House Talk guest Caren Raisin

KAREN: Hi, this is Karen Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties and I am so 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 to explain to our listeners what that means, Caren. Go for it.

CAREN: I actually am trained as a registered nurse, functional nutritional therapist, as well as an organizational specialist. With your lifestyle, I really look at health from every perspective. I look not only at the physical body and the house that we reside in, but also our external spaces. How do they support health and wellbeing?

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

CAREN: Yeah. It’s interesting. 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, the yards, they also have their own energy. So part of it is acknowledging that energy and bringing ourselves into that space and creating what most of us want in our homes: that feeling of invitation and welcome, and also peace, calm, and leave. With spring here –

KAREN: I was going to ask about spring cleaning.

CAREN: [laughs] I know, I’m so excited. I love spring. Now, here in central Oregon we haven’t quite 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 never know what it’s going to do, and then you think, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to be outside.” Then you’re in mud, then the rain comes, then the snow comes, and you want to plant and everything freezes. It’s a bit challenging.

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

KAREN: So it goes right along with the feelings.

CAREN: It goes right along sometimes with how I’m feeling. I think that one of the nice things that we have in central Oregon is we are delayed a little bit in our allergy season.

KAREN: That’s true.

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

KAREN: So that’s actually 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 these wonderful herbs and teas that will help us as allergy season hits.

KAREN: Can you give me an example?

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

Metolius Tea Company, which is a wonderful tea company based out of central Oregon, has a tea called Cold Kicker, which I find works beautifully for allergies as well because it really decreases the cold symptoms, which are symptoms really similar to allergy symptoms.

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

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

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

CAREN: Nope, not prickly.

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

CAREN: Absolutely.

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

House Talk - Bend, Oregon Real Estate with Karen Malanga
House Talk - Bend, Oregon Real Estate with Karen Malanga
Karen Malanga

Discussing real estate in Central Oregon for home buyers, sellers & investors.

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

Several of my good friends 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 actually facing the outdoors and looking at the trees and the blue sky, and the inclement weather at times.

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

Welcome back to House Talk. This is Karen Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties and I’ve been visiting with Caren Raisin. She’s a lifestyle transformational specialist.

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

CAREN: They do.

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

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

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

KAREN: Maybe bringing out some bright pillows. I know I put away things in the winter, and my pots I leave out there because they’re heavy, but they’re empty. I was thinking maybe some rosemary or thyme, because that’ll last through this challenging 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 a perfect place to start your summer garden.

KAREN: Yeah.

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

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

KAREN: Where did you buy them at?

CAREN: I bought them at Home Depot here in Bend. One of the other customers – I was buying the covers for the vegetables, which because they’re vegetable covers, they’re a little 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 the paint drop cloths, and they actually work better.”

KAREN: Oh, and they’re clear.

CAREN: Right.

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

CAREN: I don’t know. The other thing is, as you know how I feel, it’s also wonderful to have a clear trash bag when you’re cleaning out your closet. Oftentimes we forget what we’ve gotten rid of, and when we’re taking it to the Goodwill it’s a good reminder what’s in the bag, what you’re actually either donating – or we have a lot of wonderful resale stores here in Bend that you can take things to and maybe get a little pin money.

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

CAREN: Right.

KAREN: Okay, s owe do the entry to the home.

CAREN: That’s right.

KAREN: Now where do we go? [laughs]

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

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

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

CAREN: That’s right.

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

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

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

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

But if you go through two or more seasons without wearing something, it’s because you’ve replaced it, and it’s probably time to offer that to a more loving home where it’s actually going to get utilized.

KAREN: Where someone might possibly wear it.

CAREN: Yeah. The other thing that is wonderful to do is if you have books, switch your books out.

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

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

If you haven’t cleaned your fireplace, now’s a good time to do it to get the ashes out, get some nice wood recycled in your fireplace.

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

All right, we’re back with House Talk. Thank you for listening. We have Caren Raisin here, and she’s my favorite lifestyle transformational specialist. We’ve been going through this whole transformation that spring brings, whether it’s with your own health or it’s with your home.

We were going through 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 the woman’s closet – why don’t we hit the kitchen?

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

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

KAREN: Me too.

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

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

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

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

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

KAREN: It’s a beautiful house. We took it off for part of the winter, so that’s actually coming 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 that you can see.

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

CAREN: [laughs] And a very easy yard.

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

CAREN: Right. You probably don’t need that many.

KAREN: No. [laughs] It is crazy.

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

KAREN: What in your mind is a lighter spice for spring?

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

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

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

KAREN: You always had me add cinnamon to your breakfast.

CAREN: I did.

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

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

Then with the turmeric, you want to cook the turmeric with black pepper. But turmeric has the amazing quality as an anti-inflammatory. Then 100% pomegranate juice actually helps 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 of pomegranate juice.

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

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

CAREN: We didn’t get a chance. [laughs]

KAREN: I know, but you’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 how does someone reach you?

CAREN: They can email me at

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

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