Three Events That Should Be On Your Calendar Now

Have you noticed your social calendar has been a little dry lately? Well, we have the top events, cooking classes and tastings that need to go on your calendar now. 

For the Love of the Grill!

On June 8th, executive chef Charlie McManus, of Primo Grill, hosts the ultimate grilling class to ensure your summer kicks off with no hitch. Take lessons from a real pro behind a grill and learn from this master artist who can fire up a grilled pizza to perfection, and cook the steak of your dreams. Not only will Charlie show you cool grilling techniques, you’ll even get to taste the food that you learn how to prepare at the grilling class. Now I’m not sure what sounds better, learning how to grill effectively, or eating the cooking class demonstration foods? 

To sign up for the cooking class and to peruse Primo Grill's succulent menu offerings, head here

Beer.Cider.Father’s Day Weekend!

Looking for a day or weekend trip to take in June? If you happen to also be a brew lover, this might meet your ultimate fancy. Washington Brewers Festival: June 14th through the 16th perfectly planned for Father’s Day weekend. King County’s Marymoor Park in Redmond will play host to thousands of beer enthusiasts from all over to enjoy more than fifty Washington brews, cider and family fun. Be sure to check out all the details on which days to go on the Washington Beer Commission’s page.

Brew.Five.Three in the 253!

On June 22nd, the blues and brew scene will take over the great Tacoma 253. From 1-10 p.m., join the block party on Broadway between 9th and 11th for 35+ Washington State brewers and live northwest blues bands. A festival could not be complete in the greater northwest without a myriad of food trucks. Rain or shine, this will be an occasion to mark on your calendar. For all the bluesy information, visit the event page.

Keep in the know with all of this summer’s latest events and things to do on our blog and through social media.

The Friendliest Neighborhoods in the South Puget Sound

You just got the keys to your new home, Mr. and Mrs. Jones who live across the street are running over to see if they can assist with the big move, and the Walkers who live next door are already making dinner easy with their generous comfort food dinner creations they offered up as a welcome gift. The neighbors wave each time you drive in and out of the block, and the postal man has dog cookies for Bruno the happy Golden Retriever. Life could not be any more perfect living in paradise.

Now let’s go back a year or so, before you knew where you wanted to buy your first family home. What aspects of a neighborhood were on your priority list? If you had a family, or had plans to begin a family, the local school district was probably a major factor for buying a home in a specific area. If you are an avid runner, cyclist or love to take walks with your dog; living near parks, having accessible sidewalks and not living in the heart of the city was probably key elements in choosing the perfect home. 

The South Puget Sound is a region that not only offers unparalleled charm and scenery, many find counties south of King County optimal for education, living, playing and overall neighborhood amenities. The parks surrounding Pierce County include some of the areas finest: Ruston Way, Browns Point, Dash Point, Pt. Defiance and Titlow Beach.

Even if you do not work in the South Puget Sound, living is quite convenient due to the ease of public transportation available to residents in surrounding communities. Tacoma is a hub for the downtown Tacoma light rail, the Sounder train and the Tacoma Dome bus depot which offers various public bus routes daily.

When determining where to live in the South Puget Sound, residents may decide whether they wish to have an impressive view of Mt. Rainier, or the serene commencement bay or one of the many harbors. Island living is also an option in the South Puget Sound. If taking a ferry home at night intrigues you, Vashon Island is only a 15 minute ride away.

The friendliest neighborhoods in the South Puget Sound are really all over because each neighborhood offers a plethora of options, value and amenities.

Where are your favorite neighborhoods, we would love to hear from you. 

A Drive Through Paradise on Captiva Island

Let’s leave the pacific northwest for a moment and travel south to the tropical, palm tree lined paradise known as Captiva, Island. The sun-soaked beaches glisten, white sand sparkles with crushed sea shells and coral, the Gulf of Mexico steadily unfolds gentle waves onto a picture-perfect shore. Captiva Island is a sanctuary, a place of pleasure, a place of natural and man-made luxurious wonders.

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To get to Captiva Island, one must first cross the Fort Meyers - Sanibel Island causeway. Driving into Sanibel Island is like something off of an old film, something so beautiful, you might be able to find words to describe the sensation in a storybook. Sanibel Island is a wildlife refuge where there are no stop lights, and the highest speed limit on island is 35 mph. It is easy to get lost on such a small and intimate island because of the multitude of roads that intertwine with one another leading to beach after beach, quaint condominiums, weekend winter estates and island-life shopping. 

Captiva Island is Sanibel Island’s little sister. Captiva is only 4 miles long, and a 1/2 mile wide. Driving along San-Cap road, passengers should pay attention to their surroundings; sightings of alligator, tortoise and other wildlife are not uncommon. Captiva has been referred to as the “Gold Coast”, and what a perfectly suited nickname for such an island of splendor.

When entering Captiva, grand estates peak out from the lush tropical vegetation and perfectly manicured lawns. Heavily ornate, iron gates create a real sense of privacy on Captiva.

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If you dream of living amongst our nation’s wealthiest, be prepared for the luxury price tags of these island mega mansions. Many of the homes on Captiva are weekend vacation homes, and common winter estates. Pricing of these opulent estates range from $775K on up to  the most expensive home currently listed at $13.5 million dollars.

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The white house of Captiva looks like an island version of our state’s capitol doesn’t it? Someone on Captiva thought grandeur and luxury meant not only building this ultimate residence, but building a second residence of equal measure a few homes down on the same street for a loved one! Truth be told.

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Now that you’ve been enticed with just a little bit of what Captiva has to offer, don’t you want to know more?

One reason to buy on Captiva, utter and total tranquility. If that’s not enough you’re living in virtually a no-crime island, a place where a beach is within steps, and island-life consists of: leisurely bike rides, key lime pie frequently, coconut shrimp and an island favorite, grilled or blackened grouper.

Captiva is not just an island, Captiva is a way of life. Hopefully beach lovers and luxury home enthusiasts will have the chance to visit Captiva and Sanibel Island one day soon to venture the sandy shores, and bask in sumptuous living.

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A Trip Around the World: Ultra Expensive Homes

When a posh pad has a sticker price of $1 Billion dollars, you can pretty much say this home is ultra expensive. We love scouring home magazines, residential journals and lust-worthy architectural blogs to find the most epic residences known to man. 

Sit back, get cozy and feast your eyes on the most expensive homes around the world. Our first stop is not too far from the greenery of the pacific northwest, let’s go to Montana - saddle up!

Winter snow bunnies can seek the ultimate sanctuary at “The Pinnacle” estate in Montana. Owners, Tim and Edna Blixseth did not make compromises when thinking of every detail to deck out this ultra luxe winter home. From heated flooring installations, to a fireplace in every bathroom (jealous), this estate defines grandeur.

Now we’re off to Mumbai, India where the most expensive house on record for 2013 is located: Antilia. This home is situated in the modern neighborhood of Mumbai and is owned by only the 5th wealthiest guy in the world. To take in this residence, you’ll definitely have to put in a nice stretch of your neck, the home is a modest 27-stories tall. So how much is the 5th wealthiest man in the world’s home valued at? $1 Billion dollars ladies and gents!

*Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair

Now to take our luxe residential adventure of expensive homes to our neighbors to the north, Canada!

Quebec has always been such an alluring province; French speaking Canadians, an amazing cultural capitol of Montreal and a motto meaning, “I Remember”. Quebec is also home to this attractive $9.8 million dollar beauty:

Finally, we venture to Spain’s Mediterranean Sea where one of the most sexy residences awaits your attention. This Spanish, Mediterranean home located in Ibiza, Spain boasts Bali style furnishings, designed by Malales Martinez Canut, architect and designer. A home thirty years young truly has aged like a fine vintage wine. 

We all can lust over expensive homes and designer residences, but at the end of the day a home is where we congregate with family, friends, loved ones and ourself. A home can be grand, a home can be modest; a house is a home when the home is filled with love, warmth and experiences. 

Coffee Shops Creating a Unique Buzz for Professionals

Whether you are a freelance professional, or work in the corporate arena, finding your own, personal coffee shop to call your second ‘office’ is extremely important this day and age. Freelance contractors and consultants will be first to tell you where exactly their go-to coffee buzz hangout is. 

We’ve rounded up the ultimate coffee shops around the Puget Sound where we find mindful stimulus, rejuvenating energy and a powerfully enjoyable espresso beverage. 

Tres (Very) Bien (Good) at Treos Tacoma 

Treos is the latest buzz in Tacoma; with one shop in Old Town (in the old Tully’s space) and a brand new shop that just celebrated their opening on Wednesday, April 3rd off of Union avenue in north Tacoma.

Why we love Treos: Personable baristas that know your order as soon as you walk in the door. Gluten-free, insanely delicious flatbreads made in-house. Cozy booth seating to sprawl out your work projects and plug away.

Treos Perk: Every Tuesday is trivia night. Local beers on tap. A pretty nice selection of red and white wine. Saturday/Sunday brunch featuring Mimosas. Reason enough to check this quaint spot out right now. 

Fall for Fonté Café and Wine Bar, downtown Seattle

In the heart of downtown Seattle, right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, is a totally trendy and cool blend of urban culture, and small-town flavor. Fonté Café offers business professionals the perfect setting to meet with clients or colleagues outside of the mundane office setting. Fonté not only offers their own roast of aromatic coffees, Fonté also prides themselves with an onsite talented chef. 

Why we love Fonté: Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Happy Hour. Enough said. From the savory pizzas that take you away to a very happy place, to the fresh sliced charcuterie and cheese; Fonté delights the foodie in all of us. For a fresh change to your normal happy hour scene, Fonté celebrates delectable menu offerings to please any craving. 

Fonté Perk: Outside patio seating for prime Seattle metropolitan people gazing. 

Hip and Metro at Metronome coffee, Tacoma

Want to feel like a cool kid for an hour in between business meetings? Metronome coffee is the hub for all things cool; a hipster vibe, a place for free-thinking and independent culture. Metronome is great because the coffee artists, don’t refer to these guys as baristas, take time making each espresso beverage to perfection. 

Why we love Metronome: Live music, poetry slams, and a totally attractive, outdoor lounge setting to kick back and soak up the sun during the warmer months. 

Metronome Perk: When the music is on, there is usually a pretty cool selection of tunes to provide a nice busy-work day soundtrack. Try one of their creative coffee and brew blends; you’re in for something new and unexpected. 

Don’t see your favorite coffee spot on our list? Share your favorite cafe and we’ll check it out next time we’re out scouring for a new buzz shop!

Design Your Outdoor Living Space for Summer

Make it your goal this summer to treat your porch as not simply an afterthought, but an outdoor living space! We’ve rounded up some of the most amazing decks to help inspire greatness. These lavish porches have all the bells and whistles to entertain, entice and impress any crowd.

Dazzling in Dallas

Breathtaking views of the city surround this rooftop deck that boasts a pool, spa, enclosed bar and even a projection screen. This is the perfect place to party from sunset to sunrise.

Stone Spa

Multiple pools dot this backyard stone oasis that comes complete with trickling waterfalls and tropical greenery. Close your eyes and you’ll never know you’re so close to home.

Water Park

This may look like your average backyard pool, but look close, because this pool has a waterslide built in! A fire pit, outdoor kitchen and plenty of seating make this outdoor space perfect for all ages.

Infinity

Take a jump off the edge of the earth, or so it seems. Infinity pools are architecturally interesting, while not taking away from the natural scenery. 

High Rise

Every seat is the best seat in the house at this open-air patio bar overlooking the sprawling city below.

Kitchen

Backyard BBQ has a whole new meaning when you’re cooking in a fully equipped gourmet kitchen. The lake and rugged backdrop makes the perfect peaceful backdrop. With space like this, you’ll want to enjoy your meals outdoor all year long.

Through the Woods

Surround the great outdoors with a deck that embraces nature instead of destroying it.

Whether your deck is “decked out”, or a work in progress; embrace the extra space and spend a few extra nights outside this summer

A Tour of Decadent Designer Rooms

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It is always a surreal experience to tour a home that just hit the luxury real estate market. When an estate possesses that genuine “wow-factor”,  showing luxury homes to prospective buyers makes working in the real estate industry that much more exciting. Featuring luxury real estate definitely encompasses that “Disneyland” feel. Each decadent room is like touring a different ride.  

These are the top rooms inside and outside of luxury real estate marvels; defining opulence, prestige, charm and architectural mastery. These detailed rooms have been designed by some of the most amazing minds in real estate development and architecture.

Dream. Peruse. Explore. This is my version of “Disneyland”.

Outdoor cuisine anybody? This is a chef’s outdoor, dream living space. This Mediterranean inspired outdoor kitchen provides all of the charm that you might find in southern Italy at a villa along the Amalfi coast. With a wood-fired pizza oven, to a full range; bon appetit!   

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We explored an outdoor kitchen, let’s take a tour of a few sexy indoor kitchens; especially since we don’t see a ton of sunshine in the pacific northwest. 

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It’s all about the details! From the sexy backsplash, to the artful light arrangement; this kitchen embodies a creative mind’s most colorful thoughts. 

Look-at-me-Lime! This kitchen would definitely be the hub for all social gatherings, dinner parties or any special occasion for that matter. 

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Where do you lay your head at night? How could anyone get a wink of sleep in this room with a view like this: 

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Spend a night with Marilyn and have sweet dreams forever. This is the ultimate room to chase your hollywood dreams:

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Truly epic and under the sea; this is the ultimate room for the person who desires a luxurious room surrounded by water:

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Zen! This is the quintessential washroom to get back your sense of zen and rejuvenate. The problem is, you won’t want to share this space. 

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We always like to save the best for last. Can you imagine inviting guests into your luxury pad, and as you escort them into your living room, you casually point out your massive swimming pool located in the center of the room? No big deal. 

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These are just a few of the coolest rooms I’ve seen. Share some of your amazing architectural design finds, and I’ll feature a selection of these designs on an upcoming blog feature. 

Day Trip Destination: Beautiful Neighborhoods

If you ask me, Washington is the best place to live. We are blessed to be surrounded by beauty, from the ocean to the mountains, and the forests in between. How can we take advantage of this natural beauty? Well, living in a home where we can admire our beautiful surroundings daily would be choice! Even if you are happily settled in a neighborhood that you call home, taking an adventurous joyride to explore beautiful neighborhoods nestled across the south Puget Sound can be just as exhilarating. Here are 5 of the most beautiful neighborhoods to live in around the south sound.

Old Town

Tucked just past bustling downtown Tacoma, and perched above Ruston Way lies ‘Old Town’ — a quickly forgotten neighborhood, with unforgettable views.  Score a house in this neighborhood, and you’ll be greeted every morning with sweeping views of the Puget Sound and Vashon Island, glorious Mt. Rainier, and the skyline of downtown. The surrounding real-estate in this neighborhood consists of many updated craftsman style homes. This is one area where you can find million dollar views without spending a million.

Steilacoom

Have you ever made your way to the picturesque town of Steilacoom? Steilacoom is the type of town that before now, you only thought existed between the pages of your favorite novel. Only about two square miles in total, this town boasts an abundance of grassy parks, public beaches, and an out of this world panoramic view. From a Steilacoom home, watch as ferries glide between shores on the Puget Sound, and admire the looming peaks of the Olympic Mountains. From formal living and dining areas, to spacious decks; these houses were made for entertaining.

Sunrise

Looking for a place away from it all? The sunrise neighborhood located off Meridian Avenue toward Graham has the views that keep you looking forward to every new day. Located on a bluff over the Puyallup and Orting Valley, these newly built homes look toward the horizon as the vast sky meets the trees, and Mt. Rainier looms almost close enough to touch. If you live here, prepare to entertain, because these homes have luxury built-in, from the layout to the details, these houses are immaculate.

Browns Point

Browns Point is the quintessential south sound neighborhood, and for good reason. Not only a great neighborhood with quiet streets and tons of privacy, the location near downtown, and of course the sweeping view of Commencement Bay and Puget Sound; Browns Point is the perfect place to settle down. With full exposure, Browns Point is consistently bathed in sunlight, making your home the go-to place for a summer soirée. Browns Point has a great amount of vacant lots just waiting for you to develop your dream on. 

Lake Tapps

Want a gorgeous view, and a year round playground? Lake Tapps, located in Bonney Lake, offers beautiful views of the lake and surrounding trees and mountain-tops. Many homes on the lake are built on larger lots, which means plenty of room for all those toys; boats, bikes, and trucks! Many homes in the area have been recently updated with all the bells and whistles, however some older homes can be found and offer the perfect opportunity to add your personal touch.

Whether your ideal neighborhood is nestled on a private wooded acre, or is situated high above a bluff overlooking the Olympics and Commencement Bay, beautiful neighborhoods can be found speckled all over the south Puget Sound.

{Photo Credit: Steilacoom - Don Briggs; Lake Tapps - Keith’s Photos}

Trend Alert: Defining the Home Buyer in 2013 

The National Association of Home Builders recently came out with a study forecasting trends in home buying for 2013. Whether you consider yourself a “baby boomer” or were born in “Generation X” or “Y”, there has been considerable analytical research vested in determining who is buying what in the housing market.

The question now is not if people are buying homes again, the question is really where and who are buying homes for sale on the market. Forget multi-family housing, buyers in all demographics are aiming their interests in single-family detached homes. 

Now that we know buyers are finding excitement again in real estate, what are these buyers willing to spend? David Crowe, chief economist of the NAHB reports that, “prospective new-home buyers expect to pay $204,000—down significantly from $231,000 in 2007.”

With homes selling, interior trends in the market are also forming. The single-family homes with three or four bedrooms, two or two and a half baths, and wide open family rooms and kitchens are choice homes across all demographics.

For the interior design lover in all of us, New England Home Staging captures the most aesthetically pleasing in-home design concepts of 2013. What do you think are the must-haves for new home buyers? The office “pocket room”, the outdoor room, and better lighting are favorites for 2013 all around. 

Now that you have an idea of what buyers want, what do you want in 2013? 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg, Business Insider 

Valentines Day Without the Reservation

Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving Dinner, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are THE most anticipated holidays for restaurants to cash in on. Reservations to get into the swankiest and most desired dining establishments need to be prearranged well in advance; often times menus are limited to prix fixe tasting menus. 

Valentine’s Day can be enjoyed without the coveted reservation at the best seating in town however. After spending time noshing, and sipping bubbly libations around northwest gems, neighborhood secrets and iconic landmarks, a very special list of romantic places to sneak off to was created just for you.

"Love Knows No Height"

The Cliff House Restaurant, situated high above Commencement Bay, is nestled right off of Marine View Dr., and at the cliff and water’s edge. Forget making a reservation for the dining room, sneak downstairs to the cozy lounge, grab a seat near the window overlooking the icy waters below.

The Nosh: A date worthy aphrodisiac - Penn Cove select oysters on the half shell  served with a champagne mignonette.

The Libation: Every date should begin with bubbly — Domaine Chandon Brut, CA. 

"Seal It With a Kiss"

Don’t be surprised if you spot a Seal or Sea Lion out in the waters of the Puget Sound. If Valentine’s Day means creating a little adventure for you and your loved one, hop aboard the short ferry from Pt. Defiance to Vashon Island. Once you are on the island, take a scenic drive to the other end where you will find Nirvana.

The Nosh: Show just how much “game” you have when you order the Hudson Valley Duck Pot Pie for your date.

The Libation: “Bell of the Ball” - not your typical margarita, this one packs in a lot of attitude.

"Decadent Descent"

Valentine’s Day is defined by many things by many people, but Valentine’s Day is not complete without the decadent delights of dessert. 

No reservations are required, however first come first serve is customary for the fireside lounge seating at Hotel Murano’s whimsical lobby bar.

The Nosh: The Chocolate Almond Croissant Bread Pudding. Words cannot describe the flavors that will explode on your palate; you have officially surpassed the climax. 

The Libation: Wash down the rich, intense flavors of your chocolate decadence with a big, bold red wine - favorably from Washington

Happy Valentine’s Day Lovers!