Friday, August 6, 2010

Mountan View Ca, July 2010 Townhouses/Condos Sold

Mountain View CA, July 2010 Townhomes/Condos Sold

Mountain View-real estate stats for July 2010 townhomes/condos-30 New came on the market, 20 homes were sold and 25 went under contract. The price Range was from 985K-187K.

In July 2010, 20 townhomes/condos were sold and the highest price sold townhouse/condo sold for 920K, which was 36K below asking and lowest priced townhome/condo sold for 180K, 10K below asking price.

June 2010, 24 townhomes/condos were sold in Mountain View, CA. The highest priced townhome/condo sold in Mountain View, CA sold for 932K, 17K under asking price. The lowest priced home sold for 478K at asking price.

In July 2010 in Mountain View, CA the average number of days on the market for a townhome/condo was 37 days.

In June 2010 the average number of days on the market was 26.2 days for townhomes/condo in Mountain View, CA.

In July 2010, the average condo/townhome sold for 7.6K under asking price in Mountain View CA.

In June 2010, the average townhome/condo sold for 2K under asking price in Mountain View CA.

If you would more information about the Mountain View real estate market please feel free to contact me.

Carla Dimond
Realtor-Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist
Keller Williams Realty-Cupertino
Cell/Direct: (650) 388-8820
DRE # 01871201
Follow me on Twitter:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Naglee Park: A Lifestyle Neighborhood

Naglee Park: A Historical Lifestyle Neighborhood (edit/delete)

Naglee Park San Jose CA is a lifestyle neighborhood in downtown San Jose located next to San Jose State University. The boundaries of the Naglee Park San Jose CA neighborhood are Santa Clara Street, 11th Street, Interstate 280, and Coyote Creek.

The area was developed on the estate of California pioneer Brigadier General Henry Morris Naglee and is considered the first modern subdivision in Santa Clara County. Naglee Park San Jose CA was the first subdivision to be developed and marketed in the way we currently think of a subdivision. Naglee Park was developed as a complete neighborhood with paved streets and all the modern utilities' we take for granted a hundred years later. In addition, all utilities were located at the back of the lots to hide the wires.

Naglee Park had restrictive covenants just like modern subdivisions but the concerns of a hundred years ago are different than today. You could not build a barn or a stable and your house had to cost at least $2000! The automobile was gaining in popularity as Naglee Park was being developed. Many of the residents of Naglee Park were prominent business owners and had to have the latest and greatest trends in housing such as having garages that matched their houses.

Naglee Park has many houses that have historic significance because of their ownership history and their architecture. Drive over to Naglee Park and park your car, walk around and admire all the architectural styles that are not found in the typical Silicon Valley subdivision. Also notice how friendly the neighbors are and imagine that this could be your next lifestyle neighborhood.

If you get hungry after your walk, stroll over to the Naglee Park Garage for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Naglee Park Garage has been featured on the Food Network Show "Diners, Drive-In's and Dives" staring Guy Fieri.

Please let me know if I can show you any of the homes currently available for sale in the Naglee Park neighborhood.

Carla Dimond
Realtor-Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist
Keller Williams Realty-Cupertino
Cell/Direct: (650) 388-8820
DRE # 01871201

Recipe: Chicken and Sausage Marinara

I got a request last night to make something with chicken in a tomato base. So out of that request I created this recipe for chicken and sausage marinara. I went to the store and found some vegetables that looked good and that work well with tomato sauce, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms. I had some red onions fresh from the garden and a beautiful leek to add to the pot. I also had a very nice Malbec (Bodega Belgrano 2008) that sounded like it would be good to drink and good in the sauce. It was!

As you can see I put a great deal of vegetables into the dish and I sauted them first to bring out the richest flavors.

1 Tble olive oil

2 Italian sausage links (pre cooked) sliced

1 zucchini sliced

1 small eggplant sliced

1 leek sliced

1 C mushrooms sliced

1 red onion

5 cloves of garlic minced

32 oz can no salt tomato sauce

12 oz low salt chicken broth

1 C red wine

1 lb of sauted chopped chicken thighs

saute the vegetables and sausage until the vegetables are browned. Remove excess oil and reserve for the chicken. add the tomato sauce and let simmer

in another pan (preferably a large stock pot) saute the chicken thighs in the oil from the vegetables. Add wine and broth and the tomato and vegetable mixture. Simmer for an additional hour and serve over pasta.

This is what the finished dish looked it.

Midtown Palo Alto: Lifestyle Neighborhood

Midtown Palo Alto CA is a neighborhood that has been near and dear to my family for over 40 years. My son's grandmother lived there in the early 1970's and loved to walk to the local ice cream parlor. Twenty years later we moved to Midtown Palo Alto CA and my son loved to do the same thing.

Midtown Palo Alto CA is the area is bound by Oregon Expressway to Loma Verde Avenue, and from Alma Street to Highway 101. Midtown as shopping, parks and several elementary schools all within walking distance. All these wonderful amenities are what make Midtown Palo Alto CA a lifestyle neighborhood.

Midtown Palo Alto CA has two shopping areas; Midtown Shopping Center, located at Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue; plus an additional shopping area located at Middlefield Road at Loma Verde Avenue

Midtown Shopping Center use to have three different grocery stores to choose from but with changes in shopping habits and the economy the shopping center now is serviced by Safeway. Piazza's is just a short drive away at Middlefield and Charleston, but is not considered to be part of the Midtown Neighborhood. What Midtown has more of now is places to eat. Mike's Café started the trend of having local dining in the Midtown Area. Café Sophia has become for many the local hang out for food and company in Midtown. I know that I will always run into someone I know at Café Sophia.

The shopping area at Middlefield Road and Loma Verde boasts a new comer to the scene, Philz Coffee. In addition to Philz Coffee, stop by and get a rotisserie chicken from Pommard's Café (get there early as they sell out!) and drop your cleaning off at AJ's. AJ's is committed to offering "Green" dry cleaning services.

Stroll through the neighborhoods and enjoy one of the three parks: Greer Park is a great place to watch a soccer game on the weekend. Hoover Park is a favorite of pre-schoolers and their playgroup friends. Seale Park is tucked away in a quiet corner and a lovely find.

There are five elementary schools El Carmelo, Fairmeadow, Hoover, Ohlone and Palo Verde elementary schools located in the neighborhood, which makes Midtown such a desirable place for those with small children. Ohlone and Hoover are district wide schools and have popular programs that very often require a lottery draw to determine attendance.

If you would like to know more about Midtown Palo Alto or go on tour of the neighborhood please give me a shout! I would love to show you a neighborhood loved by my family for over 40 years!

Carla Dimond

Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist

650 388-8820

Friday, May 14, 2010

Recipe: Split Pea Soup

Normally by mid May I would stop making hardier winter type soups but this has been an unusual May in the San Francisco Bay Area. Much cooler and rainier than usual so something warm sounds good.

I find the trick to making split pea soup that is less likely to create gas problems is to soak the split peas over night and to change the water several times. You can also just take a Beano tablet as a precaution if split pea soup normally bothers you.

I also pan roast my garlic and onions in olive oil before adding the carrots and celery. I like to cook the vegetables first to add a richer flavor. I also look for a ham hock that does not have sodium nitrate so that it is less salty tasting. Or any ham that does not contain sodium nitrate. I also recommend low sodium chicken broth as well.

Serve with a nice crusty bread and a green salad.

2 C split pea, soak overnight or for at least 3 hours, change the water at least 3 times

1 clove of garlic minced

1 yellow onion chopped

1 Tbl Olive oil

3 carrots diced

4 stalks of celery, diced

64 oz of low sodium chicken broth

1 ham hock (about 2 lb w/bone)

Sauté the garlic and onions until they start to brown add the carrots and celery cook until browned. Add the chicken broth and scrape down the browned bits of vegetables. Add the split peas and ham hock. Cook covered on low heat for about 3 hours. Add additional broth as needed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mountain View CA Lifestyle neighborhoods, Gemello and St Francis Acres

Gemello and St Francis Acres are great examples of the kind of lifestyle neighborhoods that Mountain View CA has to offer.

Gemello and St Francis Acres are West of El Camino and have El Monte as the division between the two neighborhoods. Gemello borders Los Altos on Jardin Drive and Karen Way. Gemello is named after the winery and orchard owned by John Gemello before being developed in the 1950’s.

Gemello primarily consist of two different developments, Blackfield Village and Excel. Most of the homes developed were 3 bedroom homes with either one bath or one and half bath. There are three parks in the area Gemello Park, Marich Way and Solana Court.
St Frances Acres is bordered by El Camino Real, Permanente Creek and El Monte Avenue. St Frances Acres has great access to local parks such as McKelvey Park, Park Drive and Miramonte Ave. Just across El Camino is Eagle Park located at Shoreline Blvd. and High School Way
What they have in common is close proximity to downtown Mountain View and downtown Los Altos.

Both neighborhoods have more traditional suburban housing with larger yards. Many of the streets in Gemello and St Frances Acres do not have sidewalks or street lights and provide a wonderful walk on a moon lit night in the summer.

Located at the intersection of El Monte and El Camino are major shopping destinations such as a newly remodeled and expanded CVS Pharmacy. Check out their great collection of organic household items next time you are in the area. There is a Starbucks that operates as a virtual office for many local residents; I know I have had many meeting there myself. For a quick dinner there is a Pizza My Heart or Boston Market located in the shopping center. The many dining choices that Castro Street has to offer is just a stroll away.

If you would like to explore Gemello or St Francis Acres as your next possible lifestyle neighborhood, just give me a call and I will show you around.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Recipe: Asparagus and Beef Salad

Asparagus is one of my favorite things that let me know that spring has arrived. Asparagus and Beef make a great salad combination. I love to make salads when it is warm outside and I don't want to cook too much or too long but still want something nice to bring to the table.

I use the French Vinaigrette recipe that I posted a few months ago as the dressing for this salad. Asparagus is one of my favorite things that let me know that spring has arrived. Asparagus and Beef make a great salad combination. I love to make salads when it is warm outside and I don't want to cook too much or too long but still want something nice to bring to the table.
I use the French Vinaigrette recipe that I posted a few months ago as the dressing for this salad.

The trick is to not overcook the asparagus so that it holds up in the salad dressing. I like to marinate it for at least an hour before serving so that the asparagus and mustard flavors really combine.

I also like to use a wide variety of salad greens and a perfect tomato or two to really add another flavor dimension. Most stores carry a bag of mixed baby greens and this salad is a great way to use them. Sometimes I add hearts of palm as well just for another color and texture

For the beef I recommend throwing your favorite boneless steak on the grill and cooking it until it is medium rare. Slice it thinly and put on the top of the salad. Looks elegant tastes great and is very easy.

1 bunch of asparagus (about 16 stalks) blanched and then chopped
1 C of French Vinaigrette, marinate the chopped asparagus in the dressing for at least one hour
1 bag of mixed baby greens
1 tomato-chopped
2-3 ounces of beef per person cooked on the grill medium rare and sliced
Optional-hearts of palms chopped
Combine the salad greens, tomato, and hearts of palm
Serve with the marinated asparagus and grilled beef. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Open House May 1st & 2nd Sunnyvale CA 125 Connemara Way #162

Open house May 1st and May 2nd in Sunnyvale CA 125 Connemara Way #162 Listed at $535,000.00

Nice 2 bedroom 1.5 bathroom Condo with low HOA's and Cupertino Schools. Freshly painted interior. Drop by say "hello" and get a Mobibucks coupon to redeem with any participating Mobibucks Merchant!

Carla Dimond
Realtor-Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist
Keller Williams Realty-Cupertino
Cell/Direct: (650) 388-8820
DRE # 01871201
Follow me on Twitter:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dana Street Roasting Company: The place to Hang in Old Mountain View CA

One of the first things we did as a family when we moved from Palo Alto CA to Mountain View CA was to start to look for our new hang out spot. Dana Street Roasting Company quickly became the place to hang in Old Mountain View CA for us. The coffee is great. You can watch them roast it right there in front of you every day.

I prefer to drink decaf coffee but have a hard time finding something that still tastes like coffee. No worries, Dana Street Roasting Company roasts an amazing Columbia decaf that tastes like the real deal.

You can follow Dana Street Roasting Company on Twitter @danastreet Aaron's posts what is freshly roasted and what bands are playing on Twitter. One of the most useful Twitter posts I follow. They have a wide variety of live music on the weekends to fit just about any taste.
In addition to great coffee they have great food. I really like their house made soups when I need a quick meal on the go.

Dana Street Roasting Company is a great place to meet family, friends and business associates. Think outside of the chains and meet someone at Dana Street Roasting Company in Old Mountain View CA.
744 W. Dana Street Mountain View, CA 94041

Carla Dimond
Realtor-Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist
Keller Williams Realty-Cupertino
Cell/Direct: (650) 388-8820
DRE # 01871201
Follow me on Twitter:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Open House Today 3366 Country Dr Fremont CA 1:30 to 4:30 1bed/1bath condo

Hosting an Open House Today at 3366 Country Dr Fremont CA 1:30 to 4:30

1bed/1bath condo for only $180,000.00

Great opportunity for the first time buyer or for an investor. 3366 Country Dr Fremont CA is 723 sq feet and on the first floor. HOA's are only $256 a month.

This condo gets a Walk Score ( of 82 out of 100, which means it is very walkable.

You can walk to the Bart Station, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and the Naz 8 Cinema just to name a few.

Please drop by and see what a great opportunity 3366 Country Dr in Fremont CA is for the first time buyer or investor

Friday, April 16, 2010

Old Mountain View CA, a great lifestyle neighborhood

Old Mountain View CA has Castro Street as the center of action and Castro Street has become a destination spot for people all over Silicon Valley looking for great places to eat. Castro Street is just one of the reasons that Old Mountain View CA is such a great lifestyle neighborhood.

Old Mountain View CA is bordered by Grant Road and Highway 85 on the south, Shoreline Blvd on the north, Evelyn Ave on the east and El Camino on the west. Old Mountain View CA is an amenities rich place. It has a post office, doctor offices, and farmer's market, in addition to the all the destination dining it is famous for on Castro Street. Old Mountain View CA also has several coffee shops; local variety and national chains. It boasts shoe repair shops, hair dressers, nail salons, bakeries, and clothing boutiques. It even has a center for the performance arts.

Old Mountain View also has several start-ups that occupy the top floors of the retail spaces creating instant customers for the restaurants that line Castro Street. It provides easy access to the Caltrain and the VTA. Old Mountain View is an easy place to commute to downtown San Francisco and downtown San Jose and all the stops in between that Caltrain and VTA make. Plus there are buses that take many Foothill College students to class every day. It offers some of the best public transportation options on the Peninsula.

In addition to being a great place to go to it is a great place to live. Options include quaint older cottages, brand new condominium and townhome complexes, apartment houses, plus new high end homes. Housing goes quick in Old Mountain View CA, houses and condos often sell in a week or less with multiple bids on the rare occasion they do appear on the market. Rentals often have multiple rental applications as well.

If you would like to explore Old Mountain View CA as a potential lifestyle neighborhood for you, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to give you a tour of the neighborhood and better understand your needs for your next home. Together we can see if Old Mountain View CA is your next lifestyle neighborhood.

Carla Dimond
Realtor-Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist
Keller Williams Realty-Cupertino
Cell/Direct: (650) 388-8820
DRE # 01871201
Follow me on Twitter:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recipe: Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy was the first grown up recipe I ever mastered. I was a young struggling college student and was looking for an inexpensive but impressive recipe to make for my friends. By making Beef burgundy you can make a small amount of inexpensive beef taste delicious.

Many years later I find that I like to still make Beef Burgundy because I am trying to eat less meat and eat more vegetables. Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same!

I have made this recipe with everything from ordinary beef stew meat to fillet mignon. The fillet mignon was overkill; this is a recipe that requires a tougher meat that can withstand the cooking time. I use the pearl onions if I can find them but I find that a yellow onion works as well for flavor but you lose the presentation aspects that the small pearl onions provide. The quality of the bacon is important as it flavors the whole dish; get real smoked give the smoked nitrate free bacon if you can find it.

I also like to add baby carrots for flavor. Use a heavier wine like a burgundy or cabernet sauvignon, nothing fancy just flavorful. Also use a low salt beef broth as the bacon already has a strong salt flavor.
This takes about 4 hours to cook down slowly on the stovetop. Nice dish to make on a lazy afternoon as it smells so good!

1 lb of beef stew meat
1 lb of mushrooms, cleaned but whole
1 lb of small pearl onions, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 lb of peeled baby carrots
64 oz of low sodium beef broth
375L of hearty red wine
2 pieces of bacon, crumbled
1 Tbl flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until crisp but not burned. Remove bacon and any bacon grease more than a tablespoon. Salt and pepper the beef and add the beef to the bacon grease and brown completely. Sprinkle the flour on the beef and stir the beef and flour combination until the flour is browned. Add the wine, crumbled bacon and beef broth. Stir to mix and then add the onions. Put a lid on the pot and put it on a low burner for two hours. Add the mushrooms and carrots and cook for at least another hour to 2 hours. Beef Burgundy turns a delicious dark reddish brown color when ready. Serve with potatoes, rice or noodles depending on your family’s preference.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Recipe: Killer Oatmeal

Killer oatmeal? Is there really such a thing?
If you are like me you know that you should be eating something healthier for breakfast and MD's are always peddling oatmeal. My father, who is 85 and can still climb up on a rooftop and clean out gutters, also constantly shares the benefits of oatmeal for breakfast with me. However, I find that his oatmeal conjures up visions of gruel from the 17th Century in England! It looks awful and is only edible with large amounts of brown sugar. This seems to defeat the whole effort of eating it in the first place. And that gooey texture!
I then discovered the steel cut oats which have a nuttier firmer texture. I also find that a couple of chopped dates, a handful of almonds and some shredded coconut make for a very tasty breakfast. This is probably not the lowest calorie breakfast but it does keep me going at least 90 minutes at gym.
Cooking note: It does take longer to make oatmeal from scratch so start it at the same time as you are making coffee so that you have time to eat it before running out the door. This makes more than enough oatmeal for 4 people in the morning.

4 C water
1 C steel cut oats
4 pitted and chopped dates
12 sliced almonds
2 Tbls shredded coconut

You can dump all of the ingredients into the pot on the stove at the same time. The trick is to not leave it on too high of a heat and to keep stirring it until the oats soften. 25 to 30 minutes should do it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How I come up with the concept of a Lifestyle Neighborhood

I came up with the concept of a lifestyle neighborhood as a way to describe the type of neighborhoods my clients were looking for. My clients were telling me that they needed to have access to a variety of amenities and that they preferred to have these amenities within walking distance. I am finding that more and more people are concerned with their carbon footprint and that they want to have the ability to get around as much as possible without getting in a car. They want a neighborhood that supports their lifestyle. So I coined the term "Lifestyle Neighborhood" to capture what my clients were looking for.

Many of my clients are professionals who work from home and because they spend more time at home they want amenities that are in the neighborhood. Many work in a virtual global world and they take breaks in their day as they get an opportunity. Their day can start in the early morning and very often ends late at night. Every client is different but common desires are a park close by to enjoy during the day, a virtual office space in a friendly neighborhood coffee shop, and a grocery store or at least a farmer's market that they can walk to. They also desire other neighborhood amenities such as a café, a dry cleaner and hardware store. They also want the option of using public transportation and want to walk to public transportation.

My clients vary in age and background but they all seem to agree that a neighborhood that supports their lifestyle is important. One of the great things about Silicon Valley is that it has so many wonderful lifestyle neighborhoods at different price points and with multiple housing types. Almost every city in Silicon Valley is redeveloping their downtown area and creating neighborhoods that support various lifestyles. I will highlight some of my favorite "Lifestyle Neighborhoods" here in Silicon Valley in future blog posts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My real estate marketing campaign

Over the course of my high tech career I have engaged in many marketing campaigns, I have always found it was quite easy to come up with my messaging and my value props for my product. With a real estate marketing campaign the product is you and the process is much harder.

Why am I a better choice for your real estate needs than the other choices you have? How can I really create an unique value proposition about why I am so different than any other real estate agent out there?

Well for anyone that knows me, I am different in my approach to just about everything thing I do, so using that kind of logic I must be a different kind of real estate agent. However, I think an example may serve me better.

One of the biggest differences I see is that I am focusing on neighborhoods not cities. The Bay Area is a magnificent place to live and there are wonderful neighborhoods scattered across Silicon Valley. I am focusing on neighborhoods with a high walk ability index. I love the website, as it helps to illustrate the type of neighborhoods I am focusing on.

The neighborhoods I am following tend to get very high walk ability scores using this index and one of the great things about this website is that it shows you how close various amenities are to your current address or an address you are considering. It helps you evaluate what lifestyle each neighborhood has to offer.

For example, let’s say that you are very interested in two different houses in the same neighborhood but proximity to a coffee shop and a grocery store are is very important to you. Just put each of the addresses into and see how close they are to the two most important amenities for you. This gives you additional tools to help you evaluate the best house for you and the best neighborhood based on your unique needs.

I have coined the term Lifestyle Neighborhood to describe these types of amenity rich neighborhoods. I will be using this term and defining this term in my real estate marketing campaign.

I would love your feedback on this approach to branding myself differently in my approach to real estate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recipe: Smoked Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza

Smoked Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza

I love pizza but can never order it in a restaurant because I am allergic to cow’s milk cheeses. So I have gotten creative in making pizza at home that I can make sure does not have anything that will not agree with. I find even those who have no issues with cow’s milk like my cheese choices. I usually add whatever vegetables sound good or I what I happen to have in the refrigerator. Buffalo Mozzarella is a very watery cheese so I sauté the vegetables before adding them to the pizza to decrease the liquid on the pizza. I also use a very thick tomato sauce for the same reason. The smoked prosciutto adds a really nice flavor so do try and find it. Any smoky ham thinly sliced would be a good substitute.


1 pre-made pizza crust
(I love this pizza crust
½ C thick tomato sauce
4 oz Smoked Prosciutto, thinly sliced
4 0z Buffalo Mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 0z of chopped and sautéed vegetables- my favorite combination is zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers, and eggplant
1 oz Pecorino Romano cheese grated

Pre-heat the oven to about 400 to 425 degrees.
Layout the tomato sauce and the vegetables, then the smoked prosciutto, followed by the buffalo mozzarella. Finish with the grated Pecorino Romano

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until crisp. Serves two or three. Makes great leftovers. Often I make two as the crusts come in a package of two and the pizza reheats extremely well.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Do you really need a real estate agent?

I was chatting with one of the regulars at my gym the other day and the conversation turned to, "What do you do for a living?"

I said I was a real estate agent. She replied, "Does anyone really need a real estate agent with the internet?"

Well that was a question I did not have a well practiced script for! So I tried to answer as best I could. I told her the statistics show that over 70% of home buying starts on the internet and that the internet is a wonderful tool for getting a feel for homes. However, that a real estate agent lives and breathes real estate every day and can help a buyer understand what the right price strategy is for that home they might originally find on the internet.

I then later told my significant other about the conversation and he could see her point. He could see how real estate market today is in a similar position to where the stock market was when the internet changed how stock brokers worked with their clients.

Full service stock brokers still exist today but they are really providing value add or they do not survive. Is Redfin going to change real estate as much as eTrade changed the stock market?

All I know is that in order to best serve my clients I need to watch the market every day and understand what the market is doing today and understand where it is going or I will not be adding value to the information that my clients have access to already.

So yes you do need a real estate agent but only if they know more about the market than you do. We need to embrace the fact that our clients are doing their research before they find an agent to take them the rest of the way.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate Mousse for Valentine's Day

I was debating whether to post a recipe for Valentine's Day or for the Lunar New Year and I am going with Valentine's Day.  This chocolate mousse recipe is super easy and will impress any diehard chocolate lover.  I like to put it into individual ramekins so that you can keep little bites of chocolate in your fridge for the next month or so.  Enjoy!

3.5 oz of high quality dark chocolate 65% cacao or higher
8 oz heavy whipping cream
1 Tbl of good quality vanilla or brandy, cognac etc.  Whatever flavor you like in addition to chocolate

Whip the cream until very stiff
Melt the chocolate at a very low heat on the stove stir constantly
Gradually add the chocolate to the whipped cream and do not over stir a little cream streak or two will not hurt the taste.  Add your flavoring.  Pour into about 6 to 8 ramekins and cover with plastic and chill.

That's it!  Easiest dessert on the planet!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recipe: Chicken Paprika

I was talked into making a Cosco run last weekend and I bought way more organic chicken thighs than needed for recipe I was making and I had to come up with something to do with the rest of them. 

I had not made Chicken Paprika for a long time but this was a winner with my family; it got 4 thumbs out of 4 thumbs.  Instead of adding the sour cream to the entire dish as is traditional I served the sour cream at the table for calorie control.

1 lb boneless and skinless chicken thighs diced
1 small onion chopped
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 a red pepper chopped
16 oz can no salt tomato sauce
8 oz no salt chicken broth
1 Tbl sweet paprika ( adjust to your taste)
1 Tbl olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste
Serve sour cream at the table

Heat the olive oil, add the onion, garlic and pepper.  Cook until soft add the chicken and brown the chicken.  Add a tsp of paprika to the mixture and cook another 5 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth and the rest of the paprika.  Cook for 60 minutes on low heat or until thickened.  Add additional paprika if needed.

This can be served over egg noodles, rice or potatoes. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Making Sense of Silicon Valley Real Estate News in the Newspaper

There is an article today in the San Jose Mercury News in the Business Section with the headline: "Home sales of $1 million or more fall from 2008"

First I am going to digress for a moment.

I have a mathematics degree with an emphasis in statistics and probability theory. I know how easy it is to create meaningless statistics. I am a true believer in the quote "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" I am not saying that the numbers are not correct in this article but I think they fail to tell you much about the market.

First, if you can remember back to 2008, most of us spent the first 8 months or so of 2008 completely ignorant of the banking crisis coming our way. We were busy living our lives and that included investing in expensive real estate in Silicon Valley. Then after September of 2008 house buying stopped almost completely and it was extremely difficult to get a Jumbo loan.

In 2009 anyone that did not need to sell a house was not selling. The banks were flooding the market with bank-owned property. Buyers were tempted by the great deals but many were also too scared to jump in for most of 2009. However, those who jumped in to the market in early 2009 and bought had an opportunity to get some of those great deals you have read about in the papers. Unfortunately, those deals are gone.

Then a funny thing happened in the fall of 2009, the banks got better at managing their inventory and buyers started to feel more optimistic. They were sensing that the market had bottomed in Silicon Valley and they were wading back in. I kept asking almost everyone that I met at my open houses in the fall of 2009 “Why are you looking to buy?”

The answer I got over and over again was so Silicon Valley....

"If I still have a job now I am probably going to continue to have one and I do not want to miss out on this great market"

To summarize what the numbers are telling me.

In 2008 people bought Million Dollar homes over a 9 month period without knowing about the banking crisis and with mortgages being readily available. In 2009, most bought Million Dollar homes in the later part of the year as mortgages became more available again and inventory became more available. If there are less months of buying in one year (2009) versus the other year (2008) the numbers of houses sold will be lower.

Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto went against the trend and more homes were bought in 2009 than 2008. Why is the topic of another blog entry.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Recipe: Vietnamese Style Pork Ball Soup

I found this recipe about ten years ago and it has been my son's comfort food when he is feeling under the weather. I believe the reason he finds it so comforting is that it smells really good while it is cooking and it is a fast dish. Plus like most soups it makes great leftovers. It is the garnishes that make it Vietnamese style; lime juice, bean sprouts, cilantro and jalapeno peppers added to taste. The soup is satisfying without the garnishes or if you soup vegetables that you like they can added as well. Kale is a wonderful addition to this soup.

32 oz of low sodium chicken broth

6 to 10 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 lb of lean ground pork

Fresh ground black pepper

4 oz of bean noodles

8 oz of bean sprouts

1 oz of cilantro

2 limes in wedges

2 Jalapeno's sliced

Heat the chicken broth and add half of the chopped garlic. Add fresh ground black pepper. Heat until the garlic is tender. Put the rest of the garlic inside of the pork balls. Add the pork balls to the broth and cook the pork balls. Add the noodles and cook a couple of more minutes. Serve with the limes, cilantro, bean sprouts and jalapenos on a separate plate and add to the soup according to individual tastes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is there any good reason to sell your house in Silicon Valley if you do not have to?

The answer is a qualified yes.

This could be a great opportunity to purchase more house for less money than you thought you ever could in the Silicon Valley. You could possibly get your dream home that you never thought you could have afford if you BUY in this market.

The catch is that you need to get over the psychological hurdle that your house was worth anywhere from 10 to 40% more a couple years ago, and concentrate on the fact that the house you want to buy is possibly 10 to 40% LESS than you would have had to pay for it a couple of years ago. It is the price delta of the transaction that matters.

Ask yourself, if I sell my house for X and buy for Y is the difference an amount I am comfortable in financing at historically low interest rates? In addition to financing less money at a lower rate, you have the added benefit of lower property taxes over buying the house a couple of years ago.

Can you ignore the fear and doom portrayed every day on the news that the world is ending as we know it? Can you take the gamble with unemployment rate over 10% in CA?  However, 10% unemployment rate means that about 9 out of 10 people are still working!!!

The market is changing; you know when you have hit the bottom when it starts to go back up. Guess what? It would appear that we have hit the bottom and are on the way back up. Numbers from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATES OF REALTORS show that we have hit the bottom in Silicon Valley and are on the upswing.

Plus, there are buyers. Buyers that are looking to get into contract before the middle of April to take advantage of the tax credit on their 2009 taxes. The inventory is low for these buyers and they are in MULTIPLE BID situations on several properties.

I am seeing more and more trade up buyers entering the market right now. They will probably have the ability to be smug in 2015 about how they bought real estate in 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reicpe: Lamb Stew with Arthichoke Hearts

I made this Lamb Stew with Artichoke hearts other night and got the response of; "This is the best thing I have ever eaten"

Personally, I think it was a combination of watching too many episodes on the Food Network Channel and hunger, but it was a very satisfying dish and it tasted even better the next day. I hope you and your family enjoy it as well

1 small onion diced

1 tbl olive oil

5 cloves of garlic diced

1 lb cubed lamb

32 oz of unsalted crushed tomatoes

1 C red wine

1 C beef broth

2 carrots chopped

3 stalks of celery

6 oz mushrooms chopped

1 12 oz can of artichoke hearts in water drained

salt and pepper to taste

Brown the garlic, onions in the olive oil. Add the lamb. Cook until the lamb is browned and then add the carrots and celery. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes, wine and broth. Cook for about 45 to 60 minutes on low heat. Add the artichoke hearts and the mushrooms and cook another 30 minutes. Serve with pasta, rice or potatoes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is there such a thing as a balanced real estate market in Silicon Valley?

All we ever hear about is a buyer vs seller market but is there such a thing as a balanced real estate market in Silicon Valley?

Over the weekend I read two different articles on the real estate market; one was positioning the market as a seller's market in the LA area where first time buyers are losing to investors with cash.,9171,1952326,00.html

The next article was in the San Jose Mercury with the suggestion that it was such a buyers market that buyers should ask for additional items at closing

I am currently working with several buyers in Silicon Valley and they are finding that a property that is priced right is being snatched up by other buyers very quickly.  Banks have learned to limit the supply of homes to keep the demand high and they are also pricing them low to create a buying frenzy.  Most short sales and foreclosures will have mulitipe offers in this current market. 

Regular sales are that are priced correctly are selling quickly as well.  Buyers are looking for good value and when they see a property that is a good value they put an offer on it.  It is that simple.

Property that is not priced right for condition or location is sitting on the market.  The longer it sits on the market the more of a discount the eventual buyer will demand.  This is not a market that you want to price at the top of the market, you will find that buyers will not even look at or bid on your property.  Price too high and you take the risk of chasing the market down to find a buyer.

If a property is priced right and quickly attracts a willing buyer is that the definition of a balanced market?  If it is, then I think we are close to a balanced market in Silicon Valley.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recipe: Perfect French Fries

I spent most of my high school years as a fry cook at the local hamburger drive-in in Idaho making Perfect French Fries. They made all their French fries from scratch; great because I learned to make them; not so great as I have grease burns on my arms as souvenirs.

When my son was little he loved to have his friends over and French fry parties. I would cut up and cook endless amounts of French fries for my son and his friends.

The secret to great fries is the prep work before frying. You need extremely fresh high quality potatoes and good oil. Peanut oil or Canola oil is a good choice. The Belgium’s use horse lard but that is not available in the US and most Americans would not eat fries cooked in horse fat anyway!

Plan on about one to one and half potato per person for serving.

Peel the potatoes and cut into fries, I find the thinner the fry the faster it cooks and the crispier it gets. Soak the cut fries in ice water for at least 15 minutes. Then pat dry with a cotton dish towel. You want as much water removed as possible. Have your oil hot but not smoking and place a batch of fries into the oil. I use a deep frying pan so that it is easier to get the fries in and out of the oil. Cook the fries until they are blanched. By blanched I mean they are about half cooked and then remove from the oil and let them cool and the oil reheat. Return the fries to the oil and watch until they turn golden brown. Remove from the oil again. Place them on plate with a paper towel to blot the oil. Season and serve.

Watch that plate disappear in seconds and repeat the process!

4 to 5 large Idaho potatoes peeled and cut

2 C of Canola or Peanut Oil

Salt/pepper to taste

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why I am glad I am a real estate agent

I got up yesterday morning and I read several of my friend's Facebook posts about how sad they were that their vacation was over and they had to go back to work. I then went to the gym and on MSNBC they showed the results of a poll that 45% of workers do not like their job.

I felt so grateful that I had made the career change in 2009 that I did. I worked really hard over the Holiday Season as my clients had more time to see property. Yet I was just as excited to continue to work yesterday. I love my new job and it does not feel like work.

Yes, certain things annoy me like all the ridiculous amount of paperwork and the low tech nature of real estate. But I wake up every day looking forward to helping someone find a house or to answer questions about listing a property or any other real estate question that comes my way.

I enjoy my time to myself when I get it and understand that my clients have very little time to look at property and I have to make sure that when I take them out to see property I maximize their time investment. I am making a difference in the lives of my clients and it feels good.

I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do something that I love and that I don't have the Monday morning blues anymore.