Category Archives: Rockwall

Spot On Images Hits the Mark

Spot On Images, http://spotonimages.comTRAVEL HERE: DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND IT WON’T FEEL LIKE WORKING

I’ve been telling you about Bill’s gleeful return to the real estate industry and how he dragged me along with him.  To my own surprise,  it didn’t take much dragging.  I’ve discovered that it’s not that I don’t like real estate.  Come to find out, I just didn’t like being a real estate agent.  I’d rather write about a house than sell it, so once I got over my initial resistance to the idea, Spot On Images was born.

Text and Images: A Marriage Made in Heaven

One of the reasons our marriage works so well is that Bill and I have complimentary skill sets.  While neither one of us is particularly fond of cleaning toilets, we’ve parceled out the various duties of our joined lives in a way that suits both of us.  He does his stuff and I do mine.  Thankfully, each of us enjoys most of the items which are on our lists.

It just so happens that his passion for photography and my penchant for words are also a good match professionally.  Each of us has a specialty that works in unison to accomplish something very important in a person’s mind – especially a home-buyer’s mind.

While you can find all kinds of statistics to support the idea that our brains naturally seek images, but we don’t really need scientists to tell us this one, just visit your Facebook feed.  The cat video will get you every time.  As soon as gif’s became available for comments we all forgot how to talk.  People like pictures.

However, our brains also like words with our images, both spoken and written.  There’s a oft-quoted article by 3M that tells us our brains process pictures 60,000 times faster than text, but that article and many others will tell you our brains also like words.  While a picture can anchor a thought in our minds, if there’s no text, there’s no way to know what idea the image may anchor.  There’s also research to support that the processing of these words can help us to better remember the images, because the easier a font is to read the more quickly we forget what it said.

A picture may actually be worth a thousand words, but it’s important for advertisers, educators and many others to be sure their images convey the right message.  Without a little text, the same cat video may say two completely different things, depending on the audience.  While the video may charm one viewer into a trip to the local shelter to adopt another feline, it could convince another viewer to never add a cat to their household.  Without a little text, no viewer will ever figure out the video is actually promoting a new cat toy!  Nor will they know where to get one for their own cat.

The article by 3M discusses how important images and text are in presentations, while a post on Fast Company touts infographics.  The bottom line is that if you have a message to convey, the best way to do it is with both images and text.  That’s exactly what we’re offering to our real estate clients.

Spot On Images:  Images and Text

Bill takes amazing photos and videos, whether he’s using his tripod or his drone.  I’ve been in marketing all of my professional life.  I’m saavy in social media.  My degree is in Creative Writing.  I have the words to go along with his images.

Some real estate agents just need pictures for their listings.  Others just need web copy or the right words for a brochure.  We’re happy to provide either one or both, but when we combine our skills in a narrated video tour or a website – lookout!  The benefits of images with the right text can multiply in geometric proportions and I’m glad to be in the business of helping real estate agents market their lisitings.

Check out our website.  We’d love to help you out with your images and text.

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We’re Back in Real Estate

Brochure from our days in real estate

TRAVEL HERE: HOW SPOT ON IMAGES CAME TO BE

So last week I told you about our days as residential real estate agents in California, but I still haven’t told you how that led to us start Spot On Images.  Here’s the rest of the story.

When the Bubble Burst

We enjoyed the good old days in real estate, but they ended when the bubble burst.  I’ll share a secret with you, I was sort of glad to be out of it.  We made a lot of money, but I really didn’t like most of the tasks that went along with selling homes – with one exception, I loved creating those brochures and writing the descriptions for the MLS.

Bill loved real estate and he never understood why I didn’t.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he did most of his work behind the scenes and I was the one out there showing houses and writing contracts.  Bill loves it so much that even though our licences expired, he’s kept his fingers in it.  We have rent houses and we’ve sold our own homes.  While most folks can’t wait to hire an agent or they begrudgingly put the FSBO sign out in the yard, Bill is totally energized by the whole process.  He’s taking pictures, creating a website for the home and guiding me through every step of the process with alacrity.  OK, so I’ll go ahead and confess, I really do enjoy creating the brochures and writing the web content.

Real Estate is Back

So back to our real estate photographer friend who was leaving town.  He was entirely too nice to take our money, when we offered to buy his business.  Instead, he showed Bill the ropes and encouraged him to start his own business.  For almost all of our marriage, even when we were selling real estate, Bill’s primary occupation has been investing, so I assumed his interest in real estate photography was just a bit of nostalgia.  Boy, was I ever wrong!

While he’d never completely abandon his investing, he’s automated it to the point that he has time for his other passions.  When the real estate photography bug bit him, he started buying camera equipment of all sorts.  He spent his days getting a feel for his new toys and getting up to speed on all the latest technology.  There was no question of his expertise.  He’d started taking photography lessons in his twenties and it’s been one of his passions ever since.  Most of the great travel photography on this blog comes from him.  As far as his photographic abilities are concerned, he could have hung out his shingle the day he decided to do this, but that’s not how he does things.  He dots his i’s and crosses his t’s.

As he exercised his photography muscle he also started working on me.  He praised my marketing expertise and reminded me of all those people who said they bought my listings because of the words I had written.  In the guise of sharing with me what he’d been learning in his research for his new business, he pointed out how important the internet and social media were to the success of real estate agents.  He was being nice about it, but here’s the bottom line, I was about to be back in real estate, too.

So what did I think about getting back into a business I’d been happy to get out of.  Come back next week and find out!

 

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Seeking Standard Service

Photo from Yelp

TRAVEL HERE:  SECRET SERVICE MIGHT BE A BETTER NAME FOR ROCKWALL’S NEW RESTAURANT

If you lived in the Rockwall area and I told you a new restaurant was located behind the Sonic on Ridge Way, you’d have a clue about where to look, but unless you actually went behind the Sonic, you’d never find Standard Service.  The restaurant fills a space on the back side of a crossfit gym.  The only signage is on the front of the restaurant and can’t be seen from any of the nearby streets.  You’d never see it if you turned next to the Sonic and headed to Lowe’s, which is the destination of most of the traffic.

My Secret Agent 

Loree Posard Kiethly does my hair and she’s my primary source of info about what’s happening in Rockwall.  I have no idea who all sits in her chair, but they have the inside scoop on all kinds of things, from what restaurants will open soon to where the local swingers rendezvous.

“Have you been to Standard Service?”  I thought she’d found a new garage or service station, but come to find out it was a new restaurant.  Then she told me its location – near a corner I pass pretty much every time I come or go to my house.  I didn’t want to accuse my friend of lying, but it sure didn’t sound like a good spot for a restaurant and I certainly hadn’t seen it.

The gist of her information was that a restaurateur opened Standard Service as test, because he was considering building near The Harbor.  As soon as he opened the awkward test location, he instantaneously had a loyal following, so the lake-view restaurant is a go.  Obviously, a trip to Standard Service was required.

The Standard on a Sunday Afternoon

Our visit to Standard Service was on a Sunday afternoon in May.  Perhaps the traffic was slow because of May’s many distractions, like moms and grads and brides.  We also arrived mid-afternoon, rather than at a meal time.  Most of the patrons were at the bar gazing into the multiple tv’s spread around the restaurant.

Bill and I walked away from the experience with two totally different impressions.  He loved the place.  The tall shelves full of wine and liquor were fascinating to him.  He thought it had a good vibe for a local place and a good number of patrons for a Sunday afternoon.  He didn’t particularly like what he ordered, but said he’d come back and try something else.  He couldn’t wait to get home and tell a friend who’s opening a liquor store about the tall shelves.

That wasn’t me.  To me the layout was confusing.  We entered a foyer that seemed like a dead end.  Once we got our bearings we saw double glass doors to the right.  There seemed to be two bars, one on each side.  The primary bar is to the right and then another smaller one is on the left.  There aren’t many tables.  The look is industrial, complete with the exposed air conditioning ducts – not one of my favorites.

The service is good enough to put a lie to the name of the restaurant, but I wasn’t crazy about the food.  It wasn’t bad.  The small burger had an unnecessarily greasy bun in my estimation, but it did have a reasonable price.  The sweet potato fries were the food hit of the day.

Much of the things I don’t like about Standard Service have to do with my personal taste, so that should be taken into consideration.  The industrial look of it, the televisions all over the place, the paper service items – these might be the very reason you would visit, but they don’t beg me to come back.

So, should you go visit Standard Service?  If you live out here in Rockwall County – I’d say, for sure.  If you’re out here anyway, you might as well, because while our restaurant selections have been improving since I got here a few years ago, this is about as good as it gets.  No reason to drive over from Dallas until the new place by the lake gets built.

Come on back Wednesday, for tales about the Fairmount in Heliopolis, Egypt and then next week I’ll share another Dallas area adventure.

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Whatcha Doing This Summer?

Summertime fun on Lake Ray Hubbard

Summertime fun on Lake Ray Hubbard

TRAVEL HERE: THE LAKEPLEX OFFERS VARIETY

Dallasites have a long hot summer ahead of us.  My husband and I have just returned from a glorious river cruise vacation, so we won’t be leaving anytime soon.  Not to worry, there’s plenty to keep us busy.  Here are some of the things we’re looking forward to.

In Rockwall County

We’re lucky to live in Rockwall County which is sort of a destination of it’s own.  The Hilton at The Harbor is one of the top venues for conferences and conventions in Texas.

Restaurants like Gloria’s and Dodie’s line the patios of The Harbor complex.  Couples and family of every description frolic on different levels, enjoying fountains, views and often entertainment.  On Summer Thursdays, the Concert by the Lake Series brings in a variety of tribute bands that will get your toes tapping and inspire you to get up and dance.

If you’d prefer to be on the water then you want to Sail with Scott.  Captain Scott offers two ways to enjoy Lake Ray Hubbard:  The Seawolf and Harbor Lights.  The Seawolf is a 40 foot long hand-built catamaran of Spanish Cedar.  There are daily cruises at 1,3,5,7 &9 costing $30 per person – but go online and make reservations, because Scott won’t be there if no one has made a reservation.  You are welcome to bring your own refreshments.  Whether you need a little “me” time, want to have a special evening for two or to plan a party for you and 48 of your friends, the Seawolf is a great option.

If you’ve got a larger group to entertain, then you’ll want to talk to Captain Scott about chartering a Harbor Lights cruise.  Habor Lights is a 57-foot double decker party barge accommodating 95 passengers.  It can be chartered for weddings and other special events or you can join one of the public cruises.  For instance there will be a Memorial Day Cruise complete with BBQ and swimming.  The price is $50 per person (less for kids depending on age) and all you have to do is bring your swimsuit.

Downtown Rockwall is another fun place to visit, the old courthouse square has been beautifully renovated and the square is lined with darling shops of many varieties and a smorgasbord of restaurants.

The San Jacinto Music Series started May 13.  Every Friday and Saturday night through the summer the  San Jacinto Plaza plays host to musicians from 6:30 to 9:00.  The concerts are free and you don’t worry about a map.  Downtown is at the intersection of 66 and 205.  Park by the courthouse, listen and follow the music.  You can bring your own vintages and victuals or try out one of our delicious restaurants sprinkled around the courthouse.  Some seating is available, but you can bring your own or make yourself at home on the brick sidewalks.

On Saturday mornings you can find me at the Rockwall Farmers Market.  If you like fresh, you’ll love this!  You’ll find some of the most gorgeous vegetables you can imagine here, grown by local farmers and everything was just picked.  But there’s more than fruits and vegetables to enjoy.  Musicians play in the shade of trees.  Fresh-baked pies, home-canned pickles and a variety of specialty foods are also available.  Sampling is encouraged!  It’s a fun morning and quite relaxing, because it’s hometown style rather than downtown style.

I haven’t even mentioned Buffalo Creek Golf Course, San Martino Winery or the huge Harry Meyers Park.  You’ll just have to check us out!

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Rockwall Needs a Trader Joe’s

Welcome to Dallas!

AT HOME IN HEATH: GRASSROOTS EFFORT WOOS SPECIALTY GROCERY CHAIN

It happens more frequently than I want to admit.  I go to an event and come home the chairman of something.  Poor Bill!  That usually translates into imposing on him for something.  He rarely gets to just show up and enjoy anything.  Instead he ends up sitting at a table registering people, bringing an ice chest of iced beverages or staying afterwards to clean up.  It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it still happens.

Trader Joe’s Call-to-Action Meeting

So, my weekly Wednesday Bible Study was over.  We were gathering up our things to leave when a new member of the group asked me if I knew about Trader Joe’s?  Did I ever?  We discovered it when we lived in California, had been thrilled when they moved to Dallas and were loathe to leave it to move out here in the boonies.

Come to find out there was a community meeting that evening about getting Trader Joe’s to come to our area.  I assumed there would be a representative from the company there to test community’s interest, so I promised to go.  Instead, there were a few Rockwall city and county officials and twenty-five or so citizens.

One of the officials got up.  First, he explained the criteria most companies used to choose new locations and why we fell short of most companies prerequisites.  Then he talked about a development board that went after industrial-type companies to boost our economy and then explained why Trader Joe’s did not qualify for that program.  Finally, he let it be known that everyone was well aware there was a groundswell of interest in having a Trader Joe’s in the area, but there really wasn’t anything the city or county could or would do about it.

During his talk the man referred several times to the four or five items Trader Joe’s had on their list of requirements, but he never mentioned exactly what they were, how many we met and how far away we were from meeting the rest.  So I asked. He said he’d get us the information, but we haven’t seen it yet.

Then the meeting continued and we found out City of Rockwall Council Member Scott Milder and his wife Leslie had taken our interest a little further than the other gentleman.  They’d talked to a Trader Joe’s store manager and found out there were indeed criteria the company had for new locations (which the store manager didn’t know) but because of the company’s culture they paid a lot of attention to customer feedback – like location requests on their website, subscription addresses on their Fearless Flyer and social media.

The next thing  I know they are asking for someone to represent the community in our efforts to get the grocery chain to our area – the term they used was “point person.”  The room was suddenly very quiet.  Something told me the silence wasn’t going to go away and I also knew few in the room had as much experience with social media and organizing volunteers as I had.  I glanced at my husband to see what he thought and then raised my hand.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but Trader Joe wasn’t going to die from neglect on my watch.

My 15 Seconds of Fame

My 15 Seconds of Fame

Channel 8 News 

After the meeting I handed out my cards to anyone who wanted one and collected the list of attendees from Bethany Browning, the Community Relations Manager for the City of Rockwall.  I was suddenly in charge, but I was quite unsure exactly what that meant.  The rest of my week was very busy and the next time I even thought about Trader Joe’s was the following Tuesday.

My first call that morning was from Bethany.  Sebastian Robertson from Channel 8 News was coming out to talk to Scott about the Trader Joe’s meeting and the Facebook page.  Bethany thought it would be good to have a representative from the community there, so she called me.  My other choice for the morning was cleaning house, so I went to City Hall.

When he arrived, Sebastian took Scott outside and interviewed him.  The process took about twenty minutes and they pretty much covered everything that needed to be covered.  I thought I’d missed my fifteen seconds of fame.  We walked back into the building and into an office.  Sebastian sat me down and set up the camera.  I was about to be on TV, but I hadn’t combed my windblown hair or touched up my dry-as-a-desert lips.

The results of the interview are in this video: WFAA Channel 8 News.  I had been involved in the project for less than a week and I hadn’t done much of anything except show up for a meeting and hang out at city hall.  Still Sebastian made a star out of me, in spite of my windblown appearance.

Getting My Ducks in a Row

In the days since the interview I’ve been getting organized.  I sent out a few emails and posted some notices on social media sites.  That, along with Channel 8’s report has caused a flurry of activity on our Facebook page.  The page has gotten about a thousand likes since the meeting in early February.  The site had only gotten 2300 likes in the year and a half it has been up, so I’d call that progress.

Please like our Facebook Page.  You don’t have to be from the area and no salesman will call.  If you do live in the area, then check out our new webpage.  The site gives you a list of things you can do to help the cause and you can subscribe to stay abreast of developments.  If you’d like to really get involved, just let me know.  I’m sure I can find something for you to do!

I’m getting more organized every day, but I’m still making it up as I go.  If we get that Trader Joe’s in Rockwall County, I’ll let you know.

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Loree La Porte, Savior of Hair

Just another good hair day

Just another good hair day

AT HOME IN HEATH: THANKS LOREE LA PORTE, NOTHING BEATS GOOD HAIR

Good hair has been hard to find and I hate that.  I remember hair that grew out the color I wanted it to be, did what I wanted it to do and really didn’t take much work at all.  Most of my life my hair has been short, because that’s the way my mom liked it.  A few years ago I decided to let it grow.  That would have been a very bad idea if it weren’t for Loree La Porte.

The Season of Bad Hair

It’s been a while since I loved my hair.  In fact, I’ve been coloring it for about two decades now and I’ve really hated the hassle of it – nor have I really loved the color I’ve had to settle for.  My real color was on the black side of brown with an undertone of red.  They say as we age we need to soften our hair color, so I went really brown and threw in a few highlights to make it look natural.

After Mom was gone, the stress of the previous five years, bad hair decisions and some medical situations left me with a mess.  Short was too severe looking and longer was wild.  One of my bad hair decisions was going red, because my husband hated it, but every time I came home from a new color appointment where we were supposed to get the red out, my color-blind husband claimed it still looked red.

And Then We Started Building a House in Heath

We sold our Dallas house and were going to move to Heath via Wylie.  No way I was going to go through the hassle of finding a temporary stylist in Wylie.  I wanted no roots in that suburbs (excuse the pun).  So I turned my eyes to Rockwall.  We were going to the lot almost daily and every day I passed a Day Spa along the way.

Maybe I’m weird, but I was praying about my hair, because I was so over it.  It might not be spiritually correct to say you pray about your hair, but that’s exactly what I was doing.  And I got an answer – “look at the Day Spas website”.  When I did that it was like a huge red heavenly arrow was pointing at Loree La Porte.

I Love Me Some Loree!

From the very first time Loree did my hair I knew she got the wild hot mess on my head. She banished the red on her first try.  She coached me through growing out the 500 million layers that had been cut into my hair over the years.  She introduced me to Moroccan Oil.

There’s not a darned thing she can do about the fact that my hair doesn’t grow out right anymore. Nor can she keep a humid day from turning me into Diana Ross, the solo years.  (You know the 2007 ‘fro I’m talking about!)  However, she’s found a color that works for me and she’s taught me all kinds of tricks to tame my mane.

She’s also become my friend.  During the build I would blow into her salon like the eruption of Krakatoa.  I’d rage and stew the whole time I was there.  She’d make the appropriate noises and get the outside of my head straightened out while I emptied the inside.  Somebody give that girl an award.

When I was younger, everyone noticed my hair for all the right reasons.  Everyone wanted to get their hair done wherever I got my hair done because it always looked so good.  I thought those days were over.  In recent weeks two friends wanted to know who did my hair so they could go see her.  Thanks Loree!  I really appreciate all these good hair days!

You can get Loree to tame your main, find your cut and fix your color, too.  Just give her a call at 805-404-9782.

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