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Food & Wine

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists


Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
Ghraybeh shortbread cookies use sweet-tasting ghee in lieu of butter.

 

When Americans think of the shortbread cookie, they often imagine the traditional Scottish cookies, shaped like oblong rectangles and ...

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Your Health

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food


Courtesy of Community Services Organization
CSA staff load groceries to take to Castro Elementary School as part of a new outreach program for children and families enrolled in the free and reduced lunch programs at Castro and Mistral schools.

Maureen...

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Your Home

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art restorer Rho Brown performs delicate preservation work in her Los Altos studio, above. Once fully restored, below left, it’s difficult to tell which cherub was previously missing its head. Brown’s studio conta...

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On The Road

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S


Photo by Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier; Bottom Right Photo courtesy of Chrysler
The Andersons recently drove the new Chrysler 300S to Danville’s Blackhawk Museum, where they saw “The Spirit of the Old West” exhibition.

 

When you have a p...

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Senior Lifestyles

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life


RAMYA KRISHNA/TOWN CRIER
Doreta Strotman performs the classics with her signature jazz-style improvisations at Los Altos Grill Sunday evenings. The Mountain View resident has been playing since the age of 4.

Sunday evenings, Doreta Strotman’s job is to...

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Wedding To Remember

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox


 

With nine fine-jewelry retailers concentrated along the Main Street corridor, downtown Los Altos offers a wealth of options for engagement and wedding ring shoppers. From one end of Main to the other, the choices range from the traditional to t...

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Your Kids

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards


 

Providing local students with a tangible outdoor learning experience, the Living Classroom program aims to support a new generation of students who are excited about the environment.

The Living Classroom serves 9,000 students locally in the Los ...

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Back to School

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A leader in business, community: Harrell Remodeling CEO Iris Harrell awarded with MV Chamber'

Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and craftsmanship, was, in essence, the prototype for the contemporary career woman.

So it's fitting that Iris Harrell, CEO, president and co-owner of Harrell Remodeling Inc. in Mountain View, was named the recipient of the 16th annual Athena Award presented by Mountain View Women in Business and the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. She was honored in March at a luncheon at Michaels at Shoreline.

"Iris is a pioneer in bringing women up in leadership roles," said Allison Nelson, president and CEO of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. "She is not only a respected member of the community but excels at doing things outside of her job description."

Harrell is committed to supporting the goals of professional women and has promoted women in her company through mentoring and continuing education. And, she is working to interest more women in the construction field.

Perhaps this is one reason she helps area Girl Scouts earn their Ms. Fix-It Badges. On a recent Saturday, Junior Girl Scouts, ages 9 to 12, from Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Woodside and San Mateo attended a workshop at her Mountain View headquarters, where they learned how to strip wire, caulk, spackle and the like. Los Altos Girl Scouts also gottheir turn last month.

Harrell is involved with Habitat for Humanity and received its Construction Partner Award in 2003. In addition, she donates design services to charity auctions, offers monthly remodeling workshops to the public and is a volunteer member of the design committee at Portola Ranch, where she lives with Ann Benson, her life partner of 27 years.

"The Athena Award was a total surprise to me. I didn't even know I'd been nominated," Harrell said.

This makes the 14th award she has received this year - and it's only May.

Since its inception in 1985, Harrell Remodeling has won recognition at the local, regional and national levels, including the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) awards, the Chrysallis awards and the Designer and Contractor of the Year (COTY) awards. In December, Harrell Remodeling won 12 local NARI awards.

Harrell is a licensed general contractor, certified kitchen and bath designer, certified green builder and member of Build It Green, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting green building products and practices. She is very passionate about green building and universal design, which she calls "the next big wave."

She also believes homes should be built in a manner that accommodates people as they age or as physical abilities change.

Surprisingly, Harrell did not begin her career in the building trade. Raised in North Carolina and Virginia, she worked in the tobacco fields as a child. After graduating from college and earning a master's degree in education administration and supervision, she taught school and spent five years playing guitar and bass in a five-piece band - experience that provided her with the planning, people and logistical skills she needed to run a multimillion-dollar business, she said.

Benson introduced Harrell to her career by handing her an electric drill to hang pots and pans in their Dallas home. From there she went on to larger projects, taking courses in home design and construction. When she first ventured out to find employment in the remodeling field, she was routinely turned away because of her gender and her age (34 at the time). So she started her own company.

In 1985, she and Benson moved to Menlo Park, and the company grew from home-based to a 5,300-square-foot design center in Mountain View, which they dedicated in 2001. About one-third of their 50 employees are licensed contractors.

The company is ranked in the top 500 remodeling companies nationwide and twice has been recognized as the 12th largest woman-owned company in Silicon Valley. Last year alone the company did close to $9 million in business, according to Harrell, and 80 percent of that was from referrals and past clients.

The average job runs about $190,000, but she said the company does "service work people don't know about, such as installing a dog door. Service is an important part of building long-term relationships."

Her philosophy is paying off. She has a portfolio of 500-plus clients, all within 30 minutes of company headquarters.

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