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Hummingbird, Messenger of Joy

Hummingbird, Messenger of Joy

In many Native American cultures, the Hummingbird is believed to be a joyful messenger and mysterious traveler. If he appears during a time of great sorrow and pain, healing will soon follow. He also symbolizes the fragility of nature and all living things. His symbol is often used in gifts that come with wishes of joy, healing and love.

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Mother’s Garden

Mother's Garden

My Mother kept a garden,
a garden of the heart,
She planted all the good things
that gave my life its start.

She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,
Fostering and nurturing
the seeds of self-esteem…

And when the winds and rain came,
she protected me enough–
But not too much because she knew
I’d need to stand up strong and tough.

Her constant good example
always taught me right from wrong–
Markers for my pathway
that will last a lifetime long.

I am my Mother’s garden.
I am her legacy-
And I hope today she feels the love
reflected back from me

Author unknown

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Second Nature

Second Nature

“When we use these words and we talk about plants having a strategy to do this or wanting this or desiring this, we’re being metaphorical obviously. I mean, plants do not have consciousness. But, this is a fault of our own vocabulary. We don’t have a very good vocabulary to describe what others species do to us, because we think we’re the only species that really does anything.” — Michael Pollan
http://michaelpollan.com/

Windrush Farm: more than just sheep

DSC_0165There is nothing more pure and magical than spending an afternoon on a farm. The green grass, fresh air, and adorable baby animals–you just can’t beat it, which is why my time spent at Windrush Farm in Chileno Valley, Petaluma, is one to share (http://windrushfarm.wordpress.com/). Windrush is a 25-acre farm nestled in beautiful Marin and the home to goats, sheep, chickens, llamas and of course, the woman who runs the show, Mimi Luebbermann!

DSC_0140I took the opportunity to visit after learning about the farm event through Marin Organic (http://www.marinorganic.org/)–an organization that strives to build community and commitment to local, organic farms.

The farm visit was kicked off with a lesson on spooling wool, as Mimi makes beautiful yarn for local fiberDSC_0101 artists. Next, we made butter by simply shaking fresh cream in jars–it tasted absolutely divine on slices of wheat bread. Afterwards, we watched Mimi milk a goat and then headed out to the pasture to enjoy the scenery and pet Daisy, Mimi’s cow.  All the children were running around in their brightly colored little outfits enjoying the sunshine.

All in all, a great experience and definitely, much more than just sheep!

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The Stanford Inn: A Beloved Eco-Resort

If I could name just one place that completely embodies an Eco Yuppie lifestyle, IMG_4033I would name the beloved Stanford Inn (http://www.stanfordinn.com/) located in beautiful Mendocino, CA. This dreamland is the perfect weekend getaway destination with its expansive organic gardens to meander through, an estuary to kayak through, and tons of extensive trails to explore. The boutique, pet-friendly inn overlooks the ocean from all vantage points and is only a short walk from quaint downtown Mendocino.
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During our entire stay, I was in utter bliss. The design and atmosphere exudes earthiness and luxury all wrapped into one. From complimentary afternoon tea and vegan desserts served by the wooden hearth in the lodge-style lobby, to happy hour IMG_5561with all natural spirits and finally to the sensational vegan cuisine we devoured at Raven’s Restaurant on site, every meal was sensational. Later we took an evening swim in the pool and hot tub located in the giant atrium full of huge ferns and exotic plants.

There’s even more to experience including morning yoga sessions before your complimentary organic breakfast, on-site spa treatments, and walks along the beach. Check out the horses, donkey, and lamas adjacent to the gardens during your walk around the grounds. IMG_5634This eco inn’s focus on sustainability and well-being is no ploy to appeal to the current “green” trendsetters. In fact, Green Travel Guide writes, “The Stanford is a pioneer of sustainability among North American inns,” which is evident from the list on the Inn’s website that details all efforts made to make it as eco-conscious as possible. Oprah Magazine also featured the Inn in 2010, as did over a hundred other magazines.

“Come enjoy life again,” states the Stanford Inn’s website–you truly will.

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Mendocino Sunset

Mendocino Sunset

THE SEA OF SUNSET

This is the land the sunset washes,
These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;
Where it rose, or whither it rushes,
These are the western mystery!

Night after night her purple traffic
Strews the landing with opal bales;
Merchantmen poise upon horizons,
Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.
-Emily Dickinson

Filoli Estate and Gardens: A Photographer’s Paradise

As a young girl, I was taught to appreciate the beauty and art of the garden. DSC_0248My mother was constantly tending to her floral arrangements as freshly cut flowers filled the home. It was only natural that I too would find intense harmony and curiosity in the presence of these little gems, especially when I have my camera with me.

One particular garden I would like to highlight is the Filoli Estate and Gardens (http://www.filoli.org/). Only a short half-hour drive south from San Francisco, DSC_0227this historic site is one of the most exceptional remaining country estates of the early 1900s.

Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with its expansive garden and beautiful manor, this 16-acre site is a must-see destination for amateur and professional photographers alike. During my visit, I observed a herd of 15 deer grazing in the grassy field beneath the Oak trees, hundreds of tulips and daffodils in bloom,
and copious colors of other Springtime flowers lining the expansive garden walkways and floral plots.

DSC_0269Tip: arrive early because this is a Mecca for photographers and you could end up with a whole roll of photographers taking photos.

The Joy of Wine: Rombauer Vineyards

Over the past few years, I have begun to truly appreciate wine and wine making. What I have learned is that I absolutely cannot _MG_9650_Family web size1speak highly enough about Rombauer wines! I first fell in love with the overwhelmingly sensational Chardonnay with its buttery and delightful essence. The Merlot and Cabernet came next and both are truly outstanding wines, however, it is my obsession for Rombauer Zinfandel that resulted after discovering the winery. Their Zinfandel is an absolute must if you enjoy extra-jammy Zins or “strikingly fruit-forward” as the Rombauers describe on their website.

IMG_4060In addition to their fabulous wines, the Rombauer winery is worth a visit in itself due to the spectacular view and serene garden. The winery is located on the northeastern edge of Napa Valley, right off the Silverado Trail and the views are extraordinary.

The winery is family owned and operated for over 30 years and what an interesting family history indeed! The Rombauer logo, “The Joy of Wine,” is a direct relation to The Joy of Cooking cookbook, written by the winery founder’s aunt, Irma Rombauer.

As a port and dessert wine enthusiast, I highly recommend Rombauer’s Joy (Late Harvest Chardonnay) – it’s pure decadence!cork_1

Film Review: “Food Fight: Revolution Never Tasted So Good”

A documentary by Chris Taylor

A fantastic film, and a must-see for those interested in understanding the development of industrial farming and subsequent local food movement. 250_food_fightIn interviews with author, Michael Pollan, chef and founder of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters, chef, Wolfgang Puck, Congressman Ron Kind, and a host of authors, farmers, and activists share their experiences and insights relating to the industrial food system’s effects on our food system today.

Not only does this film document the political history for why agro-business dominates the marketplace, but also shares accounts from farmers and activists who are countering the government’s forceful attempt to feed consumers conventionally-grown and unhealthful foods through subsidiary programs.

Farmers’ markets have spread across the country since the development of the local food movement in Berkeley, CA in the 1970s about_alicewaters with Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse, being a major catalyst with the development of her local supplier chain of farmers. Chefs all across the country are now placing an enormous emphasis on organic, sustainable, local foods when creating their menus. For someone with such a passion for foodism like myself, I found this film to be quite educational and inspiring.

Fight on Foodies!

Capay Farm Tour

images-1If you have lived in the Bay Area long enough you have seen the Farm Fresh to You vans drive by in route to deliver fresh organic fruit and vegetables to their
customers’ homes and offices. This exceptional CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)* program offers several boxed produce delivery options
(http://www.farmfreshtoyou.com/) and invites members and non-members alike to come visit their farm, which I did just last weekend and had a really great time!

Capay Farms, located in Capay, CA (1.5 hours from San Francisco), is nestled in the beautiful Coastal Range DSC_0869 of Capay Valley just northeast of SF. Capay Farms opened up their farm on March 9th for visits to come see where their food is being grown as well as partake in various activities such as harvesting your own bunch of kale, riding the tractor tram, listening to a farm talk, petting the baby cows, lams, and goats in the petting zoo, spreading ladybugs on the strawberry grove, and picnicking beneath the handsome Oak trees.

This was my first farm tour and in addition to joining in all the activities offered, I took a long walk around the DSC_0823grounds, through the orchard and along the massive kale fields and finally past the barren field being prepped for planting. All around it was a very enjoyable and rejuvenating day in the sun that I highly recommend experiencing.

Listed below are Capay Farms upcoming events:
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April 13th, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 
May 4th – 2nd Annual CINCO DE MAYO Special Event, 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
July 13th – 6th Annual CAPAY TOMATO Special Event, 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
August 10th – Customer Appreciation Day, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
September 21st – 3rd Annual CAPAY CRUSH Special Event, 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
October 12th, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

*Community Support Agriculture (CSA)
: a group of individuals who have pledged to support on or more local farms with CSA subscribers paying at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest, which can include fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, eggs, dairy, and sometimes meat (depending on the farm) For more information visit: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/