Host Family and Friends for the Holidays…and Enjoy It!

Hosting holiday parties is a great honor and should be an occasion of joy and memory-making. Unfortunately, planning and executing a fantastic party is often stressful for the homeowner. 

It is possible to both entertain in your home and enjoy the party as a homeowner. Follow these tips to ensure you are the best host and get to join in on the holiday fun!

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Embrace a Theme It may sound cheesy at first but a theme can do wonders for simplifying the planning process. The theme should be geared toward the guests (large group, children, etc.) and can be as specific or generic as you like. The secondary benefit of themed parties is they can create opportunities for activities to keep the party alive. Cookie decorating, holiday movies, or regional foods are all ways to stay within a theme, and create conversation and action.




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Get Organized

Not everyone is a list-maker. However, everyone that is planning a holiday party should be. If you are not typically organized, fight the urge to “just wing it.” Lists can help prevent unintentionally leaving someone off the guest list, forgetting the centerpiece, or blowing your budget.

Speaking of budgets…

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Plan, Inventory, Budget This is the order of affairs for successful, stress-free holiday party planning: plan, inventory, and budget. Nothing ruins a great party for a homeowner like realizing there will be no money left for holiday gifts! Plan your event first. Take stock in what you have that can be used. Finally, budget for what you need that is not already in your home.  If you find yourself on a tight budget, consider making the party a potluck event. You can shop for décor at thrift stores to cut down on costs. The point is, you do not need a lot of excess funds to throw and enjoy a great holiday party.

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Be Present

The biggest mistake homeowners make when hosting a party for family and friends is underestimating time spent in the kitchen. When coming up with a menu, plan to make dishes ahead of time or make use of a slow cooker. This will allow you to break free of cooking duties and enjoy your guests.

Alternatively, this is one area where it might pay to outsource some work. Hire a caterer to come prepare food or better yet, bring food prepared at their kitchen. This will allow you the freedom to mingle and free up space in one of the most popular gathering places in your home – the kitchen.

Create a theme to enhance focus, make a list, decide what you must buy and cook ahead or hire someone to ensure you can do the most important thing for a great holiday party – enjoy your guests.


Halloween Decorating Tips for Your Southern California Home

With Halloween right around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about how you’ll decorate for the spooky season. There are many different ways to enhance your home for Halloween no matter your Halloween style. Read on for our best Halloween decorating tips and tricks!


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Keep it Natural One of the great things about Halloween is that it falls right in the middle of beautiful autumn. If you like to keep things natural, take advantage of the abundant fall foliage, gourds, pumpkins, and branches that you can find this time of year. Use twine, linen, acorns, pinecones, feathers, or any other natural-type material you can find.




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Mix up the Textures
For table arrangements, mantle pieces, or even porches, experiment with different textures. Find faux fur a la Werewolf, burlap sacks, lace, or even yarn to make a space spooky or chic. 

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Paint it Black Goth or Glamour? An all-black Halloween can make quite a statement. Find matte black paint and cover a variety of pumpkins to create a monochrome look. Mix in ivory touches (skulls and bones) or pale greens (eucalyptus and other plants) to really make them pop.




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Creepy Quotes
Mysterious literature can be a great way to decorate your home for Halloween with a touch of class. Print out famous creepy quotes (try The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe or an extract from The Legend of Sleepy Hallow) and frame them. Place them around the home or on a Halloween-themed porch to welcome visitors…if they dare!

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Luminate with Candles If you’re looking for a cozier Halloween vibe, stock up on candles. Candles create the perfect spooky ambiance while also making your home feel relaxed and tranquil. You can even create little pumpkin candles or ghost candles with just a few simple steps.

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Go Treasure Hunting
Antique stores can be the perfect place to find Halloween decorations. As things age, they can sometimes feel a little creepy with the right presentation. Dig up old black and white photographs, aged lace, old medial texts or other books, and even some unique glassware to hold tealights or creepy crawlies. Go with an open mind and see what speaks to you! 


Make this year the DIY Halloween year! Decorating for the seasons in always fun, but even more fun when you get to use your creativity. With these ideas, you’ll surely have one of the spookiest, yet tasteful houses in Long Beach!


Escrow Doesn’t Mean the End of the Buying or Selling Process

Buying or selling a home can feel like a never-ending process. While it is natural to want to skip to the finale, it is important to know that simply closing escrow does not mean all the work is done.


You can take comfort in knowing that what comes next is far simpler than the process up to this point. Here is a quick list of things to take care of once you know that home is yours!


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Change Your Address This seems like a no brainer but is often put on the back burner for new homeowners or those finding a new home. The USPS (the people that put the mail in your box) is kind enough to offer mail-forwarding service for a certain period.   Log in to any accounts you may have with magazine subscriptions, delivery services, and Amazon to make sure your address if officially changed on your profile. If you are old school and keep an address book, consider sending a notification to your most important contacts to inform them of your new address.  




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Get an Updated Driver’s License

This is a law and unfortunately, many people neglect to obey it. The DMV in almost every state is a hassle but your ID becomes invalid after 30 days (in most cases) of an address change.


This step is especially important when it comes time to vote or travel by air. 


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Notify the Utility Companies You will likely want water, power, and sewer services at your new home. Cable and telephone may be important to you, as well. Once you have officially closed, contact these entities to alert them of your ownership.  

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Contact Your Financial Institutions

Your bank, credit card companies, and any retirement or investment funds should be made aware of your new address immediately after closing. This will ensure any important notifications are sent to your home, as many are time-sensitive.


There! That wasn’t so hard. Take care of these things as soon as you close escrow, rather than putting them off and forgetting about them.


When and Why Its Worth It To Pay More for Homeowners Insurance Even When You’re Bundling

With life, we acquire a lot of valuable assets. For many assets, it’s in our best interest to get insurance on them. Just ask J.Lo’s legs. In the case of non-celebrities, the most valuable asset we own is our home. So, while we are always looking for ways to save a few dollars, it shouldn’t be at the expense of our most valuable possession. 


If you are considering bundling your insurance, make sure you do your research. You don’t want to skimp out on homeowners insurance, especially when it might come in handy. 

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Why Consider Bundling Insurance?

For those new to the insurance market, they might be unaware of the savings they could be cashing in on. Much like you can bundle your TV package with internet and a landline, you can also bundle your insurance.    Bundling is when an insurance provider offers you a discount for covering multiple assets under their policies. This is done on their behalf to create a sense of customer loyalty.    For the most part, bundling works out great for people with multiple assets. In most cases, homeowners will bundle their auto and home insurance under the same umbrella. However, there are other assets that qualify for a bundle discount.  




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These assets include:


  • Motorcycles
  • Recreational Vehicles
  • Trailers
  • Life Insurance
  • Boats
  • Condo Insurance
  • Renters Insurance


While bundling sounds like a great way to save, make sure you aren’t skimping out on homeowners insurance that you might need. Here is when and why it is worth paying more for homeowners insurance even when you’re bundling.

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You Live in a Flood Zone

The severity of our weather patterns is expected to get worse as time goes on. As sea levels continue to rise due to the melting polar caps, flooding is going to become more commonplace.   When this happens, you want to make sure you have the best homeowners insurance policy. When you pay more for coverage, you might get afforded temporary housing in the times of a natural disaster. 




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You Have a Lot of Valuables

What’s great about homeowners insurance is that a majority of policies don’t just cover the outside or structure. They also cover your valuables inside. 


If you bundle your policies, you might miss out on claiming the loss or damage of property inside of your home. Make sure your insurance plan allows compensation for a burglary or a kickback for items lost in a fire or flood. 

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You Live in Areas Prone to Natural Disasters

While flooding may not be another concern, there are other areas that are hit with harsh weather each year. For instance, those in the Midwest are accustomed to tornadoes touching the ground and destroying their property.


Meanwhile, California residents have seen their homes go up in flames due to wildfires. It’s hard to tell if these tragedies are ever going to happen to your loved ones. That’s why you need to take extra precaution and get the best homeowners insurance for your house.


Top Questions Sellers Ask Before Listing Their House for Sale

Are you thinking about selling your Long Beach, California home? You’re not the first person, and you won’t be the last. Therefore, all the questions and concerns that are running through your mind have been experienced by millions before you. Here are some answers to the burning questions that every seller asks before listing their house?


Q: When is the Right Time to Sell My House?

A: There are several answers to this question that are unique to the potential seller. First, you need to be ready emotionally. When you sell a house, you are parting with a property that held so many precious memories. Once you’re emotionally ready, it’s never the wrong time to sell your house. However, you should talk to a real estate agent who is familiar with your neighborhood and the market. That way, you can make an informed decision as to right now is the perfect time to sell for financial gain.


Q: What Does The Market Look Like?

A: As the “right time to sell,” the market is also unique to the person. The answer to this question depends on your neighborhood. However, you can look at the overall market in your state for a gauge. In California, we are looking at an increase in price median of 1.2% over the past year. However, the market, in general, is slow right now. So, you’re looking at people making more money over the long-term. These statistics can easily change by the end of the year. That’s why it’s so vital you speak to a real estate agent familiar with trends in your neighborhood.


Q: How Do I Know How Much My Home Is Worth?

A: Again, it’s good to rely on a trusted real estate agent. To get a clear picture of your home’s value, you need a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA takes many algorithms into consideration such as square footage to the age of the roof to what neighboring houses sold at.


Q: Should I Fix Problems Before Listing?

A: If you see it, potential buyers will see it. So, if your house needs a new coat of paint, windows, or updated electricity, just do it. Otherwise, your house will be on the market longer than you anticipated. In the end, you’ll probably end up doing the fixes anyway. For those who don’t want to make unnecessary changes, it doesn’t hurt to have an inspector point out potential problems.   


Q: Should I Inflate My Price to Leave Wiggle Room?

A: You can. However, don’t outprice your house. Then, you’ll have nobody to negotiate with you. If you price your house a little more than what it’s worth, you can probably sell rather quickly. It just leaves the question, what’s “a little more?” Your best bet is to make these decisions with a trusted real estate agent. They can advise you on what tactics work best in your community to sell your Long Beach house for the highest price.  


Best New Restaurants in Long Beach 2019

Southern California is a foodie haven. There are so many delicious restaurants in the city center of Long Beach, California. Yet, more and more continue to pop up all along the Cali coast. So, what are some of the best new restaurants within driving distance of Long Beach? Let’s take a look at these must-try hotspots.

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Journeyman’s Food and Drink

One of the best new restaurants in Orange County is this high-class restaurant in Fullerton. Following the motto, “It’s not the destination…it’s the journey,” Executive Chef Zachary Geerson takes your taste buds on a trek. You can choose from either a 4-course pre-fixe menu or one that you can customize. The other option is a 6-course pre-fixe that is set for the whole table to enjoy. The Chef’s vegetarian menu is coming soon, so keep an eye out plant-powered friends!




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The Ordinaire

Want food out of the ordinary? Then check out the Ordinaire. From tapas to happy hour, brunch to dinner, The Ordinaire is extraordinary for everybody. Located at the Long Beach Promenade, The Ordinaire offers American pub food with a modern day twist. Try their ricotta dumplings and veggies with chicken in a savory stock. Vegetarians can feast on a fresh beet salad with homemade citrus dressing.

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California Cocina

Only open for three months, California Cocina has already carved out quite the following along Seal Beach. This burgeoning SoCal favorite has all the traditional Mexican fare those in Long Beach love. You have to try the Cajun Salmon Tacos or Sauteed Shrimp Burritos. Plant-based diet followers, get the Vegetarian Burrito with their homemade pico de gallo!




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Jounetsu Ramen

Newly opened E 4th Street noodle house, Jounetsu Ramen is setting the Long Beach culinary scene on fire. This Asian fusion kitchen offers a wide variety of rolls, including vegetarian options. However, you must stop in for the ramen. The most popular is the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen for its balance between hot chilies, crunchy bean sprouts, and juicy steak. However, the Vegetable Ramen is also a flavorful, clean option as well.

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Kailua Island Grill

Last is certainly not least here. The Kailua Island Grill has caused quite a stir among locals over the past few months. Their approach to food is to craft delicious meals using fresh ingredients. Comfort foods we know and love are no longer doused in sauce. Instead, they are infused in flavor, forever changing our perception of Korean BBQ Beef or Garlic Butter Shrimp. Vegans, you have to get the Veggie Bowl. Tofu, carrots, and spinach are stir-fried and served over a bed of quinoa and topped with homemade teriyaki sauce. There’s something for everyone at Kailua Island Grill!


5 Curb Appeal Boosters You Can Do This Weekend

It’s spring here in Long Beach and our town is really coming alive. There’s nothing like driving through one of our beautiful neighborhoods and seeing vibrant green yards and flower-lined porches.

So, how does your home stack up against the rest of Long Beach? If it might need some work, this is the perfect time to start thinking about curb appeal – especially if your home is on the market or you’re considering a move. If you’re a little behind on your curb appeal or need to enhance your home’s value, it’s time to get dirty with these quick and easy curb appeal weekend projects.


Paint Your Door

The front door is often the highlight of a home’s exterior. If yours is looking a little shabby, it’s time to pay it a little attention. Clean up any debris or leaves outside the door, replace tired door handles, and give it a good coat of paint. Try one of these new colors to really cause a spark.


Mailbox Makeover
While you’ve got the paintbrushes handy, why not primp that mailbox? Through the weather and sun, your mailbox can take a lot of damage. A quick coat of paint can transform one of our most distinct symbols of home.


Spruce up Your Garden Beds

Let’s get dirty. Cleaning up your front garden beds can make a dramatic change in the overall appearance of your home. Load up the car with new mulch or soil and get to work. Remove any weeds beforehand and even out the edges.


Replace Your Doormat
We all want to feel welcome, and there’s nothing like a clean, well-cared for a welcome mat to instill a sense of “I’m home.”


Highlight Your Address
You want people to love their potential new address – so make it shine! Check out these cool ideas for some inspiration.


Perfect Your Porch
How old is that porch furniture that has dutifully sat outside your front door? While it may still be a great set, if it looks weathered or tired, buyers may be a little put-off. Bright new porch furniture will make them daydream about the fabulous get-togethers they’ll soon enjoy in their new home.


Light it Up

Exterior lighting can completely change the energy of your home. With proper lighting, your home is not only enhanced with safety and security, but it truly shines. Go the electrical route with low-voltage landscape lighting or set up a solar-powered system. Easy!

Curb appeal doesn’t have to be a major endeavor. These quick weekend fixes can make a huge impact, and you’ll still have time for a Sunday stroll along Shoreline Village. Now, get to work!

How to Prepare for Home Buying Season

Congratulations! You’re ready to make the move. As a home buyer, this is an exciting time in your life. However, it can also be a bit nervewracking. Finding your dream home in Torrance, California could be intimidating. Don’t let that ruin your excitement. You are entering the busiest season to buy a house in Southern California. That means you have a lot of options, a lot of bargaining power, and a lot to get ready for. The last part? That’s the first step, and we’re here to help.

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Get Pre-Approved

Before you go about buying a house in Torrance, California, you need to know what you’re working with. Contact a bank or mortgage broker and let them go through your credit history. The sooner you do this, the better. That way you can address any issues or misinformation that may pop up in your credit report.   Once you are pre-approved, there is a number of things you will know that will aid you in buying a house in the South Bay. This newfound information includes how much you borrow, how much you can afford, and your credit score. After the pre-approval process, you will get a letter stating this information. Keep it for when you are ready to buy a house in Torrance.




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Figure Out Your Ceiling

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of house hunting. It becomes a case of the eyes being bigger than the stomach. Rather this time, it’s the ambitions are larger than the wallet.


Once you are pre-approved, take a serious look at your finances. Realize that you will be taking out a mortgage and paying interest. Then, look at the logistics. Are you moving across country? Do you need to get a new job? All of these variables need to be weighed before you can determine what your max is going to be.


After you set a max, don’t waver. Always shoot low and fight hard to not work your way up toward your that number. However, know that the max is your max. If you hit it, it’s okay because you determined that number at the beginning of the process.

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Start Browsing

Anyone who’s swam in the Pacific knows that sometimes you need to dip the toes in the water first. The same goes for when you are looking to buy a house in Long Beach.


The best way to get an idea of what you want in a house is to look at some. Start browsing our catalog and see if anything strikes you as must-have. Not only will this get your mind on track to figure out what you want in a house, but it also lets you know what the median price of those tastes is, too.


No matter what your tastes are, there’s no time like the present. Procrastinating will only have you missing out on the best Torrance has to offer. So, get browsing now!


The Responsible Homeowner’s Guide to Spending Tax Returns

With tax season upon us, you might already be thinking of creative ways to spend that refund. Before you go out and blow it on treats, consider how you might make the most of it this year. After all, you are a responsible homeowner now! If you’re lucky enough to be getting a tax return this year, make the most of it by investing that hard-earned money into your new home. So, what are some responsible ways to spend your check?


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Pay Down Your Mortgage One of the most responsible, money-saving ways to spend your tax return is to put the money straight into your mortgage as an extra payment. It might seem like a drop in the bucket, but over time these extra payments can shave both years and thousands of dollars in interest off your repayment.  




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Bulk Up Your Emergency Fund
With home ownership comes responsibility. No longer can you call the landlord when your furnace goes out or the plumbing goes awry – these headaches now fall on your shoulders. There’s nothing worse than having a home emergency and no wiggle room in the bank to pay for the repairs. Credit card debts for “emergencies” can pile up fast and interest rates are high. Instead, save for the inevitable by having a dedicated savings for emergencies. A few extra thousand (or even hundred) dollars from a tax return will save the day at some point.


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Fix the Necessary Repairs Did your home come with a few issues that still need to be sorted? Getting these nuisances under control is the perfect way to spend your tax refund. Replace anything faulty in the home or anything that you expect might need replacing in the next year or two.  




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One Special Thing

After you have invested the bulk of your tax refund into one of the above areas, make sure to save a few extra dollars for something special. This could be a favorite artisan candle, a much-needed new chef knife, the perfect rug, or anything that makes your home feel special.  


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Mindful. That’s a word I used to think applied to monks or nuns, or anyone living outside of the “real” world. . What I know now is that being mindful or intentional is about really thinking about your choices before you make them. . In this context, it’s asking “do I really need this…is this wise to spend my money on…does it have a place, and a purpose?” . Everything you buy adds up to become either money well spent, or money that could have been spent doing something amazing. . So before you head to the mall, or jump online, ask yourself what you want from life and make good spending choices to get there. . 🌿Even if you don’t have clutter…what would you rather have than clutter???🌿 . . #wise #wisdom #simple #simpleliving #simplelife #simplicity #quotes #wisequotes #minimalism #minimalistlife #spendwisely #money #moneyissues #clutter #lessclutter #lessisthenewmore

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Spend Wisely

Being a home owner is one of the greatest joys in life. Invest your extra dollars into your home and it will more than repay you in comfort, reliability, and financial freedom down the road. Making wise choices early on will make for smooth sailing for the life of your home. Happy spending!


Fall In Love With Your Home This Valentine’s Day!

We put so much time and effort into strengthening our personal relationships, we sometimes forget about one of the most important relationships in our lives. We’re talking about the one we have with our homes. It’s so easy to take your house for granted. Your home plays a backdrop for so many of your most memorable moments. So, why not show your house the love it shows you? Fall in love with your home this Valentine’s Day with these ideas!


Scent it Up

There are some quick ways to fall out of love with your house. Smelling like last week’s curry might be one of them. When you walk into a house, the first thing that hits you is how it smells. So, change up the greeting.


Pick out a new candle, perhaps something with roses to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day. You can also neutralize any bad odors with a simple white candle. Not only will white candle smoke draw unpleasant scents out of the air, but there’s something nostalgic and chic about them too.


Not a candle nut? Get an essential oil diffuser and a variety of oils. From there, you can mix and match your scents all year round. For Valentine’s Day, we recommend a blend of rosehip oil, cinnamon bark oil, and lavender oil.


Host a Party

Houses do more than hold our junk. They are also the backbone of our memories. If you have fallen out of your love with your house, perhaps you’re not spending enough quality time with it?


With Valentine’s Day coming up, there’s no time better than now to make new memories. After all, everyone is itching for an excuse to have a party. Be their host. Create a night to remember that could only happen in one place…your house.


Give it a Fresh Coat of Paint

You know what’s worse than watching paint dry? Watching the same old paint already dried…for years. Changing paint color is like switching up a hairstyle. If you hate it, you can always change it. When it works, you gain a whole new appreciation for it.



Re-Do the Bathroom

Looking for a change but you’re on a budget? Go with the smallest room in the house. The bathroom is so easy to redo because all the replacements are rather inexpensive.

Pick a new theme. From there, switch up the mats, curtains, and soap dish holder to match your aesthetic. If you’re really feeling it, re-paint the room or put in a new backsplash. Who knows? The bathroom might be the good spark needed to ignite the fire behind renovating your whole house!