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Downtown Block Party- July 1st

Db_dalmation91_1 The First Baptist Church of Kirkland (701 First St) is celebrating their anniversary by throwing a block party on Saturday July 1st from 11:30-5.  In the parking lot on the corner of 1st and 7th there will be live jazz music, inflatables, a dunk tank (I wonder who?), face painting (photo left, maybe not this fancy) and plenty of food.  Feel free to stop by and join in some fun, everyone is invited and it's FREE.    ~Janis   

Summer Concerts at Marina Park

Marinaparkpavilion The 2006 Kirkland Summer Performing Arts Series schedule is here!  The first one kicks off on July 11th this year.  We love these musical concerts at Marina Park which are on Tuesday and Thursday nights through July and August at 7pm for adults, and 10am on Wednesday mornings for the kids' program. 

It's a perfect (FREE!) outing on a clear evening.  Just get some take-out or pack up some food and aKirklandmarinafeb82006  blanket and relax to the sounds of local favorites that include everything from classical, swing, country, rock and blues.  My kids love attending the children's concerts-so much fun and there are usually some Trader Joe's ice pops or some other sort of giveaways.  Just beware of moms that park their strollers in the middle of the crowd and block your view (I promise, that's not me).   ~Janis

I-405 Northbound Completely Shut Down This Weekend

ALERT:  All Northbound lanes of the 405 in Kirkland will be completely shut down (24x7) from Friday June 23 starting about 10PM through Tuesday morning, June 27.    There will be several detours available but plan on huge backups and long commutes.  Tell everyone you know! 

Get more details from the WA State Department of Transportation by clicking here. 

Where to buy tires in Kirkland

Lslogo Today I figured it was about time to get some new tires for my 2000 BMW 323.   I was still driving the car with it's factory Bridgestone tires--even after 40,000 miles.    I was long overdue.  So I did what  most  people do who have a Costco membership--I went to the Costco Tire Center thinking I would just get it  done for a low price with no need to shop around.   I showed up at the Costco in Kirkland, but it turns out they don't carry the tire size I needed.  I found this kind of strange given the number of 3 Series BMWs on the road.   They offered to special order me some tires and gave me a price that was north of $600, plus I would have to wait 7-10 days.   I left a  bit discouraged.  In fact, it's the first Costco visit in a long time where I didn't spend at least $200.   I know Janis would be proud!   

I just didn't have the time or energy to start researching tires and shopping around.   Then I remembered back a few years ago when I had a flat tire and drove the BMW over to Les Schwab Tire Center in Kirkland.  They fixed it for me in 10 minutes and didn't charge me a penny.   I always remembered that experience because of the incredible customer service they provided.    So after my Costco experience I drove straight to Les Schwab Tires to check things out.   As I parked and was getting out of my car, an employee (Cory) greeted me in the parking lot.  He asked how he could assist me, and proceeded to sell me four Toyo Proxes 4 - All Seasons Black-walls.  The price all in was $555.53.    After I got  home I looked up some reviews on the Toyos and they seem to be quite good.  Click here to see what I am talking about.  As you can tell I am not a tire expert.    Proxes4_large

The reason I felt compelled to blog about this experience is because these guys have incredible customer service.   I was in and out of there with four new tires (installed and balanced) in about 30 minutes.  Once you become a customer you also get free flat tire repair,  free tire rotations (every 5,000 miles), free tire re-balancing, free air check, and free tire inspections. 

Les Schwab is located at 12410 128th  Lane NE -- phone is 425-821-2743

I didn't shop around and I know there are a lot of other tire shops in Kirkland.  If you have a favorite please add a comment.      Here are a few others I found that have websites: 

Kirkland Tire Factory  (on 6th Street near downtown)

Elliot Tire and Service -- Kirkland  (85th Street on Rose Hill) 

Eastside Automotive and Tire (locations in Rose Hill and Juanita)



Real Estate has gone crazy in Kirkland!

Bigkirklandhome Before you all start commenting on this post, let me start by saying that I am no real estate expert and don't claim to be either.  That being said, I think real estate has gone crazy (that pic on the left is a home in Kirkland priced at $8 million), especially at the high end of the market, in Kirkland.   I just ran some searches on Windermere and here is what I found out from looking at the 447 properties currently for sale in Kirkland:

  • Number of properties (homes/condos/land) over $1 million = 152 listings
  • Number of properties (homes/condos) over $2 million = 44 listings

In our West of Market neighborhood alone we are seeing homes with little or no view, set way back from Lake Washington on average sized lots (7200 sq. ft.), asking over $2 million.   One real estate agent I interviewed said that although "everyone is asking for these prices, hardly anyone is getting them."  They are just sitting.  A non-waterfront home just got listed last week for about $3.5 million--no one I know can figure out how they came up with the price tag.  It's a nice house, but $3.5?   Click here to see what I am talking about.

In further (very unscientific) research only about one home per month sells in Kirkland over $2 million dollars and a few end up selling over $1 million.   Couple this fact, with the fact that more and more homes keep getting listed in these price ranges and it would take years to sell all the high end inventory currently listed.   Sellers, I hope you can sit tight for the long haul because that is what it might take for you to get your price!  Buyers, if you are in the high end of the market you have the leverage right now--use it wisely!  BTW, I got these stats by looking at the Kirkland Courier and their past real estate sales from the previous month. I know, I know, very unscientific, but it's just me doing some back of the napkin type analysis.  You got to admit it's interesting, no?

I think the hotter part of the market is for homes selling under or close to $1 million.  By having all the $2 million dollar homes on the market buyers are feeling good about getting into Kirkland's high rent district in this price range or buying fixer-uppers/tear downs.  With all the high-end stuff it gives buyers comfort that their investment will go nowhere but up.  Unfortunately if you are trying to buy in this range and looking for a deal you are also competing with builders, like Lux,  or very motivated buyers.   Look out for competing offers with no contingencies (do a pre-inspection if you want the property but are not going to tear it down), escalation clauses, and quick closes--not to mention all cash offers.    

I also found a bunch of very cool real estate sites that can help you in your quest for buying or selling real estate. Check these out:

Janis and I have thought about buying a new (and larger) home in the past few months.  We also want to stay in the West of Market area, but as we have seen the prices continue to rise to the crazy levels we are now seeing it caused us to reconsider.   We have decided to stay put for the next several years and possibly remodel to accommodate our needs (and make room for the small tribe of kids we have).   Who knows maybe there is a bubble...or maybe these multi-million dollar homes will start selling like hot cakes?  We will watch from the sidelines either way...

I feel bad for our real estate agent, Laura Brodniak from Windermere, who has been awesome in trying to find us our next home.   Who knows, maybe she will find us an incredible home that is priced right and we will change our minds. 


Kirkland's 2006 Fourth of July Celebration

The 4th of July is such a cool holiday when you live in the Seattle area.  To me, it means that the clouds will finally disappear and we can start to kick off some summertime weather.  Wooohooooo!  Oh yeah, and it's a great day to say happy birthday to America too. :-)

Flagclose Downtown Kirkland always has a line-up of activities for the day and this year is no different.  There's decorating, the children's walking parade,  the Grand Downtown Parade, military flyover, an old-fashioned Rotary picnic, a helicopter rescue demo, and of course my favorite part: the fireworks!  Click here for an itinerary-Download 4julyeventschedule.pdf .  The fireworks won't be the double super-duper display we got last year for the Centennial (didn't have that extra $50K in the budget), but should still be an amazing show that can be viewed from Marina Park, Waverly Park and Juanita Beach at 10pm.

It's no surprise that parking will be tight, so try to carpool, bus, walk, spread your wings or whatever you've got to do to avoid the jam up.  The boat launch will be closed from 10:30am-1:30pm and during the fireworks.  And don't play with any of your own fireworks, it's illegal. Besides, you look so much better with all your fingers.

Last but not least, if your star-spangled self would like to volunteer to help, you can email  volunteer@celebratekirkland.org.  Man power is always needed, but this year there is an especially big plea for some dough.  They are critically short on funds ($16K) for the Fourth of July event and are hoping to avoid having to scale back by raising money through the Firecracker 500! (500 donations of $100 or more). Penny Sweet is the contact person at 425-822-0284.   ~Janis

KPP Theater: Baby's Day at the Movies

Parkplacecinema Especially when the weather is rainy, it's easy to go stir crazy at home with your kids (let me tell ya!).  Kirkland Park Place Theater has a great program that runs every other Friday where you can bring your baby to the movies.  We used to do this all the time when our twins were infants and it was a great outing.   You get to choose which current movie you'd like to see for a nominal cost ($5.50). They turn the sound down a bit so sleeping babies can sleep and the lights are kept on dim so you can see if Phinnaneus and Hazel are spitting up on you or not.   Nobody cares if there are whimpering kids or snoring parents because we're all in the same boat. There are also changing stations in both restrooms so Dad has no excuse not to be on diaper duty if he's with you that day. 

Doors open at 9:15am and movies start at 9:45am.  Here are the dates for the rest of 2006:  June 9th, June 23, July 7, July 21, Aug 4, Aug 18, Sept 1, Sept 15, Sept 29, Oct 13, Oct 27, Nov 10, Dec 8.  Phone number for the theater is 425-827-9000. ~Janis

Meet the ladies of Bead Hut

Beadhutgals_004 I know what you're thinking.  Sushi and beads- sure are lots of both opening up in Kirkland.  Is there room for another?  But these gals are so much fun with a really special warmth that you need to meet them and help support their business too.   Sarah Ladiges and Laura Sabegh (pictured left) are the mother/daughter team that own the Bead Hut and have been beading for 17 years. 

When you first walk in, chances are Laura (a gorgeous Liza Minneli look-alike) and Sarah (her lovely likeness) will be sitting at the 'hut', a glass table with a straw umbrella working on some creative jewelry.  They are so kind and welcoming you can't help but pull up a chair and chat along.  Sarah's dad, Maurice, shares his retail space at Lakewood Jewelers in Kirkland Square (213 3rd St) with his wife and daughter and happily offers tea to the browsers.  Bead Hut opened their doors on April 1st and the ladies both rave about how many new friendships they have made since they opened their store.  Laura said that when Jim Lauinger, our mayor, came for their opening he praised their 'family shop feel.' 

Beadhutgals_005 Interestingly enough, Sarah worked for Beadworld downtown for 12 years (5 yrs as a manager).  Laura worked there as well.  It is just a coincidence that both bead shops ended up opening in Kirkland.  A couple things that make Bead Hut different are their interesting/unique pieces such as African trade beads and other ethnic collectibles.  Many of their beads are imported directly from India or China.   There is also a little play area for toddlers so your kids aren't choking on beads while you shop- excellent!  Sarah said customers that are new to beading like buying their kits, which includes all of the wires/beads you need to make a certain piece of jewelry, you just put it all together.  Of course, Sarah or Laura would be more that glad to sit down and help you too.

Here's a cool idea- they also host beading parties.  What a fun concept for a gaggle of friends or a birthday party.   It's just $15/per person plus 20% off your purchase.  Through the month of June they are offering half price off their per person cost of parties (you just need to set your date by June).  Found another coupon here too. Their hours are Mon-Sat 10:30-6:30 and Sun 12-4.  Parties are scheduled for after hours.  Phone number 425-827-6286.            ~Janis

I-405 Closure (all lanes!)-Expect BIG traffic

Heavy congestion expected on SR 520 due to northbound I-405 closure in Kirkland

From 10 p.m. Friday, June 2, to 5 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, all lanes of northbound I-405 at NE 124th Street will be closed so that crews can lower the northbound lanes at that location. Northbound I-405 traffic will be funneled into a narrow two-lane bypass during the closure. Drivers should expect long backups on northbound I-405 and adjacent city streets, especially during the Monday afternoon commute north.

They also expect heavy congestion on SR 520 as drivers will use it to reach alternate routes (I-5 and SR 202) during the northbound I-405 closure. Know before you go and get real-time traffic information <http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/seattle/>.

The work on northbound I-405 is weather dependent and could be postponed to another weekend. The DOT website will be updated as details are confirmed.

**UPDATE*** This work has been postponed and has not been rescheduled yet as of 6/1/06