Back to School!

back to schoolSummer vacation was fun, but it’s time to get the kids back to school! Here are some tips for a fun first day back to school and tips for a successful school year.

1st Day of School Traditions

  • Hold a first day photo shoot. Keep the mood fun by suggesting silly faces or letting the family pet join in. Keeping the camera snapping after school and capture your child stepping off the school bus in the afternoon.
  • Bury a time capsule. Fill a box or jar with items that represent your child’s current hobbies and interests. Have your child make a list of their favorite movies, books, and bands and describe first-day fears, friends he or she can’t wait to see!.
  • See how they measures up. Using a growth chart (or the inside of a closet door), mark your child’s current height. Keep track year-by-year to show growth spurts.
  • Plan a bus stop breakfast! Invite all the neighborhood kids to get an early start the day before school begins. Fill a wagon with juice boxes, fruits and donuts. Brint it to the neighborhood bus stop at the usual pickup time as a “dress rehearsal” for the first day of school.
  • Tuck a love note into your child’s lunchbox to show you’re thinking of them. The first day can be nerve racking for everyone, so you may want to go for comfort food when dinner time comes and enjoy a cool dessert as summer vacation comes to an end.

Back to School Study Tips

  • A well-stocked desk in a quiet place at home is key, but sometimes you need variety. A trip to the library, park, or even just moving to the kitchen table will give kids a change of scenery which can prompt their brain to retain information better.
  • Remind your kids to look over their notes each night to make sure they have got all the information they need, then have them highlight the information that they know is the most important.
  • Don’t let a bad grade keep your kid down. A rough start doesn’t have to ruin the entire school year. Remind your kids to take proactive steps by checking their grades regularly and asking for a tutor if they need one.
  • Encourage your kids to make a friend in every class. Having a few friends in each class if always helpful if they have a homework question or had to miss class, then when it comes time to study for exams, they will already have a study group.
  • Keeping a calendar helps everyone plan ahead, but you’ve got more going on than just school so make sure you’re marking your extracurricular, work, and social commitments!

…and before you know it, summer vaction will be here again!

Easter Brunch

Easter Basket
With so many Easter brunches around the valley, how do you choose? Here are a few of our favorite local restaurants for brunch!

Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen
6114 – North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

Weft & Warp at the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows will be going all out this Easter Sunday. From 11am to 3pm delight in an assortment of cheese and charcuterie, slow-roasted prime rib, pan-seared scallops, and so much more! Raspberry coconut eclairs will sugar-coat the entire experience, but go for a Lucky Charms tart to keep the meal festive. Bottomless mimosas are sure to get you buzzing at $25. An egg hunt will be held on property from 10 to 11am, including a special adult hunt with prizes. Brunch costs $75 for adults and $35 for children 7 to 12. Call 480-214-4622 for reservations.

Pomelo at the Orchard
7100 – North 12th Street, Phoenix

Enjoy Pomelo this Easter with an inspired brunch set at one of Arizona’s first citrus farms. Start with a crudite platter with hummus and grilled pita, then keep it fresh with the seared ahi tuna salad. Indulge in the short rib Benedict or breakfast pizza featuring fresh mozzarella, Schreiner’s sausage, breakfast potatoes, and over-medium eggs. Plus, you can rendezvous with rosé all day for $20. Brunch runs from 10am to 3 pm. Call 602-633-2600 for reservations.

Ocean Prime
5455 – East High Street, #115, Phoenix

Treat yourself to seafood and upscale vibes this Easter at Ocean Prime from 11am to 3pm. Easter brunch will be a la carte and feature lobster toast with a sunny-side egg, crab and eggs atop an English muffin with hollandaise sauce, and French toast with mixed berries and candied bacon. Start your meal with a blood orange mimosa for $9, or go all out with Ocean Prime’s signature Bloody Mary with jumbo shrimp for $18. Call 480-347-1313 for reservations.

Once you finish your Easter Egg hunt and you’re ready to begin your house hunt, give us a call! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Why Residents Love Fountain Hills

fountain hills backyard photoIf small town charm is what you’re looking for, Fountain Hills is the place to be! Fountain Hills is a beautiful, safe and quiet community, and is just a short drive away from Phoenix. Ask around, and residents will tell you there are plenty of reasons to love Fountain Hills! Here are just a few reasons you and your family should consider calling Fountain Hills home. 

Great Schools

Fountain Hills has a great school district, with outstanding academic and extracurricular programs. In Fact, according the school district’s website, Fountain Hills was ranked in the top 5% of U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 Best High Schools. 

Saguaro Lake

If your family loves the great outdoors, you’ll find no shortage of beautiful scenery and outdoor adventure in and around Fountain Hills. Saguaro Lake is just twenty minutes from town, and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, picnicking and so much more. You may even be lucky enough to see a bald eagle or desert mountain sheep!

Arts & Culture

With over 150 pieces, Fountain Hills is home to one the largest public collections of art in Arizona! The town offers docent-led, self-guided and private art walk tours. Experience all the beautiful artwork including statues, painting, murals and photography.

There are many more reasons to name… a lot of homes have gorgeous views of vistas and mountains.  It’s a serene and beautiful community with a small town feel that is within a short drive to Scottsdale’s finest shopping and dining.  Cheryl and I are local area real estate experts in Fountain Hills.  We can find you a home that fits you needs and lifestyle.  Just give us a call! 480.754.9477 or 480.754.9077

Click here to learn more about Fountain Hills and view homes for sale


Best Dog Friendly Activities in Scottsdale

Are you looking to bring your pup along on your Scottsdale adventures? Scottsdale is consistently ranked the most pet-friendly city in Arizona, and for good reason! With so many great trails and restaurants offerings a space for your pup, there’s no excuse not to bring your dog along. Here are some of our favorite places –

dog photoLost Dog Wash Trail 

This 4.4-mile loop is a great hike year-round to bring your pup. With several beautiful wild flowers and short, moderately trafficked trails that are great for you and your pup to explore. Featuring a natural desert landscape, it’s easily accessible from Scottsdale and offers parking at the trail head.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Among the antique carousel and historic railroad museum, McCormick-Stillman Railrod Park offers expensive grassy areas and great picnic areas for you and your furry friend. Make sure to keep your dog leashed, but enjoy the walks around the old railroad cars and exploring the grounds.

Su Vino Winery

Hoping to bring your dog along to your next winery trip? Su Vino is a great local pet-friendly option. You can enjoy your wine while your pup sips on bowls of dog water under a shaded patio. Located in downtown Scottsdale, it’s great for the urban pup that wants to come along with you.

Chaparral Park 

One of the biggest and most-visited dog parks in Scottsdale is Chaparral Park. With over four acres for your pup to run around in, it offers various water fountains, play features and seating for you. Feel free to bring a chair too! Chaparral Park also offers two sections for dogs to play in — one for more passive dogs that might be easily scared.

Gateway Trailhead

Perfect for both the pups and your children, Gateway Trailhead is a great opportunity for hiking and education. Children can get a passport along the way and collect stamps, while dogs can trot alongside via leash. With plenty of parking and an easy hike, it’s a great option for the whole family.

Contact Us

History of Old Town Scottsdale

While Old Town Scottsdale is known today for its old-timey stores and historic art galleries, the history of the Old Town Scottsdale paints a picture of a Western pioneer town, and how far the city has come thus far.

Old Town Scottsdale Cowboy photo

Settled in the late 1880’s, Scottsdale was originally named Orangedale by one of it’s original founder’s, Albert G. Utley. Utley was the main city planner and laid out the streets in exacting fashion. Utley chose Orangedale because he thought the area was a great place to grow citrus.

However, next to Utley’s land, was Winfield Scott’s 64 acres where Old Town Scottsdale now sits. In 1888, Winfield Scott, who is the town’s namesake, purchased the original 640 aces where Old Scottsdale is housed for only $92, equaling $3.50 per acre.

Over the next 50 years, the town of Scottsdale continued to grow. In 1896, the public-school system was founded, with the first post office following shortly after. The area continued to attract artists and writers, with the town’s first resort opening in 1909. The popular Little Red Schoolhouse was built also in 1909 with two classrooms for grades one through eight. It now houses the town’s historical museum.

The town really began booming in 1950 when Motorola came into Scottsdale and built a new plant. They soon followed with another plant in 1956 and the city’s population continued to grow to 2,000. At this point, the city was incorporated and it’s first mayor, Malcom White, developed Scottsdale’s motto of “The West’s Most Western Town.”

Now, local icons like the Sugar Bowl, one of Old Town Scottsdale’s oldest attractions, offers visitors a blast from the past. It opened in 1958 on Christmas Eve and has been serving customer’s ice cream ever since. Other places like Porter’s Western Store still stand today, offering a history lesson for today’s patrons.

Next time you drive through Old Town Scottsdale, think about the history and culture that founded the town. From Western bars and two-room school houses, Old Town Scottsdale is a treasure trove of history right in our backyard.

Click here to learn about Scottsdale’s Homes and Neighborhoods.

Noteworthy Wineries around the Valley

wine glass photoMany of us enjoy to relax and unwind with a glass of wine and good company. You may not realize it, but Scottsdale is also a hub for wine, with the Senoita, Wilcox and Verde Valleys in our backyard. Dating back to the 1970’s, the areas local vineyards have made a name for themselves as a wine destination, with local tours offered throughout the year.

Check out these well-known Arizona vineyards for the best wine the state has to offer.

Granite Creek Vineyards

Nestled in the Chino Valley, Granite Creek Vineyards is family owned and operated, and was the first winery in Arizona to be certified as organic. This is a big accomplishment, as it required 100 percent of the grapes to come from an organically certified vineyard that is tested and audited. While the vineyard is a bit isolated, it’s location and weather is perfect for producing grapes.

Arizona Stronghold Vineyards

Started in 2007, Arizona Stronghold Vineyard has helped put Arizona wines on the map, winning numerous awards and recognition at tasting competitions. The vineyard, located in Graham County, boasts several wines on a seasonal basis, with their tasting room offering a quirky but fun environment.

Charron Vineyards and Winery

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Tucson, Charron Vineyards is a bit more of a drive, but is a great option for a weekend getaway. Situated in the foothills of the Stan Rita Mountains, it offers some of the oldest vines in Arizona. It’s most known for its White Merlot, which has sold out every year since it won the 2000 Governor’s Choice Award.

Windmill Winery

Built on the foundation of an old brickyard, Windmill Winery is a gorgeous nursery, turned vineyard. Founded in 2001, the quaint winery offers a shabby chic feel with a handful of wines for visitors to try in their local tasting room. And it’s just over an hour away from Scottsdale!

Su Vino Winery

While not an actual vineyard, Su Vino Winery is one of the most well-known tasting rooms, located in Scottsdale’s Arts District. The main Su Vino Winery is in Texas, but the Scottsdale location is its second storefront. With dozens of wines by the glass, including some on tap, Su Vino is a great local option if you’re not in the mood to drive to the winery.

There are many more wonderful wine bars in the valley including the Cave Creek and Carefree area. Many offer happy hour and other weekday specials.  Click here to learn about Scottsdale Homes & Neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Fountain Hills

Located just Northeast of Scottsdale, the community of Fountain Hills is a unique and interesting town that offers outdoor recreation, a thriving art community and dozens of local events that unit the residents.

Home of the fourth largest fountain in the world, Fountain Hills features a spectacular 560-foot fountain in the center of town. Serving as the focal point for the community, it’s a point of pride for residents. Taller than the Washington monument and the Great Pyramids, the fountain was built in 1970 and sprays for 15 minutes every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Fountain Hills downtown photoThe thriving downtown area offers family-friendly entertainment, while catering to an art-cantered adult community. The downtown area offers a sprinkler splash pad for children to run through during the hot summer months, and a robust Farmer’s Market and Art Walk. The Fountain Hills artist’s gallery is owned and operated by 30 local artists that create and sell their work in the heart of the Fountain Hills. If you’re looking for a history of Fountain Hills, stop by the River of Time museum that offers historical background on the area.

Fountain Hills also offers over 50 miles of biking and hiking trails, including outdoor Jeep tours, kayaking, golf courses for outdoor activity year-round. Notable hiking trails including the Tonto National Forrest, McDowell Mountain Preserve, and Saguaro Lake – located 20 minutes away from Fountain Hills.

And you can’t forget the annual fairs! The Fountain Hills Great Fair takes place every February, bringing over 500 artisans and craftsman to the small community with free admission. It also includes musicians and restaurants from all over the world.

If you’re looking for a lively option, don’t forget about Fort McDowell Casino, offering a variety of dining and cocktail options, all surrounded by the environment of fun card games and slot machines. It’s the state’s largest card room! The casino also offers live music and shows on a weekly basis.

Located just 25 minutes from the airport, Fountain Hills is a great option for those wanting a more serene living option that gives the convenience of being close to Phoenix. Surrounded with expansive mountain views and natural desert landscape, Fountain Hills offers family-friendly fun with a unique artist community and thriving downtown environment, all within a short drive to the bustling city of Phoenix.

Click here to learn more about Fountain Hills and view homes for sale.

Hot Air Balloon Rides

One of the most magical ways to see the beautiful vistas of the Valley of the Sun is by floating through the air in the basket of a hot air balloon.  Thankfully there are many options at your disposal for this fun mode of transportation.

hot air balloon photoRainbow Ryders–  This company features sunrise balloon rides, departing from North Phoenix, for both adults and children (ages 5 and up), as well as sunset balloon rides from November to March.  The sunset balloon ride package is 4 hours in duration and also depart from North Phoenix.

Hot Air Expeditions—Hot Air Expeditions offers various packages, all of which include viewing of the hot air balloon being inflated.  Their Balloons and Tunes package includes a 45-60 minute balloon ride, post-flight champagne and breakfast at Vincent’s on Camelback, plus a transfer to the Musical Instrument Museum.  Sunset flights include hors d’oeuvres catered by Vincent’s.  Flights depart from the Deer Valley Airport.

Aerogelic Ballooning—This company features two different launch locations.  One in North Phoenix, and one in Gilbert.  Various packages are offered from sunrise or sunset balloon rides to dawn patrol and full moon balloon experiences.

Apex Balloon Rides—Offering rides 7 days a week from October to May, Apex Balloon Rides launch daily at sunrise, and also at sunrise beginning in the cooler months of November through March.  This owner/pilot operated company aims to offer a more personal experience, and even offers hot air balloon weddings.

Scottsdale Hot Air Balloons–  This company features shared and group rides with 4-8 people, as well as private rides.

Learn about North East Valley homes and neighborhoods.

Happy Hour in Desert Ridge

desert ridge makretplace signDesert Ridge is one of the most popular shopping areas in north Phoenix.  Desert Ridge is also bumping during happy hour thanks to its plethora of popular restaurants.  Here are some from which you can choose . . .

  1. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse offers happy hour specials such as half-off mini deep dish pizzas, $1 drink specials (draft beer, cocktails, bottled beer, wine) and $2 off certain appetizers.  Happy hour at this location is from 3:00 to 7:00 pm Monday-Friday, and 10:00 pm to close Sunday-Thursday.
  2. California Pizza Kitchen offers various monthly happy hour specials.  Details are on the restaurant website.
  3. Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks hosts happy hour Monday-Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 pm, and features various drink specials as well as 6 appetizers under $5.
  4. Romano’s Macaroni Grill offers $5 pizzas, 2 tapas plates for $9, $3 draft beer and house wine and $5 cocktails every day from 4:00 to 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm to close.
  5. Majerle’s Sports Grill is one of the newer options at Desert Ridge and offers various appetizers for $5 as well as $3 draft beer, $3.50 well and house wine, $4 premium draft, $4.50 margaritas.  Happy hour is Monday-Friday, 3:00 pm to close, with reverse happy hour 10 pm to close.
  6. Nori Sushi hosts a daily happy hour Monday-Friday, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Nori Sushi offers several sushi and small plate specials as well as sake, cocktails, beer and wine from $2-$5.
  7. Sandbar Mexican Grill features a $6 happy hour appetizer menu, $3 domestic bottles, $4 well drinks, $5 craft beers and house wines.  Happy hour is Monday-Friday 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, and Saturday-Sunday from open to 7:00 pm.
  8. The Keg Steakhouse and Bar features a cocktail happy hour Monday-Friday 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, with various drink and food specials.
  9. Yard House hosts a happy hour Monday-Friday 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and a late night happy hour Sunday-Thursday from 10:00 pm to close.  Check their website for details on that day’s specials.

Learn more about Desert Ridge neighborhoods


Wine and Painting 

mellow-mushroom sign Looking for something new and fun to do, instead of the usual dinner and a movie?  How about drinking wine (or your beverage of choice) while painting a beautiful canvas?  If you’re missing that crafty gene, no worries as part of the activity is learning how to paint, step by step, from an instructor who will lead you through each step.  There are a few different venues here in the Valley of Sun at which you can try out this fun new activity . . .

  1. Pinot’s Palette has one current location in Paradise Valley, but has three more upcoming locations.  Check out their calendar and click on the canvas you’d like to paint, and then click on the day you’d like to paint it, and you can reserve your spot to create your very own masterpiece.  This location also offers date nights (where you can paint one canvas half of a painting while your significant other paints the other half) as well as open studio times where you can create a canvas of your choosing, under the guidance of an instructor.  This studio is BYOB and food, and children are permitted so long as they are over the age of 5.
  2. The Brush Bar features a mixture of Open Studio nights as well as nights featuring certain paintings you’d like to create. This studio offers Mimosa mornings on Sundays, $30 Thursdays and Family Days.
  3. Paint Party and Wine hosts private events at locations in Gilbert and Ahwahtukee.   For private events, you can choose the canvas size and time it takes to paint, and the price is set based on the number of participants.
  4. Carrie Curran Art Studios offers several types of painting events, from family events, couples events as well as after school and home school art classes for the kiddos.  There is even a Paint Your Pet class where you email in a photo of your pet, a sketch is created on canvas, and then you learn how to fill it in with paint in a group setting.
  5. The Painter’s Lounge in downtown Phoenix on Roosevelt Row in the Arts District.  Guided by instructors, you will create the masterpiece of the day (chosen from their calendar online), and you are permitted to BYOB as well as any snacks or food you’d like to enjoy while painting.  This location is next door to locally-owned Pita Jungle.

Learn about Scottsdale Homes and Neighborhoods