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Remember spring swaps snow for leaves

March 10, 2015



Daffodil Hill has always been a special place for me. Yes, I had never been there until this year, but I’ve always wanted to walk along the rows of yellow, orange and peach flowers fluttering in the wind. For four weeks a year (during a good year), the McLaughlin family opens the doors of their family ranch to visitors who love to see the beautiful blossoms breaking through the ground.


Last year, Ryan and I went up to the area before Daffodil Hill opened, so I could write a story about Daffodil Hill and other stops people can have on their way to the flower fields. We hiked through a cave, went to Volcano, the cute little town near Daffodil Hill, and even visited Fiddletown, which had a giant fiddle on top of the community center.  We intended to go back to see the flowers but then a hail storm damaged all of the flowers in late March, ending the season early. The typical season usually goes from mid-March and ends in mid-April but this year with the drought, the flowers came up early so they opened the ranch in February.

So we decided to take off a Monday (the weekends are usually packed) and drove through the windy roads of Amador County. We stopped in Sutter Creek for lunch and a quick walk through town.

We arrived at the ranch to see the thousands of flowers scattered around the property. It was a relaxing day smelling the flowers, strolling the rows and watching kids squeal with delight at the peacocks and the flowers. We can’t wait to go back next weekend. Here are some more pics, edited by the talented Ryan:




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29 before 29

January 2, 2014


Happy New Year! Today I’m sipping coffee, petting Willie, my parent’s pup, hanging with my mom and enjoying the newly fallen snow back in Missouri. This space has been dormant for much longer than I ever intended, but part of it could be because I’ve been so busy enjoying all the wonderful events of 2013. I got a new job working for the San Francisco Chronicle and have been developing my editing and design skills. I’ve celebrated with friends who have moved on to new jobs, started grad schools, got engaged and had the sweetest of babies. I bought a tent (and used it!), mastered paddleboarding and attended my first outdoor music festival (hello Pitchfork). I baked my first pie from scratch, became a donkey sitting master and pushed myself farther than I could ever imagine at a morning boot camp. But along the way, I’ve really missed chronicling all of it on a blog.

So I thought I’d kick off the New Year right with my new 29 before 29 list. I’m hoping as I accomplish these personal goals throughout the year, I will get back into posting regularly here and reconnecting with the blogging spirit! So here’s the list. I definitely will need some help from friends!

29 Before 29 (Deadline: Dec. 27, 2014)

— Bake a loaf of bread from scratch: Now that I have a KitchenAid, it’s time to get baking.

— Go to Yosemite: I know, I know. I’ve lived in California for five years and have never made it to Yosemite. I feel like there could be multiple trips in my future.

— Make a necklace for myself every month: I always craft jewelry for everyone else, but rarely make something that I end up keeping for myself. But I’m ready to upgrade my own jewelry collection with some pieces.

— Renew my passport.

— Take a skiing lesson. As a flat lander, I’ve only been skiing three or four times, so I’d like to at least try it a couple of times so I can conquer the bunny hill.

— Welcome a group of friends into my home once every two months: Sometimes I can be nervous about opening up my home (Will there be enough chairs? Do I have time to prepare a meal? Are the window sills clean?)But I need to embrace the Kinfolk aesthetic of grabbing some cheese, some bread and a bottle of wine and everyone is guaranteed to have fun.

—Take a cooking class: I’m thinking Cheese 101.

— Go to a Cardinals game, preferably two: one in San Francisco and one in St. Louis.

— Purchase and learn to use my Canon camera (finally!).

— Go horseback riding: I’ve never actually done this aside from pony rides.

— Cook with six new veggies/fruits, preferably from the farmers market.

— Use the library’s new Spanish language software to relearn basic words.

— Kayak or paddleboard in at least one new location. I’m feeling like a Tahoe camping trip might be a perfect opportunity.

— Discover a new writer.

— Hand write a letter a month, even if it is just a post card.

— Learn how to can or jar something.

— Create a Super 8 video. Preferably of a road trip.

— Purchase supplies to be able to whip up three different cocktails for guests. I already have whisky drinks covered. Maybe margaritas and a decadent vodka cocktail.

— Go to a play.

— Make and hang a piece of artwork in my home. Maybe one using paint store sample.

— Scale down my bloggers on Bloglovin’ and make it a point to read it once a week. It just makes me so happy.

— Try the Ripped class at the gym.

— Make and print an Artifact Uprising photo book.

— Cook one recipe from The Kinfolk Table every month. I’ve never been so excited about a cookbook!

— Go to Daffodil Hill. I’ve wanted to do this every year but always seem to miss the season. It’s in March. I will make it this year.

— Take a beading/jewelry class to learn a new skill.

— Try 12 new beers.

— Volunteer at least five times.

— Give thanks daily with a thanks jar. I’m a horrible daily journaler. I’ll forget it when I go on weekend trips and it’s just hard for me to keep up-to-date with this. I’m hoping this is a way to start thinking about gratitude every day. My plan is to write on post-its, scraps of paper, maybe some cute scrapbooking pages every night and stick them in the jar (or save them until I return to the jar. Then, at the end of the year, it will be great to look back on all the things that I appreciated throughout the year. I’m hoping to get friends and family to help me write them too so they also can share the thankful feeling.

California, here we come!

December 2, 2012


This has been a wonderful year for seeing some of my favorite people. Adam and his lovely lady, Suzy, visited me in March, one of my dearest friends since preschool, Mandy, got married to her college sweetheart, Billy. And I was able to revisit my college town, Columbia, Missouri, with two of my favorite dudes — Jake and Mike.


Plus, I’m going to visit my friend Beena — after four dang years of not seeing each other — her husband, Daniel, and her cute newborn, Ashoka John Green, when I go home for Christmas!

So when I found out my bestie from college, Abbeebee, was heading west to spend a week seeing all the wonderful sights in California, I was ecstatic. Having spent more than four years out here, I frequently tell her about all of the wonderful friends and people I have met. It was so great for her to get to see Lodi, Sacramento, the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the City by the Bay. We spent the week with such a good mix of fun activities and relaxing down time. Here are the highlights from Lodi and Sacramento and then, I’ll do a whole post on our last three days of tourist activities.

We started the week off right with a late night In-and-Out Burger run straight from the airport. Because what’s more California than that place.


The next day we rented some kayaks and headed out to Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River with my friend, Andrea. We took tall boys to drink (classy!) and then after that we went to dinner at Chili’s, which is kind of our place (classy again!)


We saw several wonderful license plates, including our favorite saying and Abby’s initials.

License plates

We went to The Dancing Fox, ate blue cheese pizza and drank coffee (sometimes you need weird combinations like that), and visited with my friend, Sara.


And we spent part of a day wine tasting. Lodi has dozens of tasting rooms, both in Downtown and at wineries in the area. We talked about ice wine at Jeremy Wine Co. and then went to Oak Farm Vineyards, where I have never been to taste before. We even took a little walk to check out their beautiful property.






We then spent an evening and a lazy morning with Lauren at her aunt’s house where she was housesitting. I was so incredibly excited for these two important ladies in my life to meet and to enjoy some downtime on the farm.







For the first time, Abbeebee made scrambled eggs with farm fresh eggs. They were delicious.



Puss Puss, the cat, really liked Abby and was excited to have another member added to her staff (since your only job while housesitting there is to make sure this sweetheart is content).



Then, we drove up to Sacramento and spent a night out at some of my favorite bars. It was so nice to have girl talk. The third place we went actually had metal detectors they waved up and down us before we went in. I said, welcome to California!



The next day we brunched in the warm California sun with blood orange mimosas at The Shack, Abby got to check out the Mercantile Saloon with Patrick and Paul and we walked around the Capitol and the International World Peace Rose Garden.




On the last Sacramento day, we enjoyed grilled chicken and veggies on the grill with Patrick and Paul and their pups. The first couple of days were a relaxing way to start a vacation.



A lovely life: Fall edition

November 21, 2012

This morning I am sipping coffee, listening to the water drain from last night’s rain and petting a purring sitting under my chair. It feels like a moment of peace has been a  long time coming. This has been a month of extremes: a weekend chalked full of kayaking and going to a concert at a local bar and then a weekend of food poisoning and Netflix.

Fall has arrived and every where I look the colors are dazzling. After reading blogs for two months about fall starting everywhere but California, I say it’s about time.

I handmade some cinnamon apple dumplings.

And I spotted crab apples for the first time.

Realizing that sunlight is now precious after the time change (literally Lauren and I both had days where we didn’t see the sun at all at work), we have built little outings into our day-to-day routine. We eat lunch at Lodi Lake and have started our afternoon walks again where we look for treasures, like campers.

Last week, I talked with my wonderful friend, Beena, who just gave birth to a beautiful son named Ashoka John. I am so glad mom,  dad and baby are healthy and happy. I put together a little package for him, and I loved thinking about their brand new family while shopping. He is the cutest, and I cannot wait to meet him and read “Goodnight Moon,” my favorite childhood book.

Lauren and Dan won an award for a story they worked on about one of our newspaper carriers, Jeff Kooyman. This week everyone was finally in the same place to take a picture with the plaque. I was so excited for both of them to be recognized for their amazing talent, and I was also excited for Jeff because he was so proud to be featured. If you haven’t read the story and watched the video, you should take a look.

I started a new planner that I love, love, love and Lauren made me a cute little bottle for my desk.

My friends Christy and Dan came down from Sacramento for some fall kayaking with Andrea and Mike, and we went to catch the last little bit of  the cranes flying in. Kayaking is quickly becoming one of my favorite weekend activities. I still need to develop the photos from my instant camera. (Photo courtesy of Dan)

The next day, Sara and I went to the Whiskey Barrel Saloon for an AC/DC Tribute band. So much hair. So much hair. I really love the feel of this bar.

And then food poisoning. But at least I had Katie and Dan’s animals to nap with me every afternoon, and I caught up on Parks and Recreation.

And also, FaceTiming with animals. During a much needed conversation with the lovely Abby, her cat, Gulliver, was able to meet I-Lean for the first time. He was so happy he yawned. Later that day, my dog Willie and I said hello. He always sniffs the air while I’m talking. This for sure helped speed up the healing process.

So in short, life has been really wonderful lately. Happy Thanksgiving!

I chalked a line south down the coast.

November 14, 2012

Today I’m simultaneously dreaming of a cozy weekend listening to the rain fall and the heat of sunshine on bare legs at the beach. California can be funny like that. One day a couple months ago, Lauren and I needed to get out of town. So we grabbed our warmest sweatshirts and headed to the coast. Growing up travelling to beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, it still is weird to put on layers and layers to head to the water.

The day started at Half Moon Bay with clouds and a chill. We sat on the beach, listening to the roll of the waves, reading books and watching people pitch kites up into the air.

We brought a cute little picnic lunch in a cooler and enjoyed it on the beach on a blanket with oh-so-colorful plates. My hair  also became a lovely mess.

Once the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds, we walked up and down the beach, letting the water tickle our feet and ankles, not daring to wade much deeper than that. There was hardly anyone out along our walk, with the exception of a relaxed horse back rider and a few sun bathers.

After we left the beach, we headed into town to see the sights of Half Moon Bay. It was the little details I appreciated in this town from the carved shop signs to the flowers blooming in unexpected places to the general store where we picked up homemade salad dressing and jam.

We stopped at a cute restaurant where I had delicious vegan shrimp cakes, greek salad, hummus and pita bread. It was a nice way to unwind from the beach (yes, even the beach can zap the energy out of you). You should check out Lauren’s blog on the trip too. Once we head into winter, I will be ready to head back to this little town again.

Somewhere beyond the sea.

October 26, 2012

On a breezy afternoon, Miss Lauren and I left her family after hiking through Jacks Peak and headed to the sea. This was one of my favorite trips to the ocean, even though it was fairly short. We took so many photos, I collected stones and shells from the beach and we hopped from stone to stone finding treasure in each of the tidal pools.

One of my favorite parts of Monterey is the surrounding hills that surround the Bay. In this area, there was an abundance of succulents, scary cliffs that overlooked the waves crashing on the rocks and strikingly purple flowers.

Succulents as far as the eye can see.

Cliffs have always frightened me. Not being a fan of heights, I have to keep both feet firmly planted on the rock as I ease my way forward, but I finally leaned over the edge.

We found a secret staircase. We walked down it to discover some rotting seaweed.

Flowers abounded. I’m ready to head back right now.

We’ll be hiking to the euphoric heights.

October 24, 2012

Every year in the spring time, right when the weather begins to change, everyone in the Central Valley starts to feel the pull of the coast (I realize we are currently heading into fall, but a girl can dream and reminisce, right?)

After a chilly winter and a rainy season, regardless of how short it sometimes seems, it just feels good to strap on some walking shoes and enjoy some scenery. Luckily, every year, as Easter rolls around, my lovely friend Lauren and her family invite me on their Easter hike. (You may remember this post from the Pinnacles, one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in California). This year, when Lauren said we were going to Monterey, I knew we were in for a treat.

We spent the morning hiking through Jacks Peak, which provided sweeping views of the surrounding hills, the ocean and of the large beachfront town, where anyone would be lucky to live.

The hike was not too strenuous and in typical Lauren and Maggie style, we stopped at every possible opportunity to take a photo.

Lauren’s mom even brought her special hiking shoes and proceeded to taunt me with them, knowing how much I hate things between my toes.

We even met some friendly little creatures along the way. Lauren and I got mildly (OK majorly) obsessed with a caterpillar we found on the picnic table where we had a picnic.

And of course, what is a hike through the woods without meeting a banana slug.

Up next is our day at the beach.

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