Toys with Feelings
When Marin mom Nina Rappaport-Rowan wanted to bring peace to her household and the local playground she created a line of plush pillows with words like happy, sad, silly or brave printed on one side and a corresponding facial expression on the other. They’re called Kimochis—which means “feeling” in Japanese. Large Kimochi characters have a special pocket where kids can store the smaller Kimochi expression pillows to get in touch with their emotions through puppetry and play. Kimochis (San Anselmo). 415.454.4600,

Pamper Yourself
Did you know that Stellar Spa offers a gentleman’s black tie facial with microdermabrasion or Evo Spa features acupuncture and Chinese medicine or Shibuy Gardens has three private outdoor hot tubs? We’ve updated our online spa guide to give you a peek at the delectable settings and pampering services local and international spa destinations offer. Whether you can sneak in an hour away for a massage or a week away for some serious retooling, this guide will help you choose the right spa.
Check it out at

Local Restaurant Happenings
On February 18th head to the Melting Pot in Larkspur for a Girl’s Night Out event with specially priced wine and cocktails and a set menu. A percentage of the proceeds supports the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The Melting Pot Larkspur, 415.461.6358,

Also in February head to the Lark Creek Inn for the restaurant group’s annual Dungeness Crab Festival. The monthlong celebration sources everything in accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines, which monitors sustainable seafood.

Mike’s Bikes in Africa
Ken Martin and Matt Adams have brought their Marin-based Mike’s Bikes shop to Africa with the opening of the store’s first sister location in Gaborone, Botswana. The venture was made possible by hundreds of customers who donated used bikes over a three-month period.

Protecting the Salmon: One Year Later
The numbers of spawning salmon observed during the 2007-2008 surveys were at their lowest levels in 12 years of measurement. Last February, the Marin Board of Supervisors issued an interim ordinance prohibiting, with certain exceptions, the issuance of building permits in stream conservation areas in the San Geronimo Valley watershed for up to two years, while the county carries out the studies to develop a plan to support the restoration of functions in the watershed. “Right now we’re in the middle of that study and we’re hoping that will inform the county and the residents in how to move forward in protecting the fish while creating a vibrant human and fish-friendly community,” says SPAWN (Salmon Protection and Watershed Network) director Todd Steiner. “It’s basically a time-out for us to understand where we are on the threshold level in regards to negative impacts on the fish and how can we move forward with the best available rules to set for the future.”

To get involved visit, where you’ll find volunteering opportunities with the group’s restoration projects and information on landowner consultations to help you create a more fish-friendly environment on your property.

Curiosa Natura
Patrick Sequi, an artist known for his intricately carved dioramas, will be debuting his Edwardian-inspired collection “Curiosa Natura” at San Francisco’s the Shooting Gallery this month. In his words: “My show is inspired by 19th-century scientific iconography, which features the genesis of these unusual characters, perfectly befitting their place in a compendium of scientific anomalies. It’s my grand tour of the laboratories of natural science.”

News From the North

This month marks the opening of the highly anticipated Bardessono, a 62-guest-room resort and spa with a 92-seat restaurant and bar in the heart of Yountville. Touted as the “greenest” luxury hotel in the country, the family-owned development is applying for platinum LEED certification—the highest and most rigorous form of green development accreditation in the United States. In keeping with the low carbon footprint, eco-minded developer Phil Sherburne hired sawyer Evan Shively of West Marin to reclaim wood within a 100-mile radius of the Napa Valley for the furniture and decor of Bardessono.

Summer Bike Tour?
As of last month the final stretch of a planned 1.8-mile bike path along Napa Valley Wine Train tracks will be built next summer. This extension will make it easier and safer for cyclists of all levels to pedal from downtown Napa to the intersection of Highway 29 and Redwood Road.

Ga-ga for Gewürztraminer
Mark your calendars: February is a great time to visit Anderson Valley. The winegrowers’ association there is hosting the 4th Annual International Alsace Varietals Festival on the weekend of the 21st. Besides visiting the local wineries such as Arista, Gundlach-Bundschu and Robert Sinskey, visitors can learn more about Alsace-style wines at the Alsace Varietals Technical Conference, hosted by Milla Handley of Handley Cellars and Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension, Mendocino County. These aromatic white varietals include gewürztraminer, riesling, pinot gris, pinot blanc and muscat. Check out

New Tasting Room 
Boutique operation Teira Wines has partnered with five other local family-owned vineyards to create a tasting room as well as an idyllic wine country event venue. “Only minutes away from the town square, the building was originally the Roma Wine Company in the 1800s,” says Daniel Donahoe, owner of Teira Wines. Look for the doors to be opening soon at 428 Hudson Street (Healdsburg).