Monthly Archives: May 2017

Getting Ready for a Home Exchange

The downside to exchanging your home or renting it on Airbnb is that it greatly increases the work involved in going out of town. The upside, besides the compensation you get either in the form of free stays or money, is that you come home to all the nice things you did to get your house ready for the exchange.

My preparation to have strangers stay in our house generally has two phases: maintenance/improvements and staging. We have a family scheduled to arrive in our home in two weeks. So although what we really wanted to do was head to Tahoe to check out Memorial Day Weekend skiing, what we actually did is spend the weekend taking care of our home. We’ve been really busy all spring, so believe me, it needed it. Here are the projects we hoped to tackle in between taking the kids to sports and birthday parties and stuff, and what we actually accomplished: Continue reading

You Should Go to Sonoma for Sunset Celebration Weekend

Spoiler alert: After my ramblings I will give you a buy one, get one free code for Sunset Celebration Weekend 2017 in Sonoma.

Ever since moving back to California, I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with Sunset Magazine. Its garden layouts and home features are my wish book. I’ve used more than one travel piece as inspiration for trips. I basically want to live inside Sunset Magazine.

For today, I contented myself with being inside Sunset’s test gardens and smart cottage, at the media preview day of Sunset Celebration Weekend 2017. It was well worth driving an hour and a half each way on a weekday to Sonoma. (SCW used to be in Menlo Park, but when the magazine moved to Jack London Square in Oakland, their test gardens moved to sunny Sonoma.)

First up was a garden tour.

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Earned 18,000 Miles Through AAdvantage Shopping Promotion

It’s been awhile since I participated in a program where you have to make transactions with X number of merchants in order to get a bunch of frequent flyer miles. I did one YEARS ago for American that had me making small purchases from all kinds of weird merchants such as Orvis. But this one looks easy-peasy: Spend money with these four American Airlines partners, get 10,000 miles: 1-800-FLOWERS, the AAdvantage Shopping Portal, AAdvantage Dining and Vinesse Wines.

Since I didn’t feel like working this afternoon, I went ahead and planned out a strategy for getting the bonus miles and more at a cost of about $150, without buying anything I didn’t want anyway: Continue reading

HomeExchange’s Passport Program: Game Changer

We have belonged to HomeExchange for a couple of years. It’s a home swap site, as in, you find someone who wants to vacation in your area, and you stay in their home while they stay in yours. I’ve always loved the concept, but in practice, making exchanges work has been difficult because finding someone who wants to come to California, who lives somewhere we want to go, and is willing to accept our less-than-glamorous home has been onerous.

Most of the times we have had people use our home or stayed in the homes of others through HomeExchange, it’s ended up being a gift. Last summer we hosted a French family while we were in Wisconsin; a nice couple in Utah let us use their guest cottage even though they couldn’t make it out here.

But this year HomeExchange finally introduced a point system, which they call the Passport program, so that if you host someone but you can’t go to their home, you earn a stay in someone else’s home. Continue reading