Hydrangea laden beauty by Vic Brotherson of Scarlet & Violet
Plum Branches by Nicolette Owen
Anenomes, highlighted by Lilac, Dill, Eucalyptus, Veronica, Phlox and Alchemilla Mollis.
Kumquats and paperwhites featured in an antique milk container. Arrangement Nicolette Owen.
Narcissi and hyancinths in a wine crate by Willow Crossley.
Real estate ranks ahead of gold, stocks, bonds, or savings accounts as the best long-term investment today, according to a nationwide poll by the Gallup organization. It’s also a lot more enjoyable on a daily basis. It houses our family, envelopes our possessions, features our holidays, welcomes us home, cushions our falls and celebrates our joys! These are returns that are intangible and not financially measurable however they provide a wealth of return and solace to a family!
Thirty percent of Americans named real estate their best investment option in the poll, which was conducted earlier this month. Real estate has been rising steadily in Gallup’s annual investment polls since 2011, when only 19 percent of Americans viewed it favorably.
Rising home prices and growing stability in real estate markets are credited for much of the change in perception.
Gold was the No. 1 investment option in 2011, when 34 percent of poll respondents named it their favorite. Gold was at its highest market price at the time, but prices have dropped significantly since then.
In the latest poll, gold and stocks tied for second place behind real estate, at 24 percent, followed by savings accounts (14 percent) and bonds (6 percent).
Real estate has ranked first among investment options in previous years — 50 percent of poll respondents picked it as their top choice in 2002, as markets boomed — but it fell out of favor during the subprime mortgage crisis and recession.
Real estate’s recovery has been underway for more than a year, with Bay Area markets at the national forefront. The San Jose and San Francisco metropolitan areas were recently identified as having the highest home equity levels in the nation, and another report named the metro areas the No. 1 and 2 best markets for home sellers.
Pacific Union’s just-released Real Estate Report for the first quarter of 2014 provides detailed summaries of activity in each of our nine Northern California markets. In March, median single-family home prices reached yearly highs in most regions and topped $1 million in San Francisco and Marin County. Farther south in our Silicon Valley region, home prices surpassed the $2.5 million mark.
A few weeks ago I wrote about a hardwood flooring that is reinventing the control of air quality in your home. Activated by light and air movement, this super smart floor apparently can convert the toxins normally found in your home into harmless water vapor and cardon dioxide. Well I just found their counter part for the kitchen!
While I originally chose this kitchen to highlight because of the mixture of style and components, primarily the old reclaimed wood ceiling with the modern glass tiles and stainless appliances, once I began to read about the designer Sheryl Schey, a principal at White Picket Fence in Santa Monica, and her philosophies I became interested in her selection of the Silestone natural quartz counter-top she used on the island.
How do you thank a woman for being your friend, protector, supervisor, guidance counselor, stylist, and above all overseer, aka, Mom….you make her a strawberry tart with a marzipan cake and a sugar cookie pastry….of course flowers are always welcome!
1/3 recipe sugar dough, recipe follow
1/2 pound unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Cassis
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups ground almonds
1/4 cup currant jelly, melted
2 baskets strawberries, green tops cut off flat
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.On a floured surface, roll the pastry 3/8-inch thick and line a 10-inch flan ring with it. Place the ring on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and chill it until needed.Cream the butter and sugar lightly in an electric mixer; don’t let the butter get too soft. Add the eggs and mix lightly. Stir in the liqueur, and almond extract, then mix in the ground almonds. Pour into the chilled pastry shell and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Brush the top of the tart with the currant jelly. Arrange the strawberries cut side down on the tart. Remove the flan ring and transfer the tart to a flat serving platter. Cut into wedges.
Sugar Cookie Dough:
2 sticks butter, slightly softened
3 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 – 2 tablespoon heavy cream
Cut the butter into large pieces and place in the food processor with the flour, salt, and sugar. Mix until just incorporated. Add the egg yolk and cream, continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.