Wednesday, 28 September 2011

china beach & the golden gate

adventures abound!

today was the first day i had the opportunity to explore the immediate san francisco area.
like much of my california experience, with this adventure there were many pros and cons.

1. the ocean
2. clean city
3. colourful buildings and clean architechture

1. traffic: worse than in toronto! nutty drivers on top of it too!
2. a bit boring. yes, i found san francisco a bit boring! who would have thought? maybe it was the area, but i just thought it was like any other city ive been to, but on a slant.
3. driving on the hills! how do people do this? i thought i was going to slam the poor rental car into people behind and in front of me.
4. parking. no place to park. as if i was going to park streetside- parallel parking? i think not. and then! any parking garage was a minimum of $20.

however. despite the pros and cons, the days tour started off with a bang.
searching for a place to get some good shots of the golden gate bridge that was not a "golden gate vista" tourist area, i turned off the gps and used good old  fashion intuition to guess where i would want to go.

thank you gut feeling:

this is the ocean.
this is the beach.
that is the bridge.

brilliant success.

over joyed with my findings, i took off my moccasins and explored the beach.

i loved the ocean. everythign about it.
i loved the sound. the smell. the feel of the air. i could have sat and watched it for hours and hours and hours.

coolest thing, there was a woman fishing!
in the ocean.

people do fun things in the ocean.

and then, out of the ocean and away from the awesomness, and into the city.
oh my god driving on hills i would cry about walking up.


why would people build a city like this? if i was obese and was like, in my 50s i would totally have had that life ending heart attack.

it was cool though.
finding a place to park in china town i took the natural route of a lazy person, downhill.
brought me out to the harbour where i experienced sea gulls (ahem... did you know theyre actually called herring gulls? thank you ornitholigist boyfriend) of an unusual size... SGOUS.

allow me to demonstrate said SGOUS:

Sea Gull of Unusual Size... SGOUS in all its glory.

i then had a delish meal seaside at The Plant- Cafe Organic.

yum! hummus plate! pesto and lemon hummus' with pita, garden salad and the greenest olives i have ever seen in my life.
the whole restaurant was filled with 30 something groups of ladies with a heck of a lot of make up- not the atmosphere that i had hoped to find in a organic cafe in san fran.
where were the trendy people?

having spoken to my sister, i had felt inspired to explore california style with analysis through photos... but there was noone to use as my subject.


where were the people when i needed them!
its ok though. i will find them and analyze cali style soon.

however! in true san franciscan style, the trollies were out and about.

that was exciting!

oh california.
you make me happy.

in my second week here i am feeling ready to move on from san fran. tomorrow is the big sur, a coastal drive and then thursday its hello to the big time: LA.

i think the drive tomorrow will do wonders for a couple of my goals for this week:
1. be happy
2. be positive

goodbye san francisco- tomorrow, hello santa cruz.

Monday, 26 September 2011

sunday inspiration

i am in yet another new place in california!

salut Oakland!

upon review and reflection, i think its fair to say that yesterday was a down day.
looking back on what i hope to achieve this year, the way i was thinking and feeling, though legitimate is not conducive to achieving these goals!
therefore, new state of mind is in order... 5 more weeks to go on the road after all!

as it is sunday and the start of a new week i plan on focusing on the following of my resolutions:
1. sweat more
2. complain less
3. be positive
4. be happy

with these thoughts in mind, i have decided that this week, i am going to take some time for my self - for self improvement and just for fun!

step one: eat and exercise excellently!
enter whole foods.
yes, whole foods exists in the canada, but not as readily as it is here in sunny california. my favourite thing at whole foods has got to be the salad bar. it has everything!

grilled tofu, chic peas, red & green peppers, kidney beans, peas, corn, celery, green and red onion with a sprinkle of parmesan.

delicious and nutritious!

during this week, i will make a more concentrated effort to eat excellently and work out diligently. to track my successes (and i guess failures... eeep) i will be using it is an excellent site built to be customizable to your goals! tres helpful.

step two: take time for self
well, on the road and being exhausted and busy can make it incredibly difficult to make time to just be and to take care of yourself.
but it must be done!
today, i took time for myself by spending a little too much money on nail polish (which for some reason always makes me feel better)  and giving my hands a little TLC.

aaaah essie. your colour pallet makes me so happy.
the 3 lower are the newest in my collection, and while i understand that they are very sunny and summery, i figure while in this warm part of the country it couldnt hurt to indulge in a little sunshine.

following the word of the wise from i felt totally inspired to try something new!

a little sunday inspiration going into the next week.
i like to think i did the girls proud- here is my recreation:

yes, yes. i admit it.

... i had a photo shoot of my nail art.
... and my glittery gold coach wristlet.

i learned a couple of things though in my adventures in dabbling in nail art.
1. taking the time to do my nails and zone out and think of nothing but not smudging my colours for half an hour or so truly was therapeutic in its own right. it felt genuinely good to not be thinking about anything of great importance (who am i kidding... i was totally thinking that getting it just right was of great importance, but you know what i mean)
2. i really do love that little bag.

step three: enjoy a hobby
i love books.
i love them to the core of my being. and loving books and reading books is an excellent hobby.
and while this week i will continue to read (currently a re-read of the hobbit), i am going to go retro style and re-hobbify by fiddling with some string.

with the come back of the ever lovely friendship bracelet i found myself buying these re-vamped colourful accessories.
and then i found myself annoyed!
i know how to make these! why would i spend upwards of $15 on these? because they have bling? i can add bling! oh can i ever add bling.

so my project this week: build a blinged out piece of string art.
so it begins!

stage one! lets see how far we can get this bad boy in a week, shall we? 
i hope i remember how to do this.

so i feel as though im setting myself up for success. i hope i can work to keep my goals in mind and have a positive, productive and happy week.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

new shoes in napa

i went for a walk today.

in my new shoes!

ok, yes. i went shopping again. 

i bought some cute things, some pretty things, but no things that i regret.
1. coral flats - nine west
2. pearl necklace on hot pink string - j.crew
3. glitter gold wristlet - coach
4. vintage scarf - betty's girls

i went shopping and i walked around napa, which by the way is a quiet and beautiful place.
it didnt seem like there were many locals out and about, but there were plenty of tourists.
the tourists are mostly middle ages couples, probably happy to escape their teenage children.

to my disapointment, there were very few cafes. there were however, many many wine bars and were i with a friend, or my manfriend, we would have throroughly enjoyed the streets of downtown napa.

on every corner there was a place to sit with a glass of wine and some tapas!

the streets were clean and the whole downtown are had a vibe that said "hey world! we have a lot of money! but we also take care of the environment, our people and make great wine!"

i think napa is a place i would have loved... but maybe its just that its the first weekend after a long week, or maybe i am under the weather... i dont know.
but i dont feel like i have enjoyed napa as i should have.

i would like to come back here again- when im not tired, when im not here for work, when im here on my own terms.

while in napa, i have been shopping instead of hiking and exploring. instead of sitting in the sun or having a drink of wine.
i think that i have been doing this because i am homesick already. on the first lag of my 6 week trip.

5 weeks to go, many more places to see.
hopefully my new shoes give me a new outlook as well as a new outfit!

napa? wine not?!

oh arent i funny?
i made a pun!
but c'est vraie. i am in wine country unexpectedly, and i could not be happier.
having originally been off to roseville, california, you can not imagine my glee when a slight confusion had us heading to the wrong place, and we were actually expected in napa.

so i am not just staying in wine country, i am staying in an absolute dream home in napa.
with the last minute changes it was difficult to get a hotel, so the teacher whose school i would be visiting the next day kindly opened her mothers second napan home to us.

was it going to be a shack? a dive?
would we have to be there all weekend?
what to expect!
but then we pulled up:

this picture hardly does it justice. HARDLY.
the place is an absolute palace and my tour partner and i have it all to ourselves.

we have yet to go and explore napa, the vineyards and downtown are on the schedule for tomorrow.

this area is totally different from the bay area of san francisco- people are way more casual except for the tourists apparently, who are for the most part dressed head to toe in ann taylor one piece suits, wide brimmed hats and dark sunglasses... i suppose that is one look for visiting the vinyards!

as i sit in my temporary mansion, i cant help but feel totally grateful.
i am in california! in NAPA!

so i do as the napans (safe to assume thats what they are called?)
i grab a glass and a bottle.

last night i was introduced to pepper ridge sauvignon blanc, and today on my own i made a terrible attempt at finding a wine.
mesmerized by the bottle of my choices extravagant label, i failed to read what it actually was...a wine from new zealand.


it is called eco love and is an organic wine grown in at an eco sustainable certified vinyard.
so thats cool!
the most surprising thing to me was this: after having had the wine last night that was just out of control excellent, and then having this wine i wasnt crazy about i could actually taste the difference!
i can never taste the difference!
maybe i am wrapped up in the charm of a napa, but dare i say i even have a new favourite?

this evening i spent some quality time with none other than myself!
with tour being as crazy as its been it's been hard to spend time just being.
i bought my new zealand wine (what a napa fail.), grabbed vogue and the hobbit and sat in the backyard beside an apple tree.

tomorrow i venture down town and to the vinyards, i am hoping that i will finally be able to put my camera to good use and get some good shots in!
word on the street here is that there is a castle and some excellent hiking!
... also a j.crew outlet. woooah.

it's been a long first week in california.
truth be told, i am exhausted.
we've been all over the place, i have started a quest for self improvement, there is a time difference... there is only one thing left to do.

i must napa in napa.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

corte madera

After a morning working, i had no choice but to take the car and drive to the bay,where i spent the afternoon exploring the area just outside sarasota and san fran.
the highway and side roads are nearly consumed by giant trees, rolling hills and delightful little views of the bay.

so, another con  for my list here in california: the views are so incredible. the sky, the water, the trees... everything is picture perfect but there is NEVER a place to stop and capture it! my goodness, jerry brown: your state is beautiful: build some lookout points!

luckily for me, i found myself in the bay area in a harbour near dusk.
it's so hard to believe that people actually live in a place this beautiful.

but before my time harbour side, my adventures today brought me to a high end outdoor mall.
at first it looked like your average run of the mill mall, but turns out that once you pass through a stone wall its an entirely different world.
j. crew
free people
... the list goes on and on!
stores canada wishes it could house!

and then there i was.
failing at my attempt to be fashionable due to having come straight from work.
tshirt, jeans, toms, hardly what one would expect from a californian!
i was surrounded by people who fit into that indescribably effortlessly effort-ful californian style.

the plan was to not buy anything.
i was attempting the impossible and failed at the very first hurdle.

1: starbucks. tall non-fat tazo chai latte. yum.
2: browse anthropologie. purchase made.
3: browse j.crew. purchase made.
4: browse madewell. purchase... well, made.
5. browse free people: no purchase! success
6. lulu: no purchase
7. juicy couture: damn it.

here are the fruits of my labour:

1. polka dot headband - Anthropologie
2. beaded, glitter headband - j.crew
3. royal blue scarf - madewell
4.embellished friendship bracelet - juicy couture
5. vanity fair for good measure.

ok. so accessorizing to get the california look is going well.
the budget... not going so well. but also kind of going well considering i AM in california and i have only made a few purchases!

i wont be in the big cities again until next week, so hopefully that keeps everything in check, but you never know! its the small towns with all their small town charms that have those incredible little boutiques!

dear me: practice restraint.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

california style

well, i will say one thing about california: it truly does make one want to spend far too much time on appearance... like the whole nine yards, hair, make up, nails, clothes... AND THEN, after spending all that time on said appearance the end goal being to look like you have spent no time at all!

california style. at its finest.

so i have yet to be in san francisco or LA, but in palo alto and san mateo, the look is chic and undone. i am loving the messy buns and beach waves, but with a mix of the fall season with scarves and boots... vivid brights, sheer lace, heels.
im also kind of loving that friendship braceletes are back with a vengance, but this time around the brightly coloured string has some fun embelishments, like stones and charms.

so while i noticed all this fun cali style, i decided that while im here, even though im working it could be a fun time to take more time for myself.
 maybe i should spend more than 3 minutes on my make up? maybe i should actually check to make sure that half of my hair isnt still curly post round brush blow dry? the answer to all these questions and more is YES!

so i bought myself a little inspiration:

in true california style, i sat in a starbucks and read the local magazine, aptly names california style!
(side note: kate bosworth- can you be any more excellent?)
this little gem cost me only $5 and is full of little tid bits on where to shop and how to "get the look"

3 weeks in cali, i guess i should give it a go!

i guess i was on the right track because just as i temporarily left life behind i had begun to dabble in nail art.
essie nail polish is my best friend on the road and it turns out that to purchase in the states is considerably cheaper, so spend more time on my nails? check!

also, i have been eating better! a night sans pizza! check this out:

after leaving the mountains it turns ou that real food does exist!
poached peach salad with blue cheese and walnuts on spinach with a side of pea and barley soup. delish.

tomorrow im off for an evening in san francisco. i will do my nails, add some eye liner and see how it goes.

california & the town of the butterfly, Mariposa

i am currently in california.
im here on tour and so far i have to say... i have mixed feelings.

1. the weather. brilliant.
its hot, but not humid. literally, there has not been one cloud in the sky
2. the view! mountains one minute, bays the next!
3. fields of windmills! i know this is controversial and some might have issues with it but man... forward thinking eco friendly.

1. the view. right, i know... wasnt this a pro? yes. it was. BUT i have to be honest. there are hills and mountains, but everything is yellow. the heat here doesnt allow for big green growth! it has its own charm, but im not sure about it all yet.
2. ah food. so far the only option has been pizza! to be fair a) we were in remote mariposa. and b) it was free. im sure this will soon become a pro.

My first stop in california took me to the small town of mariposa.

up in the mountains, this is a small town that was founded during the american gold rush and evidence of its history is found throughout the town. it has old saloon style doors and those funny little posts to tie your horse on while you go back into said saloon for a beer.
there was also an abundance of stray cats and american flags.
the flags being everywhere was way more expected than all the cats, including the one that was outside my hotel room scratching at the door all night.

mariposa is 3 hours away from the hustle and bustle of the bay area of san francisco, and sadly, most of the most beautiful parts of the drive do not allow for stops for photo opps.
most of the drive is only 2 shades: yellow and blue. blue sky yellow hills and fields.

... and of course there the awesome amounts eco friendly energy sources.

i truly hope that as my time here passes i will have some time to wander the streets or climb a mountain or two. with the nature of work and my schedule i know it will be a bit of a challenge, but i am excited to explore the cities, large and small, and the amazing nature that surrounds and inspires the residents of california.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Anno Nuovo, Vita Nuova

New Year, New Life.
my motto & my mantra from this day forth, i do declare!

(i realize that i am starting my new year in september and not in january, i am not calendar-challenged... BUT for the sake of argument, and with my job, my year truly does run on a september-september calendar.)

In any case... in may this past year i made a list of 20-something resolutions that failed to take flight.
why am i sharing this?
well. good question.
the point is i didnt share them. i didnt pursue them. my resolutions sat in a notebook as a sad reminder of what i wanted for myself and failed to achieve.
nuts to that!
the reason i share this with you, friend, is that by putting it out there, right there in the open, i am choosing to hold myself accountable to YOU.

these selected 15 resolutions are back on the table for new life!
things happen... people you love move away, your job sucks, you miss your friends and family... whatever it is... and you loose sight of what you want.
over the next year, these are my resolutions that i am openly pursuing, and i hope you call me out when i stray.

happy new year to me!

the list
1. observe more, say less
2. be patient
3. stress less
4. sleep less
5. sweat more
6. travel where you want to go
7. run!
8. take initiative
9. complain less
10. make more plans
11. be positive!
12. be green
13. be ideal weight this year, if not now then it will never happen
14. don't look too far into the future
15. be happy