Robin Tanner | Benicia Real Estate, Vallejo Real Estate, Napa Real Estate, Fairfield Real Estate


We’ve all had those times when we can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep. If you recently moved to a new home or if you’re on vacation, the new environment or mattress can make it difficult to fall asleep.

It’s even more frustrating when you’re in the comfort of your own home but are still having trouble sleeping.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips and habits you can build to help better your sleep. We’ll talk about ways to get to sleep on time, how to improve your sleeping habits, and how to sleep through the night.

Getting to bed on time

Most of us live busy lives that make it hard to unwind at the end of the day. Others simply have a hard time calling it quits on the show or movie they’re watching when they should be getting some sleep. Either way, it’s essential to build a good bedtime routine to make sure you’re falling asleep at an appropriate time each night.

To start, you’ll want to make sure you assign yourself a bed time. Though bed times seem like a rule for children, it can help adults vastly improve their sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each morning reinforces your body’s natural sleep cycle.

To ensure you go to bed on time, you can set a reminder or alarm on your phone for a half-hour before you need to be in bed. This will give you time to finish what you’re doing and get ready for bed.

There are also apps that will help you do this, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

Monitor your sleep

Sleep is deeply important to how we function throughout our day. A poor night’s sleep is a short-term hindrance, putting us in a bad mood or making it difficult to focus. But, in the long run, lacking sleep is a health risk that has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.

The takeaway? We should all take sleep seriously. To do so, a good way is to monitor your sleep. One easy way is to download an app that does just that. For iPhone users, the pre-installed Bedtime feature (part of the Clock app) is a simple way to set reminders and gain insight into your sleeping habit.

A more thorough way to monitor your sleep is to keep a sleep journal or to buy a smartwatch that tracks your sleep for you. Regardless of your method, keeping tabs on your sleep quality will help you prioritize your health and wellness.

Quick tips for improving your sleep


  • Go to bed at the same time each time

  • Avoid bright screens (phone, TV, laptop) for an hour before bed

  • Read, knit, or do some other relaxing hobby before bed

  • Don’t eat for two hours before bed

  • If you can’t sleep, try listening to calming music or a guided meditation

  • If you’re a light sleeper, try wearing comfortable earplugs and an eye mask to bed



California is a state rich with culture, coastline, and a carefree attitude towards daily life. Most of us who are new to the state or have only visited have found themselves California daydreamin’ at one time or another.

However, most of us only see California life through the lens of TV and movies which, of course, aren’t always so accurate.

So, what is life really like in California?

Well, it’s a big state, with varying climates, landscapes, and people. From the affluent and energized communities of Silicon Valley to the mountain towns surrounding Yosemite, there is no shortage of variety in California.

In this post, I’m going to share a few sources that show us what life is really like in the Golden State, so that you can determine which part of California is right for you and which you’d rather save for the next vacation.

California Through My Lens

If you’re a visual person, you’ll appreciate the work put in my California Through My Lens. CTML documents all kinds of attractions, events, and sights throughout the state of California.

A self-proclaimed, “travel junkie strapped down to one state,” its author is an expert on all things Cali, with guides for road trips, national parks, hikes and more.

For those who like to find things off the beaten path, CTML also documents some of the stranger, more bizarre parts of California that you probably won’t see in the movies.

Visit California

While its designed with tourism in mind, Visit California is an excellent source for discovering great information about the 9 national parks the state is home to, as well as breakdowns of the various geographic and cultural regions that make up California. We’re talking Wine Country, San Francisco Bay area, and other iconic regions that come together to make the great state of California.

City-Data

More of a hard science person? City-Data has all of the statistics you need on the hundreds of cities sprawled across California.

Learn about school rankings, weather, income and safety from data mined from over 400 cities in California. Then, compare the cities based on you and your family’s needs.

This Is My Happiness

So far the list has been a bit biased towards SoCal, but fear not. The north has plenty to offer too.

The author of This Is My Happiness is a freelance writer based in California who documents her experiences traveling through and living in Northern California.

Covering places to hike, camp, and fun ideas for families, this is a blog for anyone interested in what life can be like living on the West Coast.

So, now that you know a bit more about the lifestyle of Californians, are you ready to take the next step toward becoming one yourself?


When it comes to finding your dream home, your vision is going to be both unique and personal.

For many people, their idea of a dream home may be a composite of the home they grew up in and other mental snapshots they accumulated over the years.

In some cases, the house of your dreams may bear little or no resemblance to the image you conjured up in your mind. Sometimes, you just instinctively know the right home when you see it -- even if it's not exactly the one you originally envisioned.

A good starting point for launching your home search is to develop a detailed priority list. It should consist of both "must have" characteristics and "wish list" items. Hopefully, you and your spouse (or partner) will be in full agreement on most of the important features of your next home, such as whether you want a ranch house or colonial. Being on the same page in terms of location can also make a big difference in how satisfied you both are with your real estate purchase. As an example: Someone's going to less than thrilled if, let's say, you want a townhouse in the city, while your spouse has their heart set on a Craftsman-style home in the suburbs!

Trends in Home-Buying Preferences

If you're a member of the so-called "millennial" generation, your top priority in a new home would probably be the quality of the neighborhood. That's according to a "Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report" (2015) compiled by the National Association of Realtors. In order of importance, factors influencing home purchasing choices are: the convenience of the home to one's job(s), overall affordability, access to friends and family, and the quality of schools in the district.

Many buyers in that same demographic are also leaning toward homes that are energy efficient, ones that offer "smart home" capabilities, and dwellings that include a space that can be used as a home office. Since nearly 40% of Americans telecommute for their jobs on at least a part-time basis, more and more home buyers are adding that requirement to their priority lists. Surveys have also shown that prospective homeowners in their twenties and thirties are opting for low-maintenance surfaces, such as flooring, counter tops, and backyard decks. Updated interiors are also a strong preference for many in that age group since they don't have the extra money, time, or inclination to get involved in major renovation projects.

Other factors which belong on house-hunting priority lists include square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the size of the yard. If privacy and noise levels are concerns, then key factors to consider would be fencing, trees and hedges, and the amount of space between houses.

While it's not always possible to find a home that includes every single item on your wish list, an experienced real estate agent can help you find what you want and match your requirements with the available listings in your desired neighborhoods.


One of the biggest benefits to buying a home is that of the tax savings for you. You own a home now, so there’s no more monthly rental payments going out the window. All of your mortgage payments are going towards your financial future. There’s many different types of tax breaks that you can get from owning your home. Many home improvement projects that allow you an extra tax break are hiding right in the fine print! Tax breaks are known as “incentives.” These incentives are essentially what help people to get important things in their homes done without having a order placed on them. There are some hidden things that you may not have known could be used as tax write-offs.  


Energy Savings


From putting solar panels on your home to replacing appliances, there are certain tax breaks that you can get for making your home more energy efficient. There are lifetime caps on these deductions, but on a certain year, you’ll be able to save some extra money on your taxes. Some of the deductions that you might be able to claim include:


  • Air-source heat pumps
  • Biomass stoves
  • Central AC units
  • Water heaters
  • Certain energy-generation systems which include an array of things like water heaters, solar panels, fuel cell systems, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps.


You can deduct somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% of the cost of these improvements to your home. It doesn’t hurt to check on the updated standards that are introduced each year by the government. Your accountant can help you to understand your own deductions a bit more in-depth. 


Modifying Your Home For Medical Needs


If you need to modify your home in order to accommodate medical needs, you may be eligible for a tax deduction. The modifications must not increase the value of your home and be medically necessary. If the doctor tells you to lose weight and you put in a home gym, you can’t deduct that. If you need a ramp put in your home for wheelchair accessibility, then that can be deducted. The cost of the modifications generally has to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income, or 7.5% if you’re over the age of 65. 


What’s Not Deductible


If you have done some major remodeling around your home, it’s sad to say that these improvements probably aren’t tax deductible. On the positive side, you will get a bigger return on your home when you do decide to sell it. This could help you to reduce any capital gains tax that you may have to pay on the sale of the home.


Remember that when you make improvements to your home, you’re doing it first for your own needs. Any tax write-offs that you may get are merely a bonus.


You don't need to be a home selling expert to counter a buyer's offer to purchase your house. In fact, sellers who know what factors to consider as they evaluate a homebuying proposal may be better equipped than others to submit a successful counter-offer.

Now, let's take a look at three factors a seller should consider before countering a buyer's offer to purchase his or her home.

1. Your Home Selling Goals

If an initial offer to purchase your home falls shy of your property selling expectations, there is no need to stress. By countering this proposal, you and a buyer may be able to find common ground. And as a result, both parties may be able to come to an agreement on a house sale.

Analyze your home selling goals closely. And if you find a buyer's offer to purchase comes close to helping you achieve your goals, you may want to submit a counter-proposal.

2. Your Home's Condition

The condition of your home may have far-flung effects on your house selling experience. If your home is in need of assorted upgrades, a buyer may be more inclined than ever before to account for these repairs in his or her offer to purchase. Meanwhile, as a home seller, you need to consider your residence's condition as you assess an offer to purchase and proceed accordingly.

If you feel a buyer's initial offer to purchase your home is low based on your residence's condition, you may want to counter the proposal. However, if you account for the costs of potential home repairs in your counter-proposal, you may be able to come to terms with a buyer on a home selling agreement.

3. Your Home's Price

Although you may have allocated significant time and resources to price your home appropriately based on the current real estate market's conditions, you may receive an offer to purchase that falls short of your expectations. Fortunately, if you submit a counter-proposal, you can make it clear about what price you are willing to accept for your residence. And if you provide a counter-offer to an initial homebuying proposal, you can show a buyer exactly how much he or she will need to pay to purchase your house.

As you analyze an offer to purchase your home, keep in mind that you can always collaborate with a real estate agent too. If you work with a real estate agent, you may be able to gain the insights you need to make an informed property selling decision.

Typically, a real estate agent can help you weigh the pros and cons of accepting, rejecting or countering an offer to purchase your house. If you are looking for in-depth home selling recommendations and suggestions, a real estate agent is happy to provide them to you at your convenience.

Assess an offer to purchase your home carefully – you'll be glad you did. If you feel you may be able to reach an agreement with a buyer, you may want to counter his or her homebuying proposal.