Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recipe: Cream of Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Winter is when I trot out all my soup recipes. Cream of Roasted Cauliflower Soup is one of my favorites and is extremely easy to make.

It is one of those "little black dresses" recipes. You can dress it or dress it down depending on what you serve with it. I dress it up with fresh cracked crab; it is a wonderful flavor combination. However, it is flavorful enough to stand on it's own as a quick warm meal. So if you have a head of cauliflower that you are not sure of what to do with give this recipe a try

Cream of Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 medium head of cauliflower chopped up
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 Tbls butter
64 oz of low sodium chicken broth
4 oz of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a stock pot and add the chopped cauliflower and garlic. Cook until the garlic and cauliflower are lightly browned. Do not over brown or it can turn bitter.

Add the chicke broth and cook until the cauliflower is tender. Take off the heat and puree the soup with a handheld blender. Add cream and then salt and pepper to taste and serve. Takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.


DJS Painting: Fast and professional painting in Silicon Valley

My boyfriend and I recently had his house painted. It was a beige-ish color as are most of the houses in the area and I wanted to paint it something different. We were not finding the right color for the house. Don, of DJS painting, has a color specialist that came to the rescue and helped us find the right colors for the house. It is also nice to have a 3rd party be involved so that it does not become a domestic dispute. He knew what white color would match the gutters and not make them look dirty. He also had a great idea on how to work around the fact that the white of the patio door did not that match that particular shade of white.

Don's crew was very quick and did a great job. If you need your house painted professionaly and quickly please contact DJS Painting

Don Stover
DJS Painting
(408) 849-6520

Friday, December 18, 2009

Recipe: My mom's salad dressing

I am so glad I went looking for the recipes from my past; I found some very interesting and nostalgic recipes in my old recipe box my mother gave me. It was like a trip down memory lane.  It contains all the things I used to bake and never do any more.  My mother's recipes; a connection to my past. 

My mom was a big baker but I prefer to cook.  My son has the baking gene but he uses very different ingredients than my mom's traditional recipes.   He does not use white flour or sugar at all, which seems to be the foundation of almost every recipe I have found in my old recipe box.  It is nice to know that someone in the family is baking corn bread or brownies but adapting recipes to fit the tastes of today.

I always liked this salad dressing.  I used to like watching my mom make it on a Sunday morning in the blender and putting it the fridge to chill before we had lunch later in the day.  When I was growing up I thought it was some exotic French recipe, though probably it is the invention of some bored housewife in Wyoming that my mother knew.  I hope you enjoy it!

My mom's salad dressing

1/3 C sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/3 C catsup
1/2 C White Vinegar
1/4 tsp Tabasco Sauce
1/4 C finely chopped onion
3/4 C Light Olive Oil

Mix it all together and chill.  A dressing like this drizzles nicely over an old school wedge of iceburg lettuce

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The hardest phone call I made in years

A couple of weeks ago I had to make the hardest phone call I have made in years. I had to tell a listing agent that my client was backing out of the deal.

The reason this was such a hard phone call were the circumstances of the deal. Most real estate transactions are like an arranged marriage. The buyer and seller do not meet until the close of escrow and sometimes they never do sit at the same table. My buyer and seller had met and really wanted to work together. My buyer had even charmed the listing agent. Everyone was pulling for her to buy the house.

This was a very emotional sale for the seller. It was an estate sale; grown children were selling their mom's home that she had for over sixty years. The sellers wanted someone who loved the home and would not tear it down. My buyer was in love with the house; she loved the historic charm of the home.

However, when it came time to review the inspection reports and the recommendations for repairs she started to get concerned about the cost of upgrading the home. My client then had a general contractor who specializes in restoring old homes inspect the home. He elaborated on the extent of the project in terms of time and money. My client decided that it just was not a project she could commit to at this point in her life.

She agonized over the decision to withdraw her offer, but she learned a valuable lesson about herself. She had a fantasy of being the owner of a historic home because it appeals to her aesthetic but she had not really thought about the investment; time and money. She now realizes that she needs to better understand her real lifestyle instead of her fantasy lifestyle in looking for a new home.

The listing agent contacted me a let me know that he found another buyer not long after her withdraw of the offer and for more money than my client offered.

So the story as a little bit of a happy ending but my client needs time to heal her broken heart. We will start looking for a new place that reflects her actual lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chicken and Dried Scallop Soup

I decided to do something different this time and blog a recipe in real time! I am making a big pot of chicken and dried scallop soup for dinner.

The hardest part of this recipe is probably finding the dried scallops and the yellow chives. However, if you have an Asian Market in your town you should be able to find both items. In addition, shitake mushrooms are usually much cheaper in the Asian Markets as well. I love the way this soup smells as it cooks and it keeps for days. It is a different way to fix chicken breasts in a low fat and healthy way
Chicken and Dried Scallop Soup (serves 8)

1/4 C of dried scallops, reconstitute in warm water.
6 ounces of fresh shitake mushrooms thinly sliced
4 ounces of fresh yellow chives chopped
64 ounces of low sodium chicken broth
1 lb of skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced
1 Tbls sesame oil
3 Tbls of Cornstarch, disolved in warm water
White pepper to taste

Heat the sesame oil and add the diced chicken in a large soup pan. Cook for several minutes and then add the yellow chives and mushrooms. Cook until the chicken is done and the yellow chives are translucent. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch to thicken the broth. Add the dried scallops that have been chopped into small pieces.  Cook an addiitional 10 minutes and serve.  Please enjoy

Friday, December 4, 2009

Evergreen Park in Palo Alto is a Lifestyle Neigbhorhood

Evergreen Park in Palo Alto is a lifestyle neighborhood that offers great resources at a lower price point than many other Palo Alto neighborhoods.

I am hosting an open house on Sunday the 6th from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm at 425 Grant #29. 425 Grant #29 is a lovely 3 bedroom 2 bath home listed at $679,000.00. Stop by and see this home and walk the neighborhood and see why Evergreen Park is a lifestyle neighborhood.


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Casa dei Bambini Montessori School, 463 & 457 College Ave.; Escondido Kids' Club, 890 Escondido Road

FIRE STATION: No. 2, 2675 Hanover St.

LIBRARY: College Terrace branch, 2300 Wellesley St.

PARKS: Alexander Peers Park, 1899 Park Blvd.; Sarah Wallis Park, 202 Grant Ave.; Bowden Park, Alma Street and California Avenue

POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Escondido Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School

SHOPPING: California Avenue, Molly Stone and Sunday farmer's market

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: California Ave Train Station

Blogging on my iPhone does not work

I have been out of town for the past week or so visiting my parents.  My parents do not have internet access and I found that I could not blog via my iPhone.  I will play catch up this weekend and next week on my posts.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Recipe: French Vinaigrette

I am pretty sure that this really is a French Vinaigrette as the person who taught me how to make it is from Paris:-)

I make a batch of this dressing and store it in my refridgerator for about a month.  It is divine as a marinade for lightly steamed asparagus.  I blanch the asparagus and then chop it up and put it in the vinaigrette and serve over my favorite mixed greens.  This would be great on steamed broccoli or brussel sprouts as well.  If you like mustard on beef it is great on a beef salad.

1/2 C Olive Oil
3 Tbl Dijon Mustard*
1/2 C Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

*-I highly recommend adjusting this recipe according to your love of Dijon mustard.  If you really love it like I do you may want to put in an additional Tbl or two.  If you like a hint of mustard you may want to start with a Tbl and add more if needed.  This has a fairly strong mustard flavor.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reminder: 1st Time Boot Camp Tomorrow night Cupertino

Just wanted to remind you that the 1st time home buyer boot camp is tomorrow in Cupertino!

We still have a couple of seats left so please let me know if you would like to come. RSVP via email cdimond@kw.com or call me at (650) 388-8820.

We did a dry run of the presentation last night and I think you will really enjoy the information that Cammie and Alison have to share to make your home buying experience better. They have also created some nice take aways to help you remember what you learned at the boot camp.

So please join personal financial expert Alison Salsibury, buyer expert REALTOR, Carla Dimond and Local Mortgage Consultant, Cammie Brodie for this free boot camp at 20230 Stevens Creek Blvd, Suite E, Cupertino, CA, 95014 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm on November 12th.

Topics will include

1. How to develop and/or improve your credit scores

2. Strategies for saving for a down payment

3. What are your loan options?

4. What does a loan officer need to process my loan?

5. How to spot marketing ploys that will cost you money on your first home?

6. What to expect in making an offer on your first home?

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Posts on other Businesses

My son was catching up on my blog the other day and reminded me that bloggers are getting hit hard around "Truth in Adversting" issues. So I thought I should address that in my blog.

Any business that I highlight in my blog is for the purpose of letting others know about a good experience I have had in working with that business. I am not being compensated in any way for my blog posts about other businesses.

In this economy I feel it is good thing to let others know about businesses who have great customer service and put their customers first.

It seems we all have a tendency to share our bad experiences and forget to highlight the good ones. I just want to share with others businesses that I have had a positive experience working with.

However, my experience is not your experience and I am not offering any warranties on your experience with these service providers. However, I would like to hear back from any of you that use one of these services I highlight and do not have a positive experience.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Recipe: Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding is the only thing I consistently bake every year.  I have made at least one sticky toffee pudding a year for over 25 years.  I find it is perfect for Thanksgiving or the Christmas Holiday season. It is my homage to my ancestors.  When I go to the UK I always try the sticky toffee pudding on the menu.  I have yet to find one that is as good as mine.

Warning:  You will gain weight just by being in the kitchen and smelling this pudding and the sauce.  This is not for diabetics or uncontrollable sugar junkies. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding

2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 C sugar
2 eggs

Combine in a large mixing bowl

1 C boiling water
10 oz chopped dates
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together the water, dates, baking soda and vanilla.  Gently fold into the flour mixture and then pour into a lightly buttered baking dish

Preheat oven to 375
cook pudding for 35 to 40 minutes
remove from the oven and put a thin layer of toffee sauce and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes more baking.  Check with a toothpick for a clean center 

Toffee Sauce

1 C heavy whipping cream
1 stick unsalted butter
1 C packed dark brown sugar

Cook in a sauce pan over medium heat and stir constantly.  Cook until a soft ball stage.

The really decadent tradional way to serve this pudding is to also have whipped cream on top.  For those of you who can consume 700 plus calories in one seating go for  it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First Time Home Buyer Boot Camp

Join us for the First Time Home Buyers Boot Camp Nov 12th 7 pm to 8:30 pm in Cupertino at 20230 Stevens Creek Blvd, Suite E

Do you have know what a FICO score is? Do you know the importance of a reading the disclosures before making an offer on a home? Do you know what APR 5.25 means? If you don't know the answers to these questions then this is the right Boot Camp for you. Join us at the First Time Home Buyers Boot Camp to better understand the process of saving for a down payment and getting your credit scores in tip top shape. Learn the steps involved in looking for your first home and making a first offer. And last but not least, what you need to do to get a loan on the home of your dreams.

Please join personal financial expert Alison Salsibury, buyer expert REALTOR, Carla Dimond and Local Mortgage Consultant, Cammie Brodie for this free boot camp at 20230 Stevens Creek Blvd, Suite E, Cupertino, CA, 95014 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm on November 12th.
Topics will include
1. How to develop and/or improve your credit scores

2. Strategies for saving for a down payment

3. What are your loan options?

4. What does a loan officer need to process my loan?

5. How to spot marketing ploys that will cost you money on your first home?

6. What to expect in making an offer on your first home?

Join us and get the tools and tips you need so you when you find your dream home you are prepared to place a compelling offer.
RSVP now as seating is limited at cdimond@kw.com or 650 388-8820.
Light refreshments will be served
A drawing for a free book on how to buy your first home

Friday, October 30, 2009

Recipe: Roasted Chicken, Mommie Chicken

Why would I include a recipe for roasted chicken,  called Mommie Chicken?

There are probably as many recipes for roasting chicken as there are chickens.  Every time I see my son he asks if I have blogged about "Mommie Chicken"  which is how my son refers to my roasted chicken recipe.  So to keep peace in the family here is my version of roasted chicken; also known as Mommie Chicken. 

The real difference is that I roast the chicken Asian style instead of American style.  Which means I roast it breast side down.  The breast does not get that beautiful brown skin but it stays incredibly moist.  And you are not suppose to be eating that skin any way; just ask your doctor!

I roast  my chicken with either potatoes or rice and other vegetables.  Rice being the preferred starch in my house but both are good. 

I like to make sure we have leftovers.  The advantage of using just vegetables is that you have the makings for a great soup.  Leftover rice makes great fried rice. 

1 5 lb Whole Chicken (I prefer Rosies Organic)
1 bulb of garlic (2 if you really like it) peeled
1 small yellow onion diced
3 carrots, sliced
4 stalks of celery sliced
1 C rice or 2 baking potatoes sliced
1/2 C low sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
Any other sliced roasting vegetable that you like; zuchini, eggplant, mushrooms, leeks, shallots are all good additions. 

Preheat the oven to 425

Put all the vegetables and rice/potatoes in the bottom of a roasting pan.  Add the chicken broth. 
Clean the chicken and season with salt and pepper.  You may want to set aside some garlic and onion to stuff in the chicken for roasting.  Put the chicken breast DOWN.  I know it looks funny but it will taste so much better when it is cooked.  Rule of thumb is to cook 30 mins per pound on a chicken.  Sometimes you need to cook longer with all the vegetables.   I usually turn the oven down to 375 after 2 hrs of cooking time. Cook until the chicken juices run clear.  I usually take out the chicken and stir the vegetables a couple of times in the cooking process.

Carve up the chicken and serve.  Put the vegetables and rice/potato in a serving dish.

To make left over soup,  put the carcass, skin and left over meat in chicken broth (about 64 oz) with more onion and garlic.  Cook down for an hour and then chill. 

Skim off the fat and remove the bones and skin and add the left over vegetables  warm up and  then serve. 

Leftover fried rice.  Warm up the vegetables and rice add an egg and green onion and a touch of soy sauce.  Stir until the egg is cooked into the rice and serve.

I love anything  recipe that feeds my family a couple of great meals.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Anthony Lewis: A general contractor that stands behind his work in Silicon Valley

Anthony Lewis is a general contractor that stands behind his work in Silicon Valley.

To me the difference between a good and a great contractor is how they handle things that go wrong. Unfortunately sometimes things do go wrong and you need to have them fixed.  This is an area that I commend Anthony for being so extraordinary. 

Anthony was the general contractor for the kitchen remodel at my boyfriends house in Silicon Valley.  The job was done about a year ago and everything looked great. However, several months after the job was complete faint hairline cracks appeared in the tile job on the floor and continued to grow as time went by.  We called Anthony and he came out and looked at the floor and immediately volunteered that the floor needed to be repaired.  Once the repair job was underway it was apparent that the floor actually needed to be replaced.  Anthony came and inspected the floor and agreed and had his team remove the floor and replace it.  No drama; no excuses just get in and get it fixed.

I recommend if want to have peace of mind that your Silicon Valley remodel will stand the test of time call Anthony Lewis.

Anthony  Lewis

url: anthonylewisinc.com
phone: 831 359-3928

Friday, October 23, 2009

Naglee Park: A Lifestyle Neighborhood

Why am I calling Naglee Park a Lifestyle Neighborhood? I know that several buyers I am working with are more interested in what the lifestyle is in the neighborhood and less concerned about what city it is located in.  They are looking for a lifestyle neighborhood. 

I think the reason for this trend is that more and more people telecommute so that they spend more time in their local neighborhood in Silicon Valley than they did ten years ago. When you were never home to enjoy your neighborhood other factors such as closeness to freeways or to schools had a higher priority. Now so many people are working from home and are working globally. By globally I mean they are on the phone in the early hours of the day with Europe or the East Coast and possibly on the phone late in the evening with Asia. They have to find time for themselves in snippets throughout the day. So with this global lifestyle what is available in your immediate neighborhood becomes more critical.  You want a lifestyle neighborhood.

I also think that walk ability has gotten to be a more important factor in the desirability of a neighborhood. If you are working from home all day it is nice to be able to take a walk in the afternoon to the dog park or to take a meeting or two in the local coffee shop that has Wi-Fi. It is also nice to have a couple of lunch options that do not include your peanut butter sandwich. 

I showcased one of these lifesytle neighborhoods in Silicon Valley last week, when I talked about the Shoreline West neighborhood in Mountain View. One of the great perks of my job is discovering neighborhoods across Silicon Valley that offers similar lifestyles.

I discovered Naglee Park neighborhood working with one of my buyers. We found a house in the Naglee Park area that they fell in love with and bought.  Naglee Park is a charming historical neighborhood that does not represent the San Jose that most people think of. It is a mixture of charming cottages, bungalows, Victorians and mansions.  Yet Naglee Park is close to the excitement of downtown San Jose. This is one of the few neighborhoods outside of San Francisco that could be featured in the television series; "This Old House"

I am hosting an open house on Saturday from 1 pm to 4 pm in Naglee Park.
510 S. 15th Street, San Jose CA

Drop by, say hi and see this wonderful home in Naglee Park and get to know the Naglee Park neighborhood

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recipe: Fresh beets in a Balsamic and Blood Orange vinaigrette

I love the taste of fresh beets and the marinade I use on them makes a great vinaigrette for a green salad.  Sprinkle a little goat cheese on top and you have a meal.  I like to use watercress in my greens mixture as I love the contrast of the sweet of the beet with the spiciness of the watercress.

Fresh Beets Vinaigrette
1 bunch of beets; usually 3 to 4 med beets
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C Blood Orange Vinegar

Cook beets on the stove top until tender.  Rinse in cold water and peel.  Finely slice and place in a bowel.  Add olive oil and vinegars.  Adjust based on your taste; I like a stronger vinegar flavor but you might like more of the olive oil flavor.
Salt and pepper to taste

Serving options

Salad-  serve with your favorite mix of greens and a soft goat cheese; include a nice baguette to catch all the leftover vinaigrette in the bowl.  Yum!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Want a stress free car buying experience? Contact Michael Borbet

Yes, you read that right, do you want a stress free car buying experience?  If yes, contact Michael Borbet at Mountain View BMW. 

If there is a transaction that is more stressful than buying a house it is probably buying a car.  And for most people they buy cars more often than houses.  That is why I am recommending Michael Borbet at Mountain View BMW.

 Five years ago I started looking for a  brand new BMW X3 after driving second hand elderly BMW's for years.  I did a great deal of research on the internet and decided on a particular model and color.   I sent  emails to all the local dealerships to see what they had in stock.  I hated the idea of going to a showroom floor and getting that car sale push before I knew what I wanted.  Most of the responses I got were along the lines of "come in and I will get you a great deal."

I sent an email to Mountain View BMW and got in contact with Michael.  Michael actually answered my questions!  When I had more questions he answered them.   He was courteous, responsive and never pushy.  He was professional in every way.  I set up an appointment with him to see the car.  Michael let me set the pace for my car  buying experience.  It was a painless experience to buy a car from Michael.

I hope I get the chance to buy another BMW from Michael soon, my X3 needs a new baby sister:-)  I am thinking something along the lines of the 2010 330 series.

I recently attended a real estate course and one of the topics was the importance of staying connected to your clients after they have purchased a house from you.  The instructor wanted to show that car sales people were not known for their client management skills and sarcastically  asked, “ Do any of you know a car salesperson that follows up with their clients?”  I raised my hand and said, “ Yes I do, Michael contacts me at least once a year to see how my car is doing.”   The entire room looked at me dumbfounded!  They had never heard from their car salesperson again.  Which I think is ironic, who as a group buys more new cars than Realtors?

Michael Borbet
Internet Sales Manager
e-mail: BorbetM@autonation.com
Phone: 650-943-1050

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recipe: Awesome Chicken and Vegetable Soup

One of the tricks I have learned to making a very rich and satisfying chicken and vegetable soup is to use some of the cooking techniques used for Chicken Gumbo.

I find that sauteing the vegetables and the chicken in a little olive oil adds a real richness of flavor to the soup. It takes extra time to nicely brown up the vegetables and the meat but it really makes a difference in the flavor of the soup.

We use a wide variety of vegetables in this soup depending what is fresh and what is in my refrigerator. I always use onion, celery, carrots and garlic but you can add leeks, shallots, parsnips, potato, squash to brown up and add flavor to the broth. I find really any hardy root vegetable is good that you enjoy as part of the browning process.

I also add some additional vegetables that need less cooking time to give a fresh flavor to the soup. As the soup is almost ready to serve I add things like kale, green beans, mushrooms, peas, etc. Anything that adds another vegetable flavor that you like and does not need or do well with a long cook time. This is also time to add some additional herbs if you like.

I use a mix of white and dark meat chicken as my family prefers that but white or dark only is also an option. We usually make a fairly large pot as the soup gets better over time and freezes well.

Sometimes I add homemade or store bought egg noodles as my family loves noodles in the soup. Very often I serve it without the noodles the first time and then add noodles to next day to give it variety.

Another note. I use almost exclusively organic and/or local ingredients. I find the flavor is better and I know organic and local are better for the environment.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
Any additional vegetables that your family loves
1 Tbls Olive Oil
2 1/2 lbs of chicken; cut up into small pieces boneless and skinless
64 0z Chicken Broth; low or no salt
Black Pepper
Fresh or dried herbs; tarragon, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc. Which one's you use is your preference
1 lb of Kale or Spinach, chopped

Saute the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and anything else you have on hand in olive oil.  Cook until light brown.  Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is done and browned.  Add the chicken broth and herbs.  Cook for about 30 to 60 minutes.  Add kale or spinach and any additional herbs that you like.  Cook for approximately 10 more minutes and serve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Homes for sale in Shoreline West Mountain View, CA

Are you looking for Homes for sale in Shoreline West Mountain View, CA?

Shoreline West is defined as the neighborhood north of Shoreline Blvd and south of Escuela Ave.  East of El Camino and West of Central Expressway.

The Shoreline West neighborhood became a distinct and different neighborhood from Old Mountain View in the 1990's.  What attracts many residents to the Shoreline West neighborhood is the diverse housing stock.  Shoreline West has new modern homes, charming bungelows, a few Victorians, condos, and apartment buildings.
However, what sold me on the Shoreline West neighborhood was the availability of single family homes with income property.  You can choose from several different combinations of configurations.  A home with a mother-in-law unit, a home with a duplex and there are even several homes with a triplex.  Four or less dwellings allow the home owner to get residential financing and still reap the benefit of having income property.

I once asked my neighbor, who has lived in the Shoreline West area since it was built, why there were so many homes with income property.  He said when the first Silicon Boom started in the late 50's early 60's residents were encouraged to build rental income property as an alternative to rezoning the area and building high density apartment buildings.  High density apartments buildings are more typical in the Rengstorff Park area further north.

The Shoreline West neighborhood is a short stroll to Castro Street.  Castro Street offers wonderful dining opportunities and tremendous nightlife. However, Shoreline West offers a quite sanctuary if you are not in the mood for night life but want easy access.

Most of the residents of Shoreline West have lived in the neighborhood for a long time and opportunities to buy in the neighborhood are competitive.  Please contact me if you are interested in knowing more about the Shoreline West Neighborhood or to preview any of the available properties in the neighborhood.

This is a typical 1950's Bungelow in Shoreline West      Cottage or Mother in Law unit

FACTS About the Shoreline West Neighborhood

CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Castro Preschool, 505 Escuela Ave.; Childrens Learning Cottage, 675 Escuela Ave.; Wonder World, 2015 Latham St.

FIRE STATION: No. 1, 251 S. Shoreline Blvd.

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Shoreline West Association of Neighbors (SWAN), swanmv.org, Mike Groethe, spokesperson@swanmv.org

PARKS: Castro School Park, Toft Avenue and Latham Street; Eagle Park and Pool, S. Shoreline Boulevard at Church Street

POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Mtn. View-Whisman School District — Castro Elementary School, Graham Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District — Los Altos High School

SHOPPING: Downtown Mountain View; California Street Market, 1595 California St.; Escuela Avenue at El Camino Real


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rachel Schneyer: Thrive Integrated Health

House projects are stressful; even if it is good stress.  I started seeing Rachel when I was remodeling my home in Mountain View.  The stress of managing the project was keeping me up at nights.

Rachel was able to help me better manage my stress through acupuncture and nutrition.  She got me to stop drinking coffee (well the real stuff I still drink decaf) AND to eat breakfast.  My dad has only been trying to get me to do that my whole life!

What was the benefit of no coffee and breakfast?  I lost 10 lbs almost immediately even though I had been working out for an hour or more every morning previously without losing a pound.  I had been training myself to starve not lose weight.  Plus I came home mean and hungry; my family hated me post gym work out!

Thank you Rachel! I am less fat and less mean:-)

I highly recommend you make an appointment with Rachel to reduce your stress and/or get your nutritional habits back on the right path.

Thrive Integrated Health
201 San Antonio Cir
Mountain View, CA 94040

(831) 295-0555

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I just presented my first offer on a house!

Like in any business it is the details that make you sweat and can also make you look like an idiot.  I wanted to be prepared and come across as an experienced professional to my buyer and the listing agent with this first offer.

I am so lucky to have an agent at the Keller Williams Cupertino that is great mentor.  He walked me through the process and made sure I knew what documents I needed to have to present the offer and left out others that were not essential. 

I put the offer together and drove over to the buyer.  I then walked the buyer through the offer.  I explained the terms and conditions and then had her sign and initial in all the right places.  I then put the package together and took it over to the listing agent to present.

I practiced what I was going to say several times in the car around why my client was offering the price she was offering.  I wanted to be prepared and was so scared of having the listing agent say, "Is this your first time?" 

I have presented so many contracts in my high tech career that have had terms and conditions that I knew were not exactly what the person on the other side was hoping for.  I know how to deal with the push back on why this was not what they were hoping to get.  I presented the offer with what I think was a strong case on why we were offering what we were.  The listing agent will present the offer to his seller and give him the reasons for our pricing and hopefully get back to us with a counter offer.

Now the fun part begins, trying to find that magic number in the middle that feels like a win/win to both sides.

Recipe: Marty's Cheese ball

One of the great things about connecting with people from your past on sites like Facebook is that people remember things you have forgotten.

One of things I had forgotten were all the cheese balls I used to make for the holiday season back in my college days. I use to give cheese balls and baked goods to my friends for the holidays.  Hopefully I can find my Baklava recipe from the good old days as well.  I made Baklava from a new recipe a few months ago and it was a disaster!

About 15 years ago I found out that I was extremely allergic to most dairy products. I am that annoying person who is always asking the waiter if they put cheese on it and if they do please don't put it on my food!  When I go out to eat I prefer to go to Asian places as I do not have to be the cheese police.

Lucky for Marty some how my old recipe filebox that my mom gave me in high school still can be found in my belongings.  So here is the cheese ball recipe.  Enjoy it for me, Marty!

This is a party size cheese ball!

8 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 lb blue cheese
1 1/4 lb sharp cheese
3 Tbl minced onion
1 Tbl Worchester Sauce
1/2  finely chopped nuts-walnuts or almonds are best
1/4 C parsley finely chopped

Mix all of the cheeses, onion and worchester sauce together to form a large ball of cheese.  Roll ball in nuts and garnish with parsley

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Open House: Done!

I had a great time at the Open House yesterday at 5063 Doyle Road San Jose, CA.  Everyone who attended the Open House was nice to talk to.  Some were neighbors who were just curious, others were looking to figure out what their house should sell for. Some were on that eternal quest to find the perfect house and a very small number were actually seriously looking for a house and ready to buy.  I had over 35 groups of people come through the house in less than 3 hours.  All told I saw almost a 100 people.

It was very much like a typical trade show.  The majority of the people are just curious or looking for  information; but a few are genuinely interested in what you have to sell and are real prospects.   I look forward to following up with the actual prospects and seeing if I can help them with their real estate needs.  It is amazing to me as this feels like I have been doing it forever.  And in the context of being a booth babe at a trade show I have been doing this for over 20 years!

One of the reasons I made this change to real estate is that I thought the definition of the perfect weekend was to go see what is for sale in the area.  I have learned so much about how not to treat your open house guests from attending so many open houses:-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I am having an Open House tomorrow!

This feels so much like many nights before that I have spent getting ready for a big conference.  It's nice that is seems familiar instead of completely new.  It is eerily the same kind of activities I am doing the night before to prepare.

I am making sure my collateral is ready.  In fact, I just got back from the office from printing my brochures. I am mentally deciding which pair of shoes are the right shoes for standing for hours.  I have practiced my elevator pitch on the product.  I have studied the competitions; also known as comparable homes or comps.  I have reviewed the FAQ's.  What school district?  How old is the home?  Why are they selling?  Are the disclosures available? 

The big difference is I will be inside of the product tomorrow instead of demonstrating it on a laptop!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recipe: Louisiana Chicken Gumbo

For what ever reason soups are a favorite dish at our house. Summer or winter I get requests for soup if I ask what I should fix for dinner. The core of this recipe comes from my son's Louisiana relatives.   I have made some modifications to fit the way I cook, but this is the real deal for authentic Cajun Gumbo. 

As my son pointed out, the main modification is that is does not include fowl shot in the backyard but chicken from a store:-)

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Servers 8 once; or magnificent leftovers once or twice for 2 or 4

4 chicken thighs/ skinned and boneless chopped into bite size pieces
2 chicken breasts/skinned and boneless chopped into bite size pieces
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
4 stalks of celery finely chopped
1 small green pepper finely chopped
64 oz of unsalted chicken broth
2 Tbls of butter
2 Tbls of flour
Red pepper flakes to taste
File to taste
Black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
2 cups of steamed rice (see below)

Saute butter in a large pot until bubbling add flour and stir constantly for approximately 20 minutes. You want to create a very rich brown and nutty smelling roux. If you see ANY brown flecks in the roux discard and start over or the dish will be ruined. The roux must not burn. You can double or triple the roux recipe and store roux in the refrigerator for future use.

Add the garlic, onion, celery and green pepper to the roux. Saute until soft. Add the black pepper covered chicken and stir until the chicken is cooked. Add the broth and some red pepper flake and salt. Cook on the stove at low heat for at least 3 or 4 hours. The sauce will start to thicken and the vegetables will break down.

Prepare the rice.

Add 2 cups of rice to 2 1/2 cups of water. Let it boil uncovered and then cover and reduce heat and cook for 3o minutes.

To serve

Put rice in the bottom of the bowl, add file powder and red pepper to taste. Pour gumbo onto mixture and serve.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I am a Real Estate Agent at Keller Williams

I was beginning to wonder if I was actually going to get through all the classes, tests and paperwork needed to become a real estate agent.  Finally last night my DRE # (Department of Real Estate) showed up on the website, this number allows me to join a real estate broker. 

I decided several months ago that I would join Keller Williams when I became an agent.  I am so impressed with the people that work for Keller Williams and the Keller Williams culture.   I have already benefited from their great training programs.  They offer some of the best sales training I have ever had and I have attended some expensive corporate training courses in my day.

So this morning I went to the weekly Keller Williams sales meeting and then filled out the paperwork to join the team. 

My journey as a real estate agent begins! 

Here is my contact information at Keller Williams.

Carla Dimond
Real Estate Agent
DRE # 01871201

Keller Williams Realty, Cupertino
20230 Stevens Creek Blvd, Suite E
Cupertino CA 95014

650-388-8820 cell

408-850-6956 fax


Keller Williams Realty is proud to be the fastest growing real estate company in North America, with 690 market centers, over 73,321 associates and $28,167,677 in profit share over the last 12 months.*   *numbers are year to date April 2009

J.D. Power and Associates has awarded Keller Williams the distinct honor of "Highest Overall Satisfaction For Home Buyers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms, Two Years in a Row!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Real Estate Broker do I go with?

Being a real estate agent can be described as an entrepreneurial contract employee.  You are in charge of your business but you can utilize the marketing and branding power of the real estate broker you work for to help increase your business.

My first instincts are that I want to find a real estate broker that has a good mentoring program and name brand recognition.  However, I also realized that there are several boutique real estate brokers that only specialize in serving the silicon valley real estate market.   Which real estate broker makes the most sense for me?

This decision feels so much like the Titian of Industry vs Start-up decision I have had to make so many times in my high tech career.  There is something very satisfying at saying I work at Company A, Titian of Industry.   Name recognition is great and you get to use their name as part of your branding.  But it is also very fun to work for the small and nimble company as well.

The big difference between real estate and high tech is that real estate is a local market and the goal is to create the "Brand of me, Real Estate Specialist" that transcends the name of the real estate broker you work for.

Small Boutique Silicon Valley focused or National Brand Real Estate Broker?  Which is the best for me?

So I am going to make this decision based on the same criteria I would make if I was going to my next high tech company....

At the end of they day it is the people you work with directly that matter more than the company you work for.  So lucky for me I found great people at a name brand company.  I get to have both!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recipe: Easy Eggs Benedict

I know for most people easy eggs benedict  completely sounds like an oxymoron.  However, I have learned the key to preparing easy eggs benedict is  execution and a killer blender Hollandaise Sauce.

The most important thing is to get the egg yolks for the Hollandaise sauce in a small container that can be placed in a bowl of very warm water ( but not too hot) to warm  up the yolks before making the sauce.  The downside of using blender hollandaise sauce is that it gets cold very quickly.  Getting the egg yolks warm helps keep the sauce warm longer.  If you get everything out and into their respective pans this really does take less than 15 minutes to complete.  Don't forget to set the table as well.  Time to table is critical with this dish.

Give this a try and let me know how it works for you!

Eggs Benedict Recipe for 4 servings

4 eggs
2 english muffins
4 thinly sliced pieces of ham,  or use spinach, crab your choice

Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1 Tsp fresh lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper
1/c melted butter

Pre-Execution Plan

1. egg yolks warming in water bath
2. English muffins in the toaster oven BUT not turned on yet
3. ham slices in pan to be warmed BUT not turned on yet
4. egg poaching pan on the burner warming the water BUT without the eggs
5. butter in the microwave BUT not yet melted

Execution Plan

1. Start the muffins in the toaster oven once the egg yolks for the hollandaise sauce are warm
2. warm the ham on the stove at a very low heat
3. Melt the butter for the hollandaise sauce approximately 90 seconds in the microwave
4. Add eggs to the poaching pan and poach eggs for about 3 to 4 mins
5. Add lemon juice, cayenne pepper to warmed egg yolks
6. Put muffins on the plate
7. Then add the ham
8. Then add the poached egg
 9. Take to the table
10. Using a hand held blender lightly beat the egg yolk mixture and gradually add the melted butter.  It should be a nice lemony color and slightly thicken
11. Take hollandaise sauce to the table and serve!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Visions Engineering Inc: Handyman Services

Rob has helped me out with three different homes.

He saved my rear end when I was trying to sell my house in Palo Alto by doing some very basic and minor foundation repairs that were causing potential buyers to run from my house instead of putting offers on my house.  His foundation worked helped me get my house sold quickly.

Rob did a great job and a great deal of work in my house in Mountain View.  He put in a new tile floor and installed my new cabinets in the kitchen.  He also insulated my house and redid my fencing.

If you need someone that you can trust to do it right the first time I really recommend that you call Rob for your handy man needs.

New Visions Engineering Inc
Robert Briganti
cell phone: 650 520 6747
email: moreicecream@yahoo.com 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting the "Right" Real Estate Picture

When I shared with several friends that I was leaving high tech and moving into real estate a common question kept cropping up....

Are you going to stop changing your hair every few months if you are a real estate agent?  You need to look like your picture.

True, I do change my hair most than most people but have you really looked at some of the those real estate photos out there?  No one looks like that!

Do I want one of those real serious studio pictures of me in a suit or something more my style?  I don't think anyone would recognize me in a suit!

Do I do the cheesy picture that includes my pet? What does owning a pet have to do with real estate? I really don't know but you see lots of pets in real estate pictures.

Do I try to do something that really captures me?  Somehow work my shoe collection into the picture. Maybe use a tag lines like these; "I will wear a hole in the bottom of my Jimmy Choo's looking for the right house for you!"  Or "I will sell your house in less than 60 days or you can have my favorite pair of Prada's!"

I am liking the shoe angle!   Now if I could only stand to have my picture taken....

Friday, September 18, 2009

La Petit Salon: Reward for a house project well done!

I know personally that house projects can be one of the most stressful things in your life. So I am including my favorite way to regroup after I have demolished a kitchen, stripped a floor or removed popcorn from the ceiling.  I go see Nancy Tran at La Petit Salon.

 I am extremely biased about La Petit Salon and Nancy Tran.  I have know Nancy Tran for almost 15 years and I have always enjoyed incredible customer service from her and her team.  I have very few other data points to compare to her as I see no need to go anywhere else.  The few times I have had pedicures or manicures from other folks have been in other cities and they have all been a disappointment compared to her.

If you are looking for a cheap in and out pedicure/manicure Nancy is not the person for you.

If you are looking to make sure you will have the best pedicure/manicure available in a clean and safe setting then Nancy is the person to go to.

In addition to manicures and pedicures, Nancy provides the best facial in the Silicon Valley as well. She is my fountain of youth.

Le Petit Salon 

335 Plaza Central 

Los Altos, CA 94022

(650) 947-9106

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recipe: Egg Cups

One of my favorite breakfasts to make for guests and family is my "Egg Cups"

They look fancy and like you spent a great deal of time in the kitchen but they are very easy.

You can use ham or spinach as the cup layer; depending on your guests or family preferences.

These have been a big treat in our house for years. I hope you enjoy. I would love to hear about any variations that you try at your house.

2 servings or 4 starters

Egg Cups

4 eggs
2 Tbls of Sour Cream
1 Tsp Fresh Tarragon finely chopped
1 Tsp Fresh Chives finely chopped
4 oz of Fresh Mushrooms finely chopped (Button or Exotic)
4 -8 slices of Thin Ham or 8 to 12 leaves of Spinach
1 Tbls Butter
4 lightly buttered ramekins

Preheat oven to 425 F
Line 4 Ramekins with ham or spinach to cover bottom and sides with some overlap to create the cup.
Saute mushrooms in the butter until moisture is removed; add tarragon and chives. Take off the heat and gently add sour cream. Spoon mixture into the 4 ramekins. Top each ramekin with one egg.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until white is no longer clear. Do not over cook as egg yolk is best still runny.

Serve and enjoy your egg cups.  I hope they become a favorite in your house as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My New Blog!

I want to thank all of you who have encouraged me to continue or to restart my blog. It is a very nice thing to know that others at least occasionally read what I am writing.

I have decided the format of this new blog will be about real estate and also about lifestyle. I will update at least once a week anything that I find that I think will be interesting about what is happening in real estate; locally and nationally.

I will also highlight a business that I think could be of interest to your lifestyle. Some businesses are real estate oriented and others will just improve the quality of your life. We all like to have someone recommend a service to us instead of relying on a Google Search or an old school Yellow Pages Ad.

I am also going to include a recipe a week. As many of you know that read my original blog; cooking is extremely important to my lifestyle. I wanted to have a forum to share recipes that my family and friends love and that have added a richness to our lives.

I see this blog as a way to stay connected with so many of the wonderful people I have know through out the years and as a way to meet new people as well.