Today I turn 26. And I am realizing that for the past four years, since graduating college and moving back from England (which felt like a fantasy the entire time), my day-to-day has felt like I'm not yet living my life. At first it was me paying my dues, working my way up, and that it would all pay off. I just had to be patient. 

When I was working retail I knew it was temporary. After a particularly challenging day dealing with trying customers I would remind myself that this isn't my life, it's a job and it's only a matter of time before I'm out of here. The "regulars" who came into our store day after day and drove us crazy, this was their life (and I pitied them), but it wasn't mine. (Some of our regulars were absolutely lovely, most were absolutely crazy.)

After our first apartment on 19th Avenue in San Francisco, I haven’t since decorated another (maybe I’m just not that into decorating?). They have all felt so temporary, and they have been. We have lived in seven different places in eight years. And we are so ready to move again, and this time plant our roots. 

And now, working in other people's beautiful homes and taking care of their beautiful children, I think, this isn't my life, it's theirs. And most of the time it's a beautiful life, and I'm happy for them, (and happy to be employed by them), and I'm not envious because I know mine is going to be even more beautiful for me. 

When we're in Hawaii, we're living the life my parents have created for themselves, and it's a beautiful escape from the real world. But it's their life not ours. 

I guess I feel like my life will start when I'm a mom. When I’m taking care of my own children, instead of someone else’s. When I’m making the decisions, instead of following directions. When I’m photographing my own babies, as well as yours. Or maybe it will start when we have a home where we can do all of the things we've been dreaming about for years. And those dreams have evolved.

When we were in England we dreamed of living in downtown San Francisco and getting a dog. And that place turned out to be the least livable of all, and definitely not dog-worthy. Now we dream of acreage in the country. Of fruit trees and daffodils, succulents and a clothesline and fresh herbs and barbecue dinners, of star gazing and hiking in the mountains. Room for our dog to run. Room for our kids to run.

I've always looked forward to the future, to being older, wiser, more capable, more experienced. Which is why, I think, it keeps getting better. I hope I always feel that way, but I also hope I can one day be more content with the present. 

25 was a great year. I started my own photography business. It was the one of the most intimate learning experience of my life. I had to grapple with a lot of tough questions, mostly on my own. At times I was so overwhelmed with what I didn't know that I couldn’t even ask for help, I just had to battle through it until I came out the other end and could breathe again. And that was a lonely place to be. I learned that I need to be better at asking for help. I never ask a question that will expose my ignorance on the topic. It’s because I want to be taken seriously. But I know it’s in that place of vulnerability where the growth happens. I’m trying to let down my walls. 

Right now we're saving. We want to make the move as soon as possible. Maybe nine months, maybe 18. Hopefully no longer than a year or two. It's going to happen. Maybe 26 is the year. Maybe 27. This is the final stretch of this chapter, I can feel it. And I’m looking forward to the next ones. How sweet they’ll be. 


Dead Flowers and Starting a Business


The last flowers I purchased from the farmer's market didn't hang around very long, they started to turn before I could photograph them in their prime. I gave myself a challenge to take some beautiful photos of some not-so-beautiful subjects, and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. It's amazing how far good lighting and perspective can get you, they looked a lot father gone in person.

I've been going 100 mph lately; outside my two nanny jobs I've dedicated almost every free hour towards developing my photography business. I just ordered business cards with my new url, so that feels good. Every person I talk to about it has some valuable insight that makes me stretch and grow, and I need to not be afraid to continue reaching out as much as possible. Yesterday I sat in the shade at the Tilden Park Golf club while Jeffery was at the driving range and I brainstormed business ideas. I had a couple realizations:

  • o not be afraid to ask people you know for help. They want you to succeed and will be flattered that you thought of them.


  • Do not be afraid of what you don't know. It is ok to show vulnerability, it is much better than arrogance.

So it's time to reach out to other photographers and earn all that I can. It's also time to jump in and start taking photos for people, as many people as possible. I announced on my facebook page that I am offering free family sessions to new clients. If you know of anyone in the Bay Area that may be interested, please pass my info along! It's a scary thing, putting so much of myself into something that will eventually be my livelihood, but it is also completely worth it.

I also need to thank Jeffery for making sure I take a break and walk away, get some fresh air (drink a beer) and gain some fresh perspective. (And he looks really cute swinging a golf club.) We had a good weekend. The perfect mix of productivity and relaxation. And for dinner tonight we made fried chicken, cornbread, and kale sauteed with olive oil, garlic, capers and tomato. Delicious. On to Monday.


Berkeley Rose Garden

white climbing roses fragrant Berkeley Rose Garden
Berkeley Rose Garden full bloom
beautiful roses berkeley rose garden
rose glowing from behind
berkeley rose garden amphitheater
five petal variety rose
roses climbing tennis courts

The Berkeley Rose Garden is in full bloom. If you have never been, go. Any time between now and September. Go play a game of tennis, there are four courts and always at least one open. Take some kids to explore and splash in the creek (there's an enormous cement slide across the street at Codornices Park). Go to read a book, meditate, exercise. Or go to smell the roses.

My grandmother introduced me to the garden last August when I took her portrait for my photography class. It was the first time I had ever taken anyone's portrait. Taking that class was one of the best things I've ever done. It pretty much blew my world open. So much good has come.

P.S. She also modeled for my photography class final project. You can see those images here.

Taking Steps Towards Happiness

pretties rose
happy kitty
light on a beautiful woman
wisteria on a fence

In the last year Jeffery and I have made some changes that have directly influenced our overall happiness.

We moved from San Francisco to Oakland. We traded a tiny, expensive apartment in a crappy neighborhood for a larger, less expensive, brighter apartment (with a washing machine!) in a less crappy neighborhood.

We both changed jobs, and no longer serve the public. Before, we both worked retail, had to work late hours, never got weekends off together, and had to deal with disgruntled adults. Why are there so many unhappy adults out there treating other people poorly?

Less crack heads. I went from dozens of daily crack head interactions to zero.

I started nannying. I get to spend my days in sun drenched living rooms and lovely neighborhoods. I take my girls on walks and to the park and the zoo and the rose garden and I get to point out the beautiful things in the world as they remind me of the beautiful things in the world. And I get to have a big impact on a few lives rather than a small impact on many.

We adopted a kitten. Our intention was to give Batman a friend. And it worked. The little guy is a constant source of entertainment and affection. I have always wanted a kitty that comes to me for lovin, and this one never quits. The boys roughhouse constantly, and as a result Batman is skinnier, less languid, and more frisky. It was watching Batman roll around on the ground last night that made me realize how much happier we all are.

We are making more money. So we can afford to take vacations and stay in nice places. We can eat out with our friends. And buy expensive cheese. We can purchase cool grown up toys. We can save towards our future.

I am working less hours with no commute and I have more time for photography and more time for me. I am making my dream a reality.

This blog just turned two, and I am really glad I have it for a place of reflection. A place to share our adventures. It really is amazing how much can happen in a year. Thank you for your readership.

(The photos above were taken on walks around Oakland and Berkeley. That pretty Siamese isn't ours. The red gingham dress belongs to my beautiful friend, Nicole.)

Temescal Farmer's Market

Temescal Farmer's Market
happy boy farms produce
carrots at the farmer's market
chives fresh farmers market produce
children dancing to music at the farmer's market
strawberries at the farmers market
farmer's market booth produce flowers
dutch irises in buckets
wrapping ranunculus
kitty sniffing flowers
kitty and ranunculus
ranunculus mini multicolored

Open Sundays year 'round, from 9 to 1. Live music, hot food. Affordable local and organic produce, beautiful flowers, and I can walk there.

I can't get enough of those little carrots. They are really nice roasted whole with parsnips and a protein of choice. Also, right now cauliflower is amazing. I made cauliflower mac 'n [three] cheese[s] tonight, which was a hit.

Jeff is pretty excited about basketball playoffs, the Warriors are putting on a show. We went into the city Friday night and caught the game at Yancy's Saloon, the sports bar where I celebrated my 21st birthday, and it was packed. Pizza, beer and donuts for dinner. It was really nice spending the evening in the city, I think we're going to have to do it more often.

This weekend was really beautiful. Feeling blessed.

East Bay Roses | Looking Forward

These roses were blooming down the street from the house of the girls I watch in Berkeley.

berkeley roses
english garden rose
full garden roses wide open
berkeley rose

And these were blooming a block away from the little girls I watch in North Oakland.

ombre roses
ombre rose
pink tipped roses in the sky
pink tipped roses white picket fence
pink and white garden roses picket fence

Ombre garden roses, dark wooden fence, white picket fence, it doesn't get much better.

I've been nursing a pretty nasty cold for a week now. I had to miss my soccer game today, which is a bummer. But after breakfast Jeffery and I might take a drive up to the top of Mount Tam, I've never been before. And my parents will be here in a week! We're having a Russian Easter celebration with family and friends next weekend, and the weekend after that I am photographing another birthday party. The niece of one of my best friends is turning one! And then it's mother's day and Jeff's birthday and then we might go camping for Memorial Day. After that we're off to Grass Valley for our friend's wedding, and then up to Willits for Jeff's ten year high school reunion. I get some time off mid June, and I'm planning on taking a road trip to Colorado with a friend. Time is going by very fast, and we have so many things to look forward to in the next few months. I'm also thinking about getting a new lens, which would probably make all of those experiences even better. :)


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 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.


pear blossom

I had two photo shoots fall through on Sunday, and it's a new lesson for me. Working as a photographer there will be setbacks. Kids get sick. It will rain. I just have to persevere.

So Jeff and I went and test drove a Mazda 3 and then took a walk. Pretty good day. And I spent most of Friday and Saturday with friends. I have really amazing friends. More on that soon. Over all, feeling lucky to be where we are right now.

Climbing Hills

kitty scoping out wildflower bouquet
daffodils from above
california spring wildflower bouquet

My friend Jeannine and I went for a hike in the Berkeley hills, up behind the Claremont Hotel, and I came home with a bouquet of wildflowers. It felt so good to be surrounded by nature. Especially when the hillside is littered with Scotch Broom, wild Lupine, Indian Paintbrush, Forget-Me-Nots, and sweet pea. Mr. Curious was all over them, making me realize that this is his first spring, and he's never smelled wildflowers before. How exciting.

The daffodils were grown by Marina. I'm pretty sure the woman brings me most of the flowers she grows, along with those she forages. What a peach. Favorite things right now: flowers in my home, curious little kitties, hiking mountains. In the next couple weeks I have a few photo shoots with humans, which I'm really looking forward to. Not that anyone ever tires of looking at flowers and kitties.

Can't Get Enough

apple tree blossoms and houses
raindrops roses apple tree blossoms
pink apple blossoms

I can't get enough of Berkeley in the spring. Flowering trees really do something for me. It rained in the middle of the week, and after that everything felt fresh and new. The other day I was without a vehicle and had to walk in the rain. It was so beautiful that I felt really lucky for the opportunity. Californians use the rain as an excuse to stay indoors. But the world looks so different when everything is covered in water droplets and the light is diffused through a grey sky. I wish I had my camera. (I took the rose photo with my iPhone.) It puts things in perspective. Yesterday was bright and blue, clear and warm. We had nothing big planned for this weekend, so we got to do some furniture shopping, some fridge stocking, some lounging in front of basketball games on the TV, impromptu lunch dates and hanging out with the kitties. Domestic bliss.