Ballet at Stern Grove!

I was able to catch part of the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco recently – I made it to the ballet, which was fantastic! We spent the first half of the ballet in the De Young Museum, so we missed a chunk, but it was still great.

The ballet was a free performance, which I think is so interesting that they provide this show for free. And it clearly paid off, because right in front of me were a couple little girls getting the full experience.

We learned that they were taking ballet themselves, and now they were getting to experience a live, professional ballet for free in a beautiful setting. Plus, you can’t beat a nice day out in the city!

It takes a bit of time to park and walk to the grove. Once we got there, we had to hike up the hill and find a place to sit amongst the trees. Luckily, in the area we went to, some people were saving a spot for their friends who didn’t show, so even with our late arrival, we got a decent view! See pictures for how far up the hill people climbed to see this free show.

If you want stellar seating, make it it a day and get there early and have a picnic. When Stern Grove Festival comes back around next year, I’ll be sure to make more out of it. What a great way to involve those who normally couldn’t afford to see it and the opportunity for small children to experience the ballet.

Get your music on!

Here’s a fun thing to do in the Bay Area summers: go see live music! I love going to Bottlerock Music Festival in Napa every spring, and if you’ve never been to a proper festival, you really are missing out on a cultural phenomenon.

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Sunshine, good music, unique eats and drink vendors everywhere? What could possibly go wrong? Here are some music festivals coming up in the second half of the summer in Northern California:

Stern Grove Music Festival 

I encouraged everyone to check out this free festival in San Francisco in a previous blog, and my urging stands! It goes through mid-August!

Festival Napa Valley

This takes place from July 12-21, so you still have time to squeeze it in! Opera, jazz, wine, food, and a gala hosted by Seal. Seriously! Check it out.

Guitarfish Festival

From July 25-28, you can enjoy live music in a family-friendly setting on the banks of the Yuba River near Truckee. What a scene! More info here.

Petaluma Music Festival

On August 3rd, you can benefit the Petaluma public school system by attending this one-day festival with four stages of music. Very cool!

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Outside Lands

This is the big one – the annual 3-day festival extravaganza in Golden Gate Park is worth every penny! This year, enjoy Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, and more! Visit the website here.

A survival guide for sellers living in a fully staged home

Nicole Solari, a broker in Northern California with The Solari Group, wrote a funny, interesting article recently that I wanted to share below. This version has been slightly edited for length, and includes my own commentary at the end. Enjoy!

Most of us are reasonably familiar with the litany of woes sellers and buyers typically experience. One of my agents, however, is getting an all-too-real refresher course in the twists and turns of selling a personal residence when it‚Äôs fully staged.

We accidentally created a manual on exactly how to pull of something spectacularly awful as living in a staged home while it’s actively being shown. So, if you find yourself advising sellers how they should cope with living in a staged house while it‚Äôs actively being shown, suggest these 10 survival skills to them:

Leave for the first few days the listing is active.

The best way to cope with living in a staged house is to put off doing it for as long as possible. Not everyone can afford this expense, but, at a minimum, a nice long weekend away seems to be worth the cost!

Stop thinking of staying in a staged house as living. It’s not. It’s camping.

Have realistic expectations to make the temporary inconvenience more bearable. Think of the extended stay as a camping trip, so it will be more tolerable. It’s a relatively accurate description of the “lifestyle” anyway.

Establish sensible advance-notice periods to insert in the showing instructions.

The agent needs to guide the discussion regarding how much advance notice sellers need to prep the property and vanish with kids and pets in tow. Giving two hours notice before a showing seems reasonable to most buyers and agents, and most often give more.

Don’t do anything that spatters, like cooking. Or eating.

Sellers shouldn’t use the oven. They shouldn’t microwave anything potentially explosive. And, they most certainly shouldn’t fry anything unless they’re prepared to wash down the stove and everything surrounding it immediately after use. When dining in, the menu should be limited to salads (as long as dressing spatters are rigorously prevented), sandwiches and other things that aren’t messy, such as takeout. Ideally, they’d just eat at restaurants or directly over the kitchen sink.

Shower at the gym, and have a hairdresser on speed dial.

Sellers want to be clean and buyers want to see a flawless home. Having a shower in showing condition means cleaning and its surrounding glass relentlessly and hand drying it every time it’s used. However, the gym shower is much more simple!

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Keep necessities in easily hidden bags or covered containers in every spot necessary.

Although I would never look under the bed, my seller assures me, if I did, I would find the bathrooms scale, a box of makeup, a bag containing soap, toothpaste, and floss, dog toys, a bag of allergy medications, and a set of pajamas. All I can say is thank goodness (and our stagers!) for bed skirts.

Give in to an obsessive need to clean, tidy and touch-up paint.

There’s nothing like having to get a property ready to show multiple times to focus a seller’s attention on minute details, and that’s good because buyers see everything. Suggest sellers keep cleaning supplies, garden gloves and tools, trim and wall paint, and brushes together in an easily accessible – but hidden – spot.

Protect the stager’s furnishings against every weird mishap conceivable.

If a seller soils or damages a rug, piece of furniture, lamp or perfect accessory, the loss to the stager is more profound than most sellers realize. The cost to replace an item is often significant, plus it can be difficult to locate a replica of the spoiled item, especially if it’s a unique size or style. It pays to protect them! So, sellers should plan to live like monks. They should try not to walk on the rugs or eat or drink near anything that’s not theirs.

Do NOT change the dog’s diet or routine.

Even with the best coping skills, sellers are stressed. And their pets (as well as kids) are double so. Nothing is as it usually is. And sellers’ little ones are involuntary conscripts in this process. So, sellers need to keep as much of their routine intact as humanly possible. And, whatever they do, urge them NOT to try a new dog food while they’re living on someone else’s rugs!

Hire a cleaning service.

The constant wiping, cleaning, and tidying soon gets to every seller. If they can afford it, hiring a professional cleaning service to come in on a regular basis is respite care for stressed-out sellers. You’d be amazed at what a memorable and welcome gift that can be.

It might seem a little overboard, but their are agents out there that will suggest all these things. I am more of a middle of the road. Get the house looking stellar, take professional pictures and then keep it as tidy as possible. Having a caddy that goes under the sink with all your shower and morning routine items is just fine. Many people go away the first weekend of an Open House and if you have kids, that adds a whole different dimension of keeping a place tidy. Just picking up the toys and putting them in a basket may just suffice.

Stern Grove: Free and fun!

If you’ve never heard of Stern Grove Festival, you should definitely check it out! It’s a free music festival in San Francisco that features some great bands. They even have kid-friendly activities, free yoga classes (BYO yoga mats), food trucks, and more!

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The best part, though, is being able to just sit out in the sunshine or not so great in fog, in a beautiful part of the city and enjoying a day off. You can bring in a picnic (with certain limitations, of course) or reserve a picnic table ahead of time.

The venue itself is really beautiful, and located at 19th and Sloat in SF. The free music starts around 2 p.m. each Sunday and the season runs from June 16th to Aug. 18th. The SF Symphony, Psychedelic Furs, and Pink Martini are the ones I am interested in, but a day in Stern Grove, no matter who is playing is always a good day. Hope to see you there!

The funniest run you’ll ever hear of!

I get a lot of cool event emails around the Bay Area. It’s how I keep you all up-to-date! But I can’t say I’ve seen one that made me laugh out loud like this: Cupid’s Undie Run in San Francisco!

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via: SF Station

According to the website, the “run” is the largest pantless party and mile-ish run in the nation. It takes place this Saturday, Feb. 9th in San Francisco and raises money (100% of the proceeds) for neurofibromatosis.

If you’re brave enough to take part, go to Pedro’s Cantina on King St. in the city at 12 p.m. this Saturday. Right now, you can go to this website and save 20% on tickets right now by using the promo code “TIMEOUTSF20.”

I have run the Bay to Breakers in normal attire, but I am not sure how I feel about my body to expose it to the public – as you can see by the pictures it is a fairly young crowd that participates and it seems more like a party, but it does sound hilarious and has a great cause attached to it. Not a bad excuse for a few drinks, very little clothing, and a short workout!

Did you know you can get raw, affordable dog food delivered to Walnut Creek?

Okay, I have two secrets to tell you. First, this is a repeat of a blog I posted more than three years ago on this very same site. I know, I know, but it’s because I feel like this information needs to be recycled once in a while. A service this great needs to be showed off to my readers new and old!

Secret number two is the service itself! Creston Valley Meats is essentially a traveling butcher in that they come up to NorCal from the SLO area every couple of weeks with a white freezer van full of dog food deliveries, park in the Rudgear Park and Ride, and wait for clients to come to meet them!

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Creston Valley offers raw diet options for dogs and humans (with a specialty in wild game!). They post real-time delivery updates on Twitter, and they’ll call or text you about 30 minutes before arrival. It’s a really smooth, awesome service, and Bodie LOVES his Creston Valley food!

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I joke that it’s my canine drug deal, as they open the back of their van, say your name, and hand you a box in exchange for a check. It must look hilarious from an outsider’s perspective! For Bodie, I get a combo patty of chicken and banana or pork and anchovies. You can also get 20 buffalo bones for $10!

I just mix two patties with Honest Kitchen Base Mix and top it off with yogurt or cottage cheese (whole fat).  Yes, my dog eats better than me.

This last time when I went to pick up the food, I saw some very interesting “art” at Rudgear Park & Ride, some teenagers must have left behind. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? LOL!

Come for the climb, stay for the views

The beauty of San Francisco is well-known around the world. We are extremely lucky to live close to one of the world’s best cities, but one thing most people don’t know is that there is excellent hiking¬†within¬†San Francisco! I found¬†a great blog about the best hikes and views in the city, and want to share with you.

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You all know about views from The Golden Gate Bridge, The Cliff House, and Coit Tower. But there are some hidden gems on lesser known hills and from some major hotels in the city. Depending on your level of energy, you might be interested in the hikes up the hills below, or just to take the elevator up to the tops of those hotels for a drink and a view.

Here, I’ve compiled three of the best views; one from a hill, one from a hotel, and one from a museum. For the full list, see the link above!

Billy Goat Hill

This one is really popular for its epic views and the fun swing that takes you over the edge of the world! The hike is about half a mile long, so people of all abilities can climb up there. There are magnificent views overlooking Noe Valley, the downtown skyline, and the glimmering bay!

Hamon Observatory Tower

Have you ever wanted a free way to visit the de Young Museum? This is your ticket! The Hamon Observatory Tower at the top of the de Young is always free, and takes you to the 9th floor with stunning views in literally every direction of the Bay Area.

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The View Lounge

On the 39th floor of the Marriott Marquis downtown, you can climb, or take the elevator, up to The View Lounge. Get there early to secure a table by the massive window and take in a San Francisco sunset. Bonus: this one has delicious, strong (and overpriced) cocktails!

Annual Chili Cook-Off!

For those who have been following this blog for a few years, you may remember an annual event we’ve been doing in Parkmead for the last 4 years: the Chili Cook-Off! The 2018 event took place on November 3rd from 3-6 p.m. We had nine chili-makers, a keg of Allagash White, cornbread, brownies, and kids with chalk and scooters running around the blocked off Lee street in the Parkmead community.

Usually, we have a great turn out and many different chilis to try in the neighborhood, then we crown a winner each year with the Parkmead Wooden Spoon! ¬†This year a new homeowner David¬†Chiorini took home the bragging rights. He made an El Pato (spicy style) Texas Chili garnering over 24 votes. There’s nothing better than a few warm cups of chili and a cold beer on a Fall afternoon, especially when you’re doing it as a neighborhood community builder! The Parkmead Community Association organizes these types of events and it is what makes the neighborhood so darn special and desirable.

Hope to see you next year, and what a great idea to organize in your own neighborhood! And, if you are thinking you would like to live in this type of neighborhood, give me a call.