Event Round-Up: Dec. 15th

I’m going to keep it super local for the December events this holiday season. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are for? Spending time at home with family and reveling in each other’s company? Well, that and lots and lots of food and cocktails. I’ve got you covered on all fronts here!

Image result for boundary oak golf course walnut creek
Pic: Golf Advisor

Holiday Gala & Fundraiser: Boundary Oak Golf Course – Dec. 20th (Walnut Creek)

Take in a great night for an even greater cause at a premiere venue in Walnut Creek! For $50, entry gets each person a surf and tur dinner, a wine and beer sampling, access to live music, and entry into a live auction and gift boutique. If you bring a new book for ages 0-11, you receive a free raffle ticket! Proceeds go to the Bay Area Crisis Nursery. Register here!

80’s Prom New Year’s Eve Bash: Retro Junkie – Dec. 31st (Walnut Creek)

Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! On New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy live 80’s music all night. There will be a themed photo booth, a midnight countdown and balloon drop, a complimentary champagne toast, and a huge game room with pinball, arcade games, pool, and more! Pizza by the slice and a full bar top things off – but, hurry! Tickets must be bought in advance!

Widmer-World Holiday Fun: Widmer-World – Dec. 1st-31st (Pleasanton)

Everybody loves a good Christmas lights show! If you want a more family-friendly night in the month of December, pop on down to Pleasanton and take in the Widmer-World holiday extravaganza. Their light show is timed to music and the entire place will be covered in holiday cheer! It’s completely free!

Image result for bedford gallery walnut creek

Free Admission Day: Bedford Gallery – Jan. 1st (Walnut Creek)

What better way to knock off the New Year’s rust than taking in one of Walnut Creek’s greatest artistic gems for FREE? It’s in the Bedford Gallery on New Year’s Day, which always has really cool, unique installations. I’d highly recommend going if you haven’t already! Take it in from 12-5 p.m. on the 1st.

Altered States Opening Night: Bedford Gallery – Jan. 13th (Walnut Creek)

That’s right! Back-to-back Bedford Gallery exhibitions here. It’s always fun to go to the opening night of a new exhibit, and this one will only run non-members $5. The guest curation from Heather Marx features “artists across generations living and working along the California coast who harness natural elements or the environment to create their artwork.” This sounds pretty neat!

A mini-nature walk in downtown Walnut Creek!

We all know how beautiful our little town of Walnut Creek is. It’s surrounded by the Shell Ridge Open Space, has a gorgeous view of Mt. Diablo from pretty much anywhere, and is generally just a very clean, aesthetically-pleasing town to live in. But, did you know there’s a legitimate nature walk downtown?

Ok, it’s not a hike or anything, but the creek that gives us our namesake does wind through some lovely areas. One of which is right through Civic Park after you cross the Ygnacio Valley bridge on the Iron Horse Trail headed south. Every October there is a city wide sponsored volunteer event and clean up the creek is always part of it!

If you hook a right after that Ygnacio Valley bridge (and subsequent canal bridge), you are immersed in a makeshift “Creek Walk.” Follow the creek on the right and take in the signs that describe the wildlife of Walnut Creek. This is the path that rounds the large grassy area, so bring your kids or fur babies, too!

There are benches, places to stop and eat, and a continuation into Civic Park if you so wish. Of course, you can extend this trail a lot; for example, I parked at the Broadway Plaza garage and walked across the street to meet a friend at Pacific Bay Cafe and that is when I noticed these Creek Walk Signs, once I googled it, I found it extends down to Maria Maria! Next time you’re wandering downtown, take this quick detour and enjoy another small aspect of what makes Walnut Creek so great!

Art Town: That Moment

I spotted this utility box art earlier in the year, and loved the little elephant artwork! It sits in front of KOJA on Locust and Olympic. The name of the artwork on it is “That Moment” and it was done by Netsanet Tesfay. I love the colors and the child-like drawing style.


If you look closely enough, you can see that the actual body of the elephant (as well as the other little designs along the bottom, like the butterfly) are made with intricate patterns that give off the single-color impression when you look at it as a whole. Another very cool piece in downtown Walnut Creek!

Pie Party for Trinity Coat Drive – THANK YOU!

Recently, I held my annual pumpkin pie party supporting the Trinity Center and it was another success! This is my third year combining the coat drive with a pie give away which brings full circle gratitude and appreciation for my clients, referrals, neighbors and friends.  This year we had 34 pie orders, in addition, I had many people who just dropped off items for Trinity.  As you can see, I had an SUV full of coats, gloves, hats, etc. and $300 in checks!

This was by far my most successful and giving pie party to date!  You can see pictures of the pies and donations above, as well as some fun shots from the party itself below.  This year Indy, aka Daryl Choy donated his time for chair massages and for our drawing and JVM donated a couple of Hydro Flasks, the winners were picked at the end of the night with a few stragglers, picking the winning prize winners!

This is my favorite charity event of the year, as it combines food, drink, friends, and mingling! I can’t thank everyone who joined, donated, ordered pie, etc. enough. It really shows that this community is in the giving spirit this holiday season, and it means a lot to me to know that Trinity can be supported and celebrated by the people around me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I can’t wait until next year!

New housing going up in Walnut Creek

As anyone who has lived in Walnut Creek for more than 30 seconds knows apartments are popping up all over town to keep up with the demand of our popular little town. The newest ones being finished right now are primarily on Riviera, walking distance to the Walnut Creek Bart station. The main picture is a very large complex on Ygnacio and Trinity called Vaya. These are all meant to be walking distance to Walnut Creek BART (and they definitely are!), they feel a little more spread out and each their unique style than their counterparts in Pleasant Hill.  Below is low-income apartments that back up to the freeway.

The Pleasant Hill station jammed a lot of units on their parking lot without much regard to design and aesthetics.  I think Walnut Creek is trying to do it differently, there is still a lot of construction, so we will have to wait and see on the final product. Live Riv, pictured below, is on Riviera, which are condos for sale ranging from $495k for a junior 1 bedroom to $695k for a 2 bedroom. Riv’s refined, contemporary exterior welcomes you into design-savvy living spaces that feature keyless entry, nine-foot ceilings, hardwood floors and oversized windows. European-style open kitchens showcase sleek cabinetry, under-cabinet lighting, quartz counters, tiled backsplashes, and stainless steel appliances.

Below is another on Riviera that is also affordable housing with a 4,000 person waitlist that requires you to meet a certain income threshold and then the tenants will be picked lottery style.  That is what happens when you have a studio apartment for $900 rent in Walnut Creek!

The overall idea is to provide living opportunities close to Bart so people don’t have to drive to commute to the city.  Walnut Creeks is also building another multi-level garage, but more people are moving to our once quaint town and trying to find solutions to traffic will be an ongoing challenge over the next 20 years.

Walnut Creek on ice is officially back!

It’s that magical time of the year when the temperature in California dips down into the frigid 50’s, an occasional rainstorm passes through, and…an ice rink forms in Civic Park? That’s right, downtown Walnut Creek hosts an ultra-cool ice rink through Walnut Creek On Ice.

The rink, which opened on Nov. 9, and will remain in place until late January, has become a local favorite during the winter, to give us Californians a little taste of a white winter, but saving us the 3-hour trip to Tahoe! You can take a date to the rink for a couple skate, or maybe teach the kids how to skate at the open rink.

There are even an ice skating academy and private lessons for those who are getting serious about being a future San Jose Shark or the next great Winter Olympian. This is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with your friends, family, and loved ones this winter. How nice does a short stroll to La Scala after a couple hours on the ice sound?

If you’d rather skate in a colder locale, foggy San Francisco and icy Lake Tahoe both offer some awesome rinks, too! At the Embarcadero, you can skate with beautiful Bay and Bay Bridge views and then saunter over to the Ferry Building for hot chocolate. In Union Square, you can circle the rink between the buildings and even take in a “Drag Queens on Ice” show. And in Tahoe, of course, Northstar’s village ice skating rink is not to be missed. It’s 9,000 square feet of joy, surrounded by bars, cabanas, and fire pits – and if you’re up at Northstar anyway…it’s free!

Walnut Creek is the hub of the East Bay for a reason, and hosting cool events like an ice skating rink is one of them. The rink itself is in its 14th year of operation downtown, meaning Walnut Creek On Ice has brought snowy joy to our citizens since 2004 – this is bound to be the best year yet. Let me know if you check it out, and how you liked it!

Main Street Kitchen gets a re-boot

One of my favorite restaurants in Walnut Creek received a bit of a makeover recently, and since it’s been about three years since my last review, I wanted to re-visit it! Main Street Kitchen aka MSK has become a new staple for foodies in Walnut Creek, and now they’ve expanded and remodeled to match their popularity.

I went recently on a chilly, smoky day so nobody sat outside. But that just meant more of an opportunity to take in the beautiful new interior! I really love that this place has opened up a bit and can now accommodate more guests in addition to a full bar with seating. It allows even more locals and travelers alike to experience the excellent atmosphere and cuisine. My favorite feature is sitting by the living wall and eating Sunday Brunch!

We tried a couple different dishes. The first was Burrata with greens, but you can also get it with avocado, prosciutto, heirloom tomato, or tapena (mix and match) and Sunchokes, which were amazing.  Our order consisted of fish tacos with tortilla soup, their the BLT, however the star of the show may have been their signature dish called Chicken al Mattone where boneless thighs are cooked between two cast iron skillets. It was absolutely delicious!

As you can see, Main Street Kitchen is still serving up farm to table gourmet bites in generous servings. And now they’re doing it in a brand-spankin’-new space that really takes the experience to a whole new level. If you have yet to jump on the Main Street Kitchen bandwagon, I’d highly suggest doing so soon!  p.s.  their fried chicken isn’t always on the menu, but it is always available and is fantastic on their delicious salads.

Event Round-Up: November 17th

As the holiday season gets into full swing, take advantage of some unique events around Walnut Creek and the rest of the Bay Area! From art, to nature, to Christmas festivities, I’ve got you covered! If you visit any of these events, let me know how they are!

Image result for tree lighting

The Unreal Garden – thru Nov. 30 (San Francisco)

The Unreal Garden is a digital, immersive art exhibition set up in a 20,000-square foot space on Market Street that is set up by a media company called Onedome. There are moving waterfalls, forest creatures and eight installations by nine different global artists at The Unreal Garden. More details here.

Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting – Nov. 29 (Walnut Creek)

Broadway Plaza’s annual Holiday Parade of Lights, Retailer Open House, and Tree Lighting returns from 6-9 pm on Nov. 29th. There will be live entertainment, caroling, and an appearance by Santa! The event is sponsored by the Capital One Cafe, and more information can be found here.

Night Bloom – starts Dec. 2 (San Francisco)

Just like last year, the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco will put on what is sure to be a show-stopping light display on the greenhouse facade. The new installation is called “Night Bloom” and will contain colorful lights, sounds, and immersive art experiences. Get more information for this event here.

Image result for redwoods california

Free Redwood Day – Dec. 8 (Statewide)

Every so often, these amazing free days come along and us nature lovers rejoice! To celebrate 100 years of saving California’s iconic redwood forest, Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks are offering thousands of free vehicle day-use passes to more than 40 Redwood state parks! Details are here.

Exploratorium After Dark – Dec. 15 (San Francisco)

Every Thursday night, the Exploratorium offers an adults-only dinner and drinks event with hands-on exhibits from 6-10 pm. The Exploratorium, on Pier 15, offers $20 tickets for this event. And on Dec. 15, the theme will be sugar! Perfect for the holidays. See the event page here.

Art Town: Echo

If you’ve been wandering around downtown after a movie, or had a hankering for Chipotle, or really wanted to get a drink at The Cheesecake Factory, you’ve seen the lovely pair of statues on either side of Locust St. in Plaza Escuela. They tower above fountains or pedestals where pedestrians rest their feet. The artist, Yoshio Taylor, created these in 2002 out of bronze, and placed them on terra cotta bases.

 Look closely, and you’ll see a lot of history in these twin pieces. First, did you know that Walnut Creek’s first school once stood in this spot, hence the name of the plaza itself (“Escuela” = “school” in Spanish!)? The female figure is reading, and the male figure is holding several books. In another nod to Walnut Creek’s history, Taylor surrounds the feet of the figures with native plants that have disappeared from the area. If you look closely, you’ll see frogs, birds, foxes and more around the bases. The reason for the grape leaves is to celebrate Walnut Creek’s agricultural history; apparently we celebrated grapes in the Fall Festival long before we celebrated Walnuts!

Taylor says he created this with classical influences and wanted to give a proportional stance to his figures. The columns, in his description, give place, presence, and power to the figures. They serenely invoke a quiet restfulness. Taylor, who got an MFA from UC Berkeley and resides in Sacramento now, has given Walnut Creek’s downtown art scene one of its most treasured and aesthetically-pleasing works with Echo.

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.