Tiny Houses

Tiny Houses are BIG! They can be under 300 square feet or a little larger and sell for $15,000 and up. This relatively new trend appeals to young and old alike. Just check marketing ads, even Craig’s List and you’ll find a variety of styles and accommodations. Tiny House Nation TV Show is exposing the charm and challenge of living small.

Residing in the Scottsdale area and selling real estate where houses are often 4,000 square feet or more, I can’t quite understand the appeal of tiny houses.  Nevertheless, the concept brings back memories of my childhood. My very first favorite book was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. She wrote of four orphaned children who created a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar. Their living space was approximately 40 feet by 8 feet, or 320 square feet…hmmm. So, tiny houses are not such a new idea.

Like the novel’s characters, today’s owners of small quarters need to be independent, tidy, organized, creative, hard workers, and amicable. Ranging in age from 14 to 6 years, the four boxcar children possessed all of those qualities.

“Spoiler Alert.” The children’s grandfather offered a $5,000 reward in the 1942 edition to locate his lost grandchildren. After they were found and moved in with him, the boxcar (tiny house) was moved to his backyard for the children’s enjoyment.

Unfortunately, not all thoughts of boxcars bring back pleasant memories. Hobos and the homeless certainly have a different perspective. Holocaust survivors ache with painful memories of being herded inside where inhumane conditions took their neighbors and relatives to death chambers.

So, what is your first thought when you hear the term, “Tiny Houses” or watch a television show tempting you? Would you make a boxcar your home? Why or Why Not?

Thank you for reading. Please visit my website: http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome and visit the virtual tour of my latest home listing at http://www.tourbuzz.net/437086. MCO Realty listing at $927,500 with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms…NOT A TINY HOUSE!



Posted in Childhood, Children's Books, family, Jewish, Memories, novels, Real Estate, Tiny Houses, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Door or Doormat?

Source: Door or Doormat?

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Door or Doormat?

I think doors are important. They allow us to enter or exit. We expect to be welcomed or shunned. The door is either open or shut. At my house, on cooler days, we leave doors open for a fresh mountain breeze to waft through the house. Our neighbors recognize the open welcome. They approach, the dog barks, like a doorbell, signaling approaching visitors. I ask them in…landscapers, kids, Fed-X delivery personnel. They may not all come in, but they are invited.

An open door...an open heart.

An open door…an open heart.

As a kid, my Grandma and Grandpa Smith had a picture of Jesus standing at the door and knocking. That was before doorbells. Even at eight or nine, I thought it was not nice to let Someone stand there on the outside. That picture disturbed me.

I love doors that have “Welcome” mats. When I ring the doorbell or tap the brass knocker, I don’t feel as though I’m intruding. Being a doormat isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Allowing someone to wipe their dirty feet on you (figuratively speaking) can help them come into the house with no traces of mud or grime, clean. Sometimes people need help. Other people just like to be a listening ear or a give a helping hand. Neither are weak, only human.

Being a door or a doormat comes with caution. Not everyone is scrupulous; some may take advantage. Be open and welcoming, but wise. Just like the picture of Jesus. He doesn’t remain standing outside when we let him into our lives. I’m glad that I opened the door of my heart and let Him in as a young girl. Now I know, “My Father has a big, big house!” Someday, when my work on earth is done, the welcome mat will be clean, the door will open wide, and He will say, “Welcome, Home!”

How about you? Do you have a door or door mat story? I’d love to hear from you.

All the best, ~~Effie

Be sure to visit my websites: http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com and http://www.EffieGross.com

Posted in Childhood, Etiquette, family, Family History, friends, God | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Dime A Dozen

Simple math tells us that at the rate of a dime a dozen, one (of anything)  is equivalent to a value of $0.0083.  Cheap!

So, what can we buy at a rate like that? You can’t even get penny candy anymore. Shocking, huh? Time to visit Goodwill or go dumpster diving. Everything is expensive these days. Guess I’ll drift off to visit my memories…they’re still free.

My first brand new three-bedroom house in Des Moines, Iowa cost $12,000, including upgrades of a cedar shake roof and plush red bedroom carpeting.

When I dro8203 Leisure Laneeve by the house on Leisure Lane (actual street name) in May of this year, I saw changes. It had a fence that wasn’t there back in 1966, the elm tree was mature and the lot had shrunk. I wish I had a dime for the dozens of times I remember those days in that house.

A black-and-white family photo was taken there: Mom, Dad, my three brothers and one sister with me. I had a lace tablecloth on the dining room table and a tiny table with two fold-down leaves in the kitchen. My daughter helped her younger brother escape the crib, and my son later learned to ride the tricycle in cowboy boots on the front sidewalk. Memories.

My late husband, Roland, received Jesus as his Savior in that house. I rededicated my life to the Lord there. We sold all of our earthly possessions and the house we loved to move our two pre-school children to Greenville, SC. There, Roland and I attended Bob Jones University. We had left Leisure Lane for good.

At my age (which I refuse to reveal), almost any topic at any given moment can generate a memory. They’re a dime a dozen…worth a million!

What is it that triggers your fondest memories? Bubble gum, marbles, losing the first tooth, lightning bugs, snow, the smell of apple pie, the touch of corduroy, the taste of lemonade, or making mud pies? I’d love to hear about your memories…a house, maybe?

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to visit http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com.

Posted in Childhood, God, Houses, Iowa, Life Chages, Memories, Moving, Prices, Real Estate, Travel, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Keeping Up Appearances

Several years ago, my son Kendahl introduced me to what is now one of my favorite television shows. The British sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances, was written by Roy Clarke and ran from 1990 – 1995. However, today, the programs are repeated worldwide on PBS and entire series are sold on Ebay and Amazon.

In trying to analyze why I’m so drawn to this silliness, I look at the characters and their behaviors. Patricia Routledge is cast as Hyacinth Bucket, insisting that her name is pronounced “bouquet.” Her two sisters are Rose and Daisy, so maybe she would have valid claim, except for Hyacinth’s consistent snobbish ways.

She is an eccentric middle-class social climber. Hyacinth is married to Richard who patiently endures her escapades. She brags about her candlelight suppers and tries to impress everyone by flaunting her material possessions, like her “Royal Doulton china.” All the while, Hyacinth says, “I don’t have a snobbish bone in my body.”

Her superiority in climbing the social ladder to the upper class is usually dashed by the reality of her lower-class extended family. Rose is a “loose” woman; Daisy is a complacent dreamer, married to a likeable, but poor slob, Onslow.

Maybe I like Keeping Up Appearances because I see my prideful self in this program. It’s much more acceptable to see a similar behavior in another and then laugh about it.

Once I was too proud to go to an event with a small run in my panty hose. I ended up buying a new pair at the drug store and getting into the back seat of my Honda to change. Soon, I discovered that the child safety locks were on. I was trapped. I twisted and turned and forced my body into a tiny crawl space between bucket seats to eventually plop into the driver’s seat. Someone must have recognized me in the Walgreen’s parking lot, “On the corner of Healthy and Happy.” I live in a small town.

Silly, the situations we get ourselves into. All due to pride. “Pride goeth before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). It happened to the brightest angel in heaven: Lucifer.

How can you look and laugh at your own silliness when it comes to pride? Are you struggling with “Keeping Up Appearances” in an area of your life? Sometimes it’s just not funny. I know. Tell me your story.


Visit my website: http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com





Posted in 1990s television, Appearances, British television, Hyacinth Bucket, materialism, Sitcoms, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Persons of Influence

Back when I was a teenager living in Iowa, I read Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. It was first published in 1937. Today, I know that I needed that book, since I was so shy and quiet. (Those who know me now can stop laughing!)

I feel as though I have a lot of friends, but as far as influencing anyone, I guess I’ll never know this side of heaven. However, countless persons have influenced me. Most for the good, I’m happy to report.

So, my next writing project is developing in my mind. Write letters to the major men, women, and children in my life who have influenced me in one way or another. Some of the letters I plan to write will be to those who have departed for a far better place, but never forgotten.

Revival Meeting with Grandpa and Grandma Smith on their property.

Revival Meeting with Grandpa and Grandma Smith on their property.

The task before me is so massive. I don’t know where to begin, but I do know that I will include my late husband, both of my parents, all of my grandparents, my sister and three brothers, my three children, my grandchildren and my in-laws. There will be teachers, pastors, neighbors, friends, students, and a few strangers. If this collection of  epistles is ever published, that would be one of the most influential things I’ve ever done. It doesn’t matter to me if any more of my work is published, except for the fact that if it be for the glory of my Lord, so be it.

Who has influenced me the most? Jesus! Maybe someday I’ll write about what my life, if I would even still be alive today,  would be like without Him. That will be a very dark story…yet, the story of a life redeemed.

If you could write one paragraph about one person that has influenced you, what would you write? Can you share that paragraph now? Will you encourage me in my letter writing project?

Thank you for following this post. Also visit http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com


Posted in family, Family History, friends, God, Iowa, Judeo-Christian, Life Chages, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Confession Beyond the Car Wash

As a realtor, I feel that keeping my car clean is a necessity. The 2004 Honda Accord that I drove home from the dealership in that same year is still rolling along…sometimes a little dusty, but not rusty like the salt erosion on some icy Iowa vehicles.


A few days ago, I took my car to the local car wash where an attendant takes your order for basic or VIP service. Every time I take my car there, a man asks if he can buff out my head lights, sell me detailing or a package deal of one sort or another. “Really?” I say. “I just want the basic wash.”

He, like most sales people, doesn’t take “no” for an easy answer. “You know, we have a special today….” Please. I’m waiting for him to write up my order. He is holding the ticket hostage as he tries to up-sell me something else. I try to tune him out.

“Just give me my ticket,” I say and snatch the thing from his hand as soon as he rips it from his pad. Finally I was in control of the white slip, and I turned my back to him to stomp off in a huff. When I got inside the building, I asked for the manager and complained that every time I go there, I am hassle. He assured me that he’d take the man aside and speak to him.

I felt better, until the next day. I began thinking of how I felt wronged, but then I realized that I had mistreated another individual myself. How was I any better than he? How could I love people the way God loves people if I couldn’t be kind to a stranger…one trying to do his job and make a living to boot.

The second day after the car wash, I felt really bad. I’m made of the same dirt that the salesman is made of and I’m not above him. I needed to show the love of God, not the anger of Effie. So, I returned to the car wash, found the man named, “Tom,” and apologized. He said, “I’m not mad at you. I accept your apology.” He understood.

“The reason I came is because I’m a Christian and I shouldn’t have treated you that way,” I said.

“I’m a Christian, too,’ Tom said. “It’s okay. We’re not perfect.” During our brief visit we shook hands three or four times and laughed a lot. I left thinking about how Tom demonstrated the love of God in his ready forgiveness.

That’s my confession. I’d love to hear of your experience in asking for or in giving forgiveness. Forgiveness…loving others like God does. He makes us truly clean beyond the daily dirt. Unlike my car, I am forever clean by Messiah Jesus’ blood that washes whiter than snow.

Posted in Ethics and Morals, family, God, God's Voice, Iowa, Judeo-Christian, Life Chages, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments