Archive for May, 2010

HGTV House Hunters comes to Durham!

By: Courtney James

Well I had my 15 minutes of fame and I didn’t even know it!  As many of you may know, I had the fortunate experience of filming an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters this past January.  Much to my dismay, the episode aired earlier this month (May 13th) without my knowing it!  I was told we would get some advance notice, but I guess in the fast-paced Hollywood life, advance notice is a luxury.  Since the airing, I have bumped into a number of people that did happen to catch the episode.  Most said that they were channel surfing when they saw it, but I think they’re just embarrassed to say that they’re addicted to the show!  My clients, Sanjay and Jodi, even got recognized in Nosh the day after it aired!  Anyway, the experience was an enlightening one, and one that I imagine I will not repeat.  There were several things that came as a surprise to me, some of which were:

(1) How many hours of film they capture for a 20 minute episode (about 200)

(2) How hard it is not to look into a camera that is pointed directly at your face

(3) How many black, grey, brown, and white colored clothes I have (we were told to avoid wearing these colors and instead wear jewel tones)

(4) How little I knew about make-up application – and how expensive it is!

(5) How exhausting it is to be a movie star

Much of this I say in jest, but I am sincerely thankful for having had this experience.   I am thrilled that Durham has gotten a bit more national press.  I am ecstatic that my clients found a really great house.  And I am hopeful that it will air again as I have some very sad family members that want to see it.  I have not seen it pop up on Hulu, and have not seen HGTV post new air times, but here is the link if you’re interested:


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It is Springtime in the City!

By Bill Dandridge

I have spent the last four days removing grass from my yard, digging holes and planting endemic trees and  plants to beautify the land surrounding my house. This was done to create an ecosystem that is native and is able to survive and even thrive in our weather system of the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and will not require weekly watering, thus reducing the necessity of excess water, pesticides or herbicides that tax our resources and poison our water supply.

We also are creating an 8′ by 17′ garden in our backyard that will supply much of our culinary needs beginning in June and lasting until September. For those who are unable to spend this inordinate amount of time working in their dirt, I recommend joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, through which an urbanite is able to derive the same benefits as someone who lives on a farm.

For the remainder of the Spring, throughout the Summer, and into the Autumn, you will receive a tremendous amount of sumptuous garden fare through your CSA. By joining a CSA, you will be selectively supporting a local farmer in North Carolina and having farm-fresh food in your kitchen. By limiting your shopping to grocery store aisles, you are buying your fruit from Florida, Michigan, California, Italy, Japan, and the world over.

To learn more about your local CSA, visit the website for N.E.E.M., the Natural Environmental and Ecological Management (NEEM) or travel to their physical location at 2001 Chapel Hill Road.

I am sure that my next blog will relate to my garden…

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All The Home’s a Stage

By:  Mary Rae Hunter

A house can be understood as a liquid time-metaphor for where we’ve been, who we are, and the new direction we are going.  In each of these moments, as journalist Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times digitally describes this process: When we buy a house, we make a home, something that is not just a shelter, but a virtual representation of ourselves.

In the course of recently selling her first home, Daum was on the receiving end of advice about how to sell a home in a very strained economy.  She discovered that a house full of personally important books, magazines, and happy bric-a-brac accumulated through her life might fulfill her.  However, to the professional in charge of selling her house, a more objective pair of eyes is required.  And this goes not just for the usual human clutter we all gather over time. Even the wonderful visions discovered in original paintings, books with poignant words by thoughtful poets, or rare and lovely antiques carefully placed around the home are, well, just so much clutter that discourages a prospective buyer from seeing this house as his or her home of the near future.

Enter the “stager.”  A stager, as my clients come to know, is a professional whose job it is to allow your house to be someone’s future home.  Daum relates in her article about the process of selling her first home–and in her recent book, Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in that House–how her stager put 90% of her books, clothing, furniture, and other belongings in storage.  All at once, her home became a barren but beautiful house, something that invited others to make it their own home.  The irony is actually quite telling.  Through a stager we come to learn not only how we identify ourselves with our home and all its marvelous contents, but we learn, as Daum phrases her epiphany, that selling a house is an exercise in “unidentifying with it.”

There is a practical, if not objective, psychology to the stager’s professional eye. The stager wants your house to inspire the imagination, as well as the good, secure, warm and hopeful feelings, that someone else can find in the house you have made your home.  In that sense, every house is really a “fixer-upper” of one sort or another, no matter how refined our taste and no matter how attached we are to its quaint, cultural, or architectural qualities. To emphasize the point, Daum wryly describes how we come to think of our homes much as if they are “supermodels”–unusual specimens of beauty–but that, as we know in real life, up close, supermodels really don’t look that glamorous.  So it is with our homes.

I think Daum is onto something, especially when I consider what the stager I use with my clients points out:  A staged house sells for 6.9% more and in 1/2 the time of a non-staged home.  With adaptation to a home going on the market, Shakespeare’s famous line (“All the World’s a Stage”) seems to fit what real estate professionals and stagers everywhere know:  “All the Home’s a Stage.”  When staged well, both home seller and buyer are all the happier.

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Just a Bunch of Bookworms

By Luci Pestana

It was a fantastic way to spend Saturday morning, as we kicked off the First Annual Durham Book Rally this weekend.  “First Annual” always implies a bit  of a “we have no idea what to expect” vibe… but we couldn’t have been more thrilled!  Books and donations for the DPS BookMark Initiative rolled in all morning, and we were happiest of all that most guests stuck around to eat, drink, listen to great music, and mingle with friends.  The face-painting was also a HUGE hit (mostly with kids, although it was hard to keep some of the adults from indulging…)  

In the spirit of inspiring a child’s love for reading, I asked some of our visitors to recall books from their elementary school days.  Seems like for one reason or  another, these selections made a very lasting impact!  The following titles should ring a bell… or maybe you’ll browse them next time you take the little ones for a trip to the bookstore:

A Separate Piece, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Tiki Tiki Tembo, The Polar Express, The Lorax, My Side of the Mountain, A Wrinkle in Time, and the collections of: Nancy Drew, Judy Blume (especially those “Fudge” books!) The Boxcar Children, Harriet the Spy, Encyclopedia Brown, Ramona Quimby, Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie, and The Babysitter’s Club.

The readiness with which everyone piped up with favorites really resonated with me later.  Faces lit up, and guests giggled with delight as fellow grown-ups squealed over how “obsessed they were with that book.”   And… that was kind of the point.  If more books find their way into the hands of DPS kids this summer, we can expect them to enjoy reading, to keep reading, and to treasure their memories of reading.  That’s a good thing.

Above all, we cannot thank our sponsors enough.  In donating their products or services, they made it possible for us to share in a very special community effort.  Thank you, Piedmont, Daisy Cakes, Faber Design, Dale Baker” and Associates,” Joe Van Gogh, and Paint Savvy, for making this event fabulous!

There are still many ways to help!  Visit the BookMark website for more info on how and where to donate.

Of course, at the stroke of twelve on May 1st, 2010… They all lived happily ever after!

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