Found | Natural Wonders Cafe

While I am glad there are plenty of delicious Mexican restaurants in San Juan Bautista, I was a little bummed that there are not many places in town with a variety of healthier options.  However, a little market and cafe recently opened in SJB just a block or two from our office called the Natural Wonders Cafe.  It is a little health food market that also has a small kitchen and serves a good variety of fresh, organic meals. IMG_7420

The owner, Alma, is a very sweet middle-aged woman with a thick accent originally from Mexico City.  She is quite possibly the most hospitable person I have ever met, and also loves to chat me up when I'm there to eat lunch.

"I've done a little bit of everything and lived in a lot of different places," she explained to me on my very first visit.  She has a background in marketing, advertising, and finance but her true passion is cooking healthy, healing foods and she always wanted to run her own business to share her cooking with others.  She loves to use spices from all over the world which gives all of her dishes a unique flavor, although I have noticed that all of them have a bit of a spicy kick to them!

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It is so nice to have a guilt-free place to eat if I don't pack my lunch for work, and it is also great that she has quite a few shelves with the essentials I normally have to make a separate trip to New Leaf to pick up.

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Eating there is like enjoying a meal at home - she makes everything fresh in the morning, and she's so kind and friendly that I always leave feeling warm inside with a very full belly.  My favorite dish so far is her curried chicken on a bed of baby spinach....

IMG_7430I know people don't often find themselves in San Juan Bautista since it's just a small mission town without much around it, but if you are ever in the area... please stop in and have lunch there.  She could use the support, and I want to make sure she stays in business so I don't lose my healthy lunch spot!

 

Quiet Weekend

Tonight I am tucked in to my warm bed in a freshly cleaned cottage, enjoying a hot cup of bedtime tea after quiet weekend at home.  Brent has been away all week at a friend's wedding and I have missed him terribly.  I didn't realize how hard it would be to say goodbye this time after having lived together for just a month, but it definitely sucked.  This cottage no longer feels like my home... it's now our home and it doesn't feel quite the same without him here.  And as much as I enjoy my alone time and a calm weekend at home, I still spent most of the weekend wishing he was here. In between cleaning, painting the front of the cottage, and running errands, I squeezed in some calligraphy practice and finished a couple of small projects.  I'm surprisingly happy with how they turned out... it seems my inner critic took the weekend off. photo-19 photo-18 photo-17

The animals didn't seem to mind the plan (or lack there of) this weekend, but Toby still managed to seem overwhelmed by what little activity was taking place. photo-20

Cottage Living | Window Flower Boxes

The best part of my dad & Kim's visit last weekend was the belated Christmas gift they brought up for me.  Dad, besides being an expert rock skipper, is also a craftsman that builds beautiful furniture and other home and garden accessories.  For my Christmas gift this year, he built me the most adorable window boxes for my cottage!     My windows out front are pretty large so I needed quite a few potted plants, flowers, and herbs to fill the boxes.  But, it gave us the perfect opportunity to make a trip to our favorite store for some nursery shopping! 

These beautiful flower boxes could not have come at a better time... I needed a dose of cutesy cottage decorating since "my" cottage is now "our" cottage and is completely filled with boy stuff.  

Thank goodness for Kim's green thumb and guidance... hopefully I can keep these plants healthy, which would be a refreshing change from the garden massacre of 2012.  Literally nothing made it out alive.

Between the new deck, the green patio furniture, and the new window boxes - it looks so cute out front!  I can't wait for the mornings to warm up a bit so we can have breakfast and coffee outside on the weekends.

On small moments, fate, and four-leaf clovers

I wonder sometimes about the timing of little moments in life; I wonder if it is all completely random, or if I am meant to encounter certain people and share certain moments with them.  Take this morning for example… on my way to work I went through Scotts Valley to satisfy my Starbucks craving.  As I was getting out of my car, a nice elderly gentleman was passing by and stopped to talk to me. “Good morning there, young lady.  I’d like to ask you a question… have you ever seen a four-leaf clover?”

As he said this he was slowly reaching into his pocket to retrieve something, but my mind had already flowed to memories of my cousin Jamie, and how we used to hunt through the big patch of green clovers in my Auntie Jillayne’s backyard in search of a four-leaf clover.  I don’t know what we thought might happen if we found one, but I don’t think it mattered much.  We were both just the type of girl that could sit for hours quietly searching for something rare and special, having faith that magic and luck do exist somehow in this world.  Needless to say, this sweet man had me in his opening line.

“My name is Doug – that is short for Douglas, you know,” he said, now holding a tiny manila envelope in his aged hands.  He very gingerly pulled a green, dried, and pressed four-leaf clover from inside the envelope.  “I am 92 years old but I feel like I’m 30 and I have had a beautiful life,” he placed it back inside the envelope and handed me the tiny treasure, “and I only give these to give to pretty girls.”   It was then that I noticed the playful sparkle in his glassy, watering eyes… a twinkle that I am sure will remain regardless of time and age.

Is it really possible for my heart to melt for a complete stranger?  I thanked him and just as I wondered who this man was that had made my regular morning ritual so special he said, “You can Google me later – just look up Douglas Turkey Egg.”  I certainly wasn’t going to forget that name.

It turns out he has had a beautiful life, filled with love, luck, and great experiences like acting at a young age in movies with the likes of Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, and John Wayne.  As I read an article about him in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, towards the end it said that he grows these 4-leaf clovers in his backyard and hands them out as his way of sharing the good fortune he’s experienced in his lifetime.

This is a perfect example of the moments I wonder about, moments that seem like small gifts that spark excitement and inspiration inside me.  It was 7am on a regular ol’ Tuesday, I didn’t even have breakfast in my belly yet, and I happened to cross paths with this delightful person who simply wanted to share his joy and enthusiasm for life with me.  Even if I never make sense of the idea of fate around these moments, I can at least say I know am a lucky lady and now I have the four-leaf clover to prove it.

Life lately, according to my iPhone

I was (obviously) unable to keep up with putting up my 1 picture-a-day posts, but rest assured I am taking at least one picture a day.  But I'll just put posts up every now and then of my favorite pictures. So life lately has been pretty blissful, albeit very busy...

Cheryl and I made a trip up to San Fran, and enjoyed a fun night out with Jon and Leslie

Brent and I have enjoyed a couple of UFC fight nights at home...

...and also enjoyed a few beers as well.

We are still eating the avocados Dad and Kim brought up with them, and even had a guac party at work.

Thanks to Rob I have discovered my new favorite food at the Saturday farmers market...

I've been diligently practicing my calligraphy... and a little French, too :)

Brent is happy that I've finally started going mountain biking with him on the weekends...

which means a lot of exercise and a lot of beautiful scenery.

We celebrated Katy's birthday with yummy Italian food and good friends...

I made a new friend on my lunch break walk through San Juan Bautista...

But he's not as cute as Rudybega.

I've found a new magazine I love...Lastly, I am loving my new job!  I get to do all sorts of fun stuff like working a photo shoot at a big printer in our area.  I loved the old machines... So far 2013 has been a wonderful year, and has brought with it many new challenges and adventures for me, hence the lack of time to blog about it all.  I know I'll find the balance eventually, because I love keeping up with this online journal!  Much more to come :)

Skippin' stones

Last weekend while Dad and Kim were here for a visit, we decided to take a walk in search of the secret swimming spot tucked away in the redwoods appropriately called the Garden of Eden.  Despite Dad inspecting his map before we left, we still managed to get off course and ended up at a quiet, still portion of the little river.  No biggie, we just stopped and skipped stones for a while. Brent and I managed to get a skip or two in, but mostly giggled at the loud plunks of our stones sinking straight to the bottom without a bounce.  Dad, on the other hand, is good at everything, so we weren't surprised to see his stones gliding across the water as if they had teeny motor engines propelling them.

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There is a boy in my house.

Soooo, I'm a little behind on my blog (duh).  It's for a good reason, though.  There's a boy in my house.  Like, all up in my house.

 

In case you were wondering... that is, in fact, a lego robot.  Not pictured: his coonskin hat that (when he's not wearing it) is hanging from my white Pottery Barn candle sconce.  Wait, that's NOT a hat and bicycle helmet rack?

He also came with a copy of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, very appropriately given to him as a gift from his dad just before he moved in here.

One more thing - someone might want to check on hell, because I'm pretty sure it froze over when Brent took me mountain biking... and I actually liked it.

A Quick Update

Bad news – I’ve been neglecting this blog.  Sorry about that.  That’s all I have for the bad news!  The rest is all good news… First – I got a new job!  There are a lot of wonderful things to say about this, but here are a few main points…

I’m working with Cheryl again!   We are totally work soul mates - this is the 4th place we have worked together.  It’s really just meant to be.

This line of work is a much better fit for me... mentally and emotionally.  Being in a creative atmosphere has awakened so much happiness and inspiration inside of me!

I am not waking up at 5am every day to check my email anymore, or working insanely long days or on the weekends.  I have my brain back – I am no longer riddled with anxiety or going 100mph in my mind all day, every day.

I think the best part is that I have been reminded that when things don’t go perfectly at work, it is NOT the end of the world… and it shouldn’t have to feel like it!

Second – in exactly 7 days, Brent will be in California.  And not just for a visit – FOREVER.

Pinch me – is this really happening?  I am so excited to get to be near each other, and not have to go through the upsetting goodbye process every two weeks.  I have been hesitant to let myself get too worked up over this since it would be too upsetting if anything delayed it again.  But last weekend when I met Brent in Bakersfield and he loaded a few boxes of his stuff into my car to bring back with me, I think it finally sunk in.  That was the last time we had to say goodbye and go our separate ways.

The two of us have accomplished everything we said we wanted to do for ourselves as individuals before we really started living together.  We have talked about this happening for the last 5 years or so, and it always seemed a little to me like it would never really happen.  But here we are.

I have spent the last few days overwhelmed with how grateful I am to Brent for making this huge leap of faith, and how much I’m looking forward to sharing little things in life together. I’ll get to cook my big breakfasts every weekend for both of us instead of having to over-eat alone… we’ll get to go grab a beer downtown together after a long work week… I will no longer be the awkward 3rd or 5th wheel at every social gathering… all because we will be living in the same place!  Now we just have to find Brent a job, and find a place where we can live forever as neighbors, since we are still two very independent people and we know that will never change. :)

Seriously, someone is going to need to pinch me.

p.s. I worry you wouldn't recognize my blog without a picture of Rudybega...

New Year's Day

On New Year's Day, we decided to go out for a quick brunch with Leslie and the boys before we left the city.  We enjoyed a delicious meal at Pier 23 - my breakfast sandwich tasted like heaven... ...and I was super excited when Brent agreed to split a root beer float with me.  He rarely ever agrees to dessert, so I jump on the opportunity when it arises.

After we said our goodbyes we drove across the bridge, headed to the Marin Headlands to take in the view of the Bridge and the city in the distance.

The drive up there was initially very frustrating... I have a very short fuse when I'm behind the wheel and this curvy road up the hillside was packed with annoying touristy-type minivans moving at a snail's pace.  I was ready to pull into the first available spot I saw, but nooooooooo.... Brent wanted to go all the way to the top.  I believe he even used the term "tippy-top", just to send my blood pressure through the roof.  But boy I'll tell you, I need to learn to be more patient and just go along for the ride because Brent was right... it was so worth driving all the way up to the "tippy-top".  The view was breathtaking.  We even braved the freezing cold 20 mph winds and climbed the rest of the way on foot to the top of the hill to take a million pictures.

It was a wonderful way to spend the first day of the new year...  I can't wait to see what else 2013 has in store!

New Year's Eve

For the first time in our 6 years together, Brent and I were finally both off work and able to be together on New Year's Eve.  To top it off, this was the first year Brent was able to join me in San Francisco to celebrate with some of my favorite family members, Jon and Leslie.  I've been telling him for years how fabulous it is to ring in the new year at their house in the city, complete with great company, delicious wine, and fondue for dinner.  Needless to say, I was very excited to finally get to share the experience with him.  It wasn't quite the same without my mom and Kathy who were unable to make it this year, but it was still a really great time!

I always take pictures of the dining room before and after, because I think it's the most obvious indication of the fun had around that table:

I was also on cloud 9 from cute overload between Butkis and the 2 kitty-cats:

As always, a big thank-you to Jon and Leslie for having us in their warm, welcoming home to kick off the New Year in such a fabulous fashion!  Love you so much :)

2012 | A Year in Review

I just arrived home from dropping Brent off at the airport after a whirlwind 5-day visit filled with a cyclocross race, beach frolicking, ringing in the New Year in San Fran, and visiting with friends in town from Arizona.  Since it seems 2013 is off to a great start, I thought it appropriate to go back through my posts from 2012 to reminisce and post some of my favorite snapshots before I start editing the pictures and putting together posts for the New Year! January I celebrated the 2012 New Year last year in San Francisco as well, but spent the rest of the month in a much more low-key fashion - cooking in my cottage, taking the dogs for walks, and keeping all of my vases filled with flowers.  There's really nothing like enjoying life in my little corner of redwood heaven!February February was filled with a fun visit with Brent and a quick jet down to Pacific Grove, a visit from my Dad & Kim, showing Cheryl and Rob around Santa Cruz, making some yummy treats for Love Day, and celebrating Rudybega Day.March Spring was in the air, and I took full advantage of its bounty by buying flowers, thrifting and sifting through the treasures of people's spring cleaning, getting out on the beach with my bestie (a newbie Santa Cruz-ian!), and visiting my favorite store in Ben Lomond to explore their refreshed seasonal inventory.April A little pet-sitting, some seasonal candy-making, beach time, cooking, Brent visits, and recapping a drive down the coast to Cambria kept me busy last April.May To kick off the summer I started (and in true Heather fashion never finished) a summer bucket list, did some more cooking in my cottage kitchen, visited Brent in Vegas, found a perfect lunch spot, and had my girlfriends over for a succulent frame planting party.June My mom made a trip out to Santa Cruz and together we enjoyed great food, wine, and forest exploration.  Cheryl and I went to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History to see the "All You Need Is Love" exhibit, and I felt so touched and inspired by the experience.  I also spent every Saturday morning at the farmers market soaking up the sun and eating plenty of the delicious fresh summer fruits.  Oh, and I bought Boo a basket... or at least he thinks I bought it for him.July Cheryl hosted a pie baking party at her house, which was a total blast (and I hope an annual tradition... hint, hint)!  Cheryl and I made a visit to the Mission San Juan Bautista and did some antique shopping.  My weekends were filled with the annual Jam-B-Q, discovering beautiful Pescadero, hunting for seashells on the beach, playing with my new computer, and buying colorful summer flowers. My favorite weekend was with Brent - he arranged a romantic weekend in the Art Deco suite of the Boulder Dam Hotel when I visited him in Las Vegas.August A new friend at work introduced me to my new favorite spice blend and shared a delicious recipe, I celebrated my birthday (a little belated) on the Boardwalk with friends, made a trip up to San Fran for Outsidelands, became addicted to practicing calligraphy, and Brent and I ran the 10K Race through the Redwoods (don't forget about my new alias "H-Bomb McNasty").September I spent Labor Day weekend with Brent in Las Vegas, shared 50 things about us, hit a couple of my regular Santa Cruz spots - 99 Bottles and the River Cafe, and finally made a trip back to Arizona to visit friends and family, including a quick day trip up to Sedona. October This was the busiest month of the year for me - travel, travel, travel!  In addition to a long weekend conference in Anaheim for work, Brent and I took our first big vacation trip together to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about that big city - its atmosphere and culture has stayed present in my mind, and I love to envision we are back there in our little hotel room with all of the noise and delicious food smells.November I was so glad to spend this month staying in Santa Cruz, enjoying a visit from Brent, Winemaker Wednesdays in Capitola, cleaning my cottage, reliving some fun moments from our trip, and having a low-key Friendsgiving with Cheryl and Rob.December Another month spent in the comfort of my cottage, with a fun date on a deserted winter beach, decorating my cottage for the holidays, making and sending Christmas cards, and starting a new Christmas tree tradition with my best friends.  I made a quick trip down to Sierra Madre to see my family (and newly engaged Seester!), attend my Auntie Kris's wedding celebration, and made sure to stop for my favorite vanilla chai latte from Bean Town (twice!).  I had a quiet, rainy Christmas staying at Cheryl and Rob's with the dogs while they were visiting family in Arizona, baking myself cinnamon rolls, Skyp-ing with my mom on Christmas morning, and watching a marathon of (truth time!) Gossip Girl.  I know, I know... I'm pretty disappointed in myself, too.  All in all, I really could not have asked for a better ending to 2012!

My DIY Christmas Cards

I had a lot of fun crossing #4 off of my Christmas bucket list, making my DIY Christmas cards to send to friends and family.  Normally I'd just go buy a cute set of letterpress cards, but this year I decided to create something a little more personal.  I simply added a vectored file of one of my Christmas doodles to a picture we took at the Christmas tree farm...

 ...printed the pictures and added a red card stock backing so I could handwrite messages...

and finished with white ink calligraphy to address each envelope.

My favorite part was definitely the little Rudy postage stamp affixed to each envelope!I hope everyone enjoyed receiving the cards in the mail.  I have received a few Christmas cards and I must say, they really do bring me joy!

 

Crest Ranch Christmas Tree Farm

I've already got #12 checked off my Christmas bucket list!  December 1st marked 6 years together for Brent and I, and I couldn't think of a more fun and romantic way to spend the day than with all of my best friends at a Christmas tree farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Although I wasn't looking for a fresh Christmas tree, I knew Cheryl and Rob were, so I recommended Crest Ranch Christmas Tree Farm in Bonny Doon.  I went there with my neighbors during my first winter season in California, and I fell madly in love with the view of the redwood covered mountains, the dogs happily running around the farm off-leash, and the thick, abundant Christmas spirit in the air.  I think Rudy was the best part of the whole day - the joy he took in running and leaping through the trees was completely infectious and had me giggling with delight.  I took a ton of fun pictures (also make sure to check Cheryl's post), but I had even more fun helping Brent edit this video of our tree-chopping extravaganza!