Bored yet? Here are some fun coping ideas!

Well, this isn’t ideal! With COVID-19 spreading quickly around the country, Governor Gavin Newsom made a bold move to be the first state to shelter-in-place. I am respecting that order, as should everyone else; it is getting real out there. That said, many of us are not used to being home all the time and not interacting with others!

So, I’ve come up with some great ideas of ways you can still cope and have fun while social distancing! Please share any other ideas you have:

Get outside!

Find local trails with AllTrails, a fantastic app/company that tracks local hiking spots in most major areas. With typically good weather and so many miles and miles of trail in the Bay Area, this is a good time to get some fresh air and not go stir-crazy in your home all the time. Yes, going outside is allowed, just don’t congregate, as the state had to close our Parks due to the number of people that headed to the beach with our great weather this past weekend.

“Visit” 5 National Parks

If you can’t get outside for real, try going to Travel + Leisure and take virtual tours of National Parks in Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, New Mexico, and Florida! Maybe, when this is all over, you’ll remember that virtual tour and plan a trip to the real place. Unrelated to Travel + Leisure, you can also tour museums from home!

Join Club Quarantine

DJ D-Nice is holding virtual dance parties for people all over the globe from “Club Quarantine.” So far, special guest appearances have included Michelle Obama, Oprah, Ellen, and more. Good exercise and good times! Check it out here.

Visit virtual Aspen

There are a lot of beautiful places in this world that are inaccessible to visitors for the time being. Aspen, CO is one of the best, and luckily, the Aspen Chamber of Commerce has brought the town’s experience into our homes with digital resources.

Take a free online course from Yale on Happiness

When Dr. Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale University, started her “Psychology and the Good Life” course in 2018, she set out to give her students practical, science-backed information about how to be happy. To her surprise, nearly one in every four students signed up for the class, making it the most popular course in Yale’s history. Another option is to listen to some Ted Talks; there are many on happiness, this one from Malcolm Gladwell is a good listen.

Try some new recipes

I have a personal favorite – Willie’s Chile! The recipe is below! And, I just made my first sourdough loaf – thank you, Chris Morrison, for the starter – my neighbor dropped it on my doorstep. I suspect many are baking as the flour and sugar shelves have been bare at multiple stores. Today, my neighbor Dorothy just dropped off some homemade cookies – knock and run, baking is one way she relieves stress! There are so many great recipes to learn and master while cooped up for weeks that we should all emerge as five-star chefs, honestly. Please share your favorite recipe!

Willie’s Chile:
1. Brown 2 lbs lean hamburger meat
2. Add crazy salt to taste, a packet of Mexican spice or taco seasoning, 2 tsp chili powder, fresh minced veggies (bell peppers and hot peppers, 1 onion, grated zucchini)
3. Once mixed and brown, drain, and add A1 until the meat changes color
4. Add hot sauce to taste and 1 small can of tomato paste
5. Put into a crockpot, add 2 cans of tomato sauce, 3 cans of drained beans (your choice!), and chili powder and hot sauce to taste!

Read or listen to some new books

Remember that novel you’ve been wanting to finish for the past six months? Now’s your chance! You can also take a look at this Bestseller list from The New York Times for some fresh ideas, or Reese’s Book Club on Audible. One of my personal favorites for new ideas on books to read is Novel Visits. Speaking of Audible, they are allowing kids everywhere to stream stories in six different languages on any device as long as school is closed.

Take yoga classes…from home!

Just Be Yoga in Walnut Creek is offering their in-studio classes online. You can even stream them at a later day or time, so you don’t have to be available at the exact time they do the class. This is a huge boost for people who made yoga part of their normal workout routines before COVID-19. You do have to be a member, but they do have a trial for one month which costs $55.

Roam from Home

I got this great message from Xanterra: “We invite you to join us every day starting Monday, March 22nd as we “Roam from Home” and serve up a spectacular image from each of our brands on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to share a moment of peace and splendor during this stressful time.” You can also go to xanterra.com, scroll down to the bottom and the have some wonderful travel articles or join their newsletter! I had a Northern Italy bike trip planned in September through VBT, part of Xanterra, which we just canceled; hoping to do it in 2021 – a quality travel company.

Subscribe to Lily Lines from The Washington Post

This is a great way to stay informed AND entertained. The Lily Lines offers helpful, but also humorous, anecdotes about COVID-19 and how to stay on top of your social distancing game. Here is the link to a recent one. You can subscribe at The Washington Post.

Grab Soup & Cocktail Fixins from Walnut Creek Yacht Club

 WCYC Soup Kitchen&Bottle Cocktail Service for pick up! Famous for their soups and chowders, they have turned their collective skills and creativity towards putting together soups and chowders for you to enjoy at home. These are available frozen by the quart, and your soup order will include two Acme bread rolls. Also famous for their cocktails! Bar Manager, Kiki, has created five DIY cocktails for you, which are ready for pick-up. The pick-up days and times for their soups and cocktails are Monday through Friday from 1-5 pm. They will be doing prepayment by credit card, so that you will be able to come by, pick-up your order, and go. Give them a call at 925-944-FISH to order. Pick-up is in their parking lot, behind the restaurant. The entrance is on the Locust St. side of the building. Please click on this link for our soup and cocktails menu.

Join the Facebook Group “Social Distancing Together”

Social media is a regular feature of our lives, but especially so now! Join the “Social Distancing Together” Facebook group to get support and ideas on how to make it through this crisis. I’ve gotten some awesome ideas from my fellow shelter-in-placers!

Subscribe to my Outbound Engine emails

This isn’t because I want more people to read them – it’s because these are automatically-curated and sent newsletters that often include tips about real estate and home improvement. This is a great time to fix up the house and take care of projects you’ve been putting off!

Silicon Valley: Moving East?

I came across a very interesting article in The New York Times recently about Silicon Valley attempting to find fertile ground in the Midwest. It’s a fascinating look at how the real estate market in the United States is rapidly changing.

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For example, Amazon is looking for a city to place its second headquarters. That is going to lead to a massive shift in where large tech companies start looking at places to re-locate. It’s well known that California is in a real estate a bubble. Silicon Valley, especially, is one of the richest areas in the entire country – if not the world – and one move could shake up a local economy in a huge way.

I think trying to replicate another Silicon Valley would be difficult; it is like the perfect storm – top-notch universities, a port, three international airports, the gateway to the far west and great weather. However, companies will look for more affordable areas to do business and states that provide tax incentives (think Tesla in Nevada). It doesn’t mean they will ditch the Bay Area completely.

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You know things are crazy here when even the tech elites in San Francisco are tired of San Francisco. They say it’s “congested” and “expensive” in the Bay Area, and are apparently mesmerized by the affordable homes and real estate in the Midwest. If you live in the Midwest I wonder how many hip spots would there be, not to mention the possibility of snow…what are your thoughts?

Amazon goes brick-and-mortar in Walnut Creek

Everyone knows Amazon for being the world’s foremost e-retail giant. In fact, you probably ordered – or at least looked through – Amazon items for gifts this holiday season!  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, they started building some brick-and-mortar bookstores, including one in downtown Walnut Creek.

I recently bought a gift at the store located in Broadway Plaza between Kate Spade New York and Aritzia. It was like any other bookstore, except for a few Amazon-specific twists. For example, you can pay with the Amazon app at the register as long as you are a prime member and you get the Prime discount. As a Prime user myself, I really liked that perk!

The books all have Amazon user ratings and reviews posted underneath them, which nicely combines the convenience of shopping on Amazon.com with the classic, enjoyable feeling of being at a real bookstore. I have to say, since Barnes & Noble was replaced, it’s felt like there weren’t any good places to browse or buy physical books downtown.

Now, you can go to the future of books – Amazon’s bookstore – right in the heart of the shopping district. You can buy a cup of Peet’s coffee right in the store and peruse books like the good old days or just take a break from the hecticness of shopping.  Wait, isn’t that what you are doing at the Amazon bookstore? Maybe not? The concept is to have top sellers, a kids area, and, of course, a place to sell Amazon technology like Alexa.

The pie party was a great success!

Last Tuesday, I hosted a Pie Party as a way of saying thanks to my past clients, referrals and neighbors. It was so fun!  We bought 42 pies, had 39 RSVP’s – a few missed the party and thus, five pies were donated to the Trinity Center in Walnut Creek.

Some people didn’t realize we were actually hosting a party too, and just swung by to pick up their pies. Totally fine, but next year, stop in for some holiday cheer!

I can’t thank everyone enough for coming, meeting new people and seeing old acquaintances, and especially for donating to the Trinity Center. Besides the pies, we received cash, checks, gift cards, blankets, coats, socks and hats! What a wonderful way to give back over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Last thing: we had two door prizes raffled off, and it’s time to announce the winners! The winners are:

  • Amazon Gift Card, donated by Gold Seal Inspections – Teress Deberard 
  • Veuve Clicquot Champagne, donated by JVM – Samantha Okazaki

Congratulations, ladies! Hopefully, everyone enjoyed their pie, had a good tine and a wonderful Thanksgiving. Looking forward to seeing everybody next year!

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More change coming to downtown WC

The ever-evolving landscape of downtown Walnut Creek is about to change again. Soon enough, there will be another new restaurant and Amazon’s new brick-and-mortar location.

Citra Grill, which has held a corner location by the movie theater for a few years now, is already out. In its place goes KoJa, which is a food truck-turned-restaurant that serves up a Korean-Japanese sandwich fusion with crispy garlic rice buns instead of bread.

Additionally, there is a physical Amazon location coming to Walnut Creek. The new bookstore, which will go in Broadway Plaza, will infuse a little literature into a town that lacks it. I find it ironic that Amazon’s business model literally (pun intended) closed most of the brick and mortar stores because it was much cheaper to order books via Prime. How I have missed browsing a book store before a movie, but isn’t that the problem? We as consumers browsed and then bought online and now with Audibles, I just download a book. I am curious to see how and why this fits their warehouse-style business model that ships to your door.

The last update is one recommended to me by a team member. Apparently, there’s a new sushi joint next to Crepes Ooh La La called Kurumi Sushi that gives gigantic portions for fair prices and which he says is above average in taste! I personally don’t think you can have both (great food and large portions), especially with Walnut Creek real estate rents, so you decide and let us know.