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openmic22 300x200 Alameda County Open Mics


Alameda County Open Mics

These days, open mic nights are all the rage, especially in and around San Francisco. The following is a rundown of some of the most popular and long running open mic nights in Alameda County.


High Street Station in Alameda hosts two Open Mics on Thursday nights – one for kids and one for adults. Each performer typically sings two or three songs.

Roosters Roadhouse in Alameda hosts an Open Mic for musicians on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Tuesday of the month. Sign ups are at 8 pm. The show runs from 8:30 pm to midnight.

Also contact the Fireside Lounge on Webster Street, which hosts open mics from time to time.


Hit this link for a list of Open Mic Nights in Berkeley.


There’s a different MC every Monday night from 8 pm to 11 pm at the Hayward Bistro. This acoustic open mic event is geared toward local musicians.


Stop by the Oakland Poetry Slam & Open Mic, or the Air Lounge Mouth Off at 8 pm on Wednesdays. The lounge is located at Ninth and Washington.


The Veteran’s Memorial Building in Pleasanton hosts a teen Open Mic every couple of months on a Friday. Admission is five dollars with a student ID. Call 925-931-3481 for dates and times.







February sales across Bay Area fall 10.5% to the lowest in six years…

Where are all the houses for sale?  That’s the question that homes-buyers and their real estate agents are asking, as a report Thursday showed February home sales hit a six-year low around the Bay Area.  While factors ranging from credit to affordability can depress sales, “the main culprit is an inadequate supply of homes for sales,” according to the real estate information service DataQuick.  While prices jumped, sales of single family homes dropped an average of 10.5 percent around the nine-county Bay Area, with dips of 15.3 percent in Contra Costa County, DataQuick reported.  Santa Clara held its own with a 1.9 percent gain, while San Mateo County was up 8 percent.  But sales in those four counties were well below the average February in DataQuicks records, which begin in 1988.The median price paid for a single-family home in Alameda County was $500,000 in February, up 24.4 percent from a year ago;  $401,000 in Contra Costa County, up 31.5 percent; $724,000 in Santa Clara County, up 15.8 percent,  and $765,000 in San Mateo County, up 10.5 percent.  The stock of homes  for sale typically rise at this time of the year. Listings were up from a year ago in Alameda  and Contra Costa Counties and down in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, according to Realtor.com.  All four counties showed gains from January.  It’s still far from normal. “We’re still way down from where we were two years ago,” said David Stark, spokesman for Bay Area East Association of Realtors.  Not surprisingly, sellers are cleaning up.  In Dublin, Jeremy and Megan Brotherton, both 30, have put their home up for sale.  They’re asking $649,000 and have been swamped with buyers.  They were out of town for their first open house, but a neighbor said “it looked like we were having a huge party, cars were lining the streets.” He sent me a text saying, “Man, theres a lot of people at your house!”  But the flip side is that once they sell, they will have to find something to buy.  As part of their home sale, they are asking to rent back the house for a couple months while they look for a home in Danville or San Ramon.  “Otherwise we will be looking for a month-to-month rental place at the Courtyard Marriot,” she said.  “Things are going very quickly,” Jeremy Brotherton said.  “The last home, we offered above the list price, but they had multiple offers.”  On another they’re making an offer on, the seller’s Agent said they’re anticipating six to eight offers.  With prices rising, the number of homes and condos that sold for less than $500,000 fell 30 percent from a year ago, while homes that sold for more than that increased almost 71 percent, according to DataQuick.  The median price fetched by a resale single-family home was $555,000 in the nine-county Bay Area, up from $540,000 in January.  Distressed sales —- foreclosure resales and short sale —- wee 12.4 percent of February’s sales, down from 34 percent a year ago.


Selling a house is a complicated process, no matter how good the real estate market is. Whether you are a first-time home seller or not, you will probably have a bunch of questions. Do I need a real estate agent? What is a “closing”? How much paperwork am I going to have to fill out? How can I get the best price for my house? How can I sell my house and buy a new one at the same time?

Secret #1: The kitchen comes first- you are not actually selling your house; you are selling your kitchen – that is how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you will probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace your counter-tops where a buyer may knock $10,000 of the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use neutral-colored paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Secret#2: Take the home out of your house – One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home “stager” to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Secret #3: Audit your real estate professional’s online marketing – 92% of home-buyers start their house hunt online, and they will never even get in the car to come see your home if the online listings are not compelling. In real estate, compelling means pictures! Studies even show that listings with more than six pictures are twice as likely to be viewed by buyers as listings that had fewer than 6 pictures.

Secret #4: Renovate wisely – In fact, the average remodeling payback in the past 10 years has dropped from 82% in 2003 to 60.6% this year, according to Remodeling Magazine. Bringing up the rear are a dedicated home office (43.6%) and adding a sun-room (46.5%). Topping the list are steel entry-door replacements (86% return) followed by fiber-cement exterior siding (79%). Sellers routinely underestimate the positive impact of simple home improvements such as repainting and minor fix-ups, real estate agents say.

Secret #5: Sweeten the deal – Another way to make the home and deal more attractive to buyers is to offer things or terms that might sweeten the pot. For example, sellers that offer the buyer a couple of thousand dollars credit toward closing costs, or offer the buyer an extended home warranty service may receive more attention from house hunters looking at similar homes. In a down market, buyers are looking for a deal, so do your best to make them feel they are getting one.

Secret #7: Focus on curb appeal – First impressions matter. So a house with chipping paint, overgrown bushes and patchy grass will not make a good impression. You might have to spend some money to make the exterior of your house more appealing, but it is money well spent if it gets potential buyers in the door. Plus, if your house is in good shape on the outside, buyers will see it as one less thing they have to spend money on once they move in.

It Is The Price That Sells a Home

You have heard the old saying – “Location, location, location.”

The real truth is “Location, condition, and price.” And price trumps every other factor.

Location affects the value of a home, but it is price that sells a home. Oceanfront, mountainside, or penthouse, the most desirable location in the world won’t sell at the wrong price.

Every property has a potential buyer, but like rock, paper scissors; it is sometimes hard to know which factor is going to win the showdown.

A good location will sell at a fair price. A bad location will sell at a fair price, too. It just will not be as high as it would be for a good location.

A home in good condition will sell for a fair price. A home in poor condition will also sell at a fair price. Again, it will not be as high as a comparable home in better condition.

But neither location nor condition will sell any house. Only one thing does that – price.

If you are a seller waiting for that “special buyer” who will appreciate your faded pink and black bathroom tile, your vintage orange shag carpet and is willing to help you put your kids through college because of your real estate prowess, you are going to have a long wait.

If your home is represented by a real estate professional, and it has been on the market for a really long time, chances are it could be your own fault. Maybe you did not listen to your real estate professional when they suggested that you are pricing your home above the market. When the showings stopped completely, maybe you accused your real estate professional of not doing a good enough job.

You may put the blame on everyone except where it may belong – on you. It is not about you, what you want, or how much you need for your retirement.

It is about the price.

18 Ways To Make A Small Space Look Larger

Lots of people live in a small home, a small room, or just a small place. Others want to live in an intimate way versus dealing with maintenance and cleaning of a large square footage space. Small is beautiful, easy, and practical, too.

No matter what your reason for living in a small space, you will undoubtedly have to make some compromises in your decorating, get really organized, and make some adjustments to your lifestyle in order to live efficiently. With color, strategic furniture buying, space planning and interesting lighting, your place will feel wonderfully YOU with all the space you need. Try some of these tips and see what will work for you.

  1. When adding draperies to the room, keeping them in the same color as the walls will help avoid contrast to the space.
  2. If you have large windows with beautiful views bring outside colors to your room to unify outside world with inside and expand the look of the space.
  3. Let as much natural light as possible into a room as it opens up space and gives it character.
  4. Sofas and armchairs that are raised on legs create a sense of light and space; therefore they are more preferable for small rooms.
  5. Unclutter the space. Try to dispose of everything you have not used for a year. Do not get attached to furniture. Get rid of any item of furniture that is not adding to the look of the room. Create organized storage wherever possible.
  6. Link adjacent spaces with same color and flooring. Keeping to one color makes rooms look bigger. However, if you need to change flooring materials it is wise to stay in the same color family.
  7. Use light colors or neutrals throughout; as they are space expanders and provide a neutral background for furniture and artwork.
  8. Using cool colors will make the walls to visually recede.
  9. It is best to avoid unnecessary details, such as ruffles in furniture and window treatments. Use simple paneled draperies or shades.
  10. Using smaller prints or plain color fabrics and rugs will create a single, unified effect and visually expand the room.
  11. Consider using multifunctional furniture, such as ottomans, which could be used as coffee tables or sitting area.
  12. Installing an oversized mirror or a set of smaller mirrors will add extra light, sparkle and make a small room appear larger.
  13. Using ottomans, window seats, armoires, and bookcases with enclosed compartments is a perfect solution for hiding everyday clutter.
  14. As a rule of thumb, scaled-down furniture will make the room look larger, however, fewer but larger pieces of multifunctional furniture will help avoid clutter created by small furniture pieces spread out in the room.
  15. Consider adding a floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall book-case. This trick will create an impressive focal point and visually expand space by pushing the walls and ceiling out.
  16. Folding and stacking pieces of furniture and furniture on wheels can be pushed out of the way when not in use, as a result creating more space when needed.
  17. If possible, remove as many doors as possible or use pocket doors to increase the sense of space.
  18. Do not fill up every shelf in a room; leave some of them half empty and spacious for an airy and more dramatic look.




by Lisa Doyle March 27, 2014 Latest News

  Most parents are faced with the basic educational choice between private and public school for their children.  We already know that Contra Costa County public schools are some of the best in the nation.  Here are some recent statistics regarding private schools in Contra Costa County.   Contra Costa County is home to 122 [...]

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by Lisa Doyle March 24, 2014 Latest News

1. Vacaville Premium Outlets has 120 stores to choose from.  Name brands on hand include Adidas, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, Gap, Gucci, Guess, J.Crew, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, True Religion and Tommy Hilfiger. The Vacaville Premium Outlets mall is located between San Francisco and Sacramento.   2. Petaluma Village Premium Outlets carries medium-end merchandise from [...]

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by Lisa Doyle March 20, 2014 Latest News

Looking for something different to do?  Roadside attractions are all the rage.  Here are five nationally popular roadside attractions in or around Contra Costa County.   Burlingame’s Museum of Pez Memorabilia features every Pez character ever made, plus a collection of toy guns that fire Pez bullets across the room. Don’t be afraid of the [...]

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by Lisa Doyle March 17, 2014 Latest News

Based on reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the 40 largest companies in Contra Costa County, meaning that the following local businesses employ more workers than any other businesses in the county.   1.  AT&T Telecommunications                               San Ramon 2.  Summerville Management, LLC                       San Ramon 3.  Pacpizza, LLC                                                     San Ramon 4.  AT&T Services, [...]

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Huge grand opening lunch 203 Azalea Lane in San Ramon CA

by Lisa Doyle March 15, 2014 Latest News
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by Lisa Doyle March 14, 2014 Latest News

Attention Tiger Moms and Second Language Speakers:  Do your kids think school work is too easy?  There’s a cure for that.  Below are some of most highly rated International schools in the Bay Area.   German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV), a private school with three campuses in the San Francisco Bay Area (Mountain [...]

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Contra Costa County Farmers Markets by Lisa Doyle, The Doyle Team

by Lisa Doyle March 12, 2014 Latest News

Craving fresh fruits and veggies?  No problem if you live around here.  Shown below is a complete list of certified California Farmers Markets in and around Contra Costa County, where we enjoy farm-fresh produce six days a week.   MONDAY   Farmers Markets are traditionally closed on Mondays.     TUESDAY   Concord Tuesday Farmers [...]

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