New and improved Stem salon does great work!

Stem salon – which used to be on Locust up until about a month ago – has moved to the new Lyric building across from MoMo’s. They’re newly located, renovated, and decorated and it really gives the business an upscale, modern vibe. Elizabeth Vawter (not present the day I took pictures) has done a fantastic job of building this business. I go here for my hair often and I think they do a great job!

They used to be in an old location by Peet’s. They weren’t happy with some of the tenant improvements or lack thereof, so they signed a lease with Lyric and are better than ever! I love the modern look with an amazing flowery wallpaper you can look at on the ceiling while getting your hair washed. I primarily go to Jessie for my hair color because I am there every three weeks or so. Her mother, Olivia, usually cuts my hair, but Mary Alice and Lauren are also fantastic. There is a large crew and varying price points depending on experience.

They will also offer you a glass of rosé, or a cup of coffee or tea while you get pampered. I think Elizabeth has hit her stride with a new home and continues to do it right. Stem Salon is my go-to hair salon!

Have you been to the Capital One cafe?

Have you noticed the new little cafe next to the Apple Store in downtown Walnut Creek? It’s a Capital One banking cafe – a new concept they’ve imagined in cities around the country.  It took me some time to stop by as it was such an odd concept; banking in a cafe? Here is the company’s blurb about who they are:

Ready for a reimagined banking experience? You’ve come to the right place. Capital One® is a new kind of bank, one that’s built on digital tools and human connections. People are at the heart of everything we do, so we keep the banking experience simple and straightforward

This location gives customers access to financial planning and banking options while grabbing a cup of coffee or tea. The cafe also hosts community events (This Friday, Dec. 15, is Ugly Sweater Day!) and does some philanthropy in the area. Nonprofits, alumni associations and student organizations can book their Private Community Room for meeting space during regular business hours.

They’ve teamed up with Peet’s Coffee and Tea to provide Walnut Creek residents with a great little place to relax while they’re banking or working on their laptops. Now that I have stepped into it, I find it is really a brilliant idea and marketing strategy by Capital One. There is also a cool lounge area with interesting artwork.

They also have a more private nook and conference room should you need it. Jason (pictured below) was very helpful about their concept and even gave me a ticket for a free drink. If you are a Capital One card holder, you get half off your purchases at Peet’s, and everyone can wander in and use the ATM with no fees and get free Wifi.

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It is also serving a niche for those self-employed folks who need to get out of the home to have a meeting or a quiet  place to work. It is a cool space where you can snag a great cup of coffee, tap free wireless, and work, which might make it worth getting a Capital One card.

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Road Trips: Strawberry Jam 5K in Capay

Grab your kids for a short road trip! Today there is a fun event going on in Capay (1.5 hours from Walnut Creek, just North of Vacaville): a 5K run and farm tour at Capay Organic.

I get produce from the delivered to my door weekly if I choose and you pick what you put into that box – of course it is only fruits and veggies currently in season and they often have a recipe included.  Last week I got sunchokes as I forgot to modify my order – these are also called Jerusulum  articokes and I made a wonderful potato sunchoke latke which will be recreated and served for Easter Brunch.

From the Capay Organic website.

Tickets are available here, and sign in begins at 10 a.m., with the run starting a half hour later. The farm will be open to tours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and includes the options of tractor rides, a Q&A, arts and crafts, face-painting, a petting zoo and an Easter egg hunt!

If that’s not the most perfect way to spend Saturday of Easter weekend, I don’t know what is! For you foodies, there will be a little farmer’s market section with local honey, olive oil and pesto tastings, fresh Mexican food and plenty of sweet dessert and coffee options.

For a little different twist on your regular Bay Area road trip, consider Capay Organic for your next weekend away. They have events almost every month, and the pictures make it look like an absolutely gorgeous setting. I wish I could have been there today myself!

Dunkin’ Donuts Delights Downtown

IMG_4536The days of Las Lomas students darting over to San Miguel Plaza after school to grab a couple Taco Bell specials are over. Instead, they can check out Dunkin’ Donuts, which took over the old Taco Bell space and has seen lines around the corner in its first week of business.

Dunkin’ Donuts will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and serves a variety of breakfast sandwiches, coffee drinks and, as the name implies, donuts. The East Coast-based chain is incredibly popular in other regions of the country and now adds another well-known food and drink option to Walnut Creek’s growing downtown.

For a town that recently rid itself of the long-standing McDonald’s and has now cut its Taco Bell consumption in half, this may be a surprising add (especially given IMG_4540Dunkin’ Donuts’ proximity to Whole Foods), but the world can never have enough coffee shops!

I decided to visit Dunkin’ Donuts this morning and see what all the fuss was about. I waited in a long line, as expected, before being helped by a very kind girl at the register. They offer a lot more than just donuts at Dunkin’, though their only healthy choice is the oatmeal. I tried their cappuccino, some donuts (Bavarian chocolate donut and the fritter, among others) and a variety of IMG_4538donut holes.

The coffee was amazing. I asked why, and they said it was because they never let it sit for more than 15 minutes at a time. And the donuts, which tasted a lot less fried than they do at other places, were really good! I chatted with an East Coaster who said he now feels complete with a Dunkin’ Donuts in town.

The parking is easy in that plaza, especially in mornings before the other businesses open up. I have a feeling that Dunkin’ will develop quite a following!