Happy Thanksgiving America!

turkey, cooked, by stock exchange user davidlat, image id 667872

picture credit stock exchange user davidlat, image id 667872


It’s been a darn hard year for lots of Americans, and people around the world. Find something to be thankful about and if it’s a person, tell them how you feel. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Chris & Heather, The Phoenix Agents at Thompson’s Realty, a.k.a. the Phoenix Real Estate Guy


PS – just because Heather’s former school teacher heart never quits, click on over to The American History Fun Facts site to find some interesting facts about Thanksgiving. Like, didya know…

...that Minnesota produces most of the country’s turkeys? In 2009 they planned to raise over 45 million birds.

....that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the 4th Thursday in November as the official federal Thanksgiving holiday, partly to appease retailers with a longer holiday shopping season during the Depression?

Happy Labor Day!

Image Image ID 704285 by StockExchange user akaak19.png

Wishing all our readers a wonderful Labor Day 2010.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. It was named a federal holiday in June of 1894. (source: US Dept of Labor website)

Image Credit: StockExchange user askaak19.

Weekend fire restrictions in Tonto Nat’l Forest

Image ID 501779 by Stock Exchange user mailsparky

Getting out of the unbearable heat town this weekend? If you’re heading to the Tonto National Forest, take note: there are fire restrictions starting Friday (June 11, 2010) at 8:00 pm local time.

The restrictions begin at 8 a.m. Friday. Campfires and most types of fire-causing activities will be banned across the entire forest. Charcoal-burning devices also are off limits.

Violating the restrictions is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Petroleum stoves, lanterns and heating devices are allowed.

See the fire restrictions press release on Tucson KGUN9 radio station’s website.

National Get Outdoors Day is June 12, and the staff at the Tonto National Forest is planning a day of family-related activities. Read more on the Tonto National Forest Forest website.

Thanksgiving Help

Butterball Turkey-Talk Line: 800-288-8372

A team of home economists is there to answer bird -related questions from November 3 to December 25. Or text the word "Turkey" to 36888 to receive weekly tips and thawing reminders.

The Crisco Pie Hotline: 877-367-7438

Get advice from two National Pie Championship winners, among other pie pros through December.

The Official Black Friday Site: The official page for ads, coupons, and all things Black Friday.

PS – need a holiday chuckle? If you’ve never seen this clip of the TV show The West Wing with President Bartlett calling the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, you’re missing out. Really funny. In a dry way.

In Memoriam

In memory of those who lost their lives and those who volunteered & served from that day to this.

9 11 twin towers light beams, courtesy of obit DOT com

The President announced that September 11 is a federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance. We invite you to leave a comment noting what you did today to help another. No act is too small, you never know where the ripples of your help stop.

Photo credit to magazine online. See the original image here.

Image Note: A honest attempt has been made to determine & credit the creator of this work. If this photograph is your work and you believe it is mis-credited, please contact the blog owners.

Happy Independence Day

If you need a break from today's picnics, pools, hotdogs and beer, this is the post for you.

Indepdence Hall, Image ID 1039007 by davidlat on stockexchange photo credit to davidlat on StockExchange

Did You Know?

The Declaration of Independence was signed inside the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) on July 4th, 1776. The Declaration was first read aloud in public four days later, on July 8, 1776.

This Year’s Celebration

On Wednesday, July 8, 2009 the public is invited to join the staff of Independence National Historical Park to commemorate the 233rd anniversary of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Visit the Independence Hall Visitors’ Center

I worked in Philadelphia for about 4 years in the late 90's, for a company that had two offices in different quadrants of downtown. Several times a month I'd walk right past Independence Hall, then through City Hall and over to the other office. It was always amazing to me that modern city life happened all crammed up against historic sites. You could walk right by Independence Hall, or The Betsy Ross House and touch them.

Ever Heard The Declaration Read Aloud?

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

As partial as I am to JFK, I like the Barker version because you can read the text onscreen as you listen to the audio. The language sounds archaic to today’s ears, so I think it helps to have the text visible.

Slightly more accessible and much longer, The Constitution of the United States, read aloud (courtesy of LibriVox and available in the public domain)

Declaration Trivia

  • The US government was almost overthrown a mere 17 years after the Declaration signing!

In the summer of 1793 “ten thousand people in the streets of Philadelphia … threatened to drag Washington out of his house, and effect a Revolution in Government” but an outbreak of yellow fever dispersed the mob and saved the national government. (J Adams to T Jefferson, June 30, 1813) (source)

  • Rhode Island was the only state which never sent a delegation to the Constitutional Convention. (source)

  • George Washington ran his presidency out of a rented Philadelphia town house on the corner of Sixth and Market. (source)

  • The Liberty Bell wasn’t put on public exhibit until 1852. (source)

Happy Independence Day

Stars and Stripes

Sometimes we look around and see things that hurt, and it can be easy to get 'down'.

  • Friends or family members losing their homes in this tough economy.
  • A news story about child abuse, or murder & violence.
  • An uneasy feeling about the long-term price we're all going to have to pay from the financial bailout and massive deficits.

Then we look around at the bigger picture..

  • Violence over elections in Iran
  • Piracy and lawlessness in Somalia
  • Poverty, disease, and oppression around much of the world
  • People living in fear of Cartels and War Lords
  • People living without the basic freedoms of speech or religion

And there's no denying we live in the greatest country, with the most freedom, in the history of our planet.  Race, Color, Religion, Political Party - doesn't matter.  You get a voice and a vote.

I hope you take a few minutes this weekend to reflect on what it means to be an American.  Praise our past generations; teach our future generations.

Cheers, America.  Happy Birthday.

Your freedom-loving Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Not a Superbowl Watcher?

I'm sure that I'm not the only person who won't be watching tomorrow's big Superbowl game.  If you're looking for something else to do tomorow besides eat too much fattening food and consume too many alcoholic beverages while watching extremely well paid large men pummel each other (not that there's anything wrong with that)... 

try a hike at one of the Valley's many natural preserve mountain parks.

These are some pictures from my recent hike of Shaw Butte trail 306 in North Phoenix.  It's a 4 mile roundtrip hike that City Parks and Recreation labels moderate to difficult. There are some quite steep sections but the panoramic views from the peaks are worth it.





Trailhead parking for North Mountain (including the Shaw Butte trail where I snapped these pics) is located at 7th Street just north of Peoria (just south of Thunderbird) with a big visitors center on the west side of 7th Street. There's additional, limited trailhead parking at 7th Avenue and 15th Avenue just north of Peoria, and at Central Avenue just south of Thunderbird Road.

The day I was there a bunch of groups were hiking. One group looked like a Father-Son hike, another was clearly a dog lover's group hike. There was also a park ranger leading a nature hike through the park, and I overheard him pointing out local bushes and trees, and explaining how anything can manage to prosper and grow green in the Sonoran Desert. 

If you do take advantage of the Valley hiking opportunities, bring water. Most parks don't provide more than a few drinking fountains at the trailhead. Especially for out of town visitors, it's hard to guage how the extremely dry air in Phoenix will affect you. Firefighters are routinely called out to rescue hikers who overestimated their abilities or underestimated their water intake needs. Better safe than sorry. Click here for a list of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation hiking spots.



The photo above is a good illustration of what locals call The Brown Cloud. Unfortunately as metro Phoenix has grown in the past 10+ years, we've developed a pollution problem. We're not Beijing by any means but we've got a growing problem.  The City of Phoenix is tackling the air quality problems through various initiatives including increased spending on mass transit, using cleaner fuels in city buses, dust control measures on construction sites, and incentives for home builders who build "infill" projects. has a brief and informative article about what causes Phoenix's Brown Cloud problem. I'm particularly sensitive to the air quality in Phoenix and days that look like the photo above cause sinus headaches and congestion. But I know of many, many people who never give the Valley's air quality a second thought.

Aside from showing our Brown Cloud, the two photos above show how vast the Valley of the Sun is. The first looks over the southern section of the city; the second photo is of the Northwest Phoenix/Peoria/Glendale area. It's easy to spend 2 hours in a car driving from one corner of town to it's diagonal opposite. I've helped a lot of families relocate here from other parts of the country, and they universally tell me they were glad they heeded advice and found jobs before finding housing. Two hours in the car every day commuting to/from work is no fun!

Hope our readers enjoyed these shots of the beautiful, sunny and warm Valley of the Sun.

Merry Christmas!

These holiday lights photos are compliments of the North Phoenix community of Moon Valley, located at the northwest corner of 7th Street and Thunderbird Road.

Moon Valley has a special Christmas Eve tradition: holiday lights and luminaria. Every year on Christmas Eve, homeowners place brown paper bags weighted with sand on the sidewalk perimeter of their home. At the appointed time, tea light candles are lit inside the bags and voila! the show is on. Valley residents come from miles around to see the luminaria display.  Most of my pics below don’t capture the luminaria themselves but you can see tons of great photos of Valley luminaria displays on Flickr.

The annual tradition is that folks drive slowly through the neighborhood (with only the car’s parking lights on) to see the holiday lights. This year I noticed a new trend - families sitting in their front yard with a brightly burning chiminea to keep them warm as they enjoy the festivities. It’s become almost a moving tailgate party!

This year I also noticed a bunch of families walking the sidewalks to catch the holiday light displays. Last night I even saw an SUV towing a little rickshaw-type wagon full of teens who were belting out holiday songs. I rolled down the car windows to catch most of these pics, and realized that lots of people were shouting “Merry Christmas” to each other through their open car windows. No wonder many of my school friends moved back to Moon Valley to raise their kids - such a special family-oriented neighborhood.

Lawn deer are a holiday favorite:

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Outlining the house is also very popular (and thankfully makes a decent night time photo for my crusty old digicam, sans flash.)

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And then there’s always the neighbors who go all-out.

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Wishing you and yours and very happy holiday season!

Want to know more about Moon Valley? Check out the homes currently for sale here.

Thanksgiving - 10 Reasons to be Thankful

This has been a difficult year for many of us.  What started out as a real estate bubble bursting 2 1/2 years ago has morphed into the worst recession we've had in a long time.  Just about everyone I know has been affected by it.  (except my friend Matt, who's a pharmacist.)  And if you watch the evening news every night, you're probably feeling like the end of the world is not too far off...

This weekend is a time for reflection - a chance to think about the good things in life.  I thought I'd put a quick list together for anyone out there struggling to come up with ideas.

Thanksgiving, 2008.  You should be thankful that:

1. You've been able to keep your house, so far.  (unless you haven't...)

2. You haven't needed to, or wanted to, move this year.  (unless you have.)

3. You were able to sell your home at all, even for pennies on the dollar.  (unless you weren't.)

4. You still have your health.  (unless...)

5. If you're in the real estate industry (or mortgage industry, or auto industry, or sales in general), you were able to liquidate your savings this year before the stock market crashed.

6. You left the real estate or mortgage industry when you did.  There's a lot more competition today for those jobs which actually pay you money to do work.

7. You've amassed a small fortune in karma by advising clients to wait until the market stabilizes before trying to sell their 3-bedroom and buy a 4-bedroom.  (unfortunately the mortgage company doesn't accept karma.)

8. You're not the CEO of GMC, Ford, or Chrysler.

9. If you're not very good with numbers, these smaller prices are making the math so much easier.

10. Nobody else wants to exchange Christmas gifts this year either.  After all, isn't Christmas really just for the kids?

OK - that's my (mostly) tongue-in-cheek list.  What else can you add to it?

Your counting his blessings Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Peoria to collect Christmas trees at curb for recycling

The City of Peoria has announced they will begin collecting Christmas trees for recycling – CURBSIDE! No more driving all over town to find a drop-off spot, or driving out to the desert (you know who you are!) And no more getting needles all over the car, which takes until about June to get rid of..

Here's the schedule:

Jan 3 - North of Pinnacle Peak Rd

Jan 4 - South of Cactus Rd

Jan 7 - North of Union Hills Dr and South of Pinnacle Peak Rd

Jan 8 - North of Cactus Rd and South of Union Hills Dr

They ask that all decorations (ornaments, tinsel, etc.) be removed from the tree. Then simply lay it at your curb where you would normally place your trash can.

Any questions?  Contact the Solid Waste Dept at 623-773-7431.

Your synthetic tree owing Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

[tags] Christmas tree recycling, Christmas tree collection, Peoria, Fletcher Heights [/tags]

Baked Pumpkin Seeds

Mmmmmmm - if you've never saved your pumpkin seeds and baked them, you're missing out on a healthy AND yummy snack!  Here's a basic recipe from for your eating pleasure!

1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut open the pumpkin and use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the insides. Separate the seeds from the stringy core. Rinse the seeds.

2 In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water, about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds. Add a tablespoon of salt for every cup of water. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

3 Spread about a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a roasting pan. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan, all in one layer. Bake on the top rack for 20 minutes or until the seeds begin to brown. When browned to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a rack. Let the seeds cool all the way down before eating. Either crack to remove the inner seed (a lot of work and in my opinion, unnecessary) or eat whole.

Silverton II is a great place for 4th of July fireworks viewing


My last newsletter from the Silverton II HOA invited everyone to watch the 4th of July fireworks display (at the Peoria Sports Complex) from the Silverton II "front lawn" – the huge grassy area on the north side of Beardsley and between 87th and 89th Aves.

I think this sounds like a great idea!

Every year we struggle with the dilemma of watching fireworks – you have to get there early to get a good spot, then you cook in the heat for a few hours (and get eaten by ants!) while dealing with little ones getting impatient. Eventually you get to see the fireworks, but the display is interrupted by bouts of crying from overtired children who are up past their bed times!

This will be a way to show up a little bit later and not have to fight a huge crowd. Count us in – I hope to see you there!

- Chris Butterworth

[tags] fireworks, July 4th [/tags]

Holiday Decorations

Several sellers have asked me about decorating their home during the holidays - "is it ok to decorate? Will it offend potential buyers?"

My response? Decorate away! Although I would try to do it in moderation - you don't want to be the Griswalds from Christmas Vacation...

A - it's your home, and it's your family. If you celebrate one holiday or another, that's great. You don't have to completely change your life in order to sell your home.

B - Personally, I love going into a well-decorated home. It feels warm and inviting, as if the homeowners are good, cheerful people. It sort of makes the home smile.

C - A realtor won't respond to a potential buyer's request to show only homes from sellers of a particlular race or religeon - it's illegal. And if the buyers really feel this way anyway, even if they don't mention it to their realtor, they probably wouldn't have bought your home after all.

So go ahead & decorate. Have you family over. Enjoy the holidays. (just keep your home neat & tidy while you enjoy them...)