Category Archives: Advice

Rekindling the spirit, finding your work mojo and a needed dash of zippy-kapow.


Orrrr. . .how helping lots of people for free reminded me how much I love what I do.

Maybe it’s the change of the season, the exhasuting heat finally lifting, the kids off to school, and work slowing a bit. . .or simply being tired from a long hot summer move/selling season for your resident Realtor (I have “Dog Days are Over” by Florence + The Machine playing now on my itunes, case in point).  I was going through two sets of clothes often in a day minimum, sometimes three if you average in a gym session. . .and frankly, pretty dang burned out. . .enter a post eleven pm (my cut off on “work” calls and switch to strictly personal time. . .I’m sans hubby and kids at this stage of my life, surely, this will not be popular once that happens) call from a girlfriend in the Pacific Northwest working on a condo purchase.  She was there, without her husband, trying to purchase a condo for them as a conclusion of a less than fun cross country move for her and four dogs and before he returned from overseas.  She’s thrilled her real estate pal on the East Coast, who can offer advice, took her call after three glasses of wine and a fantactic dinner and stayed on the phone even after it was clear there’d be no fantabulous dog at a truckstop anecdotes.

She’s changed her mind, what to do?  Two hours and several glasses of unsweet tea later my lap was hot from the whiring of my laptop. . .and she was ready to face the next morning and felt a lot less out of control.  We did pro and con lists on the home she chose, what could be but probably wasn’t wrong with the three year old unit, what her options to get out were and what impact if any it would have on their bottom line and moving on to the next possible home.  The next morning, a thank you text from her that said “Thanks for sparing me the mamby-pamby “how does it make you feel?” schpiel. . .I needed someone to say “don’t do that, you might get sued” or “here’s a way to do this that won’t suck later””. . .and she sent me a nice bottle of wine.

Her call sent off some sort of weird vibration in the universe and on random duty calls in the last month, had more than one client from out of state, asking lots of questions on complex transactions they were unsure of.  I started to remember why I really dig my job, well, lifestyle (frankly, I get more post eleven pm calls/texts for work than from boys which is one of several reasons I think it makes it more a liefstyle).

I hope if you’re in a funk, losing focus, feeling a little like you’re going forty in a forty-five with AARP members behind you glaring. . .make an effort to kick yourself in your pants.  Go to the bokstore, wander until you find something that inspires you, go for a long drive, go for the phone when it rings in off times. . .it could be your chutzpah calling.

Marine Corps Ball Gowns!!!!


I couldn’t resist writing something else on the topic, it is the MOST popular way to find my website! I have more hits per day on this topic than any other!!!!

I grew up a Marine Brat and then as an adult went to my fair share of Marine Corps Balls . . .the short list of advice?

Here in Coastal NC, chances are good you have to travel a bit to reach your event, often hosted in New Bern or Wilmington as there are few locations in the Jacksonville area that can host a large batallion or squadron so keep that in mind and that may mean parking at a parkikng deck and having to walk a bit. . .bring spare shoes just in case. . .or, rather than a convention center you may enjoy your evening at an empty hangar or field house (in those instances, no white/light dresses if you hope to wear your gown more than once!).

Your date/escort for the evening will be in uniform, which varies from service to service and rank. . .but all in all, black, navy blue, white and red are included in their evening dress and make any dress you wear in those colors look smashing. . .gold and silver also look great since the gents have all their medals on.

Dinner and dancing are usually included but always, at a USMC ball is the cake cutting ceremony where the youngest and oldest Marines in the room participate. . .the evening usually includes a distinguished guest speaker and several toasts.

I could go on about the schedule of events and attire but, think of it as a grown-up prom and you’re pretty close! Take lots of photos, be respectful of everyone there, dance at least once and have fun!

**Check out all the great comments and a few links below!  Ball season is ramping up!  If you have a great story of some helpful advice, please share!  And, as always, if you have ANY kind of real estate need (regardless of what state or country you are in), shoot me a note to and I can answer your questions or connect you with a talented agent with a great track record no matter where you are!  (910)554-0761 is my direct cell for folks with North Carolina Real Estate needs.  I have a decade of military real estate experience and work with Century 21 Champion Real Estate in Jacksonville, NC-home to Camp Lejeune, New River MCAS, Camp Johnson and Camp Geiger and have great connections to every military community imaginable (and have moved over a dozen times myself).  I’d love to help you bloom where you are planted!

How NOT to sell your house

I couldn’t resist this repost. . .I found this article on this morning and thought I would share. seems to be a really neat site with lots of great ideas, info and resources. . .you really need to check it out.  The list below, 10 things to do to NOT sell your house may seem pretty silly to some of you. . .but in this industry, being in and out of people’s homes all day, you really see some unusual and embarassing stuff. . .just know that when it comes to your home on the market, there is no such thing as things being too clean inside and out. . .!!!

(MyHomeIdeas) — If you’re wondering why your house has languished on the market for all these months, check out our tongue-in-cheek guide to common mistakes sellers make

Don't try to hide things inside stoves or cupboards, experts say. Potential buyers usually look everywhere.

Don’t try to hide things inside stoves or cupboards, experts say. Potential buyers usually look everywhere.

1. Leave out your pictures, magazines, books, and knickknacks. You want a prospective buyer to feel that they know you, right?

Wrong. You want the buyers to immediately begin imagining themselves living in your house, and they’ll have a hard time seeing beyond the pictures of your family at Beaver Creek and the old issues of Gun & Garden.

Even worse, they might find your taste in books laughable or your choice of evening wear tacky and decide they couldn’t possibly live in your house.

So clear every surface, every side table, every coffee table, the sideboard, the desk and the dining room table. You can put one item in each room, and it should be a plant or flowers.

2. Don’t change the cat litter. After all, you changed it yesterday, right? It doesn’t smell that bad yet.

Or…..give your house the sniff test. It should smell fresh and clean. Nothing is more off-putting to a prospective buyer than a house that’s stale-smelling, or worse.

Don’t Miss

Often, you become so inured to the smell of your own home that you don’t notice scents that might offend a visitor. Empty the garbage cans, load dirty clothes into the washing machine, run a lemon through the disposal, give wood furniture a quick swipe with polish, and for goodness sake, change the litter box.

3. Express yourself! Indulge in your favorite colors in vividly painted walls and furniture. Paint an accent wall a bright color. It’s fun!

Or…make your house a place anyone could imagine making their own. This means removing most evidence of your own personality. Decorate with a rigorous devotion to beige.

Neutral walls, pale furniture, soft lighting, and inoffensive art all go a long way towards creating a crowd-pleasing interior. Remove your collections to a safe place for the duration of the selling process, since you want a prospective buyer to look at the space, not get distracted by your Beanie Baby collection.

4. Stash your dirty magazines and movies in your oven or drawers! No one will open them to look inside.

Oh, yes they will. Get rid of everything you wouldn’t want your mother to see. Prospective buyers will open the oven, investigate drawers for function and capacity, and study your closets and your medicine cabinet.

Part of preparing your house to sell is a ruthless purging of all these places and a thoughtful review of potentially embarrassing items in your house. If your bedroom is your personal love palace, remove any evidence of your rollicking sex life, at least temporarily.

5. Leave your furniture arranged as it is. That way people can see how much you can fit into the room!

Or….remove those extra pieces of furniture that make a room livable but add to the sense of clutter — side tables, foot stools, magazine racks, and rocking chairs, which take up more space than a fixed chair. Create simple arrangements with maximum impact.

Often people arrange their living room as if they’re hosting the neighborhood watch association meeting, with all the furniture lined up along the walls. Instead, place a sofa facing the fireplace, and flank it with two chairs facing a coffee table in between. This will create visual depth and an inviting vignette.

6. Make sure buyers know your team loyalties. Don’t forget to fly that Red Sox flag!

Or…put your fan-of-the-year behavior on hold for a while, and stash your team merchandise away in the attic. What if your best prospect is a Yankee’s fan? You don’t want to lose a buyer over a big sponge #1 finger. The same goes for religious paraphernalia, although that may actually be less of a deal-breaker than the wrong team loyalty.

7. Don’t worry about the breakfast dishes in the sink. People will understand you were in a rush to get out the door that morning.

Or….they’ll think you’re a slob who couldn’t be bothered to put the dishes in the dishwasher, and probably hasn’t taken very good care of the house. Other people’s dirty dishes are especially revolting, and conjure images of squalor. If it means you have to take your family out to breakfast, make sure you leave the kitchen pristine. My Home Ideas: Company-ready kitchen

The same goes for the bathroom. Dry the inside of the sink and the surrounding counter completely before you leave the house.

8. Let the buyer fix the hole in the wall and the broken light fixture. They may want to choose their own!

Or…be prepared to lose a sale over the poor condition of your house. Everything in your house must be in good working order before you put it on the market. This process can take a couple of months, but you need to fix all broken fixtures, change all burned out light bulbs, repair any flaws in the walls, and refresh any paint that needs it.

The same goes for outdated or worn wallpaper. Some things do not get better with age, and nothing dates a room more than eighties wallpaper. My Home Ideas: Painting over wallpaper

9. Leave the yard as is. After all, it’s the house they’re coming to see!

Or…learn to see your yard an extension of the house, and give it a thorough once-over. Trim unruly bushes, pull weeds, spread fresh mulch, and keep it mowed.

Your yard sets the expectations of the buyer before they’ve even stepped in your house. Consider installing attractive outdoor lighting. It goes a long way, for a little investment, toward creating a dramatic mood. And if you have a dog, go on a hunt for “land-mines” and clean them up.

10. Leave your dog in his crate while people look at your house. He’s well-behaved.

Or…he’s not so well-behaved when you’re not there and strangers are tromping through his house. Nothing is so distracting as a barking dog when prospects are trying to get a detailed look at your house. Even though he might be contained, his voice will carry. Take him with you if you can, or drop him at a pet-friendly neighbor’s house and repay them with house-sitting or a similar service.


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Yes, my last name is changing.


Hiya folks.

I have been asked enough recently that I thought it worthy a post on the old blog, which, apologies for not devoting time to it in the past few months, ’tis the busy season and my schedule has been swamped.

Long story short, I was married, to a Marine, and, in another life I was a Marine’s daughter (apparently I was a sikorsky groupie in a former life). . .dear old dad is retired and, unfortuantely the marriage didn’t work out.

This summer, once I can catch my breath and find some spare daylight I will be working on the fun process so many ladies love. . .legally changing your name.  I’ll be reverting to my maiden name, Johnson, from Laurence, this summer. . .so. . .thankfully the first name, McKenzie, is a snap to remember–there’s only one of me in the real estate market here in the area.

So, what does this mean to you?  No much, other than I am about to have some snazzy new business cards to hand out soon.  I should have done this a year or two ago, but, in the marketing world, you hate to make changes like this. . .but, it’s the nature of the beast I suppose.  I don’t plan to do this again, the divorce thing, the marriage thing was pretty great for the most part. . .but divorce, I think I’d rather have my wisdom teeth pulled, and a root canal, and be covered with live angry bees first. . .

Long and short, soon I’ll be McKenzie Johnson (again) but it will still be good old hardworking me.

Visit and to learn more about me, the Onslow County area and see lots of great homes.  I have bunches of nifty links there as well for schools, bases, local areas of interest and more.

As if you needed more great reasons to live in this state…


According to an article today on Yahoo news, Raleigh and Charlotte are two of the top ten places to live in the US that are CONSIDERED TO BE RECESSION PROOF!!!

Check out the article, and, as always, if you are looking to BUY, SELL or RENT real estate, I would love the opportunity to earn your business!  Give me a call at 910.554.0761 or email me at so we can get the ball rolling.  Visit my websites: and for more information about the Onslow County area.

PSSST! It’s a Secret!…


What Is The Secret

I don’t stand on a soapbox very often. . .and very rarely offer personal advice, BUT…I do have to say this is a worthwhile read, down load, movie and/or book on tape. For those of you out there who aren’t big fans of “self-help”. . .I don’t really think this is, more exactly how to specifically set clear goals and have a positive mindset. . .so take a step back and consider it a how to manual on meditation, or prayer. . .and learn the law of attraction. . .

What to plant in Jacksonville, NC?


Hey All~

I have had lots of questions about what to plant, how to make your yard look great and what likes to grow in Jacksonville. . .so many options to suggest and there is only so much room in this venue not to mention what looks great in one yard might look plain silly in another.  I suggest you visit a local nursery or home improvement store OR a great website is .

– Camellias-the are generally evergreen, have beautiful rose-like blooms in the winter and help give your garden structure, great foundation or accent planting (and happen to be just about my most favorite flower).

– Dogwood trees make excellent specimen trees in front of your home in a flower bed. 

– Forsythia. . .you can see it gleaming from yards all over Onslow County now, bright yellow blooms the length of its branches making it a neat boundary market or accent plant.

– Weeping Willow, very southern, very romantic and relatively fast grower.

– White Clump Birch, after established (about three years) amazingly beautiful bark, looks neat in winter time and a great accent tree for your front yard.

-Shademaster Locust, one of my personal faves. . .a fast growing hard wood tree that helps provide shade, something greatly appreciated during Southern Summers. . .shade from a tree can provide up to a fifteen degree difference!

There’s a start for you, remember what you thought your yard and neighborhood needed when you first bought your home.  Was it in a new construction area that perhaps used to be farm land so there are few trees and little yard privacy?  Is is an older, pre-loved home with over grown and outdated plantings?  Warm up those green thumbs and roll up your sleeves.  A nice yard is great for you to enjoy both looking at your home and looking out your windows and helps create some nice curb appeal for future buyers to appreciate.