Eating Locally

I’ve been visiting the Pearl Farmer’s Market and tried the new Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market recently too.   I’m really enjoying getting produce and some other things that are super fresh and come from local area farmers and vendors.  Thanks to the example set by one of my daughters, I’m trying to go more organic as well.   It’s a learning experience!  Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. Organic really does taste better!  I resisted the “organic thing” for a long time because of the extra cost.  A tomato’s a tomato, right?  Wrong!  There really is a difference–in taste, in appearance, in just about every way, including price.  But, the saying is true–you get what you pay for!   For a few extra cents, I’ve decided it’s worth it to get a tomato or a leek or an apple or potatoes that have flavor!  And a bonus–no pesticides or other questionable chemicals included!

2. Fresh from the local farm does not look like what I’m used to seeing in the grocery store!  It’s not all “prettied up”, it may still have dirt on it (how’s that for fresh?), it may not be as big or as picture-perfect as the produce in the store.  There’s a reason for that–it hasn’t been altered, sprayed, and otherwise manipulated to look pretty but taste like nothing.

3. Buying fresh means you gotta have a plan to use it!  Without all the preservatives and other “tricks of the trade” that keep produce in the store looking good and staying “fresh” for extended periods of time, real fresh produce is meant to be consumed–like now!  You might get a couple of days in the fridge, but fresh from the farm is not meant to sit around and wait for you to get inspired!  I must admit that I’ve had to toss a few things here and there because I waited too long to use it and it went bad.  So, if you’ve got a few days coming up when you know you’re not going to be in the kitchen, consider waiting to get the really fresh stuff until you have time to prepare it.

4. Buying directly from the farmer is a great opportunity to try something new.  Chances are, your farmer is happy to give you some ideas on how to prepare what you’ve decided to try.  And they’re usually happy to hear your ideas too!

5. As an empty nester with only 1 mouth to feed now, I appreciate being able to purchase in smaller quantities and have more variety.

6. I love the other items I find at the farmers’ markets–fresh eggs, baked goods, homemade jams & jellies, fresh meat (haven’t actually tried this yet, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it from friends who have), flowers, herbs, and other goodies!

7. Not everything at a farmers market is certified organic and not everything organic in the store comes straight from the farm.  But, to repeat what I said in #1, organic tastes better!  Fresh from the farm tastes better.  And when you combine those two and find organic produce at a farmers market–wow!

I hope you’ll visit a farmers market this weekend wherever you live.  And if that’s not possible, try the organic variety of your favorite fruit and/or veggie.  I bet you’ll agree with me on flavor!

 

 

Happy 4th of July!

It’s the 4th of July!  I hope yours includes some time with family & friends, good food, and good times!

San Antonio is hot and dry so no fireworks this year, but I’m okay with that–they scare my kitties!

I think on this day it’s appropriate to remember what this country stands for–independence!  We hear so much negative press these days about the challenges we face as a nation, the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, debt, Congress, etc. etc. etc.   We all need to remember that no matter what our challenges are, and we do have some, the United States of America is still the place people want to be!!  We are unique in all the world.  There’s been no place like the USA before or since!  People still want to come here and be here!

We, as Americans, sometimes forget that and may not appreciate what we have because we’ve always had it!   Travel outside the USA gives one a new appreciation for just how lucky we are in this country!

Take a moment today and give thanks for what we have.  If you see or know someone who’s in the military, thank them for their service that allows us to enjoy the freedoms this country has to offer.  I’m proud to be an American!

Happy 4th of July!
All the best,

Sue

San Antonio won the BRAC lottery!

For any community that has a military base, the letters B R A C are very scary!  They can mean base closings, job losses, related business closings, loss of city revenue, and all manner of  things that most city leaders don’t want to have to contemplate, much less deal with!

2005 saw some BRAC activity (Base Realignment and Closing).   San Antonio went through the pain when Kelly AFB was closed.  With Ft. Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, and Randolph AFB all here, we worried about what might happen.  Something happened all right–San Antonio won the BRAC lottery!!

I attended a program last week put on by our San Antonio Board of Realtors.  Our speaker, Chief Master Sergeant Kevin Lambing, USAF, gave us an update on progress of the Medical Education and Training Campus that’s currently in progress here.

The military is currently in the middle of approximately $3 billion in construction projects going on at Ft. Sam Houston and the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC).  These projects include new construction as well as renovations to existing buildings.  When all is complete, 81,000 personnel will have come into town and 18,100 jobs will have been created!  All this in support of the creation of the Military Medical Center.  Going forward, all military medical personnel will be trained here at BAMC–from all branches of the military.

We will have a Medical Education and Training Campus with 8000 students by September, graduating 24,000 students a year to work in the medical field as support staff in all specialities and all branches of the military.  The Center will include 1400 instructors.  It is the largest educational consolidation in U.S. military history!

Ft. Sam will also be home to the Battlefield Health and Trauma Institute.

In all, there will be 42 new facilities built around BAMC–all state-of-the-art in everything, approximately 2.6 million square feet of space!

These military medical personnel are the best at what they do!  They care for soldiers wounded in battle and get them home safely.  Did you know that if field personnel can get a wounded soldier to a field hospital alive, he or she has a 98% chance of survival?  I call those pretty darn good odds!

Of course, Ft. Sam is already home to the Center for the Intrepid, which helps severely wounded soldiers recover and resume their lives.  It’s also home to a remarkable facility called the Warrior and Family Support Center, which assists the wounded soldiers and their families in adjusting to their new normals.  It also provides a place to relax and get away from all the rehab and just enjoy themselves.  One of the organizations I’m involved with–the Texas Chapter of Certified Residential Specialists–raises funds for this Center so we can stock their kitchen and provide other things to help them just be who they are–young men and women!

The courage and dedication of our military folks and their families is always inspiring.  I’m glad to see some of my tax dollars being spent to support them and train them to help their fellow military brothers and sisters!

A New Market to Try

San Antonio has a brand new farmer’s market.  June 5 was its grand opening.  It’s the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market, to be held every Sunday morning from 8:00 am – noon.  It’s in the parking lot at the Quarry Market, near Whole Foods.

I’m sorry to say I missed the opening day.  Check out pictures at www.mysanantonio.com for some great shots of folks having fun and of lots of great-looking fruits and veggies.  This looks to be a great addition to the farmers’ market scene here in San Antonio.  I love the Pearl Farmers Market held every Saturday morning!  It’s gotten so popular that they’ve added a Wednesday afternoon edition as well.  Now comes the Quarry market on Sundays.  There are also lots of other smaller venues around town, some held during the week and some on weekends.  It’s so much fun to check out these different markets and have a chance to really talk to the folks who grow what they’re selling!  And, I’ve discovered that there really is a difference between what you buy fresh out of the ground and what you find at the grocery store!  Fresh just tastes so much better, and I have to believe it’s better for you!

I also love that I’m supporting local farmers and small businesses.  I have a new appreciation for the work that goes into what they do and I have certainly enjoyed the “fruits of their labors”–literally!  What a great way to spend part of the weekend.  And then to go home and use what I’ve purchased.  Buying fresh is making a commitment to prepare and consume what I’ve just bought–it doesn’t last forever!

Hope you’ll check out this new venture.  I’m going to!  See you there!

Memorial Day–A Time to Remember

Today is Memorial Day.  It’s a time to remember all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us and for our country.  We take Memorial Day seriously in San Antonio.  With our 3 active bases and all their civilian and military personnel, our military medical facilities, and our large population of retired military, San Antonians understand and appreciate the sacrifices our military have made and continue to make for this country.

I’m willing to bet that there are very few residents of San Antonio whose lives have not been touched in some way by the military, directly or indirectly.  So, on this Memorial Day, let me just say thank you to all who serve and have served this country.  We appreciate and thank you for your service.  And to those who have lost loved ones in that service, our hearts are with you on this day and we remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice that your loved one has made.

Wishing you and yours a day to remember, and hoping you take a moment to remember and honor our military men and women and the families who support and love them.

Good News Continues for San Antonio Real Estate

April stats are in from the San Antonio Board of Realtors and the good news continues for the San Antonio market.

Average home price in April, 2011 was $181,016, a 4% increase over the same month last year! Median price was $147,700, a 3% increase over April, 2010!

Several SABOR members, myself included, recently returned from a week in Washington, DC to attend midyear meetings of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and several Realtor organizations. Again, we all came home feeling so fortunate to call San Antonio and Texas home!

You’ve probably heard the NAR tagline, “Real Estate is local,” and being at these meetings just proves how true that is! San Antonio continues to buck the national trend with our increasing home values, still-affordable prices, and low percentage of foreclosures, short sales, and other distressed properties.

San Antonio is seeing job growth and other positive signs. Interest rates remain low and inventory numbers are manageable. San Antonio is the place to be!!

Our busy season is upon us now, so, buyers, it’s time to get off the fence, and, sellers, to put your best feet forward! Our market is active and homes are affordable.

Call me today and let’s get you moving! I’m at 210-363-9282 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 210-363-9282 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, and looking forward to hearing from you!

All the best,
Sue Trautner, CRS

Springtime in San Antonio, TX!!

It’s my favorite time of the year–SPRING!  It’s not “officially” here yet–I think the “first day” is on March 20–but for all intents and purposes, spring has sprung in San Antonio!  The weather’s been beautiful the last few days–cool, not cold; warm, not hot.  We can open windows in the evening and I’ve even had my air conditioner on for short periods!   Spring here is so wonderful, and so brief!  Within a month, we’ll be having some honest-to-goodness heat, so it’s great to enjoy this time while it lasts!

My yard is greening up.  Trees are coming out.  All the plants that my yard service cut back are popping out new growth like crazy.  And, today, I saw the real sign of spring in the hill country and San Antonio–bluebonnets!

This batch was in a neighbor’s yard, and includes some pink bluebonnets as well!  I still haven’t seen many along the highways yet.  Sadly, we had a rather dry winter so there may not be a bumper crop of bluebonnets this year, but we enjoy the brave ones that bloom and hope for a better crop next year.

Here’s something else I saw in my neighborhood–the beginnings of a great crop of  peaches!

I’ll have to keep an eye on this tree and get real friendly with those neighbors!  Fresh peaches–yum!  Nothing better, except maybe peach butter, peach preserves, peach ice cream, peach cobbler, sliced peaches, and so on and so on and so on!!   Last year, friends of mine got over 50 pounds of peaches from their backyard tree!  Not counting the ones that fell to the ground or that the birds go to first!  Washington DC has its cherry trees, around here we have our peach trees!  So beautiful!

If you’re in the area, I hope you take some time and enjoy our spectacular spring!  Don’t put it off–it won’t last too long!  If you’re where it’s still cold and spring won’t really get to you until May, my condolences!  Sorry you have to wait so long!  But hope you enjoy your spring whenever it decides to get there!

Note to self:  time to go buy some plants and get them in the ground!  Summer heat will be here before we know it!

 

Sue

San Antonio–It’s Party Time!

San Antonio is gearing up!  Spring has pretty much sprung!  Daylight Savings Time is here, and that means we get an extra hour of daylight  for FUN!!  We’ve had a really cold winter (for us!) and we’re ready to get outside and have some fun!  And San Antonio is happy to provide lots of opportunities!

We just finished 2011 Luminaria, a festival of the arts, held in Hemisfair Park.  

This week is St. Patrick’s Day–the river downtown will be dyed bright GREEN!

Lots of activities planned for the Pearl complex.  Farmer’s Market every Saturday, and Sundays at Pearl getting ready to start–activities, music, booths, fun for the family.  Parks are open and inviting.  Some have installed exercise equipment at intervals to help us get healthy.  Some parks welcome our dogs to come play.  It’s Spring Break this week, and with gas prices climbing, lots of folks are staying close to home–San Antonio is a favorite destination for Texans and even San Antonians can find lots of fun things to do.  The Zoo, Sea World, Fiesta Texas are all waiting, and discounts/deals can be found online for tickets!

All this activity is a prelude to San Antonio’s biggest party–F I E S T A !!!

It’s a 10-day, city-wide celebration!!  There are activities, music, food, parades, and parties for everyone, all over the city!  It’s lots of fun, and this year, because Easter is so late, Fiesta is happening 2 weeks early!!  The festivities begin April 7 and last through April 17.  If you’d like a brochure that lists all the different events, please contact me!  I’ll be happy to send you one!  Oh–one note.  If you have business to do, be sure to get it done before Friday, April 15!  That’s Battle of Flowers Parade day, and we take that day off!  Thoughtfully, Uncle Sam has moved the tax filing deadline to Monday, April 18 to accommodate Fiesta!  (not really, but it sure works out nicely!)

After we finish Fiesta, next up is Easter and Holy Week! 

 

 

 

 

Holy Week has become almost as big as the Christmas holidays for San Antonio retailers, thanks to the many shoppers who come from Mexico to shop, visit friends and family, and have fun.  San Antonio welcomes and embraces them with open arms!   We also remember the reason for Easter and if you’d like to see something really special, be downtown at San Fernando Cathedral  on Good Friday for the re-enactment of the Passion Play.  It’s moving and dramatic.

I hope you take advantage of all that San Antonio has to offer!  Sometimes, it’s fun to play tourist in your own hometown and go see all the fun stuff that’s right here for you all the time.  If you’re like me, you tend to take it for granted, so get out there and enjoy!  Hope to see you around town!

Sue

Tax Time! Here are some tips to help you!

10 Common Errors Home Owners Make When Filing Taxes

Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary—know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Snow Antonio!

Well, San Antonio has had quite a week!  We’ve gone from temperatures in the 70’s to the teens and back again!  We’ve had temps that stayed below freezing for over 3 days.  We had freezing rain, ice, and SNOW!  The city shut down and then it all melted and we’re back up and running!  It’s been crazy!!

Everyone who has lived in real snow country just thinks it’s nuts the way we shut everything down and go into hiding when we get a little bit of ice and the occasional dusting of snow.  We don’t know how to handle that stuff around here!  The city doesn’t have equipment to deal with it, San Antonioians don’t know how to drive in it, we just stay home and hope our pipes don’t freeze!  And kids who can barely drag themselves out of bed for school are up at first daylight to go play in the snow and make snowmen, snowballs, and snow angels!  And they have to hurry, because this batch was melted by noon!

It was eerie to see pictures on local news of the freeways covered in white and completely empty–during rush hour!  It was fun while it lasted–except for the morning I woke up with no power, no heat, no phone service (except my cell phone), and no internet!  Finally had to go start my car in the garage to plug in my car charger so I could charge my cell phone!  Thankfully, power was restored before I filled the garage with carbon monoxide!

Now we enjoy a nice sunny weekend, highs near 70, before another cold front rolls through here.  But the weathermen are promising it won’t be like the last one!  Hope they’re right!  Once every few years is fine for a snow day, but I wouldn’t want to make a habit of them!   Brrrrrrr!

Stay warm out there!

Sue