Fans of Coastal San Diego

This site is for the many fans of coastal San Diego, those who have lived here for years, as well as those new to the area. Here you can learn more about the different communities, the many things to do and places to visit in and around San Diego, share your experiences, and ask for advice and recommendations for restaurants, shopping, visitor activities, places to live, and more! Buyers thinking about moving here will find lots of information to help, too!

Monday, April 30, 2007

La Costa is in the LA Times

La Costa is in the LA Times!

The LA Times published an article in their Sunday 4/29 real estate section on La Costa - "Carlsbad's chic 'sister.'" I'm pleased about the article for a couple of reasons. One, it gets this great community (and the San Diego area) in the face of some LA Times readers. Or maybe we don't want them coming down here...hmmm.

Secondly, I got quoted! The writer had called me a few weeks ago, after finding my blogs about La Costa, and wanted to write an article. She asked if I could share some information about the area, the real estate marker, and my insights...which I did....

Here's the link to the article. It's not very long but good to see none the less. I gave her a lot more information than got published but that's typical.

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My New Carlsbad listing

I don't write much formally about my business here, but did want to mention a new listing I have in Carlsbad. There's a neat photo tour and lots of information here.

If you or someone you know is looking at Carlsbad homes for sale, feel free to pass along the link. Let me know what you think of the photo tour - it's something new I am trying.



Brunch at Le Papagayo

I’ve written about Le Papagayo before, on the subject of dinner, but I had my first brunch here yesterday and decided to share that, since this has become a favorite restaurant in the area (I live in Carlsbad but spend lots of time in Encinitas, especially Leucadia. both for my real estate business and for pleasure).

Located along the Coast highway (101) in Leucadia, Le Papagayao fits right in with all that Leucadia is about. Dinner (twice) in the past was great, and brunch was not a disappointment either.

There is a great menu with a wide selection of creative breakfast and brunch dishes that are consistent with the creativity and flavors in the dinner menu. There is seating indoors and outdoors along the 101 or on the side by the parking lot so you can enjoy the scenery while dining. My Neptune Avenue dish was terrific – a 3-egg omelette with shrimp, crab meat, lobster sauce and avocado. Not a bad way to start my Sunday.

The place was almost packed when we arrived around 10, and the flow of people continued in and out while we were there. Friendly, helpful service and great food made for a very enjoyable late morning breakfast. Too bad the sun was not shining, but that’s life along the coast sometimes.

So stop by for brunch sometime. It won’t disappoint. But if you want high end trendy food, with china and silverware, this is NOT your place. But then you wouldn’t want to be in Leucadia anyway.
Have no fear – brunch at the Four Seasons, just a few miles away in Carlsbad, won’t disappoint either, if high-end brunch is your preference.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

J'Aime M'Aimer (I love this store)

What? Don’t speak French? It means “I Love M’Aimer”...

M’Aimer (“Love Me”)being a new fashion designs (clothing), art and accessories shop in Leucadia on the 101, next to Le Papagayo, my favorite Leucadia restaurant.

M’Aimer is about a month old and is the brainchild of Nadia Vetter from Australia (who lives in Leucadia). We were having brunch today at Le Papagayo (more on that later) and my wife decided to go take a look. I am not a big shopper but joined her (after I paid the bill!). What a neat store! Cleverly and attractively decorated, with a wide array of women’s clothing (another reason for the appeal to my wife…less for me), accessories and art objects. Much of the clothing is from Thailand and India, in bright colors and comfortable fabrics, and according to my wife and daughter (who joined us for brunch and shopping) the prices are very reasonable.

This is the kind of store you want to see be successful (and KNOW will be) and it works in Leucadia. Not one for fancy, trendy high-end boutiques and designer labels, Leucadia is much more about a funky, quaint beach town which has a good flow of tourists. The community is one that wants to retain the spirit and feel that it has had for years and which attracts, and appeals to, the people who live here.. Shops that fit in will be welcome, but those that do not, will not.

So check it out when you are in the area. It’s about midway between Leucadia Boulevard and La Costa Avenue on the beach side of the 101. I have yet to meet the owner, but hope to some day so I can tell you more about her and the personality behind M’Aimer.

If you have any questions, you can contact Nadia at (760) 230-6546 or by email.

Sorry to report that this charming shop has closed, sometime in late 2007

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Rant on Grocery Stores

This is a rant - let me warn you right now. But it might strike a chord with a few of you.
I love living here, in part due to all the great produce and fruits that you have access to. It was decent back East, at least during the spring and summer, but nothing to compare to what we have here. Maybe some people take it for granted cos you are used to it, but it is still wonderful for me.
But shopping for produce at the grocery stores drives me (and my wife) nuts.

First, the quality is often not that great. Clearly the farmer's market is the way to go (and we get there as often as we can - better and fresher produce, more variety, etc.). Henry's (recently purchased by Whole Foods) is pretty good as well, as is Jimbo's. Sometime the quality is good and other times the fruit and vegetables look pretty scary - you have to wonder how they can think people will buy this stuff! The inconsistency is troubling, and so unpredictable. Trader Joe's produce is pretty good too but more expensive.
But what really irks me are the prices. When you do any sort of comparison between what you pay for the identical items at a Vons or Alberstons, vs. getting it at Henry's, for example, it is appalling. It is not unusual to see prices at the big guys almost twice what you pay for elsewhere for the same things, AND for lesser quality. It really grates me, since it happens all the time. Sure, it's easier to just buy the strawberries at Vons for $3.79 a quart rather than make another stop at Henry's to get them for less than half the price. But you start feeling taken advantage of. Man, it starts to get expensive to eat healthily.
Yes, I understand these are big stores with big staffs and big expenses, but you have to wonder.
Does it bug you too? Or am I overreacting here. Just curious.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

San Diego Ranks 302nd out of 379

Ouch. Doesn't sound like good news, does it?

Actually, it is good news, relatively speaking. There has been lots of press recently about all the short sales, foreclosures and fraud in the mortgage industry, not to mention the subprime issues we have been hearing so much about (sorry - I'm a REALTOR so this stuff interests me, although these issues can impact our overall economy here in SD, so it affects you too).

The good news is San Diego ranks 302nd out of 379 markets in terms of mortgage fraud. Which means there are 301 markets that are worse. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic Systems (a Sacramento firm that measures lending risks) goes on to say that we also are 85th on the list of the 100 largest markets. Certainly there is concern about the rate of short sales and foreclosures that we are seeing, with a dramatic increase since 2006, but the news, at least for now, indicates that we are not suffering to the extent that many areas are.

But there is concern that we will see the rates of mortgage fraud rise with the changes that have occurred in housing prices and the increase in foreclosures. Folks that may be in danger of losing their homes through foreclosure are, unfortunately easy prey for criminals who are out to make a quick buck through fraudulent loans and other means.

To read more on this issue, take a look at the article that was in Sunday's Home section by Emmet Pierce.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Postal Rates

In case you are not aware, we will be paying more for mailing first class letters and other things in the near future.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The San Diego Wild Animal Park

My first visit to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park was last week. We have passed it a bunch of times heading inland but for a variety of reasons have not made the trip for a visit. My nephews were in town visiting from Michigan and wanted to go so off we went. The weather was perfect, about 75 degrees.

Given the price of tickets ($28.50 for adults, $17.50 for children 3 - 11), and expecting we will be back, we decided to go ahead and get a membership for 1 year (using a $10 off coupon) which gave us 2 free guest passes, plus 4 2-for-1 passes to use during the year. Seemed like a great deal.

The park is about 25 miles inland from the coast, and 35 miles from San Diego, not far off the 15 near Escondido. There is plenty of parking ($6 for members, $8 for nonmembers) with a shuttle bus to get you to the gate unless you want to walk.

We were only there about 3 hours, so we didn't have time to do everything. You can easily spend the better part of the day if you go to all the exhibits (African Aviary was a favorite, along with lions, see the elephant show (lots of fun), go on the safari ride, and so on. Most things are no additional charge but certain attractions cost more. You can also get multiday passes.

The website has all the information you need, and a cool interactive map so you can plan your trip.

My only disappointment was that my digital camera died about 30 minutes after we got there (so, sorry I have limited pics) - no not the batteries, the LCD imaging. So, due to the cost of repairs, I have bought another camera.
If you get a chance to go, do it - worth the trip and different from the San Diego Zoo itself.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Homebuyers' Fair

A Homebuyer's Fair (the 8th annual) will be held on the grounds of Palomar College in Oceanside on June 16th from 10 am until 3 pm.
This is a great resource for homebuyers in North County San Diego, especially if you are a first time home buyer.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Wine Tasting in Carlsbad

The Carlsbad Wine Merchants store, just off Faraday, is a terrific wine store. I'm sure there are others in the San Diego area but this one is tops in my area, as far as I know.
Carlsbad Wine Merchants was recommended to us almost two years ago when we moved here, and we have enjoyed frequenting this growing establishment to learn about and purchase wine, and to enjoy their wine tastings.

Kathy Bankerd is the owner, and one very knowledgeable and helpful person when it comes to wine. And it shows in their selection. We have become much more familiar with red wines since we first started visiting this store and began talking with Kathy. She understood our lack of knowledge, but willingness to learn, and patiently (spending over 1 hour the first visit) shared her thoughts and recommendations on a series of reds we should try to begin acquiring a taste and appreciation for Zinfandels, Cabernets, Malbecs and more. They keep a list on their system of the wines we have bought so we can refer to them in the future, or use them for comparison to other wines, especially when we don't keep notes or the label.

We have also been attending some of the wine tastings, which are held pretty much every week (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays), and which offer a tremendous opportunity to sample a wide range of wines and meet, in some cases, the winemakers. Kathy offers special wine tastings to celebrate different times of the year, the release of new vintages, and has expanded the store to double its size, and there is a new and larger tasting room and an espresso bar. In addition they offer a number of gift items, personalized gift baskets, and private events.

We attended their wine tasting this past Friday night featuring Tobin James of Paso Robles, one of our favorites. Their Zinfandel, Ballistic, is perhaps our favorite red wine. We also had a chance to meet Toby James himself, which was great fun. And as James Gang Wine Club members we get to enjoy special wines shipped to our home twice a year. Cool. We are planning a trip in May to the vineyard which should be great fun (they are some great events during the year too).

Don't miss this place, if you have not been there. You can email Kathy at or call her at (760) 804-9994 for more information. They also offer a monthly newsletter and a wine club. What more do you need?

In Kathy's words...

Il migliore vino e'quello che si beve con gli amici!!

(the best wine is the one you have with friends)

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

My First Padres Game

I am a little embarassed to admit this, after being here for almost two years, but I went to my first San Diego Padres game last night. I have been by Petco Park numerous times, from my travels to the Gaslamp area, wandering around town, and when looking a condos nearby for clients.

This is a great venue, although I will say that as a Red Sox fan, after having lived in Boston for 20 years, Fenway Park is at the top of my list. But I imagine any diehard fan feels that way about their city's sports arena.

Petco is pretty impressive, and the game (which the Padres won against the Giants 4-0) was pretty good. A bit ho hum for the first few innings but once the Padres started scoring it got more interesting (no surprise) and the fans more excited. We sat in left field (for $14 each plus the $3.50 charge for ordering tickets on-line) and had a great view. Lot of Giants fans scattered about and plenty of folks having a great time (a good number were clearly there more for the party than for the game).

All in all a great experience, and I plan to go back. If you have not been there it is definitely worth it. Stop off in the Gaslamp beforehand, as we did, for dinner (Dick's LastResort seemed to be the right place before the game - lots of fans there).

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Plein Air Brunch at the Cannon Art Gallery, Carlsbad

The Cannon Art Gallery in South Carlsbad is hosting its 6th annual Plein Air Brunch, the fundraiser for the gallery. If you have an interest in art, like to support it in the local community, and would like something fun to do on a Sunday morning, this may be it.

This cool event is being held on Sunday, May 20, 2007 in the courtyard at the gallery/Carlsbad Library at 1775 Dove Lane, just west of El Camino Real, and about 1/2 mile north of the La Costa Spa and Resort.

9:30 a.m. Table Viewing
10-11:30 a.m. Brunch

Cost is $50/ticket - ON SALE NOW!

Here are the details from the Press Release:

"Don your spring hats and come to the annual gala Plein Air Brunch at The William D. Cannon Art Gallery. This unique fundraiser will be held on Sunday, May 20, 2007 in the courtyard of the Carlsbad City Library at 1775 Dove Lane. The 6th Annual Plein Air Brunch features tables decorated by local artists and guest designers in the style of famous artists from throughout the ages. This event is sponsored by the Carlsbad Friends of the Arts and is open to everyone. Proceeds from this fundraiser go toward the Gallery's Arts Education Program, Three-Part-Art. As this is the ONLY FUNDRAISER for the much visited and applauded community art gallery, contributions are needed, solicited and very much appreciated.
A few of the table designs this year will include artist interpretations of: Gustav Klimt, Monet, Degas, Cassatt and Joaquin Sorolla among others.

Each year, there is a much anticipated silent auction and raffle. New this year is a silent auction of WORKS OF ART, donated by well known artists from the surrounding San Diego county area. In addition, the artists and designers who graciously design the table settings have been given an opportunity to display their work in the adjoining gallery/library vicinity. Their work will be available to purchase, with proceeds going directly to the artist

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of their legal value. Tickets go on sale mid to late March. To contribute and be recognized in the event's program bulletin or for ticket information, contact the Cannon Art Gallery directly at 760-602-2021."

So check it out - you will enjoy yourself, have some wonderful food catered by Isaac's Catering (I have been to several events that they catered and the food is great!), and can help support this wonderful gallery.

PS - I am donating the champagne - come enjoy a glass or have a mimosa!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

The Cedros District in Solana Beach

I really enjoy visiting the Cedros District in Solana Beach. If you have not taken time to tour this area, just a block east of the coastal route (the 101), it is well worth the visit.

I am not a big clothing shopper (much of my shopping is on-line) but I do enjoy shopping for art, antiques, home furnishings and garden/patio. If you are only into clothing, this area is not the best place for you.
But if you are shopping for your home, looking into a designer, decorator, or architect, or planning your own remodeling and redecorating projects, then this is one of the better venues I have found in San Diego.

I spent a good part of the afternoon there the other day and decided to write about it. There are lots of photos and a visual tour. So stop by an take a look at my Shopping Stroll in the Cedros District.

I'd love to hear what you think. And if there are particular places that you liked, let us all know.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Elizabethan Desserts - A Feast for the Eyes and Tastebuds

Elizabethan Desserts.

What an elegant name. And what delectable desserts they are.

I was introduced to these wonderful goodies yesterday by a good friend (who always seems to find the best places to buy sweets), Nancy Bahr Kelly (who, I might add, is a talented designer with her own line of handbags, scarves and belts - more on her in a later post). While I haven't yet visited the bakery (it is now on the must-do list) I have had the chance to enjoy a number of these wonderful creations by Elizabeth Harris, owner of Elizabethan Desserts, in the Sunshine Gardens on Quail Gardens Road in Encinitas (in the Encinitas Ranch area), at the corner of Encinitas Boulevard and Quail Gardens Road.

The first sampling was last night after dinner, with many more terrific treats today for the Easter Brunch we hosted at our house. The bunny cakes were enjoyed by all (a tasty delicate white cake with chocolate frosting) as were the Easter cookies, which were beautifully decorated. I can't recall the name of the bar (also in the pic) but the flavor and memory linger. We still have a carrot cake (one also sits in the middle of the rabbits) left to savor as well as a banana cream pie.

The business is new, as I understand, but Elizabeth is well on her way to sure success, if the treats I sampled are any indication of her talents. Her website is in its infancy but check back for more information as it develops. I know she is a talented caterer as well although I don't know the extent of that business now that she has opened this wonderful bakery/pastry shop.

If you have a chance to stop by to enjoy her creations, do so. It is well worth the trip...and a visual and taste delight.


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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Upcoming Events in North County San Diego

There are a number of outdoor events coming up in the next few months that may be of interest. These are time-tested, popular activities offering a range of things to do and see, so make your plans and put them on your calendar. And if you have friends or family coming from out of town, what a great way to showcase the great area we live in.

Check out the links for more information!

The CARLSBAD VILLAGE FAIRE - this well-known event, and the largest single day event of its kind in California, will be held in the heart of Carlsbad Village on May 6, and attracts about 100,000 folks to hundreds of booths offering things to buy (art, jewelry, books, crafts, etc), food to enjoy, and entertainment for all. Great shopping and fun for all ages in the charming streets of Carlsbad Village. Get there early for the best deals!

ENCINITAS STREET FAIR - another great outdoor event held on coastal route 101 for 2 days later this month (April 28 - 29), between D and J streets in the heart of downtown Encinitas. Several hundred booths will offer plenty of shopping and food. You can easily make a day of it...if your pocketbook holds out.

OCEANSIDE DAYS OF ART - this celebration, the 15th, will be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22 and will feature some of the area's best visual, performing and musical artists in and around the civic center. Paintings, sculpture, pottery and ceramics, glassware and more will be on display to enjoy and purchase. Hundreds of musical performers will be on hand to entertain and enthrall. Don't miss this celebration of art.
So now your weekends for the next month are filled. What a great way to enjoy Southern California living and experience the amazing artistry, craftsmanship, talent and creativity we have here. And ALL outdoors. What more could you ask?

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Feng Shui Basics: Quick Tips for Spring


If you've been waiting for new opportunities to come your way, but things have been slow-moving, you might appreciate the Feng Shui tips below.

  1. Remember, your doors and windows feed healthy energy (known as Ch'i) into your home. Make sure that ALL of the entrances into your house are uncluttered and inviting and that the (surrounding) symbolism is a reflection of what you would like to attract. This applies to the inside, too . . . Avoid having furniture that blocks doors or sliders, or items that are stored behind doors. It blocks opportunities from entering your life.
  2. Position outside seating, statuary and water features so they are directing energy into, rather than away from, your home. We want your good luck coming in, not going out.
  3. This is a great time of year to wash the interior/exterior of your windows (for more clarity and vision in life), and to check all of your light bulbs to see what needs replacing. This will bring extra illumination and exposure to your hard work and endeavors.

And, as I always say, the best way to attract good fortune in, is to put good energy out there . . . So give a compliment, offer a donation, or surprise someone with a random act of kindness to keep the Ch'i flowing.


Feng Shui Resource

If you've been feeling stuck when it comes to uncluttering . . . ask us about our organizing services and rates. Afterall, it's the perfect time to create space for new opportunities to come in.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Virtual Tour of Idyllwild

I wrote a post a day ago about my trip to Idyllwild, CA.

Here is a virtual tour of the area too. Enjoy!

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Take a Trip to Idyllwild, CA

I spent this past Saturday and Sunday visiting Idyllwild, about 90 miles from where I live in Carlsbad. For those of you who have not been there, it is worth the less-than-2-hour trip, out beyond Temecula and through the Anza Valley.

Idyllwild has a reputation as an arts town (“one of the 100 best art towns in America”), and offers some of the best hiking and rock climbing in the area, with trails to suit every skill level (Mt. Jacinto, 10,804 ft., Suicide Rock, 7,528, Lily Rock, 8,000, and Tahquitz Peak, 8,828). The Deer Springs Trail, off Route 243 just outside of town, is popular with the general public. More experienced hikers might choose to start out from Humber Park, near the base of Lily Rock. The views are breathtaking, whether you are hiking or simply driving along the many scenic roads. Camping is also available, as well as horseback riding, fishing, biking, and boating. Check with the ranger stations regarding where day and/or overnight permits are required (e.g., some hiking trails, camping).

The town itself offers a wide range of shopping, restaurants and galleries, and is easily walkable. We spent the entire afternoon on Saturday exploring the area shops and being good consumers. Next Sunday (Easter), April 7, is their 12th Annual Audible Art Tour with musicians, galleries, venues and artists, from 2 – 5 PM.

There are many lodging options in Idyllwild as well and nearby. These include house (Idyllwild Vacation Rentals) and cabin rentals (Manzanita Cabins), small hotels, inns (Creekstone Inn, Bluebird Cottage Inn) and rustic lodges, and a number of bed and breakfast establishments (Strawberry Creek Inn, the Lodge at Pine Cove B and B).

If you are interested in buying a home here (for vacations, investment, or to live in), there is a pretty good inventory now, up from last year by about 60%, per a local agent I met. There are small cabins and homes in the low to mid $200s, and good selection of 3-4 bedroom properties, many with views, in the $400K - $700K range, or you can spend over a million. Land is also available, and reasonably inexpensive by Los Angeles and San Diego standards – as low as $39,000 for .15 acre, for example, or you can get .26 acres with views of Lily Rock and more for $15,900. Idyllwild Realty is, I believe, the largest real estate office there – Ask for Bill Harris and tell him I sent you.

We weren’t there long enough to try more than one restaurant, but the Gastrognome was great for dinner Saturday night. It has a good reputation both for food and service, and is located right in the heart of Idyllwild (an easy walk if you are staying in town).

It was a great place to visit and a beautiful drive out and back – once you are past Temecula you are on a scenic two lane road the whole way, with little traffic. It’s absolutely worth the trip

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Jeff Dowler (RE/MAX Associates): Real Estate Agent in Carlsbad, San Diego County, California on