Road trip: Palm Springs

As I said before, we decided to tack on a side trip after the wedding. Brigid and Aaron generously invited us to stay at a friend’s vacation home in Palm Springs. At first I was a little hesitant to add more driving to our trip, but I’m so glad we did.

The drive from LA was not bad — a little over an hour — and the house was pretty darn nice with a pool and a hot tub.

Living in the bay area has made me a total wimp for heat. I don’t think I’ve felt 100+ degrees for a long time. Thank goodness for A/C.

Palm Springs is definitely an odd place, but we found ourselves kind of charmed by it. You have to love a place that is a combination of retirement homes, gay resorts, and midcentury modern furniture stores.

Every once in a while it’s also nice to be in a place with empty parking lots and very little traffic.

One place we definitely want to revisit is King’s Highway, the restaurant where we had breakfast one morning.

It’s part of the Ace Hotel, which is perhaps the coolest and most hipster place I’ve ever seen (coming from the bay area, that’s sayin’ something).

When you walk in, there is a huge oversized macramé display in the front window.

This guy was just above our booth.

The food is fantastic. Certainly an upgrade from what was once a Denny’s.

Brigid had blueberry pancakes and Mike had chilequiles.

I had eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and sourdough toast with homemade jam.

Next to the bathrooms there is a vending machine that sells really nice socks, among other things. You can rent a scooter while you’re there or play vinyl in your room. It is amazing.

After our breakfast we decided to check out another of Palm Springs’ main attractions, the aerial tramway that takes you up the side of a mountain.

It was a little terrifying for me, but I suppose it is the most direct way up the mountain. And the views up there are pretty amazing. You can see just how ridiculous it looks to build a city in the middle of a desert.

The babies did great. They are traveling pros.

I made Harper wear adorable shoes.

Once we got to the top, we decided to do a little hiking. We had our giant strollers with us, so it was not going to be any kind of extensive hike. But it was pretty back in the woods.

As with her first hike, Harper was zonked the whole time.

After that, we got in some more pool time. It felt so good after the heat of the day.

Harper loves the water, so she didn’t have any complaints. She mostly just kicked her little feet.

I have been wanting some good photos of us and I finally got a bunch of them. At least one of us is really photogenic.

The hot tub felt absolutely blissful at night. After months of stress, it was much needed.

The ride home was long, but went surprisingly well. Again, we stopped a bunch and tried to give Harper plenty of fresh air. Now we have to start getting ready for her first plane ride in July.

Joe and Sierra’s wedding

We decided before Harper was even born that her first big road trip would be to southern California for our friend Joe’s wedding. At the time, we had no idea how she would travel at 4 months old. And I stressed a lot about how bad that car ride could be. But it was actually not bad at all. The only time she really melted down was when we hit LA traffic. And at that point I wanted to cry too.

We took extra long stops so Harper could get out of the car seat for a while. We’re not used to traveling that way, but I have to say that I appreciated being able to relax more. We also realized that not being able to sleep in helps you make it out the door on time.

We stayed in a nice hotel (complete with Starbucks) in Hacienda Heights, which has a lot of great Asian restaurants nearby.

One lunch we got takeout Szechuan noodles and another time we tried pastries at the 85 Degree bakery, which came highly recommended.

Random note – I didn’t remember the faux palm tree towers last time we were in LA. This is a thing?

The wedding on Saturday turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. It was held at the bride Sierra’s grandfather’s house, Casa Gonzalez, which felt sort of like a secret garden type place. Everywhere you looked there were details that made it feel special — a goldfish pond, a giant birdcage, a clawfoot bathtub, even an old harp that became a flower display.

The vows were beautiful and poetic. These two make a great couple!

Joe’s mom tried to steal Harper a few times.

It was so nice to catch up with some college friends.

More on this later, but we decided to take a side trip with our friends Brigid and Aaron and their baby Aldo. You may remember them from the trip we took while Brigid and I were both pregnant.

Aldo’s favorite toy was a giant spoon, which I found hilarious. 

It was fun to put all of our kids together (Aldo, Harper, and almost 2-year-old Maya).

Maya danced circles around all of us at the reception. That girl’s got some energy.

The food was fab, too. Yummy appetizers followed by taco-truck-style tacos.

Weddings always give me a chance to reflect on my own relationship and feel grateful for the love I have in my life. I’m so pleased we got to go to this one!

Beach baby

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the good weather and go to the beach at Point Reyes. We went back to Limantour beach, the place where we saw the whales.

It was wiiindy out there, but it is so beautiful. Something about the sand dunes and tufts of beach grass is so idyllic it feels like a movie set or something. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Kansas, but it doesn’t seem real.

Thankfully Harper abided the car ride, which is more than an hour each way. She loves to be outside, so we made her a little tent out of a blanket and just hung out.

Didn’t see any whales this time, but we agreed that it would be fun to try the horseback riding thing sometime.

Sailing with the Shaws

One thing I’ve really wanted to do since we moved to the bay area was go sailing. Every weekend at the dog park we can see groups of sailboats in the distance and it always looks so fun. So I was really excited when Erin and Jason came to visit and we got to go sailing.

Erin’s aunt lives in Point Richmond and has a sailboat. It’s a beautiful older boat that they have been working to restore. She invited us to go out on the bay and I was able to get Mike to watch the baby while I finally got an outing.

Erin and I have been BFFs since we were dorky seventh graders. We used to dress in matching outfits and braid each other’s hair, resulting in crimped afros. We were awesome.

Still awesome after all these years. 

Anyway, sailing was amazing and I would love to learn more about it. I did have to take a Dramamine. The feeling of going over those rolling waves sort of reminded me of morning sickness. Imagine that for six weeks straight – ugh.

But onto better thoughts!

Erin and Jason appreciate good food and beer above all else, so we tried to show them some of our favorite places to eat and drink. We had pork mole, plantains, and guacamole at Talavera in Berkeley.

Saturday morning we headed to SF to show them the Ferry Building market. It was crazy crowded so we didn’t hang around too long.

The perfect image of San Francisco: Ferry Building, streetcar, homeless person’s cart.

Then we walked to North Beach so we could have Tony’s Pizza for lunch.

Banksy, I think.

I didn’t realize Tony’s doesn’t open until noon on Saturdays, but it was a good tactic to get there around 11:50 because we got a table as soon as they opened.

Ohhh, the lillet blanc fries.

Harper learns the merits of excellent pizza.

Later that day we tried to show Erin and Jason the Trappist, a really good Belgian beer bar in Oakland. But we got kicked out because we had Harper with us. Sad face! Instead we got a chance to show them some authentic Chinese food. We got together with our neighbors, Brandy and Kyle, and got a huge table at our favorite Szechuan restaurant.

That way we got to try all sorts of dishes, including eggplant with garlic sauce, short ribs, and spicy pork. And I had to grab a buttercream bun from my favorite bakery on the way out.

I think we showed them a pretty good time and I can’t wait for them to come back!

Swedish shoes

Aren’t Mike’s new shoes awesome? We discovered this great store in Berkeley called Convert. They have a separate shoe store in the 4th street shopping district that is full of shoes that we both loved. Mike picked out this pair of Tretorn shoes — they’re Swedish.

On the women’s side they had some really cute and comfy looking heels by Maguba, also Swedish. I resisted buying any, but I am finally getting some Toms! I might be the only person in the bay area who doesn’t have them yet.

Fenton’s Creamery

If you are ever in the bay area, specifically the Oakland area, you must go to Fenton’s. I can’t believe it took us this long to try it — it’s been on my to-do list for quite a while.

And here’s why.

That is one ginormous brownie sundae. It was $11! Mike and I failed to finish it. It was the first time I’ve ever taken ice cream home in a doggie bag.

A sundae as big as a baby!

They have a variety of huge sundaes made with their homemade ice creams, plus all kinds of shakes, malts and other soda fountain goodies. I can vouch for the fact that the ice cream is not just big, it’s really really good.

Harper was a total sweetheart when we took her there. We’ll definitely be going back with anyone who comes to visit if for no other reason than we need help to finish a sundae!

Spring blooms

Spring sprung a while ago here, but I just now got a chance to take some photos of all the flowers in bloom. I hope someday to learn more about the names of flowers and flowering trees and bushes because there are so many cool ones around here.

Several of my neighbors have these bright purple bushes.

Isn’t this tree striking? I wish I knew what that was.

These tulips made me smile, thinking of midwestern springs.

Of course California poppies are everywhere.

Look, a little lemon!

These are the flowers that come out of our succulents in the front “yard.” I’ve never seen them get as big as they have this year.

The only thing blooming in my mini garden is, of course, mint. I’m hoping to get to the garden store at some point so I can refill my other pots.

Road trip: Bodega Bay/Eureka

After Christmas, we were thinking it might be a good time to take a little babymoon. Mike had the time off, and we figured late December probably wasn’t the biggest touristy season (unless you’re up at Tahoe). So we booked a hotel in Eureka, CA, which is about a 5-hour drive north of us. Mike wanted to eat at a crab shack in Bodega Bay and I wanted to drive through a giant redwood tree. Don’t ask me why these are the things we wanted to do before we had a baby — we just did!

Fortunately, traffic was not bad at all and we made it to Bodega Bay in about an hour. If Bodega sounds familiar it’s probably because it was the setting for the Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” In real life, it is significantly less creepy.

The day we were there it was chilly, but absolutely beautiful. We got there around lunch time so we went straight to the crab shack, the Spud Point Crab Company. Clearly it was the place to be.

We each had a crab sandwich — just extremely fresh crab meat with a little sauce — and shared some clam chowder. Mike is the true seafood lover between us, but I can definitely appreciate crab that’s right out of the bay.

After lunch we drove up to Bodega Head and hiked around the cliffs. It was gorgeous up there.

I am not much of a hiker these days (and it was extremely windy), but we had fun. We want to go back another time because you can see whales up there.

After that, we continued our drive up north. To get to Eureka you drive through Mendocino and Humboldt counties, the pot growing center of California. So things are a little…different. The landscape is beautiful, all forest and mountains. But at times it looks almost like Appalachia, but mixed with hippies. The best way I can describe it is that we drove through a tiny town that had a natural foods co-op with a huge American flag in the front window.

Anyway, we got the sense that this part of the country was a little quirky. And that was fine by us. We got to Eureka just in time to check into the hotel and make our dinner reservation at the Brick and Fire Bistro. I didn’t take any photos because it was super dark in there, but it’s a nice little romantic restaurant where all the food is made in this big brick oven. I wanted to love this place, but many missteps into dinner I just couldn’t. Thankfully Mike’s coq au vin was out of this world and he shared it with me. I forgave them after that.

On the way to the hotel I noticed this funny little place called the Chalet House of Omelettes and I immediately knew where we’d be having breakfast the next day.

It’s basically a quirky diner, sort of in the spirit of Des Moines’ Waveland Cafe, where pretty much everyone knows each other. The food is huge and not at all fancy. But it’s great fuel for travelers (and I imagine loggers and fishermen, too). I had a bacon/broccoli omelette and some pancakes.

By the time we left I felt like we were friends with half the restaurant, including the woman at the next table over who, in a very grandmotherly way, had a lot of questions about my pregnancy. But it didn’t bother me at all. I kind of miss that instant kindness and trust of strangers.

By the way, if you get a chance to read a little history of Eureka, it’s a really interesting town. It has Gold Rush roots, but eventually became a center for lumber. There are tons of Victorian houses that have been restored, including the huge Carson Mansion.

The real attraction up there, though, is the Avenue of the Giants. It’s a 31-mile stretch of road in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where you can drive through a canopy of some of the world’s tallest trees and stop at some sights along the way. And it really is mile after mile after mile of dense redwood forest. My kind of place!

We included the people for scale.

We stopped in one area that was supposed to have some of the tallest trees and hiked around. We were kind of lost, but it was still really beautiful.

It felt like we were in Oregon rather than California. Everything was so lush and green and mossy.

I know I’ve said this before, but being in the woods, especially in the mountains, is truly my happy place. It calms me down a lot. I think something about being dwarfed by nature is very spiritual, and it kind of steadies you. At least it does for me. I think this is what Gaudi was going for when he built the inside of the Sagrada Familia.

Later that day we stopped at a visitors center, where they had this truck carved from a single redwood tree. We are total nature and history nerds, so we spent kind of a long time there.

Then we headed to the last part of our trip — driving through a tree!

There are actually several places where you can drive through a tree. But this one also had little cottages carved out of trees.

Seems like it would be a fun place to take a kid, no? We’ll definitely be back.


It’s finally time for my biggest show of the year, the Renegade Craft Fair holiday market in San Francisco. Lots of my favorite vendors are going to be there this weekend (250+ total), and I can’t wait to shop as well as sell. I’ll have every single thing I make — hats, fingerless gloves, cowls, nesting bowls, owls, poufs and rope baskets. Come check it out!

Pumpkin House pop-up shop

Earlier this spring I did a really fun craft show at the Pumpkin House in Oakland, and I’m happy to announce that I will be doing their holiday show this weekend.

Here are the details:

In addition to my usual goodies (poufs, cowls, fingerless gloves, cable berets, owls), I’ll have lots and lots of little crocheted bowls.

The weather is supposed to be crappy, but we’ll have plenty of snacks plus hot coffee and tea. And I’ll find something cozy for you to wear home. 🙂