Wish is your go-to gift boutique

img_4779I had a client who recently  moved here from Seattle and texted me asking if I knew of any shops to buy cute gifts for the home, kitchen, and/or baby. She had found these types of boutique shops in Seattle and Minneapolis, but didn’t know where to go in the East Bay.

She was insistent that it be a small, boutique-type store rather thanwish-family your typical Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn stores. I immediately recommended Wish on Boulevard Circle in Walnut Creek. They are located in front of my favorite yoga studio (Just Be Yoga – another blog coming soon!), and I often meander through their store when I finish yoga.

Wish opened in 2013 and is owned by three generations of women: Susie, Sasha and 2-year-old Mila, who the website says is working on expanding their baby department! They’ve been in retail for decades, as Susie has owned retail stores all of her life and Sasha was in corporate retail in San Francisco. Wish also has a great vision of supporting the local community and giving back to it.

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They always have creative, unique gift ideas and they sell my favorite candle, “Votivo Red Currant.” There is barbecue stuff for guys, jewelry, bridal shower gifts, decorations and tons of baby items. If you need to buy a gift or something special for yourself this is the place to go. Just take a look at the photos – a picture is worth a thousand words!

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True Food Kitchen is a must-try

img_9489Tucked between the brand new parking structure and the side of Macy’s in the fancy new Broadway Plaza is another fashionable restaurant: a friendly hostess, tables scattered everywhere, a kitchen and a cozy patio with extra seating.

And soon enough, this spot will be teeming with Walnut Creek foodies trying to get a reservation.

True Food Kitchen, which was founded in 2008 in Phoenix, has now spread to six states and will be opening up locations in five more over the next couple years.

The reason for its success, I presume, is the trend towards healthy whole food! They say “it’s honest food that tastes really good,” and it really does.

Most of the menu consists of meals that are made up of healthy ingredients to make you feel good. They try to make everything organic and locally sourced because they believe one can eat healthily and sustainably and still have a delicious meal.

img_9490I have now visited a couple of times and had two really great meals with friends. One time, I split the roasted Brussels sprouts appetizer, and I ordered the albacore tataki starter and a grapefruit martini, which was delicious!

The second time I went was with a paleo foodie! We split the spaghetti squash casserole and the roasted Brussels sprouts; it was like eating lasagna without the meat. However, she did inquire about the gluten-free pizza and found the crust was made with potato and tapioca – which are not really the best options if someone is really focused on truly clean eating.

The good news is there are a lot of great-tasting gluten-free options and you can decide for yourself. It is a large space and, of course, there was a long lunch wait of almost 50 minutes over the weekend. Both times I sat on the patio as it does not seem as loud. As we walked through the dining room, many tables were empty, so they still need to work on seating and flow.

I would love to hear your thoughts on True Food Kitchen!

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Check out Arhaus, cool new furniture store

img_9307For fans of my recent Anthropologie blog, you’ll be happy to know that there’s another awesome new store in Walnut Creek that can fit your furniture needs. Arhaus is located in Broadway Plaza and has everything you’d ever need when looking to upgrade the interior and yards of your home.

Arhaus started in 1986, but just recently opened their Walnut Creek location. They pride themselves on unique, quality pieces made with natural hardwoods, stone and fabrics.

One of the coolest things Arhaus does is that they use recycled natural resources like copper and tree roots to make some of their more functional pieces, and they have a commitment to never using wood from endangered rainforests.

I was really impressed with the style Arhaus offered and took a few photos (see below) of the store. The wide range of unique furniture caught my eye, and I’ll definitely be coming back when I went to re-furnish any part of my home with new pieces!

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Art Town: Wings

fullsizerender-6The other day, I was grabbing lunch at Vitality Bowl in downtown Walnut Creek when I thought I need to look for another piece of art for my blog.  I looked up and noticed – for the first time ever – a cool sculpture across the street by the Lesher Center.

It’s funny how that happens! I’ve lived here for years, and probably walked that sidewalk a hundred times, and only now noticed it!  Art is all over Walnut Creek, you just have to look and notice.

The sculpture is called “Wings” and was built in 1986 by Walnut Creek resident Dan Dykes. He grew up on a small Oregon farm on the outskirts of the Siletz Indian Reservation, where his early exposure to natural forms in that rugged environment continues to influence his abstract work.
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To me, the sculpture looks like an angel from certain angles, with its wings spread out behind it. Dykes intended for there to be hints of simple birds, plants and trees in the sculpture, and for the durable bronze material to change with weather over the years, as well as with light patterns to reveal tiny, purposeful markings.

 

 


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Two new breweries have opened in Walnut Creek!

img_9237 Attention, beer lovers! The Walnut Creek brewery scene has added two new hotspots to supplement shops like ØL. The most well-known, probably, is Calicraft Brewery, which opened its doors recently over by Shadelands, just off Ygnacio Valley Rd.

Calicraft, famous for its fun, local beer names (“The Bay,” “Oak Town,” and my personal favorite, “Buzzerkeley”) and for using unique California-grown ingredients like starthistle honey and cluster hops, was officially founded in 2012.img_9235

The small taphouse is in an industrial area at the back of a parking lot across the street from Fieldhouse Sports Center. Besides the beer on tap, Calicraft sells chips and jerky and growlers. They have a cool interior space with a huge TV and an outdoor deck with corn hole and a grass area with Adirondack chairs. It’s a really cool place to spend an evening with friends after work!

Closer to downtown is Farm Creek Brewery, which is literally just a small img_9346tasting area next to the tanks of the brewery. It’s located on Pine St., just around the corner from Pinky’s Pizza. Even though the space is small, it’s very hip and fun, and the service is friendly.

The owner and founder started homebrewing years ago and finally made img_9347his dream come true to open a location in Walnut Creek, where he and his family live. The brewery has a 12-tap system and homemade flights.

I can’t recommend their “Heather’s Limit” stout highly enough. Even members of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team who hate stouts said it was delicious, and it made for a really nice addition to my homemade chili – a future blog!

Calicraft is open Weds.-Fri. from 4-10 p.m., as well as Saturday from 12-10 p.m. and Sunday from 12-8 p.m. Farm Creek Brewery is open Mon.-Fri. from 4-9 p.m., Saturday 12-9 p.m., and Sunday from 1-7 p.m. Enjoy!

Anthropologie in Walnut Creek is irresistible

Last week, I walked into the new Anthropologie location in Walnut Creek just to check it out. The store, which moved to the old Barnes & Noble building on S. Main, is a perfect combination of funk, style and art. A few hundred dollars later, I was walking out with bags full of must-have, unique jewelry and a wonderful spiced candle that reminded me of Fall.

But it was more than just the items that made Anthropologie irresistible. Walking through is truly an experience made for all the senses. There are shopping options, browsing options and relaxation options. One of the three largest Anthropologies stores in the nation, this store immediately hits you with a floral scene upon entering, with a wide range of succulents and potted plants. There is a plethora of candles, an outdoor terrace with plants and furniture, a bedding section and, of course, tons of clothes and art. Knobs, aprons, dishes and cake stands filled the kitchen section, and I was surprised to find a bridal department, too!

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It was like shopping in your living room (of course, all the men were sitting around looking at their phones while the ladies shopped). Some items are new to the Walnut Creek location, such as the shoe department. As you saw in the slideshow, there are even zebras for sale (kinda…)! Go check it out when you get a chance!

East Bay housing market is shifting

housing-marketLately, we’ve started to see a “shift” in the Walnut Creek-area housing market. Price appreciation growth has slowed and we are now seeing more price reductions. Home price appreciation has generally declined to single-digit annual appreciation with estimates in the next year of 3-5 percent.

In the 24/680 corridor, homes are sitting on the market longer than they did in the Spring (20-26 days, as compared to 15-20 days). I am receiving 1-3 offers  with a final sales price of 4 percent over the asking price on most of my listings.

The Federal Reserve Bank will not increase interest rates this month. Currently, the best mortgage interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate is approximately 3.5 percent. In the big picture, global growth concerns remain the driving force behind the long-term trend toward lower rates.

Kitty Cole, who coaches many Bay Area agents, has noticed two distinct Bay Area markets. Many of them are side by side. Check out her insights:

Some of the market (still a seller’s market) is hot, with low DOM’s, high Sales Price to List Price ratios, low inventory, no contingencies, multiple offers and buyers aplenty. This market is going on in Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding cities.

It looks similar to the last 4 1/2 years. The only thing that is quite different is the number of offers that was 10-25 a few months ago, and is now 2-6 (and occasionally higher). This market requires savvy pricing and negotiating to get your seller the highest price. san-francisco

The other part of the market (a buyer’s market) has slowed with these factors in place: price reductions (up to 10 percent, and sometimes two before it brings an offer), contingent offers (contingent upon the sale of another property), high DOM’s, few offers (sometimes only one!), expired listings, cranky sellers and demanding buyers (because they can be!).

In the city, one client whose specialty is high-rise condos, literally slowed overnight and now the DOM’s for her listings are more than 30 days. Another San Francisco agent has had three listings expire in the past three months. One agent in the East Bay (Pleasant Hill) is stymied by her listings that sold within seven days and are now sitting for weeks. Many newer agents are not prepared to have the “I need a price adjustment to sell your property” conversation.  In three months, it will be different … how, I don’t know, wished I had that elusive crystal ball.

Art Town: Geologica

If you’re strolling down North Main in Walnut Creek, you might wander right past a really cool piece of art. Surely, you recognize Geologica, the glittering half-rock fountain piece in front of Wells Fargo. But have you taken the time to actually look at it?

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The piece, created by husband and wife artist team Wowhaus, was created in 2012 using ceramic and glass tiles. They designed it to change with the light, weather and seasons so that every time you walk by it, the look is slightly altered. You’re never supposed to see the same thing twice!

The mosaic patterns flicker and change in the water. Wowhaus likes to play with narrative to help understand the communities we live in, and puts that into their work as well. Other pieces they’ve done reside in places like Emeryville, Oakland and San Francisco. They have another piece coming to Walnut Creek soon!

Give it an extra look next time you’re downtown and maybe you’ll notice that it’s different from every angle.

 

Urban Remedy pops up in Walnut Creek

img_9278In August, Urban Remedy opened up next to Veggie Grill on Locust St. in downtown Walnut Creek.

The space is tiny, as it’s more of a grab-and-go joint than anything else, but they offer a lot of good healthy, paleo options to go along with their delicious organic jui ces.

As Walnut Creek continues to do away with fast food options like Taco Bell and McDonald’s, they are bringing more and more healthy options to the downtown scene.img_9277

Urban Remedy, which joins Mr. Green Bubble, Pressed Juicery and a few more in the organic juice movement hitting the East Bay.

Besides juice, Urban Remedy offers salads, bowls, wraps, rolls, soups, dressings, snacks and desserts. Check out their options here!

Art Town: Lost in the Mail

img_9051A fixture of the downtown Walnut Creek art scene since 1985, Jacques Overhoff’s “Lost in the Mail” sits on the corner of Civic and Main, across the way from the police station.

If you’ve ever grabbed a coffee at La Scala or strolled from Stadium Pub to Dan’s on a weekend night, you’ve passed this ceramic sculpture.

Overhoff, a Dutch artist, named this piece after the plans to assemble it literally got lost in the mail.

The design is supposed to be texture-focused and allow for softening and hardening of the features depending on the angle of the sun.

According to the Walnut Creek Arts Commissioner, some people believe the sculpture looks like a pizza with two slices taken out of it. I personally see some sort of decaying sun dial, but to each his or her own!