Inside Your Home

7 Ways Smart Technology Improves Your Life

As a teenager, my mom often gave me the chore of sweeping and vacuuming the floors. I frequently commented, “Why can’t someone invent a self-cleaning floor?” And lo and behold, someone invented the Roomba and iRobot floor cleaners. Going back farther in time, someone once said, “Why can’t someone invent a machine to wash the clothes for us?” And someone did!

Today, the opportunities for adding automated features to our homes are growing. Using technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth allows our devices to “talk” to one another and for us to “talk” to our homes, even from long distances.

We call these homes that use automation technologies “Smart Homes”. The benefits of turning your home into a Smart Home are tremendous.


Having remote access to the systems in your home can simplify your life in many ways. You can set your heating or cooling to adjust the temperature once you are on your way home. You can tell your oven to preheat while you are in line at the grocery store. You can see who is ringing your doorbell and even have a conversation with them.


Home security systems have improved dramatically with self-monitoring easier than ever. You can choose such features as cameras, motion sensors, automated door locks, and links to call the local police or private security company. You can even install leak detectors to alert you to an increase in moisture, allowing you to proactively protect your home from costly damage. Fire alarms and carbon monoxide devices can also be connected.


Many accessible features are available for the elderly or disabled. Voice-command systems can control lights, lock doors, operate a telephone or computer. Or they can use a device to control these systems if they are speech impaired. Even labor-intensive tasks like watering the lawn can be automated to make it easier for these people to manage their own homes.


Many automation features can help homeowners live more efficiently. Automatic lights that shut off when you leave the room, thermostat adjustments for when you are away or the weather suddenly shifts, opening and closing motorized shades. Pair these automations with today’s energy-efficient appliances and you can find new ways to save on electricity, water, and natural gas.


Adding Smart Home features is a good way to improve the resale value of your home. These features can attract savvy homebuyers in the future and potentially increase the value of your home.


Tap into the insights on how your home operates and how you function in it. Monitor what and how much TV you watch, what kind of meals you cook in your smart oven, get an inventory of food in your smart fridge, and a good overview of your energy consumption habits over time. These insights allow you to modify daily habits and behaviors to live the lifestyle you desire and to improve efficiency.


If you have home automation technology, check with your insurance company to see if they offer discounts on your homeowners’ insurance. Find out which smart devices and systems qualify for discounts. These may include thermostats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, motion detectors, moisture and humidity sensors, and smart security systems.

The great thing about adding smart home technology and automation is that you do not have to do it all at once. You can add different features a little at a time, making it affordable as you go. Soon, you will be “talking” with your home and accomplishing more with less effort and thought.


Supporting Local Businesses: Chamber of Commerce

Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs launch a new business that creates jobs and spurs innovation. These businesses are a significant driver of the U.S. economy. And many of these startups specifically serve their local community. Many of them find the education, networking, marketing, and business advocacy they need to succeed through a local Chamber of Commerce.

Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce

The Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce provides its members with over 140 events, meetings, and networking opportunities each year. It offers ten different marketing resources that include a Business Directory available online and in the printed Community Guide. They provide members a platform for job posting, notary services, and three complimentary board rooms for meeting space. They also house Fountain Hills’ official Visitor’s Center.

“The pandemic has been extremely difficult for businesses, non-profits, and even for us,” said Betsy LaVoie, the President and CEO of the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce. “We accepted the challenge to pivot as much as possible to continue meeting the needs of our members. For example, the Thanksgiving Day Parade pivoted to a Parade of Thanksgiving Turkey Drive to support the Extended Hands Food Bank. The 2020 Annual Gala pivoted to a drive-thru dinner and virtual program. And we launched a Facebook ‘event’ during last year’s lockdown to allow local restaurants to post their menus and take-out procedures.”

Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce

The Survive Today, Thrive Tomorrow campaign helped market Chamber members through live Facebook “commercials” and reached thousands of residents. Members placed a Survive Today, Thrive Tomorrow cling in their window to indicate that they were “Open for Business.” These efforts resulted in tremendous support of our local businesses and have led to a rapid economic recovery in our community.

The Chamber hosts many community-minded events. These include Oktoberfest, Thanksgiving Day Parade, Stroll in the Glow, Mayor’s State-of-the-Town Address, mayoral debates, Meet the Candidates Forums, Fountain Hills Day, and the Non-Profit of the Month program. As residents and visitors participate in these events, they engage with one another and embrace the unique community spirit of Fountain Hills.

How is the Chamber, itself a non-profit, able to host all these events and offer the lowest member dues in the entire Metro area? They do this by hosting the two large art festivals each year. These events allow the Chamber to serve the community in such a valuable way. Many local non-profits use the Fountain Festival as their major fundraiser for the entire year. The events also increase our Tourism and Economic Development efforts, bringing in over 200,000 people during a single weekend. They support  local restaurants, hoteliers, gas stations and grocery stores, while providing an economic opportunity for artisans and food vendors.

If you own a local business or want more information about Chamber events, visit


History of the Dixie Mine

If you ask someone from Fountain Hills where to find the best hikes nearby, the Dixie Mine Trail will likely be high on their list of recommendations.

The trailhead begins at the end of Golden Eagle Boulevard, wanders through the gated Eagle’s Nest neighborhood, then enters McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The hike will take you through the quiet Sonoran Desert, meandering through a variety of landscapes before reaching the Dixie Mine site.

Dixie Mine

The mine was established in 1877 when mining scouts noticed a large amount of quartz in the area. It was originally owned by the Red Mountain Consolidation Copper Mines Company, with 21 claims on 420 acres in the Dixie Mining District of the McDowell Mountains.

By 1917, two tunnels were created. The primary tunnel was 300 feet long with a 240-foot vertical shaft.

The mine never produced enough value to continue operating. There was some copper oxide, silver, gold ore, and tin, but reports show that, other than the tin, it was all low quality.

The mining site changed hands several times throughout the 20th century. When Maricopa County was working to create a county park in the 1970s, a judge ruled that the claims from the mine were economically deficient and granted the property to the newly created McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

Hikers can walk up the wash to the mine opening where there is an iron gate. A plaque is placed nearby with information about the site. Climb up the gravel hill above it to see the vertical shaft opening, which is covered with a sturdy iron grate.

Continue up the wash another 100 feet to find rock petroglyphs from three different time periods. The Archaic petroglyphs of unrecognizable shapes date back about 800 years. The Hohokam petroglyphs from a later time are recognizable as stick figures representing animals, human forms, sunbursts, and water.

Dixie Mine

The historic markings are about 100 years old and are attributed to the ranching and mining period. For example, the marking “H.P. 1925” is believed to be the initials of Henry Pemberton who ranched in the area between 1918 and 1925. Also visible is a petroglyph of the P-brand of the P-Bar Ranch that the Barksdale family operated from 1935 to the 1950s in the present-day Fountain Hills area.

The hike is about 4.3 miles round-trip. Bring $2.00 for the self-pay fee for entering McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

Photo credits: Amy Burnett

Faces of Fountain Hills

Meet Local Artist Judi Yates

It all started for Judi Yates in 1995 when she purchased authentic jewelry from the Navajo reservation and sold it at Southtique, a Fountain Hills shop that was popular in that by-gone era.

But then, everything changed during a trip to Tucson. She saw stones and rocks and started visualizing what they might look like in a piece of jewelry. The images in her head were a contemporary version of Southwest jewelry.

Judi Yates

When she got home from that trip, she told her husband, Jim, “I’m going to learn how to silversmith.”

Not only did Jim support her new pursuit, but he joined her to learn silversmithing. He also learned lapidary, the cutting and polishing of stones.

Judi’s handcrafted jewelry designs hit the market at just the right time. No one else was creating a contemporary Southwest design that featured brilliant color combinations of native stones.

Judi Yates

“I am inspired to create works that are both culturally relevant, but are also imbued with the rare and sublime beauty found in nature,” Judi says.

Her business, known as Designs by Judi Yates, quickly grew in popularity, as she and Jim participated in 26 shows a year across the country. As the business grew, she hired seven silversmiths to help her keep up with demand.

When her first granddaughter was born, her daughter asked her when she was going to slow down. Judi decided to open a local gallery instead of traveling. She first opened the doors of Yates Gallery seventeen years ago on Avenue of the Fountains. Over time, she converted it to a co-op with other local artists, renaming it the Fountain Hills Artist’s Gallery. Judi retired two years ago, but the gallery is still going strong today.

When Judi was still traveling, she noticed that Santa Fe, New Mexico had artists gather weekly in the town center. This inspired her in 2009 to petition the Town of Fountain Hills to host a similar gathering on Avenue of the Fountains. Since then, she has been managing Art on the Avenue from October through April every year. Local businesses love the traffic from the event, making it their busiest day of the week.

Judi’s motto, which she loves to share with women’s groups, is: “Find your passion and you will feel the joy.”

One of Judi’s joyous moments was when a woman approached her years ago and said, “You’re wearing a Judi Yates pendant. I recognize it because my husband buys me jewelry from her.” Judi said, “I am Judi Yates!”

You can find Judi’s jewelry at On the Edge Gallery in Old Town Scottsdale or seasonally at Avenue of the Fountains or the two Fountain Festivals of Fine Arts & Crafts.

Learn more about Judi’s work on her Facebook page at Designs by Judi Yates, or her Instagram page at judi_r. yates.

Inside Your Home

5 Easy Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades in a Weekend

Kitchen cabinets are a significant expense. If your cabinets are in good condition, but you want to get a fresh look, here are some easy upgrades you can do in a single weekend.


Kitchen cabinet upgrade

In a single hour, you can make a big impact on the look of your cabinets by changing the hardware. Find a new style that still looks great with your cabinets and get a fresh look.


Make your kitchen easier to use by retrofitting a cabinet or two with some pull-out drawers. Do you have an awkward corner cabinet? Add a lazy Susan to make it more functional.


Kitchen cabinet upgrade

Make jumbled and over-filled drawers a thing of the past. Add drawer dividers or trays for better organization. While you are at it, get rid of gadgets and utensil you no longer use. You will love the tidy feeling.


Kitchen cabinet upgrade

Whether you have open cabinets or not, adding removable wallpaper, contact paper, or fabric to the back of the inside of your cabinet creates a pop of fun. You can even add it to the outside sides of your drawers for more kitchen fun.


Kitchen cabinet upgrade

It is easier than ever to add under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen. This provides extra task lighting and a soft ambience in the evening after the overhead lights have been turned off.

A quick cabinet upgrade does not have to cost much or take a lot of time to achieve. And it only takes a single weekend to freshen the look.

About Fountain Hills

Ancient Desert Dwellers: The Hohokam

Have you hiked to the Dixie Mine and seen the petroglyphs? Have you heard people talk about an ancient ball court near the Verde River? Who were the ancient people who lived here and how did they live?

This area was inhabited by the Hohokam people from 300 to 1500 CE, but cultural precursors may have been here since 300 BCE.

Our modern knowledge of their lives in the lower Verde Valley dates to 1861 when Charles Poston reported “the remains of three large Indian villages just above the confluence of the Verde and Salt Rivers.” At that time, a heated battle pitted Tucson against Prescott for gaining the permanent seat of government for the new Arizona territory. This area adjacent to Fountain Hills, Fort McDowell, and the Verdes, which was referred to as Azatlan, was proposed as a neutral location, but Prescott won the bid.


The earliest Hohokam were nomadic, following the streams and natural food sources. By 300 CE, they had built canals to irrigate crops of squash, corn, and beans. These crops supplemented their hunting and gathering lifestyle, allowing them to become more sedentary. This gave them time to start making pottery by about 500 CE.

In 1991, part of the Azatlan site just north of Rio Verde was excavated. Archaeologists found five seasonal activity places, two “farmsteads” with dwelling sites, one of which had three pithouses clustered around a courtyard in the Hohokam style. Excavations also revealed roasting pits, cremation burials, tool manufacturing, and pottery sherds. A Hohokam ball court was also discovered nearby.

On Shea Boulevard, from the Fountain Hills-Scottsdale border to the area south of Mayo Clinic, a metate quarry was identified. A metate (pronounced meh-tah-tay) is the lower unit of a two-part grinding stone. The handheld stone, called a mano, was used to grind corn, jojoba, mesquite, palo verde, ironwood, and other seeds that required processing before eating.

As the stones rubbed together to grind the food, little bits of rock would break off and mix into the meal. Over time, these little stones eroded their teeth. Archaeologists uncovered skeletal remains identified to be about 20-years-old but had the worn teeth of a modern 70-year-old. This resulted in a shorter lifespan.

The peak population in this area reached several thousand people around 900-1100 CE. By 1500, they had mostly disappeared, possibly due to the Great Drought at the end of the 13th century. The later occupants, the Pima and Tohono O’odham (Papago) are thought to be direct descendants of the Hohokam.

You can learn more about the Hohokam at the River of Time Museum when it reopens.

Inside Your Home

5 Easy Houseplants for the Desert Home

You have probably heard about studies that show the health benefits of keeping houseplants in your home. With all we have been through for the last fifteen months and counting, we could all use some of these benefits. Lower blood pressure, improve well-being, lower levels of anxiety, purify the air, and reduce risk of dementia by as much as one-third.

Before you complain that you have a black thumb, we have some suggestions for selecting great houseplants for your Arizona home and tips on how to keep them happy.


Houseplants for Desert Home

These are just about the toughest plants out there and can handle some neglect. They are well-known for filtering toxins from the air. Since they do best away from direct sunlight, they are a great choice for the darker corners of your home. They only need water every 2-6 weeks and prefer their soil to dry out before getting a drink.


Houseplants for Desert Home

If you want a visually striking plant, dracaena is a great choice. They also do not want direct sunlight, so use them in an area that needs a little happiness. They can even live in a partially shaded patio area. They can handle a bit of neglect and do not like soggy soil. They do have a picky issue about fluoride, so use filtered water instead.


These plants are the easiest for anyone to grow. While love nutrient rich soil, they will keep on living in poorer conditions. They tolerate low light which makes them great for bathrooms and offices. Once the top of the soil has dried out, give it a drink. It would also appreciate some fertilizer every three months.


If this plant gets well-drained soil and bright, indirect light, it will be happy. It will tolerate a lot of abuse and just keep living. It looks great sitting somewhere in a pot or hanging as it will send out runners with new spider plants.


Formally known as Zamioculcas Zamiifolis, this plant has beautiful dark green leaves with a waxy surface. Since they are drought tolerant and do not mind low light, they are easy for most people to grow. They grow slowly, eventually reaching 2-3 feet in height. Only give it a drink after the soil becomes completely dry and fertilize monthly. All parts of the plant are poisonous, se keep away from pets and children.

Real Estate

Phoenix Among Top Metros for Jobs

While the housing market has been hot across much of the country, it has been on fire in Maricopa County over the last year.  And it seems that the basis for this growth goes beyond a short-term trend.

The Phoenix metro area has long been a sunbelt retiree economy. But after the Great Recession of 2008, local government leaders worked hard to restructure our economic strategies. This shift purposefully sought to bring in a wide range of industries.

The Phoenix metro area remains at the top for attracting high-quality workers, retaining jobs, and providing a great environment for startups.


A study by the labor-analytics firm Emsi showed Maricopa County at No. 1 for attracting and retaining high-quality workers. Some of the county’s recent developments pushed it to the top in the report. These include Intel’s expansion of its Fab 42 factory and the county’s growth as a leader in advanced manufacturing and semiconductors. This has fueled a major increase in skilled jobs.

“Perhaps what is most striking about Maricopa’s economy is the breadth and depth of industries,” the report said. “It’s reasonable to assume Maricopa is benefiting from a feedback loop: existing talent attracts firms and investment, which in turn attracts more talent.”

Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said Maricopa County has become more competitive against other areas of the country for corporate expansions and relocations.


The real estate investment platform Roofstock recently released a report that ranked Phoenix as #7 for new business formation. The report estimates that more than 6,108 businesses are being created annually, representing more than 37,785 jobs.

After the Great Recession, Arizona and its cities put together an economic policy to go after high-value jobs. And it worked! The job market is more diverse than ever in Maricopa County. Job seekers with tech skills may find numerous opportunities in Phoenix, drawing both recent grads and seasoned professionals.

Ten of the top industries in Phoenix for job growth include: health, technology, energy, construction, media, transportation, hospitality, finance, real estate, and consumer retail.

Part of what attracts businesses to Phoenix is the lower cost of doing business than many other metros. Job seekers are attracted to the cost of living, which is far more affordable than cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco.


This rapid influx of people from across the country has contributed to a housing shortage. Not only has the population experienced significant growth, but new construction homes took a back seat since the beginning of the 2008 Great Recession.

According to a July 2020 article on the website, a “housing gap analysis of the current housing need and the available housing stock shows that Phoenix currently has a need for 163,067 additional housing units”. Since the above statistics were released in July 2020, the housing shortage has become even more acute in the entire Phoenix area. 

At RE/MAX Sun Properties, we have strategies to help you achieve success in the search for your next home.  Let’s discuss the myriad of ways we can assist you!