Art Town: Save Mt. Diablo

I come across a lot of great art when I’m wandering in Walnut Creek. This one hits close to home. There’s nothing necessarily startling about it; it’s just a beautiful painting of Mt. Diablo’s landscape, with a very special message attached to it.

If you can’t read what that says: “This art wrap installation is in honor of Save Mt. Diablo for the important work they do preserving our local treasure.”

That’s right – it’s a dedication to an organization that has been around for nearly 50 years, devoted to saving the unprotected parts of Mt. Diablo from development. So far, the organization has done a fantastic job of increasing protected lands in the parks, and will continue fighting to do so.

This artwork – on the utility box in front of Vineyard Vines (corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and N. Main St.) is a perfect tribute to thank them for their efforts. And it adds to the beautification of downtown Walnut Creek, especially this corner!

Check out Boundary Oaks’ Harvest Block Party!

Are you looking for a fun, free, family-friendly event this weekend? Check out the Harvest Block Party tomorrow (Fri., Nov. 17) from 3-7 p.m. It should be a real hole-in-one!

via Boundary Oaks’ website

The Boundary Oaks Golf Course is hosting the party, which is free for Walnut Creek residents. They will have games for kids, a pie-eating contest, live music, pumpkin decorating, and food and drinks. Even if you don’t live right next door, you can swing on over to a beautiful venue to take part in the free (!) festivities (again, as long as you’re a Walnut Creek resident).

You don’t have to be a golfer, either, to appreciate Boundary Oaks. And you don’t have to be a neighbor to appreciate free events like this, just a Walnut Creek city resident! It’s a perfect way to keep your kids entertained for a few hours and mellow out before the weekend.

Boundary Oaks is at 3800 Valley Vista Rd., over by Arbalado Field and Northgate High School. For more information, you can call (925) 943-4775, or visit their website.

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Make sure to register for emergency notifications

When those devastating fires in Napa and Sonoma started spreading through the wine country, most people outside the immediate area probably only found about it by seeing a story on the news or social media, or seeing a lot of hazy smoke in the sky.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, it always helps to have immediate notification of an emergency, sent right to your phone. Walnut Creek is part of Contra Costa County’s emergency notification system, which alerts members to all local disasters and emergencies in a very timely manner.

Listed and unlisted landline phone numbers are already included in the database and do not need to be registered. But to get them instantly on your cell phone, to your email or on a VoIP phone, you can go to https://cwsalerts.com/ to register.

Once you’ve signed up for those free alerts, you’ll know exactly what, when and where a disaster or emergency has struck. That way, you can help spread the word, reach out to people you know in the affected areas, and clear out of danger yourself.

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Road Trips: Carmel

For all the beautiful, picturesque landscapes in California, it seems like the Central coast can often be overlooked. Everyone knows about the National Parks, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, the SoCal beaches, etc. But one of the best gems of the entire state is just a couple hours South of the East Bay!

If you’ve never taken a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to reach the 17-mile drive through Carmel and Monterey, you don’t know what you’re missing! You’ll hit miles of stunning coastline, as well as some of the cutest inland towns you can imagine.

One of my favorite day trips is a jaunt down to Carmel. I love all the little shops, restaurants and the beautiful beach to enjoy the Pacific Ocean at sunset. Carmel is also very dog-friendly – it seems that everybody has a dog and they are free to run on the beach (where most gravitate to the right side). I have even gone to a Weimaraner gathering here. Anybody who has rescued a Weim from NorCal Weim Rescue gets an invite. It is a fun sight to see: a bunch of Weimaraners playing and frolicking in the waves.

Monterey and Carmel also have a great wine scene and amazing golf. It’s such an easy trip, and so close to home. I recently did the 17-mile drive; that was a first for me after all these years and definitely worth the money and scenic stops. Now might be the perfect time to go, too. It is Fall, so the leaves will be brilliant and the weather will be perfectly crisp…a perfect day for a stroll on the beach, as long as you are bundled up and there is no fog!

 

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IKOI is a great new sushi spot in Walnut Creek

There’s a new sushi place in town, and I tried it recently – it did not disappoint! It is hard to break into the sushi game in the Bay Area these days, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my meal along with the sake at IKOI, which is located across from La Scala.

The sushi itself was very fresh, though it took a while to get the second roll I ordered. It’s so new, there’s still a coffee logo on the floor of the restaurant from the previous tenants!

We ordered the small plate sampler with ceviche and “Hamachi Love,” all unique and deliciously fresh. Though they don’t have a large selection of rolls, the select few are quality and tasteful. I found the information about their chef and co-owner on the website really interesting, too: Chef Koji has been cooking for 40 years and trained under famed sushi master Chef Hiroshi Hiyama. He has worked in acclaimed restaurants in Japan before opening the first of three restaurants he now has in the Bay Area.

Apparently, “Ikoi,” means “rest and relaxation” in Japanese, which is perfect. I felt very satisfied and happy after eating there. I’d definitely recommend Ikoi to any sushi fans out there in Walnut Creek! It gets 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me only due to the delay in getting the second roll.  If it was on quality of sushi alone, it would be a 5+!

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Another La Nina this year? Start with Warren Miller …

According to multiple weather reports, La Nina is expected to strike certain parts of the U.S. this winter – the Rockies are on the path. Though after a big season for snowfall in Northern California last year, they are predicting it to be less wet and snowy in the upcoming months, without so much that it’ll be difficult to get to like last year!

With the season turning and snow on the mind, let me recommend a really cool annual event coming up tomorrow. Warren Miller’s “Line of Descent” is the latest in a series of snow documentaries that brings a traveling event to towns across the world. Last year I watched it at Squaw with Johnny Moseley as MC.

This year? Walnut Creek! You can see the show at the Lesher Center’s Hofmann Theater at 8 p.m. tomorrow night. There were a few balcony tickets left last I checked, but they will go fast. Tickets are about $23 right now, but it’s well worth it. The movie itself is always really awesome, and you can win free snow swag at the show!

If you love to ski or ride like me, make sure to check out this year’s trailer above. Then, once you’re thoroughly pumped up for snow season, go buy a ticket and meet me at the Warren Miller show! As you can see in the trailer, they’re featuring Squaw Valley in part of this year’s movie. How cool is that?

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Fall Back: Daylight Savings Time!

This is an urgent reminder for those of you who have Sunday morning plans! Or even for those who are planning to roll out of bed a half hour before NFL games start and sit on the couch all day (nothing wrong with that!).

At 2:00 a.m. tonight, clocks will fall back an hour so your internal clock might wake you up a bit earlier. It’s worth that sacrifice of being tired earlier to get the extra hour of sunlight we’ve been so desperately missing. Just remember to reset your clocks tomorrow morning when you get up!

 

Why buyers don’t always take the highest offer

You might be surprised to hear that sellers don’t always take the highest offer on their properties. It would be logical to get the most bang for your back, but as this article outlines, there are more factors at play in today’s market.

In that specific example, the seller and their agent took a middle offer because it was all-cash, and that was the only way to ensure the deal would go through without having to worry if the appraisal would come in. They sacrificed a bit on the price (possibly) to make sure the house got sold.

From a seller’s perspective, taking a lower offer could be for any number of reasons. It could be because they want to counter up a lower offer because they have better financing or somebody waives the appraisal contingency. It could be because the letter they received from the prospective buyer was so engaging that they wanted those people to own the home, regardless of the price difference. It could even be because they’ve met the buyer and their family and just felt a connection to them.

From a buyer’s perspective, this means there’s an opening in the modern real estate market. If you don’t have the highest offer, you’re not always on the outside looking in. If you put more of a sincere, human touch on your pitch to buy the house, sellers might be more likely to sell to you!

It goes both ways. Real estate transactions involve a lot of paperwork, money and bartering. But when it comes down to it, having the human touch that a buyer seeks might be all you really need to leapfrog other offers and land the house of your dreams!

A great listing agent will go over all the pros and cons of each offer and provide reasons why one offer may be better, and give recommendations on counter strategies. At the end of the day, it is always the seller’s choice on who they choose to buy their home if they have more than one offer.

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Happy Halloween!

It’s that time again, ghosts and ghouls! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (not sure it is technically a holiday, but it was in Nevada where I grew up – that was the day Nevada became a state!).  I want to wish everyone out there a Happy, scary, sugar-filled Halloween tonight.

If you want to swing by my house and get treats from the best neighborhood in town, come to Parkmead! I usually get 200-300 Trick-or-Treater’s on Halloween, depending if it falls on a school night or a weekend. Our neighborhood is flat and on a horseshoe, so all the ghosts and goblins come to our street where many of the families have decorated or are hosting parties in their garages.

I usually invite friends over, make my famous Willie’s Chili, stoke up the chimney and pass out candy in my front driveway while having a mini-party with friends. I have even seen little red wagons carrying a child and a six-pack in the back as the parents roam their way around the neighborhood and their kids run from house to house!

My favorite part is seeing all the creative costumes and hearing the really young kids say “trick-or-treat!” You can see some of the awesome costumes from years past in the slideshow below! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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