The 2017 Walnut Creek Citizens Institute

A few years ago, I participated in the Walnut Creek Citizens Institute classes. It was a great experience educating me about the ins and outs of the way the city runs Walnut Creek, and a way to get involved with various city initiatives.

Credit: walnut-creek.org
Credit: walnut-creek.org

For those who haven’t heard of it, the Citizens Institute is a 7-session class that includes tours, presentations and Q&A gatherings with City Council members, the City Manager, the Police and Transportation departments. It gives a good chance to get up close and personal with those who make decisions for our town.

Topics for 2017 will include city finances, getting to know the WCPD, the role of public works and how to improve one’s quality of life in Walnut Creek. The final class meets on Apr. 1 for a graduation of sorts, including a neighborhood showcase and lunch.

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If you live in Walnut Creek or are thinking about moving here, it’s a good opportunity to further increase your knowledge of this wonderful city and how it operates. If we learned anything from the Presidential election, it’s that every level of government is essential and it is important to be involved and participate!

If you want to join in 2017, the sessions will take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. every Thursday from Feb. 16-Mar. 30. There is a $25 fee, which you can pay on the first day of class. For more information, check out the details here.

Art Town: The Reader

I love this utility box art on Locust St. and Cypress St. by Ruth Kolman Brophy. She is an Austrian artist living in the Bay Area. As you can clearly see by this beautiful mural, she is very influenced by working with bold colors. What a great piece!

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Pantone “Color of the Year”

Everything’s coming up Better Homes and Gardens right now. Even Pantone’s Color of the Year is “Greenery,” which is very similar to what we use here at BHG.

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Picture Credit: Pantone.com

Check out the story on the Color of the Year, which Pantone describes as “a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.” As an outdoor enthusiast and BHG realtor, I love this. But, I probably won’t be painting my walls this color – I think it makes a great accent color!

My favorite part of Pantone’s description, though, is this at the end: “A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.”

As we near the end of 2016 and move into 2017, it’s a good time to reflect and consider what we’ve accomplished and what there is to look forward to. I have a few resolutions: up by 6, work out Monday through Friday and in bed before 11 (no more falling asleep on the couch)! And of course, the time to lose some weight needs to become a reality versus just thinking about it. I am also going to start a remodel and add an in-law unit to my current house; I’m thinking about setting myself up for retirement. What is on your New Year’s resolution list?

Z Gallerie’s shelves full of treasures

Z Gallerie has made a triumphant return to Walnut Creek!

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Years ago, the furniture and home decor store was open where Patio World currently resides and now it has a new home where Anthropologie was on Locust St. This location might have more staying power than the last one, given their nice new storefront and the addition of more parking.

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I went there recently and saw some fanciful items. The store is organized primarily by color. I especially liked the cool skull selection – also love those pillows. It is very hip with many accouterments, some furniture, and perfect for some last-minute Christmas gifts, too!

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img_9620 img_9617I remember when I first moved to San Francisco, I would browse Z Gallerie and think about the days I could afford their stuff and have a home to put it in. Flash forward to today: I see a lot of stuff that isn’t really needed, but are extras to decorate your home with in current styles. Either they’ve changed their merchandise, or I’ve changed my views!

Art Town: Laws of Nature

One of my favorite utility box art projects is on the corner of Cypress and N. Main St. in downtown Walnut Creek near Bonanza; it’s called “Laws of Nature,” and was done by Netsanet Tesfay.

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Information on the artist and the piece are scarce, but I love the childish, cartoonish lion overlapping with a passage from C.S. Lewis’ collection of signature spiritual classics.

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December/January housing market is stronger than you think

December and January are usually busy months with holidays, vacations and school breaks. But, contrary to popular belief, that does not mean the housing market slows down. On the contrary, actually!

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Based on 2015 numbers, listing your home in December and January actually give you a benefit. You can garner multiple offers and close above list price. In Spring, you get the price increase but also more houses listed, which lead to many more choices for buyers, making multiple offers rarer (or, you’ll get fewer offers at least, like 3 vs. 8 in Dec./Jan.).

If you’d like to take advantage of this market in December and January, reach out to me. I’d love to help you navigate the holiday season weather you are selling or buying a home or just consult with you on the best overall strategy for you!

Art Town: Tree Art!

You may not always notice some of the public art in Walnut Creek, especially when it blends in with your surroundings, or is tucked away on a less heavily-walked part of downtown. The latter was true for me, until I stumbled upon a really cool tree across from the creek next to Maria Maria.

Check out the creativity that went into creating this little scene, and allowing a nice place to sit down. I couldn’t find any title or artist information, but this piece is awesome! I especially love the quotes on the bench!

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Art Town: I’m Your Puppet

Walnut Creek has been doing a really cool utility box painting project for a few years, and they’ve recently changed some of their art for 2017. You can see more information on the program and recent additions here, but we’ll be including some in Art Town moving forward.

This one is called “I’m Your Puppet” by Jennifer Bain and covers the utility box on the corner of Newell and Main. Check it out!
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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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