Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 46: Hot Diggity Dogs in Bethesda

Gourmet Dogs and Fries

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying a good ‘ole fashioned hot dog for lunch.   But this was no greasy, spongy hot dog wrapped in foil from the football stadium.  I went gourmet baby!  Bold Bite Dogs & Fries in Bethesda located at 4901 Fairmont Ave is rockin’ hot dogs and sausages like you’ve perhaps never seen done before.  The owners and brothers, Alonso and Alvaro Roche, were inspired to create Bold Bite from their experiences growing up in Venezuela buying late night hot dogs from street vendors.  Alonso Roche is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine and has also worked in several local Bethesda residents among other accomplishments.  He has put his experience and talents to delicious use at Bold Bite.

Bold Bite was truly a bit of a surprise to me today.  I mean, I like hot dogs and all, but I really enjoyed the texture of the dog and the bun, the unique flavors and the obvious freshness.  It was clear with the first bite that this was no ordinary dog.  I selected the New York dog with a Vienna frank, sauerkraut, New York style onions, spicy mustard and a steamed bun.  The french fries were another big perk.  They are cooked “Belgian style” apparently – very fresh, hand cut and flavorful with potato skins and all. 

Bold Bite interior

You will find an array of pre-designed gourmet hot dog options on the menu – or you can just build your own, as Brian did today with a simple mustard and onion dog.  Bold Bite has become my new guilty pleasure in Bethesda – especially for a late night snack!  They are open until 2:30 AM on Friday and Saturday nights and until 8:30 PM Sunday through Thursday.  Hot diggity dog!     ~Amy

Day 23: Two Great Reasons to Celebrate Food This Week in Bethesda!

It’s cold and dank outside but if you can brave the cruddy weather and plan a night out for dinner you will be rewarded!  This week happens to be Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant week, my favorite excuse to enjoy a new restaurant in town! 

There are 33 participating establishments who will offer two and three-course lunches for $13 or $16 and dinners for $33 from today through January 29th, 2012.  It’s a great time to try something new or visit an old favorite.  For a complete list of participating restaurants and a link to their websites to make reservations, you can visit the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) web page.

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Today also happens to be the first day of the Chinese (Lunar) New Year!  It’s the lucky Year of the Dragon, year 4710 on the Chinese calendar.  Perhaps some celebratory dumplings and fortune cookies are in order? 

No matter what tasty dish you choose this week – cheeseburgers, chow mein, chalupas or chicken, enjoy the opportunity to share some good eats with family and friends.  May this New Year be filled with good fortune and blessings for you all.     ~Amy

Day 21 – A Restaurant for all 'Seasons 52' Weeks a Year

Seasons 52 North Bethesda

I have found a new addiction – sampling the menu at Seasons 52 Fresh Grill in “North Bethesda” (otherwise known as the White Flint area of Rockville Pike).  I have now had the pleasure of visiting this restaurant scene on two occasions – once for lunch with a friend and last night, a celebratory dinner with my husband.

The thing I love MOST about Seasons 52 is that so far, all the food I have sampled has been truly fresh-tasting and absolutely delicious – not overcooked, over-buttered, over-sauced or over-heated like many places.  This food tastes fresh (the perfect crunch to their grilled vegetables for example) and looks like art.  Even better…EVERYTHING on the menu is 475 calories or less!  This is quite a contrast to other restaurant menus like CPK where many items top 1000 – 1500+ calories for one entrée.  The menu at Seasons 52 changes regularly as inspired by farm markets so that the freshest foods in-season are featured.  Plus, the restaurant offers a very nice wine list which for me is always a PLUS!

If you’re thinking about visiting, I definitely recommend making reservations at Seasons 52.  The place is growing in popularity.  We arrived early (around 5:30 PM) on Friday and it was already getting full.  By the time we left, it was standing-room-only as people waited for tables.

Friendly valet at Seasons 52

When you arrive, you are first greeted by the nice valet attendants who will park your car for free – a relaxing way to begin the dining experience.  Flashes of trying to park in the public garages in downtown Bethesda come to mind as a stark contrast!  The lobby area of the restaurant is warm and inviting with a nice, cozy fireplace and rich, dark wood walls.  On both occasions that I visited, I ended up sitting in the comfortable booths surrounding the nicely appointed bar.

This past Friday evening we were surprised and delighted by live piano music and vocals – just the right genre of music and at just the right volume so as not to overwhelm our conversation.  Made for a fun atmosphere.  Apparently, there is live music nightly.

Chilled Tiger Prawns

We began our meal by indulging in their Ripe Plum Tomato Signature Flatbreads and big, fat Tiger Prawns which we thoroughly enjoyed.  Our server also generously provided us with an opportunity to try three different wines so we could select our favorite for the evening, a sauvignon blanc called Mulderbosch from Western Cape of South Africa – which he had recommended to us actually.

Ripe Plum Tomato Flatbread

Soon, our mouth-watering dinner entrees were presented.  I ordered the Tiger Shrimp Penne Pasta (loved those shrimp) which came in a light citrus sauce with lots of grilled crunchy vegetables – delicious!

Penne Pasta with Tiger Prawns

Brian ordered the Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon with veggies and mushrooms that were to-die-for.  The filet was accented with a very unique bar-be-que sauce that was wicked good!  Brian ended up getting two little bowls of it (he may have indulged in 500 calories versus 475).

We finished the dinner with selections from their Mini Indulgences for dessert.  The meal was just right – very tasty and just the right amount of food so we didn’t end up with an uncomfortable food-baby feeling on the way home.

I must point out that the meal I enjoyed at lunch with my dear friend last week (the Maui Tuna Crunch Salad) really rocked my world too – and I can’t wait to have it again!  The presentation was a lot of fun – they deliver an empty plate and the salad comes in a big hurricane-style plastic container and then they “release” the salad slowly from its confinement to fall onto your plate in front of you.  Very nice.  I wanted to clap or something.

Maui Crunch Tuna Salad

While dining at Seasons 52 is not a cheap meal, it also wasn’t as pricey as we had expected so we were very happy to see when the bill arrived that it was a good $20 – $30 less than anticipated.  By Bethesda standards, it was downright affordable.

I may not have much in the coming weeks to say about other restaurants in the area because frankly, I’m kinda hooked on Seasons 52!  Lunch anyone?     ~Amy

Day 17: BYOB Bethesda – Bring Your Own Bag…or Pay the Tax!

Buy One Get One Free Bags at Giant

This evening, after a nice long, relaxing walk on the Capital Crescent Trail in nearly 60 degree weather, I went to GIANT® Food Stores on Westbard.  My mouth was watering thinking about eating dinner after that nice long walk – never a good time to go shopping!

I pulled into the parking lot and grabbed my reusable grocery bags.  I have been trying to use them faithfully for months.  As I started walking towards the door to the store, I noticed that the crowded parking lot was filled with all kinds of people carrying in and out reusable grocery bags.  It made me smile as it dawned on me that the new 5 cent bag tax that went into effect on January 1st had truly made its impact on a critical mass!

Montgomery County Bag Tax

I saw one man in his nicely tailored suit (probably a lawyer – everyone in Bethesda is a lawyer) exit his car with one solitary bag in hand that he neatly folded as he walked toward the store.  I thought to myself, “5 cents means that much to you, huh?”  I wondered whether he used to carry in that bag before the tax came into effect or is he responding like so many others to the fact that a tax – even 5 cents – will be avoided at all costs!

As I walked through the store aisles I realized that almost without fail the shoppers had their bags in hand – some were nice canvas ones; others were paper shopping bags from department stores; still others were your garden-variety grocery store bags.  The age of the shopper didn’t seem to matter either – I saw a teenage boy carrying one.

The bag tax in Montgomery County came into effect on January 1, 2012 with the primary goal of reducing pollution in local streams and stormwater.  Apparently the plastic bags are one of the most common items to litter our local waterways. In addition to reducing pollution by encouraging the use of reusable bags, the County will also raise funds from the 5 cent tax towards a water quality protection fund.  They expect to raise roughly $1.5 million dollars in the first year.  I guess 5 cents adds up!

Apparently, Bethesda residents agree that the tax adds up as they carry bags with them everywhere they go.  As a self-professed “Greenie” I am very happy to see this new habit developing in our town.  However, even I was caught off guard at subway®  restaurant recently when I was asked whether I wanted a bag or wanted to pay 5 cents for one.  My knee-jerk reaction was, “What?  I can’t just have a bag here anymore?”  But then the Greenie in me kicked in and I just decided to carry my sandwich in its wrap and try not to drop the napkin.  We are not just talking about grocery store bags folks.  Any carry out bag – department store, grocery store, sandwich shop, etc. is included.  According to a January 2nd article in The Huffington Post “It does not, however, apply to bags for prescription drugs, newspapers, garbage, pet waste, yard waste, restaurant leftovers and good[s] purchased at farmers markets.” 

You know what’s next don’t you?  These bags will become a fashion statement and people will be paying big bucks for GUCCI® and Coach™ grocery bags.  It’s only a matter of time!  You know you want one!     ~Amy

Day 8: The Sunday Snapshot, Bethesda Real Estate

Each year we review statistics on Bethesda Real Estate to track trends and keep up with the appreciation, or rarely, depreciation of the home values in Bethesda.

I have good news to report.  For the second year in a row Bethesda real estate home values have increased. 

In 2011, seven hundred detached homes were sold at an average price of  $983,721 an increase in value of 3.5%, or increase of $33,057.

Since 2009 home values have increased over $60,000, or an increase of nearly 6.5%.  I’ve had prospective purchasers tell me at open houses that they “are waiting until the market reaches the bottom” before purchasing.  They often surprised when I tell them that the real estate “train has already left the station.”The chart at right depicts the 10-year price performance of the Bethesda real estate market for detached homes (zip codes 20814, 20816, 20817).  As you can see if we keep up the same pace we should eclipse Bethesda’s all-time high by the end of 2013!

It’s been widely reported that Bethesda is one of America’s most highly educated towns and that may explain why real estate is performing so well here.  Our residents understand that we are experiencing a period of abnormally low-interest rates and the cost of buying a home has never been more affordable.  The chart at right shows the average rate of interest charged on 30-year conforming loans (loans currently at or below $417,000) since 1980.

In 2011 the average interest rate for a 30-year conforming loan for the year was 4.45% (as of December the rate had dipped to the lowest point EVER! at 3.96%).  The 15-year rates fell to 3.25% in December!  Rates are now less than half the average rate over the last 20 years!  The smart money here in town knows this won’t last forever so they are taking advantage of these historically low rates and locking in for the long-haul.  There are many economists that believe that 30 year fixed-rate loans may become a thing of the past (due to the risks involved to investors) and these loans will no longer be made available.  The point I’m making here is that now is the time to borrow money (if you can afford it of course) and leverage your housing investment.

Amy and I are looking forward to another exciting and challenging year helping Bethesda residents buy and sell their homes! Today is Sunday January 8, “Playoff Weekend”, and Amy’s beloved Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Denver Broncos -the AFC’s most unusual wildcard team.  Go Steelers! (hey I gotta root for my gal’s team if the ‘skins are out!) ~Brian

Day 7: The sweet smell of Crêpes on a warm night

Rita's Crêpes

I first noticed Rita’s Crêpes a couple of years ago in one of the small kiosks located near Mon Ami Gabi and the Bethesda Row Cinema.  Tonight, with the afterglow of amazing January temperatures in the mid 60’s today, my nose reminded me of Rita’s Crepes as the sweet smell of fresh crêpes filled the air along Woodmont Avenue.  The stand was very busy as people lined up to enjoy all this unique Bethesda food business has to offer.

The origin of Crêpes is French and involves pouring specially prepared batter onto a hot frying pan and essentially making a very thin pancake.  They are delicious plain with a little butter but most people enjoy them filled or topped with a wide range of ingredients.  Rita’s crêperie features ten sweet toppings and fillings including an old standby –cinnamon and brown sugar– to the more exotic Tea with the Queen (Latifa) that includes Apricot preserves, peaches and cinammon sugar and walnuts.  Bethesda Patch had a nice profile on this business just a few weeks ago and I always love to hear what motivates someone to strike out on their own and start a business.  In the Patch post the owner Rita Douglass talks about her European roots and how the small stand, and it’s growing popularity, is really a reflection of her love of Crêpes and a taste from “back home” (she used to work at a Crêpe restaurant in Germany).  She is just another example of the amazing entrepreneurial spirit you find around Bethesda.

Rita at work

Tonight a warm Crêpe and the gentle aroma of butter were the perfect compliment to the unusually warm weather we’ve had this year.  One of my least favorite seasons in Bethesda is winter so I have to ask myself after a day like today,  “Is global warming really so bad?” 🙂 ~Brian

Day 365: A New Year of Bethesda 365?

Bethesda365

Amy:   Hey Brian, when we started Bethesda365 on January 1st of 2011, we never knew how much we would enjoy getting to know some of the interesting people, places and things about our town, huh?  What stood out most for you?

Brian:  I’ve lived in the Bethesda area practically all my life and what stands out the most for me are the posts we did regarding the history of our town.  For example, the Madonna of the Trail post and the Farm Women’s Market are two that really made an impression.  Our town today is a product of that history.  What stands out for you?

Amy: I really enjoyed the “history lesson” too but for me, the most surprising part of the experience was the entrepreneurial spirit of the people in this town.  The Farm Women had it and it is evident in the enterprising minds of today’s business owners like Seth’s Honest Tea, Robert’s Mussel Bar and Francis’ Cork57 and Food and Wine Co., among many others.  The everyday people of Bethesda are pretty amazing too – take for example the average Housewives of Bethesda!  Remember that?

Brian: My favorite blog posts developed organically from the things we were doing, seeing and enjoying.  One of our most popular blogs was the one on Montgomery Mall – Mall Monkey Business and the Finger Lickin’ Good Ribs about the rib joint on Old Georgetown Road.  I also found Bethesda365 taking me out of my comfort zone and the well-worn paths I have travelled over the years to discover new things right in my own backyard like Maryland’s first solar power pole.  So now that the year has ended Amy what’s next for Bethesda365?

Amy: Let’s be candid here.  We INTENDED to blog every day for 365 days (Get it? Bethesda 365!) but we didn’t quite meet that goal.  However, we did complete over 225 blog entries and had over 21,000 visitors to our site in our first year. Plus, we had a damn good time doing it!  So what do you say Brian, shall we keep going for another 365 days?

Brian:  Absolutely!  One of our objectives with the blog was to create a body of information about our town that residents and newcomers could tap into to explore all the great things about Bethesda that we enjoy.  To that end we were successful but there is still more to discover and share.

Amy: So true!  I have some ideas!  (Wink!) So partner, I propose a toast!  To a new year of Bethesda365 and the good eats, great people and interesting experiences that are surely in store! 

Brian:  Could we call it Bethesda100? 🙂

Amy:     😛

Day 361: Planning to Ring in the New Year in Bethesda?

Happy New Year Bethesda!

It’s Day 361 and that means that there’s only 4 days left in 2011.  Do you know yet what you’re going to do for New Year’s Eve?  It’s time to plan!

You deserve a fun night out, don’t you?  Don’t give in to that temptation to curl up in your pj’s and watch everyone else have fun while the New York Times Square ball drops – get on out and make your own memories of ringing in the new year!  Here are some ideas to kick off your 2012:

American Tap Room is offering a 3-course dinner from their new menu and champagne toast for $50 per person.

Assaggi has some festive music planned and party favors to ring in the new year.  They have seatings at 6 PM, 8 PM, and 10 PM with dinner specials all night long.

Redwood is getting really creative and appealing to the “agency folks” of Bethesda by offering a James Bond themed-party!  Too fun!  Make your reservations directly at 301-565-3515.

The Daily Grill has a prix-fixe 4-course dinner including prime rib, crab cakes and Grande Marnier creme brulee for $75 per person.

Jaleo is shaking it up Spanish-style with unlimited tapas.  Reservations starting at 8:30 PM.

Lebanese Taverna is having a Mezze Madness Party starting at 9 PM.  Get this!  They will have a belly dancing show as well as party favors, a champagne toast and of course endless mezzas for $65 per person.

If you’re looking for dancing, try Union Jacks or RiRa (or I’m sure any of the other local bars in town).

Union Jacks is having a Little Black Dress Ball with a DJ, dancing, heavy hors d’oeuvres, party favors, a midnight toast and even a continental breakfast after midnight – all for $51.05.

RiRa will have an Irish-style New Year’s party with a 7 PM Irish New Year celebration and more music, drinks, live music with T-Akila Jones and fun through the Bethesda new year too.

Call ahead, click on our links above or check out open table for reservations at local restaurants.  Most importantly, take some time to plan a fun New Year’s Eve celebration to ring in 2012.  ~Amy

Day 359: Merry Christmas Bethesda

Merry Christmas Bethesda.  Enjoy the sights and sounds of this holiday season.

Bethesda Row Christmas Tree

Holiday Cheer Bethesda Row

Holiday Decorations at Barnes & Noble

Day 358: Christmas Eve in Bethesda

It’s December 24th and many families will be heading out for Christmas Eve services at local churches.  Thanks to Bethesda Patch, you can conveniently find the one that’s right for you.  Check it out here.  Services begin as early as 4 PM and the last one begins at 11 PM to carry you over into the wee hours of Christmas Day when the midnight bell tolls indicating that it’s time for you to don your kerchiefs and caps and settle in for your long winter’s nap.

White Flint Mall Train

If you’re looking for something fun to do with the little kids this evening to keep them distracted from obsessing over the gifts that lay under the tree, try visiting the White Flint Mall in “North Bethesda” (if you can stand the crowds of last-minute shoppers).

For $1.50 per rider, you and your little cherubs can take a festive ride around the mall on their really cool train.  The conductor is charismatic and the train whistle is quaint.  I’m not sure whether the young or the young at heart enjoy it most!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

~Amy

Day 357: Sweet Gifts from Cookies By Design

CBD Logo - 4913 Cordell Ave

Today is Friday, December 23rd and is there a special someone for whom you just never found the right gift?  Do you fear he/she will be left without a little something from you that says you care? Perhaps this person has a sweet-tooth?  If you answer yes to these questions, never fear, Cookies By Design is here!  There is still time for hand-delivery in and around Bethesda if you order today.

Sample Cookie Basket - Photo from CBD website

Their web site is full of beautiful bouquets of designer cookies – reindeer, snowmen, ornament and holiday designs of all kinds.  You can add a dozen or two of assorted gourmet cookies to the arrangement as well and your own personal greeting.  It’s a fun, unique gift that’s sure to please.   Check out their website at www.cookiesbydesign to view all of their creative treats.  I love the New Year’s arrangements too!  Great fun!

The CBD business began in 1983 when its founder, single mom Gwen Willhite, became suddenly employed.  Undeterred she put her creativity and ingenuity to work and started her first cookie bouquet delivery business.  Her efforts were rewarded and she opened her first franchise location in 1987.  Now 25 years later, there are over 200 stores throughout the country, including our Bethesda location at 4913 Cordell Ave.  The cookie bouquets are sure to bring a smile to anyone and are ideal for any occasion.     ~Amy

Day 355: Nice Buns in Bethesda

Yep, that’s right.  You can find some amazing buns in Bethesda.  Interested?

Buns at Spring Mill Bread Co.

Well, head on down to Spring Mill Bread Company at 4961 Elm Street!  Perfect for your upcoming Christmas dinner, the homemade buns and breads at Spring Mill are always a hit.  We had a family gathering for brunch at our house recently and served cinnamon swirl bread as toast.  The cinnamon aroma was a mouth-watering prelude to the bread that filled your palette with flavor on the very first bite.

Entry to Spring Mill Bread

Spring Mill also has bread rolls and wreaths but be sure to call ahead to order yours with two-days notice.  That means if you want them in time for Christmas, you should order today (301-654-7970) for pick-up on December 24th.  They will be open on Dec. 24th until 3 PM.  Or better yet, you can just stop by and check all their stock of holiday delights.  Be prepared that you won’t escape without a soft bundle of something to enjoy later!  The jumbo gingerbread men are cute and they also have packaged and wrapped freshly baked gift items too – a good option for a last-minute treat for a friend or party.

Learn more about why we love Spring Mill Bread Co. on our Day 69 post “Bread the Way Grandma used to Make It.”  We wish you all a happy holiday season!     ~Amy

Day 350: The North Face of Bethesda

The North Face at Bethesda Row

When my daughter was getting ready for her first day of high school some years ago, the most absolute of all necessities on her school supply list was not paper, pens, or binders but a backpack from The North Face store!  At the time, we lived in Seattle and The North Face was all the rage.  Coats and backpacks emblazoned with the logo were paraded around by every teen.  Interestingly, it was not just the teens who got hooked on the look – adults of all ages could be seen with their coat of choice around town too.  With plenty of color and style options, it became something of a personality statement to don your apparel of choice and “be seen” wearing The North Face.

C’mon, if I looked in your closet right now, wouldn’t I find at least ONE item with The North Face logo stitched on it? But why not, their stuff is great!  Plus, the store appeals to the “greenie” in me with their efforts to strive towards environmental responsibility and sustainability in all their business practices.  Their written commitment “to protecting and preserving our outdoor playground” speaks to any nature lover or outdoor sports enthusiast.  In fact, the November 29th post on their official blog site includes their first public sustainability report and some other interesting material.  Check it out at NeverStopExploring.com.

The North Face has now brought their technical, innovative gear and apparel to our very own Bethesda Row with a brand spanking new store located at 4848 Bethesda Ave.  So if you or your honey have a wish list that includes a little something with that well-recognized logo neatly stitched upon it, you can just head on down to the heart of Bethesda.  The store is larger than it appears from the street and I love the fitness gear section in the back (I have a few items on my wish list  from that part of the store).  My now college-age daughter who wanted the school backpack all those years ago (and by the way continued getting a new one each year of high school) is getting a pair of gloves this year with special tips on the fingers so you can still use a Smart phone while wearing them.  Innovation baby.

Clothes4Souls Coat Donation

If you plan to pop into the Bethesda Row store by December 24th, bring your gently-used coat for Clothes4Souls and replace it with a great new puffy, fluffy or shiny one!  If you plan instead to shop on-line, today happens to be their last day for ground shipping before Christmas.  You can always ship to the store for pickup there at no charge though.  I’m glad to see that Bethesda has a new face – The North Face!     ~Amy

Day 345: The Sunday Snapshot, Bethesda Real Estate

It’s Sunday, December 11, 2011 and exactly 2 weeks before Christmas.  It appears that many real estate agents have decided to take the rare Sunday off as there are only 36 open houses scheduled for today in Bethesda and Chevy Chase.  Here is a link to a site where you can find them all: www.HomesDatabase.com.

RE/MAX Real Estate Professionals www.KeystoBethesda.com

If you’re looking to put the keys to a new home under your tree this year, you might need to work with a Buyer’s Agent instead of trying to find your dream home by simply visiting open houses.  Today, you will find less than 1% of the available inventory is open for viewing.

There are plenty of advantages to hiring a Buyer’s Agent other than the obvious one of easier access to ALL the homes on the market.  Choose wisely and your Buyer’s Agent will provide helpful (often money-saving) advice.  Choose a professional with many years of local real estate experience and you will gain insights into neighborhood amenities and/or negative factors to consider, school information and negotiation advice.

The professional Buyer’s Agent is your advocate and your link to professional mortgage lenders, inspectors, contractors, settlement attorneys and others you will need as you proceed with a home purchase.  Look for someone who is experienced, proactive, communicative and a good listener!  This may not always be the area “top producer.”

Also, make sure your agent really knows the local market.  If someone works very broad geographic areas but has no particular specific market emphasis, they may not have the detailed insights that you need, especially in a town like ours.  Bethesda and Chevy Chase can vary drastically from street-to-street in terms of the value proposition of the land and homes – take for example Edgemoor versus any surrounding neighborhood.  Edgemoor demands a pretty significant premium.  These things are not advertised but experienced local agents, similar to local appraisers, know the financial implications of location!

There is essentially no cost to you to work with a Buyer’s Agent so take advantage of this built-in perk in real estate.  Would you represent yourself in court?  Probably not.  So why represent yourself in what may be the single largest financial investment of your life?

If a new home is on your Christmas list or one of your New Year’s resolutions, look to a professional local Buyer’s Agent to guide you through the process – and if you just want to browse at some interesting homes today, here are a few that caught my eye:

8215 Custer Rd - Photo by MRIS

8215 Custer Rd in the Greenwich Forest Neighborhood – List Price $2,195,000 – Architecturally interesting and in a great location close to downtown. Listed by Long and Foster.

5506 Hoover St in the Huntington Terrace neighborhood of Bethesda – List Price $899,000 (Recently reduced!) – Looks much smaller from the street than it is.  New addition on the back side of the home is stunning.  Convenient location and Whitman schools! Listed by Long and Foster.

8007 Park Ln in the Battery Park neighborhood of Bethesda – List price $650,000.  Ooo La La!  Walk to Bethesda for that price?  Yes, the home needs work but the Battery Park neighborhood is hard to get into – especially at this price point.  This home is an interesting proposition for the investor or renovator.  Listed by Prudential PenFed Realty.

I will be visiting these today too.  Maybe I will see you there?  Happy Sunday.     ~Amy

Day 341: Gifts That Warm the Heart but Don't Burn the Wallet

It’s that time of year again – time for the holiday gift-giving frenzy.  I don’t know about you but one of my pet peeves is gift cards.  I mean really, why not just give someone the gift of cold hard cash?  You know it will get spent, not lost and it will likely be appreciated more than a gift card for a restaurant or shop that may not be a favorite anyway.  But when you want something more meaningful than cash or its plastic equivalent, here are a few ideas we like from some local shops in Bethesda.

All Fired Up Painted Pottery

ALL FIRED UP, POTTERY PAINTED BY YOU

Release your inner artist and create a truly personalized gift of pottery for your Mom, your buddy or even your four-legged friends!  They have some adorable pet dishes and you can even bring in your pet and make a paw imprint to really personalize the item.  Painted pottery is also a great way for your child to feel truly involved and excited about the giving experience while creating a piece that will no doubt be considered priceless by its recipient.

All Fired Up is located at 4923 Elm Street in Bethesda.  Plan on roughly 1-1/2 hours to complete your masterpiece, although you are welcome to have unlimited studio time.  If you are artistically impaired like me, don’t worry.  They have stencils and friendly people to help guide you through the creative process.  The paint is all non-toxic and washes out of your clothes so you could even plan to stop by on your way home from work.  Weekends are busy so perhaps call ahead but weekday walk-ins are usually fine.  Ladies’ Night is offered on Thursday from 6 – 9 PM giving you & your BFF both 15% off.  (P.S.  BYOB or BYOW is fine with them!  I love that!  Why not spice things up with a little glass of something yummy while you work?)  For more information, you can call All Fired Up at 301-654-3206.

Women Basket from Uganda

GIVE TO YOUR FRIEND and GIVE TO THE WORLD

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy strolling through Ten Thousand Villages located at 4959 Elm Street in Bethesda.  Their store is chock-a-block full of interesting, beautiful and unique pieces crafted by artisans around the world.

All the items come with an explanation about the country of origin and how your purchase helps to keep the artisan who would otherwise be under or unemployed provide food, healthcare, education and housing to their families.  On Day 31 of Bethesda365, we shared information about the background of Ten Thousand Villages and how the organization supports equity in fair trade for and works in long-term partnerships with disadvantaged people from developing countries.  The items in the shop are usually very well-priced, are unique and offer the added meaning of a gift that helps those in need.  It will surely bring a smile to the face of anyone who receives it.   The only problem with this shop is that I can’t seem to leave there without buying something for myself too!  Last time I popped in,  I purchased a woven fruit basket from Uganda.

Happy Holidays Bethesda and let us know if you have unique gift ideas you would like to share.     ~Amy