Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Building a Community

It used to be that when people decided to buy a new home their focus would be on just that, the home. They wanted a specific style, a specific number of bedrooms, and a perfect white picket fence to hold it all in. Today's home buyers are a little different, they are willing to give up those little home specifics for location luxuries. An extra bedroom or that white picket fence will be easily let go of for the perfect neighborhood. 

Unfortunately, homes are not always available in the neighborhoods of their dreams, which leads to months of searching and constant disappointment. Now, I'm going to be honest here, you can't turn every neighborhood in the town of Mayfield from Leave it to Beaver, but, with a little effort, you CAN turn any neighborhood into a community. 

Turn off the TV, shut that browser, and go outside! Odds are your neighbors aren't going to come to your door one by one and introduce themselves, so get the ball rolling yourself and get out there. 

Introduce yourself. If you have just moved in to a new home simply knock on your neighbor's doors or peek over the fence and introduce yourself. This may be outside of your comfort zone but in order for a community to form you will need to know one another!

Start a garden. This is a great way to break the ice, even if it's just a little flower bed, it's a reason to be outside. When neighbors walk by wave and say hello. If they have their own gardens ask them for tips or offer them some seeds. Prefer a veggie garden? Share your excess produce with your neighbors, they'll really appreciate it.

Introduce neighbors. Once you strike up conversations with a few neighbors you can begin to get them involved with each other. "Hi Bill, how are you? Oh look, there's Mary, have you two met?"

Shop local. Get to know and support local merchants, odds are they're part of your community.

Look around. Don't walk around with your eyes on your phone, look up and smile at people you pass by. 

Be helpful. Offer to help your elderly neighbor with her groceries, let people know when they leave their car windows open in the rain, return a lost dog to his owner, or offer to mow your neighbors lawn. There is always some way to be helpful.

Make holiday displays interactive. This doesn't mean spending thousands on lights and decorations (unless you're into that, then go for it!). Each Halloween I make tombstones with Styrofoam and spray paint, put silly names on them, and set them up in my yard. Little trick-or-treaters love walking through my yard with their parents reading all the names. My neighbors know me for this little tradition and it cost me about $20 to put together. 

Organize a Block Watch. One of the best reasons to know your neighbors is to keep each other safe. Ever heard stories of homes being robbed in broad daylight while neighbors watched? This generally happens because the neighbors have no idea what they're seeing isn't normal, they think maybe you're moving or selling some furniture. Sounds ridiculous but it happens! Hold monthly meetings to talk to your neighbors and encourage them to let each other know when they'll be out of town.

Movie night. Ask people over to watch a movie once a month (or once a week!) and supply some fun snacks for everyone. If you want to go all out suggest a movie theme and make refreshments that coincide.

Host a BBQ. Make it potluck style and invite your closest neighbors.

Host a block party. This is particularly great if you live on a cul-de-sac. Close down the street and invite everyone on the block. Have some fun games or competitions for the kids. 

Don't gossip. Every community has that one neighbor who knows EVERYONE'S business, don't get involved by repeating what you hear, and of course don't be THAT neighbor ;)

Be respectful and understanding. Keep your yard clean. Turn down your music at night. Keep your pets under control. If a neighbor has a complaint listen to them and try to see it from their perspective, don't start a war. Remember, a community means living together in harmony. 

Host a puppy party. Invite the neighborhood pooches to your place for a wrestle session. 

Bake treats. I had a neighbor move in next door just before the holidays. I had baked an abundance of cookies, so I put some in a tin as a gift and went over to introduce myself. The very nice lady started to cry! Turns out they had just moved here from Russia and she was missing her family, and my small gesture made her feel less alone here.

Join the PTA. Volunteer to help out on field trips for your child's class.  

Listen. When your neighbors talk to you really listen and learn some things about them.

Start a game night. Host a family friendly game night at your home. In the summer host outdoor games on the weekend.

Be the welcome wagon. When new neighbors move in introduce yourself and ask if they need anything. New neighbors often need to know things such as where the nearest grocery or drug store is, and what day garbage pickup is on.

Start a community page online. A simple neighborhood page on social media is a great way to keep everyone connected and up to date on community events. Tell your neighbors about the page and encourage them to suggest events they may want others to know about, such as yard sales. While you could allow others to post themselves, it is suggested a moderator be in charge to keep everything civil.

Invite the girls over for tea (or the guys over for beer). Small social gatherings are always the best way to get to know each other.

Building a community may seem like a daunting task but just making a few small steps towards a more social lifestyle can make a huge difference. Have more suggestions for community building? Leave them in the comments, I'd love to read them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Shopping Local in Seattle, WA


I love thrift store shopping and I think I've visited just about every thrift and antique shops in King and Pierce County. Anyone who enjoys vintage hunting knows that these stores can be hit or miss, but one store that never seems to disappoint is the Freemont Vintage Mall.

Located at 3419 Fremont Pl N in Seattle, this basement thrift store has everything a retro shopper would ever dream of, including a huge selection of Pyrex and vintage chrome dinette sets. This store is a collective of many different vintage sellers, so there is a constant rotation of items meaning something new every time you visit! 

The downside? It's a tad pricey. However, even if it's outside of your price range, it's still a ton of fun to just window shop and maybe make up a retro wish list for your mid century dream home of the future. Go check it out!   

Sunday, March 20, 2016


My husband likes to sleep in on the weekends but I always find myself waking fairly early, so I like to bake him something fun for breakfast before he wakes up. One of the treats I love baking on Saturday mornings are cinnamon rolls, but since they're generally made with a yeast bread that needs to rise they take upwards of 3 hours to make. I may be a morning person but I don't enjoy getting up before the sun just to make breakfast, so needless to say I don't make them very often. 

But this Saturday I was having a serious cinnamon hankering and thought maybe I could find a quick bread recipe, but as I was flipping through the cook book I found a recipe that looked even better, butterscotch rolls! Bring it on!


2 cups all purpose flour                                                                                  3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt                                                                                                       6 Tbs shortening
3/4 cup milk                                                                                                  1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs + 12 tsp butter or margarine                                                                   2 tsp cinnamon
12 tsp brown sugar                                                                                         1/2 cup pecan halves

Preheat your oven to 425°F. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the shortening (I mush it around with my hands until it's well incorporated). 

Add the milk and mix until you can form the dough into a ball. Place on a well floured surface and roll out into a 7x16 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. 

Spread the rectangle with 2 Tbs of soft butter. In a small bowl mix the 1/4 of sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Use a butter knife or offset spatula to spread it evenly over the dough. 

Beginning at the wide side, tightly roll the dough up and pinch closed along the open edge. Trim about 1/2 an inch off each end of the roll and discard. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces by making gentle sawing motions with a sharp knife. Try not to push down too much with your knife, you will squish your rolls. 

Prepare a muffin pan by spraying with a non-stick cooking spray or greasing just the sides of each muffin cup. Fill each muffin cup with 1 tsp melted butter, 1 tsp of brown sugar, and 3 pecan halves. At this point I started dreading the process of getting these rolls OUT of the pan, I also ran out of butter so my cups only had 1/4 tsp of butter each :(

Place a roll into each muffin cup and bake for 15 minutes. 

Om nom nom!

Getting them out wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but most of my pecans stayed in the pan and I had to pick them out by hand and place them on the rolls. This may have been because I didn't use the correct amount of butter. I'd be interested in hearing if anyone else has this problem, let me know in the comments!

Monday, March 14, 2016


Finally my busy work schedule is starting to slow down a little bit and I'm able to start baking again! There's really nothing I love more than spending a day baking tasty treats and this weekend I decided to go with something classic, BROWNIES! 


   1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour                                                     1/2 tsp baking powder
   1/4 tsp salt                                                                                  1/3 cup shortening
   1 6oz bag of chocolate chips                                                         2 eggs (not pictured)
   1/2 cup sugar                                                                              1 tsp vanilla extract
   1 cup chopped nuts (optional)                                                       1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and grease an 8"x8"x2" brownie pan. In a medium size bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set the bowl aside. In a double broiler melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring until smooth. 

Set the chocolate aside to cool. Meanwhile, beat the eggs together with the sugar in a large bowl until thick.

Add the melted chocolate, flour mixture, and vanilla to the egg mixture. Stir until well combined.

Pour half the batter into the greased pan and sprinkle with half the chopped nuts, and half the chocolate chips (I don't care for nuts, so I opted to only use chocolate chips). Add the rest of the batter and top with the remaining nuts and chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 minutes and allow them to cool in the pan before cutting. Makes approximately 16 squares, or 8 big ones!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Welcome to Retro Realty!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! My name is Thana and I'm a real estate agent working in and around Seattle, WA. I absolutely love the 1950s, especially the architecture, so I specialize in selling and preserving Mid Century homes in Washington state. 

The purpose of this blog is to not only give buyers and sellers information on finding the Mid Century homes of their dreams, but also to give you information on how to transform your home back to all it's retro glory and even tips on living a Mid Century lifestyle in our modern world. That means trying fun retro recipes (don't worry, I only post the tasty ones) retro holiday crafting, fun activities for kids, and a lot more!

Some people ask me "Why do you have all this non-real estate information on your real estate blog?" Well that's simple, I believe in making a house a home! Purchasing a property is only the first step of home ownership, and in my experience those who are interested in purchasing a Mid Century home are often also interested in a Mid Century lifestyle. I don't believe my job ends when I hand my clients their keys, I want to be there for them as they continue the process of making their new house a home. 

I try to update my blog as often as I can, but sometimes my work schedule does not allow it. If you notice there haven't been any new posts in awhile don't worry, I have not abandoned it! I will return on my downtime. 

I hope you enjoy your visit here, and please feel free to share your thoughts on my posts, or your suggestions for new ones!