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OH NO! TREE. Did someone speak Italian?

Oenotri, pronounced Oh-no-tree, is a great Southern Italian restaurant that is a five minute walk from The Inn On First.  With a focus on handcrafted pastas, homemade salamis and sausages, and world-class Margherita pizza coming out of their oven from Naples, Oenotri has all the makings of a great restaurant.  Salads run from $9 to $15, pastas from $12 to $18, and entrees from $18 to $35.

Last week we were fortunate to visit Oenotri with a good friend, Chad Fielding.  We shared the Margherita pizza with a beautifully charred crust, sweet San Marzano tomatoes, Genovese basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and just a touch of Buffalo Mozzarella.  What I love about this pizza is that cheese is minimal, with a great balance of all the flavors working together to create a perfect bite!  Jamie and I shared the garden salad with a lemony vinaigrette, and I then indulged in the roasted squab!  Perfectly crispy skin and a medium-rare meat with a red wine reduction and freshly sautéed vegetables.

Meat-lover’s note: they do a lovely 4-piece chef’s choice salumi appetizer.  The flavors are fresh and wonderful.

Vegetarians, Vegans, Gluten-free: they love to accommodate dietary needs, so talk to your wait-staff.

Isabel has a new baby boy! Welcome to our First Family.

Jaden.jpgWe would like to welcome Jaden Gutierrez to our First Family.  He weighed in at 7#1, 19″ long, and arrived at 4:19 am.  Isabel is doing great and is so happy to welcome her little son into the world.

Thanks to all of you who helped make this time so much easier on her with your gifts and donations over the past few months.  It was quite the surprise for her that she received so many gifts from all of you.  Let me say that we, Jim and Jamie, are so grateful to our family, friends, and guests who participated in making their lives a bit better and brighter.

On a side note, the week she received the baby she also received notice they have to move out of their apartment for renovations.  So they are currently looking for a new place to live.  So please keep your thoughts positive for her and little Jaden during this next transition.  Isabel will be back to work in July and if you see her be sure to congratulate her on her new baby.

Painting commences: we’re excited for our new look

Painting ScaffoldingThe scaffolding is up, the work has begun and over the next four weeks the house will take on a new look and feel.  What color?  Oh no, I’m not telling!  I don’t want to post pictures until it is all over.

There is still some work to be done in the yard as we make the center garden pathway more accessible to wheelchairs by replacing the pebble path with crushed granite.  Up until now anyone in a wheelchair could only access the side patio by cruising around the corner of the block and up the front walkway.

The last big change outdoors is with the back corner of the garden.  For those who have been here before you would have seen the wooden table under the corner tree.

Home of the new fire pit
Home of the new fire pit

That patio has been moved and dug out to make way for the new fire pit that will available for guests to use throughout the evenings.  With a time-limited ignition switch guests won’t need to worry about walking away and shutting it off as it will occur automatically.  It will provide that perfect gathering spot to enjoy a glass of wine during our cool summer evenings.

Moonlight in Napa

We spend most of our time at The Inn On First walking in the daylight, yet our February weather afforded us a most notable evening to be out and about during the full moon.

Moonlight Dog Walk Moonlight in NapaRising out of the sky over the historic downtown Napa district, the moon rose full and mighty.  I normally just take the dogs for a short play time in the yard, but the moon beckoned me further.  So I leashed them up and out we went for a moonlight stroll in the neighborhood.  I forget how beautiful it is in my own neighborhood, but nights like these bring it back into focus.  Even the dogs were more subdued, less fidgety, and willing to join me for this merry walk in the not-so-dark streets.

I suppose this is why I am grateful that we are close to the historic downtown area, so we can walk to all the restaurants, shops, and wine tasting rooms in the area.  The fact that I am out and about at all while others in the nation are hunkering down under snow and cold is a reminder to appreciate what it right before me.  Here’s to moonlight.  Here’s to walking in the dark.

Renovation Update

IFront Corner Foundationt’s amazing how little impact the foundation retrofit has had on the exterior of the building.  That surprised both of us as we thought it would be much more obvious.  This photo shows the front left corner of the house.  It’s less than 12 inches high, hardly noticeable.  As they are doing this in sections in order to keep the house safe and secure (we live here, you know!), we feel fortunate they have worked hard to keep the inn looking neat and tidy.

We have called all guests who made reservations for Sunday through Thursday nights to make them aware of the oft-changing circumstances.  So far only one couple chose to stay elsewhere, all others have stayed.  Their comments: we’re up by 8 am anyway, and the historic mansion basement is far from available rooms, so the noise is negligible or at least tolerated until they go out wine tasting for the day; typically by 10 am. At the end of their day they return home to the inn and the work has been completed for the day and the grounds tidied up, and they can fully enjoy their room, the tub, a quiet night in front of the gas fireplace with a glass of wine, and a full night’s sleep.  Until today guests didn’t believe any work was actually taking place!

We want to thank the construction crew as they have not made any significant noise until around 9, sometimes later.  We should have a few more days of jackhammering to finish cleaning out the basement, and then the noise will be reduced significantly as they build the framing and eventually pour the concrete.  We are expecting more jackhammering the week following Valentine’s Day Weekend to finish the last 1/4 of the house, and then we should move quickly to completion after that.  As already stated, all historic mansion rooms are closed during the week, and we put significant discounts on the garden suite rooms for midweek stays.

Climate Leader Award given to The Inn On First for exceptional green practices.

We were already feeling great in 2010 when we were awarded the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for invaluable service to the community by the office of Mike Thompson, our Congressional representative in Washington, D.C.   In 2010 we were also awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the California State Legislature for outstanding recycling efforts, and we strive to make our Inn a better place for everyone.

Now in 2014 we are excited to announce that we are one of thirteen businesses in the State of California to receive a Climate Leader Award from that is funded by the California Environment Protection Agency. This award recognizes California small businesses that demonstrate exceptional climate change management practices and communication.  We also received Certificates of Recognition from our State Senator, Lois Wolk, and our State Assembly Member, Mariko Yamada. It was a fun afternoon in Sacramento with the other award winners and to see that small businesses throughout the State of California can and do take steps that have significant impact upon the environment.  We may be small, but we are mighty.

With Michael Erke, Legislative Assistant for Senator Lois Wolk.
With Michael Erke, Legislative Assistant for Senator Lois Wolk.

Cool California Small Business AwardNot only are we a premier destination for romantic getaways in Napa, but our commitment to promoting green living and reduced energy consumption helps set us apart from all other lodging inn locations throughout Napa.