Dec. 22, 2021

The Art of Identifying Wild Plants


flora familiar



Nature—with its greenery, fresh air, and symbiotic ecosystem—has the incredible power to help you heal. The mental clarity and sense of belonging you can find in the woods is said to be a boon for your health, from lowering blood pressure to improving pain thresholds. And who couldn’t use a little boost these days? If you are looking to spend more time outdoors, you may also want to learn about the flora (and fauna) that surrounds you. Here, we’ve gathered some get-started guidance for identifying wild plants.

Flora Familiar #1

Identify the Reason.

Foraging for plants to use for food, art, or medicinal purposes is a popular pastime. If you are feeling inspired by the Luddite lifestyle and want to live simply, foraging public land or your own property can be a great way to stay sustainable. Of course, there is always a level of risk when harvesting plants you find versus grow. Spend ample time learning before you harvest. And always set aside some extra pieces for additional identification in case you have an adverse reaction. Get your hands on a forager’s calendar so you can keep track of the type of plants that are in season any given time of the year.

Identification doesn’t need to have tangible results. Perhaps you desire a new hobby or a wealth of outdoor information. Learning all about local plants can help you design a better home garden, be mindful of where you step on the trail, and—as an added bonus—enhance your success at trivia games and crossword puzzles. However you use your newfound knowledge, it doesn’t hurt to know more about the wild things just outside your door.

Learn the Ropes.

Plant identification is an activity the whole family can participate in. With so many ways to approach the process, you can make it work for any age or skill level. If you have a child who shows extra interest, consider enrolling them in a nature camp. Kids and grown-ups alike may find kindred spirits in local foraging groups. Regional parks may offer interactive day or weekend experiences.

If you would rather do it yourself, there are a few tools that can help you succeed. First and foremost, grab a field guide to keep in your backpack or back pocket (see the sidebar for specific suggestions). Then, consider optional items such as a magnifying glass, binoculars, ruler, nature journal, and colored pencils. The journal and pencils will help you keep track of your finds and become more familiar with the shapes and shades of plant families in your area. While these tools will help you with tried-and-true identification methods, feel free to download an identification app or two to confirm your findings.

Take It Home.

If you want to bring the natural world inside your home, collect broken leaves and flowers on a nature walk. Use a flower press to flatten and preserve your finds, then display them in a floating frame or mounted to archival paper. This type of hands-on activity is a great way to engage children and help them see the fruits—or flowers—of their labor.

botany books

The best tool to help you get started with any kind of identification is a field guide. Look for one that specializes in the plants and animals native to the region where you live or frequently visit. Getting accustomed to identifying flora and fauna that you see every day will inspire you to think outside the box and make more observations leading to identification on the fly. Here are a handful of general guides to get you going.

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
by Thomas J. Elpel
This illustrated guide helps you learn in bulk and change the way you see plants. Instead of identifying one at a time, it teaches you to identify based on plant family patterns, ultimately giving you freedom from a guide when exploring.

Flowering Plant Families of the World
by V. H. Heywood, R. K. Brummit, A. Culham, and O. Seberg
Specially designed to help you study and identify blooms, this colorful guide is a go-to for botany from A to Z.

Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary
by James G. Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris
One of the many resources used by US Forest Service botanists, this glossary is good on the go. The paperback book provides over 1,900 illustrations with key descriptors.

Shannon & Gordon Neufeld

360.393.1183 Shannon

360.393.8299 Gordon

Lic.# Shannon: 94057

Lic.# Gordon: 27470

Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 7, 2021

Featured Listing- 2005 Northshore Drive

Check out this immaculate lake front home, bathed in sun from dawn ‘til dusk. This open concept 4 bedroom Northshore offering enjoys fabulous water views & 360’ of shared waterfront; there's even a dock for owners to tie-off their boats. This home has everything one would want for northwest living: vaulted ceilings, large composite deck & new windows, great room w/ cozy gas fireplace, and newly crafted custom kitchen with gas stove and all new appliances in 2017. All elements speak to the owners’ level of detail and artistic flair. The infrastructure is beautifully maintained with newer roof, furnace, A/C, and hot water heater. Great off-street parking and newly fenced backyard with space for garden beds and fruit trees, is nicely appointed while ready for your personal touch.

Posted in Featured Listings
Sept. 30, 2021

Featured Listing- 8506 Golden Valley Drive

Check out this fantastic single level home located on a bright sunny lot in beautiful Maple Falls. Enjoy the open floor plan and ease of living this home has to offer. Built in 2018, this home features 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a spacious owner's suite with en suite, and a walk-in closet. The kitchen boasts stainless steel appliances and opens up to back yard deck, making this the perfect place to entertain. This home also features a bright, spacious dining area which opens right up into the living room. In the living room, you can sit and enjoy the warmth and ambiance of the built in gas fireplace. This home also features a laundry room, spacious two car garage, and a fully fenced yard. Schedule a tour today!

Posted in Featured Listings
Sept. 15, 2021

Featured Listing-35 Lost Fork Lane

NEW construction home built in 2019 but barely lived-in before Covid prevented owners' vacation visits. The 3 bed/2.5 bath home has a great layout, is positioned on a bright level lot amongst the trees, and has a fabulous Great Room with vaulted ceilings & gas fireplace. The main floor owner suite has walk-in closet & dual vanity ensuite; a quality build from a known contractor. Kitchen has stainless steel appliances, beautiful custom cabinet package, large island with breakfast bar & solid surface counter-top. Deck access off the rear of the home expands the entertaining space to the outdoors. The lower level provides two more bedrooms, full bath & an oversized 2-car garage. Just minutes from the lake and Sudden Valley amenities.

Posted in Featured Listings
Sept. 15, 2021

Featured Listing-5300 Belfern Drive

This lovely three bedroom 1.75 bath home is in close proximity to both Bellingham and Ferndale and all those townships have to offer. The home is move-in ready yet perfectly positioned for your personal touches and/or updating. The cozy kitchen has a new double oven and all the plumbing in the house was recently updated by a local contractor. Both the water heater and furnace have been replaced in the last five years so move forward with confidence. With no steps and low maintenance spacious yard, this home is sure to have broad appeal. An extra large garden shed out back doubles as shop space and the garden spaces are ready for a new owner and spring planting.

Posted in Featured Listings
July 15, 2021

Featured Listing-3001 Pacific Street

Check out this fantastic zero lot line townhouse-style home in the heart of Barkley Village. Enjoy the peace and quiet of being located on a dead end street at the end of a cul-de-sac; as well as the convenience of being close to shopping and all that Barkley Square has to offer. This spacious 4 bedroom home features an open floor plan, 6 burner stainless steel gas stove with custom hood, low maintenance laminate tile flooring, bright dining area, as well as a fully fenced, beautifully landscaped back yard to relax in and enjoy. Large 2 car garage offers plenty of room for all your storage needs. Take advantage of the extensive trail system which can take you all across the city. Great Entry level home or Investment Property. No HOA.


Posted in Featured Listings
July 9, 2021

Opposites Attract




Not the least bit color shy, Whitney Jones—residential designer and owner of Wynter House Designs in Atlanta, Georgia—could say the same for her clients. The owners of this craftsman bungalow in Atlanta’s historic Grant Park neighborhood came to her for a major remodel. Her bold approach often features saturated shades applied in a high-contrast manner, which was right at home in the neighborhood known for its distinctive architecture. “I use color strategically in a mix with grounded neutrals,” she says. “There are special moments of color with elements around it that are a little quiet.”

Her go big or go home design philosophy fits her dramatic palettes where placement and contrast are key. “When there’s too much similarity, everything washes away,” says Jones. “I like to use colors throughout and string them through different spaces to thread a relationship. You may not even know until you take a step back and start to see shades of yellow or blue. That way, each individual space can have its own story and be coordinated.”

In this high-spirited home, black and white complement the transitional aesthetic that’s a bit eclectic, too. The exterior presents a simple yet bold combination of black and white and the interior’s white walls help saturated shades shine. “When you have color on large components, you want a little bit of that white background,” says Jones.

Opposites Attract #1

Blue hues define the dining room where painted cabinets are paired with a tropical pattern wallpaper and warm woods like walnut add a welcoming touch.

Opposites Attract #2

Contrast kicks up the colors in the living room, with subdued hues like gray and saturated shades of blue. Black trim on windows and doors adds drama to the white walls.

Opposites Attract #3

A secondary color scheme strikes a playful note in the family room with pink and purple pillows complete with delightful tassels and trim.

The designer prefers coordinating colors and tones rather than matching, like the yellow and blue hues and the walnut wood that appear throughout in slightly different variations. In the living room, a walnut mantel and shelves with a weathered look join the slate-gray tile on the fireplace. The commissioned artwork above introduces cobalt blue and muted yellow tones, while the velvet sofa repeats shades of blue and gray.

Behind the sofa, a peek-a-boo built-in served as the jumping-off point and now a standout feature in the new open floor plan. With vertical plumbing housed on either side, Jones designed the perfect piece to reveal colorful elements in adjacent spaces like the dining room—where shaker-style cabinets in the bar area wear a custom shade of navy.

“It’s a little more modern for the young family,” she says of the color on the high-style bar. Mesh panels in brass embellish upper cabinets, while teal wallpaper with a tropical print adds a splash of pattern. Blue hues continue throughout the kitchen on the island and cabinets. Blue cabinets in the kitchen feature brass hardware, while white cabinets are outfitted with oversize matte-black accents. Because the house is packed to the max with storage, Jones says they could lighten the load by flanking the forty-eight-inch range hood with walnut shelves instead of upper cabinets.

The renovated powder bath shows a reflection of the open shelves in the mirror above the wall-mounted sink. In the background, graphic yellow and white cement tile was installed for maximum impact. “It trails the color through the space in a small way for a big wow factor that becomes a focal point,” says Jones. “Even though it’s tucked away, you get a little snippet of it with the door open.”

In the family room, a vibrant teal feature wall with a diagonal pattern made from strips of molding becomes another focal point that awakens the space. An accordion door with a retractable screen leading to the yard makes it seem like a screened-in porch. “It feels like a little bit of an oasis,” she says.

Animated accents kick up the color scheme. “I like to add two secondary palettes that are very playful since they can be changed out at any given time,” says Jones. “The pink and purple pillows with stripes and tassels have a very saturated palette that speaks to their personality and aesthetic.”

The primary suite is a bit more subdued than the rest of the home and highlights contrast in the bath with black geometric tiles. “With white grout, the shape becomes more interesting. Here, there is less of an extreme color palette and a little more pattern and shape,” says Jones, who encourages others to find shades that speak to them and to step outside their comfort zone. “Don’t be afraid of color. It’s extremely impactful and very personal.”

stark contrast

Make your mark with these tips on creating contrast from designer Whitney Jones.

Make a statement. Repeating the same color palette throughout a house makes distinct combinations less disjointed and more cohesive.

Diversify your assets. Create contrast with colors, sizes, shapes, and materials, like smooth with rough and shiny with matte.

Keep it together. Large hardware gives two-tone cabinets one storyline. “That way, they’re not just a supporting piece. They play a role,” says Jones.

Go the distance. There are more ways to introduce contrast than with black and white. For the level of distinction to be successful, pair deep hues with muted tones.

Layers go a long way. Similar styles with different details and finishes still relate to each other, like the walnut elements with different treatments that appear throughout this featured design.

Opposites Attract #4

Continuity extends throughout the craftsman bungalow with variations of the same color palette.

Opposites Attract #5

Brass and black accents like the light fixtures in the kitchen and dining area contribute to the cool vibe.

Opposites Attract #6

An ingenious peek-a-boo built-in offers storage and display space while boosting the views between the living and dining rooms.

Shannon & Gordon Neufeld

360.393.1183 Shannon

360.393.8299 Gordon

Lic.# Shannon: 94057

Lic.# Gordon: 27470

Posted in Real Estate News
July 8, 2021

Featured Listing-1303 Spruce Street

Revel in the charm of this contemporary craftsman-style home with wood corbels, shingled gables, and a front yard sitting porch to greet the neighbor from. The interior is just as lovely with ceramic tile, hardwood floors, gas fireplace, granite counters, and stainless steel appliances. The home is beautifully appointed throughout, well cared for, and you will just love the main floor owner suite with walk-in closet. Upstairs you will find three additional bedrooms and a third bathroom. Not to be outdone, the backyard boasts a very large deck, plenty of lawn to play on, and a small garden shed to store your tools or other necessities. Come check out this beautiful home today!

Posted in Featured Listings
July 8, 2021

Featured Listing- 4915 Samish Way #107

Enjoy beautiful views of the Cedar Grove Communities 5 acre lake. Feel like you are on vacation every day in this highly desirable 55+, move in ready home, surrounded by mature landscape, & the best of the PNW. Lrg covered deck extends from the family rm & offers complete privacy. Wait for the sunsets in the dining rm, living rm, kitchen & front porch. Lrg shop with power, carport & concrete driveway. Enjoy community recreation area, clubhouse, impressive library, RV parking, trails that go around the lake, birdwatching & an off leash area for your dog. 2 bdrms, 2 baths, 2 living rooms, energy efficient heat pump, large utility rm. Everything you need to be comfortable. Ownership in park is $30K, but $25K of this is returned when sold.

Posted in Featured Listings
July 7, 2021

Are We in a Housing Bubble? Experts Say No.

Are We in a Housing Bubble? Experts Say No.

The question of whether the real estate market is a bubble ready to pop seems to be dominating a lot of conversations – and everyone has an opinion. Yet, when it comes down to it, the opinions that carry the most weight are the ones based on experience and expertise.

Here are four expert opinions from professionals and organizations that have devoted their careers to giving great advice to the housing industry.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies in their The State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 report:

“… conditions today are quite different than in the early 2000s, particularly in terms of credit availability. The current climb in house prices instead reflects strong demand amid tight supply, helped along by record-low interest rates.”

Nathaniel Karp, Chief U.S. Economist at BBVA:

“The housing market is in line with fundamentals as interest rates are attractive and incomes are high due to fiscal stimulus, making debt servicing relatively affordable and allowing buyers to qualify for larger mortgages. Underwriting standards are still strong, so there is little risk of a bubble developing.”

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk:

“It’s not clear at all to me that things are going to slow down significantly in the near future. In 2005, I had a strong sense that the hot market would turn and that, when it turned, things would get very ugly. Today, I don’t have that sense at all, because all of the fundamentals are there. Demand will be high for a while, because Millennials need houses. Prices will keep rising for a while, because inventory is so low.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

Looking back at the bubble years, house prices exceeded house-buying power in 2006 nationally, but today house-buying power is nearly twice as high as the median sale price nationally…

Many find it hard to believe, but housing is actually undervalued in most markets and the gap between house-buying power and sale prices indicates there’s room for further house price growth in the months to come.”

Bottom Line

All four strongly believe that we’re not in a bubble and won’t see crashing home values as we did in 2008. And they’re not alone – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch share the same opinion.


Source: Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Market Updates