Escaping the Halloween Madness

DSC02920If you want a change of scenery this Halloween so you don’t have to be around to answer the door for all the ghosts and goblins trick-or-treating, consider Maui.

Last year, while it rained in Walnut Creek, I was enjoying warm sunshine while watching the World Series at the beach bar with many fellow Giants fans.

We also had a great time people-watching at the Lahaina parade! Lahaina is a small town about 15 minutes from Ka’anapali – it’s an oceanfront former fishing village across the channel (in which dolphins and whales tend to migrate!) from the island of Lanai.

People in costume start to congregate on the sidewalk to watch the parade, which has the mayor, a marching band and many more people dressed up.

And just like back home, kids get candy from people standing on the side of the street.DSC02901

Once the parade is over, you can grab dinner at one of the local restaurants – Kimo’s is always a favorite, especially as the sun sets over Lanai (note: reservations for dinner need to be made days in advance for a busy night like Halloween).

After dinner, you can meander the main street (which will be closed off to traffic) to people-watch.

The costumes range from G-rated to PG to the occasional R. Take a look at the pictures below!

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Another fun fact is that October and early November are off-season for Hawaii, so flights are reasonable. A direct, round trip ticket on Alaska Airlines between Oakland and Maui is only about $400. It’s a great time to visit and a great place to get away!

Halloweekened is Coming!

Fall is a great time of year. With the change in weather and light, I tend to cook more and want to snuggle up to a good book or movie. As the holiday season approaches, it’s fun to decorate your house with pumpkins and wreaths, but Halloween has always been my favorite.

I happen to live on a street that is flat and shaped like a horseshoe, so it’s a great place for kids to safely trick-or-treat. Many of my neighbors decorate their homes – some quite extensively! Our street gets about 300 trick-or-treaters on average.

Of course, one of the best parts of Halloween is seeing the costumes. Below I am sharing some of my favorite costumes from a few years ago (it rained last year).

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This year, with Halloween falling on a Saturday and fair weather predicted, I’m expecting record numbers! I’m hosting a few friends for chili and drinks, where we will hang out in the driveway around the fire pit and pass out candy. In our neighborhood, it isn’t uncommon to see parents walking their Disney princesses and superheroes around the neighborhood, pulling a red wagon with a six-pack stashed in the back for socializing with the neighbors.

On a related note, Daylight Savings Time ends with the hallowed eve this year, so remember to turn your clocks back before you go to bed.

Happy Halloween to all, and to all a spooky night! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog: what to do if you want to escape the neighborhood and find a fun getaway this Halloween…

Chili Cook-Off Results

On Saturday, October 10th, the Parkmead Community Association held their first Chili Cook-Off. Eight chili recipes were entered and the big crowd of tasters judged them while enjoying beer and cornbread.

Kids crafts and ping-pong also filled the area, and to ensure safety, Lee St. was blocked off for the event.

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First place in the cook-off went to Adam Neilkie for his classic pork and beef recipe. Yours truly took second place with Willie’s Chili, which is a traditional beef concoction with a secret added tang. Michael was awarded third place for his chili dish. These chili recipes and the rest were devoured within two hours!

The combination of food, drink and perfect weather made for a memorable afternoon. Neighbors of all ages came by to join in the fun, making it a true community event. Because of the success of our first Chili Cook-Off, this may become an annual affair; bring your chili next year to spend a day in the sun with your neighbors and to test your chili against the best!

Main Street Kitchen

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I recently tried the new restaurant on Main Street, creatively named Main Street Kitchen.  Luckily the menu was much more interesting than the name.  The restaurant features farm to table, local ingredients, and seasonal menus.

 

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To start, I had  the Grilled peach salad with Point Reyes bleu cheese, bacon, and mixed greens.  It was very tasty and refreshing on this warm evening. For my main course, I chose the fish of the day, which happened to be swordfish.  The dish came with a seasonal vegetable salad, consisting of kale, corn, roasted squash, blue lake beans, cranberry beans, and saffron pistachio pesto.  It was delicious and filling, without being overly heavy.  For desert, I nudged in a peach crisp with almond streusel topping, and house made ice cream.  This was my favorite part of the meal, especially the home made ice cream.  Yum!

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I went there again for breakfast recently, and was able to enjoy the peaceful patio.  I had 3 duck eggs, with toast and fresh tomatoes.  I have never had duck eggs before, but
they sure were yummy

With its eclectic variety of California cuisine, made with fresh and local ingredients, Main Street Kitchen definitely earned my repeat business.  I definitely recommend you check out this great new eatery in town.

Walnut Creek Oktoberfest!!

Get your lederhosen or Dirndl dress ready for the upcoming Oktoberfest in Walnut Creek.  The festival, taking place Saturday, October 17, from 10am – 5pm, will be located between Cypress St. and Civic Dr.

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The event is free, and family friendly, featuring a pumpkin patch and other children’s activities.  I can’t wait to enjoy the biergarten, with many local and foreign craft beers, and the gourmet food exhibitors.

 

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There will also be a music stage, featuring Petty Theft, Mustache Harbor, and Revolver.

For more information, visit the Walnut Creek Downtown website.

Can a Seller Reject a Full-Price Offer?

Concerned guyI was recently asked this question as sellers often have concerns if they list their home slightly lower then recent sales, what would happen if they got a list price offer?  I saw a recent article on this subject and thought I’d address this concern in my blog.

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In short, the answer is yes, a seller can reject an at or above listing price offer.  A listing is a solicitation of offers, not an offer to sell.  This means that an offer at or above asking price does not necessarily mean the offer will be accepted.

In order for there to be a contract between buyer and seller, there has to be a “meeting of the minds” on all the elements of the contract.  The seller must agree to all elements of the offer including price, financing, contingencies, and time for performance.  If the seller has a problem with any of these elements, they have the right to reject the offer
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In a sellers market, listings often receive multiple offers, sometimes much higher than asking price.  This means that a buyers offer can be rejected because another buyer had a more appealing offer in terms of price, financing or terms like no appraisal contingency.

The bottom line … until the buyer and seller agree to all the terms of the purchase, there is no contract.

Walnut Festival 2015

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On Saturday September 19th, the 78th annual Walnut Festival kicked off with the Twilight Parade, which wen through downtown Walnut Creek on Main Street.

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Following the parade, a carnival opens at Heather Farms Park, with over 30 rides and many other attractions. The 4 day event run from Thursday, September 24, through Sunday, the 27th.  This celebration of the arts will provide many hours of family fun, with kid zone, live music, beer garden, great food, and a showcase of local artists, and craftsmen

images-2The Walnut Festival has a long history in this city, dating back to 1911, which the first festival took place.  The original festival was a celebration of the grape harvest, and was called the Grape Festival.  Wine grapes were a major crop in the area until prohibition, when most of the grape vines were replaced with Walnut Trees, changing the event to the Walnut Festival in 1936._8469241

For more information about this fun festival click here.  Hope to see you there next year!

 

Through Rose Colored Glasses – Unfortunately Not!

A Rose Lining…

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This beautiful sunset I captured is a pretty but sad reminder of the wildfires that continue to rage through the Northern California Valley.  Smoke caused by the fire has made its way out to the Contra Costa atmosphere, creating dramatic red skies and sunsets.
So far, at least 13,000 people have been displaced by the fires, leaving many families unsure whether they will have a home to go back to.  The Valley Fire has already scorched more than 75,000 acres, including 600+ homes in Lake and Napa Counties.  A 72 year old woman was also killed by the blaze.  Firefighters estimate that the fire at the time of this posting is more than 70% contained.
This dramatic video shows a family narrowly escaping the flames.
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The region has sourced 2,400 firefighters, 8 helicopters, and 232 fire engines in fighting this fire.  The weather has been a mixed blessing, one day rain, one day high temperatures and wind.
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Please use this as a reminder to think of those effected by the fire.  The American Red Cross has a shelter at the Calistoga Fairgrounds and is requesting online donations.  There were also many pets and animals lost during the evacuation.  A Facebook page has been set up to help.  

Making progress on the Newell Pathway!

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Per my earlier blog post on September 9th , we began work on the new Newell Ave. pathway on September 12, 2015.  After years of rain and wear, the pathway had become very eroded and dangerous.  The new pathway will allow the kids in the neighborhood, dog walkers, & pedestrians to walk to school without trudging through the potholes and mud or by-passing them by walking in the street.
To repair the pathway, the area had to be excavated with a rototiller, replaced with compacted decomposed granite, and sprayed with water.  We had many members of the community donate and volunteer their time to this project.  Thank you to all of those who came out to help.  Special recognition goes to Chris Hockett & Adam Nelkie who coordinated the effort with their knowledge, resources and sweat equity.  Chris’s company Cal Engineering & Geology, Inc., donated $200 to buy everyone lunch – thank you!
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Chris Hockett to the left in the yellow vest.  Myself & Richard West as volunteers, I primarily directed traffic and it was great hear all the positive comments from the drivers – stating they would like to help!
We have completed about one half of the pathway, but the project is not yet complete.  We still need more donations and volunteers to finish the part from Magnolia to Olympic and from the Freeway to mid-Newell.  To help, please contact parkmead@parkmead.org.
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And, remember, kids play and walk to school here, so please Drive Slowly!

Parkmead Block/Pool Party 2015

Parkmead Community Association Block Party

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As a board member of the association and having lived in Parkmead for 20+ years, I’m fortunate to know many of the residents and have been active on our board with the last few years, I have coordinated the Block/Pool Party held at Dewing Park.

Our wonderful neighborhood has 620+ homes that are primarily built in the 1950s, centrally located near 680/ 24, Kaiser, and a big plus, walking distance to downtown!  Parkmead primarily attracts families who want great schools and like the idea that they can walk to the movies or a great resturant and safe enough to walk home in the dark.

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The Parkmead  Community Association hosts various events throughout the year with a focus on bringing the community together.  This year on the last weekend of August we held our annual Block Party. The weather was perfect in the low 80’s, with kids and adults enjoying a cool dip in the pool.  We had  burgers and dogs on the grill with neighbors bringing their best side dishes… baked beans, peach crisp and meringue pie were some notable favorites!

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Dave Andre from Smokin’ Jay’s played acoustic guitar in the background.

unnamed-8The kids enjoyed the pool, while the adults enjoyed beer straight from the keg!

unnamed-52 local business also participated with informational tables:  Steve Allard, from Redcard Sportswear and Screen Printing, was giving out free t-shirts and Debra Minigerode displayed her Stella & Dot jewelry.

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Hope to see you next  year!