California State Fair (& Friday Links)

COMMENTS: 11

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Wednesday night was my first time to the California State Fair. It’s held at the enormous Expo venue here in Sacramento, which sort of blew me away as all of my expectations about fairs are rooted in the cartoon version of Charlotte’s Web. I was most excited when we left the midway rides (do they still call them that?) and made our way over to the barns—half-hoping to see “Some Pig” written above a pen. No luck there, but we did see some very cute three-day-old Holsteins and some very pregnant (even overdue) cows in the UC Davis Veterinary center’s barn.

Otherwise, top takeaways: Motorcycles flying through the air in a Motocross event is bonkers! Nutella is really good fried. (But when isn’t it?) And you can spend a lot of money very quickly on carnival rides. It’s very difficult to say no to anything that makes little kids smile the way that bouncing and spinning does.

Do you go to your state fair? What are the highlights for you?

A few more photos, some plans for the weekend, and Friday links… 

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San Francisco: Outer Sunset Guide

COMMENTS: 25

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You’ve been to the Ferry Building, ridden a Cable Car, and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, and you’re looking to spend a day getting to know San Francisco a little better: Head to Outer Sunset.

The Westernmost parts of San Francisco are often foggy and windswept, but on the day we visited last weekend, the sun was out! Either way, the Outer Sunset and its bordering beaches and parks are some of the most beautiful spots to spend a low-key day in the city.

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Aron used to live in the Outer Sunset, and I confess I wasn’t always a fan when I’d come to stay with him and his roommates: that cold fog could really get you down if you let it. But now, as a visitor, I’m much more keen on appreciating that fresh ocean air.

It’s a quick drive from the Golden Gate if you’re on that side of town, and it’s a great place for families. Residents are friendly and welcoming—the laid-back surfer vibe is strong here; parking is relatively easy to come by; and kids will love riding the N Judah train—which runs the length of neighborhood and connects with other lines—straight out to the beach.

We were taking the Quinny Yezz stroller on a test spin and we loved using it here—it’s super-light, folds up easily, and is highly maneuverable—so it made getting around simple.
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Sacramento: Gather Oak Park

COMMENTS: 12

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Davis lies just 20 minutes west of downtown Sacramento, so we’re lucky to get to take advantage of all the capitol city’s offerings.

I may have mentioned that I lived there for a year between graduate and undergraduate school (I worked as a substitute teacher), and it really feels like the city has grown and changed a lot since then. There are so many new restaurants and shops opening up, and there’s a palpable feeling of excitement amongst residents about the community. I’d like to do a better job of featuring local highlights on here, from time to time.
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48 Hours in Big Sur

California Sunflowers

COMMENTS: 12

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Gratuitous photos of sunflowers to come. I couldn’t help myself.

Sunflowers have never been my favorite when cut, but in a field they’re wonderful. There was a time when they would make me think of a summer spent in France—riding trains and looking out the window as the view would alternate shades of gold, depending on whether we were passing flowers or fields of rolled hay. Now I think they’ll remind me of a particular sunset in Davis when two little children played in the dirt and tried to stick their noses all the way inside the flowers to try and smell them.

I would have never guessed, during that summer long ago when I snapped all those blurry shots of passing fields, that one day I’d have one practically in my backyard.

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Balboa Island

COMMENTS: 17

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Have you ever been to Balboa Island in Newport Beach? When I was growing up—in Long Beach, CA—we would frequently drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to go to dinner at the Spaghetti Factory and then get in the line for the auto ferry which would take 3 cars at a time across Newport Harbor to Balboa Peninsula.

My dad would tell me how he spent a summer in a rental on the 0.2-square-mile island and I would try to imagine him there while watching college students pedal around on their cruisers barefoot. We’d head straight to one of the two shops making frozen bananas and Balboa bars (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in toppings of your choice) and try to eat them without getting the chocolate all over ourselves.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Western San Francisco

COMMENTS: 6

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In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Liz Stanley of the wonderful Say Yes shows us the sights in Western SF.

5 Things: Western San Francisco
Liz Stanley of Say Yes

I’m Liz Stanley of Say Yes, and I live with my husband and two kids on the western side of San Francisco, in a neighborhood called the Richmond District. We love it here because it’s safe, quiet, just across the street from Golden Gate Park, and close to some great elementary schools. It’s not considered hip—and it’s certainly foggier than other parts of the city—but we’ve managed to find a few secret gems in and around our ‘hood that I’m excited to share with you today!

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48 Hours in Big Sur

COMMENTS: 28

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Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places in California—if not anywhere. The rugged, isolated stretch of Highway 1 runs between redwood groves and rocky shores, an ocean teeming with life, for the 90 miles between Carmel and San Simeon. There are nine state parks within the region of Big Sur, and views for days. You could pass a week between hikes and hot springs—or between the pages of a good novel  (appreciating the lack of consistent cell service).

I had a chance to visit a couple of weeks ago on an adventure summit—a work retreat—with Bota Box. I’m partnering with the wine-maker on a series of posts this year and they invited me to join them and meet up along the coast. The getaway exceeded any expectations, and I’m already mentally planning a return to Big Sur with my family.

California: it never ceases to astound me.

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Travelogue: Los Angeles (Part Two)

COMMENTS: 22

Travelogue Los Angeles 2

[Continued from Part I]

Our week in Los Angeles was so full of wonderful things that could warrant a post in and of themselves; I had to break this travelogue into two parts (and really more, if you count the drive up and down the 101 and our visit to the Huntington Gardens). But at the same time, what was really special about this trip was—having been here so many times before (and having lived here for a time)—that I didn’t feel any of that pressure to “do it all.”

Here are some more highlights from what we did choose to do… 

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A Davis Garden Tour (& Friday Links)

COMMENTS: 8

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A fun local event, the 24th annual Pence Gallery Garden tour is coming up: one gets to peek into the neighbors’ yards as eight gardens are opened to visitors for inspiration, while a local artist paints or draws the landscape. I just came across these pictures of my favorite house on last year’s tour.

While most of the homes last year had large lawns and colorful blooms, this one featured more drought-tolerant plants (though there is a pool and some lawn here, too). I’m curious to see how the tour will be different this year to reflect the water shortage in California, and will be looking for ideas for our own backyard.

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Here’s an interesting article on the drought in California (in defense of those beleaguered Almonds), and some other things of note… 

This cucumber-avocado salad is on my “to-make” list.

What a toddler can teach you about decorating.

And I got the Design Mom book about living with kids a few weeks back (at the Oakland book signing!), and I’m loving her advice.

So happy the rumors were wrong, and they’re still selling: for closed-toes alternatives to Salt-waters, these are my favorite summer shoes for Hudson. Love that he can pull them on himself. (Toms just started making something similar, too!)

“Diffusion of responsibility” and “the Bystander Effect.” (Or, why you should assign tasks in case of emergency.)

The $70,000 minimum wage.

Comparison is the thief of joy.” (It’s not all Facebook’s fault.)

Hacks for Netflix binge-watchers. (Aron used to be anti- by the way, but Freaks and Geeks changed it all. Do you remember your first binge?)

And finally, guess what’s coming to California? (Los Angeles, to be exact!)

Brilliant! Filling water balloons for a party can be such a drag and, on a drought-related note, prompt kids to leave the water running.

Have a great weekend! I’ll be in New York for a workshop; you can follow me on Instagram.

P.S. Last weekend was UC Davis’ picnic day. I posted some pictures from the event, if you’re curious. (& Here’s from last year.)

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Travelogue: Los Angeles (Part One)

COMMENTS: 21

Travelogue Los Angeles

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We’d spent one weekend exploring Los Angeles’ west side last year and wanted to return for longer to explore its… Hmm, what to call it? Its central neighborhoods? When I was living in Los Angeles, in the Fairfax district, I would have called Echo Park and Silverlake “the east” in error. I’ve learned that “East LA” should really be reserved for that which sits east of the LA River. In order to best avoid the minefield that lies in naming sections of Los Angeles, perhaps I should just say that this is the “not West Los Angeles-travelogue.”

In truth, it was our intention to make it a Silverlake-centric trip. We based ourselves there, finding a house one block off of Sunset Junction.

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We rented a three-bedroom house, from which we had a lovely view of the Hollywood Hills. In the mornings, it was a short stroll to breakfast or coffee (always coffee, usually at Intelligentsia). And on a couple of the days, when the kids slept in the afternoon, it was a short walk to shops like Mohawk General Store, Clare Vivier, Mollusk, Shinola, and Sweet William.

We pictured ourselves hiring a babysitter for a few of the evenings and then simply walking to dinners out—you could have an entire vacation’s worth of great meals in that neighborhood—and we arranged for a sitter to come for three nights! But we found ourselves taking that chance to drive and do more exploring.

Here are the highlights, (in typically long travelogue fashion)…

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Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither!

COMMENTS: 43

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Funny thing. I wished Hither & Thither a happy sixth birthday last year, but I got ahead of myself somehow—a few years back, in fact! Someone finally corrected me. This year marks six years. The first post was a picture-less entry written by Aron, on January 19, 2009.

What I didn’t get wrong is that every year on here is worth celebrating. And it never ceases to surprise me—even as its demands ebb and flow—how much of a role Hither & Thither plays in my life now. I’m so grateful for all of the readers whom it engages—those who have come along since the start (when Aron and I were writing it together in New York) and those who just recently started reading. For me, it’s so rewarding to have such a supportive space in which to grow as a writer and a photographer, and to build a career of my own vision. But of course it’s often the conversations, the friendships made, the back & forth, that’s best of all.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. With a trademark lack of brevity, I’ve compiled a look back at this year’s highlights. I so enjoyed looking back through some of my favorite posts again; I hope you will enjoy this, too:

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Brunch at San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema

COMMENTS: 5

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Just before the holidays, Aron and I drove into San Francisco for the morning and enjoyed brunch at Foreign Cinema.

We hadn’t shared a meal there for years, but soon after the restaurant opened in the Mission (back around 2000), we’d sat in the courtyard and ordered some olives (and a few other Mediterranean dishes we could barely afford) while La Dolce Vita was screened on the giant white-washed wall in its courtyard: a fond memory. It’s become a city institution in the years since, and we’d always heard brunch was not to be missed.

We were especially impressed by the savory dishes we tried—in particular a scramble that combined tart lemon with bitter brussel sprouts, silky white beans and crunchy breadcrumbs. The menu changes with the season.

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It’s actually the cocktail menu I plan to crib from, however. My drink, “The Hotel Laguna” was made with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Gran Classico Bitters, Giffard Pamplemousse, Lagunitas IPA, & Citrus juice.  The beer rounded out the gin and grapefruit and it was refreshing and delicious. I actually think it would be prefect once summer rolls around. Here’s an article about some of the master bartender’s cocktail menu, with some highlights.

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Of course a great deal of the appeal is the restaurant’s beautiful space (with incredible floral arrangements by Natalie Bowen Designs—a very talented friend), a large dining room with steel and wood and tons of light paired with a courtyard where foreign and independent films are shown after dark. It’s a good scene.

P.S. More to see and do in San Francisco.

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Berkeley with Kids: Ride a Steam train in Tilden Park & other top picks

COMMENTS: 9



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In routine traffic, it takes under an hour for us to drive into Berkeley. And yet every time we visit, I wonder why we don’t more often. There’s so much to do and see in this beautiful town, and a reason why so many UC Berekeley grads return to live there. (Many never leave.) When I was in college (at Davis), I would often go to visit friends, eat at Crepes-a-go-go on University, or have a slice of pizza in the Gourmet Ghetto, on the median in front of the Cheeseboard. Now, as a family, we’re likely to end up at the shops along Fourth street or in beautiful Tilden Park at Little Farm.

So the other day, after returning to Tilden Park and riding Tilden Park’s Redwood Valley Railway Steam Train, I asked my friend Amy (who lived in Berkeley when her daughter was Hudson’s age) to help me with a list of ways to spend the day in Berkeley—with kids.

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Visiting the DeYoung Museum, Golden Gate Park (San Francisco with Kids)

COMMENTS: 26

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The DeYoung Museum, in Golden Gate Park, is one of my favorite places to visit in San Francisco. It’s such a feast for the eyes—the architecture, the landscape, the views, and (of course) the art.

Art museums can be a bit tricky with kids, but I’d recommend giving this one a try if you’re interested.

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Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned…

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Beyond the Pumpkin Patch: Activities for fall

COMMENTS: 6

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At the start of the month, we drove out to Capay Valley—to Full Belly Farm, where I’d had my birthday party last year—for their annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival.

It’s not feeling particularly fall-like out here, and that day was especially hot. We stayed for just over an hour, rushing around to see as much as we could, before escaping back to the comfort of an air-conditioned car. It was easily 100 degrees.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to San Luis Obispo

COMMENTS: 15

5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Jennifer Young introduces us to the town of San Luis Obispo.

5 Things: San Luis Obispo
Jennifer Young of I Art U and Jennifer Young Studio.

Welcome to the happiest city in America (or so Oprah says!). San Luis Obispo, aka SLO, is a charming coastal town located right between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’ve been lucky enough to call this place home for the past five years. It’s the perfect place to visit for a weekend getaway, whether you’re in need of a trip to the great outdoors or just want a beautiful pit stop when traveling between LA and SF. There’s so much to do in the area, but here are some of my top picks.

EAT:
5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo

5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo

Novo, 726 Higeura Street, (805) 543-3986

Novo is a local and tourist favorite in the heart of downtown SLO. Their outdoor patio dining in the evening is an SLO experience not to be missed. They serve a global cuisine with a plethora of wine choices (and great cocktails, too!).

SHOP:
5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo
5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo

Ruby Rose, 1235 Monterey Street, (805) 545-7964

Ruby Rose is the best place to shop, hands down. I don’t consider SLO to be a place for great shopping, but Ruby Rose will sweep you off your feet. From the gals at Ruby Rose themselves: “Combined with our love of junking, paired with the spirit of the road trip, we travel around the West Coast in our Airstream trailer. We scour flea markets, thrift stores, estate & yard sales to bring back lovelies to our vintage shop located in the quaint town of San Luis Obispo, California.”

Ruby Rose is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 11 AM — 5 PM, and Sunday 12 PM — 4 PM. Make time in your schedule to visit this gem of a place!

5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo
5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo
5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo

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5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo
5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo

Granada Hotel and Bistro, 1126 Morro Street, (805) 544-9100

Another gem in the heart of downtown, Granada Hotel and Bistro is an ideal place to stay if you want to be in the center of everything — but with only 17 guest rooms and suites, make sure to book early. They have everything you will need for your stay in downtown SLO — access to complimentary Linus bikes; an indoor lounge with a fireplace; a rooftop patio for drinks and people watching; a downstairs bistro that serves brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert; and a spa. What more could you need? (Oh, and a major bonus if you’re staying there on a Thursday evening — you’ll be steps away from SLO’s weekly farmers’ market. It’s the best!)

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5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo
5 things: A Travel Guide to San Lius Obispo

When I think of San Luis Obispo, the first thing that comes to mind is the abundance of beaches and hiking/running trails available. It’s a really great city to be in if you want to unplug and spend some time to soak in the beauty of the outdoors. I have so many favorite trails and beaches, but hiking Bishop’s Peak is high on the list. Make it to the top and you’ll get the best view of this charming city!

PACK:

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A great weekender bag like this one from Cuyana* would suffice for a trip here to SLO. Oh and don’t forget to pack your sunnies and sunblock if you plan to spend a lot of time outside! Enjoy!

Thanks so much, Jennifer! For more, find Jen’s blog, I Art U, and her Instagram feed, here.

P.S. One of our favorite California coastal drives, that will take you right around San Luis Obispo (where, by the way, so many of my friends were lucky to go to college)! And last week’s “5 Things.” 

(Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series. *Note that the bag is sold out. Here’s a similar one.)

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Weekend in Los Angeles (West Side)

COMMENTS: 27

Title Slide Los Angeles


After we landed in Los Angeles last Saturday, we went straight to Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. There were a few cool shops and restaurants there when we lived in LA, but it was nothing like it is now—Steven Alan, A+R, Jack Spade, Firefly, Linus… and a few dozen delicious places to eat and drink line the blocks.

We started with brunch upstairs at The Tasting Kitchen.

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Date Night: the Napa Wine Train

COMMENTS: 4

We’ve been visiting Napa and Sonoma for years, but it wasn’t until last week that we finally spent an evening enjoying the Napa Valley Wine Train. We’ve seen it glide past (while we’ve sat at a red light, roshambo-ing for the role of designated driver) and have always been curious. So when they offered us a chance to come aboard for a date, I didn’t hesitate.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, the Napa Valley Wine Train is an antique train (think refurbished 1915-1917 Pullman Cars) that runs on 25-miles of track through the valley while you sip wine and eat a multi-course meal (prepared onboard). This summer, it celebrates its 25th anniversary!

Here are some scenes from the evening—which was gorgeous!

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