Nasturtium Art of Living harnesses and concentrates the artistic spirit of its surroundings, granting visitors the chance to carry away pieces of its vibrant soul. The store's exterior is slathered in hand-painted eponymous flora, which pops vibrantly across a lawn that's often populated with busy, buzzing artists. Walk inside, and start a path toward bedecking blank walls with a gold-leaf Buddha painting on natural wood ($48). In the housewares section, selections include a frosted zipper wine glass ($40) intended to playfully confuse guests with its suggestion that liquids share the same properties as pants. Clever sink strainers ($16.50) capture errant detritus, which falls precariously from vibrant pansy plates ($15–$21) available in an eye-watering array of colors. Perusing guests can also opt to splash crafted verdure into gardens, kitchens, and closet shrines with delicate topiaries ($20–$60), or embellish bright bodies with earrings ($15–$65) and bracelets ($45–$110).
With spring spreading like a bag of spilled gravy, now is the ideal time to throw open the windows and get home-care projects underway. Pick up a Stanley six-piece screwdriver set for $6.99, a VPT rip hammer for $8.49, and a whole bunch of screws, anchors, and bolts (prices vary), and you'll be ready to finally mount every buffalo nickel and steel penny in your coin collection. Illuminate the newfound décor with a 12-pack of Ace light bulbs ($21.48), the better to see by as you make use of a Purdy four-piece premium paint-tray kit ($19.99). If you need to match paint to a favorite coverlet or choose a hue that complements a pleather recliner, each store offers a paint-matching service free of charge. Get keys made for $1.99 a pop, or clean a barnacle-encrusted carpet with the help of a carpet-cleaning machine ($30 a day to rent).
Toque Blanche supplies home chefs with a selection of fine cookware for fashioning domestic delectations, earning it the best kitchenware title on the 2010 San Francisco Baylist. Cuisine artists can kit out kitchens with clay La Chamba pans, made of mica-infused black clay that absorbs and diffuses heat (starting at $19.95). Mandolin slicers from Kuhn-Rikon ($19.99) cut veggies into perfectly sliced 1/8-inch pieces and keeps fingers intact. Gadget collectors can evade metric-system mind games with a stainless-steel, seven-piece measuring-cup set from RSVP ($32.99), and opt for an ovenproof meat thermometer from CDN ($10.99) to monitor the fevers of fire spirits.
Since 1972, the farmers at Santa's Tree Farm and Village have grown one crop: evergreen trees. Today, they cultivate six species?douglas fir, grand fir, white fir, noble fir, redwood, and monterey pine?on 22 rolling fields spread across 487 acres. They equip visitors with saws, and either send them out to cut their own Christmas trees or come along to train local bears to do it instead. The farm's operators also cultivate holiday cheer?a gift shop stocks handmade wreaths, tree stands, and other decorations ranging from mistletoe to garlands and twinkling baubles. In a central square, performers organize weekend activities such as puppet shows and visits from Santa Claus. A trackless train ferries visitors on tours of the farm as they savor complimentary hot apple cider.
More than 50 years ago, Italian-born Enrico Pastorino and his wife, Lorraine, established Pastorino Farms in the Half Moon Bay region. The farm first operated as a wholesale flower nursery, but it later expanded to include a seasonal pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and gift barn. Today, Enrico and Lorraine’s son Hank—along with the third generation of Pastorinos—maintains the family farm, which still sells plants and flowers year-round. Each October, the farm transforms into a harvest wonderland, replete with a pumpkin patch, hayrides, face painting, and scarecrows modeling the season’s hottest overalls.
The green thumbs at The Garden House specialize in helping customers bring pops of nature to their homes with a variety of low-maintenance plants and orchids. Within the shop's sunny confines, white, violet, yellow, and speckled orchids flourish, causing the trees outside to gossip about the diets they must be on. Green leafy plants of all sizes, including lilies and palms, sprout from attractive pots, and indoor and outdoor decorations such as lanterns and botanically inspired artwork line shelves and tables. The shop's gardeners use their professional experience to answer questions and offer advice, and they can often order any desired item not currently in stock.