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How to Create a Sense of Welcome in Your Home

Submitted by Nest Bend on

KAREN: Hi, this isKaren Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties and I amso excited to have my dear friend, and coworker many times, Caren Raisin here.She is an actual lifestyle transformational specialist. You’re going to have toexplain to our listeners what that means, Caren. Go for it.

CAREN: I actuallyam trained as a registered nurse, functional nutritional therapist, as well asan organizational specialist. With your lifestyle, I really look at health fromevery perspective. I look not only at the physical body and the house that wereside in, but also our external spaces. How do they support health andwellbeing?

KAREN: That’s whatI love so much about Caren. I’ve had listings before where something just feltoff, and she can walk into the home and move a few things around, maybe burn alittle sage or whatever, and we get it cleared out. It just feels better.

CAREN: Yeah. It’sinteresting. The physical body has its own energy – we’re very aware of that –and our home “bodies,” our physical spaces that we live in, the rooms, theyards, they also have their own energy. So part of it is acknowledging thatenergy and bringing ourselves into that space and creating what most of us wantin our homes: that feeling of invitation and welcome, and also peace, calm, andleave. With spring here –

KAREN: I was goingto ask about spring cleaning.

CAREN: [laughs] Iknow, I’m so excited. I love spring. Now, here in central Oregon we haven’tquite popped yet. We’ve still got a lot of wetness.

KAREN: To me,spring is challenging in Bend just because you have the weather that you neverknow what it’s going to do, and then you think, “Oh my goodness, I’m going tobe outside.” Then you’re in mud, then the rain comes, then the snow comes, andyou want to plant and everything freezes. It’s a bit challenging.

CAREN: I actuallylove it, because I feel like that is very often how I feel emotionally. I wantto plant, I want it to be sunny, and yet I feel sort of gloomy and gray.

KAREN: So it goesright along with the feelings.

CAREN: It goesright along sometimes with how I’m feeling. I think that one of the nice thingsthat we have in central Oregon is we are delayed a little bit in our allergyseason.

KAREN: That’s true.

CAREN: That’s oneof the positives. Also, with the cooler weather, it gives us the opportunity asspring hits to be indoors and to do those spring cleaning things that, if youreally had a sunny, blue sky day, it would be much harder to stick your head inthe closet and start emptying it out and going through stuff.

KAREN: So that’sactually a very positive thing about our central Oregon spring.

CAREN: Yeah, it’s wonderful.The other thing about central Oregon that I love – we also have all thesewonderful herbs and teas that will help us as allergy season hits.

KAREN: Can you giveme an example?

CAREN: Sure.Locavore sells nettles, which is fantastic for allergies. You can put nettlesin soups, you can take them as a supplement, you can make them as a tea.

Metolius TeaCompany, which is a wonderful tea company based out of central Oregon, has atea called Cold Kicker, which I find works beautifully for allergies as wellbecause it really decreases the cold symptoms, which are symptoms reallysimilar to allergy symptoms.

KAREN: When you saynettles and they’re at Locavore, I’m picturing needles from a cactus. What doesthis stuff look like?

CAREN: They’reloose herbs. They look like chamomile. They’re a darker color. But it would bethe same as if you were to buy chamomile or peppermint. It’s just you’re buyingnettles. So no, it does not look like needles. [laughs]

KAREN: I’m justenvisioning this prickly thing that I’m making tea with.

CAREN: Nope, notprickly.

KAREN: Okay. Theother thing I like about spring is it is this season of rebirth and renewal.

CAREN: Absolutely.

KAREN: That’s wherethat whole cleansing, maybe of ourselves and our homes – is that what comesinto play during this time of year?

CAREN: It is, andit’s something that I work with with my clients. As we look at the seasonschanging, where are we physically, and where are our homes spatially? A lot ofpeople – especially I find this in central Oregon – our fireplace, the hearth,is the center of our winter.

Several of my goodfriends here will flip their couches around. In the wintertime they face the fire,and then they’ll flip them in the spring and summer so that they’re actuallyfacing the outdoors and looking at the trees and the blue sky, and theinclement weather at times.

KAREN: That’s avery cool idea. We’re going to take a very short break, and then I think I’mgoing to have Caren go through how we organize our homes. Maybe we’ll just goroom by room. We’ll be back in a second.

Welcome back toHouse Talk. This is Karen Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Propertiesand I’ve been visiting with Caren Raisin. She’s a lifestyletransformational specialist.

We were touching ondifferent things that come along this time of year, whether it be taking careof yourself, and also taking care of your home because they go hand in hand –right, Caren?

CAREN: They do.

KAREN: So now Iwould love to have you walk us through a home. To me, the way Caren approachesa home and the organization of a home is very similar to how I want to see ahome when I’m getting ready to help someone sell. The front porch, the frontdoor, even, and then you enter the home. So can you take us from the frontporch and right on through? Let’s go.

CAREN: Sure. Thistime of year, sometimes we can have needles and a sort of accumulation ofleaves on our front porch, so spending some time really cleaning the frontporch. Even getting the door jambs and those windows that are indoor andoutward-facing is really nice little spring cleaning activity.

One of the thingsthat I actually do is I’ll take a dust cloth and wipe down both the outside andthe inside of my front door, and then all the window ledges, both inside andoutside. I have a bench on my front porch, so I’ll often wipe that down aswell. Because of the fact that we are in the desert, that’s probably at least aonce-a-quarter wipe-down, because as we hit summer it gets a little dry. Butit’s a wonderful thing to do transitioning from winter to spring.

KAREN: Maybebringing out some bright pillows. I know I put away things in the winter, andmy pots I leave out there because they’re heavy, but they’re empty. I wasthinking maybe some rosemary or thyme, because that’ll last through thischallenging weather of sunshine, torrential rain, snow, warmth.

CAREN: Right.Karen, one of the things you taught me last year was that the front porch is aperfect place to start your summer garden.

KAREN: Yeah.

CAREN: What we knowliving here is that our spinach and our kale, this is a really good time toplant them, and it’s a really opportune place. You’ll have some greenery onyour front porch, it gets sun, and it’s still a little bit covered, so if theweather drops down to that 30 degrees you can easily step outside and put alittle cloth over them.

I got a good tipthe other day when I was buying my vegetables.

KAREN: Where didyou buy them at?

CAREN: I boughtthem at Home Depot here in Bend. One of the other customers – I was buying thecovers for the vegetables, which because they’re vegetable covers, they’re alittle pricey. I love central Oregon and Bend because people are so friendly.She sort of elbowed me and she goes, “It’s a lot less expensive to buy thepaint drop cloths, and they actually work better.”

KAREN: Oh, andthey’re clear.

CAREN: Right.

KAREN: You know me,I have that tomato fetish. So I went online to Amazon, and I found thesegigantic contractors’ trash bags that are clear. They go over a pot. You haveto buy like 100, but you know, they last a couple years. So it’s kind of thatsame thing. I think the painters’ drop cloths are probably less expensive andeasier to utilize immediately.

CAREN: I don’tknow. The other thing is, as you know how I feel, it’s also wonderful to have aclear trash bag when you’re cleaning out your closet. Oftentimes we forget whatwe’ve gotten rid of, and when we’re taking it to the Goodwill it’s a goodreminder what’s in the bag, what you’re actually either donating – or we have alot of wonderful resale stores here in Bend that you can take things to andmaybe get a little pin money.

KAREN: I alwaysenjoy visiting with you, as you know – we’ve had many cups of tea over theyears – but as per usual, we’ve digressed.

CAREN: Right.

KAREN: Okay, s owedo the entry to the home.

CAREN: That’sright.

KAREN: Now where dowe go? [laughs]

CAREN: Usually whatI find in Bend, the homes usually have a wonderful, warm, welcoming – when youcome in the front door, usually you either have an entryway or you’re walkinginto a space that is living room – potentially living room where you can seethe kitchen, living room where you can see the dining room.

One of the thingsthat you could is really look at spatially, have you accumulated a lot ofclutter? Do you have a lot of your winter coats on a coat rack that can now godown to the basement? That’s the other thing I love about central Oregon, ishow wonderful and utilitarian our basements are for really being able to swapout all of our winter clothes and start to pull up our spring clothes.

KAREN: Yeah, it’s awonderful way to be able to store. If you don’t have a basement, usually you’llhave a nice generous attic too, that you can utilize space-wise.

CAREN: That’sright.

KAREN: A lot ofpeople don’t even take up their attic. They don’t realize that they can finishthat with a little bit of plywood and really store things. So now we’ve gonefrom the front door into the living room or mudroom area. Now where we doreally dig in this time of year?

CAREN: I think coatclosets. One of the things that I love to do is really look at what coats did Iwear this year and what coats didn’t I wear? Usually the coats I didn’t wear, Ialso didn’t wear last season.

KAREN: [laughs] Ihave some of those, but I just don’t want to part with them. But they take upspace.

CAREN: Well, thisis a good place to use those clear plastic trash bags. Fold it up, put it inthe trash bag. This is not a great time of year to donate a warm coat or totake it to consignment, so if you put it in a clear plastic trash bag, youcould actually label a bag “possible consignment” and put it down in yourbasement. Then next year you’ll have a better idea of “am I really ready to letthat item go, or do I want to hold onto it?”

But if you gothrough two or more seasons without wearing something, it’s because you’vereplaced it, and it’s probably time to offer that to a more loving home whereit’s actually going to get utilized.

KAREN: Wheresomeone might possibly wear it.

CAREN: Yeah. Theother thing that is wonderful to do is if you have books, switch your booksout.

KAREN: I never dothat. I keep all my book club books just lined up. It’s like, come on, some ofthose are 10 years old and I haven’t reread them.

CAREN: Right, andyou may not. [laughs] It’s wonderful to take those to the library boxes that wehave in town, or to even just take them to the library. I really help peoplefigure out getting rid of books, and also the little nooks and crannies and theheater vents, even taking them out and vacuuming those, getting the dust out ofthose.

If you haven’tcleaned your fireplace, now’s a good time to do it to get the ashes out, getsome nice wood recycled in your fireplace.

KAREN: Yeah. We’regoing to take another short break and then we’ll be back with Caren Raisin, myfavorite transformational lifestyle specialist.

All right, we’reback with House Talk. Thank you for listening. We have Caren Raisin here, andshe’s my favorite lifestyle transformational specialist. We’ve been goingthrough this whole transformation that spring brings, whether it’s with yourown health or it’s with your home.

We were goingthrough the home. We did the front door, a little bit about the living room,but let’s tackle probably the most difficult room in the house – other than thewoman’s closet – why don’t we hit the kitchen?

CAREN: Men’sclosets can be challenging too, depending on the man. The kitchen is such asacred space. It’s where we nourish ourselves and our family and the peoplethat we love. I love the transition from winter cooking to spring cooking.

One of the thingsthat we really have here in central Oregon that’s different than say Californiais that a lot of our produce that’s locally grown is seasonal. It’s really farmto table. We do tend – at least, I do – I tend to use probably more BPA-freecanned goods in the winter months. Beans and easier-to-cook and also maybelonger-cooking items, like a crockpot or a slow cooker.

KAREN: Me too.

CAREN: Things thatI don’t use in the summertime. So if you know you’re going to transition out ofthose pieces of equipment, you can think about if you have a closet or a pantryor someplace where you want to put those away.

I always recommendmaking sure that your blender is out so that you can make smoothies with allthose wonderful fruits and vegetables, and maybe a juicer. This is the time ofyear not only to spring clean our house, but to really spring clean our bodies.

But anything in thekitchen that’s on the counter, take a good look around and see, is thereanything on this counter that I really don’t need on the counter? Oftentimesit’s my purse. [laughs]

KAREN: I know whenyou’ve helped me stage listings, it’s been like, oh my goodness, we can’t evensee the counter. It’s just because that particular friend or client has beenusing a lot of stuff, and that’s all good. But whether you’re selling your homeor not, it’s kind of nice, at least for me, to come home and have empty space.

CAREN: It is. Thatis really lovely. I know when we did the house up on Stone Pine together – thekitchen up there is so beautiful, and the island had a lot of knickknacks onit. Once we cleared the knickknacks off the island and we just put a whiteorchid on there, it felt so much more calm and inviting.

KAREN: It’s abeautiful house. We took it off for part of the winter, so that’s actuallycoming back on. It’s such a nice single-level house.

CAREN: Oh my God,the windows in that house are magnificent, to be able to see the mountains thatyou can see.

KAREN: I also thinkafter this heavy winter that that house is amazing in that it has the flatdriveway and it’s a true single-level home.

CAREN: [laughs] Anda very easy yard.

KAREN: Very easyyard and a tremendous view. But anyway, yeah, you did a phenomenal job on thathouse for me, and for the seller. He was so pleased. A lot of that, too – Ifound myself last weekend just cleaning out the drawer in my kitchen where I’vegot the spatulas and all that. I had like six spatulas.

CAREN: Right. Youprobably don’t need that many.

KAREN: No. [laughs]It is crazy.

CAREN: The otherthing that’s a great thing to clean out is your spice drawer or your spicerack. Look and see what’s been there a while, what you can probably toss, andthen what you can replenish – and what different spices you’ll cook with as wemove out of the heavier spices from winter cooking into some lighter spices forthe spring.

KAREN: What in yourmind is a lighter spice for spring?

CAREN: I reallylove using the finer herbs, so an Herbes de Provence or, like you were talkingabout, even planting an herb garden. Making a pasta dish with fresh basil,making a dish with fresh rosemary.

KAREN: Yeah. I’vebeen using a lot of rosemary lately, and oh my goodness, the smell in thekitchen is so fantastic.

CAREN: Right. Andthen oregano. Oregano has wonderful antibiotic properties as well, andantiviral properties. We look at the spaces in our kitchen as adding flavor,but they also have amazing health benefits as well.

KAREN: You alwayshad me add cinnamon to your breakfast.

CAREN: I did.

KAREN: What doesthat do? And the turmeric. I’ve eaten so much of it it’s like I’m turninggolden-brown, I don’t know. [laughs]

CAREN: I doubtthat. But the cinnamon actually helps stabilize your blood sugar, so it’llactually help your insulin and glucose levels.

Then with theturmeric, you want to cook the turmeric with black pepper. But turmeric has theamazing quality as an anti-inflammatory. Then 100% pomegranate juice actuallyhelps with stem cell growth. There’s so much hype around stem cell injection,and to think that you could actually do it on your own with an 8-ounce glass ofpomegranate juice.

And this is allscientifically proven. This isn’t like “oh gee, I think pomegranate juice isgreat, you should drink it.” There are actual scientific studies that back thisup.

KAREN: That’s terrific.Caren, in the long run, how does someone reach you? Because we didn’t eventouch on closets.

CAREN: We didn’tget a chance. [laughs]

KAREN: I know, butyou’re phenomenal with closets and just being so gentle and kind with people,but also helping them realize what needs to go and how happy they are. So howdoes someone reach you?

CAREN: They canemail me at

KAREN: Perfect. Andif you’d like to reach me to help you buy or sell a home, you can reach me at Thanks for listening.