A Tisket A Tasket, Get Out Your Farmers’ Market Basket: Pilot Market Opens Next Sunday

What could be better than the return of Lake Oswego’s popular Farmers’ Market? A pilot farmers’ market located in Lake Grove and debuting next week, Sunday March 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.!

Yes, Mercato Grove, the new residential and retail development in the former Mercantile Village location, is presenting this project in collaboration with the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department. This gives the department the opportunity to evaluate the interest for a permanent market in the 97035 zip code area. It will be small, with about 15 vendors, and operate in accordance with all Oregon Health Authority Covid-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of vendors, market patrons, volunteers, staff and the community.

Judging by the lineup of farmers/growers and hot food/refreshment suppliers, I’d say this pilot project is already off to a great start. Plus, for those of us who are already “channeling summer,” it gives us a taste of summer’s farmers’ market bounty a good two months sooner!

Here are some of the vendors worth checking out. Please note that some will appear on a rotating basis.

LIL STARTS. I’m sure my daughter, who is trying to grow a green thumb, will be visiting this place. Owners Luke and Lillian Klimaszewski use sustainable farming practices to grow clean, healthy produce and plants on 2.5 acres of cultivated land in the East Columbia Neighborhood of Portland and in Orient, Oregon. Right now our lettuce starts are about 1/4” high so thinking their starter plants might offer a higher chance of success!

JUNIPER LAYNE FARM. Located on a quarter acre in Happy Valley (with another half acre in Boring, Oregon) this Certified Naturally Grown farm is how one young woman decided to realize her passion for food. All vegetables, berries, and flowers are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, inorganic fertilizers, GMO seeds, or other environmentally harmful practices.

aMYLK. This vendor produces pure plant-based mylks that are not only delicious but also beautiful. Sold in old-fashioned milk glass containers, some of the pastel colors will have you curious to taste what’s inside. Some of the popular flavors include: Blue Belle, an almond based mylk whose color comes from an ancient strain of blue green micro algae derived from Spirulina, harvested from Klamath Lake; and I’m Beautiful, another almost based mylk in a beautiful rose color that I assume comes from the beet root powder and schisandra berry.

THREE HEARTS FARM. This small family-run farm just 30 miles south of Portland focuses mostly on specialty cut flowers and fillers. With spring flowering bulbs, annuals and perennials strutting their stuff right now, look for some spectacular bouquets to choose from.

DANIELLE’S SAUCES. This homegrown company has received national recognition, winning more than 40 national awards for its gourmet sauces that their website says strives to “enhance, not dominate, the taste of prepared foods.” Choose from A-Too Savory Sauce, Extra Hot or Sweet Habanero, Sweet Chili, Original Teriyaki, Cajun Dust and more.  

DOUBLE TROUBLE BAKERS. This Vancouver based operation wants to take the trouble out of baking for you by doing it for you! Select from classic cookies like chocolate chip, oatmeal, molasses or peanut butter or one of their ramped up varieties such as double chocolate chocolate chip, or oatmeal cranberry white chocolate.

FILLS DONUTS. This collaboration between two popular Portland chefs will also be a permanent fixture in Lake Oswego once Mercato Village opens. Featuring Berliner style donuts and traditional crullers, it’s destined to be one of the first places my donut-loving son visits when he returns from living abroad in London.

JIMMY TOMATO. Featuring small batch cooking of “Old School” recipes, this small family business offers a Classic Italian Tomato and Classic Tomato and Meat Sauce that has been handed down for generations.  They’ve spent hours over the stove so you don’t have to. Just take home, cook up some pasta and enjoy.

CRAFT COCKTAILS. When it comes to enjoying a good drink, seems you can leave the bartending to the experts without leaving home. I guess it only seems natural that the craft beer explosion would segue to the craft cocktail revolution and several of the contenders will be parading their wares through the Lake Grove Farmers Market. Here are some of the offerings:

503 Distilling. They feature delicious cocktails ready to drink out of a can like the Wicked Mule(vodka infused with fresh lime and ginger blended in homemade ginger syrup and carbonate) and the La Vida Mocha (cinnamon infused rum with Mexican chocolate and riff cold brewed coffee). You can also try their homemade spirits: gin, rum, wildfire cinnamon rum, pear brandy, vodka, whiskey and pear brandy.

Straightaway Cocktails. Enjoy classic and lesser-known spirited and balanced cocktails right out of a bottle and ready to pour: Margarita, Oregon Old Fashioned, Negroni, Lintik (gin aged with lemon, house-made simple syrup and bitters) and Paper Plane (rye whiskey, liquers with natural flavors, cochineal extract) and The Cosmos. They also offer spritzers as well.

Westward Whiskey. Whiskey—it’s their specialty. Choose from an assortment.

Wild Roots offers real fruit infused spirits inspired by the Northwest. Vodka flavors include Apple Cinnamon, Marionberry, Pear, Dark Sweet Cherry, Cranberry, Peach and Huckleberry. Gin comes in Cucumber and Grapefruit.

The market will be located on Hallmark Drive between Mercantile Drive and Collins Way with parking in the Lake Grove Elementary School parking lot.

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7 Things We Are Loving About March in Lake Oswego

January brought us the Capitol Siege. February brought us the ice storm. Let’s hope March has better things in store for us here in Lake Oswego.

Here are a few activities in and around Lake Oswego to consider doing in March.

SPRING BREAK CAMPS. The Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department is offering a scaled down lineup of Spring Break activities, some of which are already filled so be sure to check the schedule and register online.

VIRTUAL DRINK & DRAW: KOKEDAMA CLASS. Learn the Japanese art of creating pot-less plants with a unique soil mixture, moss and string. Your work of art can be hung or displayed on a dish. The $40 registration fee includes all materials which can be picked up the week before class at the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, 41 B Avenue. Participation is limited to 30 so sign up soon.

FLORAL WINE & DESIGN. Zupan’s is offering their popular virtual workshop again in March. Participants pick up floral materials, cheese and a charcuterie plate prior to class. Enrollment is limited to 10 participants. Sunday, March 14 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. $125 fee.

INSTAGRAM SCAVENGER HUNT. If Spring Break finds you with bored kids looking for an activity, consider this. Load everybody up and head out in search of family-friendly, fun Instagram-worthy photo opportunities both in and around Lake Oswego. Here are some suggestions:

• Amyas and Soleil. Let your family mimic these two characters’ poses and stretch your arms up high. This sculpture was the 2018 People’s Choice winner. Corner of Evergreen and 1st.

• Lollipops. Bring lollipops along and start licking them while standing next to the life-size ones at the library entrance, 706 Fourth Street.

• The Goal. Got any soccer stars in your group? Head over with a ball to the sculpture in Westlake Park and show the sculpture how it’s done.

• Dream. Let your kids pretend they are picking an apple from the tree of knowledge stationed in front of Lake Grove School on Boones Ferry Road.  

• Paul Bunyan. If you want to venture into Portland, head over to this 31 foot tall replica of this folk hero for an Instagram-worthy shot. Corner of N. Denver and N. Interstate Avenue.

• Portland Troll Bridge. Bring a troll with you to leave behind. Kids will get a kick out of this—a colony of trolls living in this wooden train trestle just waiting for your little ones to stop by and visit them. 16498 NW McNamee Road.

• Rhino Mural. This larger-than-life rhino even got our adult children to trek into Portland for a photo shoot. You can find him at 1300 SE Morrison Street.

•Sizzle Pie Pizza Mural. If you’ve got some pizza lovers in your family, this is a great stop with a pizza food pyramid displayed in grand scale perfect for photo ops. Best to plan your outing when you can follow up the photo with a pizza to go!

WOODEN SHOE TULIP FESTIVAL. Last year’s festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, but the Iverson family is planning on opening its fields again this year following state COVID guidelines. Festival dates are March 19 through May 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. The flowers put on quite a show with 40 acres of tulips in bloom when they all get going. Currently season passes are available at $40 each; day passes will go on sale March 1. All tickets must be purchased online.

WHALE WATCHING. While Whale Watching Week has been cancelled for this year, the whales are still making their trek northward to Alaska from Baja Mexico so you can catch them, albeit without the help of volunteers to answer your questions. The whales can usually be seen off the Oregon coast beginning in mid-March through May. With about 25,000 whales making their annual trek, whale watchers can usually catch sight of 10-30 a day off the Oregon coast. Check this online map for the best places to see the whales.

CHERRY BLOSSOM TREES. These beautiful harbingers of spring are abundant around Lake Oswego and the Portland metro area. You’ll find them in Sundeleaf Plaza, Millennium Plaza Park, and lining many of our commercial and neighborhood streets. Venture up to Portland and catch the 100 tree display on the northwest side of Waterfront Park towards the end of March or stroll through Hoyt Arboretum where 60 cherry blossom trees are planted along the 12 miles of trails.

Spring is also a popular time for home sales so if you’re in the market, be sure to start by giving me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’ve lived in Lake Oswego and been a Realtor in Lake Oswego for over 30 years and would love to put my experience to work making your next move your best one!

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Game Plan for Buying a Home in Lake Oswego’s Low Inventory COVID Market

The housing market nationwide is experiencing a shortage of inventory and Lake Oswego is no exception. There were 33 new listings in December, but that was outpaced with the 75 sales that ate up some of the inventory. It seems the COVID trend to move to the suburbs has become yet another factor that makes Lake Oswego such a desirable place to call home.

We were down to just 0.8 months of inventory in Lake Oswego, way below the more than six-month inventory that signifies a buyer’s market.

Add to that the fact that new listings in the Portland metro area were down over 23% compared to November, and you can see why buying a home in this market can be challenging.

But you can navigate a tight housing market successfully if you follow these tips.

  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Better yet, get fully approved. Assume that when you find the house you want, you will be competing for it with other buyers. Coming in with the assurance that you’ve already qualified for financing, makes you a much more attractive bidder than someone else who has not.
  2. Prioritize your “wish list.” In a tight housing market, there’s a good chance you may have to compromise on some of the features you want in a house. What’s negotiable—location, price, or amenities? Have that hard discussion before you’re put in a position of having to decide in a panic.
  3. Be patient. If you don’t have to buy right now, be patient. I have a few clients from out of state who were going to come up this month and I told them to wait as there isn’t enough of what they are looking for at this time. Spring is typically a time when more homes come on the market so holding off for a month or two could be your answer if you have that option.
  4. Be prepared for a bidding war. In a recent staff meeting, agents were talking of homes getting multiple offers, often in the 30s and 40s. When that happens, homes often go for more than the asking price, so it’s best to anticipate that and look at homes that aren’t at the top of your budget but that give you some wiggle room to bid higher than asking price.  
  5. Consider a backup offer. I’m a firm believer in backup offers, largely because two of the homes I have purchased for myself came about as a result of that. Deals fall through for all kinds of reasons, from contingencies not being met to financing issues, and in today’s hot market, sometimes buyers get hit with a big case of buyers’ remorse when they win the bidding war. Caught up in need to act fast, buyers can find themselves taking on more than they feel comfortable. Or perhaps they didn’t follow my earlier advice to consider homes below their budget in anticipation of a bidding war and discover they are maxed out after a home inspection that indicates lots of repairs needed. Whatever the case, if you find a property that is really special, you may want to put in a backup offer if your initial offer loses out to someone else. Realize, however, that you will also have to put some earnest money down even with a backup offer to show your commitment which ties that money up as long as you have that agreement. It does not preclude you from continuing to look for another home.
  6. Work with an experienced Realtor. From negotiating price in a bidding war to helping you decide whether a backup offer is a good plan or not, an experienced Realtor can increase your odds of success in a low housing inventory market. In addition, a well-connected Realtor like myself, hears of listings before they come on the market. In a tight market like today’s, that can be a real bonus if you are looking to buy a home in Lake Oswego.

If you are thinking of moving to Lake Oswego, or want to buy a home in Lake Oswego, please give me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website . I have been a top Realtor in Lake Oswego for over 30 years and would love to put that experience to work for you. Let me help you navigate today’s market.

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LO Reads Offers Stimulating Lineup of Programs on Racism

Entering its 15th year of initiating community discussion around the themes of one particular book, the Lake Oswego Reads program has shown its proclivity for asking Lake Oswegans to take a long, hard look at themselves in relation to hot topics. This year’s selection, Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson follows last year’s book dealing with climate change and the one prior to that addressing immigration.

“America is like an old house,” Wilkerson writes. “Like other old houses, America has an unseen skeleton, a caste system that is as central to its operations as are the studs and joists that we cannot see in the physical buildings we call home. Caste is the infrastructure of our divisions.”

Wilkerson assigns blame for this caste system to all of us, by allowing it through our actions and the meaning we attach to differences. Her attempt, through her book, and the Lake Oswego Reads attempt, through their programming, is to awaken all of us to this underlying force and then to encourage us to make a choice as to how we will proceed.

We are into week two of programming. Here are some of the upcoming opportunities for gaining insight into this insidious force that has shaped our worldview both globally, locally, and personally.

“RACIAL HYGIENE” IN NAZI GERMANY. There are lessons to be learned from history and Professor Maureen Healy of the Department of History at Lewis & Clark College will glean some from Nazi Germany. Learn about the policies and laws that were implemented that set the stage for the Holocaust and how German Jews coped with their shrinking legal and civic identities. Thursday, February 11 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.

THE POLITICS OF RACIAL DIVISIVENESS. Hear Portland State Political Science professor, Dr. Jack Miller, explore the political, economic and psychological dynamics that contributed to the process of assembling a racist power structure ion the United States. Tuesday, February 16 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.

WHEN JUST US, GET NO JUSTICE.  Professor Shirley A. Jackson gives a talk focused on the intersecting caste-like system of race and gender that works to silence and restrain Black women’s voices. Wednesday, February 17, 7:00 p.m. Zoom. Pre-registration required.

COOKING WITH A CITY COUNCILOR. Join our newest Lake Oswego City Councilor, Massene Mboup, as he teaches viewers how to cook his favorite Senegalese Chicken and Rice dish. Recipe will be provided with sign-up for this virtual event. Saturday, February 20 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Pre-registration required.

UNLEARNING & RE-EDUCATING: WHY LO NEEDS CURRICULUM REFORM. Hear it from the students themselves—listen in on this panel discussion with Lake Oswego School District students on the need for anti-racist curriculum in Lake Oswego schools. Sunday, February 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.

HEAR AUTHOR ISABEL WILKERSON. Listen in as this year’s Lake Oswego Reads author examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. Tuesday, February 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.

Check the full schedule for other events, including facilitated book discussions.

Keep up-to-date on what’s happening in Lake Oswego. Subscribe to my blog by clicking the “Sign me up” tab in the right hand column.

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7 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day During COVID in Lake Oswego

When it comes to celebrating holidays during COVID, we’ve all had to get creative so Valentine’s Day should be no different.

Here are a few ideas for fun ways to honor the occasion with your sweetheart in Lake Oswego.

MY FUNNY VALENTINE. Sign up for this online musical comedy revue hosted by Lakewood Theatre favorite, Joan Freed, and featuring some of Theatre Company’s star performers.  From songs that will have you regaling the charms and challenges of romance to engaging audience participation games to behind-the-scenes theatre stories, you and your valentine will be thoroughly entertained from the comfort and the safety of home. Screening is complimentary but donations are encouraged. Viewing is available February 12 through February 18.

ZUPAN’S FLORL DESIGN AND WINE. Instead of delivering flowers this year, why not give an interactive class that teaches her how to put her own arrangement together featuring spring flowers like tulips, daffodils and hyacinth! This popular workshop often sells out and is only limited to 10 so sign up early. Cost is $125 and includes floral materials, cheese & charcuterie plate, and wine (to be picked up before class).  Sunday, February 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

LOVE STRUCK DRIVE-IN. The quickest way to a woman’s heart is through rom-coms and tear-jerkers which will be showing at this pop-up drive-in theater at Washington Square Mall from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. February 12 through February 14. Admission starts at $74.99 plus fees. Different packages include film admission only to two films with add-ons to include dinner for two delivered to your car (additional meals can be ordered at checkout if your car is loaded up), and a bottle of wine from Willamette Valley Vineyards to be enjoyed at home. Here’s the lineup:

February 12: P.S. I Love You and The Proposal

February 13: 10 Things I Hate About You and She’s All That

February 14: The Notebook and A Walk to Remember

APHRODISIAC VALENTINE’S DAY ONLINE COOKING CLASS. Tired of wearing a mask to go out to eat? Bring the food and the romance in with this virtual cooking class with an emphasis on enjoying cooking as a couple while learning what foods can raise your temperature in more ways than one. Sign up for a two-hour time slot February 12 through February 14. The class is $49.99 plus fees. You’ll receive a list of ingredients, recipes, music playlist all before class starts.  

SUPPORT A LOCAL HOMEGROWN FLORIST. Brenna Burnett grew up in Lake Oswego and runs a local floral design business. COVID has hit her business hard with weddings being cancelled, postponed, or trimmed down. But she has an incredible flair for arranging beautiful bouquets that our family has benefitted from during this pandemic thanks to special orders placed by one of our daughters who is currently living in Washington, D.C. and Brenna’s delivery service. She is taking Valentine’s Day orders and let me assure you, you (and the flowers’ recipient) won’t be disappointed. Deadline for delivery orders is February 10; February 12 for pickup.

HANDCRAFTED COCKTAIL MIXERS. Here’s a great way to mix things up on Valentine’s day literally for either him or her! This award-winning bartender offers a rotating list of craft cocktail mixes out of her Airstream trailer at the Sellwood Community House, 1436 SE Spokane Street Wednesdays through Fridays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. My daughter received a couple recently for her birthday and let’s just say they were a big hit. You can place an order online to pick up during regular hours or just show up and see what’s available.

SUPPORT A LOCAL ETSY SHOP. No need to go out and try to find the perfect valentine’s day card to send to family and friends or give to your housemate. Head over to my wife and daughter’s Etsy shop, Heartspun Printables and select one of their printable card designs. They are sure to have one that fits your needs and that you can access from the safety and comfort of your home.

Be sure to subscribe to my blog to stay up-to-date on what to do in Lake Oswego and why moving to Lake Oswego or living in Lake Oswego is a great idea! Click the “Sign me up” tab in the right-hand column.

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Last Year’s Best Pandemic Pivots in Lake Oswego

The pandemic has called upon all of us to do things differently. From working-at-home to working out via online classes, business has been nothing but the usual.

With little notice, local businesses have been forced to find new ways of delivering their goods and services in order to weather this crisis. From curbside pickup to finish-at-home meals, mastering the art of the pivot has become a survival skill.

I’d like to give a shout-out to a few shining examples of the saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Tavern on Kruse. Owner Kent Lewis has shared his journey with regulars and subscribers to his emails. In the beginning, he called upon those of us who could afford to eat out, to help support those who couldn’t by offering free meals to unemployed restaurant workers for every regular meal ordered by customers. He recalls being overcome with emotion seeing both employed and unemployed workers standing six feet apart in line waiting for their food and seeing the appreciation they each held for each other—“It was about community,” he writes. In the summer, he provided nightly jazz music outdoors to packed patios as customers took full advantage of the opportunity to dine out while still abiding by the governor’s safety guidelines. Now he’s looking into adapting 14 of his outdoor tables into heated tables and working on a custom-built, large, clear vinyl canopy that will accommodate outdoor dining come rain or shine.

Other local restaurants deserve shout-outs too as they find ways to encourage patrons to brave the elements outside with tabletop fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, patio heaters and of course, those winter cocktails that warm you up from the inside.

Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department. While many of our favorite summer programs this year were canceled, many were not, thanks to the pivoting ingenuity of the Parks and Recreation staff. From a Farmers Market that regulated capacity both in terms of vendors to shoppers to a Halloween trick-or-treat party that morphed into a drive-through trick or treat event to offering virtual classes, staff did their best to keep us “Living Well in LO.”

Hunger Fighters Oregon. With an increased need, this nonprofit organization has had to rethink how they do things quickly to both increase their outreach while keeping everyone safe. Some of their pivots have included serving pre-packed groceries curbside based on family size as well as providing a delivery service. And for Advent, they suggested volunteers try a “reverse” Advent calendar, adding different items each day (December 1 – cereal, December 2 – peanut butter)  to a box to be donated on Christmas Eve.  

La Provence. This popular spot improvised in several ways to keep patrons coming through their doors including offering finish-at-home meals where the chef gives you a head start but lets you finish baking at home so it’s hot and ready when you are. Entrees have included Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Northwest Salmon Risotto. Another new service is their Le Petit Market, offering items like U-bake baguettes, croissants or cookie dough as well as a French Onion Soup kit that you can make at home at your convenience.

Lakewood Center for the Arts. What do you do when an annual event you host that draws in close to 25,000 people from the region has to be canceled? You pivot, if you’re the Lakewood Center for the Arts, and you take one big event and break it down into a series of smaller ones. From “Art in the Bubble,” a monthly artist talk series offered via Zoom, to a week of Color Art workshop videos, the festival has stayed true to its mission to provide arts education and celebrate culture and community through art.

My daughter and wife. What happens when you quarantine two creative people under the same roof? Well one, my daughter Riley, wrote a second book to follow up her first, Waiting at Hayden’s, which was named a best beach reads of 2019. Then, she and my wife paired their talents to create an Etsy shop called Heartspun Printables featuring wall art, greeting cards and bookmarks that you can download on your computer and print at home or your local print shop! They opened it on New Year’s Eve, 2020 in hopes of ushering in the new year with something positive. Check it out!

As a Realtor in Lake Oswego, I’ve had to do my own share of pivoting this year too, ensuring that both home sellers and home buyers have a safe and positive experience. Here’s hoping that 2021 provides opportunities for all of us to thrive.

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6 New Things to Try in January in Lake Oswego

  1. A new bakery. We all have our favorites when it comes to satisfying our sweet tooth, but often we tend to seek out what’s closest to us. I’d like to recommend a fairly new bakery in town that’s in my neck of the woods and is tucked away off the main drag, so you may not know about it. Too Sweet Cakes added Lake Oswego to its lineup last year although you may have also seen their exquisitely decorated cakes in Zupan’s Market in Lake Grove. Be sure to leave your willpower at the door as the display case will dazzle you with a selection of cookies, pastries and cakes, many of which are also available in gluten-free and vegan options. Check out their Instagram feed—it’s as beautiful as their offerings are delicious. 5755 Willow Lane, Suite B, 503.305.8381.
  2. A new restaurant. Here again, we have our favorites or we stick to the ones on the main drag. Venture out a bit and consider neighborhood spots like Aji Tram owned by two local Lake Oswego boys who returned to their roots after graduating from Oregon State and U of O. They brought with them their love of Asian cuisine to which they’ve added their own exciting culinary twist. 4477 SW Lakeview Blvd., 503.342.6249.
  3. A new park. Watch for a soft opening of Iron Mountain Park at 2401 Iron Mountain Road. Crews have been at work all fall and winter long to transform this 51-acre natural area into a park complete with nature play area, pathways and a bridge leading to the new trailhead to the Iron Mountain Park Trail.  A more formal grand opening will take place in the spring. This is a great excuse to explore the Iron Mountain Park Trail. It’s quite a hike but if you continue up to the viewing platform, the reward is pretty spectacular!
  4. A new book. We have the good fortune of having an artist in residence living with us right now, my daughter Riley, a women’s fiction author whose first book, Waiting at Hayden’s, was named a Best Beach Reads of 2019 by Shereads.com. Her Christmas gift to me was a draft of her next book, One Perfect Weekend which I have started and am already hooked. While One Perfect Weekend is not available for purchase yet, Waiting at Hayden’s is, so check it out and support a local homegrown author.
  5. A new class. The Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department is offering new outdoor recreation opportunities with workshops on birding (both beginner and advanced classes) beekeeping, and how to make products from all that honey!
  6. A new business. My wife and daughter have opened a new Etsy shop featuring printable wall art, greeting cards and bookmarks. You can print their designs right from your home computer or send the file they send you upon purchase, to your local print shop. In this time of COVID, it’s a convenient option, especially for those last-minute occasions you forgot to buy a card for. Check them out at HeartspunPrintables.

If a new home is part of your 2021 plans, then be sure to give me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’ve been a Lake Oswego Realtor for over 30 years helping people move in, out, and around Lake Oswego. I’d love to put that experience to work for you!

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Remembering Mike Hasson

On December 31, a light went out in Lake Oswego. Mike Hasson, the founder of Hasson Company Realtors, passed away after a 10-year-battle with mesothelioma. He took on the challenge of fighting that disease like he took on all the challenges he faced—with a positive attitude and a resilience that inspired all around him.

I joined Mike’s company in 1989 when it was still under the banner of Handel, Hasson and Jones, two years before he broke away and founded the Hasson Company Realtors. I was drawn to the integrity he brought to the business and his emphasis on doing business the right way.

But our relationship wasn’t just a professional one, as most Realtors who work at the company would admit. Our personal lives followed the same trajectory. At the time when I joined Mike, there was a group of us at the company just starting to have kids. So not only were we sharing our professional ups and downs, we were also on the same roller coaster ride of becoming parents for the first, second, and third times. And turns out Mike was a hands-on Dad like me. We were high achievers at the office, but not at the expense of spending time with our kids. He went on to coach two of my daughters in soccer and I watched as he took those same principles he applied in the office and put them to work on the soccer field. He expected the best out of his players but he also equipped them with the right training, strategies and support to produce at a very high level. To this day, my youngest daughter, who trained under Mike for many seasons, considers him one of her most important mentors.

One of my family’s favorite travel memories is of a trip we took to Orlando, Florida, with Mike and his daughter Jenna. He was coaching our daughters’ 3v3 soccer team who had qualified for the national finals in Disney World. The week was filled with excursions to the Magic Kingdom, Disney Hollywood, Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach Water Park, (along with a few brownie sundaes thrown in there for dessert) which wasn’t probably a recommended training regimen before an important game. The girls put up a good fight, but did lose in the playoffs. That’s not what any of us remember though. It’s more like the ten times we rode the Kali River Rapids, sometimes without even having to get off the ride at the end because the park was so deserted (it was January, 2002 and the tourism industry hadn’t yet recovered from 9/11). Or how scared the kids were to ride the Tower of Terror, only to exit it quickly after the 13-story drop and line up to do it all over again.

Our entire family was stunned to learn of Mike’s passing as we, like most of the rest of his circle (which was a widely cast one) thought he was invincible. My wife captured the essence of his personal gift by describing his ability to be “fully present whenever you talked to him.” Here was a man who, as one colleague described him, couldn’t walk around town without being greeted by just about everyone, but still managed to tune out the background noise to truly listen to what you had to say, to check in with how our kids were, to see how we were doing.

Last week our company held a virtual memorial in-house so everyone would have a chance to reminisce and pay tribute to Mike. Tears were shed, laughter was shared, but the recurring theme was this—Mike valued relationships and went out of his way to touch as many lives as he could while he was with us. “Be like Mike,” became the recurring mantra as we all realized that if everyone was, this world would be a much better place.

Rest in peace, my friend. You will be missed.

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5 Things We Love About Lake Oswego in January

  1. Lake Oswego Reads Kickoff Free Book Giveaway. This year’s community book selection is the New York Times bestseller, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson. The author provides a well-researched lens through which to examine caste systems and their impact in three societies: America, Germany and India and continues the discussion on race relations that recent events have triggered in the U.S. as well as within our own community. Following Covid-19 guidelines, the library will be giving away 800 free copies of the book to Lake Oswego library cardholders on January 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the library, 706 Fourth Street.
  2. Art in the Bubble: Pablo Picasso presented by Bernie Taylor. Have you ever stared at a Picasso and wondered, “What was he thinking?” If so, here’s an opportunity to get your questions answered. International art scholar Bernie Taylor will be exploring what influenced the artwork of Pablo Picasso as part of the Lakewood Center for the Arts “Art in the Bubble” series, the revamped program lineup of the 2020 Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts in the wake of COVID-19. This Zoom event will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20. Registration is free but donations are encouraged.
  3. Cats 101. Unlike dogs, cats seem to prefer remaining a bit mysterious to us humans, even though we’ve been hanging around together for almost 10,000 years. If you’d like to understand your feline companion more, then sign up for this new virtual class offered through the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department. There are two sections of the class, one geared for ages 12 and older (January 11 through February 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m) and another for kids 6-11 (January 13 through February 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Registration is $15 for residents/$22 for non-residents and available online. AND if you’d like to learn how to train your cat (yes, it is possible), then sign up for that class, #22099 which runs from January 11 through February 22 from 7:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Fee is $22 for residents/$30 for non-residents.
  4. Floral Design and Wine. Zupan’s is hosting another of their popular floral design classes virtually on January 24 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Using flowers on the bulb and early blooming branches, your design will not only be fun to create, but also to watch as it blossoms and develops! Price is $125 and includes all materials as well as cheese, charcuterie and wine which must be picked up prior to class. Register online.
  5. Green Thumb Planning. Dreaming of when you can get back out in your garden? Well, the time to start planning that garden is now and between the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department and Dennis’ 7 Dees, you should be well prepared. The city is offering Garden Planning 101 on Saturday, January 23 at Luscher Farm ($12 residents/$18 non-residents) and 7 Dees is offering a free Seed Starting for Beginners as a livestream event on January 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Be sure to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in Lake Oswego by clicking the “Sign me up” button in the top right hand column.

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Good Tidings About the Lake Oswego Housing Market

  1. The Lake Oswego housing market is ending the year strong. By November’s end, we saw an 8.6% increase in home sales values and a cumulative increase of 316.3% increase in value since 1997. A total of 694 homes had sold over the course of the year, slightly besting last year’s total of 681.
  2. The Month’s of Inventory (or MOI) tells us we are still in a seller’s market as the number was 1.4 for single-family homes and 1.3 for condos or attached homes. The MOI speaks to how long the current inventory of homes on the market can last relative to demand and traditionally, inventories of four months or less are considered a seller’s market. Anything above six months is a buyer’s market and a balanced market looks at an inventory between four to six months.
  3. Despite it being a seller’s market, mortgage rates are working in the buyer’s favor hovering at a record low, 2.72 for a 30-year fixed-rate loan. Realtor.com predicts they will tick up by the end of 2021 to the vicinity of 3.4% so buyers need to weigh that into the timing of any decision they make.
  4. The maximum conforming loan limits have been raised for single-family properties from $510,400 to $548,250 which is good news for people looking to buy a home in Lake Oswego where property values tend to be higher. Why is that? Anything over the conforming loan limit kicks a loan into the “jumbo loan” category which is considered riskier for lenders because they are not guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. As a result, the underwriting criteria for a jumbo loan are stricter including: higher credit score, cash reserves, and larger down payments. The interest rates charged can be a little higher too as well as the closing costs. The higher limit on conforming loans gives buyers a little more wiggle room, especially in a market like Lake Oswego.
  5. Personally, I am seeing the lure of suburban living drawing newcomers to Lake Oswego. Just in the past month, I’ve worked with a couple buyers looking to move out of Portland and a couple others moving out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Every week I tout the benefits of living in Lake Oswego on this blog because it really does have so much to offer. From the sheer physical beauty to the highly rated school district to its location, I am never surprised when it is “discovered” by homebuyers looking for a place to settle.

If you or anyone you know is looking to move in or around Lake Oswego, please have them give me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’ve been helping buyers call Lake Oswego home for over 30 years and I’d love to do the same for you!   

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