J & P Cosentino Family Farm – Cambrian area, San Jose

Have you ever been to the J & P Cosentino Family Farm? If you’re a foodie who’s been in the Bay Area for a while, you might remember the incomparable quality of groceries at the Cosentino’s Markets or the insightful broadcasts on KLIV radio’s Produce Report by Mr. Produce himself, Phil Cosentino. While the famous fresh food family has stepped back from the spotlight in its members retirement years, you can still enjoy the taste of delicious Cosentino quality produce from the J & P Cosentino Family Farm!


J & P Cosentino Family Farm stand in Cambrian


Buying and selling real estate vs. lifestyle

Real Estate is Far More Than LifestyleThere are real estate marketing trends that Silicon Valley home buyers and home sellers are exposed to from realty professionals trying to win new clients, and perhaps many of these consumers do not realize the shifts in the marketing messages when they happen.  One such trend that we are seeing now is to try to focus consumers’ attention on “lifestyle”. The hope of this movement is to sell you on the idea that you’re not just buying (or selling) real estate, but a whole way of life.   To that end, a lot of energy and attention go toward the benefits of living in particular communities.

It’s all well and good to appreciate community events, great schools, beautiful parks, or whatever the neighborhood has to offer.

But at the end of the day, you aren’t buying lifestyle.  You aren’t purchasing the free concerts (they could disappear).  You aren’t buying the “walking distance” to the neighborhood grocery store (it could close).  And you certainly aren’t buying the nifty shops a half mile away (they could get seedy over the next 20 years and).

You’re buying or selling real estate, a house, a condominium, a townhouse.  In most cases, that means you are selling or purchasing land with some sort of housing on top of it (and if not buying it directly, as with a condo, you’re buying a percentage of it).  There are real estate contracts to be navigated, with very important ramifications resulting from the many, many choices made within it.  There’s a gauntlet of disclosures to complete and digest, a minefield of hints about property condition which should not be treated lightly for either buyer (who could get a lemon) or seller (who could get a lawsuit).  The neighborhood needs to be analyzed too, but not for the fun stuff that “lifestyle selling” peddles.   San Jose area home buyers will want to know if there are problem neighbors (most communities have at least one) and what issues do they bring – honking, screaming, garbage cans out all week?  Or are their brief visits from other people to that home’s doorstep at all hours of the day or night?  Is the property in a natural hazard zone? (more…)

Greenlee’s Bakery: Cinnamon Bread and More!

Greenlee's Bakery in San Jose - the best cinnamon bread in Silicon ValleyGreenlee’s Bakery in San Jose offers the very best (most temptingly irresistible) cinnamon bread in Silicon Valley. Located on the Alameda near Race Street, it’s just about a block from Schurra’s handmade chocolate shop (between the Shasta Hanchett neighborhood and the Shark Tank or arena & downtown San Jose) so is a good reason to visit that neck of the woods should you have company coming to town – offering a perfect excuse for stocking up on the goods!

I should add that you can now buy Greenlee’s famous cinnamon bread at many local Whole Foods markets. But they are not nearly as fresh as if you walk into the shop itself. Besides, at the Greenlee’s store you can also buy the mini size, which is a whole lot safer for most of us. (more…)

Goodbye, Cosentino’s Market! Thank you!

Cosentino’s Market in San Jose will be closing its doors tonight.  My husband, our daughter and I headed over there late this afternoon for one last schlep down the aisles, to buy a few things and most of all, to reminisce. It has been an icon in the South Bay area.  I’m truly sorry that it’s closing.

The Cosentino family (four brothers and also their extended clan, I suspect) has run this store (and at times, others too) for 64 years (when this part of California was still known as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”).

Locally owned and operated, it was truly a part of the community and was one of only a few Bay Area grocery stores or small chains that is not owned by a far away corporation. The market was well known for tremendously diverse produce (sometimes very obscure items that Santa Clara County residents might not have seen anywhere else) and friendly service.

We made our way through the store.  Not surprisingly, many of the aisles were somewhat empty.  The produce area was 99% sold out – that was, after all, their biggest claim to fame in Silicon Valley, and we got there at around 5pm.




Stressed Out Over Silicon Valley Home Values and Sinking Stocks? You Are Not Alone!

There’s a lot for those of us in Silicon Valley to be feeling stressed out about lately. Between the stock market’s wild ride and sinking home values in Santa Clara County (and around the country), it’s a little nerve-wracking. These times are especially upsetting if you’re a senior and plan to retire soon. For years, people looked at their homes with the fond sense of “this is my retirement fund” – or at least a good part of it. Some of that value is now gone.

It’s also stressful for those of us who’ve put money into retirement funds or college savings plans and need it soon. Here in California, the 529 College Savings Plan is an “index fund”. That means it’s a combination of stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. In my house, we have one kid who’s a freshman in college and one who’s a senior in high school, and we’re seeing the 529 Plan shrink right when we need it.

The stock market, the financial crisis and the housing market are bigger than all of us. We are on the verge of a recession, if not already in one now. There’s a lot that’s beyond our control. But what CAN we do to maximize the current situation?

I cannot say what to do about the stock market, though my hunch is that when people advise “buy low”, they are talking about today. I can say something about the housing market in the San Jose area, though, because I’ve got experience with it, both professionally and personally. There are opportunities in this market for those who are able to act on them.