My Idea of fun in Lamorinda: Great music (shameless plug for my concert series) and now a thriving foodie scene. Love the trail and the reservoir.
Best Advice: Don't assume Lafayette is a sleepy little town in the burbs. You can find an amazing number of great and interesting people here.
What I dream of: Warm nights in my backyard with my husband and friends with some good wine... and maybe something roaring in my fire pit. I love hearing the owls at this time of year. When it warms up more, we'll be into coyotes and the neighborhood skunk.
What's next for me: My latest venture is a series of short pop up music experiences. It's a fun way to give back to my community.
Gold Coast Chamber Players - More information here!
You found your house...you unpacked. You met a few neighbors and you’re ready to ‘find your tribe’. Well, the best place to start is online…Nextdoor.com registration will let you observe your neighborhood silliness in exchange for asking for good gardeners, buy a second hand kid thingy that your kid will outgrow in twenty days, or find a local nanny that needs a new family situation. Beyond this tie in to your immediate neighborhood, other great groups exist on Facebook, most notably ‘Lamorinda Families’. To apply for Lamorinda Families you must change your physical location/hometown to one of the Lamorinda communities prior to request. Once you are approved, this is what you can expect to find:
A page for families in the Lamorinda area. Must have friend in group and have your location shown on your profile to be approved to join group.
Please post your questions, events, photos, recommendations & tips here!
Please keep your business ads to once per week or they will be deleted. We love to support local businesses!
Please remove 'for sale' items as soon as they are sold or if not taken so that we don't clump up the page with 'For Sale' items.
This is a no fee page. Please feel free to share it with your friends. Approval is needed, friends may join but try to keep it local. For friends that request to join the page, please make sure their 'location' is on their profile to be accepted.
This group is classed as a 'closed' group so that the public cannot view your posts.
Only members of this group can see your posts.
Please keep it friendly! We are all here to support one another.
Other Lamorinda Groups (and area) that will be helpful to consider joining are as follows:
Walnut Creek Area Neighbors and Newcomers - female focused but not family focused. Open to those who may find themselves moving here before, after, or if kids aren’t part of the plan.
Lamorinda Working Moms - because, face it, there are a lot of dual income families when you’re trying to live in the Bay Area and sometimes you just need to ask another mama in your shoes her opinion or find community with others who’s *struggle is real*
Lamorinda Dads - because, face it, the moms get a lotta support and love. It’s Dad’s turn!
Lamorinda Peloton - if you have one, join.
Lamorinda Moms - An OFFLINE group that allows moms to connect through social and community events, play dates and socializing opportunities for moms of ‘younger’ kids (demographic is ‘under 7’). Alumni participation is also encouraged. This is a membership based club...and an excellent way to get to know ‘same age kids’ moms (especially if they’re not yet in school!).
Mamahood - Though it’s expanding throughout the Bay, The Mamahood has its roots in the East Bay and is extremely powerful here. Loads of sub-groups to find your people and even an entrepreneur support club that you can join if your move includes shifting your business along with your life!
The certainly aren’t the only groups around but these are the primary resources to get you started...
Greatest Male Role Model?
Terence Real, family therapist, author of “I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression.” Recommended to me years ago by a family member, book sat on a shelf until I was truly ready to look inward as a man. It has been an instrumental text in my understanding of myself and my preparation for becoming a father. It was, in part, the inspiration for my creating the Lamorinda Dads group. It has changed the way I do psychotherapy with many of my male clients, and continues to nurture new growth each time I flip to its familiar pages.
Best Advice I Ever Got
“Stay loose!” — a phrase used by my father, previously used by his father. In times of stress, remembering this phrase has often given me opportunities for mindful awareness of how I am feeling in my body, and in my psychological emotional core. Staying loose, to me, means existing in this present moment, and feeling enough safety to reflect my most authentic self.
What's Next For Me
Whats next for me is primarily, to have a healthy baby; to bond with that kid like I’ve never bonded before — as a father. I hope to see Lamorinda Dads grow over time, breaking through the black mirror of digital connection and into supportive relationships IRL. I believe many dads in Lamorinda are eager to find that sense of community and belonging, and I’m pleased to be offering a forum for it to grow.
I also opened a psychotherapy practice in downtown Lafayette this past December, working with adults, kids, and teens. Even in these first few months, I’ve been so pleased with the growth of my business and the opportunity to contribute to the vibrant Lamorinda community.
Matthew Fishleder, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist #100802
Early 40's, mom to one girl, divorced but happily co-parenting. Awesome boyfriend.
What is your secret to success?
Try, try, try. Fail, try something else. All of the projects you "see" here only succeeded because others failed (oh! Lamorinda Pet Care Co-op, haha!). But, I gain something fantastic from each failed project I try. Not only knowledge but friends, confidence, life experience, all of it. These things are expensive and you're putting yourself on the line when you're trying to do the "research and development" on moving forward in life. But, just keep working...a little bit at a time turns into a big project and one project turns into another.
Best advice I ever got?
Work on it. Whatever it is. Again, one step at a time. There are mornings I wake up tired, stressed, feeling overwhelmed with the things I've chosen to bite off. But, then I just do "a little bit" and wade through the harder parts. The other piece of advice I absolutely follow...when all else fails, take a break. And I mean get in the car and literally get a change of scenery. Kind of a rest, run, repeat scenario.
What's next for me?
After going through a lot professionally to choose to go out on my own, I'm ready to stabilize and grow all my baby projects. Between the brokerage, adding team members, following property tech, growing blogs such as this one for people to enjoy and operating my co-working space...I always have enough to do. Maybe 'what's next' should include slowing down? Maybe.
Greatest Female Role Model
Anyone who's "in the ring" trying something new. Anyone. People I highlight on this website for creating their own paths. People who say 'status quo is not for me, I'm striking out and trying something new - win or lose'. Women and men.
Founder, Chroma Realty, https://www.chromarealty.com/
As a new parent or new-to-the-area parent, finding reliable and trustworthy medical care for your little ones is among your most important decisions. So what style of care are you looking for? Pediatrician or Family Doctor? Laid back vs. strictly clinical? Old school or modern techniques? Big office vs. small shop? Traditional or modified vaccination schedule?... The comparisons are endless and every family’s needs are different. But one thing is certain: everyone wants is a medical professional they can trust to take careful responsibility for their child’s health and well-being – no matter what the needs may be.
Thankfully, here in Lamorinda, we have an array of pediatric care options that appeal to just about every family’s style. Often offices will let you schedule a new patient meet and greet before you formally join their practice. Insurance sites usually provide ratings and reviews of doctors in your network and within your area but here is the neighborly take on each of the top options in and around Lamorinda to get you started in your search:
Pediatrician in Lamorinda
Lamorinda Pediatrics has a care team of 8 providers who offer traditional care with a family friendly feel. They have doctors on staff at both John Muir Medical Center and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and offer a complimentary prenatal meeting with one of their doctors to learn about the practice. They also offer same day and weekend appointments for acute illness. Some of the community ‘loves’ about Lamorinda Pediatrics are that the doctors are fabulous. Some of the community gripes are that they are fairly inflexible with dates and times because of the popularity of the practice.
Maria Steelman, MD runs a small practice offering an alternative to some of the larger offices in the area. The practice is a more laid back, offering a non-traditional atmosphere and alternative treatment options. Families rave about her and she seems to be easier to see as a sole practitioner and known to bring the families into the decision making process of her diagnosis and recommendations for care.
Pediatrician in Orinda
Summit Pediatric Medical Group is a team of 4 MDs with staff at Children’s Hospital Oakland, Alta Bates Medical Center, and John Muir Medical Center. Summit Pediatrics offers a modern approach in a new office and is also well-loved by the community. Because the practice is small many parents seem comfortable letting any of the doctors see their children which opens up more possibilities with scheduling.
Olive Leaf Pediatrics is a concierge medical practice. The firm offers wholistic, family-centered care that is house call based. Membership is fee based and this means that third parties (insurance companies) are not involved in care decisions. Dr. Sherriff, also a mother, has an interesting background and is committed to one-to-one care for your children.
East Bay Pediatrics is a network of 10 pediatricians, ranging in experience levels, who run offices out of both Berkeley and Orinda. They tout fact that they offer a variety of care styles at their practice, so there is something for everyone. Parents are grateful that there’s and advice nurse on staff 24/7 and allow for drop in hours in the morning.
Lloyd Takao, MD offers patient-oriented care and flexible scheduling within his independent practice. He treats patients in Oakland, Orinda, Lafayette, Alameda, Berkeley, Moraga, Piedmont, Walnut Creek and the greater East Bay area.
If you need to expand your search outside of Lamorinda proper to find the right match for your child/children, please feel free to also consider a few popular care groups in Walnut Creek.
Pediatrician in Walnut Creek
Where did the days of quickie breakfasts, packed lunches and random dinners between sports practices, dance classes and fast food go? While dreaming of only 4-5 loads of wash per week compared to 12-15, you are now at those smaller wash days and quiet meals and you may have some time to fill! What do you do with all that time that was once a fantasy? Finding friends isn’t as easy as it was when the kids were in school. If you’re moving on top of it, you’re starting fresh.
A move through the Caldecott Tunnel to Lamorinda can make your life so busy and filled with exciting fun and creative days! With a little effort of time and research, you can find wonderful activities that lead to new adventures and relationships in the Lamorinda/East Bay communities!
One of the easiest place to find a new group of friends and venture out into your community at the same time is MeetUp. Search by interest or age group (or both). Groups that might speak to a more mature social set include:
Walnut Creek Area Women’s Book Club - 50’s and Older
Best is Yet to Be
Coming of Age Group for Women 60+
And so forth. Financial groups, book clubs, hiking groups.
Speaking of hiking, the rolling (and sometimes steep!) hills surrounding Lamorinda are popular with hikers. Be sure to check out Orinda Hiking Club to keep that heart pumping.
Socializing is never far from food and drink. If you want to get out and feel the buzz and energy of being out with other people, but don’t want to run into your kids (or their friends) at the bar, popular choices are Vic Stewart’s or Va Di Vi in Walnut Creek. Metro in downtown Lafayette and, on Friday nights, Wine Thieves hosts a tasting (free with a guest for members) that draws a good crowd.
For something a bit more special, Walnut Creek Yacht Club has regular events and a lot of regulars. A really popular seafood place that allows you to ‘join’ their ‘club’ (just sign up) and that allows you to make reservations at a number of special menu nights that are usually nothing short of amazing. More here. Combine it with a night of theater for the perfect evening. You couldn’t live in a more exciting performing arts hamlet! The Lesher Center for the Arts, located in beautiful downtown Walnut Creek, is the premier theater venue in Contra Costa County. Multiple stages and high quality productions. You can experience Broadway shows, comedy, dance or lecture series where there is not a bad seat for your viewing.
Finally, for the Shakespeare and lover of the arts, Orinda provides us with California Shakespeare Theater. Not only special in our community but loved throughout the Bay Area.
For better or worse, most of us love our beer and wine. East Bay residents...no exception.
Seeking out tasting rooms, wineries and restaurants with a great selection is fun, social and relaxing. In Lamorinda, some of the standout restaurants include the following:
Postino - a classy little date place smack in the middle of downtown with loads of history and one of the ‘finest’ (dining) menus around. You can sneak to the side bar and enjoy the ambiance and when weather is good, sit outside.
Batch & Brine
Batch & Brine - a newer addition to downtown Lafayette, former Cooperage bartender’s new project. Excellent cocktails (best in town) and a rotating, curated, beer-lover’s beer selection. Food is a bit on the heavier side but very creative and a touch ‘international meets bar food’ (ahem, bahn mi burger...yum!)
La Finestra - relocated to Moraga after a fire in downtown Lafayette forced the doors to shut down, La Finestra is Italian with a good atmosphere for dates or families. Wine list is ample and if you check the schedule, there’s often live piano
Fourth Bore Tap Room
Fourth Bore Tap Room - bar food, tv’s, a GREAT beer list and the most outside seating of probably any restaurant in Lamorinda. Located in Theater Square, this is always a solid choice to meet beers out with the bros or have a larger group that can sit outside and chill.
Lafayette Park Hotel (Park Bistro)
Lafayette Park Hotel (Park Bistro) - this is where you go when you want the classic, classy bar experience. Career bartenders with mad skills who will talk you up and tell stories? Check. Excellent cocktails, higher end scotch menu and carefully chosen wines? Check. Get lucky and get a spot at the fireplace...and there’s even an outlet in the far right corner if you feel like changing it up while getting some work done. Oh! And mama brunch spot, too.
Tasting Rooms and Wineries
Taking a step away from the restaurant scene, you can dive a little deeper into a wine experience at the local tasting rooms and even a few wineries! Lafayette and Orinda provide the tasting rooms (Wine Thieves and Jackson’s Wine in Lafayette and Cine Cuvee in Orinda). While Moraga goes one step farther by gracing the area with a few wineries. Captain Winery prides itself on producing sustainable wines and has a gorgeous property and stunning wine room. Dry farming techniques save the winery the water waste and provide a wonderful, unique taste. For more information on this and other wineries in the vicinity, pop over to Lamorinda Wine Grower's Association. A fascinating peek into a tiny corner of our community!
Moving into beer, Lamorinda is excitedly and patiently waiting for the opening of Canyon Club - located deep in Moraga (Moraga has all the gems...and they’re all very hidden!), the Canyon Club is a spacious indoor/outdoor beer garden with handcrafted beer onsite - milled from grain onsite! The owners are locals and have been pouring heart and soul. Estimated to open late spring 2019, this will be a hot spot for years to come!
If you're like most Americans, your home is probably your biggest investment. You want that investment to perform as well as possible, so if you think you may sell your home sometime soon, it makes sense to do as much as you can to boost its value.
This can mean doing some home renovations so your house becomes more attractive to potential buyers.
But, while upgrades can boost your home price and help your home sell faster, not all renovations have an equal impact on what your home is worth. To ensure you're making renovations that will actually pay off, read on to find out some upgrades that give you the most bang for your buck.
Sprucing Up Your Exterior
You only get one chance to make a first impression when a buyer pulls up to your home. Real estate agents say that the first impression counts the most, and the first impression comes from what the buyer sees when the car pulls up to the curb.
Making changes to your home's exterior doesn't have to cost a fortune. Curb appeal can be improved by some basic efforts such as power washing the home’s exterior. It cost less than $200, and it's the first impression as the buyer's enter the home.
Making more major upgrades to your home's exterior can also pay off. Studies have shown you can recoup around 93% of the costs of adding stone veneer, around 91% of the costs of a new garage door, and around 91% of the costs of a new entry door.
Budget-Friendly Kitchen Remodels
Heart of the home! Most experts agree a kitchen is key to improving a home's value. Investing in the kitchen makes a lot of sense, as studies have shown as many as 80% of homebuyers list the kitchen as their favorite room. When your kitchen is updated, buyers may also be more forgiving of other outdated areas. “I've found that my clients are more likely to tolerate an outdated bathroom than an outdated kitchen,” Maria Tabakova, an agent with Triplemint said.
You don't have to spend a fortune to make a big improvement in your kitchen, either. A minor face-lift for your kitchen could include painting cabinets or getting new cabinet doors, installing new appliances, upgrading countertops, or switching out cabinet hardware. “There's just something about new doors and handles and stainless steel appliances that make people excited,” advised Mike Higgins of Keller Williams Realty in Green Bay.
If your bathrooms are outdated, this is another room where updates could make a big impact. “Next to kitchens, bathrooms are the number two selling point in most homes,” according to Cedric Stewart, at Keller Williams in Washington D.C. “Nail this upgrade and you're halfway to the closing table!”
Studies have shown a minor bathroom remodel can provide a 102% return on investment, and you don't have to spend a fortune to make big upgrades.
“Consider re-grouting tile; remove and replace caulk around the shower, tub, and toilet areas; and maybe it is time to replace the toilet for a more efficient and modern look,” advised Nancy Wallace-Laabs, a licensed real estate broker and founder of KBN Homes, LLC. “Replacing mirrors and fixtures will also go a long way to improve the look and feel of the bathrooms.”
A New Coat of Paint
One of the cheapest updates you can make also has one of the best returns on your investment: painting your home's interior.
Painting an interior can produce a 109% return on investment, but could benefit you even more if your home's colors are unusual. “The colors most people have in their homes are personal, but they should be transitional and appeal to a larger pool of people,” advised Patrick Ryan, a certified residential specialist, senior vice president, and managing broker at Related Realty in Chicago.
Fix Your Flooring
Flooring makes a huge difference in how your house comes across to buyers and upgrading it can make a big impact.
Today, many buyers place a premium on hardwood floors and, when done correctly, hardwood floors could add around 2.5% to a home's sale price. Installing hardwood can be costly, with popular woods running around $5 to $10 per square foot plus the costs of installation, but you can recoup as much as much as 70% to 80% of the cost when it's time to sell.
If you're short on funds, focus on replacing floors in public areas including kitchens and living rooms, while opting for less costly carpet in the bedrooms.
Homes are very sentimental assets. They’re where we watch our children grow up, where we experience highs and lows, and where we can safely rest our heads at night.
The longer you have been in your home, the more memories it will hold. Walls are more than that – they form a vault of memories that may be hard to leave behind.
Sometimes, all it takes to make a house feel fresh is a simple coat of paint. Other times, it is a full remodel to help you better utilize the space or age-in-place.
Renovations are a substantial investment, so it is important to know exactly what you are spending your hard earned money on long before construction actually begins.
Many homeowners do not know exactly what they want when they sign up for this complex journey. Unfortunately, if their wishes change after a contractor begins work, the renovation will not come out as they imagined and the budget could be blown by unexpected change orders and material-sourcing delays.
Should you choose to remodel, choose a firm that can plan the process from start to finish before the first hammers are ever swung, saving you from surprises and alleviating any budget-tension you may have.
To be fair, remodeling can cause some significant cost and hassle but the end result will be worth it because the space will be customized for your needs. Reputable design/build firms make homeowners’ comfort a priority and do everything within reason to limit dust, debris and disruption in your home.
Some homeowners are generally happy with their current home, but they have a few modifications in mind to “spruce up” the place to make it more suitable to their dream home. Some cosmetic updates or the addition of amenities like whole-house water-filtration, air purification, and HVAC systems can transform the ambiance and enjoyment of a home.
If you’re happy with the majority of your current home, remodeling is a much more affordable option than moving. If you cannot find exactly what you are looking for on the market, you may have to create your own dream home!
Maximize Rental Income Through Renovation
When renovating and cleaning a rental property, it is often difficult to cut costs while maximizing your return on investment (ROI). Here are some relatively inexpensive tips that will help you improve the rental property, while maximizing its income potential.
Give Tenants a Vision
Kitchens and bathrooms usually provide the greatest “wow” factor. Tenants, like everyone else, do not want to be washing themselves in a dirty or moldy bathroom.
They also don’t want to cook in an outdated kitchen from 1970. If you are going to upgrade any specific rooms in the property, I would start with these two.
Further, if you plan to sell your property in the next 5-10 years, a nicely updated kitchen or bathroom will usually give you about an 80% return on investment – which is higher than most renovations.
Bathroom and kitchen updates don’t just sell houses; they also “sell” rental properties.
A modern, up-to-date bathroom or kitchen can give your property a competitive edge. You can redo these rooms without spending a ton of money. Resurfacing the cabinets, adding new fixtures and updating the paint or flooring can make a big difference.
“Buy Nothing: Give Freely. Share the bounty. Post anything you'd like to give away,
lend, or share among neighbors. Ask for anything you'd like to receive for free or
borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering,
we're a gift economy.
We'd love to have you join us! We have over 3,000 groups around the world; if you
don't have one in your town, we'll help you start one; just ask us how - It's free and easy.
This page is the general headquarters of the Buy Nothing Project network, where we
link interesting gift and sharing economy news from the internet, and inspiring
posts from the many BNProject groups around the world.. The actual gift economy
action is hyper-local -- that is, it happens within much smaller,
geographically defined communities.”
Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga are definitely on the conservation bandwagon. Each community has an active ‘buy nothing’ community, to be found on Facebook, where you can give a little and get a little by piping up (and picking up, typically from the giver’s porch).
Buy Nothing - Lafayette
Buy Nothing - Orinda
Buy Nothing - Moraga
Ah, your baby years are past...your toddler years are past. The legs are getting longer, they’re leaner and taller...they ask a million questions and blow you away with some of their comments. It’s time for Kinder. And registration is not that simple. Here’s how it breaks down:
January: yes, January. You be ready. That’s right, you. Nobody knows how old your kid is. Nothing is coming in the mail. No announcement will be made since you’re not on the radar of the school district. This is on you - and it’s early in the year for the following year. Surprisingly early! Here are the district kinder web pages:
Lafayette - Kinder & TK Information
Orinda - Kinder & TK Information
Moraga - Kinder & TK Registration
So, that’s step one!
After going through the list and collecting your documents, DON’T FORGET TO PRINT the actual online application. Other things you must know is that immunization records, a health exam (filled out by a doctor) and a dental exam (filled out by a dentist) are required for your packet. The guidelines for providing proof of residency are strenuous. They check your residency multiple different ways and god help if your tax returns don’t match your address (they’ll eventually get it sorted out if they don’t). After your packet is filed, at your respective school, you will fill out a postcard for an orientation reminder. In 2019, that orientation is in late May. By this time the classes have been split (early/late).
Registrants after this time period (for instance, summer buyers) do run the risk of not being in their “home” school after (and if) classes have filled up. Word through the grapevine is that your child will be transferred into their home school as space allows.
Resident of Lafayette and mom to an incoming Kinder - surprise, surprise, this process was more intricate than I thought it would be. Consider yourself armed and congrats on making it to the ‘school age’ years!