Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spacious 4 Bedroom/2.5 Bath Home in Dacula/Bethlehem Area

Looking for a great deal? Well, look no further--this beautiful and spacious 4 Bedroom, 2.5 Bathroom home is available for $199,900. It's located in the developing and growing Bethlehem/Dacula area.

You can view this property in greater detail and see the Virtual Tour at:


  • 2 Story great room
  • Large kitchen with black appliances, plenty of cabinet space, pantry and attached breakfast area
  • Kitchen overlooks the sunroom, adjacent to the great room
  • Formal dining room
  • Over-sized master suite on main floor with walk-in closet, garden tub, dual vanities and large shower
  • 3 spacious bedrooms upstairs with lots of closet space
  • 8 foot fence surrounding backyard for lots of privacy


  • Sidewalks and street lights
  • Homeowner's Association
  • Swimming Pool
  • Two lighted tennis courts
  • Recreation field
  • Playground
  • Two fishing ponds
  • Walking trail


*To view this property or for more information, contact Matt or Anne Rains*

Matt: 404.557.0762
Anne: 404.357.2231

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!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Changes You Can Make to Increase Your Home's Value

Recently I had a friend request that I write about the best ways to increase your property's value through inexpensive changes that you can do yourself. I think this is something that's very important-there are definitely ways to make your property more appealing to a potential buyer without breaking the bank. However, if you have a little extra cash or you want to ensure that you get top dollar when you put your home on the market, there are more expensive changes you can do as well. I've broken these tips into three categories: Inexpensive, Mid-Priced, Expensive.

Just a couple of thoughts before I share these tips:

  1. Kitchens and bathrooms are going to bring you the biggest bang for your buck

  2. Curb appeal is important-make sure your landscaping looks fresh and clean

  3. You don't want to completely out-do your neighbors in renovations and remodeling-that will make your home the most expensive in the neighborhood, which will be harder to sell down the road. If no one in the neighborhood has granite countertops, custom cabinets and hardwood floors, you may want to make small changes but save your cash to put into your next home.


  • Paint, paint, paint!-I can't stress this enough. Putting a fresh coat of paint on your walls instantly makes the home feel cleaner, fresher and newer. Also, if your current paint colors are outdated or "loud"-now's the time to update! In fact I wrote an entire article about this very subject, so if you need help choosing paint colors, please check it out: Sellers: Are Your Color Choices Keeping Your Home from Selling?
  1. You may also want to consider repainting all your baseboards and trim-this is a cheap way to make your home look crisp and newer-it can take years off!
  2. Take a look at your ceilings-do they need to be repainted too?
  • Take down that wallpaper-Wallpaper is an extremely personal preference and becomes outdated quickly. Some people, such as myself, really dislike wallpaper. The goal when putting your home on the market is to get it in the best shape possible and eliminate as many "potential objections" as you can. Consider this: a potential buyer has narrowed their selection down to two homes-yours with wallpaper in the kitchen that they really can't stand and another home where they don't like the paint color. So, holding all other things equal, which home will they choose? Well, in my opinion, they will choose the ugly paint color because it's much less painful to repaint rather than peel wallpaper off, sand and repaint. Do you see what I'm talking about?

  • Change out your doorknobs-Most new homes come with brushed nickel doorknobs and door hinges; changing out your gold knobs is a cheap way to make your home look newer.

  • Take care of your carpet-Getting your carpets steam cleaned is a great way to make your home look better; if your carpets are in good shape except for needing a good cleaning this is much more affordable than buying new carpet.

  • Update your cabinet hardware-Maybe you can't afford to completely renovate your kitchen or bathrooms, but you can change out the handles or knobs to something trendier. Take a look at interior design magazines or watch HGTV to find out what's in style-or walk through homes that were just built and see what kind of knobs they are using.

  • Change your light switch plate covers-If your light switch plate covers are gold colored or cracked or they once were white but now are beige-change them out. This is an inexpensive way to keep your home in line with newer ones.


  • Replace flooring-Consider replacing your linoleum kitchen floor to tile or a beautiful laminate flooring that resembles hardwood. If your family room carpet looks worn, either replace it with new carpet or switch it out to laminate wood flooring. Linoleum in the bathrooms or laundry room? Replace it with tile.

  • Update light fixtures-Light fixtures can immediately date a home because trends change so often in this department. Watch HGTV and flip through design magazines to determine what's in style and what will work best for your home and price range.

  • Change out faucets-This is another area that can add value through updating. I have the same advice as above with the light fixtures-look at magazines, go to Home Depot or walk through newly built homes for ideas.

  • Buy new appliances-For most kitchens, white appliances look outdated, if you can, buy new appliances-either stainless steel if you can afford it or black if you need a cheaper option.
  • Put in hardwood floors-True hardwood floors, not the laminate type, are fairly expensive but they are very beautiful and long-lasting too. (They are allergy friendly too because they don't trap dust and dust mites like carpet does). Hardwood flooring can definitely increase your property value.

  • Replace your kitchen and/or bathroom cabinets-Again, if you have the money, getting new cabinets that go with current styles is a great way to get more money for your home when you sell.

  • Change your countertops to granite-If you can afford to switch out both your cabinets and countertops, then do it! But if you can't, often your home would look great with new granite countertops and new knobs on the cabinets. (For a less expensive option, you could replace your laminate countertops with corian).
Those are the suggestions that I feel will give you the most for your money when you are trying to sell your home. One thing you may wonder is when to make the changes? If you aren't planning on moving for at least three years, you may want to wait until three to six months before you put your home on the market to make these changes. Trends change and if you want to be competitive with the brand new homes on the market you should make your updates according to the current styles. However, I also feel that if you plan on living in your home for let's say, ten years, you may want to make major changes now so that you can enjoy them while living in the home. I hope these tips helped you!

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!

Monday, February 16, 2009

V-Day on a Budget (ooops, a little belated)...

Well, I know that this is belated, but I wanted to share this with my Dear Readers...Valentine's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays because I'm such a hopeless romantic! I get so goooey over showing everyone I love them...making home-made Valentine's and giving candy conversation hearts and all that. And I'm not gonna lie, I love the flowers, the candy, the gift (can't go wrong with jewelry!) and a night out eating amazing food and dressed to the nines (where did that phrase even come from?!)...

However, this year we decided to do things a little differently (except for my lovely suprise of the two dozen pink, red and white roses that were delivered to my door step and then hand-arranged by my handsome hubby!)...we kept it low-key and economical by going to the grocery store and picking out all the ingredients to make pizza together from scratch (well, almost from scratch, we didn't make the pizza dough).

We haven't cooked together in a while so it was a fun experience working together to make our our case it was pizzas--three miniature personal pizzas to be exact. One for me, one for him and one for the next day's lunch. It was nice taking the time to do something together that we hadn't done in a while and to just really focus on each other and enjoying one another's company.

After our delicious dinner, we snuggled together and watched a movie. All in all, it was a wonderful night and very budget our own dinner was cheaper than going to a nice restaurant (and we skipped the crowds and long wait!) and renting a movie rather than seeing it in the theater is much less expensive!

In these tough times, it's important that we're smart with how we spend our need to go on extravagant dates if you can have just as much fun spending time together at's the thought that counts, right?! Well, there you have it, Valentine's Day on a budget...and I loved every minute of it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Simple Tips on How to Slash Your Grocery Bill...

There's no mistaking it, food prices have continued to rise over the past year. According to, the cost of food has increased by 6.6% in 2008 alone. reported that most cost increases on individual items, especially dairy products, have risen by double-digit increases. Some statistics include: an increase of about 27% on cheese, 38% on eggs, 10% on milk and 19% on bread. With basic necessities increasing substantially, we need to take advantage of money-saving tips to help us stay within our grocery budgets.

Did you know: The average American family spends 15% of it's income on food and drinks?

Photo by: Steven Fernandez

However, there are ways to combat these rising prices if you learn some simple shopping strategies and begin shopping smart. After doing some research, here are my top 10 ways to slash your grocery bill:

1. Use the featured sales ad from your grocery store to plan weekly meals:

  • Before you shop, get your grocery stores' ad and look at the deals, plan your meals around what's on sale-write your shopping list using the brands and items that are on sale.
  • Make a detailed grocery list so you only have to make one trip to the store.
  • Plan ahead so you don't impulsively buy items while at the store.
  • You can also save time by planning ahead and dividing the list between family members once you're in the store-everyone works together to get the shopping done faster.

2. Choose cheaper meats:

  • Buying less expensive cuts of meat and marinating them allows you to save money without forfeiting your favorite dinners.

3. Shop at stores that have savings programs and know how they work:

  • Find out if the store offers "buy one get one free" deals or if there is a savings card you can get or if they double coupons, etc.
  • You can maximize your savings once you know the rules because you'll find ways to combine discounts to get items at an even greater reduced price.

4. Start clipping those coupons:

  • Buy 2 or 3 copies of the Sunday paper to drastically increase your savings.
  • Go on the grocery stores' website-often they will offer their best deals in coupons you can print from the Internet.

5. Plan a potluck:

  • A couple of times a month get together with friends or neighbors for dinner potluck style-have everyone bring something.
  • Enjoy the time socializing (which can help reduce stress) and save money all in one night!

Photo by: Darwin Bell

6. Buy extra items when they are at their lowest price:

  • Figure out when your grocery store offers things at their lowest price-for example, if boneless chicken is on sale every other week, get enough to last for two weeks and freeze it.
  • Don't buy a whole year's worth at one time, just the amount needed to last until the next sale.

7. Don't be stuck on specific brands or stores:

  • Learn to buy the brand that is on sale the most (even if it's not name brand).
  • Also, be flexible about which grocery store you go to-look at all the sale papers and shop where the items are the cheapest for that week.

8. Maximize your little indulgences:

  • Find ways to make your more expensive, special items last longer.
  • For example, if you can't let go of your favorite pricey brand of coffee, try mixing it with a less expensive brand to make it last twice as long-the flavor will still be there, but it will cost you half the price.

9. Organize a coupon group:

  • Find some friends or neighbors who are interested in cutting coupons and assign a designated person to each member of the group.
  • Every week after you're finished clipping your coupons, mail or give your unused coupons to your person. In return you'll also receive a set of coupons from your designated person as well.
  • This will give you a much wider range of coupons on various products.

10. Don't be wasteful, measure it:

  • If you find yourself throwing out unused food, especially pet food leftover in bowls, start measuring it. Use the back of the package as a guideline for how much food your pet needs-your pet will be healthier as they are not being overfed and their food will last a lot longer.

Photo by: Micky

I hope these tips will be helpful in cutting your grocery bill each week. If have other tips for keeping your food costs down, please share them with all of us in the comment section below. We can help each get through this tight economy...and if you currently don't even use a grocery budget, maybe now is the time to start. Figure out a number your family can comfortably spend each week on food and stick to it--this includes dining out as well!

Thanks 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!

(Please note: some of the content for this article was obtained from and Woman's Day magazine)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Walton and Barrow Counties' Upcoming Basketball Games...

Everyone loves watching a sporting event, right? Well, come on out and support your local high school basketball games...only 1 more game left until the tournaments start. Here's the line-up for the high schools in both the Walton and Barrow counties...

Photo by: laffy4k


Loganville High School:

*Varsity Girls:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 6:00 p.m.
  • Playing away at Heritage High School
  • Location: 2400 Granade Road SW, Conyers, GA 30094
  • Current statistics: won 17 games out of 24

*Varsity Boys:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 7:30 p.m.
  • Playing away at Heritage High School
  • Current statistics: won 14 games out of 24

*JV Girls:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 4:30 p.m.
  • Playing away at Heritage High School

*JV Boys:

  • Next game: Saturday, February 7, 2009 Noon
  • Playing away at North Oconee High School
  • Location: 1081 Rocky Branch Road, Bogart, GA 30622

Monroe Area High School:

*Varsity Boys:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 6:00 p.m.
  • Playing at home against Salem High School
  • Location: 300 Double Springs Church Road, Monroe, GA 30656

Photo by: Doug L


Apalachee High School:

*Varsity Girls and Boys:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 6:00 p.m.
  • Playing at home against Madison County High School
  • Location: 940 Haymon Morris Road, Winder, GA 30680

*JV Boys:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 4:15 p.m.
  • Playing at home against Madison County High School

Winder-Barrow High School:

*Varsity Girls and Boys:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 6 p.m.
  • Tonight is SENIOR NIGHT!
  • Playing at home against Clarke Central High School
  • Location: 272 North Fifth Avenue, Winder, GA 30680

*JV Girls:

  • Next game: Today, February 3, 2009 4:15 p.m.
  • Playing at home against Clarke Central High School

Thanks 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!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cozy Dacula Cottage Serves up a Delicious Lunch!

Recently a good friend of mine invited me to go to lunch with her at the cute little restaurant, Blessings Cottage, in the closeby town of Dacula, Georgia. I hadn't had the pleasure of eating there yet, so of course I said yes...and it was absolutely wonderful! Just wait until you hear all about this great little place...

Blessings Cottage is situated inside of a historical home built in 1905 and is owned by Bonnie Rasmussen and her daughter, Sonya Kee. From the minute you walk into the home, you feel warm and cozy. The front hallway is full of various gifts from serving platters with Bible verses on them to soaps and other neat beautiful things. The left front room is filled with home decor items and the right front room has the most precious baby gifts.

Down the hallway a little ways is a room where they take your order and there's also a display counter with a variety of home-made fudge! The menu consists of a variety of salads and sandwiches, including ham and cheese, tuna salad, BLT and a club. However, it's known for it's chicken salad and Monte Cristo sandwiches. I had the Monte Cristo and it was one of the best I've ever had. In case you aren't familiar with this sandwich, it's made with melted Provolone cheese, turkey and ham on toasted sourdough bread and sprinkled with powdered sugar...the best part is the creamy raspberry sauce that comes along side the sandwich for dipping. I'm craving another one just writing this!

Included with your sandwich is your choice of either chips, home-made potato salad or apple slices. Blessings Cottage is also open for breakfast, where they offer muffins, cinnamon rolls and croissants. Additionally, there are between eight and ten different kinds of home-made fudge, which they sell for $10.99 a pound. Everything is very reasonably priced, with sandwiches and salads ranging between $5.99 to $6.79.

After placing your order and paying for your meal, you go find a seat in the parlor across from the hall. The room which has a cozy little fireplace in it, is painted with yellow and white stripes and tea cups decorate the walls. Also, no need to get a number or tell the staff your name, when your food is ready they bring it out to you on pretty glass plates.

This is definitely a place that I want to go back to time and time again! I urge you to try it out for yourself if you're ever in the Dacula area. (Although it looks like a prissy tea-room type place, I did see a couple of men there while I was eating as and children as well are welcome.)

It's located at 2495 Fence Road, Dacula, Georgia

Blessings Cottage is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.--but is closed Sundays and Mondays.

Thanks 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!