Prompted by an article recently written by Heather Irwin in Sonoma County’s revered Bite Club column, I felt compelled to check out a playfully mischievous new establishment in Healdsburg.
A county touted for its amazing farm to table cuisine, we are rarely privy to other American State culinary specialties. Yes, our region is ladened with Thai, Mexican and Chinese food, but really, these cuisines are the product of other countries.
That’s why Amy’s Wicked Boston Slush is the perfect storm to wet your whistle here in Sonoma County. Seriously, when Wicked’s magical umami melts in your mouth, it leaves you craving more. With at least 20 daily flavors to choose from, you’ll already be planning your next visit the moment you step away from the pickup counter.
Wicked Slush sets the bar high for other local tasty treats to compete. Before long, it will be a Sonoma County icon, and we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.
A serendipitous melding of shaved ice, sorbet and an Icee, this classic original Boston slush pucker’s your lips and twinges your jaws. The texture is so luscious, you’re almost compelled to chew it.
I’ve already patronized the place twice within one week. Once to find out what all the buzz is about, and then, of course, to treat my daughter. I like the sweets, and she likes the tarts. Wicked curates all the taste senses seamlessly. During the second visit with my daughter, we were lucky enough to meet Amy. She’s genuinely a nice person.
My daughter was curiously checking out the coffee urns while waiting in line when Amy approached us& asked if we needed anything at all. She was friendly, kind, personable and authentic. Characteristics we’re all grateful for these days.
As summer approaches, the days get longer, hair gets lighter, skin gets darker, water gets warmer, drinks are colder, music gets louder, and now thanks to Amy, slush gets wicked.
For European countries like France, Italy, England and Germany, farmer’s markets aren’t a novelty, they’re an essential part of daily life. Europeans don’t stockpile their groceries in huge refrigerators or store massive amounts of toilet paper from Costco.
The primary reason is that Europeans don’t have the storage space for bulk shopping. Your first reaction may be to think they’re less fortunate. On the contrary, they’re better off by default for several reasons. I list five here, coupled with my favorite local Sonoma County farmer’s markets you won’t want to miss.
1. Less Waste
Shopping daily or even twice a week wastes less food. Buying in bulk harbors a false sense of security and isn’t advantageous. Admit it, we’ve all done it. We’ve all thrown food away because we didn’t eat it fast enough.
~According to a survey conducted by the American Chemistry Council, the average American household throws out $640 of food each year.~
2. Save Money
A 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics report concluded the average American household spent $4,015 on groceries in 2015, resulting in 16% waste due to spoiled goods. At first glance, this percentage may seem insignificant. However, when considered collectively, this number equates to a whopping 80 billion tons of waste each year.
3. Healthier Lifestyle
Produce consumed from farmer’s markets is more nutritious simply because nonlocal produce travel thousands of miles and takes at least a week to reach its retail destination. This journey doesn’t even include shelf time in the supermarket. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutritional value within three days. So in order for bulk import farmers to compensate for lag time, crops are harvested early. Local produce harvested during prime picking time reaps the most nutritious bounty. Produce nutrients are optimal when consumed within the first week of harvest.
~The Institute of Food Research reports that fresh vegetables traveling long distances lose up to 45 percent of their nutritional value between being picked and landing in a supermarket.~
4. Reduces carbon footprint
Supporting local farmer’s markets equates to fewer food miles by reducing emissions from transport vehicles, including airplanes, ships, and trucks. Conventional food distribution uses more fuel and emits more carbon dioxide than local and regional systems. Local food systems, on the other hand, rely on a geographically desirable network of small family farms. Most are sustainably operated translating into minimized pesticide use, no-till compositing agriculture practices, minimized transport to consumers, and virtually no packaging.
~A comparison between locally grown and conventionally grown produce found locally grown produce travels about 50 miles to reach the consumer’s table half a day from harvest, while conventionally grown produce travels 1,500 miles and reaches the table 13 days past harvest.~
Indeed it’s awesome to have access to mangos, strawberries or blackberries all-year-round. The truth is though, not only do we cheat our bodies of essential nutrients lost during travel time, buying produce from across the world is a detriment to our local farmers. If we buy produce from a different hemisphere we are starving our bodies of essential nutrition and taking money from the pockets of our local communities.
~According to the USDA, since 2006, farmers markets have grown by 180 percent, regional food hubs by 288 percent, and school district participation in farm-to-school programs by 430 percent.~
5. Discover your local culinary treasures
However important reasons one through four are, I’m most passionate about number five because it’s what feeds my soul. I love strolling through transformed makeshift markets shaded with little treasure canopy kiosks. While eclectic aromas ignite my inspiration, each little-shaded tent creates curiosity and offers something new to discover.
Plus, chatting with local artisans create a community connection like no other. This weekend, during a visit to our local farmer’s market at the Veteran’s Market in Santa Rosa, my daughter and I came across fantastic finds featured in the article photos.
When you get to know your farmer, you get to know your food. Heigh ho the derry-o the farmer in the dell. And remember, don’t let the cheese stand alone.
Travel and lifestyle writing is a passion of mine, but what some of you may not know about me is, I moonlight as a hairstylist. Or, is it the other way around – a hairstylist moonlighting as a writer? However you look at it, I love both! Interestingly, doing hair gives me insight into so many people’s lives which helps to keep my finger on the pulse.
My clients offer inspiration, ideas and information which helps me to understand this mysterious world of ours. Since beginning the blog, I’ve primarily written about travel, food and wine, but today we are going to switch gears.
My goal for the blog’s beauty and fashion category is to share my written words with followers as if you’re sitting in my chair getting your hair coiffed.
So with that said, I’ll get straight to the point. Hair matters. Hair matters because it can be the difference between a good or bad day. A good hair day elevates our self confidence. It also reflects the health of our body, internally and externally.
As much as some of us would like to deny that fact, it’s true. The health of our hair is a direct indication of how well we take care of ourselves regarding nutrition, stress and our mental wellbeing.
What influences healthy hair growth? There are actually multiple factors that can have an impact on the health of your hair and hair growth. Unhealthy hair or hair loss can be related to several reasons: over processed hair, stress, poor nutrition, genetics, surgery, pregnancy, poor maintenance and/or over styling with heat tools.
This post focuses on internal nutrition. Believe it or not, the scientific study of nutrition and how it affects our health has only come to light within the last century. Even more unbelievable is how scientific studies have only recently began to realize the relationship between hair and nutrition.
It seems as though common sense would guide us to realize the health of our body goes hand in hand with the health of our hair. However, people generally believe they are stuck with the hair they were born with, and in some cases, yes, this is true. In many cases though, simply changing a few poor habits can set you on the right course.
Beginning in the early twentieth century, scientists determined protein, good fats and healthy carbohydrates are essential for a well-conditioned body.
And, only recently have scientific studies established hair thrives with a plentiful supply of specific nutrients from certain types of vitamins and minerals. For example, Biotin and Omega-3 fatty fish oils immensely improves the health of hair and nails. Biotin is simply a form of vitamin B7. Biotin and Omega-3 fatty fish oils are available at most drug stores, including Trader Joes and Whole Foods.
If your diet lacks these specific nutrients, as a professional cosmetologist, my suggestion is to take the recommended dose of Biotin along with a multi-B-complex and an Omega-3. If you have extenuating circumstances, consult your doctor first before beginning any new supplement regime.
Note: best to take Biotin and a B-complex in the morning with a small breakfast, as taking vitamins on an empty stomach is no bueno! Also, keep in mind Biotin and B-complex vitamins give you an energy boost – bonus! So you may want to adjust your caffeine intake.
Of course, beauty is only skin deep, but healthy hair begins from within, so why not start now?
This blog post focuses on internal nutrition for your hair, so next week we’ll discuss how you can make simple changes in your daily routine for the external health of your hair. Why? Because hair matters and the matters of hair is quite complex.
Feel free to comment or contact me through any of my social media outlets (located in the blog’s top menu) if you have questions or need guidance with your hair.
Sonoma County is a quaint sleepy community with seemingly more vineyards than people. At first glance, things may appear a tad western here, but given a closer look, Sonoma County lights up the senses.
Nine incorporated cities sprinkle the county and each has an incredibly charming square or downtown. Except for Santa Rosa. For decades, Santa Rosa has lacked in comparison to its quaint neighbor towns, until now.
With the new controversial downtown square complete, the rightful county seat just may have a chance to shine. After all, there’s more to Santa Rosa than the Old Courthouse Square. So giddy-up! Here’s some inspiration for local day tripping.
Plan in advance and reserve a massage between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm at Me Spa. A luxurious day spa located in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village. Their zero-gravity chairs are divine. The perfect way to wipe away worries…if only for a moment.
Make reservations at Monti’s for 7:30 pm – giving ample time to refresh from the spa and wander around the darling outdoor shopping village. Keeping with a serene atmosphere, Monti’s offers tranquil outdoor dining. Small plates with fantastic wine pairings are the usual.Alas, Monti’s is located just steps away from Me Spa.
Santa Rosa’s new Old Courthouse Square is merely a moment away and is currently celebrating a renaissance revival. The new square is rapidly creating an eclectic hustle and bustle. With over 40 sycamore trees, bundles of redwoods and embedded benches dolloped around the square, it’s the perfect place for stargazing.
Let your hair down with one last stop at La Rosa’s esoteric upstairs bar for a nightcap. The rare brick mission style outdoor porch and dining area never disappoint. All bartenders are consistent with each well-crafted cocktail. The margarita menu is my favorite. It’s no wonder they call La Rosa bartenders mixologists. DJs spin urban beats that make you want to get up and shake off your dinner…and the extra wine you consumed throughout the day.
Savor a county seat experience right here in urban-farm central. It’s right here in our own backyard. New restaurants and bars with outdoor seating and live music are popping up like little gems all over town.
In 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on more than $1 billion in spending for water projects.
Hundreds of millions of those dollars are allocated for long-term projects associated with flood control, desalination, water recycling, and conservation.
Gov. Brown’s water fund measure is one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by the drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future, Brown said during a press conference in spring 2015.
However, State Water Resources Control Board authorities said Californians have fallen short of Brown’s goal of reducing water use by 20 percent.
One particular project currently in the water works is Southern California’s plan for desalination by turning 50 million gallons of the Pacific Ocean into potable water per day. The plant opened in December of 2015 as the first in the state to tap an ocean for drinking water. More than a dozen other plants in California are in the planning stages.
Even though Governor Brown is working to prevent another water shortage on a large scale, there are profound practices we can put into place as individuals in order to conserve. The question you may ask yourself as you read this article is, “Why would I need to conserve if California is currently enjoying a water surplus?”
The answer is quite simple, with an exponentially growing population, if we use more than mother nature replenishes, we’ll be right back where we started – sucking our resources dry to the bone.
If you typically shy away from math you may actually be surprised at how easy it is to discover your rainfall collection potential. You can find the formula equation at the end of this blog post. I personally shy away from math and numbers, so I was astonished by how easy it is to solve the puzzle. Mapping out the measurements, researching the source of rainfall in your area, and solving the equation can actually be fun.
I’m a huge fan of water harvesting. The entire process is fascinating. I admire other countries such as Australia that promote water harvesting in cities like Melbourne that started collecting water out of a major need due to an extended 10-year drought.
If you rent, you may not have control over implementing a water harvesting system, though you may be inspired after reviewing the Harvesting Rainwater website. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could recreate communities with solar rooftops and water collection systems?
The Harvesting Rainwater website gave me insight into how the simplest implementations can affect the amount of water saved by redirecting its flow to where it’s needed most. The website shows how slow water percolation positively affects soil, foliage and subsequently conservation.
If I had a water harvesting system, I would have been able to collect over 5,000 gallons of water so far this year. How much could you collect in a year? Feel free to share your potential.
With the possibility of having a few thousand gallons of water per year, it’s an astounding amount of water to me. If I had this option, I would use my harvested water for watering plants, doing laundry, cleaning and bathroom use.
Limitations associated with harvesting water within your geographical area may apply. Attempting to harvest water in a Mediterranean climate, for instance, has its advantages and disadvantages. An advantage would be that they can use water harvested in the rainy season for the non-rainy seasons.
However, this means the water must go through long stretches of stagnation and would need to be filtered, or it may collect mosquitos and bugs. Another disadvantage is in most cases a Mediterranean climate may not produce enough water even during the rainy season to sustain the residents’ needs throughout the year.
California is approaching its dry season, yet, this is a great time to begin conserving. Starting now with simple summer plans can include changing your shower head to a water efficient spout and installing a low-flow toilet. Not only will these two simple adjustments conserve water, but you will immediately save money on your water bill. And in most areas, your county offers a rebate with proof of conservation installation.
If you’re interested in discovering your rainwater collection potential take a look at this quick and easy formula.
Determine your collection area in gallons of water:
* Rooftop Collection Area (sq. ft) x Rainfall (inches so far this year) / 12 (in/ft) = Cubic Feet of Water/Year
* Convert to gallons of water:
* Multiply your Cubic Feet of Water/ year (answer above) x 7.43 (gallons/cubic foot) = Total Gallons/Year.
* For example, a 500 sq. ft roof that gets 36 cubic feet in one total year has the potential to collect 1,500 Cubic Feet or 11,145 Gallons of water that year.
Do you know there are thousands of free views in the city of San Francisco, and driving a car isn’t the best way to take advantage of the region’s stunning natural beauty? Discover the day tripper in you, and follow us from Sonoma County to San Francisco.
With Sonoma County’s SMART train on the brink of passenger service, a day trip to the city without getting in your car will soon be a reality. Granted this day trip has multiple legs, but isn’t life all about the journey? And who doesn’t like a good set of legs?
Curious to see if a roundtrip venture from Sonoma County to San Francisco could be accomplished in one day without getting in a car, I felt compelled to try. One snag though, the train’s passenger service has been delayed until summer. So, I enlisted an adventurous travel companion and simply drove to the ferry determined not to let logistics get in the way.
Weekend parking is free at the Larkspur Ferry, so we convinced ourselves that perk will make up for the lack of train service. Another benefit Larkspur Ferry offers is the Clipper card – big savings! After jetting across the bay in a quick 35 minute boat ride, we fawn over majestic Coit Tower as the ferry floats into port.
Moments later, we disembarked at San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero ferry building and hit the city of San Francisco on foot with a general idea of our plans but no major commitments.
The key to navigating the city is to equip yourself with good walking shoes, wear layers and plan the day in little spurts. For this day trip we incorporated intervals of floating, walking, eating, drinking and viewing.
Check out the video to get a more intimate visual on our trip. Enjoy!
We settled on massages at Hotel Vitale Spa located on the Embarcadero – a hop, skip and a jump away. Actually, it’s literally across the street from the ferry building. Even though this hotel caters to tourists, it’s a secret spot for locals who get chilled to the bone with the city’s moist cold weather.
The concierge at Hotel Vitale mentioned a bottomless champagne brunch at La Fusion located on the quaint European alley, Belden Place. An option one can’t refuse. This alley is a treasure trove of quint awning covered restaurants with cozy outdoor heaters.
Next we hopped the trolley for a mere $2 and jetted down to Museum of Modern Art on 3rd Street. MOMA is celebrating their one year multi-million dollar renovation at the end of April with a fancy soiree.
As much as we loved the rooftop massages and outdoor rose petal hot baths at the Vitale Spa, the piece de resistance on this day trip was the Conservatory of Flowers.
At the pinnacle of Golden Gate Park’s panhandle sits the Conservatory of Flowers. It’s the perfect place to warm up & snuggle on a cold foggy day. Inside, the atmosphere is surprisingly tropical – a sheer contrast to the cool gray city’s urban mecca.
Inspiration is everywhere, so get moving! The world is waiting.
Spring blooms aren’t always about budding flowers. Get the best bang for your buck by cultivating indigenous drought resistant plants that offer vibrant color year-round. My clients often ask, “How do you plan yourgarden; where should I start?”
Planning a garden can be a daunting task. It was for me in the past. I had a brown thumb until I gained loads of knowledge through trial and error.
As with any topic these days, gardening information is endless, so I share three tips to start.
1 ~ Create a balanced mix of annuals and perennials so you aren’t committed to start from scratch each year. Make a mental note of which plants thrive.This simple habit will increase your bloom real estate each year.
2 ~ Watch your garden closely over the course of several days (or several seasons) to assess which areas are shaded or sunny.
3 ~ Take the time to get to know your plant’s watering needs.
All three points are vital, yet number three is essential. If you envision a dazzling garden,you’ll need to assess your lifestyle. Do you travel, do you forget to water, do you live in a dry arid area, do you live in a foggy moist area or somewhere in-between?
With the basic three observation steps in place it’s time to commit and purchase your flowers. Deciding which plants to grow is a tad overwhelming. There are so many choices. Again, where to start?
Consider succulents. People tend to think succulents are fragile and difficult to grow. Actually, the opposite is true. You may be surprised to know most succulents thrive in full sun. A drought resistant beauty, perfect for California’s hot and arid weather. Cold and foggy mornings keep succulents happy & cozy. They also thrive in shallow dirt or sand which makes them easy to replant.
Succulents tend to be a bit pricey $$. So if your neighbor happens to have some, don’t be shy, ask for clippings as if you’re asking to borrow sugar.Luckily, succulents are perennials and prolific. Here’s a link to Amazon, where the prices are reasonable if you have Prime and don’t have to pay for shipping. Otherwise, Home Depot is another option – unless you have a good neighbor.
If your goal is to create a low maintenance garden, succulents are a perfect choice. You’ll plant them once and enjoy their beauty year after year, unlike annuals, which need yearly replanting.
It’s been a long wet winter and most of us, I imagine, are ready for some heat. As I sit here pondering spicy things on a rainy day, Flying Goat Coffee calls my name. Today is a chai type of day, I say. When winter feels like it’s lingering on because a groundhog didn’t see its shadow, Flying Goat Coffee is the place to lounge sipping a hot chai latte while watching trains cruise by. The Goat, as it’s referred to by the locals, sits nestled in one of the oldest buildings in Sonoma County.The stacked stone monolith, built in the late 1800s, stands majestically as commander-in-chief of Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square.
The Goat lives just across the street from the old Santa Rosa Train Depot. There are also two locations in Healdsburg near the square. It anchors the railroad track as if it’s the end of the line. Reality is, the Goat is where everything begins.
It’s the perfect place to start the day – with a chai latte and a gluten free banana bread pastry perhaps. The Goat just may be the only place in town that crafts artisan gluten-free pastries. Their chai latte, consistently delicious, is made with all natural ingredients, and of course, the froth artwork is icing on the cake.
I like to say, “the Goat is the quintessential pinnacle spot in Santa Rosa where east side meets west side.” An unexpected surprise in an unexpected space. Give the Goat a whirl, I bet you’ll get hooked. The stark interior, restored to a 1920’s black and white art deco decor, pops with bright yellow accents and a 50 feet high ceiling that hugs its guests with a bright picture window enclave.
On sunny days, a brick patio shaded by 150-year-old magnolia trees await your arrival.
Photo by Courtney Paige
For now, I’ll take the spice, skip the rain, pine for the sunshine and head to Flying Goat Coffee in Railroad Square.
For some reason, I think the word humblebrag is so funny. It’s one of those words the more you say it, the more it makes you laugh. The act of humblebragging dates further back than ancient Greece. Yet, the term itself, coined in 2011, had a bad wrap during its infancy. Most recently though, it’s finding a favorable place in our rapidly changing digital world. As with anything, there’s good timing and bad timing. Everything in moderation is always a good idea too, except when it comes to certain types of indulgences.
There are times when one can’t help but boast about the geographical area with which they live. This is one of those moments. Spring is in the air whispering about the festivities on the horizon, and there’s a lot going on this week in Sonoma County. I’m bursting at the seams to share two annual events that will fill your belly and wet your whistle. You’ll want to permanently place both events on your calendar.Barrel Tasting and Restaurant Week.
If you’re a foodie and/or a wino…errr….wine aficionado, then these two events are not to be missed. There’s lots of land to cover in Sonoma County. It’s a challenge to navigate and pin down choices without spinning your wheels. Truth is, Barrel Tasting and Restaurant Week are the perfect reason to don your LBD (little black dress), get social IRL (in real life) and wiggle your way out of your comfort zone.
Barrel tasting kicks off wine season during the first two weekends in March. Here’s the link for the deet’s. http://bit.ly/SoCoBarrellTastingHot tip, remember, if tickets are sold out, passes are available for purchase at any participating winery. Take note, no food pairing during barrel tasting at the wineries. Pack a picnic, or be sure to make reservations at participating restaurant week venues listed here: Sonoma Insider
Barrel tasting and restaurant week are the perfect pair, like two love birds. Sip and swirl by day, and savor bits and bites at night. By the end of the evening you’ll humblebrag to your friends and family about how exhausted you are from over eating and drinking at barrel tasting and restaurant week. Enjoy!