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Where the wind don't blow so strange.

A couple weekends ago we drove up to Willits to celebrate Jeffery's ten-year high school reunion. It consisted of a Friday night bar crawl and a Saturday afternoon potluck in the park, both relaxed and interesting, to say the least. The best part was reconnecting with old friends, there are so many good people from Willits.

The real party was Saturday night at our friend Jesse's property where there were so many of my favorite things:

An outdoor kitchen with all of the amenities in a clearing in the woods surrounded by gardens...Barbecued oysters slathered with lemony garlic butter...The lovely Lucy vying for our attention, affection and any meat droppings falling her way...Late night fireside discussion with great friends, so much history between us...Endless music....Stars in the sky, and so many more as the night wore on...Laughter as we tried to find our tents in the dark...

It is the site where his family hosts Dead on the Creek, an intimate music festival each year on the second weekend in August. Bluegrass music, Grateful Dead cover bands and the best local organic food you've ever eaten. Camping, food and libations are all included in the ticket price and there are still some spots available! You can learn more here.

Jeffery has helped with parking the last few years, and I was trying to get in on the kitchen crew, but I was talking to Jesse's dad about my camera and he asked if I'd photograph the festival. So I have that to look forward to in just over a month. This summer is flying by. Soon I will share photos from my road trip to Colorado, and next week we're off to Santa Cruz for three nights with friends. I have some upcoming family shoots scheduled and I'm trying to meet up and shoot a little with some photographers I admire.

It all feels pretty fast paced, but good. I haven't had a chance to venture into the city for too long, but I am ecstatic about the Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of DOMA and the legalization of gay marriage in California. Happy pride to all my SF and LGBT friends, I love you and I am so happy. Happy to tears over and over again. This is going to be a summer of celebration, I can feel it. 

Jen & James Get Married!

I have known James as long as I have known Jeffery, over a decade. They've been best friends since middle school and James is like a brother to me. I only met Jen at Sam and Christian's wedding last June, but as soon as I did, I wanted more of her in my life. In fact, I'd like a whole lot more of their entire family in my life. They are an inspiration of what it means to keep family close. 

(Click the orange arrow below to play a song.) 

What a beautiful evening. As soon as the sun went down behind the hill, the pond transformed into a liquid mirror. It was the perfect backdrop for a perfect day. This couple is blessed with an incredible family. So much love. And what a wealth of beautiful little nieces (and one nephew!). Congratulations, Jen and James! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness. 

A Weekend on the Eel River

Sunday morning sunrise, we awoke to birds chirping and the sound of the river. "Someone turn off that water." -Jeffery's first words of the day

eel river wildflowers

 

I haven't visited the Eel River in seven years. Not since high school, when as soon as the weather warms up in May, everyone piles into cars after school and drives the 25 miles towards Covelo. (Or if you're feeling rebellious you ditch after lunch. We only did that once, on Jeffery's 18th birthday, and I ended up serving detention—totally worth it.) But you never forget the mile marker numbers of the good spots. 

We had such a prime location, nested on a bed of sand in between a giant rock and the hillside. Perched over one of the deepest parts of the river where the swallows put on a show, swooping and diving for bugs that glowed at sunset. There was so much diversity, in the colors and textures of rock, in the wildflowers and butterflies, in the birdsong. The water was so cold it took your breath away, but it was the only relief from the hot sun and sand underfoot. We did our best to avoid dehydration, slathered on the sunscreen and hiked in eight gallons of water, but the [multiple] 12 packs of beer, and [multiple] bottles of champagne and wine combatted the water and we all had dry lips come Monday.

A weekend in the wilderness made me love my husband even more. He is such a man, gathering load after load of firewood, never complaining, making me laugh, all while looking adorable in a floppy sun hat. While on the river I had a bit of an epiphany about marriage. I am so glad to be in a place in our relationship where we no longer think in terms of "if." If we're going to be happy together, if we'll make enough money, if we'll make good parents. Now we can think in terms of "how." This is howe are going to do the things we want to do. This is how we are going to make each other happy. There's no wondering. We are going to make the life we want and we're going to do it together. 

And I have such good friends. Josh and Katie may be the only two people I could spend ten hours in a jam packed car and 40+ hours in the woods with and not want to to hide under a rock. For never having camped in California as adults, we were pretty well prepared. Biodegradable soap and all. We skipped a lot of rocks, grilled steaks in a cast iron directly on the campfire, ate bacon and eggs and had coffee for breakfast, and turkey sandwiches for lunch. Directly across the river are railroad tracks, and I knew that if I got up there I could get the best shot. So with my camera double bagged, Katie and I waded through the rapids and I got the shot (the diptych with the red Indian Paintbrush). All of these images were shot with my fixed 50mm lens. This trip reaffirmed that I need a wider angle lens, so I just ordered this one, and it arrives Tuesday. Just in time for a Grass Valley wedding next weekend with more of our favorite people. 

Hello summer. And happy 28th birthday to my darling husband, I love you. Here's to another decade.

 

Getaway

anderson valley postcard

Over the weekend, Jeffery and I drove to Mendocino County to celebrate my 25th birthday in Anderson Valley. On the way up Friday night, we stopped in Healdsburg and had dinner at Campo Fina. The restaurant had great ambience with an outdoor pizza oven, bocce ball, and really beautiful landscaping. The staff was super friendly, and the food was pretty good. The meal was mostly small plates, and they didn't have to a cook much, instead it was finished with a lot of of pickled garnishes and arugula. But it was overall a satisfying meal.

healdsburg restaurant campo fina
campo fina bocce ball healdsburg
roses campo fina restaurant
campo fina outdoor pizza oven

We stayed at the Boonville Hotel, which we had heard good things about. It far surpassed our expectations. The staff was amazing, the rooms are beautiful. As soon as we arrived we were upgraded to a suite. And the food...wow. More on that later.

gardens at the boonville hotel
boonville hotel room 4
boonville hotel room 3
boonville hotel room 2

Flowers in every room.

boonville hotel porch and antique car

On Saturday morning, (after a breakfast of homemade granola, local strawberries, yogurt and scones), we drove through the redwood trees to the coast, stopping for a trek to the Navarro river.

mendocino county redwood trees
Jeffery at the navarro river

I finally got a good shot of him. No awkward face.

Navarro River Mendocino County

It was so beautiful inland, and then when we got to the coast it was windy and cold and the water was choppy, but there was still sun and the fog was lifting.

Mendocino coast fence
pacific ocean from mendocino
mendocino houses
mendocino coast wildflowers
mendocino coast

We came back to the valley for lunch and picnicked at the Philo Apple Farm, which pretty much stole my heart.

philo apple farm sign and strawberry starters
Philo Apple Farm products for sale
philo apple farm eggs for sale
philo apple farm greenhouse
philo apple farm jasmine in the greenhouse
apple trees
apple tree blossom
philo apple farm tree arch
philo apple farm flowers
philo apple farm garden

Next stop: Toulouse Vineyard. We were glad to have just eaten, because they were generous with their pouring. The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. They waived the $5 tasting fee with purchase (some bottles were on sale for as low as $16!). We left very happy with a bottle each of pinot noir and pinot gris, both tasty and affordable.

toulouse vineyard barrels
Toulouse wine tasting

We parked back at the hotel, and with a frisbee in one hand, ice cream cone in the other, walked to the Anderson Valley Brewing Company Brew House to taste some beers. We tried all the ones we'd never had and Jeff was extremely fond of the Bourbon Barrel Stout, which is aged for three months in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels.

Anderson Valley from the Boonville Ukiah road
Anderson Valley Brewing company brewhouse beer tasting

Arms full of bottles in brown paper bags, we walked back to the hotel for eats.

furry flowers in the sun
enjoying a beer at the boonville hotel

We dined at Table 128, the hotel's in-house restaurant. It was the best meal of my life.

It started with a bite of shiitake mushroom in puff pastry and a complimentary splash of rosé...Then there was a curried cauliflower soup with savory bread salsa crumbs and romesco sauce drizzled on top...A mixed baby green salad with slices of blood orange, ricotta salata, savory candied pecans and an apple balsamic vinaigrette...Roast duck leg over shiitake, farro grain and black olive topped with a fennel and fava bean tapenade...And lastly, early strawberry and rhubarb shortcake with warm cream sauce and orange caramel.

All of the flavors were so clear and developed. The soup was simultaneously subtle and surprising. I wanted a whole lot more of the salad, and I could have licked my duck plate clean. The textures were spot on, everything was cooked to perfection. And my shortcake came out with a candle on top.

I went to bed feeling filled to the brim, filled with delicious food, with love, beauty, peace, all those cheesy things and awoke Sunday morning to birds chirping. Great weekend. I'd do it all again.

Wine Tasting at Nickel & Nickel | Napa County, CA

Nickel and Nickel winery
Josh and Katie in Napa
horses at nickel and nickel
winery barn
bare beams blue sky
Joshua drinking wine
red barn Nickel and Nickel
Nickel and Nickel farmhouse and palm
daffodils in the dust
st helena storefronts
panama hat reflection
cutting boards through the window
friends in a bar
smiling katie
katie looking down
josh in a bar
bar stool in the light
Jeffery in a bar
beer and broken iphone

Great friends. Perfect light. Old barns and old trees. Beautiful equipment. Fresh air. Green grass and sunny daffodils. Window shopping. New hat. Cold beers.

We spent 29 hours out of town and it was incredible. Nickel and Nickel is stunning and we learned a lot about winemaking. But I sill prefer beer. And it's particularly nice to have one in a bar with twinkle lights and seating, where you can carry on a conversation and put your feet up. Thank you Josh and Katie for sharing it with us. Here's to many more weekends.

A Night in Marin

ranunculus
round table and windows
marin hills view
marshall california
daffodils in marshall
tomales bay oyster company view
tomales bay eucalyptus
tomales bay house on a hill
tomales bay fence green

I love how the colors of Tomales Bay are mirrored in the bark of of the eucalyptus trees surrounding it.

We spent a really nice weekend in Marin, where Marina was house sitting a beautiful ranch home on the top of a hill. Despite waking at three in the morning to a smoke-filled house from a forgotten chicken carcass simmering on the stove, we had a really nice time. And everything turned out ok. A few hours later we got to enjoy the sunrise and had a nice breakfast of french toast and leftover roasted fingerlings sauteed with onions and apples.

And we drove home via Tomales Bay, which my poor deprived husband had never seen before. California, you're so beautiful, especially in the spring.

An Update

marina's pearl earring
sushi

Life is good. I feel really happy. I love being a nanny. I love that I get to watch the sunset with my girls every day instead of being trapped inside from noon to nine. I love that I get asked questions like "are fairies real?" and that we have dance parties. They love my crazy dancing. And I'm taking them to swim every week. I missed being in the water. I taught swimming lessons all through high school and it's one of the things I'm best at. Not to boast, but I am also really good at reading aloud, and we do a lot of that. Most of all, I love that there are so many moments in my day that I appreciate.

And I love that I get weekends off.

Today was our first soccer practice of the season and it feels amazing to be playing again. I am always so pleasantly surprised by how playing again after not playing for awhile makes me feel so happy and alive. It was a glorious day in Golden Gate Park, and it made me appreciative once again of being a Californian. Marina drove me to practice and sat in the sun while we played, and then we went out to sushi for lunch, followed by pedicures. I walked barefoot through the park to get to the de Young, so not to mess up my toes. I felt like a kid, and it felt good. The ground was freezing in the shade, reminding me that it's February. The Girl with a Pearl Earring was sold out, but we did get to see my handsome husband, working his second to last day. Tomorrow is his last, and then we get to have weekends off together, for the first time ever. It feels momentous. Like the beginning of our lives as real people. I can't believe he has been working 6-7 days a week since August. What a champion.

Tomorrow I have a photo shoot with a beautiful family that I met at the girls' Karate class. Toehead curls, freckled noses, and long eyelashes, 3 1/2 year old sister, 5 year old brother. I am stoked to have have found something that I love doing so much that I will get out of bed early for, on a Sunday morning, for free. I am building my portfolio and I know it will take time. I am patient. It feels right.

On Tuesday my parents arrive for a few days. So dinners with them, which is exciting. There are a lot of upcoming things I'm looking forward to, which is the best feeling. For a long time it felt like we were just trying to get through things, and I can endure a lot, for a long time. Now, for the first time in ten years, we are living.

Maile at Maku'u Market | Hilo Hawaii Child Photographer

little girl farmers market

I met up with Miss Maile and her momma at the Maku'u Farmer's Market on one of my last mornings in Hawaii to snap some photos, and I am really excited with how they tuned out.

fresh face farmer's market
ready for the day
baby girl farmer's market
waiting for a pickle
pickle at the farmers market
little girl waiting
little girl with a pickle
little girl smiling
happy baby
little girl profile
standing and holding
round face baby girl
upside down smiley girl
little girl with bagel
little blonde baby girl
blonde baby girl at farmer's market
little girl blue dress
baby eating bagel
momma holding baby
little girl big world
knee level
papayas in the background
little hand papayas
holding the basket
tired puppy
girl with anthurium
little girl close up

The light was incredible, and Maile was such a willing little model. It was so much fun, and I can't wait to do more photo shoots with little ones. Thank you Sarah and Maile!

Photography Final Project | My Grandmother the Painter

grandmother painting
selecting paints
old woman paint brushes
silhouette woman painting
wrinkled arm painting
masterpiece woman painter
pause painting with cat
work in progress
inspecting subject
wrinkled arm
shallow depth of field
close up

For my photography class final project I shot a series of portraits of Marina painting. I am very pleased with the final product. I had them printed as full frame 5x7s with white boarders and matted them on 11x15 black mat board. We had a potluck lunch on the final day to present our work, and I invited Marina to come. She baked a pear frangipane tart, and was a big hit, as always. I am so lucky she's mine.