Napa Valley Giants
These never fail to impress! Sunflower seeds (see previous posts) are a great natural exfoliant with nutritious, usable skin oils packed inside. Did you know that these guys can have 1,000 - 2,000 seeds PER FLOWER and, at certain stages of growth, they shift direction during the day to face the sun.
Our last days in the old office have been so busy packing and organizing while still in operation!! We decided to take some time today to enjoy our Napa Valley surroundings a bit. Life keeps you so busy sometimes, it's easy to lose appreciation for the good things around you. I personally have been trying my best to take a few minutes each day to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine - electronic-free-zone! - and it can certainly shift your perspective when it's needed. I can't tell you how many times I pass sunflowers each day, but rarely do I stop to actually examine the beauty of the flower. And the seeds are so neat! And after finding out about their natural tendency to shift direction, I always try to pay attention to whether or not they are facing the sun - flower dork!
We headed up to St. Helena to visit some favorite spots including Freemark Abbey Winery for a relaxing wine tasting. Perks of location!
You can see a slight hint of purple hiding behind the green grapes - a sign of the impending veraison (when green grapes ripen and turn red). It's an exciting time of year in Napa, meaning harvest and crush are coming soon. You can smell it in the air! While that obviously means new wines being made, that also means more ingredients for us! We grab our grape skins and grape seeds for our Red Wine and Roses Fresh Mask / Sweet Sangria and Fig Fresh Scrub from wineries around here. They don't have much use for them, but of course we do, and we are so happy to be able to recycle great ingredients PLUS reduce waste.
We had to make a stop for one of my favorite indulgences - Campfire Pie from Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen. I am generally a healthy girl and like to keep my diet clean, but being a pastry chef also means I like a messy dessert. Campfire Pie is basically exactly what it sounds like, except probably better. A caramelized chocolate, peanuty, ooey, gooey, cookie layer topped with a ridiculous mound of fresh mallow fluff - properly toasted, as a campfire pie should be.
Fruits and vegetables grow like crazy in this region, and it isn't uncommon to find yards filled with ripening fruit of all varieties. Today I happened upon a very interesting find, a non-native fruit that I happen to absolutely love. I tried it last year from a friend who had a tree in her yard and I have not been able to find them since - so frustrating! They are native to the eastern side of the world, but we are so lucky here in Northern California to have a climate that accommodates their growth. Loquats are such under-appreciated little fruits. They are full of incredible benefits for internal organ health and skin, so if you find them, snack away! Many of the benefits can actually be found in the leaves, and they've been widely used throughout history to naturally fight skin redness and inflammation. You can make an easy loquat leaf tea by boiling or steeping leaves in water for 5 minutes, then use as a skin wipe or drink as a tea - you can also purchase loquat leaves online if you can't find them in your area. One of my favorite fruits, and I'm so darn happy I found 'em - they taste a bit like a combination of apricot, melon, and tangerine.