Carmel By The Sea

There are few more scenic regions of the United States than Northern California.  Meg and I spent 3 glorious days driving through and photographing the California Coastline, visiting Carmel and driving along Big Sur.  As a mother, life doesn’t get much sweeter. As an amateur photographer, even my limited skills are bound to capture some of the beauty of the area.

This photograph of the bluffs, the water and the sky , is my favorite photograph from the trip.

Carmel

Carmel

Evening in Carmel has its own beauty.  The softer colors of the sun and sky at dusk are worth experiencing.

Sunset in Carmel

The Green Lantern was a bed and breakfast located an easy walking distance from the ocean and the downtown restaurants. Definitely a great place for mother-daughter bonding.

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Graffiti Marathon: 40th Street and Broadway

On the East side of Broadway, at 40th Street, there is a significant stretch of wonderful graffiti.  Begin at the Open Fire Wood Burning Pizza shop.  The front and South sides of the building have a wonderful mural identified as “GATS Coast to Coast 2013”.  The reference to GATS sent me to the internet.  GATS (Graffiti Against the System) identifies a California street artist whose paintings are found throughout the country as well as European countries including Portugal, Germany, Italy and England.  While s/he claims to paint illegally, I cannot imagine many of these murals would be in existence without the approval of the property owners.

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Follow the mural into the adjacent parking lot behind the Highway 420 Smoke Shop.  There you will discover another series of panels created by  different artists.

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Much to my surprise, graffiti continues beyond the South edge of the parking lot through a stretch of alley that extends East to Central.

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More to come:  Graffiti under construction on 39th East of Broadway.

Jane visits California

We had so much fun while Jane was in town! I made sure she got to see all the important places, well, at least the ones you can fit into a 48-hour visit.

Meg and Jane at Bodega Headlands

We first walked around downtown Petaluma, went in all the antique shops and furniture stores. After lunch at Petaluma Pie Co., we drove out to my favorite spot at the Bodega Headlands.

Meg, Jane and Auntie in front of the mission at Cline Cellars

The next day we went to Della Fattoria for brunch to gear up for the day. We met Auntie and Tio at Cline, where Jane tasted a broad range of wines, and then we toured the grounds while walking her through our wedding day in 2010. After reenacting the big day, we all ventured over to Sonoma for a birthday BBQ, and then finished off the evening with truffle fries from EDK.

Meg and Jane, having a good time!

It was a pretty fabulous 2 days!

Happy Birthday Jane, I hope you’ll come back and visit us again soon:)

The redheaded McCollister women are at it again!

Auntie Carol and Meg enjoying the sun outside at the Cline Pendulum Club.

Auntie Carol and Meg, enjoying the sun outside at the Cline Pendulum Club.

Relaxing in the sun, drinking some delicious wine, tasting the yumminess of truffle, and enjoying the company of our handsome hubbies. What a great way to spend a Saturday!

Tio and Jake, enjoying wine on the patio.

Tio and Jake, enjoying wine on the patio.

EDK truffle fries, the most amazing thing you ever taste in downtown Sonoma.

EDK truffle fries, the most amazing thing you’ll ever taste in downtown Sonoma.

#BecauseWeLiveHere

A music-filled Sunday afternoon at Rancho Nicasio

There are many things that are completely fabulous about living in California, and spending a Sunday afternoon listening to cajun music at Rancho Nicasio is definitely one of them! Last weekend, we had the pleasure of joining some of our favorite folks out at the ranch, listening to cajun/zydeco music out on the lawn and eating some delicious bbq. What a way to spend the day!

The two groups playing that day were Flambeau, with fiddler Tom Rigney, and Beausoleil, with fiddler Michael Doucet. Auntie tells me both of these gentlemen are two of the best, if not THE best fiddlers in the world. Lucky for me, I got to see them both for the first time on the very same stage!

It was a lovely afternoon, hopefully something we’ll get to do again in the very near future. Thank you to Auntie and Tio for extending my fabulous birthday celebration with this amazing outing! – MB:)

Just another Saturday in Sonoma

Jake and I finally had a Saturday to ourselves this weekend, so we tried to come up with something wonderful and exciting to do. We were a little too exhausted to go on a new adventure, so instead we decided to do one of our favorite standby activities…head into Sonoma, drink some wine, and eat some truffle fries.

First we stopped at Cline Cellars, where we got married back in May 2010. We finished off our tasting with their Late Harvest Mourvèdre. It was a port-style red, paired with bittersweet chocolate chunks. Absolutely delicious!

After our tasting, we walked around the Cline grounds. We stopped at the fountain near the courtyard where we were married, and then the courtyard itself.

When we left Cline, we headed to downtown Sonoma, where we met our friend John at the Roche Tasting Room. Since we’re members at Roche, we do go there on the occasional Saturday afternoon. Today, we were delighted to see both John and Harry, who are always a joy to be around and very knowledgeable about wine. And of course, the day would not be complete without El Dorado Kitchen’s truffle fries.

Jake was feeling particularly adventurous at this point, so he decided to order a new favorite called a “Moscow Mule.” It has vodka, lime juice and ginger beer, and it is very refreshing. Mostly, I like the fact that it comes in a copper mug, and I thought it made for a great photo.

It was a great afternoon. I think sometimes we work so hard that we need to remember all the wonderful things to do in the area, and all the joys there are to experience. As we walked along the square, I looked over at one point and saw Jake leaning against the wall, happy as a clam. We really do love living here!

Good Morning Petaluma

I went for an early morning run the other day, right along the fence line on the east side of Petaluma. With everything going on lately, I find my morning runs to be the most relaxing.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was coming up, the birds were chirping, and even the cows gave me a “good morning” nod as I passed by. I took this photo from my phone, right along my favorite running trail. It was a beautiful start to a beautiful day.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Springtime in Petaluma

It is cloudy in Petaluma today, but you can still feel spring in the air. The flowers are blooming, the air is warming up, and the scent of fresh-cut grass looms under your nose. Spring is definitely here, and our backyard is finally starting to show it.

Down the street, there are a few beautiful blooming trees. I couldn’t resist playing with my camera for these.

What a beautiful afternoon.

Petaluma City of Lights – Driving Tour 2011

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

The holidays are fast approaching, and one thing I have missed about Kansas City is the cold weather and snow reminding you it is almost time for Christmas. Well, Petaluma may be in the mid-50s this time of year, but the nights are still very chilly, and this town sure does know how to put on a holiday display! One of the local papers puts out a driving map every year of the entrants for the holiday decorating contest. This year there are 16 resident entrants and 47 business entrants.

On Monday evening, Jake and I packed the kids (our greyhounds) up in the jeep, grabbed the 2011 driving tour map and some hot chocolate, and headed out the door. We spent almost 2 hours driving around looking at all the houses, and we didn’t even get to the business entrants! For every official resident entrant, there must have been 3-4 houses that did not enter the contest. They were all amazing. Some yards had nativity scenes, some had entire towns of snow people. One yard down the street had a whole ensemble of Acme characters dressed up for the holidays, and they were 4-5 feet tall!

The last place we visited was by far the most impressive. Courtesy of the Barnacle family, this house was filled with moving reindeer, a christmas tree, hundreds of lights, a full nativity scene, an entire mini Christmas town, and a flying Santa. Unbelievable! The mini town they built in their window was amazing. It even appears they secured a radio frequency to play a particular Christmas song to go along with their theme.

It was a wonderful way to get in the holiday spirit. Even the kids were having fun sticking their heads out the window and saying hello to all the people doing the same tour. We may not have snow in California, but we still manage to have amazing holiday spirit!

Petaluma’s Lighted Boats

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

As new locals to Petaluma, my husband and I have been trying to explore as much of our new surroundings as possible. It is truly an amazing experience to move from Kansas City to California, and every weekend we find something new and fun to “research.” Sometimes it’s a vineyard in the wine country, or a beach in Point Reyes National Park. This past weekend we decided to explore Petaluma’s “old town” (downtown), where we watched to annual Petaluma Lighted Boats on the river.

The boats were supposed to come up the river and into the turning basin (which is basically located in the middle of downtown) around 6:00 or 6:30pm on Saturday. We thought we would go downtown around 5:00pm, walk around a little bit, visit my new favorite furniture store, Roe & Co., and then wander over to the river walk to see the boats. Little did we know, it was going to be packed! We barely found a parking spot, and when we made our way to the river walk, we were fighting for a space to actually see the river. There must have been several thousand people wandering around. It was amazing!

Our next adventure will be to take the driving tour of Petaluma’s Lighted Houses and Businesses. I have to say, for a community without snow, Petaluma sure knows how to reign in the holiday spirit. It’s a wonderful place to be for our first Christmas season away from our hometown.