Don’t Turn Your Back on that Garden Gnome

Here we are, surrounded by snow at this time of year. It’s a nice time to think about Spring, which I know is coming, eventually. It just takes it’s own time; keeps it’s own schedule. Sort of.

I’m thinking of a garden setting for a scene. It’s early morning, the dew is still on the grass. If you walk out there you will have soaking wet feet. But, it does leave pretty cool footprints.

Way out there, in the corner of the back of the backyard, is that old rattan garden furniture. It’s been left under the big tree and probably needs some looking after now. But, it is kind of useful for sitting under the shade when it gets really hot in summer. Those hot days the plastic furniture will burn your butt and leave those big wide stripes on your bare skin. I’m not a big fan of summer, but that’s another story.

I’d like to write a story about garden gnomes some time. They really should have some kind of secret life and a secret society or something. Garden gnomes… far worse than moles and much scarier than zombies. For one thing, they have a lower reach. You won’t even notice that sweet garden gnome until it trips you with the garden hose and starts offering your brain to the lurking zombies, collecting your blood to sell on the black vampire market. Aren’t you feeling just a bit more suspicious about garden gnomes now?

Of course, they could live in garden sheds… but that would be too predictable. Anyway, not everyone has a decent garden shed and garages just don’t cut it. Those are for cars and their associated gremlins.

A real garden gnome lives in garden furniture. If you want to appease your garden gnome have a look in the garden furniture shop  for something nice. The links today are from Bridgman garden furniture. Gnomes think the imported stuff is fancier and we do want to keep them impressed, happy, less likely to gnaw off our fingers. Find some fancy garden furniture for your gnomes. Get them thinking everything is good, then try to trap them. But, beware, trapped garden gnomes are not happy garden gnomes. Really, there isn’t much you can do with them at that stage. You just know they are going to get out again. You can try to transport them far away. I’ve heard one guy mailed off his garden gnomes, all the way to some tiny village in the back roads of China. They were back in a week, with a new accent and some Karate moves.

Don’t think you are safe just because you have never bought or brought home a garden gnome. Don’t suffer such false hope. The garden gnomes are there, in your yard,  dead heading your flowers just for fun.

Give a character to something we usually think of as harmless or mildly silly (mice, fairies, mail boxes…). It’s kind of fun.

Home Staging as a Career

Home staging also known as home redesigning and real estate enhancement is about setting up a home to appeal to real estate buyers. The home staging service can be used by home builders, real estate agents or the individual home owner. Home staging is like public relations for the home selling market.

Home staging plays up the good features, adds some overall polish, curb appeal and downplays the less appealing or unattractive features. Unlike interior decorating, the home stager wants to make the house appeal to new buyers with all sorts of styles and preferences. Part of that is making the home neutral, removing signs of the current owner so that a new owner feels they could just step into the home and belong there right away.

Staging a home involves knowing current design styles and elements, organizing, decluttering, cleaning and repairs. Then you get into staging each room by rearranging furniture, adding accessories like paintings, flowers or throw pillows. Overall, the staging gives the home an ambience, including smell and other details people will take for granted or only notice when they are not done well. Before the job is done, the outside needs to be considered, the landscaping and the first impression the house gives before anyone even gets inside. The idea isn’t to go out and buy new furniture or begin a home renovation, instead home staging takes what is already there and makes it work.

The ups and downs of the real estate market are an important issue to anyone working in the housing industry, including those in home staging. Are homes selling? If sales are quick and easy a home stager will have to work harder to find clients or find those who really need the service. If home sales slow down there will be a demand for home staging, landscaping, renovating and other such services. If home sales trickle down there may be a bigger need for home staging services but the problem will be finding homes which are likely to sell and give the home stager credit for a job well done. In bad times home staging may not be the best career. Especially, if the home stager (trying to win a job or just be helpful) agrees to take payment when the house sells rather than when the job is done.

Resources:
The International Association of Home Staging Professionals
Professional Stagers Network Association
Canadian Certified Staging Professionals

Canoe.ca: Home Stagers Set the Scene

Home staging guru Barb Schwarz coined the term “home staging” from her background in theatre. The house, she reasons, is a stage upon which an ASP arranges the right props — furniture, artwork, sounds and scents — to engage an audience. The critics are the real estate agents and the audience is the buyers.

FabJob: Become a Home Stager
Entrepreneur: Start a Home Redesign Business
About.com: Home Buying/Selling: Home Staging and Staging a House
Househunting.ca: Home Staging Mistakes

Decade of the Internet Marketer?

Will this be the decade everyone became an Internet marketer? I get less calls from telemarketers than I get promotional spam from Internet marketers. Yet, it’s still the telemarketers who get the worst reputation.

When I read blogs about Internet or online marketing I can’t really take any of them seriously. If they really were smart marketers they would have stepped out of the blog world by now. For one thing, it’s flooded. There are far too many bloggers and few readers/ subscribers/ buyers. Now that so many people have a blog it’s getting to be a pretty crowded pond. The only way you can still be a big fish in this pond is to hop out and create a new pond.

The only blogs still interesting enough to notice are those who have real, original content. I don’t include any blog about Internet marketing or related topics in this list. If one does find a new thought it will soon be posted to death through blogs and social networking. Their pond is more like a goldfish bowl so stuffed with fish there are only a few drops of water left in the bowl.

What is the last blog you read and actually liked enough to go back and read again? In my case it was a blog about recycling furniture, clothes and etc. I found it when I was looking for ideas to use buttons. (It had two).

What is the point of this post? Not much really. It’s not going to change anything. Just made me laugh today when I heard someone cursing telemarketers, Avon sales people and all those others when in fact they themselves run a blog promoting themselves as an expert on Internet marketing and offering their services. Funny that the very people most likely to be reading that blog are people who already offer the same services themselves.

I don’t offer a great solution. Just seems to me that as flooded as things are online, it may be time for people to consider going back to door-to-door sales again, local and in person. A live person who lets you sample the wares actually rather than virtually. Someone who will deliver your order or let you pick it up cause, after all, they live just down the next block. Don’t you kind of miss human contact and the feeling of dealing with a local business, someone who really does care about the product they sell?

Moving into the Maze

Below is my description of our last move from one town to another. I’ve moved a lot, mostly in Ontario. Twice to another country, though one was only for a few months. Change is not easy and it’s a real pain when you have to change almost everything and carry it in heavy boxes too.

Moving makes me feel like I’m one of a few survivors of an earthquake or some other mass destruction. The house is packed with boxes, furniture stacked against walls out of the way for the painter who might come this week. Clothes are in garbage bags in the closet rather than sort them out into drawers or hang them up. (Hardwood floors were just put in yet we still have that painter guy hanging over our heads so we can’t really move in).

No wonder there are people making a living as organizers. We have so much stuff. Stuff is just the right anonymous word for it all too. I have thrown out and donated and recycled a lot yet it still surrounds me like a nagging flock of seagulls in some Alfred Hitchcock movie. I hope it will all be done, well no, that’s not realistic. I hope we can live in this new house in this new town soon. I’d like to at least walk through the house and not feel I’m in a maze, bumping into untamed furniture.

How do you feel about moving? Write a description of your last move.

Under the Bed

It came from under the bed, the creature with three of everything. Three eyes, three toes, three hairs upon it’s shiny head and three weird tentacles that it seems to have little control over as it wanders around knocking things over, leaving a path of damage and chaos.

The only way to get rid of this creature is to rearrange your bedroom furniture, especially the bed. That way it can’t find it’s way back and gets lost, never to bother you again.

How would you rearrange your bedroom? Draw up a plan and consider giving yourself a change. If only to get rid of that creature from under your bed.