Monday, December 27, 2010

Recycling in the Cities Around Lake Ray Hubbard

I am a conscientious recycler though I honestly admit that while I do try my best to recycle in my home & take my own bags to stores, I'm only scratching the surface compared to most people who are diehard recyclers. I understand the basic ideas behind recycling ... We need less trash in our dumps & we need to do our part to help in the reduction of natural resources.
 trash dump
In researching the recycling programs that are around Lake Ray Hubbard, I'm happy & am thankfull that the Cities of Garland, Rowlett, & Rockwall have a recycling program and understand that having "Curb-Side" pick up for recycling is important to have more of their residents recycle.   Both the City of Rowlett & the City of Rockwall have recycling pick up once a week & the City of Garland has it every other week.

Recycling Logo

If you're in "aGREENment" (as the City of Rockwall says), and want to see cleaner lakes, green trees, & have a less nasty smells from the landfills, click on the following links to find out more about your cities Recycling Program.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Want to Buy a House ... What do I do 1st?!?

So you're thinking of buying a home ... Fabulous! But before you start looking all over the web at houses, the 1st thing you need to do is find out just how much of a house you can buy. Since you won't be paying 100% cash, you'll need to get a loan/mortgage.

In previous years, this "1st Step" used to be having a lender or bank take a quick look at your financials and Pre-Qualifing you with a ballpark range. However, it is now highly recommended that you get Pre-Approved. This is a more in-depth look at your financials and needed verifications done by the lender and is therefore a longer process, which unfortunetly has gotten longer. According to a RISMEDIA article and a study that was done between July and August of this year (2010),  the time from a  Mortgage Application to Approval has increased to 27.5 days since 2009 when it was just 20 days ( Because of this longer process, it's a good idea to meet with a lender a few months before you'd like to buy your house and move.

By being Pre-Approved for a certain dollar amount, you have secured the loan before falling in love with a house and have greatly reduced the stress involved in buying a new home. Now that you have secured your maximum loan amount, your next step is to find yourself a qualified Realtor to help guide you in the Home Buying Process and can narrow your home search to houses in your price range that meet your needs. I'd love to be your Realtor!

Let me know if you're thinking about purchasing a home and we can go over this process in more depth. I can also refer you to a fabulous lender who really give extrodinary personal care.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Events around Lake Ray Hubbard

In case you didn't know, it's time for all the Christmas Festivities to begin! One of the greatest things about living in Garland TX, Rowlett TX, Rockwall TX, or Heath TX is that no matter the season, there is always something going on! Between these sister cities around Lake Ray Hubbard, there are some fun-tabulous holiday events that are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!

*Now thru December 24th: the Bass Pro Shop in Garland, TX will once again have their Santa's Wonderland that includes a free 4x6 Professional Picture with Santa, free Games, Activities, & Crafts!

*Thursday, December 2nd at 7pm: the City of Rockwall, TX will have their 27th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at City Hall. There will be live entertainment, Craft Making in Santa's Workshop, Cookies, & visits with Ol' Saint Nick! More info at

*Friday, December 3rd at 7pm: the City of Heath, TX will have their annual Heath Holiday in the Park (towne center park behind City Hall). Festivities included the lighting of the Christmas Tree, Christmas Carols by Elementary School Choirs, Hot Coco & Cookies, rides on a miniature Christmas Train, and of course visits with Santa Clause! More info at

*Friday, December 3rd at 7pm: Firewheel Towne Center in Garland TX will have a complimentary Holiday Lakeshore Symphonic Winds Concert in the Park (across from Dessertapalooza & Nestles Toll House Cafe).

*Saturday, December 4th from 5-8pm: the City of Rowlett, TX will have their annual Light Up Main at the Downtown Square! Everyone will enjoy Holiday Games, Crafts in Santa's Workshop (sponsored by Home Depot), building Gingerbread Houses, as well as visits with St Nick and the traditional reading of "The Night Before Christmas" by Mayor John Harper! There will also be a Canned Food Drive going on to support the Rowlett Neddy Children's Fund. More info at

*Saturday, December 4th & 11th: Firewheel Towne Center in Garland, TX will have complimentary Carriage Rides around the Park (across from Dessertapalooza & Nestles Toll House Cafe).

*Wednesday, December 8th from 4-6pm: The Center in Rockwall (108 East Washington St) is hosting a Gingerbread Making Event for children ages 5-12yrs! The "houses" are ready to be decorated so bring your holiday cheer, creativity, & a bag of assorted candies to create your edible masterpiece! More info at

*Saturday, December 11th from 9-11am: The Center in Rockwall (108 East Washington St) has arranged for Santa to Come to Town! Stop by & let him know what you want for Christmas while the folks snap a cute picture! Donuts, Orange Juice & Activities will be provided. More info at

*Saturday, December 18th from 10-1pm: The Center in Rockwall (108 East Washington St) will have a Santa's Workshop for children 5-12yrs old. There will be an assortment of crafts that can be made! More info at

Friday, November 12, 2010

Holiday Hilarity with the Nutty Nutcracker

Now I know we're not even at Thanksgiving yet, BUT, I just wanted to spread the word of this Holiday Hilarity!   Each year we have a family tradition of going to the Nutcracker Ballet. However, last year we opted for something a little different and attended the Nutty Nutcracker. Oh my goodness, it was so wonderful! Laughter and clapping was non-stop by the audience and you could see the dancers were really having a blast as well.  I have no idea how they came up with all the parodies and translated it into a) Ballet & b) the Nutcracker story line. All the major headlines from the news and gossip magazines were in it! 

The performance is only done once a season so the tickets go fast. This year it's Sunday, December 19th at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. It might be a drive from Rowlett but it's well worth it and great for men, women, and teens!

Texas Ballet Theater

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day ... the day we, as American Citizens, honor all men & women who have selflessly served our great country. Their sacrifices and bravery have been honored since 1938, when legislation passed "Armistice Day". This day was to celebrate the servicemen of World War 1 who had "dedicated themselves to the cause of world peace". However, in 1954, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to celebrate and honor all individuals who served in ALL wars or during peacetime.

There's a number of Community Ceremonies that you can attend. The City of Rowlett will have a Veterans Day Ceremony at Veterans Park on Main Street from 4:30 pm.   City of Rowlett

Please take a moment to give a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the servicemen & women you know who dedicated their time to serve our country.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Living in Rowlett, TX

Rowlett Texas ... the City on the Water - the City on the Move!

In August 2010, Money Magazine ranked Rowlett #24 as one of the Best Places to live & KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization, selected Rowlett as 1 of only 118 cities to be named "Playful City USA". Rowlett is clearly a community that works to engage its citizens and create a sense of community. Along with these 2 honors, Rowlett is experiencing growth with the extension of the George Bush Turnpike/Toll Road and the Rapid Transit Light Rail (blue line).

It's easy to see why over 55,000 people call Rowlett home. Life in Rowlett offers a relaxed atmosphere and a quiet escape from the weeks hussle & bussle! Rowlett is just north of Dallas & has over 30 miles of shoreline on Lake Ray Hubbard. The school system in Rowlett is serviced by the Garland ISD which is rated Expemlary by the state of Texas Education Board. Though life is relxed in Rowlett, there's always something to do ... whether it's a Special Event on Main Street or a Community Event, a fun family time is sure to be had!

The Housing Market in Rowlett is on the rise. Through the summer peak months, the average sales price was between $154,000 which was up ~ 3% from last year. Houses in Rowlett are staying on the market ~ 63 days which is about 10% less than they were in 2009.  There are currently around 335 houses for sale and range from $849,000 - $100,000. There are numerous Subdivisions and HOA's for you to chose from.
Rowlett Subdivision Map 

I'm not just a Realtor who specializes in Rowlett Homes but I'm very happy to call Rowlett HOME myself. If you're interested in owning a home in Rowlett, I'd be happy to show you around! Or if you need to sell your home, I'd love to work with you to find the right buyer!

Samantha Smith, Realtor

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ristorante Nicola

Have you been to Ristorante Nicola at Park Cities in Dallas?!? Oh my, if not, You Need To! What a beautiful restaurant that has such a relaxing & welcoming atmosphere! This is not your ordinary Italian Restaurant ... every dish is a genuine Italian dish that is made from scratch, which includes handmade pasta & their signature Focaccia Nicola bread that is baked in a wood-burning oven. The executive chef, Luigi Iannuario, is actually from Milano, Italy and boy does he create serious delicious-ness straight from authentic recipes! 

I haven't been there since it 1st opened and can kick myself for not going more! Tonight I joined some friends for a "Martini's & Manicures" happy hour. We had such a great time at the bar, sippin' on our yummy Pomegranate Martini's, devouring our Pizza Margherita, & admiring our shinny fabulous nails! As we were there, I kept thinking to myself ... this is such a great place to meet after work ... Lucky for me, they're continuing their "Martini's & Manicures" every Thursday in November & December!

So the best kept Park Cities secret is out of the bag - Ristorante Nicola is the place to be for a great relaxing happy hour! and Ristorante Nicola is the only Italian restaurant for this lil' gal! 
Ristorante Nicola
Facebook Ristorante-Nicola

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Collin County's Samaritian Inn

As I've blogged about before, the d+b Real Estate agents are hosting a Charity Event for the Samaritian Inn. We're very excited about our Inagural Chili Cook Off and to be supporting an organization that's near & dear to us. Agents at d+b Real Estate are passionate about helping people in our communities (Collin County, Dallas County, & Rockwall County) & about our profession in real estate. With that being said, it was an obvious choice for us to select the Samaritian Inn as our Philanthropy since it combines both our passion for helping people and our profession. ... ... So what is the Samaritan Inn you ask? Simply put, it's a Homeless Shelter, but, it not only provides a place to sleep & meals for the residence, they also provide a program to help "individuals and families before, during, and after a homeless situation". 

Join us to help others in need and for a day of family fun (doggies welcome)! The Chili Cook Off will be this Saturday, Nov 6th, from Noon to 3pm at Town Lake in McKinney. A Can Good or an item off the Samaritian Wish List is the entry to the festivites & to taste/judge all the Chili! For a monetary donation of at least $1, you can enjoy a bowl of your Chili of choice. We'll also have games,a raffle, & of course Awards for the Chili contestants!

Samaritan Inn

Needs List

Hope to see you & your family there!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inaugural Chili Cook Off benefiting the Samaritan Inn

Holy Jalapenos Friends we're just a week & a half away from our Inaugural Chili Cook Off which is benefiting the Samaritan Inn! RSVP this week & you'll receive an extra entry in the $75 Sauce gift certificate raffle! EVERYONE that attends gets a raffle just let us know you're coming for another chance to win! Charity Chili Cook Off RSVP.  and go to d+b Website for all the info & to register your Chili Team!

Halloween Fun Around Dallas

Woo! Can you believe it's already time for Halloween?!?  Time to stock up oddles & oddles of candy and plan out your own Halloween Fun!
Depending on where you live in the DFW Metro-Plex, there's lots of options. Below are just a few to chose from  ...
  • BOO at the ZOO in Ft Worth(Oct 29-31st) This is our family tradition that we actually do on Halloween Day. It's great for kiddos of all ages, the park is open from 12-5pm and they have Halloween throughout the Zoo as well as fun events, shows, games & candy PLUS more animals!
  • Downtown McKinney has their annual Scare on the Square (Fri, October 29th) at the Historic Downtown Square on from 4 to 6:00 & local businesses hand out treats to all the costumed visitors plus they have hay rides and all kinds of fun festivities going on.
  • Rockwall's Historic Downtown is having their annual Scare on the Square (Sat, October 30th)  from 4pm to 6pm.  It's a fun Free event for kiddos to Trick ’r Treat with the businesses on the Square, enjoy Hay Rides, and more Halloween fun!
  • Allen is having their inaugural Trek or Treat 5K Run & Walk at Watters Creek (Sat, October 30th).  Put on your cape, grab your wand & come dressed in your costume for the run! After the run, they will have a Halloween celebration full of tasty treats and activities for all ages!
  • Grand Prairie's annual Haunted Hallway at Traders Village (Sat, October 30th)Throw on your best Halloween costume and get ready to do the Monster Mash for a day full of ghostly fun. They have a Haunted House, activities, & of course, lots of candy.
  • Firewheel Town Center in Garland will have a Fall Festival  (Sun, October 31st) from
    3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. In the Park, they will have Costume Contests, Coloring Sheets, Maryoku Yummy or Twisted Whiskers bags, & Tricks or Treats for all!  
Enjoy the festivities and time with your family & friends!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Teething Tablets being Recalled

Yikes another recall for babies/toddlers! What a bummer! When I was a new mommy (all of 17mths ago), all of my Mommy Friends recommended these teething tablets for when the 'fabulous' teething started. They worked really well for my lil' dude & were a great alternative to the Teething Gel that gags him. If you have Teething Lil' Ones or know someone who does, please pass this along to them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Traditions

Oh I love when Fall rolls in! Chilly mornings, football, leaves changing colors, and family traditions! About 2 years ago we started to Paint/Carve Pumpkins and roast Pumpkin Seeds. The past 2 years, I've been the one pushing that we do it ... but somehow this year it slipped my mind, that is until my step-daughter said "Hey, we still have to do our pumpkins!" As a huge smile struck my face & I said "Your Right!", I was thinking how awesome that this has become something that she looks forward to! So off to the store my husband & daughter go to get pumpkins while I quickly scramble to find our crafty supplies. After a hardy breaky & a few cups of coffee to kick start our creative juices, we were ready to get going with our Pumpkin Family Tradition! Our Lil' Pumpkin who's 17mths got in on the action with his own ... quite the artist! Then after the pumpkins were done, the kiddos & I went outside to sort out the seeds from the pulp - talk about a fabulously delicious mess :)

Basking in the afterglow of our Family Tradition, I started to think of my business and how friends & clients, like my step-daughter, really do look forward to things we do even though we don't think they do. If you've done something for a couple years in a row, lets say you deliver fresh Pumpkin Bread the Friday before Thanksgiving, and then forget to do it ... I bet your friends & clients would wonder why they didn't see you this year. It's important to stay consistant & little tokens of thought are heart warming to all.

So here's my new task, I'm going to come with 4 (1 for each of the seasons) different Family & Business Traditions. How about you ... What are your Family Traditions? What are you Business Traditions?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Home Inspections

Home Inspections are, in my book, a must whether you're buying a New Build House or a Previously Owned House. Inspections allow the buyer to receive factual information on the condition of the house. The Big 5 that seems to be on everyones mind are: Foundation, Heating/Cooling System, Roof, Plumbing, & Electrical ... and in Texas, lets add Termites or other Wood Destroying Insects. Once the Inspector goes over these with the buyer, it seems that most other items are cosmetic. It's important that any repairs are done by Licensed Professionals & the receipt is given to your buyer so they know who to contact if the issue occurs again and so they can switch the warranty over to their name.

If you're in need of an inspector, I highly recommend the meticulous Gene South of Texas Property Inspection. He not only is extremely thorough with the inspection but also with his report. He includes pictures with special notes & diagrams, which is such a useful tool for the buyer who can refer to it later.

Now not only do you get to find out the condition of the property but you also get a chance to learn some great tips on how to fix the issues as well as tips on how to prevent issues. I personally learn something new everytime I'm with a buyer for an inspection! Here's a few that I recently learned ...

  • For people, an Apple a day may keep the Doctor away but for a House, watering the soil around your house keeps the Foundation Doctor away :)
  • Acrobat Ants, which are not 1 of the 16 Wood Destroying Insects, can do as much damage as Carpenter Ants & it's important to have your house treated for them as well.
  • Satellite Dishes screwed on to the roof often times aren't sealed properly or the seal wears away w time & allows rain to sweep through the screw holes. Easy Fix = purchase Black Roof Tar from Lowe's/Home Depot & apply around the screws.
  • All Outlets have a "Master" & the others in circuit are "slaves" ... meaning that if 1 of the slave outlets isn't working simply Reset the Master outlet & wallah :)
Stay tuned for more Lessons Learned during Inspections!

Monday, October 18, 2010

To Vote or Not to Vote ...

I Got My VOTE On today ... Did You?

It's hard to miss that there are some Elections coming up, thanks to all the 'mudslinging' commercials on TV!  Mid-term elections are essentially voting for State Governor, State Senate, State Representative, US Senate, US Congress, & local elections. and Ahhh yes, today began Early Voting for the November 2nd General Election and will last until October 29th.  I'm a huge fan of Early Voting for the following reasons: 1) we get 2 weeks to find the our voting station, 2) we have 2 weeks to find 5 minutes to vote, & best of all, 3) NO LINES!!! 
Follow this link to locate your voting poll and take advantage of the 2 weeks of Early Voting!
TX Polling Locations

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Plano TX is Forbe's #1 Safest City to Live

Hip-Hip-Hooray! Another DFW city has made a national list ... Plano, a northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, is awarded as the #1 Safest City to Live!  That may be why over 265,000 people have chosen Plano to call home.      Forbes 2010 Safest Cities in America

Not only is Plano the #1 Safest City to live, but it  ...

  • is Close to Dallas with access to public transportation and the Toll Way 
  • Home of Corporate & Regional Headquarters (such as Frito Lay, JC Penny's, Cinemark Theaters, Capital One) and many Business Complexes
  • a Historic Downtown that holds something for, dining, nightlife, & culture
  • Newly expanded Legacy Town Center that has a variety of shops and restaurants (Nicola's & Coast are my favorite!)
  • a Public School system that has recently been rated "Recognized" by the Texas Education Agency 
  • Has many Parks including a 200-acre park featuring trails of natural beauty for walking, jogging, hiking and other outdoor activities, and
  • Has annual Cultural Family Events ... Balloon Festival in September, International Festival in October & many more
So how's the Housing Market in Plano, you ask???  Well over the summer months, which are known as the "peak" months, houses were on the market fewer days than last year & the median sales price was $263,652 and was up 1% from 2009. 

If you or anyone you know is interested in moving to Plano, I'd be happy to share more info specific to your/their needs.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

1st Annual Chili Cook-Off, benefitting The Samaritan Inn of Collin County

d + b real estate are excited to announce their 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off, benefitting The Samaritan Inn, on Saturday, November 6. Enjoy the fall weather while tasting and judging all different flavors & styles of chili, participating in family games and networking with the businesses, friends and family that the agents at d + b consider our “team”.

Competitors and cooks of all skill levels are invited to show off their cooking skills and seek the coveted “Golden Ladle” award. Teams will be competing in one of two categories: the Vendor category or the Clients & Friends category. Bring your prepared chili in a crock-pot and let the guests decide your fate!

How do you sign up? Easy! Print the registration form at the bottom of this post. The entry fee is only $25, OR, vendors have the option of paying $30 to include a table for your business promotional materials.

Don’t feel like cooking? That's OK. We're not all Bobby Flay or Gordon Ramsay! Be our guest and sample ALL of the chili for FREE! One canned good gets you into all the food and festivities. We’re counting on YOU to be our judges. We will be accepting cash donations if you would like to purchase a bowl of chili and other delectable bites!

The little ones are welcome too! For the kids we will offer “non-chili” food plus a schedule of fun games and activities.

And…every person that attends has a chance to win a $75 gift certificate to Sauce on the Square!

The Chili Cook-Off will be held at Towne Lake Park in McKinney, just across from McKinney High School from noon to 3 PM.

ALL proceeds will go towards The Samaritan Inn in an effort to bring attention to National Homeless Awareness Month. We appreciate your support!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Foreclosures in Texas ...

It's official, the TX Attorney General's office has stopped all foreclosures, sales of foreclosed properties until mortgage companies have completed a review of their processes, mainly looking into whether employees or agents "robosigned” affidavits and other documents. It apparently seems that many of the foreclosers were just being signed without being read or reviewed thoroughly.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Realtor for YOU in Dallas-Fort Worth MetroPlex

With 6 years of teaching/coaching high school in TX and another 6 years in Event Sales, as well as my own personal experiences in Real Estate, I am able to fully support you on this life changing experience of buying, selling, or leasing a home. My goal is to make your experience in this crazy up and down market of Real Estate as stress free as possible and to give you 100% personal care and expertise!