green scene, financial facts, and real real estate

Grab your schedules and plan ahead to head down the street to the waterfront for this great event at my office in Canton. We'll have experts from various fields (Want to green your home? Plan some investments? Find out about mortgages?), wine and cheese, and some give-away treats and prizes for our four-legged friends. Of course, you'll also have the pleasure of my company and the chance to see my sweet sweet office. You can also meet those ducks I've been going on and on about too...

But seriously, this is a great chance to ask questions of the pros, learn a few things, and bring along a friend you think might want to, say, move in to our neighborhood?

love k

breakfast is for the birds

A short post, friends, but I had to tell you about something that made it totally worth the atrocious night's sleep I had last night. Or, to spin it more positively, a good reminder of why living so close to my office kicks booty. After essentially waking up for good around 4:30 a.m., I finally gave up and headed in to the office super early, it being a mere 2 minutes away. Totally lame, but hey at least I was being productive with the sunrise ratehr than tossing and turning, right? But it also meant that I was there when our receptionist arrived and began her pre-work ritual of feeding a mamma duck and her four little ducklings right outside our office! And you all know how I love to feed duckies!

Here are a few photos. Turns out Canton marina ducks are just as sweet and friendly as Patterson Park Boat Lake ducks! Just one more reason to come visit me at my sweet new digs - or should I say four more reasons?

love k

of the arts and the 80's

For the first time in Baltimore history (or at least as many years as I've lived here), the weekend of Artscape was just gorgeous. With over 150 artists, great bands neat performers, and delicious food vendors, it's no wonder that Patterson Parkers were out in full force to take in America's largest free arts festival. In no time, we'd found each other (both by plan and coincidence) and did what we do best - socialize! Here are a few pictures I snapped that evening:

The rest of the week disappeared in a blur of settlements, contracts, and listings (Woohoo! Yay market picking up up up!), but this weekend more than made up for it. Friday brought another gorgeous evening, so N and I had a lovely, leisurely dinner at Three... With the sun setting over the park, great food and drinks, and neighbors stopping by our table to say hi and help us with our crossword, I got my regularl reminder of why I love where I live so very very much. Saturday was a little more on the go, however, with a neighborhood association board meeting (more on this another day) at my house, a listing appointment down the road, and then two great neighborhood parties. The first was a good ol' fashioned neighborhood house party, made better by it being put on my a fabulous host - truly, we had fantastic food and drinks in a beautiful home with the best roof deck I've ever seen. This roofdeck offered a pretty rad view of the storm rolling in over the city-scape.

But alas we could not dally too long, for we had a fundraiser to get to at Three..., benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A neighborhood resident plans to run the Baltimore Marathon in October, donating all the funds he raises to the LLS. A great crowd attended, with a nice mix of familiar faces and newbies partaking in delicious beverages, hitting the dance floor, and entering a raffle.

Oh, did I mention it was 80's themed?

love k

lights, cocktails....action!

This past week I discovered a lovely evening activity that is free, fun, close by, and thoroughly all-American. Let me build the suspense for you: Wednesday evening, N and I had a totally delicious, if not really late, dinner* after the Safe Streets rally, that left us thoroughly sated but not ready for bed. But what to do at 10 o'clock on a Wednesday night? Catch some ball games in the Park!

We mixed up a cocktail, headed across the street to the fields, and found a grassy vantage point to watch the BSSC games that were going on under the lights. The next night after our game ended we found ourselves doing it again.

And we weren't the only ones. Looking around the hill and benches, I saw people of all ages and races. Some had chairs and drinks, others were just pausing for a spell amid their dog walking. Everyone was just taking advantage of a beautiful summer evening by taking in America's favorite pass-time at their neighborhood Park. Pretty neat if you ask me.

Next time you find yourself pondering yet another evening of watching tv, consider walking over to Patterson Park to catch a few innings of softball instead. Because remember, a used park is a safe park.

love k

*The aforementioned dinner was both delicious AND easy. I bought insanely cheap flank steak the other day and had no clue what to do with it - it was just so cheap I HAD to get it. So I had this idea.... I sauteed some of my CSA chard and collards with CSA shallots with garlic and pinenuts. Then I crumbled some fig goat cheese (did you even know they MADE that?!) and rolled it all up in the thin steak after tenderizing it. Tied it up with some twine, popped it on the grill, then thinly sliced it. N made some cheesy CSA squash dish, which was truly miraculous. OH MY LORD! Go make this right now!

It looked a little something like this... I neglected to take a photo of my masterpiece, though...

promising stats for patterson park properties

Did you read the Sun Paper today? There was a great article on the front page about the positive effect hat the increased inventory in the $250,000 is having on the market. Didn't see it? Well, what are you waiting for?

Here is the short story of why this is positive news for Patterson Park: If you read my monthly Patterson Park Real Estate Newsletter, you've probably noticed loads of houses in the under-$250,000 available in our neighborhood. While this may make some of you cringe when you think of what you bought your house for a few years ago (believe me I feel your pain), it's a good thing for our long-term growth. With these lower prices coupled with the $8,000 tax credit, lots of first-time buyers, previously unable to afford to buy, are moving out of rentals and in to homes of their own at a much higher rate than several years ago. In fact, it seems that first-time home buyers currently comprise a majority of buyers.

The effect of this is two fold: First, it will start to clear the high housing inventory, which will in turn stabilize the market and stimulate prices in the future (remember the whole supply and demand concept from Econ 101?). Second, when first-time buyers can purchase starter homes, it enables those sellers to purchase move-up homes of their own, starting a chain reaction that jump-starts the housing market.

Patterson Park's inventory is right in the pricing-point sweet spot right now for first-time buyers. Now's the time to brag about our neighborhood to your friends who are on the fence about buying, or give it some thought for yourself. We live in extraordinary times, friends, so make the most of them and keep a positive outlook.

love k

from linwood to chopping wood

As much as I adore Patterson Park, on occasion I do find a need to leave my lovely neighborhood for a little change of pace and altered scenery, and the great thing about where we live is the amazing proximity to so many easy day trips of easy weekend getaways. As I mentioned in Friday's post, I went camping this past weekend for the first time in my adult life. N and I left our Park around 3 o'clock and headed to Elk Neck State Park. It was probably about an hour and fifteen minutes door to tent, and a really lovely drive that avoided the Bay Bridge entirely - woohoo!

I chopped wood to build my very first fire, hiked a lot, cooked meals outside, and played football in a river. While it reminded me of why, say, I like living in a HOUSE, it was pretty neat to be so totally out of my element. I only complained a little bit about Nature's relentless attempts to conquor me ;-)

It's pretty neat that in under two hours we Patterson Parkers can be
down in D.C, flitting around Philly, camping riverside in a state park, or skiing in the mountains. As awesome as our neighborhood is, it's good to get back to nature every once in a while, or explore other cities. After all, doesn't absence make the heart grow a fonder?

So next time you find yourself with a free weekend (which might be hard, given the Patterson Park social calendar...), check out some of these ideas, or close your eyes and pick a spot on a map and take off for a day drive or a weekend trip to explore somewhere new. Just make sure that you come back!

love k

i scream, you scream...

...we all scream for ice cream! Our neighborhood association president recently entered Patterson Park into Edy's Neighborhood Salute. And guess what? Well, of course we won! I thought her 250-word entry really demonstrated what a hard-working, cohesive group we have in our neighborhood. It really sums up why so many of us love living here (and why it's nice to get a little recognition from the outside world sometimes too!). Have a loot at her winning entry:

Patterson Park neighborhood is a vibrant, diverse community in Baltimore, MD. To say our neighborhood is a social group is an understatement! Most of our time spent socializing is during and after the hard work we put in volunteering our time to improve the neighborhood and the City. Every weekend we meet up to do many different projects including neighborhood and alley clean-ups, tree and flower plantings, Citizens on Patrol walks, sponsoring and coaching youth sports teams, as well as many other week night projects as well!

An ice cream party would allow us all a reason to get together that doesn’t involve a project. It will give us an opportunity to sit back and admire what we all have accomplished by working together. In the 5 years that I have lived in the neighborhood, I have seen our neighborhood transform into a safer, cleaner, and greener community, all through volunteer time of neighbors. Its time for us to celebrate all that we’ve achieved and I can’t think of a better way than the Edy’s Neighborhood Salute!

So stay tuned for further details, but tentatively pencil Saturday, July 25th in to your calendars for a neighborhood ice cream party to celebrate our hard work!

love k

game balls and dough balls

Today I took a mid-afternoon break from work to relax before evening appointments and showings. I didn't exactly kick-back however... Instead, N and I headed to the park for a sort of sports camp-esque couple of hours. We played soccer in Patterson Park, where a couple of kids walking by got a real kick (HA!!) out of joining in. Then, we headed over to the courts for some basketball, once again joined by the same kids. They were both around 11 years old and just so much fun - they had the burgeoning swagger of teenagers, but none of the antagonism or angst. They were great sports, and the four of us kept up a lovely banter over a game of "fifty." Respectful, polite, and friendly, these kids exemplified everything you'd pray to find in inner-city boys. Just goes to show that if you don't expect the worst and are open to spending a little time with neighborhood kids, they might just surprise you after all.

Oh, and I baked these almond-apricot tarts with apricots from the farmers market:

And tonight I made this
whole-wheat pizza for dinner, with basil and oregano from my garden, CSA broccoli, garlic and onions, and a whole mess of cheeses. Yummers:
I'm going camping for a few days, so I hope you all have a lovely weekend - feed the ducks, play some ball, hit the pool, bake a home-grown pizza... I've given you more than enough ideas, no?

love k

duck tails

Sometimes, I'm totally giddy when I think about how many cool/fun things to do Patterson Park presents one with. The other day, N and I found ourselves with some time to kill on a beautiful afternoon. We took some left over bread we had lying around over to the Boat Lake and fed the ducks, whom we had named a few weeks back doing the same thing (for the record, Veronica is very sweet, has a gnarly beak, and will eat out of your hand; Marta, however, is bossy, large and very loud). This time, there were lots of little ducklings, as well as a few teenage ducks that were starting to stray from their parents' watchful eyes. My, how quickly they grow up...

The first time we went, I'm pretty sure N didn't really think the activity would be all that fun, and was mostly just humoring me (which I appreciate in and of itself). However, I think he came around in the end, and was kinda stoked to go back - I mean, ducks! Who doesn't love feeding ducks! If you haven't been to the boat lake in a while you really ought to save some bread next time you're finishing a loaf and head over on a nice afternoon or evening.

My camera died after only a few photos...

Completely unrelated....I took this photo from the master bedroom of a house I showed on Ellwood the other day. Somebody, please buy it from me so I can come admire this view whenever I want!
love k

it is, however, delicious being green

To continue with my "green" theme I seem to have going...

As you all know, I'm sharing a CSA share with three other people. Conveniently, they are my roommate, my boyfriend and my neighbor which makes for fabulous ease when splitting it all up each week. But here's the challenge - what do you do when you have four people and 3 beets? 2 heads of broccoli? A head of cabbage? We decided this week we'd try something different and pool our resources and food and make a CSA feast together (or, as I like to term such occassions, a "group dinnie"). First, I'll list what we had so you can be impressed with how much we used later on:
  • 4 zucchini
  • 2 broccoli
  • 1 cabbage
  • 3 shallot onions
  • 2 bunches of unidentifiable greens
  • 3 beets
In my garden I also had:
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Lots of other things that are irrelevant to this story but I'll post pictures of anyways
So what I made was:

  • Cabbage salad with crumbled bacon, toasted walnuts and bleu cheese dressing
  • Broccoli with melted sharp cheddar cheese and crispy shallot flakes
  • Baked zucchini with grated parmesan cheese and pepper
  • Roast beets
  • Whole chickens roasted with thyme, rosemary, oregono and lemon (and bacon greese from the previousy fried bacon to crisp the skin)
I mean look how many ingredients were either homegrown or locally grown! And it was all delicious, inexpensive and lots of fun. I'm thinking this should be a weekly event and we can just rotate who's week it is to do all the cooking and who brings the wine.

Here are some gratuitious photos of my garden right now - my tomatoes are really starting to come in, as are bell peppers and a banana pepper. My herbs, especially the basil, are just flourishing and I can barely keep up!

love k

it's not easy being green (part II)

Yesterday I gave you the history and overview of "Alley Gating and Greening." Today you get to hear about "All-out Hating and Screaming." JUST KIDDING! But that was good parallel phonetics, no? Seriously, though, the Alley Gating and Greening (AGG from henceforth) process is a challenging one. Yesterday, I mentioned the double-headed monster of inertia and trepidation.

Let's talk definitions and examples:

(noun) - Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change
With a higher percentage of homeowners on our alley than many others, one would think we'd have a much easier time with AGG. One would be wrong. You see, while absentee owners and landlords may be hard to track down, once you do they often don't really care what you're doing in the alley as long as they don't have to spend a lot of money. Resident old-timers, on the other hand, can be a true force with which to be reckoned, the prevailing attitude often being if they have made it this long without whatever it is you want to do, it must be a bad idea and not worth considering.
Example conversation:

"Gating our Alley will promote safety and security for all of us!"

"I don't see why you
new people can't just do what I do - double bolt the doors, put up security camera, and stay inside." *scowl*

Trepidation (noun) - A state of alarm or dread; apprehension
Those who do not outright shun the idea of change in and of itself can instead be quick to come up with fearful lists of "what-ifs" and "might happens." I'm not talking questions that are requests for solutions, ideas and answers. I'm talking hypotheticals to which the only acceptable answer (to the asker) is: "You are right. This is the worst idea ever. The sky will actually fall down."
Example conversation:

"Police and emergency personnel will be able to access the alley with a
knox box"
"But what if they can't? What if the extra two seconds it adds means my entire house burns to the ground?"

"Well, they use them all over the city - so far it's really not been a problem..."
"But what if it IS? What if they CAN'T! Think of what might happen!"

But I kind of understand it. I mean, it is true that there hasn't been a lot of research. It is important to consider the risks along with the benefits. It is natural to be afraid of change. But what we have now isn't working. As the 18th-century author Samual Johnson wrote in Rasselas (a novella about happiness), "Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome."

Future posts will address specific issues, but here is my over-view statement of why I am pro-AGG:

Theoretically, no, I don't like the idea of resorting to gating our alley to protect ourselves and our homes. That's in THEORY. The REALITY is that it makes me sad to know that neighbors up and down the three blocks of our alley have guns to protect themselves from the intruders they feel are bound to come sooner or later. I am disgusted by the used condoms I've cleaned up, and the violent fights of non-residents I've heard in the alley, and the clumps of hair I've found the next day. It worries me to hear mothers torn over whether or not they can realistically raise kids in our neighborhood when they can't even let them out back to play unsupervised. I want to live in a clean, safe, sanitary environment, where people want to live, and professionals want to buy, and families want to stay

And you know, if there comes a time when that final sentence is true and the rest of that paragraph is false, I'll be the first to take down the gates.

love k