Archive for March, 2010


Posted in NEIGHBORHOOD on March 30, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert

Home-baked cookies were “for sale” Sunday afternoon, during my Sunday Open House at 258 Alvarado Road.  Three young entrepreneurs who live down the street set up their sales booth at the bottom of the driveway. 

Angelie (Girl Scout Cookies’ Sales Ace) had been baking cookies all weekend with Younger Sister Isabelle and Mom, Jeannie. They offered refreshing lemonade as well as cookies. Neighbor and friend Elisabeth (wearing sunglasses) offered for sale lovely bouquets of flowers tied with ribbon.

With all the open house visitors coming and going, stopping for a break at their booth was quite popular.  When Little Sister Isabelle came up the driveway to 258 Alvarado, to use the bathroom, she announced that she couldn’t stay long. She told me, “I have to get back to my work now.”

“They had such a fun time today!” said Jeannie, supportive Mom of Angelie and Isabelle. “ Let us know when your next neighborhood open house is!  They made $72!  They will be donating half to “Save the Children” and half to the Red Cross.”

Jeannie said the girls will probably be on the job again Earth Day.  Each year our neighborhood has an Earth Day Cleanup which is part get-together and chance to meet people, as well as part neighborhood beautification. 

photos by R.Parker Blackburn Fine Art

This Saturday from 9 to 12 noon come meet your neighbors while beautifying our neighborhood at Vicente Canyon Neighborhood Association’s 14th Annual Earth Day Cleanup!

Date: Saturday, April 17

Time:    9 am – 12 pm

Where: open space at the base of Willow Walk

Meet for coffee, juice, and camaraderie at the base of the Willow Walk steps.

(Only heavy rain cancels)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. What better way to start the celebration than joining your neighbors in a neighborhood cleanup party? We’ll pull weeds, prune trees, clip grasses, and maintain our common pathways at Willow Walk, Sunset Trail, Eucalyptus Steps, Vicente Place Steps, Claremont Hotel Steps, and Garber Park. 

 Meet for coffee, juice, and camaraderie at the base of the Willow Walk steps at 9:00 a.m.

Photos courtesy of R. Parker Blackburn Fine Art Photography



Posted in FEATURED PROPERTIES on March 26, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert

258 Alvarado, Berkeley 94705

Open from 2 to 4 pm Sunday April 4,  2010 

Please stop by and see this gorgeous mediterranean in The Claremont Hills above the Claremont Hotel. Five bedrooms, four baths. SF bay views. See the New Listing page for more details or visit


Posted in FEATURED PROPERTIES on March 24, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert

258 Alvarado, Berkeley 94705

Open from 10 to 1:30 Thurs, March 25 & Sun, March 28 from 2 – 5 pm

Please stop by and see this gorgeous mediterranean in the hills above The Claremont Hotel. Five bedrooms, four baths. SF views. See the New Listing page or visit for more info


Posted in NEIGHBORHOOD on March 16, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert


Putting my sweet tooth aside, I simply cannot say no to Brownies.  Especially the ones in the neighborhood.  So when Angelie Cecka knocked at my door, selling Girl Scout cookies, I couldn’t resist.  Two boxes, well that’s the minimum.  Four boxes, now we’re getting somewhere.  Six boxes seemed just right. Why not?  I can give some to my sons, Rob and James, can’t I?

Having two boys, I especially appreciate getting to know the daughters of family friends.  Like Angelie.  She is 9 years old, in third grade at St. Theresa School in Oakland.  Angelie and her equally adorable sister Isabelle live just up the street from us.  In recent years they have set up booths on various occasions, like Earth Day, offering cookies and lemonade. But now Angelie started pounding the pavement, peddling cookies, under the watchful eye of her parents, Walt & Jeannie Cecka. It’s gets complicated. Angelie must track of who ordered what, well, for how much — that’s taking salesmanship to a new level. “This is her first year selling Girl Scout Cookies and she sold 136 boxes!” said her mom, Jeanne.   “Her favorite flavors are Thin Mints, Lemon Chalet Cremes, Tagalongs, and Do-Si-Dos.”

One of her best customers is the Wrubel family across the street.  Brad & Kathleen have two boys; Nick and Conner, who love cookies so much they had to place a second order.

The Cookie Sale is the main fundraiser for the Troop, according to Angelie’s mother.  “It pays for many fun and interesting activities throughout the year.”  Angelie says that some people who purchased her cookies donated them to the Military.   When asked what she likes best about Brownies, Angelie said it’s fun to do special activities with her friends in Brownies.  Her favorite trip was an overnight at the Oakland Zoo with lots of other brownies.  Congrats to Angelie and her whole Brownie Troop 32899.  They sure sold a lot of cookies.  All I can say is, “WOW!”

COMING March 28th!

Posted in FEATURED PROPERTIES on March 16, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert

258 Alvarado Road in The Claremont Hills

Above The Historic Claremont Hotel

OFFERED at $1,700,000

 5BD/4BA Mediterranean.  Roof top deck with San Francisco Bay views. Spacious, light, luxury, amenities. Near Claremont Resort, cafes, shops, freeways & Rockridge BART.  Local hiking trails and open space close by.  Berkeley zip 94705 mailing address; Oakland property taxes.

She’s Got You Covered

Posted in OAKLAND on March 13, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert

My heart sank that day when a visitor sat on the arm of my antique sofa.  The arm hung down, broken and useless. I thought it was the end…but there was hope !  My friend, Katie Bovie, an Objects Conservator at Alpha Furniture Restoration 510.658.8579 recommended the best person to fix it.  That was my lucky day.

Marni Meister is the sole proprietor of a custom upholstery business in Oakland, California.  She can be reached at 510.520.6030 or

Marni’s love of antiques spurred her interested in upholstery. After apprenticing with an upholsterer, she opened her own business in 2000 and named it “M Studio.” She specializes in furniture reupholstery and custom sewing for the home. Marni always carries a large selection upholstery fabrics. That’s how I found the gorgeous teal
fabric which she suggested to cover not just the repaired sofa, but the matching chair as well. Marni attended school in NYC and studied Fine Arts. She has a BFA in sculpture.

Marni is also a long time volunteer with a greyhound rescue and adoption group, “Greyhound Friends For Life”  “After adopting my first retired racing greyhound, Reggie, I became passionate about helping this sweet, docile breed find loving homes.” said Marni.

Marni has a heart of gold – and an eye to match.


Posted in BERKELEY on March 9, 2010 by Julie Nachtwey, the Claremont Hills Real Estate Expert

“When children play…the world wins”
Two Berkeley women with roots in The Elmwood neighborhood recently held a film screening for an organization dear to their hearts.  It’s called “Right to Play”  This gathering of friends was held at the Kensington home of Jennifer and Norman Villarina.  The purpose was to show how programs that teach sports and games benefit children living in the most disadvantaged communities around the world.  (photo left) Mike Altman, US crew team for Beijing Olympics, is in training to become a “Right to Play” Athlete Ambassador.

Lisa Parks and Ann Kletz are both mothers of young children who attended the same nursery school, Benvenue Children’s House in The Elmwood. Their personal experiences playing sports gave them valuable insight into teamwork and conflict resolution. Anne grew up in Elmwood and played soccer for Harvard.  Lisa played tennis for UC-Berkeley, and now lives in The Elmwood.  They passionately believe that every child deserves the right to play.

(photo from left) Lisa with Marx Cazenave, a staunch supporter, and Ann, at the event.

The “Right to Play” model promotes sports and games as a means to develop self-esteem and understanding, teamwork and tolerance, and a diverse range of other life skills.  “Right to Play” staff are now working in 23 countries, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  The staff train local coaches and teachers in the “Right To Play” methodology.  Everyone works together to establish long-term programs that foster healing and growth for the children and their community.

(photo left) Kate Duhamel is the documentary film maker who created the 15 minute video that was shown “Liberia and Lebanon.”  It can be viewed on her website

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of “Right To Play.”  It was founded by Norwegian Speed Skater and Olympic Champion, Johann Olav Koss.  He recruits athletes and educates the public through a series of events on “Sport, Development and Peace.”  In fact, American Speed Skater Clara Hughes at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver became of 350 “athlete ambassadors.”  When she won Gold, she donated $10,000 to “Right to Play.”

(photo from left)  Piedmont High student athlete with Teacher-Tennis Coach Ted Scherman are fans of “Right to Play.”

If you’d like to know more about “Right to Play” feel free to call 510.655.7144 or email Ann or Lisa