Found: River Cafe in Santa Cruz

Hidden away in a small parking lot shaded by tall trees of changing colors lies the River Cafe in Santa Cruz.  In my usual last-minute fashion, Katy and I decided to head there for breakfast just days before the Groupon I'd had for year was set to expire.  It's a tiny, oddly-shaped building lacking nothing in the charm department and serves breakfast and lunch composed of all fresh, organic ingredients.  The sweet, imperfect details of the place made me feel as comfortable as if I was eating breakfast in my own home.

I had the house made granola topped with Strauss Family yogurt, fresh berries, and a drizzle of honey with a soy chai tea latte.  The food is served on mismatched antique dishes and there's plenty of room on the decking around the café to enjoy the morning light.


A Fun Friday Night

You know you had a great night when the next day you find fun pictures on your camera you don't remember being taken.  Rob must have snapped these of Cheryl and I while we were having a silly moment (a very common occurrence for Chether).  I'm sure these were taken at some point after we each crossed 2 beers off our 99 Bottles cards.  I'm so happy to have my bestie in Santa Cruz with me!

Found: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

I can check #8 off of my summer bucket list Cheryl and I had a girls day last weekend, and we made a visit to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History to see the "All You Need Is Love" exhibit.  I really enjoyed the visit and was so touched by the message of the exhibit! My favorite room was the first one we visited - it was filled with historical and modern-day love stories from around Santa Cruz...

... a "I love fill-in-the-blank" chalkboard wall - on which (of course) Cheryl and I had to leave our mark!

One wall inside the room asked attendants to write their answer on the wall to the question "what is the craziest thing you've ever done for love?"

...and there were some interesting responses!  Cheryl left a message, too.

I had to leave the room when my favorite Ben Folds love song "The Luckiest" came on because it was just all too much and I wasn't prepared to cry in public.

Moving on to the largest room, we found it filled with large-scale art pieces, photographs, historical artifacts, and so much more... all in keeping with the seemingly limitless love theme.

The tears came back again when I saw the love stories people shared about their furry family members...

I think I enjoyed the interactive features of the exhibit the most... they really got me thinking and sparked some great conversations between Cheryl and I (not that we need much help in that department).

We took the "What's your love style?" quiz... and it was surprisingly accurate, I think!  Whichever color bead you moved over most correlated to the key on the wall describing your love style.  I moved the most pink beads over... my love style was Agape, with a side of mania - ha!  Interesting, considering I don't want to have children!When we got to the 3rd floor of the exhibit, I was delighted to see there was an arts and crafts station to make our own love collage!

There is also a permanent exhibit on the history of Santa Cruz I found very fascinating.  "Where the Redwoods Meet the Sea" - the best description I can think of for this magical place!

I loved the time we spent here, and I really can't wait to see what the next exhibit will be after this one is done in July!

Mom Visit

So, I guess I missed the memo... it's flipping JUNE already!  I have a an overwhelming feeling of being behind - at work, at home, and with my blog.  It feels like I've been on the go since I came back from Vegas last month, but it has certainly been a great summer kick-off!  I'll have to check back in with my summer bucket list to see how much progress I've made so far. My mom visited last weekend, which was a really special treat since we don't get to see each other often, and we definitely don't get much time with just the two of us.  It's not really our style to plan out an itinerary for our vacations, so we just followed where the weekend took us...

I picked Mom up at the airport on Friday morning and we started the day with a long walk through Henry Cowell... I never tire of living so close to such an incredible place.

We had a fabulous dinner at one of my favorite places downtown, Soif.  I had the scallops and a glass of 2010 Pascal Cotat Sancerre Rosé Pinot Noir.

We (of course) made a stop at the Penny Ice Creamery, where they make their ice cream from scratch... they literally pasteurize the milk there and everything!  I had a s'mores sundae, which was to die for.

Saturday morning was spent at the farmers market in Aptos, which in the summer months is filled with beautiful fresh fruit and flowers.  We had a smorgasbord of snacks on the patio outside my cottage in the warm sun.

We visited the pier in Santa Cruz for some clam chowder and to take in the sights of the boardwalk, West Cliff Drive, and the ocean... the weather was absolutely perfect and made the day all the more enjoyable.

The whole weekend was fantastic, and it was so great to see my mom!

Summer 2012 Bucket List

Last summer, my first summer in California, I worked waaaay too much and didn't enjoy the gorgeous weather and laid back atmosphere of Santa Cruz nearly enough.  This year I plan to correct that... especially since my bestie Cheryl lives here now! 1. Birthday at the Boardwalk - I'm turning 27, but I'd like to spend it more like I'm turning 7. Sub-category bucket list for the Boardwalk: - Eat cotton candy - Ride the Giant Dipper at least 5 times - Laser Tag - Beat Brent at Skeeball - Lunch on the beach - Get soaked on the log ride - Avoid getting a sun burn

2. Read at least 6 books - I've got to put a dent in the collection I have piling up at home.

3. Try a new recipe once every week (and add to my recipe scrapbook)

4. Go camping in Big Sur - the more friends that join, the better!

5. Take a road trip - I'd like to explore the northern coast of California

6. Go wine tasting - It's really a crime that I haven't done this yet

7. Attend a concert - I already have this one planned... Outsidelands 2012!  :)

8. Visit the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History - I'd love to see the All You Need Is Love exhibit

9. Visit the Land of Medicine Buddha - particularly to learn the art of meditation

10. Master at least 1 song on my ukulele - playing and singing at the same time... this really hurts my head.

11. Host an outdoor party at my cottage - already planned a succulent frame planting party!

12. Create a new chocolate candy recipe

13. Visit all of the nearby California missions

14. Go out dancing

15. Paint a picture

Weekend in pictures

I have been MIA for a whole week!  I definitely needed a week or so of reclusion, and I had a fantastic weekend to put me right back into the swing of things. Friday marked the end of Cheryl's first week at the office - I'm so happy to be working with her again.  We celebrated with cocktail hour at Paradise Beach Grille down in the Capitola Village, which has a great patio area right on the water.

Saturday morning was an early one - and we made it to the farmer market in time to have 1st pick of the beautiful flowers.

My neighbor Maggie and I grabbed some chai teas and drove up to Boulder Creek to peruse the little shops and flea market... I found a couple cute tops at a vintage shop - all for under $10!

I took a quick catnap and then headed out for dinner with some fun ladies in Downtown Santa Cruz.  I had the cosmojito, the lovechild of a cosmopolitan and a mojito and it was quite refreshing!

I had a lazy Sunday morning filled with a little coffee and a lot of Boo cuddles... he sinks into my lap like a pad of butter on a warm biscuit.  I like to joke that he's the sandman kitty - he always induces a pleasant nap.

I spent Sunday afternoon at a beach in Aptos with Rudy and the Johannes clan.  I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than laying on the beach with Rudy and reading a good book.  I'm thinking this should be the plan every Sunday.

West Cliff Drive ~ Santa Cruz

One of my favorite spots here to get a quick dose of relaxation, great atmosphere and a beatiful view is West Cliff drive in Santa Cruz.  It's an easy place to drive to just to soak up some beauty and watch the sunset and surfers.  There are always people walking cute dogs, sitting playing music or just quietly taking in the scenery.  Here are a few shots from when Brent and I stopped by one night after I got off work a couple of weeks ago - such a great way to end the day, and a reminder of how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place!