I Love You A Latte II

Last year, I held my inaugural “I Love You A Latte” event at the Capital One Cafe in downtown Walnut Creek. This year, we had a great turnout of about 25 people and collected a ton of donations for the Paradise fire victims (see this Thursday’s blog for more information on the donation and drop-off!).

This event is about community, connecting people, and taking a moment out of our day to interact and meet old and new friends. I am very grateful to everyone who donated items, as I saw firsthand how the Paradise area is anything but paradise these days – the effects of the devastating fire continue to show.

Below are a few pictures of the event along with the Valentine goody bags and giveaway prizes. Thank you to Robert Ring at Cross Country Mortgage for co-sponsoring, and to Fidelity National Title for a few of the prize giveaways, along with my awesome team – Lilly Lares and Denise Flor!

Capital One is a great place to host this event as it has a large space that isn’t very crowded and serves Peet’s Coffee. I really appreciate each and every one of you who came out and for all the donations brought! For those who missed it, I hope to see you at one of my future events.

Event Round-Up: Feb. 16th

Isn’t it great to live in a place that is so packed full of events that you can’t even go to all of them if you wanted to? Sometimes we all stay firmly planted in Walnut Creek instead of exploring what’s outside our doors. Here is a collection of fun, late-winter events to take part in within Walnut Creek city limits, and in a few of our neighboring Bay Area cities!

1. 2019 Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival – Chabot Space &  Science Center (Oakland): Feb. 16-17

Sorry for the late notice on this one, everybody. The Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival is an opportunity to get your kids out for the day, taking classes on movie-making, and watching films made just for them! If you’re a Chabot member, it’s free! More details.

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2. 2019 Lunar New Year Celebration – History Park (San Jose): Feb. 17

You can probably find a lot of different Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) celebrations happening around the very diverse Bay Area, but this is the one I’m choosing to highlight. It’s free, family-friendly, has a dragon-led parade, and will have arts and crafts available! Happy Year of the Pig! (Did you know the pig represents luck, wealth, and honesty and symbolizes a hard-working, peace-loving, generous person. Other traits include truthful, patient, reliable, trusting, sincere, giving, sociable, and a good sense of humor. If you were born in 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, or 2007, you are a Pig zodiac!)

3. Makers Market Craft Fair – Broadway Plaza (Walnut Creek): Feb. 23

Come check out an awesome craft fair right in the heart of downtown Walnut Creek! According to the event website, there will be more than 20 local artists selling jewelry, candles, organic body and home goods, clothes, and more! And, naturally, live music and food vendors will be present!

4. First Caturday – Lake Merritt (Oakland): Mar. 2

I couldn’t help myself on this one! How funny is this? On Sat., Mar. 2, you can bring your cat to Lake Merritt in Oakland and take part in “First Caturday.” It looks like it’s literally just a meet-up for cat lovers to bring their cats out on leashes, like dogs. Better not show up to the lake with a dog that day!

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5. Sunrise Tour of Muir Woods – Muir Woods (Mill Valley): Mar. 3

Okay, there is no bad time to visit Muir Woods. It’s one of the most beautiful semi-hidden gems of the Bay Area. But you can get up early and do a sunrise tour of this breathtaking park for FREE! Reservations are still required, and you might have to pay for parking, but seeing the sun shining through those old redwoods on a brisk morning will be well worth it.

Forma Gym’s transformation

The lot just off Olympic Blvd. before you go under 680 toward Parkmead has changed many times over the years. A long time ago, the lot was occupied by Walnut Creek Sports & Fitness. A few years ago, new owners came in and created Forma along with many great changes. They also added healthy options for food on-the-go to take to work. Now you can grab a green smoothie as you are walking out the door.

That is the gym I most often go to – not just for its proximity to my neighborhood, but because the new owner has done a fantastic job remodeling to make Forma appealing to everyone!



With a new gym coming in over by Zara, Orange Theory getting people all fired up, and other big-name gym chains popping up around town, there’s probably a little fear of competition for Forma. But, whatever it is, they’ve done a marvelous job with the gym.

Now, Forma has cryogenics (which is amazing if you haven’t tried it!), a jiu jitsu room, childcare, classes, a weight room, the pool, and more. They took out the racquetball courts, sadly, but it created a ton of room for other things. Forma still attracts the older Rossmoor crowd, but has also become more contemporary to attract a younger crowd.

Among the classes they offer, there is a mind/body studio for yoga and barre, with a separate area for spin. They have a spa with facials and massages, too! And one of the coolest things about Forma is their involvement with the local community. They sponsor the Turkey Trot, WCEF, food banks, etc. around town. They host golf tournaments, art days, and a kids club.

They also have Project Walk, which helps people learn or re-learn how to walk! I can’t say enough good things about Forma Gym, and if you’re looking for a community-oriented, affordable place to work out, this is the spot!

1688 Hairstudio donates cuts for Ry-Guy

You may remember the blog I wrote a while back about Parkmead coming together to raise money and pray for our neighbor, Ryan McLeod. For context, he is a teenager who suffered a terrible head injury in a skateboarding accident in Tahoe last summer.

He has made a couple of moves since Reno; one to Santa Clara and recently to Bakersfield. They are seeing improvements every day. The latest fundraiser for Ryan and his family came from 1688 Hair Studio, which offered a wash and a cut for $25 and held a raffle at a Cut-a-Thon! On the featured image is the salon owner to the right and on the left is Candace, who cut my hair. The raffle prizes included items from other local businesses, which included Mint 54, Vici, Skipolini’s and Residual Sugar. If you frequented their place of business on the Saturday Cut-A-Thon, they donated 10% of what you bought.

I attended the event and got my hair done to join the efforts at 1688 Salon on Locust. It was a really great event and what a way for 1688 to step up to the plate with this great community fundraiser. The McLeods have been going to this salon for years! I love seeing this community come together; if you need a haircut – give 1688 your business!!!

It’s always scary when someone in your community suffers a tragic event, but the little town of Walnut Creek continues to amaze in its steadfast support of all of its citizens. We’re hoping and praying Ryan’s recovery continues to go well!

Art Town: Wowhaus

This week, we’re going to The Orchards for our art! Husband and wife team Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable created three “Story Vanes” for The Orchards in 2016. They really catch the eye, and are interactive!

They used a process known as radial moiré, which means a fixed image appears when you rotate a disk, pierced with slits over a pattern. You can rotate the veins to make the disk move and the pattern change. It’s quite remarkable!

Of the three Vains, there is California Buttercup, Great Horned Owl (this one has a sound element to it!), and Ammonite. This Orchards area is actually a hotbed for unique Walnut Creek art. There will be more to come!

Cinemark Movie Club prices are now the same as Costco’s, but better!

As with anything in Walnut Creek, prices to see a movie have skyrocketed in recent years. Going to Cinemark to catch a flick used to be a relaxing treat. Now, after tickets, popcorn, a drink, and parking downtown (if the lot is full), you’re looking at a solid $50 outing. Unless you went to Costco and got the movie passes which used to be about $7.50 a ticket, and has steadily increased in price over the years. The new price is $17.99 for two which gets me to point of this blog.

With the remodel of the new Lux seating in the theaters, you now have to plan way ahead and reserve your seat if you want to sit next to the person you are going to the movies with. The Costco tickets do not allow you to reserve online; you either have to go ahead of time to buy the tickets or be hopeful there are a couple of seats together. With the Movie Pass on the verge of non-existence (they are trying to rebound with unlimited movies every month), the best deal going is the Cinemark Movie Pass.

It automatically bills you every month for one ticket at $8.99, but you can buy more tickets for the same price and then you get 20 percent off your concessions and can earn points for more discounts. Plus, you can then reserve your seat online, which waives any fees. This is now a slightly better offer than what you can get at Costco. Oscars are just around the corner and it always my favorite time of year to catch up on the movies nominated. Just don’t make the mistake I made when booking the Favourite. I accidentally got the movies for Thursday night when I was going on Friday. Note my surprise when I no longer had tickets. I still had the email receipt and the manager was kind enough to print 2 ticket for Friday!

If you don’t mind going on a Tuesday, it is $6 all day in Walnut Creek and $5.75 in Pleasant Hill. What a great deal, but for those of us who work and have families, fitting that day and time in can be a challenge.

Remember back in the day, how Festival Cinema 5 was the downtown theater to go to? Those of us who have lived in Walnut Creek for a while will remember! It was opened in 1969 and expanded to five screens (wow! LOL) in 1971. It was closed and demolished in 2001, and now Momo’s stands on its corner. Check out this old picture:

Movie-going in Walnut Creek (and in general) sure has changed over the years, but it’s hard to complain about the quality of theater and film we get nowadays! Just curious to know, how many of my readers enjoy going to the movies by themselves? I have done this a few times and actually don’t mind it!

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!

Event Round-Up: Jan. 19

There’s usually a bit of a lull after the holiday season where the events fizzle out and everyone recovers at the beginning of the year. However, I was able to dig up a few awesome ones in and around Walnut Creek to keep you satisfied. Enjoy the end of January and early February events before we head into the big Valentine’s week and let me know if you go to any!

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Napa Valley Restaurant Week: Jan. 20-27 (Napa)

Everyone knows the cuisine in Napa is just as good – if not better – than its wine. Now is your chance to gobble up some of that delicious fare for a fraction of the normal cost. Napa Valley Restaurant Week is the perfect excuse to visit the wine haven in its off-season.

Exploratorium After Dark: Radioactive: Jan. 24th (San Francisco)

This is a weekly event in The City at “After Dark” at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Go down to Pier 15 and enjoy the adults-only event in the incredibly cool museum. It costs about $20 at the door and is free for members. You can go to this from 6-10 p.m. on Jan. 24th.

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San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala: Feb. 1st (San Francisco) 

You can’t beat a fancy night out in San Francisco for the most anticipated craft beer event of the year in Northern California. It’s not a cheap ticket, but the kickoff for SF Beer Week takes place from 6-10:30 p.m. at Pier 35. More than 120 NorCal breweries will be pouring their newest, most specialized beers. Check it out!

Pink Floyd Concert Experience with House of Floyd: Feb. 1st (Walnut Creek)

At 8:00 p.m. at the Lesher Center on Feb. 1st, you can go to see the Pink Floyd experience in concert right downtown! It’s a live musical tribute that pays homage to Pink Floyd’s famous shows, with sound effects, lights, lasers, video projection, and more. More info here!

Free First Tuesday: Feb. 5th (Walnut Creek)

As you’re probably well aware by now, there is a Free First Tuesday in downtown Walnut Creek at the Bedford Gallery. From 12-5 p.m., you can get free admission to the coolest art gallery in town and check out all the new exhibits. If you haven’t been, it’s definitely a hidden gem in Walnut Creek.  With a new exhibit that just launched on Sunday the 13th, going through March 24th, “Altered States” features artists across generations living and working along the California coast who harness natural elements of the environment to create their artwork. I think that will be a future blog!

OMG the best Old Fashioned ever!

Craft beer and cocktails are still all the rage among the bar and restaurant scene these days. With breweries popping up all over the place, it was only a matter of time until the cocktail scene blew up a little bit, too. Now, there’s a new spot called Hops & Scotch at the Contra Costa Centre at the corner of Treat and Oak.

I went to experience it myself with a couple of friends and past clients – I chose the distilled menu and have never had a better Old Fashioned (or two).  The menu is an extensive list of whiskey/scotch/bourbon – from everywhere you can imagine – Scotland, Ireland, Japan…and I even saw some from south of the border.  As the name dictates, they also have a good selection of microbrews and, of course, any other type of cocktail you desire.  There is some food in the form of bar bites; we had the naan pizza and wings, but I saw mac and cheese,  hummus, a cheese board, and gyros (which really caught my eye).

There are also TVs for all the sporting events and on Monday nights they have the Geek Squad doing Trivia night, which is always fun.  Overall, Hops & Scotch is a great place to be and, come summer, look for the new patio currently under construction for some chill outdoor enjoyment, next to a couple of cool walnut and oak trees.  This will help with their seating as the place can fill up quickly and it isn’t too large, which creates a cozy ambiance.

Walnut Creek allowing cannabis permits

This past November, the City of Walnut Creek allowed people to apply for cannabis permits that are being processed to fill the two delivery-only medical cannabis operation slots to be opened in town. These are commercial business applications, and will bring a new type of business to downtown.

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With the passage of marijuana legislation in the state of California, which legalizes the sale of recreational products, the city of Walnut Creek is now getting involved. Of course, with new laws come new restrictions, and Walnut Creek’s marijuana policy is no different.

On a personal, non-commercial level, the maximum amount of non-medical cannabis plants allowed to be grown per residential unit is six. Selling the cannabis you legally grow is still prohibited (that’s what the permit application process was for!). Additionally, cannabis plants must be locked up, can’t create an odor, and must abide by all electrical and building permits.

It will be interesting to see how this law changes the business landscape in Walnut Creek. I’m guessing it probably won’t be a massive noticeable difference, since marijuana has been a fairly visible part of the California culture for years. But now that it’s legalized, what will the businesses look like? The delivery services? I guess we’ll find out soon!