First Stop, San Francisco

We were only in San Francisco for two and a half days, but we were able to make to several of our favorite spots. I was hoping for sun, but we got the typical cold and fog of early spring (and summer and winter and often fall). I miss seeing the fog, so it was just as well.

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Kitchen Demo – Day Five

DayFive2 (600x800)On Day Five, the fireplace was framed out. Another snafu. Behind the marbled tile and brick, they found cinder block. Fine. However, the cinder block contains the fireplace in the living room (on the other side of the wall). Taking out the bottom rows would mean screwing up the whole wall, which we didn’t want to mess with. This means we’re losing about five inches of width in our already narrow family room. Super bummer.

DayFive (772x800)They also started the process of relocating the kitchen window. By relocating I mean moving over to the right about eight inches. Quite a big deal to gain that small of a space, but what that will do is give me more room between the sink and stove/range, and also give me a nice corner cabinet, so it was worth it.

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Kitchen window from the outside.

Meanwhile on Day Five….

I took a last-minute to San Francisco and Napa (thanks in part to my amazing husband, who shuffled his schedule around to be on kid duty). I spent Day Five (and Days Six and Seven), eating delicious food, going for walks along trails and beaches, looking at art, tasting wine and spending time with friends. It was great to get away from the noise and the chaos of the remodel.

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Cypress trees along the Land’s End trail and of course, the Golden Gate.

Bridge.LandsEndI ate a solo lunch at my favorite Asian restaurant, Out the Door. (THIS is how you do Asian, Grosse Pointe! Are you listening?). Cellophane noodles sauteed in sesame oil with garlic, scallions, Dungeness crab and cilantro. And a side of sriracha.

OutTheDoor.Oct14 (678x800) OutTheDoorMenuI love Robert Motherwell, and I got to see two of his paintings on this trip. I’d seen them both before, but it was fun to view them one right after the other. One was at Hess Collection winery in Napa and the other at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Hess.MotherwellI was worried that being back in San Francisco was going to make me come completely undone. That maybe as I drove into the city, sadness and longing would overcome me and leave me feeling empty, lonely. But it never happened. I loved seeing the Bridge again and the ocean and the haunting foggy beauty that is Northern California and I will always miss that. But I think I’m where I’m supposed to be. On the descent into Detroit, I even caught myself thinking…”it’s good to be home.”

The August List

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Our vacation rental on Walloon Lake.

1) Northern Michigan (aka Up North) is to Detroiters, as Tahoe is to San Franciscans. I blame Northern Michigan for my blog lull, by the way. We’ve been back over a week and I still can’t get out of vacation mode.

2) Most gnats inhaled on an evening run: four.

3) Nevermind gnats. Whatup spiders? Unless you spray (which we don’t), they are everywhere. I walk through at least one web per day, usually in the morning before I’ve had coffee (letting the dog out). Creeps me out every time, even though I’m expecting it.

4) The guy at Trader Joe’s asked me if I just moved here (they always check my ID, which still says California). He’s from Santa Rosa. He said, “You know what you won’t be able to find out here….good Chinese food.” Yep.

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American Spoon

5) Speaking of food, the best meal I’ve had since I moved was in Petoskey (Up North territory) at a great spot called American Spoon. As I was enjoying my not-greasy whitefish sandwich and potato salad with snap peas and mint (I miss you, San Francisco!), I fell in love with the paint color. Which miraculously they had on file. Which unfortunately is either a mistake or no longer exists, because I cannot find it anywhere, at least not under the brand name they gave me. Waaaahhhh!

6) Yes, you did just see my kid sitting on a pink potty. In the back of my SUV. In the library parking lot.

7) When school starts in Grosse Pointe, summer is officially o-VER. Pools close, restaurants shorten hours, traffic laws change (no right turn on red). In San Francisco, there is no official end of summer. In fact, summer is just getting started (September and October are two of its most gorgeous months).

8) Finding the perfect paint color for the foyer suddenly seems ridiculous and embarrassing when you are waiting for your Italian sub at Which-Wich and start reading the headlines of the newspaper tacked to the walls. Ugh.

sign9) A lawn sign you will never find in San Francisco (above). For one thing, no one has a lawn in San Francisco, but that’s not really the point. Lawn signs are big here. There’s one in front of our new house right now, actually, that the painters put up.

10) Need to get back on your feet, Detroit? Start charging for stuff! It’s free to park anywhere on Belle Isle and admission to the aquarium and conservatory are free (in SF, prices are $35 and $5, respectively). Residents also get a free ride to the DIA museum (at the SF MOMA, it’s $18). A couple weeks ago I parked at St. John’s for a doctor’s appointment. It’s a huge Detroit hospital, as big as San Francisco General. Free parking. (In SF, you’d pay $6.00 – $12.00 easy for the shortest doctor visit).

11) When the guys at Benjamin Moore say, “Bye, see you soon!” as you’re leaving, it’s time to decide on a paint color already.

12) When you start giving other Benjamin Moore patrons color advice, it’s time to pack it up and go home. (Although she did say the creamy white I suggested was exactly what she was looking for. Boo-yeah.)





Our (former) San Francisco home. Top floor.

We are no longer San Francisco homeowners. We closed on Monday!

The real estate market in San Francisco is beyond crazy right now. In order to sell our place, we shelled out 5K for a new paint job (inside) and another 5K for staging, and multiple other dollars for cleaning, gardening and a hardwood floor repair and polish. Was it worth it? Absolutely. It sold for well over the asking price.


The living room, all pimped out.

After all the primping, the selling process was quick and easy. We had two weekends of open houses, a few agent showings and accepted bids on one day only (that’s the way it works, there. You do not accept any bids before the official date). I have to say that even with things being the way they are, we were still a little nervous about how everything would turn out. Selling your home is a stressful process, no matter what market you’re in.


The kitchen, looking into the dining room.


Dining room looking into living room and foyer.


Second bedroom and office nook.


The backyard.

Speaking of the crazy housing market, did you hear about the 3-unit building in Pacific Heights that went for $1.7 million OVER ASKING? According to Curbed SF, the list price was $2.095 million and went for $3.801 million, which means that it sold for 81% over the list price. Or the 4-bedroom home in Noe Valley that went for $1.31 million over? Or the 2-bedroom home in Glen Park (not one of the top most desirable neighborhoods in the city) that sold for $600K over asking? The list of these ridiculous offers is getting longer and longer.


The Pacific Heights home that went for $1.7 million over asking last month.                                              Photo credit:

So who or what is driving up prices? A lot of it is due to the ever-booming tech market (Google, Facebook, Twitter and various IPOs) and foreign investors are also a factor. Another reason is because there just isn’t a whole lot of inventory out there right now. According to a local news article (KPIX 5), real estate agents said that if “new properties stopped coming on the market, San Francisco would run out of homes in five weeks.”

We’ve already started the house hunt here in Grosse Pointe. The market isn’t as bad here, of course, but it’s still a pretty hot market, considering, and there isn’t a whole lot of inventory here, either. For example, a home we looked at least weekend went on the market on a Friday afternoon and sold by Monday morning. But we’re hopeful. That at least we’ll find something by winter (please God!).  Stay tuned.

*photo credit for all our house photos: zephyr real estate


Cha-Ching! Price Differences Between San Francisco and Grosse Pointe


Hello readers, if you’re still with me! I’ve been enjoying Spring and thus slacking off on blogging. I’ve also been enjoying some of the cheaper costs of living here in Grosse Pointe. Granted, it’s a really nice neighborhood, so it’s not like prices of things are ridiculously cheap, but there are certainly considerable differences between San Francisco and this neck of the woods. Here are some comparisons, with San Francisco prices listed first:

  • Organic strawberries from Trader Joe’s (from California!) $6.99 / $3.79
  • Gallon of organic milk $6.99 / $5.99
  • Gas per gallon $4.58 / $3.79
  • Haircut and highlights  $155 / $130
  • Two-bedroom apartment (monthly rent) $2000 – $4000/ $750 – $1200
  • Babysitting per hour (for two kids) $18 / $12
  • Parking ticket expired meter $64- $74 (depends on area) /$10 (if paid in 10 days) or $20
  • Moving violation for no turn on red ( reason) $240 + 1 point /  $150 + 2 points
  • Minutes per quarter at a parking meter 8 /20-85
  • Emergency room visit for nursemaid’s elbow (dislocated) $587.27 / $142.58

I wanted to list a cup of coffee from Starbucks, but I haven’t been there in a while and I keep forgetting to pop my head in. I could also go on and on about the housing markets there and here, but we’re in the middle of it right now, so it’s too stressful to talk about.

If you’re curious about any other cost difference between the areas, just ask!