The Texas Renaissance Festival

TX Ren Fest
“Dragon” me far, far away…

I put down my pen and I picked up my sword…

I traveled to Sherwood, where no one is bored!

Magnificent trees and cool Texas breeze…

Too bad the pollen made some of us sneeze!

The weather was fair despite the down-pour…

It lasted two minutes, no need for uproar.

Ded Bob” was too funny, he had a new song…

Rudolph the Reindeer… “Deer Soup”… SO WRONG!

We walked through the shops and followed our quest…

Looking for Puzzle Rings, put our friendships to the test.

Our pals were so helpful as we wandered the park…

I promise next time, we won’t get lost in the dark!  😉

Our tummies were happy with all the good eats…

Turkey leg, ice cream, “Kings Nuts”… WHAT A TREAT!

We saw a Magician who has a short fuse…Arsene Duprin

He doesn’t say much, but he’ll surely amuse!

If you are late, he will pick you right out…

He’ll steal your shoe & embarrass you, NO DOUBT!

His tricks are so easy; no need to ponder…

But how does he refill that pitcher, I wonder?

Dear Renaissance Festival, I give you the glory…

Can’t wait for next year, I’ll have a new story!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

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I’m on the clock… even after everyone else, “clocks out!”

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

The Oldest Home in the United States

No matter where I go or what I do… in the back of my mind is Real Estate! I recently took a road trip from San Antonio to Albuquerque to Santa Fe then back home to San Antonio. While in Santa Fe, we came across “The Oldest House in the U.S.A.!”  This was the “Pot O’ Gold” at the end of the rainbow for me!  I was standing inside history, I walked through the oldest doorway framed by wood, clay and hay.  I walked through the rooms where stories were shared.

Oldest House
The Oldest House in the U.S.A.

The walls of the exterior were cool to the touch.  The adobe, the clay… I was able to see the hay still protruding from the structure.  The doorways were short and narrow.  I certainly felt taller than 5′-1″ standing next to them.  The single-story structure was once a two-story home for three families.  The rooms were tiny yet functional.  The fireplace had an opening too small for Santa Claus!


Much to my surprise, there was a coffin in one of the living areas.  It had an opening where you could take a look at its contents.  There appeared to be human remains and hanging above the eerie choice of decoration was a story… the tale of two witches, a desperate man and a spell!

The Coffin

Once upon a time, there lived a man… a man who was so in love with a woman, he was desperately seeking her affection.  In his attempt to capture her heart, he visited the “Brujas” of this De Vargas Street house.  The Brujas were witches who offered spells to their patrons.

With his bar of gold, the man (Juan Espinoza) made his request and purchased a Love Spell for the woman he was after.  The Brujas took the gold and worked up their magic.  Whether the stars were misaligned or the moon was not full enough, whatever went wrong… the Spell did not work.  This beautiful woman married another… and this man… this heart-broken, desperate man grew furious!

Displeased with the results and unhappy with his purchase, this fierce customer returned to the Brujas demanding a refund!  He wanted his gold bar back!  Well, it must not have been posted on the walls, but the policy was… NO REFUNDS!  NO RETURNS!

The Remains
The Remains of Juan Espinoza

The Legend
The Legend Of Juan Espinoza

The man pulled out his sword and lunged toward the Brujas.  One of the witches made a swift move and tripped him… he fell to the ground and lost grip of his sword.  A witch grabbed the sword and in self-defense, separated the man from his head!  They were never charged!

Moral of the story?  Ask about the refund policy ahead of time and get it in writing!  🙂  Another tip to grasp from this story… while it may make for an interesting story, a coffin in the living room may not be the best piece of furniture for staging!

THE OLDEST CHURCH – The Spiritual Side of the Road

Just across the street from “The Oldest House,” is “The Oldest Church.”  The San Miguel Chapel is said to be built around 1610 A.D.  The inside of the church is quaint with original artifacts and artwork.

The San Miguel Chapel
San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe

San Miguel interior Balcony

The Altar

Now that my New Mexico journey is over, I can now announce that I’ve walked the OLDEST HOME and I’ve toured the NEWEST HOME in my twelve years of Real Estate!  From sticks and stones to bricks and limestone, I’ve seen an array of construction, design and architecture.

If you plan to build a home in Texas… if you plan to construct an Adobe in San Antonio, call on someone you can trust!  If you don’t have a personal Realtor, I hope my name pops into your mind!  I coach first-time home buyers and sellers and I’m always on-call.  Even when I’m on “vacation,” I’m just a call/text/tweet/facebook message away!

~Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Traveler~

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

Val on Vacation

Dawn Patrol, Albuquerque, NM
Dawn Patrol: First to Ascend for Safety

I placed my business on Auto-Pilot and took a little vacation!  Thanks to my Assistant, I was able to keep my laptop in my suitcase!

Our destination… Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We loaded the Hummer and spun our wheels for twelve hours!  Our main target was the annual Balloon Fiesta… the spectacular sight of hundreds of Hot Air Balloons over head.

Our first night in New Mexico, our friends treated us to authentic New Mexican food.  “Red or Green?” is the question asked with every order.  Red Chile or Green Chile… known for their Green Chile, I tried it with almost every meal!  (That heart-burning story might end up in another blog!)

Our dinner and evening walk took place in “Old Town.”  A fantastic little plaza with shops, restaurants and VERY strict parking regulations!  Eighteen inches away from the curb?!?  You’re welcome, New Mexico… we just donated $40 to your City’s finest!

Red Ford Truck
Old Ford Truck… I noticed HE didn’t get a ticket!

Old Town Shopping
Old Town Shopping – Chili Peppers Everywhere!

Morning Sun Balloon

Our first morning waking up in Albuquerque… we were greeted with the bright morning sun!  Not even at the Balloon Fiesta yet, the balloons hovered all around us.  The special shapes of each aircraft totally blew my mind!  The details, the colors… the physics!  All I could say was, “WOW!”

Being the house and architecture fan that I am, I was also intrigued by the homes in the subdivision we were visiting.  Adobe-style homes with Stucco exteriors matching the hue of the surrounding desert land.

Albuquerque Homes
Stucco Homes in Albuquerque

Tomato Plant
Tomatoes sprout from desert land

The yards were xeroscaped and held so much beauty in their simplicities.  The fences between the yards were short stucco structures allowing such openness between neighbors.

The “Lawns”… No grass; just graveled yards with easy-maintenance plants and trees.  Needless to say, I was surprised to see sprouting tomatoes in a garden of pebbles!


One thing about this trip… which is VERY unusual for me… not much was “planned!”  The ONLY thing planned (to some extent) was our visit to the Balloon Fiesta.  I knew we would pay for parking, hunt for parking, pay for entry and find our way to the balloons.  We really didn’t plan beyond that.

So, we were pleasantly surprised with the V.I.P. treatment we ended up with.  We were invited to join a Balloon pilot and his crew.  Our visits to the Balloon Park included free parking, free entry and a personal escort to the Balloon Field!  The “green acres” of land was the backyard of the Balloon Museum.  The field was rimmed with large tents of Turkey Legs, Funnel Cakes, Donuts, Coffee, Hot Cocoa, Souvenirs and much more.  One area of the tents was reserved for a Wood Carving Competition.  Tree trunks and chain saws… rugged, manly men carving magnificent rustic creations.

Carving Competition
Wood Carving Competition – Balloon Fiesta

During our first visit to the Balloon Fiesta, the air was chilly and the wind was gusty.  The evening “Balloon Glow” was canceled because of the strong winds.  But, we did enjoy a great display of fireworks.

The second evening’s visit we FINALLY witnessed the Balloon Glow up close and personal.

Ahh-mazing!  The envelope of each balloon was inflated with a large shop-type fan.  Once the opening was large enough, the burners were ignited for the flaming heat inflation.

During the dawn of our third trip to the Balloon Fiesta, we witnessed an enormous Sponge Bob, a threatening Darth Vader, a spooky Haunted House Balloon and a buzzingly beautiful Bumblebee family!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

A “Lot” to Invest: For the Next Generation

Once upon a time, loving and thoughtful parents used part of their savings to invest in Real Estate so that one day their children could build their own dream homes.  But lately, I’ve been listing those pieces of land handed down from one generation to another.

Just recently, I met a retired Military man who purchased one of my lot listings.  It was his second Residential Lot purchase in one week.  He shared a little piece of his story with me saying that he was buying the land so his kids, “will always have somewhere to come back to.” In my mind I was thinking, “sir, they’re just going to sell it!” Of course, I refrained from speaking since I was representing the Sellers.  But when I left the buyer, I couldn’t help but think about his noble intent.

Later these “children,” who grow into adults, will sell the property with no intention of building on that piece of land their parents sought out for them.  A part of me feels bad for the parent, because I know how much effort goes into investing for the future.  Of course, I also hold sentimental value when it comes to a gift from a parent!

The truth is, the land-purchasing parents are on the right track! The parents and grandparents who place their hard-earned money into real estate, are the people who earn great equity in their investment!  Nowadays, a Savings Account or a Mutual Fund might yield a 1.20% – 17.00% return (respectively) annually.  In other words, deposit $1,000 into a regular savings account, and you MIGHT earn about $12.00 by the end of the year. Hmm… ok?!?  Deposit and save $5,000 into a Mutual Fund and (if you’re lucky) you may earn about $8,500 in ten years!

WHAT’S THE RATE OF RETURN ON REAL ESTATE? Well, many brilliant parents who spent $5,000 on a piece of land ten years ago have earned more than four times their initial investment (regardless of what the stock market did)!  That’s $20,000 in ten years!

So what does this mean for their “children?”  Looks like the new generation of home buyers are selling their inherited properties and profiting from their parent’s humble investment.  AND THE GOOD NEWS IS… With the money they are making, they are paying off debt, helping their parents and YES… they are building their dream homes after all.  It may not be on that piece of land Mom and Dad bought, but it’s close by!  🙂

…and they ALL lived happily ever after!


P.S.  I don’t feel bad for the parents anymore!  They knew what they were doing… they are wise and their children are ever so grateful!

————- PAY IT FORWARD———–>>>

Want to invest for your next generation?  Here are a few links to help get you started.

Land in Elmendorf, TXLand in Downtown San Antonio, TXLand in the State of Texas

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

Hard Labor–Day

Because I LOVE what I do:

During the season of the “$8000 Tax Credit,” I became a permanent fixture in my own vehicle.  My Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer “travels” consisted of San Antonio’s Loop 410, Loop 1604 and hundreds of streets in between.  I was a regular patron of Starbucks where the cozy club chair and side table became my “office!”  My pit-stops and sight-seeing consisted of peeks & valleys of roof tops on single-story and two-story homes all over the city!

Families and Clients use their off time to house hunt.  So… for us (Realtors)… true “Holiday Seasons” are busy times for us… well… at least it is for me.  Now that the “$8,000 Tax Credit” season is over, the real estate business is back at a steady pace.  As we make our way into the Labor Day Weekend, I look forward to reuniting with family and friends.  Of course, everyone knows my cell phone is always on & within an arm’s reach away.  I am always, “On-Call,” and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I hope everyone enjoys their well-deserved breaks!  Stay safe and have fun.

~Agent Val~

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

“Offering valet real estate service around the clock.”

Hello world!

If I’m at a party, the best way to break the ice with me is to tell me you’re “thinking about buying or selling a house”… EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT!  Be careful with the information you share with me, though… If you give me your address, you may end up with a For Sale sign in your yard the next day!  😉


Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

“Offering valet real estate service around the clock.”

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