This list serves two purposes, to aid in the initial introductions to Araminta House, and to serve as a reference to go back to when things don’t work out as expected.


Welcome in!
  • Door locks

Before your arrival you will be provided a personal code that opens the doors to the main house and the Casita.

  1. To open a door, touch the black surface of the lock with the back of your hand – the lock wakes up.
  2. Press your personal code, followed by the * (star) sign – the door unlocks. Note, a common mistake is to press # however that will not unlock the door. Just start over.
  • Alarm

(Warning, if you have not been instructed on how to operate the alarm, don’t arm it since it will not have been set up for you. Unless requested, only long term guests use the alarm.)

These instructions only apply if you have been given access to the alarm.

Press your code followed by 1 to turn off the alarm. To turn on the alarm, just press *2. You will have 60 seconds to leave the building before the alarm is armed. If you set off the alarm by mistake, immediately call the home owner to avoid a false alarm charge. If all fails and the police arrives, be honest and answer all their questions.

  • Garage

You will find a garage door clicker in the kitchen. Keep it in your car. It will make it easy to come and go without having to manually unlock the doors. Just don’t forget to turn off the alarm! And remember to return the clicker to the kitchen before checking out!


Breakfast, lunch and dinner – this kitchen does it all!
  • Cooker

To operate our amazing induction cooker read more here.

  • Oven

The oven is turned on by touching the dark front panel, then select Oven. A selection of operating modes will light up. Just press the buttons to match your needs.

  • Microwave

The microwave is a technological marvel that also works as a convection grill. If you are brave and decide to use the microwave to its full potential, just remember to remove the plastic support pieces before you turn on the heat.

  • Keurig coffee maker

We provide a basic supply of Keurig coffee packs. Replacements can be bought at the grocery store.

  • Water softener

The water in the Phoenix Valley is hard, i.e. it contains large amounts of minerals, which is tough on appliances and kitchenware. To make it less damaging we have a water softener installed. This unit removes minerals by replacing them with salt. While the salt content isn’t high enough to give any taste, anyone with high blood pressure may choose to not drink the tap water.


Master suite

Going to bed or waking up, this is the place!
  • Thermostat

Too hot or too cold? This amazing house has 8 thermostats allowing everyone to find a comfortable spot. The basic program will provide warm comfortable days and cooler comfortable nights. If your bedroom needs adjusting, just press the up/down arrows on the wall thermostats to find your sweet spot.

  • Toto Japanese toilet

If you tell anyone you need instructions to use the toilet they may completely lose their confidence in you. But the truth is that the master bathroom toilet isn’t a normal toilet but a Toto Washlet that provides hot water and hot air for a completely clean experience. The control sits on the wall. Experiment at your own peril. 🙂

  • Washer and dryer

Our washer and dryer have Power buttons, Settings buttons and Start buttons. They are actually really easy to use. We provide a basic supply of washing liquid and spot removes.

  • Whirlpool bathtub

Our jetted tub provides yet another opportunity to relax in comfort. However the large tub takes more water than the water heater can provide in one run. Here are two tips:

  • Fill the tub with 1/3 cold water and let it sit for 30 minutes, then fill the rest with hot water.
  • Don’t fill the tub when the water circulation unit is running since the hot water will be distributed to all parts of the house and not to the tub.


A room alone, a room to rest.
  • Door lock

The door lock works the same way and with the same code as the door to the main house. IMPORTANT! Beware to not open the door to the Casita without first turning off the alarm for the main house!

  • Refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker

While the Casita doesn’t offer a full kitchen, we have made it a bit more self contained by installing a refrigerator, a microwave and a small Keurig coffee maker. The fridge and microwave are pretty straight forward. However the small Keurig coffee maker takes some magic to work – unless you read the instructions that are provided next to the maker. Start with the instructions and you will be fine.

  • TV

The TV offers a full satellite program schedule as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Its easy to get stuck in front of the TV, but don’t fall for the temptation.

  • Toilet

Not much to say. This is a normal toilet. No instructions should be necessary. Well, there is one important instruction: don’t put anything in the toilet! Since the house is on a septic tank any waste will stay at the property and flow to a septic tank and a seep field. Since the waste is not transported to a city sewage plant it is extremely important that nothing beyond normal waste and toilet paper is deposited into the toilet. Feminine products, baby wipes etc will clog the system and are extremely hard to remove. Please make sure everyone understands this to avoid embarrassing moments and expensive emergency service. We do provide bags for deposing of sanitary products.

  • Garage

The Casita garage is already occupied by the fridge and microwave mentioned above, but also by some of the homeowner’s equipment. Please park outside the Casita.



H2O, 84F, 45’x 15′ – words not needed

The pool offers luxury and experience not often experienced in colder climates. But this high end pool is also a technological marvel that it takes an adult’s responsibility and consideration to operate. Please read these instructions carefully.


  • Pool cover

A safety cover protects anyone from falling into the pool, while the cover is on. Please keep the cover on at all times when the pool is not used for swimming. Not only is this important for safety, but also to prevent evaporation and to lock in the heat. During cooler weather the pool will not retain its heat if the pool cover is left off for any length of time. The pool cover is operated with a switch mounted on the westernmost pillar. – To open the cover, hold the switch down until the cover is fully retracted. Let go of the switch the moment the cover slides into place against the cover box. – To close the cover, hold the switch up until the cover extends to the far end. Let go of the switch the moment the cover hits the far side of the pool.

  • Skimmer cleaning

There is a large plastic lid in the pool deck on the north side of the pool. Weekly, and each time after strong winds, open the cover, turn the leaf basked counter clockwise and remove it, then clean it out. Put it back by doing the reverse steps.

  • Brushes

A long pole brush and a long pole with skim filter are hooked to the west side of the house. While not mandatory, feel free to spend 15 minutes brushing the pool walls and bottom. This keeps particles from attaching to the sides.

  • Remote – lights, fountain

A pool remote is provided that controls the pool lights and the fountain. The remote is kept in a kitchen drawer. To turn it on, press the On butting in the center. IMPORTANT: retract the pool cover before turning on the fountain.

  • Pool heating

This advanced pool is equipped with a heat pump heater. This is a very energy efficient system however it has some operational boundaries. The target temperature is set to 84 degrees F. Expect the pool to reach this temperature for the majority of the year. When the night temps stay below 55 degrees the heater may not be able to keep the temperature up. This is most likely to happen in from December through February. Keep the pool cover on to prevent the heat from dropping quickly.

  • Pool cover water pump

If there is significant rain, water can accumulate on top of the pool cover. If a large amount of water is on top of the cover, the cover will not be able to retract. A water pump is available in a round bin by the south garden fence. It is used for pumping water off the pool cover. If necessary please discuss operations with the home owner.

  • Mister

For the hottest days, a misting system provides cooling along the back deck. Turn the mister on/off from the pool remote. Note that during the winter the mister is turned off.


A home away from home, that is our garden.
  • BBQ

A five burner Weber barbecue is located on the west side of the kitchen. We provide a basic supply of propane gas for your stay.

  • Fire pit

There is a gas fired fire pit by the pool. It also comes with a basic supply of propane gas.

Note that we currently do not allow wood fired fires. Any ember from the fire would quickly burn a hole in the pool cover. We are looking at adding a wood fire pit to the side of the house in the future.

  • Umbrellas

There are a total of six sun umbrellas in the rear garden. Please remember to fold and wrap them after use. This is particularly important as hard winds can come quickly in the desert. If the wind picks up an umbrella, not only will the umbrella get damaged but anything it flies into may get damaged. We learned this the hard way, having to pick up one of the umbrellas from the neighbors garden after a particularly hard wind.

  • Sliding glass wall

The whole south glass wall opens up, however we would strongly recommend you do not open it. First, it is really hard to open and even harder to close (takes two people). Second, if you open it the wrong way the alarm system will be disrupted which will require a call-out to repair. If you really want to go through opening the wall, please call us the home owners to talk you through the steps.

  • Roll-down shade blind

On the west side of the seating area, outside the kitchen, is a wide roll-down sun shade. It does wonders in keeping the late afternoon sun off the area, making it much more pleasant. Just remember to raise the blind after you have used it – just like the umbrellas it will get caught in unexpected high wind. This may result in it getting damaged or it may crash into the tables, lamps or other items which may break.


Music Maestro!
  • TV

There are TVs in the living room (70″), master suite (65″), casita (70″) and in bedroom 2 (50″). All but the last are connected to a satellite service. They also connect to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

  • Sonos music system

There are a total of 6 Sonos speakers throughout the main house, back garden and garage. An iPad is provided in the kitchen for operating the system. You can also connect your own iPhone/Android to control the system.

Please consider that the outdoor speaker can quickly get too loud. Consider turning it off or at least keep the volume down.

  • Amazon Echo/Dot

We have an Amazon Dot living in the kitchen. You wake her up by calling out “Alexa”. You can ask her questions like, “What is the weather in Seattle?”. The answer is usually very satisfying! 🙂

You can also ask her to play musing through the Sonos system: say “Alexa play classical music”.

Note that Alexa speaks through the Sonos system. It means that anyone watching TV will lose the sound if someone calls out to Alexa. It can be a bit confusing until you get to know our home. If you don’t get the TV sound to operate, turn off the TV and turn it back on. That should get it reconnected to the Sonos system.


A home away from home, that is our garden.
  • Sun

Always apply sunscreen. The Arizona sun is punishingly strong, in particular to skin unused to the hard desert rays. Sunscreen, shirts, sunglasses and wide brimmed hats are very helpful.

  • Wind, storm weather and dust

In the desert, winds can whip up in seconds to reach majorly destructive force. Such a tempest can easily move the garden furniture and rip apart the shade umbrellas. Please keep the umbrellas folded if not used, and fold them immediately if you are using them while the wind is picking up.

In the desert we have a lot of dust, a problem that is increased a hundredfold during a dust storm, called a Haboob. Please secure anything kept outside and make sure to close doors and windows to keep the dust from completely covering everything inside.

  • Rain and flooding

When it rains in the desert, it often floods. The flooding is caused by a combination of large amounts of falling water and a soil that is unable to absorb the falling water. What starts out as a small stream uphill can form into massive flooding further downhill.

We have two important recommendations to share: don’t walk into the desert outside the garden since we have two large arroyos running through the property. Also, never drive through a flooded roadway. As little as 6 inches of water can carry away a car. Every year there are drowning accidents cause when cars are driven through flooded roads.

  • Venomous animals

The beautiful Sonoran desert also provides beauty in the form of nature with venomous animals; Rattlesnakes are often easy to spot and avoid since they have the courtesy to warn about their presence with their rattling tails. If you need to get a rattlesnake removed, please don’t kill it but call 911 and the fire brigade will relocate it.

Scorpions can provide a bigger challenge since they don’t announce their presence. The best way to avoid scorpions is to wear shoes and not put hands or feet anywhere before first looking. While we seem to have a lot less scorpions than many other places in Scottsdale and Phoenix, it is important to remember that they are still around during the hot season.

  • Cacti

One cactus or many cacti can ruin a vacation. Here is some basic guidance: don’t touch cacti. Just don’t! Not only are the long visible needles very sharp with barbs that makes them hard and painful to pull out, there are also very small, almost invisible needles called glochids that can be as bad or worse since you don’t see them. They can be very hard to remove.

One particularly devious cactus is called Jumping Cholla, so named because it so easily sticks to you that it is easy to believed it actually jumped from the cacti.

If needles stick to your skin or clothes, it is often best to get a tool like tweezers or pliers to remove them. A hair comb is also considered a good tool to flick them off. If you try to remove them with your fingers you are more likely they will just stick to the fingers…

We provide first-aid kits with tweezers, bandages and basic pain killers. Know where they are!



Good to know, better to do!

Other information

  • trash and recycling collection

Trash (green bin) and recycling (blue bin) are collected on Mondays. On Sunday afternoon, please move the green and blue bins up to 55th St and place them on the far side (east side) 4 feet apart, with the lid opening facing the street.

On Monday afternoon, after collection, move the bins back to the house.

Moving the bins the 300ft up to 55th St takes some effort, please plan accordingly and work together.

  • Irrigation

A 3-zone irrigation system keeps the plants alive during the dry season. No manual intervention should be necessary but sometimes animals chew throw water lines and people may step on an emitter that breaks. If you observe water that flows freely or sprays uncontrollably, please inform the homeowner immediately.

  • Arroyo – wash and erosion

An arroyo (dry water channel) runs along the east and south side of the property.  When rain falls in large amounts this wash fills up and flows with high intensity. The soil around the arroyo slowly wears away and has to be maintained.

In addition, a not-so-careful misstep can cause huge erosion damage and speed up the destruction. Please make sure that any children or adults that move outside the garden wall understands his/her responsibility in not exacerbating the erosion. This is particularly important since the dry arroyo may seem like a fun play area – it is not!

  • Frost
  • Septic system
  • Hot water circulation
  • Water softener
  • Neighbors

While we have excellent privacy in this ranch community with +1 acre properties, we still have neighbors and we want to stay friends with them. Please respect their home environment and keep noise levels down, drive slowly on the unpaved roads and behave courteously when meeting them outdoors.