Event Round-Up: Oct. 12, 2019

It’s almost spooky season, folks! As we approach a heavy holiday season, I wanted to put together a few fun events around the area that anyone can enjoy! If you go to any of these, please reach out and let me know how you liked them – you might even see me there!

Bedford Gallery: “Off Menu” (thru Dec. 15)

The newest Bedford Gallery exhibit is live, and it’s a doozy. This one is called “Off Menu,” and is all food-related contemporary art. Check out works from artists as famous as Salvador Dali. More info here.

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2019 Oktoberfest: Civic Park (Oct. 19)

Join your friends and neighbors at Civic Park for the 2019 celebration of Oktoberfest! This free, family-friendly event will feature a ton of craft brews and wines, and kicks off from 11-6 on Oct. 19. Check it out!

Fall Festival: Le Jardin Salon in Pleasant Hill (Oct. 20)

Le Jardin Salon is hosting a treasure hunt! They will be offering unusual gifts for the holiday season like decor, furniture, collectibles, and jewelry. There will be vendors and collectors aplenty! Get more here.

Moonlight Comedy: Stand Up Under the Stars in Oakland (Oct. 23)

Take in some live stand up comedy on the outdoor patio of The Uptown in Oakland. Doors open at 7 and shows begin at 7:30 – make sure to dress warm – it could get chilly! More information here.

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Trick or Treat in Downtown Walnut Creek (Oct. 25)

Kids are invited to trick-or-treat through downtown at participating businesses. Meet at City Hall Plaza in your best costumes to start the fun from 2-5 p.m., then stay for the after-party! Details here.

Best camping spots near San Francisco

It seems like I’m coming up with one of these blogs every Fall, and rightfully so – it’s a gorgeous time of year to get outside in the Bay Area and have a campfire, pitch a tent, and take in the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

Today, I’m re-visiting this TimeOut.com list and pulling out five campsites that I think are worth your time while the weather is still nice. Read below and let me know if I missed any!

Kirby Cove Camp – Golden Gate Recreation Area

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, you can settle into a very private campsite with astonishing waterfront views of the city. Bonuses: You’re walking distance to the beach and a picnic area.

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East Bay Camp – Angel Island State Park

Angel Island is a quick ferry ride from Pier 41 or from Tiburon. There are 11 sites, and they may be a bit of a hike from your landing, but nowhere else can you get 180-degree views of the East Bay hills or San Francisco.

White Gulch Beach – Tomales Bay

You can’t beat kayaking into a campsite along the shoreline of Tomales Bay. This specific site is protected from the wind as its back in a cove, and you might see a ton of wildlife!

Steep Ravine Campground – Mt. Tamalpais State Park

This is a bit less rugged, considering you can book a rustic cabin here that overlooks the Pacific. There are normal camping options, too, and you’re just steps away from the gorgeous Steep Ravine Trail.

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Sempervirens – Big Basin Redwoods State Park

There are few settings more beautiful to camp in than under the redwoods, which tower over this state park. You can pull your car right up to the highway here and enjoy modern sites with picnic tables and fire rings.

Vici expanded!!

Vici, a hip women’s clothing store is expanding. I went to shop and see what changes are on the horizon. Vici, also has a location in Newport Beach, but the one in Walnut Creek is situated at N. California Blvd. and is open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday-Friday (and shorter hours on the weekends).

They are heavily focused on Instagram and their models always look much better than me in the outfit; they have some really cute, trendy clothing at affordable prices in a stylish and contemporary space, albeit small, but that is changing.

Vici calls itself “a haven for the modern woman,” and wants to make the act of shopping in a modern, digital age as effortless as possible. They offer a range of casual pieces to beautiful statement dresses and are known for eye-catching patterns.

As you can see, Vici is expanding with lots more room to show off all their clothing. It has come a long way from a tucked-away space in an office building on Olympic. Give it a look next time you’re out shopping and wanting some of the latest styles. You can always follow them on Instagram – they are constantly showing off their new items.

Art Town: Mural by MCXT

Two renowned Bay Area artists, collectively known as “MCXT,” have been commissioned by Bedford Gallery to complete a mural on the Civic Park Assembly Hall. I got a picture of the finished product, and thought the individual parts were the most interesting. It does brighten up this spot dramatically!

Monica Canilao (MC) and Xara Thustra (XT) teamed up to create the mural, and it looks awesome! MC is an internationally-acclaimed multimedia artist from Oakland who has a BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts. And XT is an activist for art and a member of San Francisco’s “Mission School” art movement.

True to form, the two artists put together a dazzling display of geometry, wildlife, and color to add a nice splash of eye-popping creativity to downtown Walnut Creek. I love the push over the last several years by our town to embrace art and make it a focal point of the everyday experience.

I initially stopped by while MCXT were painting it. They were on their lunch break, there was rain forecasted for Friday (and it was Wednesday), and so they were hurrying to get it finished. I mentioned Monica looked liked Frieda and she acknowledged the reference and said people ask her if she is trying to copy Frieda and her response is she is just being her authentic self.

I also asked about the surface they were painting on as it looked very smooth for an old building. Xara said the city prepped it before they started so there was a clean smooth surface to work with. If you spend some time in front of it, you will realize it is quite intricate, because just in passing it looks like some simple modern art piece. Please take a browse and enjoy.

Props to MCXT and the Bedford Gallery for another work of sheer energy and beauty to add to Walnut Creek’s growing collection. Have you had a chance to stroll through Civic Park and see the mural in person? What did you think of it?

4 things not to do when putting your house on the market

RIS Media re-posted an older blog recently, and its advice still rings true. There are plenty of things you SHOULD do when putting your house on the market. But what about the things you shouldn’t do? Read on for more:

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So you’ve decided to put your home on the market. Congratulations! Hopefully, you’ve brought a rockin’ realtor on board to help list your home and together you’ve done your due diligence on what to ask for. As you start checking things off your to-do list, it’s also important to pay mind of what not to do. Below are a handful of things to get you started.

Don’t over-improve.
As you ready your home for sale, you may realize you will get a great return on your investment if you make a couple of changes. Updating the appliances or replacing that cracked cabinet in the bathroom are all great ideas. However, it’s important not to over-improve, or make improvements that are hyper-specific to your tastes. For example, not everyone wants a pimped out finished basement equipped with a wet bar and lifted stage for their rock and roll buds to jam out on. (Okay, everyone should want that.) What if your buyers are family-oriented and want a basement space for their kids to play in? That rock-and-roll room may look to them like a huge project to un-do. Make any needed fixes to your space, but don’t go above and beyond—you may lose money doing so.

Don’t over-decorate.
Over-decorating is just as bad as over-improving. You may love the look of lace and lavender, but your potential buyer may enter your home and cringe. When prepping for sale, neutralize your decorating scheme so it’s more universally palatable.

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Don’t hang around.
Your agent calls to let you know they will be bringing buyers by this afternoon. Great! You rally your whole family, Fluffy the dog included, to be waiting at the door with fresh baked cookies and big smiles. Right? Wrong. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be confronted by you in your space. Trust, it’s awkward for them to go about judging your home while you stand in the corner smiling like a maniac. Get out of the house, take the kids with you, and if you can’t leave for whatever reason, at least go sit in the backyard. (On the other hand, if you’re buying a home and not selling, then making it personal is the way to go, especially when writing your offer letter. Pull those heartstrings!)

Don’t take things personally.
Real estate is a business, but buying and selling homes is very, very emotional. However, when selling your homes, try your very best not to take things personally. When a buyer lowballs you or says they will need to replace your prized 1970s vintage shag carpet with something “more modern,” try not to raise your hackles.

And all of this is sage advice, choosing the right realtor to work with will streamline that process, talk you off the ledge and help you navigate the offer(s) and in the end if you hired right, will give you peace of mind.

Rotator Taproom rotates in

You won’t be surprised to hear this, folks! There is yet another new brewery to check out in the East Bay. The craft beer boom has really been embraced by Walnut Creek in the last half-decade, and Rotator Taproom is the latest to join the party.

I went to check it out recently and thought they did a fantastic job advertising themselves: happy hours, yoga events, and even poker nights were broadly marketed to anyone who walked in. They had a ton of beer on tap and also some bar snacks!

When I went, we tried four-beer flights for just $12 and thought the selection was pretty good. I also had a refreshing grapefruit lager. They serve beers from a ton of different breweries, and the price was definitely fair for the amount of beer you got in each pour.

Rotator Taproom is a little off the beaten path in the north part of downtown, but still very easily accessible. It’s hidden away on Pine street with lots of automotive shops, just around the corner from either Pinky’s Pizza or down from Walnut Creek BART. Parking can be limited and one of my servers was annoyed with all my questions, but I would recommend checking it out if you like to taste a wide range of beers, they had a lot of IPA’s even triple IPAs!

Road Trips: Beach Blanket Babylon

I’m very sad to report that, if you haven’t already heard, the world-famous Beach Blanket Babylon will officially close it doors on December 31st in San Francisco. Beach Blanket Babylon is a musical revue that’s been playing shows in North Beach for 45 years.

The pop culture and political satire song-and-dance show has been treating audiences to hilarious routines since 1974, but they will play their final show on New Year’s Eve this year. I was able to squeeze one more show in this year before it shuts down, and I’m so glad I did!

We went and enjoyed drinks while watching the hilarious performances on stage, complete with all the famous custom-made hats that are larger than life! It will be really sad to lose this outrageous aspect of San Francisco’s soul, and hopefully, they will find a way to keep the tradition and spirit of the show going long after, or create something new!

I had a friend in town on business who had never seen the show, so we met up before and had dinner at Soto Mare which is famous for “The Best Damn Crab Cioppino,” and it is damn good! We ordered it and each had a cup of their clam chowder because the people sitting next to us ordered it and we could smell its delicious goodness and our mouths began to water. There is a long history of this venue and the restaurant – a great way to spend an evening in SF, or make a date of it and grab a hotel for the night. We then walked a couple of blocks to the Beach Blanket Babylon venue. Tickets are going fast, so book now or forever miss out on this iconic SF show!

You can learn more about the performances and buy tickets on the website here.

Landscaping tips to improve home value

I wanted to go back to a blog I saw a few weeks ago. It’s an RIS Media blog about landscaping and how you can make the most out of your yards when trying to sell. Read below:

Landscaping is one of the most important ways to increase your property’s value quickly. In fact, a gorgeous landscape design can increase the value of your home by at least 5 to 11 percent—and maybe more. The best part about landscaping is that even though it’s one of the most valuable home improvements you can make, it’s also one of the easiest. If you’re wondering how to turn your landscape into one of your home’s most valuable assets, here are some tips to get you started.

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1. Match Landscape to Your Home’s Style

The best way to get an excellent return on investment with landscaping is to make sure it fits with your home’s style. For instance, if you own a Victorian home, a Japanese garden will be sorely out of place and may even lower your home’s value rather than add to it. In this instance, you’re much better off with a country or cottage-style landscape that blends in with the old-fashioned formality of your home.

The same holds true for more modern home styles, such as the prairie or industrial style. If your home falls into one of these categories, you’ll want to stay away from square, formal gardens or a profusion of airy blooms. Instead, create a more modern landscape by relying on plenty of greenery and natural-looking beds that fit the contours of your property.

2. Design With a Strategy in Mind

You’ll need to have a good strategy. That means you shouldn’t clutter the entire yard with various high-maintenance plantings, but you also shouldn’t have plain grass with no landscaping. A study by the Virginia Tech Department of Horticulture found that a good foundation planting along with a couple of well-designed points of interest can increase your home’s value by up to 42 percent.

By that same token, you should encourage diversity among your plantings without taking it too far. The ideal landscape has a good mixture of shrubs and perennials, but it doesn’t have one of every kind of plant that you can find at the garden center. Instead, it has a uniform look with just enough diversity to make it interesting, but not so little that it becomes boring.

3. Achieve Seasonal Balance

A profusion of spring blooms won’t interest potential buyers who look at your home during other parts of the year. Think about ways to make your landscape attractive all year — blooming bulbs for spring, annual beds around the house during the summer, shrubs with brightly colored leaves in the fall, and evergreens for the winter. Even though most buyers will be looking at your home during one season, they’ll notice the balance you’ve created and they’ll think about how beautiful the home will be as the seasons change.

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4. Plant Trees

A few simple trees can make an enormous difference to the sale price of your home. In one study, simply living on a tree-lined street added between 10 to 15 percent to the sale price compared to neighborhoods with fewer trees. So why are trees worth so much? Trees remove carbon dioxide and pollution from the air, so people view them as an eco-friendly option. The shade helps keep neighborhoods and homes cooler and more pleasant, which in turn cuts air conditioning costs. Trees are also a stress reliever — people enjoy relaxing in their shade or gazing at the leafy view.

5. Edge Your Lawn

Few things look nicer than a healthy, vibrant, carefully maintained lawn — except for a lawn that is all of those things and neatly edged. The confined look of an edged lawn gives it an easy-to-maintain look. In other words, no weed whipping or weeding required.

Edging along driveways, sidewalks and garden beds also shows prospective buyers how meticulous you have been concerning the property’s upkeep. They’ll know that if you’re willing to keep the edges of your yard looking nice, the rest of the property is likely in pristine condition, too.

Of all improvements to boost home value, landscape is one that will get you the largest return on your investment.  Just make sure that you design your landscape with a plan, and don’t let that design become so complex that the mere thought of all the maintenance chases away your buyers.

A quick comment: I heard Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending telling me this after I made a comment on one of his blogs. The neighbor down the street had a bunch of Juniper bushes, which did not give great curb appeal and the house sat on the market. Had they removed those bushes and done some generic landscaping, that house would have probably sold for $100k more as a similar one did come on the market with a nicely landscaped front yard and sold in less time and for about $100k more!

Pianos everywhere!

The other day, I was wandering in downtown Walnut Creek and had to do a double-take as I passed a spot I’d seen a thousand times before. In that spot, there was a wildly painted piano with a sign saying “play me!”

I’m not sure exactly when this art installation was put in place, but it’s really cool! There are eight pianos around downtown all painted different colors. They are really eye-catching, and all of them invite people to play on them.

Check out this article for a little more background on the project. It looks like the project is called “Painted Pianos” and they were donated by Steinway Piano Gallery and hand-painted by local artists. They will be out there for the public to play until Oct. 18.

Additionally, there will be some live performances by special guests every Tuesday from 12-1 p.m. (September 10, 17, 24 & October 1, 8, 15) from 12-1 pm at three locations: 1655 N. Main St., 1501 Locust St., and 1328 N. Main St.
The goal of the project is to bring community members together to create a musical memory! I love this! Take your lunch, walk downtown, and enjoy some music!