What to do if you have 24 hours in Palo Alto

What to do if you have 24 hours in Palo Alto

Hi to you… I hope this week has been a good one. Mother’s Day is this Sunday, so I’d like to wish all of the mother’s out there a very happy day. When my kids were little, I used to say that my greatest wish on Mother’s Day was to spend it not having to change diapers, load or unload anything, or be beholden to any sort of schedule. No gifts please. No dinner or brunch reservations thank you. Just one day void of responsibility. Now that the kids are older, I still don’t want gifts, just their time, Hearing them tell stories about their lives, what they listen to, read, watch, find interesting and are passionate about. It’s ever-changing at their ages. That’s all I want for Mother’s Day.

xo

Serena

Recently, I spent a day in Palo Alto and realized how fun it can be to put on visitor glasses in an area close to home. The drive from Marin County (where I live) to Silicon Valley is about an hour or more on a lite traffic day, and hours if there’s a problem. So, usually when I need to go down there for a short amount of time it’s sort of a major hassle. When the situation presented itself that I would have an entire day in Palo Alto with no set schedule, I decided to embrace it. Here’s what I did, all of which I recommend:

I started the morning here. First, let me say that I’m not a coffee drinker. I’ve been a tea drinker for the past 15 years or so, mostly because it’s not good for my skin and it jacks me up waaay too much. That said, I have heard such rave reviews from so many coffee aficionado friends, that I had to give it a try. They make each cup of brewed coffee (no frothy drinks) individually. Asking what roast level, intensity, etc you prefer. It was kind of exciting. Like wizards making tinctures only its baristas making coffee.There are locations all over the Bay Area and a couple in DC. I highly recommend trying their coffee. It was outstanding. Now I’m good for another 15 years.

Phil Coffee in Palo Alto

Next I went on a run around the Stanford dish. What is the Stanford dish? Find out here. So, I have mixed reviews on running this because it’s 75% up hill then, of course, down hill and the grade is pretty steep in places. If you like that much variation in a 5ish mile run, then you will enjoy it. On the positive side, the views are amazing! The other issue I had was the wild life. I saw them from a long way away and assumed they’d move over.

Stanford Dish running path

They did not.

I had to run all the way out in the field around them, then I got scared one was a bull.

Next, I had a few hours of work and sometimes Starbucks just doesn’t cut it (no offense Starbuck’s! Actually, that’s where I’m writing this now :)). But being in the heart of Silicon Valley, I knew there had to be someplace out of the box and incubator-ish, And, there sure was. This place.

HanaHaus in Palo Alto - exterior

From the street, you walk through a courtyard which is has work station seating if you like to do your work outside.

HanaHaus Palo Alto - interior Blue Bottle coffee shop

Inside, there is a nice coffee and snack bar. And this cool floor!

And this mural!

HanaHaus - interior work space

And this is the work space. There is a small hourly fee for using this part of the space which is where I was. There is ample public space to work too (no fee) in the coffee shop area.

For lunch, I wanted to go someplace within walking distance so I could go back above work space to work after. So I met a friend for a quick salad here.

After I finished working, I took a walk down the street to look at a gift idea I had in mind for Luke at this toy store for Millenials. He’s got an internship this summer in South San Francisco and the company provides bus transportation to and from for it’s Marin employees. It’s about 3/4 of a mile from our house to the bus and we have more people than cars, soooo I’m anticipating the potential situation and had the idea to get Luke this…

These are electric skateboards. I thought it was a brilliant idea at the time, as Luke rides his regular skateboard all around his college campus and SF when he’s home. NOT happening! These things go 25+ mph. I think a bike is in order.

While I didn’t stay in Palo Alto for dinner on this particular day, I do have a place that I love, I went several years ago and have wanted to go back. It’s the sister restaurant of Kokkari in San Francisco which is one of my all-time favorite places especially if you are looking for a romantic place with delicious Greek cuisine and sharable dishes. The Palo Alto location – equally delicious and romantic – you can find here.

That’s it for my tips – if you have any Palo Alto favorites to add, please leave them in the comments so everyone can see them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Little Victorian Inn Project – and a special offer for you!

My Little Victorian Inn Project – and a special offer for you!

My wine country Inn project revealed and a special offer to readers.

For awhile now I’ve been working on a hotel project in Healdsburg; a quaint small town in the heart of Northern California’s wine country. It’s been a fairly slow moving process as the owners have several properties – other inns, wineries, etc. that all need attention at the same time. That being said, I go at their pace and tremendously enjoy watching the progress made even in baby steps. I have wanted to get you acquainted for some time. So, at long last, here is a place that is near and dear to me: The Grape Leaf Inn.

The first item on the renovation list was painting the exterior.

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The next area we focused on was public spaces. We reconfigured the furnishings in these rooms to create a new reception area and dining room(s).

I had a custom table made for communal dining. The adjacent dining room also has custom tables of two. The tables are all the same length so if there is a large event, the tables could be lined up to create one long table for 28 guests. 

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The modern variation of a windsor chair blends the traditional architecture and old fashioned charm of the original inn with a clean and current feel. They are from here.

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The next phase included two brand new suites. A completely blank canvas which served as our design springboard for the rest of the 10 suites. The nightstand on the right side of the bed arrived broken. A new, matching one has since arrived.

An outdoor shower in this suite… 🙂

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A private courtyard too.

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There were additional tweaks made to each room after these photos were taken, as more accessories arrived, etc. 

I will continue to show photos periodically of the progress. In the meantime, Grape Leaf Inn has generously offered FarmHouseUrban readers a special rate of 25% off! Just email  reservations@wilsonartisanwines.com or call 707-395-0929 and mention “FarmHouseUrban special rate” and you will get your discount!

The inn is located about two blocks from the center square in downtown Healdsburg. The surrounding area is breathtakingly beautiful wine country! 

For more information about Grape Leaf Inn, click here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo

 

 

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Weekend Recap – Girlfriends Weekend in Wine Country

Weekend Recap – Girlfriends Weekend in Wine Country

A girls get-away weekend celebrating a birthday in wine country

Well hi to you… I'm in the midst of a super exhilarating work whirlwind at the moment! As such, I have BIG news that I'm excited to share with you – my dear readers – in the next week or so, so please stay tuned! I hope you had a wonderful weekend… I spent it with a group of girlfriends at this magical place celebrating a birthday among us.

We didn't leave this spot very much…

The birthday girl (right) and me checking out the pool. I'm very fortunate to have been here before, not for an overnight, but spent the day at the pool a couple of times with out of towners who were guests. I think cannon balls might have taken place…No cannon balls took place this time.

On my way home I decided to stop for a snack here. Then I took a little stroll down the street and ended up at a place I have wanted to check out for a long time – Ma(i)sonry in Yountville. Part art gallery, part wine tasting establishment, and now partnering with Restoration Hardware, it is quite a sight to behold! I am still not 100% sure what the partnership exactly entails despite having had it explained to me 3-4 times. But there were lots of phrases used like 'bought our concept' and 'shared experiences' and 'we will continue to own this, but they will own this too' … Anyway, here are some photos I took..

Maisonry


Isn't this little guy cute??


All of the pieces you see in the photos are for sale. If interested, please click here.

 

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Henrybuilt – my visit to the new Mill Valley showroom

Henrybuilt – my visit to the new Mill Valley showroom

A tour of the Henrybuilt showroom in Mill Valley, CA.

Hi loves. I'm writing to you from bed with a whopping cold. I can't remember the last time I felt this bad. Hot water with lemon and honey and lots of rest is my plan for the day. So forgive me – I'm lite on words today…

I'm excited to share with you a modern cabinet resource that is high on style but even more important, is designed smartly and efficiently. Form follows function without any aesthetic compromise. Here is my visit to the Henrybuilt showroom in Mill Valley, CA!

First, a little aside… Janet Hall the showroom manager is an old friend of mine from my Seattle days. Our daughters went to the same teeny tiny preschool in our old neighborhood when they were 2. Janet also is one of the founders of the uber popular blog Remodelista. She is a connoisseur of great design, so I couldn't wait for her to show me around!

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The showroom is in a former mechanic's garage.

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All the drawers have magnetic adjustable dividers thus are adaptable to any combination of utensils.

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Notice the brass pulls and how the drawer fronts are constructed to fit them perfectly. They are solid brass and made at the factory in Seattle. All hardware for Henrybuilt cabinets is made by them. Snacks not included.

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 Janet explained to me that Henrybuilt kitchens are a 'system' rather than just cabinets. Everything is designed around it's purpose and specialized to the owner's exact preferences.

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A 1/2" countertop reveal. I spot a trend happening… Cutting boards are designed to fit snuggly on countertops and slide easily to accommodate tasks.

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 The attention to detail and quality of the workmanship is exceptional.

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There are several finish options as well as materials to select from. You can also mix and match. I always gravitate to kitchens with a contrasting island color.

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Above is a closet system. The top slides to reveal the upper drawer. The scoops are for spare change, cuff links, etc.

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There are many more products and features that Henrybuilt offers. If you are considering custom cabinets and like a sleek modern look, I encourage you to explore their website. Click here.

 

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When The Lights Go Down In The City …

When The Lights Go Down In The City …

A typical day in San Francisco.

 

Even though it was a gray day and a typical Tues, everything looked extra beautiful, poetic and new. Perhaps because it was gray and a typical Tues… Anyway, I took pictures of whatever caught my eye. Here's a sliver of San Francisco…

Dinner at State Bird Provisions. I had been dying to go to this place for a year and never could get in. It was one of those rare dining experiences where the bar is so high you almost set yourself up for disappointment then you take the first bite and you realize that there's good food and then there is strataspheric. That is State Bird Provisions.

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A morning run along Crissy Field. This is a great place to walk. run, hang out on a blanket, people watch etc. On this day the air was perfectly still as it rarely is. Zero wind and with the fog and all the gray…. Pure.Bliss.

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Indeed it does…

Enjoy your week!

xo

Serena

 

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day weekend get-away ideas and gifts

Hi to you. So Valentine’s Day is a week away and as such, here are some ideas for the makings of a supremely romantic February 14th and beyond….

 

1. A Destination Not Too Far Away. Getting out of town to somewhere new and tucked away with your special person is so romantic — an unfamiliar environment to explore, hotel sheets and the anticipation of what awaits…

Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino, CA

A few weeks ago I got an email promotion for a Valentine's Day package at this charming inn in the coastal town of Mendocino. I'd never heard of it, but bookmarked it for a possible future weekend get-away. The promotion is sold out, but it did get the wheels turning to prompt me to write this post…

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They've compiled a fantastic itinerary of activities in the area. Check it out here.

2. Love Songs. This is my playlist. Start playing this in the car on the way…

John Legend – All of Me 

Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight

Wings/Paul McCartney – Maybe I'm amazed

Journey – Faithfully

Oasis – Wonderwall

Bruno Mars – Just the way you are

Joe Cocker – You are so beautiful

George Michael – Father figure

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love (the theme song to the movie – also my first date ever)

Billy Joel – Just the way you are

Roberta Flack – Killing me softly (well, it's technically probably not a love song, but the melody is great. Lauren Hill and the Fugees did a remake and it's equally fantastic.)

Peter Gabriel – In your eyes

Marvin Gaye – Let's get it on

Michael Bolton singing the Percy Sledge song – When a man loves a woman

Barry White – You're my first, my last, my everything

The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses

Dido – Thank you

 

3. Small Tokens. It's the little things that count – or at least they should. Forget the red heart-shaped box. 

Chocolove XOXO  I'm addicted to them. As an added bonus, they also tuck a love note into each wrapper. Here are my three favorites (the first one is the #1 selling chocolate bar in the US)

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Glassybaby. One of my Top Ten gifts to give and receive, these pretty votives come in every color of the rainbow. Below are the selected Valentine's Day offerings.

 

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Eberjey - This line of affordable lingerie offers a beautiful selection of tasteful yet sexy pieces. 

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4. Love Notes. A handwritten note or doodle from and to the one you love.  So much better than a text.

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Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you get all the love and chocolate your heart desires!

xoxo

Serena

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