A Special Kind of Stupid!

When your friends have convinced you that you can tackle that DIY job instead of calling a professional…..#DIY


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Brighten up your yard with Japanese Maples

I love a well manicured lawn.What intrigues me more, however, are splashes of bold color contrasted against a sea of green foliage. I love walking down a residential street and smell freshly cut grass and admire the creative landscaping ideas of homeowners. But landscaping in Virginia is not always an easy task.

Virginia soil is every gardener’s cross to bare.  Heavy, non-draining, clay soil  makes even the simplest job seem doomed from the start.  Just trying to get a spade through the hard, thick ground is enough to turn most rookie gardeners into nonbelievers!

Japanese Maple

I found a little secret this past month when looking online for potential Mother’s Day gifts. With five children, I had plenty of options to give them but of course, I didn’t want them spending their hard earned money on frivolous or expensive items.  When I came across an advertisement in Aldi’s weekly ad, of all places, I started doing some research.  Unbeknownst to me, Japanese maples (Reds and Bloodgoods) do amazingly well in partial shade and even clay soils with some simple tips!  BINGO!

But what really got my interest was the price!  For only $12.99, I got two adorable 2′ saplings.  The picture above is of a grown specimen.  They grow about 12″ to 24″ a year and reach a maximum height and width of about 15′ to 20′, according to my research. I can’t wait to see this little sapling reach its full potential and enhance my lawn this fall with brilliant crimson red foliage.

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7012 S. Shade Tree Ln, Spotsylvania, VA 22551 For Sale

Amazing custom built home on acre w/ fully fenced rear yard! Open floorplan w/ new carpeting LL, cathedral ceilings, new hardwoods, fresh paint, newer appl & granite, LL BR used as home office – could be BR/guest rm w/ full bath. Tons of storage w/ oversized garage, extra deep for shelving & workbench, sep storage rm, walkout LL to patio, playset, gardens, lots of seclusion! 3 BR perc.

  • Large custom built 4 bedroom home w/ enormous entry foyer on 1 acre (3 bedroom perc)
  • 3 large bedrooms upstairs
  • Hardwoods upper level foyer, stairs/hallway, great room & dining room
  • Updated sunny kitchen w/ gas range, granite, breakfast bar and eat-in table space
  • Large dining room
  • Cathedral ceilings in Great Room w/ gas fireplace
  • Master bedroom w/ walk-in closet
  • Luxury bath, walk-in shower, soak tub, separate vanities & water closet
  • Finished walkout lower level w/ rec room, full bath & office/guest room (BR4)
  • Lower level new carpeting & Fresh paint throughout
  • Water softener
  • Alarm system
  • New garage doors
  • Custom patio
  • Premium landscaping on luscious, fenced, private backyard
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Country living – love it or leave it

I’ve been living the rural life for over 20 years in Southeast Stafford.  After a busy day maneuvering through Northern Virginia’s new traffic patterns and consequential standstill nightmares, I consider my drive home my respite – replete with deer, heron, turtles, bunnies, turkeys, foxes, bald eagles and much more!

I wasn’t exactly a city girl.  I grew up in what was originally a very rural area of Long Island in Suffolk County.  From the early 60’s to the early 70’s it had become a sprawling, commuter wasteland with little “country” life around.  I longed for that simple life as an adult and the tranquility and stability I remembered as a child – picking apples from my neighbor’s apple tree (and hiding there until my mother found me), gardening, chasing lightning bugs, walking barefoot, and wondering off in the woods to explore.


Moving to South Stafford in Virginia gave me that same sense of peace and quiet.  While still very close to the busy suburban shopping that is Central Park and Downtown Fredericksburg, after 20 years it continues to bring me great joy.  I can sit out on clear evenings and see countless stars and hear nothing but the sounds of chirping tree frogs and crickets along with the Canada geese and ducks settling in at night in our creek.  Or I can sit out on a bright morning and hear the morning doves, see the regal bald eagles, or watch the majestic heron as they sail overhead. Aside from the occasional eastern coyote, snake, opossum, raccoon, and/or skunk, life here is simply sublime! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Point at Sunset

Potomac Creek Estates – The Point

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You only have once chance to make a good first impression!

You’ve heard this a million times – probably in the context of how you present yourself to others – people that matter and hold the power to make decisions that could conceivably make or break you.  But what is equally important, is to remember that this most definitely applies to the condition of your home when marketing it for sale.

I was showing homes yesterday to my client.  We had a short list of possibilities but both had exceptional photos taken by professionals highlighting the best features in the home.  We entered both with very high expectations.

The first did not disappoint….although, there was a distinct odor of food that permeated in the air that hit me in the face as I walked in the door.  Fortunately, my client was not at all caught off guard by this and went through the tour unfazed.  The home was essentially in the exact same condition as in the photos.  Beds were made, drawers were closed, classical music swept through the surround sound system, and all in all, it was exquisite.

The second was the polar opposite.  As a mother of five grown children, I am possibly the most empathetic tour guide when I enter a home inhabited by young children.  I turn the other way and make excuses to my clients when there are toys stuffed under a bed, or a child’s artwork is proudly displayed on the refrigerator, or even when there are age specific accessories decorating a room – think Disney’s Frozen or Big Bird’s life sized stuffed animal in a corner.  What I can’t ignore, and more importantly, what my clients can’t ignore are dirty floors, towels left on the floor, cluttered closets, dirty dishes from breakfast (and it’s dinner time) or your dirty laundry piled high in the corner of the laundry room with your undergarments displayed for all the world to see!

Dirty Kitchen

Dirty Kitchen

While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep things in pristine condition while you are showing your home for sale, making the extra effort to keep the home in as organized and clean condition goes a LONG way.

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3 Level Colonial on 3 Acres in Stafford for Under $375k


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Beautiful Colonial Completely Updated Stafford, VA



This gorgeous updated home in Vista Woods (Mountain View HS District) is in pristine condition with a killer lot to boot!  See the virtual tour and contact me with any questions!  It’s an amazing home.



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Are You Properly Insured?

Flood insuranceAs I sit here preaching the merits of being properly insured, I am as guilty as most in neglecting to create an up-to-date inventory of my home possessions.  On many occasions, I had thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if I videotaped everything in the house so I could have an accounting of my possessions?”  I have YET to do this!  So, this blog entry is as much for me as it is for every homeowner out there.  Most of us are fortunate never to have to file a homeowner’s insurance claim for a loss incurred.  Yet none of us truly knows when that next tornado, hurricane or fire might come our way.  No one wants to think they’ll be burglarized but obviously, that’s a possibility, as well.

“According to a 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, over 75% of consumers don’t have a home inventory. ”  That’s a pretty staggering statistic! Here are some very basic tips to make sure you and your possessions are protected against theft or in the event of a catastrophe.

  1. Review your policy.
  2. Take photos of the exterior.
  3. Photograph each room from 4 angles (or videotape).
  4. Open every closet, cupboard, and drawer.
  5. Update after any improvements or major purchases.
  6. Take photos of serial and model numbers of electronics.
  7. China, crystal and silver need special attention.
  8. Don’t forget the garage and/or sheds.
  9. Make digital copies of things that can’t be replaced – photos, family videos, etc.
  10. Store home inventory off premises (or in The Cloud!).

Read more here!

Irene Morales Ward, Realtor

Because Choosing the Right Realtor DOES Matter!

Because Choosing the Right Realtor DOES Matter!

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2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry BlossomsI remember my very first trip to Washington DC.  I was about 10 years old and my sister and I came down from New York with my aunt and uncle for a little road trip.  It was the first time I had ventured beyond Pennsylvania or New Jersey (other than to fly to Puerto Rico to visit family) and it was quite an excursion.

I was so impressed by the monuments, the endless array of museums, the souvenirs, the city lights at night, and of course, the White House.  But nothing could have prepared me for the beauty and magnificence of the Cherry Blossoms.  Unbeknownst to me, those gorgeous trees were in full bloom.  It was like being in a spring wonderland!  Surreal is probably a good word for it.

I don’t know that you can duplicate the feeling a child has when they interpret something as magical but if there is anything that could do it – other than Disney World – then it’s perhaps the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.

See the schedule of events and plan a day with your family for an amazing treat!

Cherry Blossom EarthCam


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Are You Installing That Smoke Detector Correctly?

Smoke detector
Many homeowners take that little smoke detector for granted. It’s there keeping us safe and unless your batteries are low, you’ll probably forget it’s even there. Thankfully, most of us will never hear that annoying, beeping sound that is intended to wake us from a sound sleep to warn of us smoke or fire. It’s a lifesaver but often times, we simply ignore it. When it comes time to replace or upgrade this gem of a device, make sure you are doing so correctly.

Read on!

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