AJ’s Favorite Things

Oprah’s Favorite Things list came out yesterday. All of the items were luxurious and beautiful. But, the comment section was filled with angry people, who felt the items were far too expensive, and not affordable or realistic gift suggestions. After going back through the list, I came to the conclusion: I’d have to agree. The items are mostly luxury, with the only items priced around $20, being straws and stationary.

I am gift-giver by nature. I absolutely love to find the perfect present for someone, surprise a friend with a little treat, or give a little lagniappe to clients and friends. I have a large family, so Christmas has always been tricky… I want to give everyone something thoughtful and special, useful or fun – but don’t always have the budget for higher priced gifts. So I get creative, and create my own version of luxury. Luxury is defined as: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Well, I’d say, if you can afford to give a gift at all, that in and of itself is a state of great comfort and extravagant living. The ability to give, even if it’s just our time, is a luxury. Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve given to friends, have been handmade gifts I created myself. A gift, especially one handmade, is a luxury item.

In the spirit of looking at luxury a little differently, I’ve decided to share my favorite things. Some are pricey, some only a few dollars, but all items are things I’ve either given as gifts, absolutely adore and/or use myself. My friends call me AJ, and this is a list of my favorite things.


Mexican Blanket – $8.95 on Amols.comBandless Ear Mitts – $18.96 on Amazon.comisotoner Women’s Spandex Touchscreen Cold Weather Gloves with Warm Fleece Lining and Chevron Details – $47.00 on Amazon.com

Women’s Cozy Neck Pullover – $29.99 on Target.com

Blanket Scarf – $14.89 on Amazon.com


Utter Nonsense Naughty Edition (Family-Edition available) – $13.19 on Amazon.com

Women’s Thermal-Knit Sleep Leggings (with coordinating pajamas for the whole gamily) – $19.99 on Oldnavy.com

Click Clack Lumberjack – $19.54 on Amazon.com

Wooden Tic Tac Toe Game – $11.00 on Amazon.com


Benefit They’re Real! Mascara – $25.00 on Sephora.com

Rose Quartz Face Roller – $22.77 on Amazon.com

Living Proof Perfect hair Day™ Dry Shampoo – $23.00 at LivingProof.com

T3 Twirl Convertible 1.25″ Curling Iron – $185.00 on Sephora.com

Tortoise Backcomber – $2.29 on SallyBeauty.com

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads – $9.02 at Amazon.com


St. Tropez 6.7 oz Express Mousse Set – $55.00 on QVC.com


Clarity Clutch Small – $48.00 on Truffle.com

Leather Travel Case Set – $110.00 on Cuyana.com

Ambeur 3-piece luggage set – $385.00 on CalpakTravel.com

Light Cotton Robe – $24.99 on WorldMarket.com

S’well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Double Wall, 25 oz (holds an entire bottle of wine) – $45.00 on Amazon.com

Cosmos ® 8 Pcs Non-Woven Dual Drawstring Shoe Bags with Clear View Window for Travel Carrying – $11.97 on Amazon.com

YETI Rambler 20oz Tumbler – $29.99 on YETI.com


Charleston Rice Beads, Bracelet – $32.00 on CandyShopVintage.com

GiGi Uber Clutch – $170.00 on GiGiNewYork.com

KREWE Sunglasses, Tupelo 24K – $215.00 on Krewe.com

Wide-brim Fedora Hat – $16.45 on Amazon.com

SPANX Faux Leather Moto Leggings – $110.00 on Spanx.com

Non-Slip Velvet Hangers (100 Pack) – $42.99 at Amazon.com


100% Cotton Classic White Tea Towels with Blue Stripes, Qty 13 – $16.99 on Amazon.com


Rub-a-Way Bar Stainless Steel Odor Absorber – $8.99 on Amazon.com

Royal Casa Cheese Markers Set – $14.95 on Amazon.com

Hurbo 2 Tier Stainless Steel Dish Rack Basics Dish Plastic Drainer Dryer Tray Holder Organizer – $30.99 on Amazon.com

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion, hardcover – $16.96 on Amazon.com

Enamelware Coffee Mugs (Set of 4) Grey Marble – $36.99 on Amazon.com


Oh! Nuts, Large Roasted Nut Variety Fresh Assortment Tray – $26.95 on Amazon.com

Himalayan Salt Shot Glasses, Set of 4 – $15.95 on Amazon.com

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea – $5.99 on Harney.com (also available at most grocery stores)

Luxardo Original Maraschino Cherries – $13.95 on YummyBazaar.com (or Fresh Market)

Oak Grove Jambalaya Mix – $2.30 on CajunGrocer.com

Louis-Sherry 12-piece Tin – $35.00 on Louis-Sherry.com

Sparkling Rosé Bears – $8.50 on Sugarfina.com


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M0GTZDN/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1Car Mount, Maxboost (2 Pack) Universal Air Vent Magnetic Phone Car Mounts Holder – $7.90 on Amazon.com


Phone Tripod, UBeesize Portable and Adjustable Camera Stand Holder – $13.98 on Amazon.com

Compatible Headphone Lighting Jack Adapter Charger Cables iPhone – $11.96 on Amazon.com

Compatible Heahphone Lighting Jack Adapter Charger Cables iPhone – $11.96 on Amazon.com


Antique Reproduction Iron Mermaid Bottle Opener Rust – $5.97 on Amazon.com

Oriental Furniture 24″ Floral Blue & White Porcelain Umbrella Stand – $110.16 at Amazon.com

Black & Gold Ice Bucket – $46.70 on Amazon.com

Galvanized Cheers Tub – $29.74 on Amazon.com

The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude, hardcover – $23.79 on Amazon.com

Aroma Bakeware Marble Cheese Board Slicer – $19.99 on Amazon.com


Wool Dryer Balls Natural Fabric Softener – $9.95 on Amazon.com

Fun Size Burlap Wrapped Bouquet – $49.00 on FarmgirlFlowers.com

BAGGU Standard Reusable Shopping Bag – $10.00 on Amazon.com

Set of 8 Stainless Steel Straws – $7.99 on Amazon.com


Lists For Togetherness: Journaling Inspiration to Deepen Connections with Your Loved Ones, hardcover – $11.87 on Amazon.com

LOVE IS PROJECT | Skinny Love Bracelet – $24.99 on LoveIsProject.co

Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, paperback – $11.55 on Amazon.com

Winnie Earring – $32.00 on Akola.com


ZippyPaws, Monkeys ‘n Bananas, Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy – $9.99 on Amazon.comFriendship Collars – $35.00 on FriendshipCollar.com

Ethical Pet Interactive Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Toy Puzzle – $9.50 on Amazon.com


Box Fox | Merry Merry – $34.00 on ShopBoxFox.com

Bowling Pin Electric Wine Opener – $29.99 on Amazon.com

Chopstick Pens – $14.95 on Amazon.com

Talking Tables Prosecco Pong – $19.66 on Amazon.com

How to have a perfectly timed Thanksgiving


  • Plan your menu (including the snacks/appetizer items)
  • Plan guest sleeping arrangements
  • Stock up on items such as paper towels, aluminum foil, tupperware containers for leftovers, etc.


  • Finalize guest list
  • Make room in the refrigerator
  • Shop, shop, shop! – the earlier you can do your shopping, the better, plus you avoid crowds and ensure your items are in-stock AND remember the wine
  • Deep clean your house – hire a professional service for this part (and have them change all guest bed linens)


  • Prepare guest rooms
  • Stock all bathrooms – make sure each one is properly outfitted with a full hand soap, lotion, hand towels, toilet paper and other essentials. Include extra items in guest baths, like shampoo/conditioner, washcloths, bath towels
  • Wash all serving dishes or anything that may have been gathering dust


  • Place turkey in refrigerator to begin thawing
  • Make all pies and desserts
  • Arrange seasonal florals or have centerpieces delivered
  • Make any breakfast items for Thanksgiving Day


  • Make cranberry sauce and refrigerate
  • Prepare and bake casseroles/sides (green bean, sweet potato, etc.)
  • Refresh the house – you’ve already had your deep clean, this is a spot clean and last minute touch up job 
  • Set the table
  • Soak your turkey in brine overnight


  • Wake up early and brew a pot of coffee – this should be refreshed all day
  • Rinse your turnkey of brine and pat dry
  • Let sit at room temperature for one hour
  • Place turkey in oven to begin cooking – if your turkey takes 3 hours to roast, allow yourself at least 1 extra hour of cooking and cooling time


  • Check temperature of turkey – begin checking after 2 hours of cooking
  • Make and arrange appetizers
  • Make mashed potatoes
  • Prepare all side dishes to be warmed in the oven
  • Once internal temperature of turkey is reached (180 degrees F in thigh and 165 degrees F in breast), remove from oven and let rest


  • Let turkey rest for 30 minutes
  • Place side dishes in oven to be warmed
  • Make the gravy
  • Warm all side dishes in the oven, including rolls
  • Carve the turkey
  • Arrange all dishes on table or buffet-style
  • Enjoy!


Ketchup.. like you’ve never seen!

Would you like to receive monthly real estate updates about your neighborhood, school district or otherwise? If so, click the link at the bottom to sign up for Market Ketchup!

Market Ketchup is a monthly market trend reports sent straight to you. Compiled using the most recent real estate data, this service provides easy-to-understand diagrams illustrating key market statistics.

Clients can sign-up according to: city, subdivision, zip code or school name.

Your monthly report will help you to stay up to date on your local real estate trends and market conditions. Compiled using the most recent data for your area, Market Ketchup offers an easy-to-understand illustration of key statistics and calculations that should be kept in mind when buying or selling real estate.



Have additional questions? Contact me for more information.

Is the Atlanta Real Estate Market cooling?

The short answer is: Yes – and it’s a GREAT thing!

Let’s break down why, and review what it means for a market to be HOT, COLD or NEUTRAL.

HOT MARKET  aka “Seller’s Market”

This is the best financial market for a home owner to SELL, because there are more buyers than there are homes available to purchase.

What does this mean? Buyers are often willing to pay MORE than list price and homes sell quickly. In an EXTREMELY HOT market, sellers may be able to insist buyers waive inspections/appraisals (Note: not a good idea for the buyer). Although unless written into the Purchase & Sales Agreement, federal law states sellers must give a buyer 10 days to inspect for lead paint.

Signs of a HOT/Seller’s Market

  • Low inventory as compared to previous months/years
  • Fewer than 6 months of inventory on the market
  • Comparable sales prices are lower than active listing prices
  • More buyers are purchasing, resulting in higher number of closed sales
  • Median sales prices are increasing
  • Real estate advertising is low
  • For Sale signs are only up for a few days before a pending or sold sign is attached

COLD MARKET aka “Buyer’s Market”

This is the best financial market for a buyer to BUY, because there are more homes than there are buyers with the ability to purchase.

What does this mean? Buyers have more homes to choose from, increasing the odds that they will find the “perfect” home. Serious sellers are often willing to negotiate, so buyers can probably purchase a home for below list price, and sellers might be willing to include “buyer incentives” like paying for some or all closing costs. This is a more relaxed and easy experience for buyers.

Signs of a COLD/Buyer’s Market

  • High inventory as compared to previous months/years
  • More than 6 months of inventory on the market
  • Comparable sales prices are higher than active listing prices
  • Fewer buyers are purchasing, resulting in lower number of closed sales
  • Median sales prices are declining
  • Real estate advertising is high
  • For Sale signs are staying up longer


This is when the market is considered balanced. Interest rates are affordable and the number of buyers and sellers are evenly matched. There aren’t as many extreme changes in home value. Neutral markets have become less common in recent years, but were common prior to the real estate crashes.

Signs of a Neutral Market

  • Steady inventory as compared to previous steady months/years
  • 3-6 months of inventory on the market
  • Comparable sale prices are close to active listing prices
  • Sales numbers have stabilized
  • Median sales prices are level
  • Real estate advertising is consistent
  • For Sale signs are replaced with pending or sold signs within 30-45 days

Atlanta has recently been a HOT market. Competition for the very low inventory on the market was fierce, with bidding wars artificially driving home prices up. Sellers have been listing their homes at inflated prices, in hopes of desperate buyers being willing to overpay so as not to lose out on purchasing the home. Meaning home/contract prices were often exceeding the actual value of the home, resulting in discrepancies between appraised value and contract price. While a hot market is typically considered a good thing, they can also be the most brutal and frustrating time to buy and/or sell a home.

The cooling we are seeing is really the market evening itself back out. Which means price cuts. Most price cuts are being found in the most expensive price points and in markets where pricing has outrun home values *ahem, Atlanta*.

This DOESN’T mean home values have depreciated or will soon depreciate. In fact, home values will continue to appreciate over the next 12 months (at double their historic rate). It DOES mean seller’s should be more conservative when pricing their home, especially in higher price points.

To Summarize

Homes are not depreciating. If you want to sell your home quickly and with less headache,  pricing it correctly from the beginning (and using a good REALTOR) is the best strategy.

**If you live in the Greater Atlanta area and are interested in learning the current value of your home, contact me! I am happy to provide you with a price analysis.**

Sources: The Balance, Keeping Matters CurrentZillow

Share a Story: New Story

Have you experienced an uncomfortable night’s sleep? Perhaps one where you tossed and turned? Well, imagine having to stand up all night, sleeping against the wall while sewage ran across your floor boards, before taking on the new day at school or work.

Sotheby’s International Realty® is proud to partner with New Story, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming dangerous living environments into communities of safe, sustainable homes.

CLICK HERE to check out the latest video:

Each home costs approximately $6,500, and 100 percent of the donations collected to go toward developing these neighborhoods. Donors have the ability to see the family they’re sponsoring, along with supplies and costs their donation is covering.

Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty is passionate about this partnership, and we’re enthusiastic about growing our efforts to help this organization grow! To date, we have raise more than $100,000 – that’s 15 houses!

We are all fortunate to have roofs over our heads and a place to call home, something that is such a fundamental necessity that it’s hard to imagine life any other way. Unfortunately, more than 1 billion people live in destitute poverty, raising families in tents in dangerous communities, living each day on survival mode. Through New Story, we have the power to make a difference by providing a safe place to call home.

For more information, please visit newstorycharity.org.


Weekly Motivational and Productive Sales Meetings

You might not think that the way a real estate company conducts its weekly sales meetings would make any difference to someone selling a property. But, you’d be wrong.

Every Tuesday, each of our four offices located throughout the Metro Atlanta area host a weekly sales meeting, where our sales associates review new properties on the market, share buyer needs and discuss local and national market conditions. In addition, we hear from industry experts and real estate service providers so that we can deliver extraordinary service in our ever-changing market. Our sales meetings allow us to take the extra steps needed to ensure that your experience with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty is positive and successful:

At our sales meetings, we:

  • Review new listings
  • Announce under contract listings
  • Review broker open houses
  • Discuss upcoming listings and buyer needs
  • Study local and national market conditions and statistics
  • Hear presentations from industry professionals
  • Discuss new developments and initiatives in Metro Atlanta
  • Host a marketing minute that includes updates for advertising homes
  • Review mortgage and lender rates, changes and news
  • Discuss contract changes and updates

Our 430 real estate professionals are dedicated to delivering first-rate service. We stay informed so we can keep you informed.

Seller’s Workshop

EXCITING NEWS!! Since the launching of my Homebuyer’s Workshops, I’ve been thinking more and more about the other side of the transaction, and how Seller clients could benefit from a similar workshop.

INTRODUCING: The SELLER’S WORKSHOP | Hosted by: Allison Jackson, REALTOR with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty and guest speaker Robyn Sonis with Campbell & Brannon Real Estate Attorneys at Law.

Future home sellers will learn all there is to know about the current market, how to get your home ready to sell, and most importantly, what to do to get your home SOLD!

Workshops will be held twice a year, every August and February. 

Sotheby’s Heritage

Founded in the heart of London in 1744, Sotheby’s Auction House quickly dominated the auction scene by marketing the world’s most cherished possessions, creating a tradition comparable to none. As the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID), Sotheby’s Auction House demonstrates exemplary knowledge and experience on a global level, having 90 offices in 40 countries, including nine different salerooms located in New York, London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Geneva, Milan, Paris, Zurich and Doha.

Sotheby’s International Realty® was founded in 1976 and exemplifies the same passion that guides the Sotheby’s Auction House by being a commanding presence in the representation of the world’s most exclusive properties. The real estate company aspires to deliver the same commendable customer service to properties at all price points while keeping each listing unique. Sotheby’s International Realty has a large local and global impact with over 22,000 sales associates in approximately 950 offices and 69 countries and territories. Locally, we have more than 430 sales associates serving the metro Atlanta area and beyond.

A Cajun Toast

Being born on the bayou, I thought I’d share a little Cajun flavor with everyone,  to ring in our country’s 242nd birthday! And maybe serve as a little reminder that, the United States of America is an amazing gumbo of people, and we are all incredibly lucky to be a part of it!

Street Performer, Jackson Square – New Orleans, LA

May there be crawfish in your nets

And gumbo in your pot.

May the Sac-au-lait be biting

At your favorite fishing spot. 


May God’s sun be shining brightly

When you need its cheerful rays. 

May the oak tree shade you gently

On those lazy bayou days.


May a Bourreé game be waiting

When all your work is through. 

May the fais-do-do bring pretty girls 

To toss a wink at you.


And when your time is over

And your place on earth is gone.

May you waltz right into heaven

To the tune of “Jolie Blonde.”

Copywright: Bob Hamm, 1973