tastes delicious and looks festive.

To serve 12 people:

4 C. apple juice or cider (I used apple juice)

8 ounces Spiced Rum (Captain Morgan)

4 ounces cinnamon schnapps (we couldn't find plain cinnamon schnapps, so we used Goldschlager)

*Mix the ingredients together, pour into punch bowl with ice, garnish with chopped red apples

All our guests really enjoyed this drink...I even had to make a second batch!

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Scam Alert! Renters Beware...


The other day, my husband and I were listening to Clark Howard on the radio while driving home from Florida. He was talking about the latest scam affecting people looking for a home to rent. Here's how it works: due to the large amount of homes currently bank-owned or vacant, people are now breaking into those homes, changing the locks and acting as landlord's...they put an ad in the paper or Craig's List advertising the home for rent. Then when the person meets them to rent the home, the "landlord" hands them the new set of keys and collect first and last month's rent, as well as a security deposit. Afterwards, they hit the road, never to be seen again....The people move into the home, thinking they are entitled to rent it...and when the bank gets around to checking on the property, the renters find out they have been scammed.

Well, the story gets better...the next day after hearing this story my husband received a phone call from a man that had seen a rent ad in Craig's List on one our listings (this listing happens to be vacant because the owners have relocated and are trying to sell). Matt (the hubby) told him that he was not aware of the property being for rent, just for sale. Evidently, some crooked person decided to try to rent our listing--they created a fake e-mail address using the owner's name and they copied our listing pictures and description of the property into their rent ad. The man interested in renting the property thought something was fishy after e-mailing the man back and forth, so he drove to the home to look it over...and saw our "For Sale" sign in the yard. That's when he decided to call Matt and discuss it with him.


I'm so glad that the man did not fall for the scam...and that he called and told us about it! We have since sent Craig's List a scam alert on the ad and they have removed it. Please, be careful if you are renting a property. Make sure you know where the supposed landlord's office is and you may even want to take down their license plate number.


To read the article from Clark Howard's Website and also get tips on renting a property, please click on the link: http://clarkhoward.com/liveweb/shownotes/category/4/20/


If you are interested in purchasing a home, please contact me at: anne@therainsteam.com. I would be happy to help you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recently REDUCED Property on 3 Private Acres in Covington...



This property, located at 90 Laurie Lane in Covington was recently reduced by $9,000 and is priced to sell at $129,900. For additional photos and more information, please view: http://www.90laurielane.com/


The home is on 3 private acres and features professional landscaping. Three outbuildings offer lots of additional storage. The property also backs up to 826+ acres of county land for plenty of privacy.


Inside, the home has been renovated and includes a stone fireplace in the family room. The large kitchen opens onto the family room. The master bedroom is complete with a large closet and a garden tub.


Please contact me at 404.357.2231 or anne@therainsteam.com to show this property.

Savannah Collection...


Downtown



Flags



Black & White Stairs

©2008 Anne Rains Photography

Last weekend I had a photography show in Savannah, Georgia. It was for the arts and crafts festival on River Street. I sold some photos and met a lot of really nice people, so I'm really glad that I went. I was also able to take a few photos while there as well. I've included three on this post, but the others are also on my Photography blog. You can check them out at: http://annerains.blogspot.com. Please take a look at them; I welcome any feedback you may have!

These prints, as well as any of the others on my photography blog are available for purchase; I have a variety of sizes and they can be matted as well. To order, simply e-mail me at annerains@gmail.com.
Have a wonderful day! Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Photography Business!




Well, I thought I should let everyone know that I've started a side business selling my photography. Here are just a few of the ones I have so far. The top picture is my favorite! It was taken on my honeymoon to Charleston, SC. This particular photo was taken at Middleton Plantation, an absolutely beautiful place--we got lucky that the azaleas were at the height of their season when we visited. I just love all the different colors in this photo.

I took the next photo on our recent trip to Negril, Jamaica where we stayed at the Couples Swept Away all-inclusive resort. The picture of the caves was taken while on a catamaran cruise; it was so beautiful there! If I wasn't such a chicken I could have swam in the caves...but being a little afraid of creatures such as sharks and jelly fish I chose to look at them from the boat!

The last photo was taken while I was on my three week trip to Australia for Study Abroad. I took this cute little guy's photo at one of the zoos we visited on the Gold Coast. He posed just perfectly for me! Too cute!! By the way, koalas are as cuddly as they look; I got to hold one and he just curled right up to me and held on :-)

If you would like to look at my other photos please visit my photography blog at: http://annerains.blogspot.com/

Thanks for taking a look! Have a wonderful day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy belated Thanksgiving!



I hope everyone had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving! I completely stuffed myself so full of turkey and dressing and sweet pototoes and chocolate chip cookies...and the list could go on and on!! I look forward to the Thanksgiving meal every year; I think it's the anticipation of the turkey and the abundance of food that makes the meal taste so wonderful. And being surrounded by family and friends is always great too.

Okay, so I would like to hear about any traditions you may have when celebrating Thanksgiving. For example, my dad's family almost always has Thanksgiving at my Uncle's home...we call it the Farm because there are beautiful horses (as in the picture above) and he has lots of land...we spend Thanksgiving hunting, eating, talking and playing cards. For me, his home just feels like Thanksgiving--his home is beautiful and so cozy and the woods and pastures surrounding it are so colorful during Fall.

Another tradition we have, is that we always decorate my grandparent's Christmas tree on Thanksgiving day. I always have fun putting the ornaments on this tree because throught the years they have accumulated so many! Some of their ornaments are over 50 years old...so much history and memories!

Now it's your turn, please share a story or tradition you have for Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pumpkin Roll-Up Cake...


Well, it's been a very long time since my last post!! There's no excuse except that I've been out of town and on the road for the past couple of weeks...last week I was in Jamaica for my belated Honeymoon trip. If you have never been to Jamaica, you should really go sometime! November is actually a really great time to go too...not too crowded and plenty warm enough. We stayed at the Couples Swept Away all-inclusive resort in Negril. I highly recommend this place...the food was excellent, the drinks were good and the beach was beautiful. The staff are so friendly and provide such a high level of service.

We got home late Thursday night, did laundry, re-packed and headed out Friday morning for the National Association of Realtors conference in Orlando, FL. After spending a few days there, we drove on down to Miami and will be here until Friday morning because Matt is teaching a couple of classes here this week.

Anyways, this Pumpkin Roll-Up Cake (courtesy of my favorite, Paula Deen, who else?!) is simply delicious and a definite crowd pleaser. I encourage everyone to make this delectable treat for Thanksgiving!! It is elegant and impressive looking and very tasty. The cream filling has toffee bits and rum in it and makes each slice of cake so pretty to look at.

Here's the Recipe, Bon Appetit!!

Ingredients:

CAKE:

3/4 C. cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
6 lg. eggs, separated
1/3 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. light brown sugar, packed
2/3 C. canned pumpkin, packed
1/8 tsp. salt
powdered sugar

FILLING:

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 Tbsp. dark rum
1 C. whipping cream, chilled
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
6 Tbsp. plus 1/2 C. English toffee pieces for garnish
Additional powdered sugar for garnish
1 1/2 C. caramel sauce, warmed for garnish (such as hot sundae topping)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. Line a 15" by 10" by 1" baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray
3. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice into a small bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until very thick.
5. Add the pumpkin to the egg mixture and combine at a low speed until incorporated.
6. Add the dry ingredients and beat at a low speed until mixed.
7. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry.
8. Fold into the cake batter, stirring with a spatula, until most of the white streaks are gone.
9. Spread the batter onto a baking sheet and smooth out. Transfer baking sheet to the oven and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 15 to 18 minutes.
10. While the cake is hot, dust generously with powdered sugar. Loosen the edges and turn the cake out onto a kitchen towel. Fold the towel over the edge of the cake and roll up. Cool completely, edge down, for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
11.For the filling: Soften the gelatin in the rum. Stir over low heat until the gelatin dissolves. Cool. Beat the chilled whipping cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl until peaks form. Fold in the gelatin and 6 tablespoons English toffee pieces.
12. To assemble, unroll the cake and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of English toffee pieces. Spread the filling over the toffee. Start at 1 long side of the cake roll and, using the towel as an aid, roll up the cake to encase the filling. Place the cake, seam-side down, on a platter.
13. Trim the ends of the cake at a slight diagonal. Dust the cake with powdered sugar. Spoon some warm caramel sauce and the remaining toffee chips over the top of the cake. To serve, use a serrated knife to cut the cake crosswise into 1-inch thick slices. Drizzle more sauce on each slice and serve.

ENJOY!

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Makes a Home Green?


I apologize for not posting in so long; I've just been very busy lately and haven't had the time, but I'm back now. Today, I'm talking about what makes a home green? You hear this term all the time now and with global warming and all that, it's important that people become more knowledgeable about taking care of the environment and conserving energy. Here's a quick look at what defines a home as "GREEN."

Government statistics tell us that American houses waste more than $300 billion annually due to inefficient energy use. Both residential and commercial buildings have a huge impact on the environment. In fact, in the U.S. they account for greater than 1/3 of the nation's total energy use, 68 % of electricity consumption, 38 % of carbon dioxide emissions and 12 % of water use. It is important that people start making their homes more green and less wasteful; it's better for both the environment and our wallets.

Here's what you need to make your home green:

1. Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, lighting and appliances
*You should look for products that have earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star program label
*Everything from appliances and lighting to complete homes can be given this label if they met certain requirements
**For a home to qualify, it must 15 percent or greater more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code and its features must be at least 20 to 30 % more efficient than standard homes.

2. New home construction: preserve the natural environment as much as possible, reduce erosion and protect trees, use recyclable and renewable materials, practice waste reduction techniques

3. Current homeowners can do many things to make their home more green:
*Caulk and weather-strip windows
*Replace light bulbs with long-lasting energy-efficient ones
*Insulate their attic
*Install a programmable thermostat
*Use low-emission carpets, stains and paints
*Capture rainwater in holding tanks
*Install solar panels
*Use smart irrigation systems
*Use reclaimed wood on countertops and other furniture

People who want to sell their home and make it more attractive to buyers who want to "Go Green" can get an energy audit performed on their home. The audit will show a home's energy usage and will give recommendations to the homeowner for making their home more environmentally-friendly. This can be a major selling point if the home gets a good score or if the homeowners make the changes to make it more "green."

For more information on making your home more environmentally-friendly, please check out U.S Green Building Council, Energy Star, Home Energy Rating System and the Environmental Protection Agency.


*This information was obtained from the September/October issue of Georgia Realtor magazine.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Perfect Double Chocolate Chip Cookie


We are eating dinner with some friends of ours tonight and I'm bringing the dessert. I decided that a really yummy chocolate chip cookie would be perfect. In the past I've sometimes had trouble with my cookies turning out too flat, which I've determined was probably from letting the butter sit out too long before starting or from beating the batter too much. I decided to be very careful when making these...and I'm thrilled with the way they turned out! The are soft and chewy and taste absolutely scrumptious!

I love making cookies because they are easy to do, don't require too much time and they yield so many! This recipe made 3 1/2 dozen! Plenty of cookies for everyone!

Here's the recipe, I got it from The Great American Cookie Cookbook:

Ingredients:

1 C. (2 sticks) butter (no substitutes)
1/4 C. packed light brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. light corn syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. Hershey's cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pckg. (10-12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degree F
2. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Add corn syrup, egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and almost set. Cool slightly and remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Cookies will be softer on the second day.

*I found that the perfect time for my cookies was 7 minutes and 25 seconds, but I have a gas oven and it tends to cook fast. So, you'll want to play around with your oven to find the perfect time for you.

Try these; they really are delicious!! Enjoy!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Weekend Community Events around Gwinnett


Okay ya'll, I thought I would share some upcoming events around Gwinnett county this weekend...there are some pretty interesting things coming up, here goes:


TODAY (Friday):


*Live and Silent Auction sponsored by the Peachtree Ridge Foundation:

7 p.m. at Magnolia Hall, 2040 Sever Rd in Lawrenceville.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 678.957.3166


*Blood Drive hosted by LifeSouth Country in the bloodmobile:

11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Stevi B's at 1950 Buford Mill Dr in Buford

Please note: donors must be at least 110 pounds, have photo ID and be at least 17 years old

You can call 770.538.0500 for more information


SATURDAY:


*"FunFest for Kids" hosted by the Ladies and Men Gwinnett Shrine Clubs:

Charity event including pony rides, food, silent auction

Proceeds raise money for children with burn injuries and other orthopedic needs

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dacula Ingles, located off Georgia Highway 369


*Fourth Annual Hot Tamale Chilli Cook-Off hosted by Grayson Cluster Schools Foundation and the PTA:

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Grayson City Park

You can obtain further information by calling 678.524.9927 or visiting http://www.graysonfoundation.org/


*Fourth Annual Rice Festival:

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Carter Oaks Shopping Center on 5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd in Norcross

For more information, please call 770.270.0663


*17th Year of Voice in the Wind--American Indian Festival:

10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Held at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds

Admission: 13 years and older--$7, chidren ages 5 to 12--$4, and those under 5 are free

Further information can be obtained from http://www.vitwind.com/ or call 770.791.0066


SUNDAY:


*Come Alive Ministries of Barrow County:

Participating in National Life Chain's one hour of prayer

1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 38 S. Broad St in Winder

Please call 770.867.3000 for more information



Okay so that's what's going on in Gwinnett county this weekend...a lot of festivals and outdoors activities--great for the kids! I hope everyone has a safe and fun weekend.


And don't forget about the tax-free weekend on energy and water-efficient products...if you missed my post from yesterday, feel free to check it out now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Georgia Tax-Free Weekend on Energy-Efficient Products


This weekend, beginning today (Thursday, October 2) through Sunday, October 5th is a tax-free holiday for Georgia when you purchase water-efficient and energy-efficient products. Consumers can buy either WaterSense products, such as toilests, faucets and showerheads, or Energy Star products such as fluorescent light bulbs, dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, refrigerators, washing machines and programmable thermostats, completely tax-free. The only conditions to obtain the products without tax are they must not be for commercial use or greater than $1,500.


The WaterSense certification is given to products that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standards for water efficiency and performance criteria. On average, products with the WaterSense label use 20 percent less water than products without the label. The Energy Star program created by the U.S. Department of Energy is similar.


Citizens of Gwinnett county who live in single-family residences built prior to 1993 can save even more money when they replace their toilets with more energy-efficient ones, because Gwinnett is participating in the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District's residential toilet rebate program. Under this program, consumers who fit the qualifications of the program can earn a $100 credit on their water bill.


I believe that people in Georgia should take this opportunity to "Go Green" by changing out some of your less energy and water-efficient appliances and toilets in your home. Now's the time to buy all those light bulbs that last so long and save so much energy. It's important that we start taking care of our environment and conserving both energy and water; here's a perfect chance to save some money while we do it. I'm "Going Green," are YOU?



*The information in this post came from the October 1st Gwinnett Daily Post. If you would like further information on this tax-free weekend, please visit www.dor.ga.gov/salestax/holiday/index.aspx

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bring on the Fall Weather...

Here I am at the kitchen table with my cup of coffee, enjoying the nice breeze coming through the open windows. I think fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year and I'm anxiously awaiting the change of the leaves and the crisp, cool weather...always a wonderful change from the ridiculous Georgia heat! This summer has been one of the hottest yet, I do believe.


It is days like today though that I enjoy and appreciate the beautiful earth that God made for us. The clear blue skies and the trees slowly changing to magnificent shades of yellow, orange and red...it is simply stunning. I find it so relaxing and calming to hear the rustling leaves as the wind blows through. I hope it is as beautiful a day for you, wherever you are, as it is for me; now I guess I really should get back to work though...

I will leave you with the following and also a few pictures I've taken recently:

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." Psalm 9: 1-2


One of two very large oaks we have on our property.
My hydrangeas that I love so much...they were blue at the beginning of the season, anyone know why they turned green?

Beautiful dahlia...isn't the color so unique and wonderful??

Friday, September 26, 2008

$7500 Tax Credit for First Time Homebuyers

First-time home buyers are now eligible to receive a tax credit of up to $7,500 when buying a home sometime within April 9, 2008 and June 30, 2009. Here are the specifics:
1. First-time Home Buyer is: A buyer who has not owned a principal residence in the prior 3 years of purchase. For married couples, this rule applies to both the buyer and their spouse. It is okay if you already own rental property or a vacation home, as long as it is not your primary residence.
2. Types of Homes that Qualify: As long as the home will be used as a primary residence, almost any type of home will qualify; this includes: single-family detached homes, townhomes, condominiums, manufactured/mobile homes and houseboats.
3. Income Restraints: First-time home buyers are eligible for the full tax credit as long as their income is less than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 or less for married couples. A partial tax credit may be available for people with an income greater than the limit, for more information on this please visit: www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com.
4. Payback Provisions: The tax credit is essentially a zero-interest loan and must be paid back over the following 15 years or when they sell the home, whichever comes first. However, the homeowner does not begin making payments until two years after they have bought the home. Say they bought the home in 2008, then the first $500 payment would be due in 2010. If the homeowner sells the home before all the payments have been made, the rest of the credit would be paid back from the profit of the sale. If there was a loss on the home, the remaining credit payback would be forgiven.
I hope this information has helped you better understand this first-time homebuyer program offered by the federal government. If you have any questions or would like to buy a home, especially in Walton, Barrow, or Gwinnett county, I hope you will contact me. I would love the opportunity to help you through the journey of purchasing your first home. With incredible amount of inventory for sale and the incentives the government is giving, now is the time to buy!
*The information for this post came from www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. Please reference that website for more in-depth information.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Attention Sellers: Open House Tips!

In order to have a successful open house, sellers need to make sure their house is looking its best and standing out from the rest. Here are 11 tips to help your house look attractive to potential buyers:

1. The Outside Must Shine: Curb appeal is so important when selling your home, because it's the first impression a potential buyer gets of your home--it is what makes them want to take a deeper look at the property. Some ways to increase your curb appeal are: mow the lawn, trim the bushes and put out fresh mulch in the flower beds. Also, spending a couple hundred dollars on fresh exterior paint can increase the sales price by thousands. Make sure the trim is touched up too.

2. The Inside Must Look New: Okay folks, paint is cheap, so if a room is looking dingy--go ahead and give it a fresh coat of paint.

3. Make Cosmetic Repairs: Windows that are cracked, holes in the walls and tiles that are chipped send the wrong message to buyers--they figure if there are several minor flaws they can see, then there must be more serious flaws that they can't see. You may tend to overlook these things on an everyday basis, but buyers tend to be very critical and will use the little things as reasons not to make an offer; your home will sell much faster if it's in tip-top shape.

4. Let in as Much Light as Possible: Turn on all the lights, you may even want to increase the wattage, even if it's in the middle of the day. Open all the curtains. Doing so will make your home feel warm, inviting and cheerful.

5. Get Rid of All the Clutter: I don't mean stash all your extra things in a closet--get it off the property! Potential buyers have the right to inspect every room, closet and storage space in the home...and you need to give off the impression that there's plenty of room for all of their things.

6. Set the Dinner Table as if You are Getting Ready for a Dinner Party: It's time to bring out the china, the best glasses and the candles--set the table as elegantly as possible. Help your potential buyers imagine what it would be like to live in this home--how easy and fun it would be to entertain here.

7. Kitchens and Bathrooms Must be Absolutely Spotless: Shelves and countertops should be well organized and clean. Assume that people will be looking through your drawers and medicine cabinet--if there is anything you don't want people to see, remove it from your home.

8. Remove Some of Your Possessions: Spaciousness is key--you want every room of your home to look open and roomy. To achieve this, remove extra pieces of furniture, especially big, bulky pieces. Take down some of the family photos. Make your home a blank canvas, allowing your potential buyer to picture how they would live there.

9. Put Your Pets Somewhere Else: Dogs especially can be a real problem--you don't want them barking when someone comes to look at the home, this could interfere with the buyers looking at your home. Also, don't just put them next door either--dogs can sense when strangers are around and they very well could start barking then too, you wouldn't want a potential buyer to be turned off by the possibility of a loud dog next door, do you?

10. Bad Smells Kill Deals: It is important to make sure your home is clean and odor free, smells that you probably don't even notice anymore will be noticed by visitors. Use air fresheners and carpet cleaners if need be to get rid of pet odors, urine on carpets, cigarette smoke, etc. Baking cookies or lighting cookie-scented candles can send an inviting aroma throughout the house.

11. Leave: As soon as your real estate agent arrives, (do you need an agent? how about contacting me?) you should pack the kids in the car and leave the premises. Potential buyers need the opportunity to freely walk through your home without you standing anxiously by.

Okay, now you know all the things you should do to get your home ready for an open house or to put it on the market. If you have questions, feel free to contact me today or write a comment below!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Fitness Center for Bethlehem

The Riverwalk YMCA in Bethlehem opened this past summer and is another great asset to the growing community of Bethlehem. It is part of the Riverwalk neighborhood and is a beautiful craftsman-style facility. The fitness center features a swimming pool, playground, 4 tennis courts, beach volleyball court, fitness classes and plenty of cardio and weight machines.

We are members there and really like it, especially because of the current competition they have going. During the month of September they have a football themed competition where teams of 4 people can do exercise for yardage...basically the team with the most touchdowns at the end of the month wins a prize. For example, if you spend 30 minutes doing cardio you get 5 yards and if you do 3 sets of 10 on eight circuit machines you receive 10 yards. I am ashamed to admit that I've never made exercising a priority in my life, but for the first time ever I've been motivated to go to the gym frequently....I kinda wish they would just keep extending the end of the competition...maybe a year long competition would be better?!

The staff members are always friendly and the equipment is nice and new. They offer plenty of different group exercise classes and also there is free childcare while you are exercising. All in all, it is a great place to workout...and yet another reason for you to contemplate a move to the Bethlehem area. If you are wanting to move to Bethlehem, Loganville, Athens or any other city within the Gwinnett, Walton and Barrow counties, please contact me today--I would love to help!

If you have any questions about the YMCA or real estate in general...you know what to do, comment below.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Just For Fun...Meet Jackson!

I figured since it was Friday I would do a more personal post and let ya'll meet my long-haired Chihuahua, Jackson. Isn't he a pretty dog? I think so! And smart too...let me tell you about some of his tricks. First, he can do all the normal things that most trained dogs can do, such as sit, come and lay down. But Jackson is a unique dog in that he can also do special tricks such as: dance, walk on his two hind legs, twirl, play dead and crawl like a soldier. He can also give a high five and shake your hand. Pretty special, huh?!

He's also a pretty good listener, now of course sometimes he has a mind of his own and just wants to do whatever he feels like, but for the most part he will do as he's told. When we moved into our new house I bought a leather sofa set and I decided he was not allowed on the couch...well I only had to tell him 2 times maybe to stay off the couch and he has not gotten on them since. Now that may not seem like something all that great, except that he knows the difference between the leather couch and the couch in our movie room...he knows he's allowed on that couch and also on the bed.

Now, he has his flaws for sure...I'm not at all saying he's perfect! For one, he is overly possessive and protective of me. So much so that he will bark and growl his head off around anyone new...he is not automatically friendly around people or other dogs. It is a bit of an embarrassment when people come over..and I'm always a little worried (okay a LOT worried) when small children and babies are around, because I'm terrified that he may bite them when they try to pet him. Another character flaw he has is that he is extremely aggressive towards large dogs--as in he runs up to them and tries to bite them and ferociously growls at them...I blame it in large part to the fact that as a puppy (before I got him) he was sat upon by a bulldog, but deep down I know it's my fault for not socializing him properly.

Well, now that you have met Jackson, my precious dog, I would like to meet yours! Do you have any funny or crazy pet stories to share with me? If so, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Harbins Park Coming in 2009!

Harbins Park to Open in 2009

The new Harbins Park is set to open Phase I in Spring of 2009. It is located at the intersection of Luke Edwards Road and Indian Shoals Road in Dacula, Georgia. Once complete it will be the largest park in Gwinnett County at over 1,900 acres! This tops the current largest in the Hog Mountain area, Little Mulberry Park, at only 890 acres and Tribble Mill Park in Grayson at 700 acres.

Phase I includes over 3 miles of multi-purpose trails and many more miles for mountain biking and horseback riding. It will also include restrooms, a playground, an open-space play area, a large pavilion and an equestrian-only parking lot.

Phase II will be completed at a later date and will include recreation fields for baseball and soccer; it will be used by the athletic program of the soon-to-be complete Archer High School.
It is a $3.8 million dollar project that is being paid for by the 2001 SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax). SPLOST is a one-cent sales tax that is used to fund improvements in the county.

This park will be a great asset to this area and as a nearby resident myself, I am looking forward to the park opening. If you are interested in purchasing a home convenient in location to this wonderful park, please contact me today!

******************************************************
UPDATE: 3/19/2009

Well, I'm very excited to share that Harbins Park is having their Grand Opening this Saturday, March 21st! I have enjoyed watching the progress of the park as it was being created and let me tell you, it's going to be a really great place to exercise and hang out!


A ribbon-cutting ceremony will officially open the park at 10 a.m. on Saturday and the celebration will last until around 2:00 p.m. Some of the free activities include: hay rides, crafts, pony rides, face painting and bike safety demonstrations. Also, people from local mountain biking and equestrian will be there to answer questions. A concession stand will be available for you to purchase food as well.

I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of this park, especially since it's so close to my home. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the Grand Opening because I'll be on a plane to Colorado to go skiing...but it's definitely something I'm going to check out first thing when I get back!

This would be an excellent family event to take the kids to and I believe the weather is supposed to be nice and warm on Saturday! Get out there and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!

Thank You For Reading!


If you are in the market to buy or sell your home in the Bethlehem or Dacula area, I would be happy to assist you! My passion is helping people find their dream home and stepping them through this exciting journey. I serve the Walton, Barrow and Gwinnett county areas. Call or text me today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First-Time Home Buyer Loan Program

As we all know, it is increasingly harder to obtain a loan on a home these days due to the amount of foreclosures that have occurred. Banks and mortgage companies are tightening their requirements and are hesitant to lend money--especially to first-time home buyers. This is especially difficult because many first-time home buyers don't have much money saved up yet or have perfect credit--the average age of a first-time home buyer is only about 26 years old. However, I have found a loan program that helps first-time home buyers, it is BB and T's Community Homeownership Incentive Program or CHIP. It is a loan program specially designed for first-time home buyers. Some of the benefits are: 1.) up to 97 per cent of financing available on various different property types including singled family homes, townhomes, condos and doublewide manufactured homes on permanent foundations and 2.) the private mortgage insurance is waived--over the long run that saves you a lot of money!!

If you don't have much money for a downpayment, have a lack of credit history and don't have an income that exceeds 80 per cent of your county median income, then this program may be right for you. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about this program and I will connect you with the loan officer that I work with at BB and T. Don't be discouraged if you are a first-time home buyer--there are still good programs available to you and I want to help you find them and your dream house!

Monday, September 15, 2008

5 Bedroom Home for Sale in Loganville





This spacious home located in Loganville, Georgia is 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths. It features a large rocking-chair front porch, 2 story great room with a stacked stone fireplace, elegant dining room with lots of trim detail and large open kitchen, complete with a breakfast area and built-in bookshelves. The screened-in porch overlooks the beautiful in-ground pool and the property backs up to 4+ acres of green space so you can enjoy your privacy.


The private master suite is located on the main floor and features a large master bath with a huge walk-in closet, garden tub and separate shower, and dual vanities. The other bedrooms are upstairs and include an over-sized teen or in-law suite complete with its own bath and an additional room attached.


For future expansion, the full basement is ready for finishing and includes two exterior entries. You don't want to miss this beautiful property; for further information, please check out www.1613WhiteOakCove.com








Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Little Vent About Taxis...

I have decided that taxis are a complete rip-off...let me explain why. We are here in Miami for Matt's technology course and we thought we would save money and just take a taxi places instead of renting a car, boy were we wrong! Our hotel is only 5 miles from the course location and the taxi fare is $20!! Does that sound ridiculous to you? It does to me. Yesterday after checking into our hotel we had to come to the course location for Matt to set-up and make sure everything works right...so $40+tip down the drain right there--you can understand why we stayed at the hotel and ordered in a pizza for dinner. Then we had to do the same thing again today...I think next time we come we will rent a car, that has got to be a more economical way to go. We would like to see some sights while here; however, we've been told the drive from our hotel (near the airport) to South Beach would be a roundtrip of around $70!! I guess sightseeing around Miami will have to wait until the next time we come...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Miami Bound!

Well, today is going to be a hectic day because tomorrow Matt and I leave for Miami!! He teaches a Real Estate Technology Specialist (RETS) seminar to real estate agents and the REALTOR Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches (RAMB) has asked him to teach his course to their agents. His seminar is 6 hours and teaches the most cutting-edge marketing tools for agent's to use when marketing their listings and themselves. Some of the tools taught are: creating picture and virtual tours, researching property information using GIS databases and how to capture satellite images and use them as listing pictures. The course also comes with the Real Estate Flash Drive which has over $1,500 worth of free software with programs essential to your business, including a full office productivity suite. If you are interested in taking his course sometime, please check out his Website: www.RealEstateTechnologyOnline.com

Monday, September 8, 2008

Signing Contracts is Always Fun!

Tonight Matt and I met our current buyer couple at Outback Steakhouse for a nice meal and to sign the latest revision of their contract and discuss the different tasks that need to be completed before closing happens later this month. It was a fun night for many reasons...for 1. we got some business accomplished--always a plus!, 2. we had a great time talking and getting to know our buyers even more and 3. I had the great advantage of not having to cook tonight...although, as most of you know, I really enjoy cooking--but it's always nice to have a night off now and again! Of course, I should have chosen my food more wisely--the cheesy bacon fries looked AMAZING and I've been craving them everytime I see a commercial for Outback, yep, you guessed it, I ordered them as my meal...I know that makes me sound like a pig for getting it as my entree; however, I did order the half portion (still HUGE) and only ate about half of that...still, my tummy is wishing I had just gotten a salad! Anyways, it was a fun night and we enjoyed taking our clients out to dinner! Only a few things have to be lined up and we'll be all set for our next closing...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Restaurant to Try...


Last night Matt and I our neighbor friends went to downtown Buford and tried out 37 Main. This was a neat restaurant with a cool atmosphere and a tapis-style menu. We arrived around 7:30 though and were a little disappointed that we were practically the only people there. However, we decided to stay and try it out and were not disappointed. The food was good--especially the Lobster Ravioli and the Olive Hummis Dip--you could tell the hummus was freshly made and the kalamata olives on the side with the crisp, lightly fried pita chips were great.


The drinks were also very good! I would recommend the colada martini...with coconut rum and pineapple flavors. Another great one was the chocolate martini--a combination of several chocolate liqueors and some cream. If you are more of a wine person, there were plenty of different kinds to choose from as well.


We could have stayed for the live band (which they have every Friday and Saturday night for a $5 per person cover) but we decided to go somewhere else...and headed to Atlanta to Lola's.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Calling All Buyers!!

As you all know, the real estate market today is a buyer's market--there are so many houses for sale these days that buyers have a huge selection of homes to pick from. And with so many foreclosures happening everyday, buyers have the opportunity to get a great deal.

I really enjoy working with buyers because I find it a lot of fun helping people find their dream home! It is so neat to walk through a house with someone and see them falling in love with it...and then they start talking about what they are going to do to make the home feel like their own--discussing paint colors, new floors and furniture. All of that is right up my alley because I enjoy decorating so I have a great time hearing the changes they would like to make.

Don't get me wrong, I like listing homes and helping people get theirs sold, but currently, the market is so flooded with homes for sale, that many sellers get so frustrated and don't have the patience needed to sell their home. With buyers the process is a bit more simple; in fact, the other day we showed a couple five or six homes and they narrowed it down to a top two--from there we put an offer in on their number one--it was accepted and now we have a closing coming up in a few weeks...it was quick and simple.

When we help people find their future home, we take many things into consideration--we calculate how far their work will be, show them where they will grocery shop, ask them if they like the school system, etc...the point is, we want you to like all aspects of your new home and the community it is in.

So, the question is...Are you ready to buy a home? If so, contact us today!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Barrow Crossing Development Coming Soon!


The much-needed Barrow Crossing development is set to be finished just around the corner, Spring 2009. This development will be conveniently located at the Highway 316 and Highway 81 intersection. Some of the larger stores include: Best Buy, Target, Publix, Belk, Michaels and Ross. It will also include several smaller shops and some restaurants too.

Currently, Bethlehem residents must travel to Winder or Loganville to grocery shop and further to shop at stores like Target and Best Buy.

Speaking as a resident of Bethlehem myself, I am really looking forward to not having to drive so far for groceries, but still live in a great location. I love that Bethlehem doesn't have much traffic and that I can jump on Highway 316 in a matter of minutes.

This new development is sure to impact property values (in a good way, of course)! So now is the best time to buy in Bethlehem. I really enjoy living in Bethlehem, not only do I have the benefit of living in a great neighborhood, but the "country" atmosphere is very relaxing...what I mean is that I love driving around and seeing farms and fields and so much green space.

Bethlehem is one of the areas that my husband and I focus on in our real estate business, so if you have an interest to buy a home in this area, please don't hesitate to contact us! We would love to show you around!! You can visit us at www.TheRainsTeam.com for further information.

*************************************************************************************
UPDATE: 3/6/2009

It is with great excitement that I come with an update on this new development!!

  • TARGET and BELK are now OPEN!!
  • Publix, Staples and PetSmart should all be opening soon
  • A stand-alone McDonald's is already open as well
  • Also, the Barrow Crossing development did not get the Best Buy after all; it was put at the new development in Loganville instead.
Here are a few pictures from driving there today:




Thank You for Reading!




If you are in the market to buy or sell your home in the Bethlehem or Dacula area, I would be happy to assist you! My passion is helping people find their dream home and stepping them through this exciting journey. I serve the Walton, Barrow and Gwinnett county areas. Call or text me today!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

4 Bedroom Home For Sale in Family-Friendly Community...


This spacious home in Bethlehem was recently reduced to $254,900! The community it's located in is perfect for a growing family or those who enjoy having amenities; the neighborhood includes a HomeOwner's Association, swimming pool, 2 lighted tennis courts, a walking trail, 2 fishing ponds and sidewalks.

The home itself is immaculate and definitely worth checking out! Some of its features include: a large great room open to the breakfast area and amazing kitchen that has stainless steel appliances, custom cabinets and corian countertops. Beautiful hardwood floors cover the main floor. An oversized master suite is upstairs with a sitting area and large master bath complete with garden tub, dual vanities, large walk-in closet and separate shower. The home sits on a full basement ready for finishing with a stubbed bath and exterior entry. The property is a wooded lot full of privacy.

Check out its website: www.3828SnowshedRun.com for more information and a complete gallery of pictures.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Marketing Your Listings on the Internet...

If most of your marketing for your listings is not being done over the Internet, you should seriously re-think how you are marketing. In a study performed by REALTOR.org, over 80% of people check the Internet first when searching for a home; which is why it is so important for the Internet to be covered with your listings.

One of the best Websites I've found for this is Postlets.com; this Website is fabulous because it takes the information you put on Postlets and places this on over TEN other Websites--you don't have to do a thing!!

Some of the sites are:

Backpage
Craigslist
Dothomes
Google
Hot Pads
Oodle
Properazzi
Trulia
Vast
Zillow

So go to Postlets today and sign-up...it's free to create an account!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Paula Deen Would Be Proud...


After church today I spent the afternoon baking several desserts for Labor Day parties we're going to tomorrow...for my Family Get Together I made a Sour Cream Pound Cake (my first ever)! And for our Small Group Bible Study Dinner I made a Chocolate Chip Pie and a Crunch Top Apple Pie. Our house now smells AMAZING!!


Here's the recipe for the Chocolate Chip Pie--you should really try it!


1 C. sugar

1/2 C. all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

1 C. pecans (optional)

1 C. semisweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.


Mix sugar and flour together in a bowl; add eggs, butter, pecans, chocolate chips, and vanilla, and stir. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until set.


Serve with vanilla icecream or sweetened whipped cream.


*I leave out the pecans and put EXTRA chocolate chips because I'm a chocoholic!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Let Me Introduce Myself...

My name is Anne Rains--I'm a real estate agent and insurance agent. I enjoy what I do, especially because I work from home--no traffic or commuting for me! I graduated Cum Laude May 2007 from Georgia College & State University with a Business Management degree. I enjoyed my time there, especially since I was in the Delta Zeta sorority and was actively involved.



I got married this past March to my handsome hubby, Matt, and am loving married life...especially decorating our new home! He is a man who wears many hats...he's a real estate agent, real estate appraiser, Website developer, and he teaches a real estate technology class to real estate agents. We work together as a Real Estate Team and have lots of fun helping people find and buy their dream home!



My free time is spent cooking and baking--I absolutely love being in the kitchen and making new things. I also enjoy traveling--I have hopes of seeing the whole world someday. I've already spent 3 amazing weeks in AUSTRALIA for study abroad...it was the most fun I've ever had--everyone should go if they get the opportunity!!