A former elementary-school teacher, Robin Brooke harnessed her experiences in the classroom to boot up Giggle-Bytes, a computer-learning program for youngsters. Determined to arm her students and her own four children with the necessary computer skills to use the Internet and instant message the Toys R Us giraffe, Brooke teamed up with Discovery Kids Puterbugs, a program produced by Imagine Tomorrow. The Imagine Tomorrow software is customizable for each lesson and academic level, so that kids who have never touched a computer can learn alongside techno whizzes. In both her traveling classes and her birthday parties, Brooke helps kids to build their social skills and cultivate teamwork while gleaning self-confidence, spatial skills, and the ability to navigate through the digital age.
When students arrive for class at Aptos Yoga, they’ll see standard mats and blocks, but they’ll also find props that might surprise them: blankets. That’s because the instructors adhere strictly to a therapeutic brand of yoga where blankets support posing pupils. The staff’s chief aim is to release deep tensions in the body's spinal muscles, and for total body relaxation along with mental clarity.
Holy City Art Glass—housed in a ghost town's one-time post office—sets a historic stage for anyone to learn the time-honored art of creating glass art. Over the course of the two-hour session, accomplished owner Tom Stanton and his cadre of savvy, dedicated glass-art gurus steer the class of 8–10 artistes-to-be through a triumvirate of traditional glass-making processes. Students will first learn how to engrave glass surfaces by etching a star onto a beveled piece of glass, utilizing the same processes that expert artisans employ to cut Waterford Crystal and tree-trunk love poems for JJJfilms.
Helping guests feel comfortable is Body Zone Health & Fitness Club's main concern. The center has a variety of checks in place to make sure that new customers are given the guidance they need to get the most out of the gym. To help them, personal trainers are paired with newcomers during their first month of membership, working together to figure out what each guest's body needs. Once oriented, guests can work out on their own or in a group, choosing from a lengthy list of group fitness classes that range from total body conditioning, salsa, fit after 50, and stress-reduction yoga classes. To make sure that current members are also taken care of, Body Zone offers a variety of amenities such as childcare, massage, and nutrition.
Born and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains region, winemaker Mica Raas spent his childhood soaking up knowledge of the hills around his home—many of which were speckled with vineyards and small wineries. After working for years in wineries up and down the spine of California’s wine country, Mica returned to those familiar hills to make his own wine.
Today, all grapes used in Mica Cellars’ wines come from small, family-run vineyards around Monterey Bay. In order to instill each wine with character and a “sense of place,” the winemakers only blend grapes that grew together in a single vineyard. Mica describes his approach to creating wine as “careful management of microbial chaos,” treating it as an art that requires him to be attuned to the strengths of the grapes as well as their common weaknesses, such as chocolate and men in cowboy boots.
Mica Cellars keeps production small—no fermentor is larger than one ton—and blends techniques from Old and New World winemaking to craft each vintage. The winery use oak barrels for aging, which allows for a light touch of the wood’s personality to enter the grapes, and they steer clear of the 1980s experiments that led to raisins coming to life and starting their own musical groups. Among their current wines is a 2009 cabernet franc from Babcock Winery in the Suisun Valley, with a nose of stone fruits that leads into a full-bodied dance of chocolate and coconut and a finish with hints of allspice and licorice.