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!

Back to the Desert

I suppose it was time to pay a visit back to Arizona... the only time I've gone back since I moved away 2 years ago was for my mom's 50th birthday, and I literally flew in for the night and left 18 hours later.  Brent had a medical conference in Phoenix last week so it was a good motivator to get me on a plane to meet him there.  He ended up being tied up at the conference for most of the time while we were there, so I got to spend a lot of quality time with friends and family that I hadn't seen in a looong time. Thursday I visited my Grandma and Grandpa for lunch in their beautiful home in Sun Lakes and afterward stopped for some frozen yogurt.  They certainly know their granddaughter :).  It brought back fond memories of when Grandpa used to take me for frozen yogurt at our local Smitty's grocery store after I'd gotten a good report card.

Thursday night I was delighted to have dinner with my best friend from high school, Krystal, and her really adorable 3 year old son, Oliver.  Krystal and I met our junior year of high school on a biology field trip to Catalina Island, and we were immediately inseparable.  We were having such a great time together that people started asking us how long we'd been friends and we happily replied "2 hours".  We were just that perfect for one another!  Sometimes I struggle with how much I miss her, and even more knowing I'm missing witnessing Oliver growing up.  But, I appreciate the long letters we write to one another and the pictures of little Ollie she sends with her letters.

Oliver has certainly grown up a lot since I left... and he puts on a great show to LMFAO with his play-doh microphone!

I couldn't believe how much her little pup, Josie, looks just like a girl Rudy!  I am still having daydreams of dressing them up and having a little doggy wedding.

I look forward to seeing them again; hopefully it won't be another 2 years from now.

Friday was spent on a quick day trip up to Sedona with Mom and Kathy...

The rest of the weekend was fun - I had a great time with my old neighbors, I was of course glad to spend time with Brent, see some old friends, and visit with Brent's family.

image via Courtney, Brent's youngest sister :)

While I was really glad to see everyone, I was also really happy to come home Sunday afternoon.  It's funny how a place that is so familiar to me no longer feels like home.  I suppose it never really felt like the right fit for me when I lived there.  I really do love the little bubble of paradise I live in up here in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I feel more certain than ever that I made the right move.

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!

Outsidelands 2012: The Music

I did in fact tear my attention away from the fried food long enough to enjoy some music at Oustidelands.  Clearly, my favorite was Steve Wonder {we're not worthy!}, but I also really enjoyed many other acts, some well-known, some not so much. Here are my favorites from Outsidelands 2012:

Beck - duh.  He played all of his best songs, sounded great live, and everyone in the audience was jamming out and having a really good time.  Leslie and I had a really memorable people-watching moment with a couple in front of us that was seriously boogie-ing down Woodstock-style (see Dave Chapelle's White People Can't Dance).

Norah Jones  - she is one classy lady.  Her voice was just as beautiful singing live, and I forgot how many of her songs I absolutely love!

Fitz and the Tantrums - Moneygrabber has been on repeat in my car for two weeks.  I really love their retro Motown-esque sound.  The lead vocalists voices blend perfectly.  See also: "Breakin' the Chains of Love" and "Pickin' Up the Pieces"

Fun.  I only saw the last couple songs, but they totally lived up to their name in live performance - they packed the lawn on the biggest stage, and the entire audience was having a blast.

Rebelution - ahem, I think my Santa Cruz is showing.

Jon was totally pumped after seeing Die Antwoord.  Leslie and I stood WAY in the back and caught the last song and I will admit, the crowd looked like they were having the time of their lives. The mass of people all pulsing to the music, pumping their arms in the air in unison.  It was quite a sight to behold.  My overall impression is that Die Antwoord is really, really weird (see video below), but they are also strangely entertaining.  Until recently, I thought Lady Gaga was weird.  But Die Antwoord makes her look like Mary Poppins.

Two Gallants - I was SO impressed with these guys.  They're just a guitarist and drummer, but they filled that huge stage and worked it.  They're both from San Francisco, so it was really cool for them to share they had won their 8th grade soccer championship on the very field which they were now playing for thousands of people.

Explosions in the Sky - I've this as a Pandora station on my computer at work because they're really great background music without putting me to sleep.  I was sort of scared they wouldn't translate to live performance, but they were really great live!

 

Outsidelands 2012 via my iPhone

My track record of concerts I have attended is pretty sad: N*SYNC when I was a teenager, Bob Seger when I was in college, and Melissa Etheridge last year on my birthday.  Since I am a little behind the concert curve, I added "attend an outdoor music festival" to my summer bucket list.  Check - Outsidelands 2012!  Two of my favorite people on earth, Jon and Leslie (aunt and uncle), live in San Francisco and attend every year.  Since I now only live a little over an hour from the city, I realized this year I can finally tag along for the fun!  And for the record, the word "fun" is a serious understatement for the experience I had.  My feet were sore from all of the walking, but most notably sore were my stomach muscles from what seemed like 3 days straight of pure laughter and fried food consumption.  The music lineup didn't suck, either... ...HELLO - I saw Stevie Wonder live and in person!!!

Outsidelands_Stevie Wonder
Outsidelands_Stevie Wonder

Beck was a total blast, too...

Some of that fried food...

The whole set up in Golden Gate Park was really fun - like a whole other world!

Cold at Neil Young and Crazy Horse... thank goodness I bought that Outsidelands blanket!!

...did I mention the fried food?  Oh, and a note for the single ladies: men apparently LOVE a chick that can balance two beers in plastic cups in one hand so the other hand can be reserved for a plate of fried food.  I seriously think I could have scored a husband on the walk from the food carts to the concert stage, but only if I was in to the whole "grungy, drunk, skinny jeans, and flannel shirt" thing.  Which I'm not, for the record.

I drew the line at chocolate covered bacon... just kidding!  I totally ate that, too.

I had so much fun, I didn't even mind the crowd of 65,000 people... I never thought I would be able to say that.  I'm that girl that gets totally uptight and leaves a house party that gets a little too crowded.  I credit it to the fact that all of the people there, albeit very excited, were also pretty courteous and calm.

Each night, it felt SO fabulous to get back to the house, climb into a cozy bed, and sleep with the most calm, cool, and collected kitty of all time: Minxy.  He kept my Rudy withdrawals at bay... he's such a stud muffin.

A big THANK YOU to Jon and Leslie for a fabulously fun weekend! I can't wait for Outsidelands 2013!!

Kitty Kitty Meow Meow

I'm so glad there's a kitty to keep Brent company in the house in Nevada and I'm always happy to see her when I visit, too.  I don't know her real name... Brent just calls her "Kitty Kitty Meow Meow", which I think actually fits her quite well.  She's got a little cackle for a meow and emits a scratchy purr when you pet her.  I spent a good 30 minutes brushing the mats out of her fur today, and she was very appreciative (as much as a cat can be, anyway).  I snapped this picture of her today and her piercing green eyes remind me of the famous "Afghan Girl" photo by Steve McCurry from the cover of National Geographic.

Kitty Kitty Meow Meow

Life Lately

I have not been very good about finding the balance between activities and taking time to blog about them.  What a fortunate problem to have :) But, here's a quick catch-up:

My neighbors hosted their 3rd Annual Jam-B-Q (BBQ with a live band), followed by a disco dance party in my cottage and sleeping on the bathroom floor... totally worth it!

I had a lovely birthday with lots of wonderful gifts from friends and family... I am very spoiled!  Plus, the sweet scent of garden roses on my desk at work made my birthday last all week.

My birthday celebration at the Boardwalk was a huge success!  Make sure to check Cheryl's post, as she took all of the pictures. This one is stolen from her blog... I love the log ride!

I also crossed #7 off of my summer bucket list with a weekend trip up to San Francisco for Outsidelands!  More on this later - it was a fantastic time!

Brent was here last week, so all felt right with the world.  We spent nights at home cooking dinner and playing records on our new turntable.  Sunday was the Race thru the Redwoods, which I surprisingly completed (albiet at a snail's pace and not looking nearly as cool and collected as Brent does in the pic below).  But I suppose the plus side is that my super-slow-mo time won't technically go on the books since Brent registered me for the race as "H-Bomb McNasty".  Hardee-har-har... step back ladies - he's all mine.

Rudy is just as adorable as ever - he spent the weekend with his Auntie Katy while I was up in San Francisco, and now I'm pretty sure I've been replaced.  He's madly in love with her!

Boo and Toby are busy breaking in the new blanket I brought home from Outsidelands, giving it the good ol' cat hair-covered initiation.

{yoo buy zees forr me, yes?}
I've been a bit MIA in the blogosphere, mostly thanks to the calligraphy set Cheryl gave me for my birthday... I have a serious addiction to pen nibs and ink dipping.  My nails are unkempt, fingertips and clothes covered in ink stains, and I'm pretty sure my eyes are starting to cross.

 

Weekend in Pictures

1. Beach treasures 2. Mission San Juan Bautista 3. Bitsy, a sweet pug that lives in an antique shop in San Juan Bautista 4. My new (old) rocking chair from Aggie's Porch 5. Lunch with Cheryl at La Casa Rosa... she'll be posting all of the details soon! 6, 7, & 8. The perfect lazy Sunday at home with the furry family

Tobert

Introducing the last (but not least) member of my furry family: Boobear's better half, my fat buddha boy... Toby!  I adopted Toby, gosh, 7 years ago?!?  Time flies... he was a teeny  kitten that needed a home and Boobear needed a friend, so it was a perfect fit.  He's the *slightly* less demanding of my two cats, so sometimes I think he gets a bit lost in the mix.  But I certainly love his sweet & loving personality, his super-soft bunny fur, and the spot on his back that makes his tongue stick out when you scratch it.

He's a talker.  It's more of a shout, really.

His big Buddha belly makes a great pillow... just ask his brother.

He's not ashamed to kick back, relax, and let it all hang out.

I call him my bathroom troll because he pretty much lives in my laundry basket in the bathroom, and shouts at me when I turn on the light and disturb his slumber.

It's amazing that a kitty so sweet can make such atrocious cat box deposits.

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!

Succulent Party

I'm crossing #11 off my summer bucket list because I hosted my first party at my little cottage!  I had some girlfriends over for a succulent planting party and it was a huge success. A special thanks to my Dad for building us the frame planters - they turned out much better than anything we could have bought at a store.

I went to work on the invitations (I found the succulent stamps on this Etsy shop)

...and also made succulent care instruction cards for everyone to take home with their planted frames.

I had so much fun preparing for the day!  I made my enchiladas and (of course) set up a margarita station.

I set up a table on the patio and we enjoyed Mexican food fare.

After a few good margaritas we finally decided to plant our frames.  I set up a big work station so we could all work together.

It turned out great - I really love it.

Find the how-to instructions for a DIY succulent frame on Cheryl's blog... she took plenty of pictures!

Thanks for coming, girls... I had SO much fun!  I hope this is just the beginning of our project parties!! :)

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

Boo Bear

Boo Bear was the first cat I adopted on my own as an adult.  He's proof positive that I cannot be trusted to visit any sort of animal shelter without bringing someone home.  I think it was about 8 years ago that I was out the pound with my mom because she was looking to adopt a dog, and I heard a sad wail distinct from all of the rest.  I looked to my left, and there was a sad, eye-and-nose-infected cat with his long arm reaching out of the cage towards me.  Instant tears... I knew I wasn't leaving there without him. I have no shame in my crazy cat lady love for this fur ball - he's my soulmate kitty.

He's like velcro to my side, always ready to curl up next to me and induce a good nap. He lets me dress him up - he knows he looks good in anything...

He loves the holidays...

He lives a very active lifestyle...

He's very affectionate...

He's just Boo.

Please, please adopt a full grown cat if you can.  They need a warm and loving home just as much little kittens.  I think adult cats bond to their owners even more so than adopted kittens. I swear Boo knows I rescued him - just look at that face!

 

Weekend Snapshots

After the last few weekends on the move and a couple of crazy weeks at work, I was overdue for a relaxing, no-plan sort of weekend.  It ended up being a perfect balance of relaxing with wonderful company, great food, a good book, and lots of sunshine! I can't think of a better way to kick off the weekend than Friday night pizza and beer.

Cheryl and Rob invited Rudy and I over for dinner Saturday night - her veggie lasagna was delicious!

...as was the dessert.

Sunday morning I enjoyed some coffee from The Abbey and went into work for a couple hours.

The best part of the whole weekend was staying at the beach until the sun went down.  Rob built a fire in the sand and Cheryl and I sat reading our books and chatting for hours.

Rudy is such a great little beach dog - just quietly hung out with us all day, enjoying watching other dogs, chasing his ball, and sleeping on my towel.  He made sure to get his share of cuddles with everyone, too.

The sunset was gorgeous...

I strayed from my usual Steak Sunday dinner and thought I would rather do a "Snacking Sunday" with a nice glass of Windy Oaks Pinot Noir - my favorite wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Just another one of those surreal times that I have to pinch myself to remember that I really do live here in this paradise!

 

Life lately, according to my iPhone

It's been a while since I've posted, so this ought to cover the last 3 or 4 weeks... sorry for the excessive scrolling! Brent and I met in Sierra Madre for a weekend back in March - it's a good halfway point between Santa Cruz and Las Vegas, and he had a cycling stage race in San Dimas.  We of course hit all of our favorite spots... Taco Lita, the pub for a cold one and cottage pie, Bean Town for chai lattes, and Dad and Kim's cozy cottage living room complete with a warm fire.Mom and Kathy happened to be camping down in Dana Point that same weekend, so we drove down to spend the afternoon on the beach with them... Brent and I were both very happy to see Parkerboy.  Don't they look studly together? :)

Dad picked some avocados for us to take home...

...and I enjoyed smelling Kim's freshly blooming sweet peas.  I always say Dad and Kim's house in Sierra Madre is the only place I go where I don't spend the whole time wishing I was back in my cottage.  It's truly a home away from home.

Back at the homestead things are just about the same.  Lots of farmers market goodies...

...cuddles with the furry family (+ my sister's dog Chanel - isn't her teeny little face so cute?!).

When Brent was in town, we had a great date night downtown..

...with wine and cheese, of course.

Love.

The weather has been gorgeous as usual.

Boo is just as cuddly as ever... my little velcro-kitty

We had an enchilada party at Steve and Maggie's casa with my favorite Johannes-es (and plenty of tequila)

Last weekend I took a drive down Highway 1 to spend the weekend in Cambria with the family... the view will never cease to amaze me.

Lastly, I'll leave you with a little tea wisdom...