Category Archives: inspiration

(northern) california dreamin’

when work called me to the west coast a few months ago (whoa–this post is long overdue), a brilliant idea struck kfo’h: let’s join forces with a quick jaunt to northern cali. i told you it was brilliant. what made this plan even more genius meant that we wouldn’t have to sleep apart while i was in phoenix. (go ahead and laugh, but i’m a big baby and hate being away from my love.) with only a couple days to soak in the beauty of upper napa valley, we made relaxation the main attraction and let luxury link guide our decision-making.

sayonara, wintry northeast.

we flew into san fran too late to enjoy the city and chose to leave too early the next morning to do anything but down some seriously strong peet’s coffee. armed with a number of restaurant recommendations from an old friend, we bid farewell to the golden gate and headed north on 101.

a cliche of fog smothers the golden gate

first stop: healdsburg. what an adorable quaint town. it’s too bad we didn’t have time to booze it up at 2 of our favorite zin makers: seghesio and ridge. instead, we circled the square and settled on a quick bite at barndiva. frites + wine. sold! or so we thought. it was our first (and luckily only real) disappointment of the trip. the food selection was meh. but to put it gently, we are not foodies, and thus realize it might be unfair to judge food on anything other than our own enjoyment. (however, now that i’m typing this, i must say–is there really any other way to judge food?) but even for us unadventurous, non foodie types, the service lacked genuine enthusiasm. expecting friendly and down-to-earth, we got stuffy and annoyed. but if you’re ever in the area, give it a try. perhaps it was just an off day for the divas.

borrowed photo from barndiva.com

6pm massage appointments left no time for any gallivanting around town, so on the road we were again to our final destination: calistoga. we ooh’d and aww’d over the rolling hills and winding roads through a rain-soaked windshield, wishing with each turn that we had more time to take it all in.

somewhere between healdsburg and calistoga

calistoga ranch welcomed us with just the sort of tucked-away retreat we needed. nestled into a canyon, the ranch is surrounded by unabashed beauty on all sides. one smile from kfo’h, and i knew we were in for a perfect weekend–rain or shine.

captivating view from the lakehouse restaurant

after our massages, we picked up dinner at local favorite tra vigne, scored a bottle of 2009 seghesio (thank god, and the citizens of napa county, for wine in grocery stores.), then happily plopped ourselves in front of the fire to recount our first awe-inspiring day of this much-needed vacation in upper napa valley–despite not having visited a single winery. not to worry, we would correct that travesty very soon.

after a fireside breakfast on sunday, with the rain cleared and the hint of sunshine beaming on our backs, we took advantage of the fleet of cars calistoga ranch offers its guests and reserved the convertible for the day. we weren’t messin’ around, folks. we had napa to see.

by chance, we happened upon duckhorn vineyards and gave it a whirl. stunning grounds and notable wines, this whirl was a good one.

naked vines at duckhorn

happy as can be

with a hefty flight of reds sloshing around our bellies, it was time for a little snack. we drove through the sweet town of st. helena past shop after shop and recommended restaurant after recommended restaurant, until our eyes feasted upon this. roadside dive for sharing a grilled cheese and fries? eat your heart out, sonic.

gotta get some gott's

snack done, the time came for another drink. (because that’s what you do on vacation. duh.) after a little dessert from woodhouse chocolate, we made our way to auberge for champagne with a view (and one heckuva view it is). cousin to calistoga ranch, we considered making auberge our next hotel stay, but we are not yet convinced there is anything better than the privacy and captivating beauty of calistoga ranch.

sharing a breathtaking view with my breathtaking love

romance under the stars, albeit cheese-a-riffic, offers the best description i could ever give of our drive to napa that night. with the top down and our hands interlaced, i couldn’t have imagined a better moment.

my beauty steers us safely along the route to napa

with a little time before our dinner reservation, we perused around tyler florence’s incredible shop on the riverfront, followed by a stop at the oxbow public market. the oxbow looked promising, but we arrived just as the merchants were closing up shop. bummer. still time to spare, we whet our palette with a shared flight of 3 bountiful reds at bounty hunter wine bar.

palettes sufficiently whet and stomachs officially growling, we floated into oenotri for dinner. aside from everything (honestly, everything) my kfo’h cooks for us, this was quite possibly the best meal we’ve ever had. trumer pils, brussel sprouts (yes, mom. i tried brussel sprouts and liked them), polenta, pizza, and pasta. ’twas a meal fit for 4, and not 2, but what’s the point of vacation if not to indulge in a gluttonous feast? incredibly delicious and reasonably priced, if you’re ever in napa, add oenotri to your list.

another smile from my love. another perfect night.

with a heavy heart and rested laurels, we savored one last breakfast by the fire in our comfy, oversized robes before packing it up and heading back to face the harsh reality of a blustery cold and snowy NJ.

but as we daydream of our next real vacation, calistoga is never far from our thoughts.

see ya real soon, lodge 123

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two likes pressed together

i like letters.

i like letters that are pressed.

voilá.

awesome, clean and simple, but ‘spensive.

room and board :: zeichen alphabet press-type :: $199

available in many colors. perfect nursery addition.

etsy :: sycamore street press, letterpress alphabet poster :: $30

holy geez. this jackpot requires a pot o’ gold.

(found via apartment therapy)

etsy :: yee haw, specimens of wood type :: $500

and finally, my favorite. i. must. have.

etsy :: beauchamping, alphabet :: $75

enjoying the view of letterpressed ABCs with the sound of savoir adore.

a break from my musical norm

i’ve always said when i can’t find the words to verbally express what’s swirling around in my mind, i let music talk for me. until yesterday.

i heard a song sans words and it rocked my inner routine. unreal. i have officially been moved by a song that doesn’t say a single thing, save for a tiny trace of a hum. still, i immediately sank into myself. sitting in an office of ~100 peeps, it was me and me alone in here, and it dawned on me: when no words are needed in music, for me, it is the feeling and knowledge of love that creates that instant communication path, intersecting somewhere between the bermuda triangle of the heart, body and mind. beautiful, sensual, thoughtful, compelling, insatiable, gratifying, warming, sensational, undeniable–all traits that untangle the webs in my mind, leading me through the darkness and drawing me into the root of the song and the meaning of love, one beat at a time.

if you don’t dissect music quite this neurotically and don’t get from this song anything remotely similar to what i got from it, it’s cool. either way, i hope you at least appreciate the beauty of this tune.

julianna barwick :: anjos

“home is wherever i’m with you”

coming home to tejas always spins a twinge of nostalgia–a little bit heartwarming, a little bit blasé–in my heart and mind. i lose myself in the familiarity of it all. the roads. the expansion. the southern fried delciousness. the open fields. the manic weather. the smells in my mother’s kitchen. my friends. my family. the accents. the pace. apartment complex after apartment complex. cookie cutter stability. the ever-sprawling suburbia. the blatant disregard for trees and land to make room for yet another mecca of shopping centers and chain restaurants designed solely for convenience. smoky bars. (i forgot how much that stale stank seeps into your clothing and hair and remains even post shower.) the ease and humility of my upbringing.

eventually, though, you leap out of the nest and learn to fly (to the far reaches of the great white north, in my case), leaving behind everything you’ve ever known. and then–then, you do something crazy like fall in love. real love. the kind that leaves no question, no doubt. the kind that wraps you in blankets soft as kittens, sweeps you into the stars in one fell swoop and links your heart to theirs with just one look.

and you realize, home isn’t defined by its locale at all. it’s a feeling. it’s a movement. it’s a smile. it’s knowing that this, THIS, is where i belong–right here with you, wherever that may be.

edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros say it best for me in this striking tune, “home”:

home / let me come home / home is wherever i’m with you

home / yes i am home / home is when i’m alone with you

thanks be to photography

hallmark and ol’ fashioned, all-american commercialism would like to remind us that today is THE day for giving thanks. (ok. i’ll take the bait.)

yesterday, i noted that i’m thankful for a number of things like double chocolate milano cookies, one furry black kidun (leo), life, love and jigsaw puzzles.

today, while still very thankful for those things + other equally important things like coffee, texas football, sweatpants and friends who open their homes to this transplanted texan, i am also thankful to sir john herschel for coining the term photography. it is to him (and the inventor of the camera) that i owe a gigantor amount of thanks. and it is because of him that i now have a new love/infatuation/obsession/passion. call it what you will, but i’m itching for a fancy-pants camera and basic lessons in the techniques of photography. sadly, that itch may take some time before it’s scratched into fruition. for now, i’ll settle for ogling over these puppies.

the “oh, murphy–you silly, silly daydreamer” options:

nikon D90 :: approx $1000-$1200

canon :: EOS 50D :: approx $1500

the “if i save my monopoly $, i could maybe, just maybe, buy one of these” options:

nikon :: D5000 :: approx $700

canon :: EOS rebel T1I :: approx $700

and this–well, i just had to include this for its awesome modern vintage action. i totally want it. you know you do, too:

urban outfitters :: vivitar digital camera, close-up :: $199

urban outfitters :: vivitar digital camera :: $199

for anyone seriously considering the leap from a point-and-shoot to the wide open world of D-SLR, you may want to stop by cnet first for a review of the best entry-level digital SLR cameras on the market today. (just in time for x-mas shopping–imagine that.)

it happened to me

i went home for lunch yesterday–something i haven’t done in quite some time, as i tend to opt out for lunch: skubway, putnam, the b-market or even an occasional nuggers trip from mcd’s or wendy’s (i’m disgusting, i know.)–and found a lovely surprise in the form of a box waiting on my doorstep. the label on the box? anthropologie. but i haven’t ordered anything, i swear. what could this be? impatient, as i usually am, i brandished my keys and ripped open the box right there on the porch (whoa. i really need to sweep out here.). omg. omg. omg. i’m hyperventilating. mom and dad sent me an early xmas gift:

[recently swooned over in this post.]

anthropologie :: it can happen to you puzzle :: $148

now, i just need to figure out how to keep leo from whapping the pieces and thus tearing apart what i begin to put together.

tag, you’re it

it isn’t often that i purchase my latest want–what with my overabundance of want and all. but this, i saw and said, “oh. you’re mine.” signed. sealed. delivered.

print liberation :: dgu copper tag chain :: $14 (i know! $14)

print liberation sells some pretty groovy shite. some inspirational. some “damn the man.” some just plain fun. some are a smidge on the political side, so just scroll on by if that’s not your gig.