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.

Oktoberfest comes to Walnut Creek!

There’s one event – a holiday, even, if you stretch that definition – that takes place each Fall that all adult should take part in. It’s not Thanksgiving. Not Halloween. It’s the German beer event known as Oktoberfest! The festival has become so popular, that pretty much every town has their own version.

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Even here in Walnut Creek, we have an Oktoberfest event, and it’s taking place this coming weekend! This year, it will be held at Civic Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can head there to drink copious amounts of beer, eat great food, and meet fun people! This is the 4th annual Walnut Creek Oktoberfest and will span all 16-plus acres of the park.

At the Walnut Creek event, there will be a Biergarten, Microbrews, gourmet food, live music, Autobahn and vendors. All ages are welcome to the Kids Zone but the beer areas will be the main draws. Best of all, tickets are FREE.

Oktoberfest, of course, originated in Germany and is celebrated widely in cities like Munich and Berlin, where people dress up and stand on tables and drink beer all day. I actually had the pleasure of attending Oktoberfest in Munich back in my 20’s – lots of drinking, a carnival…and I really don’t remember much else.  Walnut Creek’s isn’t quite as celebrated, but it’s still a good time! Hope to see you there – lederhosen and dirndls not required, but encouraged!

Goats at the canal!

Well, here’s a fun little bit of news! On my way to a property recently, I was driving near the canal on the Pacheco/Pleasant Hill border and saw a huge herd of goats nibbling the brush! I’m talking a massive herd, as you can see in the pictures below. They are no longer there, and the grass is all nibbled down, but it was so interesting to see, I jumped out of my car to take a closer look. There was a mom and her two kids looking too; she said they come by often as the kids want to see them.

This was a hot summer day, so they were not doing much eating and many were huddled together for the limited shade. I  think this is a great way to mow down your weeds in an environmentally-friendly way.

An interesting exhibit at the de Young

I love visiting the San Francisco museums when I get a chance. Recently, I took a trip out to the de Young museum to see the Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibit. According to the de Young website, the Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibit is the first major museum exhibition to explore “the complex, diverse nature of Muslim dress code worldwide.”

It certainly was complex, diverse, and intriguing! The exhibition examined how Muslim women (whether covered or not) have become “arbiters of style within and beyond their communities,” and have drawn media attention by doing so. It further goes on to explain that this exhibition “considers how Muslims define themselves-and are defined-by their dress.”

You can see in my pictures in this blog how parts of the exhibit looked. It was so cool to visit and learn more about a major culture in the world, especially through this lens of fashion. It is an especially powerful exhibit, given how Muslim fashion has entered the news in politically-charged ways in recent years – Switzerland is one of the most recent countries to consider outlawing (or to outright ban) the burka, for instance, and there have been contentious debates over “burkinis” on French beaches.

Overall, it was a very powerful day at the de Young and I’d highly encourage anyone with an open mind to go visit the museum and see this particular exhibit. It was something I learned a lot from and found very aesthetically-pleasing, to boot.

Best tours in San Francisco

Just because we live in the Bay Area and are “locals” of San Francisco doesn’t mean we can’t still play tourist when we hit The City! In fact, it’s one of the more fun things you can do when you cross the Bay Bridge. I love just wandering around and finding new nooks and crannies of the city I had never noticed before.

As with any major city, San Francisco has its fair share of awesome tours, and these are five I have researched that I think you should take a chance on next time you visit! From art, to history, to food, you’ll get the real, full, behind-the-scenes experience of San Francisco with any of these. If you go, let me know how it went!

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1. Precita Eyes Mural Tour

On the third Saturday of every month, founder and director or the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, Susan Cervantes, leads guided mural walks through the Mission. It’s $20, but it takes you through an array from over 200 alley murals in the hippest neighborhood in San Francisco. You can get more info here.

2. San Francisco Urban Hike

Now, I hate to do this, but I think you can self-lead a tour rather than spend $49 on having it guided. This “urban hike,” which has gained in popularity given San Francisco’s plethora of lush areas, is something you can certainly research and do yourself. If you’d rather go with a guide, check out this link!

3. San Francisco Love Tour

If nothing else, San Francisco is known for its role in the Summer of Love. Former hippies and music lovers should be excited to pony up $48 for this radical tour, which takes participants through iconic neighborhoods from the 60’s, and hit main attractions like Golden Gate Park. You’ll see the homes of Hendrix and Joplin, and do it all from an old-school VW van!

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4. Teas, Temples and Beatniks Tour

Okay, you can’t beat a tour that combines two of the coolest neighborhoods in a city full of cool neighborhoods: Chinatown and North Beach. You get to try local food, get your fortune read, taste the famous fortune cookies, and venture into North Beach to see the old hangouts of legends like Jack Kerouac. Check it out here.

5. City Guides

You’ve probably at least heard of this tour. City Guides is a full-blown non-profit with more than 200 volunteers leading 50 walking tours all around San Francisco. Local history buffs share their knowledge and whisk you around the beautiful city. And the best part for those who want to pinch pennies – City Guides is all donation-based, and technically admission is free!

8 best food festivals in the Bay Area this summer

Is there anything better than a social gathering for the purpose of eating or drinking? A backyard barbecue with neighbors, a wine-tasting and walking event, food truck frenzies with friends…the list goes on, but the level of awesome remains the same.

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TimeOut.com has compiled a great list of eight unique Bay Area food festivals, and if you’re someone who enjoys these outings, you must give it a read. I’ve reformatted the list below. Let me know if you end up checking out any of these local foodie fests!

1. Lamb Jam (San Francisco)

Sip and snack on delish lamb-based dishes at this epic gastronomic event and competition that brings together 16 of SF’s most talented chefs to b-a-a-a-a-a-ttle for the title of Lamb Jam San Francisco Champion.

 July 22 3–6pm at Golden Gate Club; $56–$125

2. Garlic Festival (Gilroy)

Garlic lovers from around the world flock to this small town for food, drinks, crafts, live music and cooking competitions. Be sure to try the garlic ice cream (and don’t forget to bring your toothbrush).

July 27–29 10am–7pm at Christmas Hill Park; free–$20.

3. Zucchini Festival (Hayward)

At this healthy food party, discover the versatile uses of the hearty vegetable, from cakes and cookies to snacks and main dishes. Don’t miss the massive zucchinis competing in the growing contest!

Aug 18, 19 10am–8pm at Kennedy Park; $5–$10.

4. Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival (San Francisco)

Ghirardelli pairs its world-famous cacao beans with wine, ice cream and tons of other tasty desserts at this sugary soiree. Indulge guilt-free, knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to local nonprofit Project Open Hand.

Sept 8, 9 noon–5pm at Ghirardelli Square; $26–$55.

5. Cheese Fest (San Francisco)

Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead, Cypress Grove and other local makers will provide fromage nibbles at this dairy fest. Of course, cheese gets by with a little help from its friends wine and charcuterie, so expect vendors hawking those tasty delights, as well. Pop a Lactaid and get to work.

Sept 15 at Social Hall SF; $TBA.

6. Bloody Mary Festival (San Francisco)

SF’s most beloved brunch cocktail gets its own fest this season: Attendees will sample local bars’ tricked-out versions of the tomato-juice-and-vodka cocktail, then vote for the People’s Choice Award winner. Also, a panel of industry judges will pick its favorite version.

Sept 29 10:30am–6pm at SOMArts Cultural Center; $45–$55.

7. Eat Drink SF (San Francisco)

This four-day gourmet fest delights taste buds with bites from more than 30 Bay Area restaurants, plus cocktail classes, taco parties, and meet and greets with local celebrity chefs.

Aug 24 7:15–10pm; Aug 25 12:45–3:30pm, 7-:45–10:30pm; Aug 26 12:45–3:30pm at Fort Mason Center. $109–$229.

8. Eat Real Fest (Oakland)

Eat Real combines a state fair, a street-food festival, and a block party to create a celebration of good food in Oakland. Celebrate ten years of local food vendors, food entrepreneurs, artisan products, and demonstrations from the Bay Area’s top chefs and culinary experts.

Sept 14 3–10pm, Sept 15 11am–10pm, Sept 16 11am–7pm at Jack London Square; free. 

Appreciation Event: A’s vs. Giants ~ Battle of the Bay!

If you’ve been a friend, client, or colleague of mine over the years, you know how much I enjoy my clients and people who have referred me.  I try to do a couple appreciation events during the year, ranging from happy hours to full-on parties. Most recently, I threw a little appreciation event by hosting an A’s vs. Giants game!

There were about 20 people at the game, including past clients and sponsors Nancy Glad (Impeccable Interior) and Jason Bringingham (Admiral’s Choice Irrigation). As usual, I gave out some raffle prizes throughout the game, including house cleanings by Impeccable Interior, a goodie bag of peanuts, licorice, popcorn, and other baseball game treats, a bottle of wine and even a Giants panda hat! Funny enough, that prize was won by Sara, an A’s fan.

Jason also contributed $10 each for food and drink. It was an awesome time at the ballpark, we had a mix of A’s and Giants fans, with the Giants winning 5-1. It’s always nice to go out and mingle in a non-business setting with my clients and get to know them even better. As one person noted, it is creating an environment where people can connect with others!

Connecting with people and helping them through the process of buying and selling their homes is one of the reasons I love what I do. Getting to know them in a fun and personal setting builds a friendship. A few of us stayed to experience sitting on the field watching fireworks to 80’s-themed music – well worth the wait in line.  The only thing I’d change is maybe doing a Saturday game next time so we can go ahead of time and tailgate!

 

Want a fun day in the sun? Head to AT&T Park!

With basketball season coming to an end (Go Warriors!), the only major sports action in the Bay Area will be taking place in baseball stadiums in Oakland and San Francisco. I really like going out to Giants games because it’s a great excuse to go to the city.

I prefer day games because it can get so cold with AT&T Park right on the water, but it’s a fun experience nonetheless. Recently, I went with my friend Rick to a Giants day game and had such a great time sitting in the sun and cheering on the team.  He buys a couple of tickets for various games from a season pass holder and the seats are past first base in the lower section. Unfortunately, they did not beat Cincinnati, but it was still a really fun, action-packed game.

For those who would rather go to the stadium to socialize, drink and eat, there are a lot of options. At this game, Rick introduced me to the Giants crab sandwich which is located at a booth beyond the outfield wall, close to the Coca-Cola Bottle. As expected, the line is always really long because it’s so popular, but Rick knew a secret; if you go to any of the booths alongside the crab sandwich booth (i.e. to get a beer), you can also order a crab sandwich and avoid the long line!

 

Be forewarned that Giants games can get a little pricey. For tickets alone, depending on the matchup, you could be paying $40 or more per seat. Then concessions, travel, and drinks add up and it may take a toll on your wallet by the end of the night. It’s worth it, in my opinion as I don’t go that often! If you want to save a little money but have a fun experience watching a game, go to an A’s game. Otherwise, check out the Giants schedule and try to catch a day game during the week!

Side Note:  Jeremy, my writer, is a big Dodgers fan and cringed when he had to write this up, so maybe he is trying to steer  you over the A’s intentionally…

Next must-see pop-up? 29Rooms!

You heard about the Color Factory and the Museum of Ice Cream, which both popped up in San Francisco to massive fanfare. The next must-see pop-up exhibit in the city is going to be 29Rooms, an interactive exhibit presented by Refinery 29. It will be at the Palace of Fine Arts this June and I already got tickets – girls day out on Friday June 23rd, when a friend who moved back to the east coast will be visiting! Were you able to grab some tickets?

The exhibit is said to be composed of 29 different rooms bringing together “the worlds of style, culture and technology in visually stunning installations curated by a mix of artists, brands and even celebrities.” That sounds pretty awesome to me. Just check out some of these pictures and of course they are instagram moments:

29Rooms, Refinery 29's interactive fun house, is coming to San Francisco for four days only!
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Vance Garrett Productions

29Rooms’ theme is “Turn It Into Art” and each room will tell a unique story. They still haven’t released this year’s artists or brands, though. According to the website, 29Rooms will be open to the public for only four days (June 21-24) for three sessions of three hours each day (11 am – 2 pm, 3-6 pm, 7-10 pm) and tickets are $39. They might be sold out, but somebody may be scalping them or they may be on Stub Hub!

Road Trips: Capay Organic Farm

This is a repost from the previous week due to some technical difficulties with loading pictures into WordPress, just in case you missed it, I think it is worth a repost.

I subscribe to an organic vegetable and fruit home delivery from Capay Organic Farms. I can choose every week or every other week for a month. They have a standard selection of items, but I can delete items and add others. I can even choose from other vendors who have pesto, cheese or milk. Do you remember when the milkman delivered glass jars to your door?

It also comes with a sheet that has recipes and a note from Farmer Thaddeus. What makes Capay different is they also host a handful of events at their farm throughout the year. Capay Organic Farm in Capay, CA (just Northwest of Sacramento) is only an hour away and is a peaceful place to reconnect with nature, avoid crowds and have a relaxing day.

I recently took a day trip for their Capay Crush. Picnics were encouraged, but they had some food trucks and about five wineries doing tastings. We were also encouraged to pick tomatoes, take a tractor ride around the farm, and try various artisan products from pesto to olive oil. All the while, live music by three different bands were playing throughout the day!

The best band was saved for the last from 8-10 pm. Dirty Cello played, adults and kids danced and just celebrated an overall great day. If you wanted to, you could camp for $35 for the evening amongst the fig trees. I spoke with one guy who has been doing this for more than 15 years and talked fondly of seeing the bright, clear stars at night. Here are some additional pictures:

The last event of the year at Capay Organic Farm is its Pumpkin Palooza on Sat., Oct. 21st, from 11 am – 2 pm. You can buy tickets at the farm ($5 for adults, FREE for kids 12 and under!) if you want to go!

Check out some of the fun things they offer for Pumpkin Palooza:

  • Farm Talk with Farmer Thaddeus
  • Organic farmer’s market stand
  • Tractor rides
  • Face painting
  • Petting zoo
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Local olive oil tasting
  • Homemade pesto tasting
  • Authentic Mexican food from Tacos 911
  • Hand-baked goods from The Upper Crust
  • Artisan gelato
  • Cold brew and hot coffee

If you’re looking for a fun family road trip that is still a reasonable drive away and will make for a memorable Saturday, go take a look at Capay Organic’s Pumpkin Palooza in a couple weeks! Or one of their other events coming in 2018.

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