Thursday, September 11, 2014

Life and Some Lovely Local Finds

Oh September. It's beautiful and my favorite month of all. It's also my birthday month so that helps! :D Any Virgos out there? Being a Virgo I appreciate the return to school, schedules, getting things orderly again after summer's chaos. Yet in the last couple weeks I've been taking time to smell the flowers (gardenias today!) and enjoy doing what I like best. Sitting at the computer has been hard to do.

Some reading and cappuccinos have been consumed.

 What I want to do now is to get my house in order, fluffing, purging and rethinking just about every room.  The impending change of season is energizing to me!

I've been a sloth this summer, ate way too many popsicles, and need to get my house and self in order. I am slowly getting back on track. Do you go through high energy cycles and lazy ones?  I think it could possibly be a healthy thing and one is refocused and renewed.

On that note, some fun activities also came up in the last week. In other words, more excuses not to write. I thought I'd share some cool local places with you.

On my birthday my husband surprised me and took me up to Palo Alto to check out the cute and funky Chocolate Garage! He works with a few foodies who are always scoping out the next cool thing and this was it.

The Chocolate Garage is an interesting spot. Lovely idea by a woman, Sunita who wants to change how chocolate is bought. I love that she wants to educate us more about the chocolate trade. More about her and that on their site.

 I'm sorry. but just seeing these photos makes me want a bar!

It's open on Saturday mornings until 1:00 p.m. and Wednesday nights. All the chocolate is what they call, 'happy' because it's chosen by fair trade, farming standards, and conditions for workers. Bars are sampled -about six a day, and you can try milks, salted, darks and nothing tasted remotely the same. Very fun!

A Hawaiian Bar that was very creamy and good.

I also got to my favorite cafe in Los Gatos, The Purple Onion. This little corner destination has the best spot in Los Gatos, nestled at the base of the beginning to the Jones Trail, a favorite of hikers, walkers, bikers and runners. It's always buzzing with folks right off the trail and has excellent food. There's a view of the foothills and a cute outdoor seating spot too.

They are open for breakfast and lunch. I indulged in a mocha here. They make amazing mochas that are not too sweet with decadent chocolate. (Hmm, I'm onto chocolate again.) A great motivation for the end of a hike, especially for people like me who aren't particularly motivated!

A foggy view of the hills above Los Gatos from the cafe and their walled garden below.

Last Friday I was kindly invited to have a picnic and wine taste with friends at Savannah-Chanelle Winery in nearby Saratoga. Dreamy location and seriously excellent wine. They specialize in reds, but also have a Rose, a bright Chardonnay that I loved and an Estate Zinfandel that is pretty fantastic.

 Some of the Chardonnay grapes that were just harvested. Cute aren't they?

Thanks to our severely warm weather in California, it's a stellar year for many vintners and the grapes were ready to be harvested big time. Check out these babies below... I admit we sampled a few after the picnic and they were quite yummy. These are their Zinfandel vines planted in 1910 and some of the oldest in California.

Are they not gorgeous? Love the frosted look.

My neighbor who is a winery owner and wine maker in Calistoga said this year all the grapes were all ready within 6 days this year. Crazy.

I love Savannah-Chanelle's location. You drive through redwoods and emerge on a knoll with panoramic views of the foothills. Their wines are mostly sold on site and their picnic spots have bucolic views. We brought cheese and crackers and if you'd like to picnic you need to buy a bottle of wine. They have a connection with the Picnic Guild who will set up and cater a picnic for you there as well. Fun idea! Click on the picnic link on the SC website. Lucky for us, my friend is a member and we were her guests. The members have a lot of perks including live music on weekends and many member events to attend. This is a quintessential Northern California spot with a lot of history. Such a treat to spend a few hours there.

Lastly, I forgot to add if you are in Palo Alto, not so far from the Chocolate Garage, check out Lyfe Kitchen. This is one of my favorite stops for fresh, locally sourced and delicious food! There are seven Lyfe Kitchens in the U.S. and just one so far in Northern California.

 There is a vegan menu, gluten free and also a menu for those who can eat it all. My favorites are the salmon, the wraps, hummus, soups and I'm addicted to the cucumber-mint water in this photo. Some nice outdoor seating too. I just hope they expand because this is the kind of chain we need more of!

Okay I admit it, I've been doing a lot of eating and drinking lately!

Back to the grind and veggie sticks!


p.s. This post I did two years ago really evokes a September  mood I think.


  1. I definitely feel that we like the same type of foodie places as these all appeal to me in particular the Chocolate Garage. I like the concept of 'happy' chocolate and try to buy fair trade too. Quirky names such as The Purple Onion attract me too and the walled garden is perfect for a cappuccino and cake!

    1. Miss b, I agree. I always love your spots you visit! I guess we are partial to good food with a bit of charm as well!

  2. Seriously - a chocolate garage? What could be better! I do my best to buy fair trade chocolate since learning about the horrible situations that happen in those plantations, so I've got to make a plan to take my choc-aholic hubby there.
    BTW-great promo at the Trina Boutiques this weekend-it is making my head spin.

  3. Julie, I agree. Try to buy chocolate at Whole Foods and places like this. I will check out the Trina sale!! Thanks for the heads-up!

  4. Belated happy birthday Kim!!! That chocolate garage sounds right up my alley. What a fun trip! I'm excited to get things organized for fall too. It's the perfect time to get back in track. Enjoy you're weekend!!xoxo

  5. It looks as though you had a fun and festive birthday Kim! That Chocolate Garage is super fun. Love the concept. I agree, September is a lovely time of year. Scott and I just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary, on September 10th, so I love this month just like you do. I love the foggy photo, I can see that fall is truly on the way. Lovely post!

  6. Happy Birthday my love - you deserve to be spoiled rotten! The choccy thing sounds wondrous, how neat of the hubstar to take you there.
    My husband is a virgo, they are the best. Actually stars say we are not suited - I am Aries - but we seem to bumble along. They say Virgo are neat and tidy in some way - but not always the most obvious way - what is yours? kevin does not mind a bit of mess at home but is fanatical about tidy and methodical packing and unpacking and putting his travel clothes in drawers