My absence explained: vacation!

After Carson came home from the hospital, he had exactly one week to recover before my parents came to visit. The first few days were rough but he turned a corner on day four and was almost totally back to his normal self by the time my parents rolled up. We were their last leg on a two-week road trip through California. They spent a weekend with us, which was lovely, and then I hopped in the car with them and we drove to Seattle via the Oregon coast. I spent eight days in Seattle before flying home three days ago, which is why I haven’t been posting. I mostly stayed hidden inside my parents’ house, working for two big clients, making major progress on my Gramma’s life story book (thanks Dad!), eating great food (thanks Mom!), and relaxing with some quality HGTV. Other than a BBQ I hardly saw anyone, so if you didn’t know I was in Seattle please don’t be offended. It’s hard to see everyone, every time.

Enough words. Here’s what I did in photos!

Rivino 1

Gathered friends at Rivino on my parents’ first night in Ukiah for some knee-slapping twangy music, bright glasses of Chardonnay, and a picnic.

Rivino 2

Mary Anne with my parents Mike and Mary

Carson fair

Went to the Redwood Empire Fair, where Carson’s 4H bee club had a first-prize booth.

Tractor pull

Watched the tractor pull at the fair. Three hours of hilarious entertainment!


Carson and my mom made salsa using tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro from the garden. It was muy delicioso.


Stopped in Florence, Oregon on our way up the coast to Seattle. We stayed at a sweet little hotel right on the river.

sand dunes 1

Went for a dune buggy ride in Florence. It was like a roller coaster! (We’re in the back row.)

sand dunes 2

The sand dunes are huge – miles and miles of rolling, sandy hills with scrubby brush. The day started foggy…

sand dunes 3

…but by the end of the hour-long ride the fog was lifting.


Had lunch at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. You can tell by our oversized smiles that we’re starting to crack after so much time in the car.

Amber planetarium

Once in Seattle, I went on a lovely date with Amber. We hit up the PhinneyWood Summer Days festival where a store hosted the UW’s giant inflatable planetarium. We watched an informative 15 minute show.

Eli Vietnamese

After the Summer Days fair we headed to Broadway, got lucky with a parking spot, and devoured bowls of Vietnamese food. Here I am, post-“bun” (my favorite – a cold noodle salad with meat).

Amber vertical garden

We walked around Capitol Hill and noticed this beautiful mural – which Amber’s friend painted! – along with a newly installed vertical garden with rain gutters to water it. Sometimes I forget how cool Seattle is.

Archers arching

Had a family BBQ in which my brother brought a bow he MADE. My mom was a pretty good shot. (You know, just a bunch of Archers being Archers.)


Had a friend BBQ hosted by Jacob and Abby at their West Seattle home. The weather was perfect, the grill plentiful, and the company pleasant (and, at times, raucous).


Jacob the grill master at work, with a view that won’t quit behind him.

Edmonds lunch

Enjoyed a patio lunch with longtime family friend Barb and my mom at my favorite Edmonds waterfront restaurant, Anthony’s Beach Cafe. (Also spent an afternoon with the Sweeneys – more family friends – but alas, took no pictures.)


Wrapped up my trip with a dinner and overnight at KMJ’s home. Here’s Jacob eagerly awaiting dinner.


Nothing like ending a Seattle trip at one of my Seattle homes! Plus they’re close to the airport so I don’t feel like too much of a burden when I need a ride.

Taste of Mendocino: Success!

After months of planning, the Taste of Mendocino went off almost without a hitch. It was last Tuesday at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco’s Presidio neighborhood.

Why do the Taste of Mendocino in SF, you ask? The goal is to connect Mendo businesses – wineries, food producers, tourism organizations, etc – with Bay area customers. The first part of the day is for trade and media, and then it opens to the general public for the last two hours of the event.

We had a stellar planning committee, enthusiastic vendors, and tons of interest in both the Mendo and SF communities. The event has been going on for years so it has a good reputation, and positive feedback flowed from vendors and participants alike. I was so excited to be part of it and I’m already looking forward to helping out again next year.

Here are a few pictures I took from the day.

ToM flowers

I got to arrange the flowers – a dozen Mason jars’ worth. We felt a jar would add to the “Mendo vibe” (plus it’s the easiest and cheapest vase around).

ToM frontToM is hopping

ToM view

Gorgeous view of the bridge and water! I took this just as we were wrapping up so it has a nice evening glow.

ToM Jen and Eli

Jen and I enjoy a well-deserved glass of wine at the after party at Dixie.

Boontling and more from Boonville

My love for where I live extends beyond Ukiah. The entire county of Mendocino has captured my heart, and the local language of nearby Boonville in Anderson Valley is a perfect illustration of why this particular place in the world has my very high esteem. I can’t seem to embed the video, so click here to watch – it’s short and worth your while, I promise!

A few other Anderson Valley highlights:

  • Boonville is home to the annual Not So Simple Living Fair, which I attended last year and plan to go to again this year. It’s a magical weekend of DIY meets sustainable living. If you want to know more, click here to read about my experience last year.
  • If you love beer, the famous Anderson Valley Brewing Company is just around the corner from Boonville, and there are world-class wineries all around the valley.
  • The Anderson Valley Grange is the first solar-powered grange in the country and hosts a variety of fun and charitable events.
  • The book Boonville is a decent and funny if not stereotypical read.

I’m so grateful that Boonville is just 45 minutes away on a beautiful drive, a perfect stopping point halfway to the always breathtaking Mendocino coast.

highway 128

The road from Ukiah to Boonville: highway 253.

Marin Headlands Wedding

Last weekend Carson and I went to the wedding of a college friend of mine. They couldn’t have gotten better weather or a more perfect venue – the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin near Sausalito. I was so impressed by the food (Katie Powers catering) and the wedding planner (Be Hitched in the Bay area) that I wrote them both glowing reviews.

Some of our friends drove down from Seattle and we had quite the reunion, drinking and dancing the night away. We actually had more fun than anticipated… instead of driving back we decided to stay, party, and sleep in my car! (Classy I know.)

Golden Gate bridge

Golden Gate bridge on the drive to the headlands

Eli and Carson Marin wedding

Just before the ceremony

Eli champagne

A man of many talents… Carson helped put together my outfit, recommending the brown belt to match my brown heels and also to “define my figure.” He kills me.

wedding table

From left: Aaron, Jen, Sean, Mark, and Carson. We were at the “fun table” with some of Lauren’s friends. (Aka the table in the corner… I wonder if they expected us to get rowdy?)

happy couple and scenery

They had plenty of scenic backdrops to choose from for photos. Here John holds Lauren’s train (adorable).

flip cup

That’s right… the after party featured flip cup!

hangover beach

Headlands beach the next morning… at least one of us was hung over (hint: it was me).