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Posts tagged ‘local business’

The Hand Fan Museum of Healdsburg

hand fan hand fan museumI was in downtown Healdsburg, CA and spotted in a shop window a beautiful butterfly shaped hand fan. I wandered inside a small fantastical space that was filled with art. I had no idea that The Hand Fan Museum was there! In fact, it’s the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to hand fans and displays a permanent collection in addition to having a rotating exhibit.

The builder/owner of Hotel Healdsburg, Pamela Sher, has been a fan collector for over 30 years and is a member of Fan Association of North America. Open since 2002 and now a part of the h2hotel, this museum is a physical example of Sher’s desire to educate the public about the cultural significance of the hand fan as fans are snippets of our world culture and artistic representations of time.

The director, Liz Keeley was lovely to talk with about the beauty of what I was seeing as well as helping me understand the differences between periods and designs. Even though the space is small, about 1000 sq ft, the impact of these functional pieces of art is not lost on the visitor. Though the inexpensive but colorful folding fans brought me in, the displays of history took my breath away. Many are for show, some are for sale, the gift table is where I spent my money. With lots of options for the casual buyer, I bought a $1 fan for my little one and a more expensive Japanese inspired fan for myself. See my Flickr set of photos.

If you have the chance, drop by this free museum (non profit 501c3), learn a little and support their art programs for students. Or simply cool yourself off.

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Peace and Tranquility at Osmosis Day Spa

I have heard a lot about Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary but I’m a workaholic and I’d never made the time to go. It’s located in Freestone, CA which is just 20 minutes from where I live. The marketing manager, Melena Moore, and I have been running into each other at a variety of events for years but it wasn’t until a few months ago when she invited my friend and I to come out and have a cedar enzyme bath that I actually made it there. I can’t believe it took me this long. [See my Flickr photoset of the day.]

There was no cell reception! Score one for relaxation. Once you walk in, you see the resemblance to a Japanese tea garden, quiet and peaceful, with wood lined walls. We checked in for our enzyme baths and were brought into a ladies locker room. Clothes off, robes on, we had our own private tea garden to enjoy. We were served tea that helped digestion while we marveled at the beauty of the outdoor surroundings. I wandered out to enjoy myself and look around while we waited for our bath to be prepared.

The bath chamber was a rectangular box filled with wet cedar chips. There were two places scooped out for my friend and I to lay back in. The two of us were in the same box, which aren’t the easiest to get into, with a view out a big window. The room was steamy and humid. The enzyme chips felt and looked like soggy raisin bran. Imagine being folded into it like a bowl of ingredients, tucked in as if with a warm blanket. There is a moment of claustophobia but when you realize you can pull your arms and legs in and out as you see fit, it passes quickly. We giggled at the odd sensation but ultimately truly enjoyed the 20 minutes of humid warmth. The bath attendant regularly returns to wipe your face with cool cloths and hold a cup and straw up to your lips for drinking. When they help you out of the box, you brush your body free of wood chips with a large brush. The chips get everywhere. This visit I wore a bathing suit, next time I’ll go without. Outside there is a shower to rinse away the wood. I did a pretty thorough job, my friend struggled to get clean.

Next we were brought up to a relaxation room. Laying on pads, we put on headphones to listen to Metamusic® which helped us to further relax and balanced brain wave activity. I wanted to stay in that room all day. The word “peaceful” simply doesn’t do it justice.

We only had the one service so we donned our clothes and headed out onto the grounds to visit the Japanese mediation garden. If you’ve seen Osmosis, you really need to go all the way in because the front doesn’t tell the whole story. From hanging hammocks to the garden itself, the farther you walk, the more removed you become from your stressful life. I found out they have Dharma Morning Meditation where you bring your own cushion and join others in meditation (free of charge).

This peaceful location and the quiet that permeates the grounds was exactly the antidote to the stressful and fast paced life that I live. I want to thank Melena and owner Michael Stusser for hosting me and a friend to come enjoy this experience. In order for me to stay whole and healthy, I do believe that Osmosis may play a large part in it. [See another experience I had at Osmosis just a couple weeks later here.]

Dinner This Way is Awesome

Dinner My Way Cook Station

My Cooking Station

I’m smart. I married a really good cook. The problem is when I cook he’s not overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong. I can cook just nowhere near as good as he.

So when I heard about Dinner My Way a few years ago, I thought it was brilliant. A company that takes the pain out of cooking, the prep. You pick from the menu of meals they offer (they rotate monthly), reserve a time for yourself, and you go in and assemble your meals. They hand you a list of what you ordered, you pay, throw on an apron, and get cooking. The ingredients are all laid out and prepped. The recipe is easy to follow and you add the sides on when you are done. I had 3 meals made in 20 minutes.

The efficiency of the procedure makes the organizer in me shiver with delight. While the ease of it all makes me as a mom ecstatic. Yes, some of the soul of cooking is sacrificed. But I can be rebellious and add more or less of an ingredient, if I like, to balance that out a little. If I want the part of cooking that makes me really happy, I’ll bake a pie but that’s not feeding my family. At $13 a meal that has (realistically) 3.5 servings, I’m spending a small amount of money to know what’s in my food but I’m still able to put it in my freezer. It’s a happy medium between take out and home cooking.

Did I tell you they have pickup? This is a gift I think I’m going to get for a friend of mine that just had a baby. Thank you to whomever thought this service up! Now they just need more veggie meals!

Speed Demon

Particulars:
Tuesday 3/16/10 4pm
Driven Raceway, Rohnert Park
Leadership Santa Rosa Pretour

I don’t know about you but I’m quite competitive. Usually I only want to best myself but in this case, I wanted to whoop on others. Notably, I did not want to be last. Unfortunately, this is where I ended up. 😦

I went on a tour of Driven Raceway with my Leadership Santa Rosa Class as part of our Business & Economy Day. Our goal was to learn more about local businesses and how they conducted themselves. I’ll say out of all the pretours we’ve done, this was the one with the most adrenaline. I had been very excited to visit this facility ever since it opened last summer.

Here’s the jist:
indoor kart racing with high speed electric karts (up to 45mph)
corporate team building
birthday parties
fundraising events
dark light mini golf
mini bowling
arcade center
snack bar

Dark Light Racer

The one thing that kept me from going before was the price of racing (14 laps-$20 for members, $25 non-members). But when I visited, I learned that they also had all the other play stuff. I think I was more excited about the golf, bowling, and arcade than I was about the racing at the end of the tour. It’s totally affordable, I can bring my child that’s too small to race (must be 48″ tall+), and I can add it to my repertoire of fun family events that are owned by local businesses. Ride on!

Speed Demons

Buy Local Eat Local

I am part of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Leadership Santa Rosa program and there is so much information I’ve learned already that I’m simply going to have to share.

Agriculture Day was last week and we visited La Tortilla Factory (sadly we won’t get a tour of that location until later), La Franchi Dairy, Gourmet Mushroom Farm, Gabriel Farm, Shone Farm (JC farm), and Kendall Jackson Winery. Airport Express shuttled us from location to location and we learned a lot but only got to scratch the surface.

Lex McCorvey is the Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and he opened up our day for us. Seriously, I could have listened to him all day. I am a farm bureau member simply for the savings it gets me on my health insurance. I honestly don’t think after my insurance went from one carrier to another that I even need the membership anymore but after listening to what a wonderfully necessary organization this is, I will keep it simply to support them. With a Masters in Ag from Cal Poly and a vocational agriculture JC teacher, he spoke with such a mastery of the subject matter, I would’ve listened as long as he kept talking.

Art LaFranchi, owner of Rancho Laguna Dairy Corporation, was kind enough to show us his dairy farm, LaFranchi Dairy, a Clover Stornetta dairy. I came in a little urbanized and left with a high level of appreciation for the skill and yes, humaneness, that these dairy workers have for the animals that give them so much.

Happy Baby Cow
Happy Baby Cow

The Gourmet Mushroom Inc. farm was fascinating. As Bob Engel said, “We grow food from sawdust!” They’ve been doing it on the DL since 1977 and they have it DOWN. From alba clamshells ™ to trumpet royale ™, forest nameko ™ to maiteake frondosa ™, I’d never put much thought into gourmet mushrooms but now I want to taste them all. I wish there was a way to get them prepared by a chef and taste them all in their appropriate culinary environments.

Mushroom Caps
Mushroom Caps

Gabriel Farm is a classic hometown farm. Local, friendly, and a beautiful daytrip. They grown 9 varieties of Asian pears, have jam, juice, and other yummies from their bounty. I look forward to going back to their farm to pick my own apples and blackberries in the future.

I got a Buy Fresh Buy Local book printed by CAFF-Community Alliance with Family Farms-that really goes into detail about farmers’ markets, food seasons, CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture, and restaurants that support local agriculture. Please visit www.caff.org and www.foodroutes.org for more information.

The Gabriel Farm "Art Man"
The Gabriel Farm “Art Man”

We had lunch at the beautiful Shone Farm where we got a tour of the facility in addition to learning about challenges in agriculture, namely water and exotic pests. I was thoroughly impressed with the sheer variety of agricultural lessons contained at that farm via the Santa Rosa JC. Vineyard growth, winemaking, equine, livestock, crops, greenhouses, culinary, it goes on an on.

Shone Farm Garden
Shone Farm Garden

Last but not least, we visited Kendall Jackson and learned from a variety of people in the wine business the challenges and issues they face. We tasted several vintages and it ended the day nicely.

As you can see, there was so much I learned, I simply had to share!

Traverso’s…Old and New Tradition

Particulars:
Friday 7/10/09 11am
Traverso’s Gourmet Foods & Liquors, Salame Cutting

As an Ambassador for the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, I go to a lot of ribbon cuttings. We get to see a new or improved business, take tours, meet nice people, and eat good food. It’s tough (sob). Anyway, for the dozens of ribbon cuttings I’ve attended, never have they cut meat.

Anyone that’s lived in Santa Rosa for any amount of time is familiar with the old world charm of Traverso’s (@traversos on Twitter). They used to occupy the building between 2nd and 3rd Streets at B Street right next to the bus depot. That small location was filled with wonderful food and wine but never did I realize exactly how much was in there. I’ve only been there once in the last 10 years (since I stopped riding the bus…well then it’s been a lot longer).

Their new location is on Stagecoach Road on the Fountaingrove Parkway across from Villa Varenna and the Fountaingrove Country Club. At first I wasn’t sure that would be a good place for them. Boy, did they pick the right neighborhood.

First, I’ve never seen so many people at a ribbon cutting. Normally, the Ambassador team dwarfs attendees of any other category at an event like that but this time we were in the minority by far. When I got there, there were easily 75 people waiting anxiously for the festivities to begin. Three generations of Traverso’s were on hand to cut the salame (Italian spelling) and usher in a new era of tradition. Old customers and friends were so happy to tour the new store and I was surprised to realize the strength of their reputation in this community. Their loyal fans, customers, and friends were excited to be there and support the family business.

They offered us a wonderful selection of Columbus salame, a wide variety of cheeses, a balsamic vinegar tasting with strawberries (sounds strange but it was heavenly, picture of sample provider), wine and deli food tastings.

I walked down one aisle of wines and was surprised to see that each label not only represented a renowned winery but my friends and neighbors. These aren’t just well known vintners, these are people I grocery shop with, see at the Downtown Market, and break bread with. This is our community and gosh darnit, I’m proud we have such a wonderful tableau at our fingertips.

Eat up!

http://www.santarosachamber.com/

Balsamic Vinegar & Strawberry Tasting @ Traverso's

Potato Heaven

Particulars:
Thursday 7/17/09 7pm
Stark’s Steakhouse

Okay, three words. Potato Skin Fondue. Are you kidding me? Stark’s, you had me at “Potato Skin”. I’m at a loss for words.

Thanks to Christopher Wisner @wizzlestick for the great local Railroad Square neighborhood chat! And to @sharayray for hooking us up via the interwebs (Twitter for all those that don’t get the @s).

They say we are getting further apart.

This is one instance where technology brought us closer together and made friends from neighbors.

Stark's Steakhouse Potato Skin Fondue

Stark's Steakhouse Potato Skin Fondue

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