A Davis Walk and Designer Birdhouses

Took a trip to Davis today to enjoy this sunny New Year's Eve gift of a day...burgers and sweet potato fries at Bistro 33 followed by a walk around the UC Davis Arboretum just because it's pretty. A lovely surprise of these design student birdhouses greeted us, all different and charming perched on their poles. Also, a sculpted head, redwoods, ducks, bridges and lots of people walking cute dogs. It felt a little like my old friend Central Park, in a Davis kind of way.

New Years Resolutions anyone? How about this one...

Just breathe.


Get Out of The Way, It's Coming.

Thanksgiving is barely over and already here it is...Christmas everywhere. A little too soon for me, but since I have no say in the timing, go there I must.

Each year we bundle up with friends and watch the Elk Grove Christmas Parade and each year I am so happy at how old school and small-townish it is...girl scouts dressed as Christmas presents and angels, vintage cars festooned with snowflake stickers and sparkly lights, a float celebrating folks who raise seeing eye dogs, firetrucks, a high school marching band followed by concentrating-hard baton twirlers. It's our own miniature Disney Light Parade. We bring our folding chairs and a thermos of coffee and cheer each group as they pass by. Chloe and her friends sit on blankets chattering in between forays to scurry into the street after tossed candy; I take pictures and watch quietly, thinking of the memories being created, childhood unfolding.

Plus, there are dogs wearing lights running in a circle. How much better could it be?

NowThisLife.com - Elk Grove Parade Car


House Fantasies

Yesterday, Ron and I rode a rollercoaster ride of house fantasy...living close to Chloe's school, a short commute, a smaller, easier, less expensive house with hardwood floors and a front porch and a garden in the yard. We toured model homes in El Dorado Hills (which has absolutely nothing to do with what we would be looking for but was where we were waiting to pick up Chloe from a sleepover) and talked about what it would be like to drive less and garden more, to be so close to everything, to not pay all the maintenance and upkeep that our big suburban house requires. We perused smart phone apps searching for available houses and then came home and computer blitzed the same. We found some nice prospects, with some open houses to visit today, and we managed to freak out our poor daughter with even the idea of moving. We facebook messaged for an hour after we both went to bed and it was so fun to have a little adventure together. To not feel so settled; to see possibilities still open to us when at this stage of life it's so easy to feel a bit like the doors are all locked and the directions chosen.

I seem to do this every year when the days get short...I start imagining a different life, a complete upheaval, a fresh start. And then, right on cue, I wake up.

Just to let you in on my fantasy, here's some houses I picture. None of these, mind you, would be in our price range in the neighborhoods we would like to be in...of course.

photo | David Sawyer

photo | David Sawyer

photo | David Sawyer

photo | David Sawyer

Predictably, after I finally closed up my lap top and turned off the lights, the reality started setting in and I couldn't sleep. How to leave behind Chloe's wonderful friends next door where she skates back and forth so easily, squealing with happiness in both of our back yards, and out front, in the park, cartwheeling and climbing trees. Leaving Therese and our walks and talk therapy. Goodbye to our park and lake and field just across the street for Teddy and I each morning, my favorite moments of the day. No egrets or goslings or baby turtles or muskrats and beavers swimming. No white goose, no glimpses of skinny hipped coyotes moving away from us in the field. No neighbors to wave to that we've known for seventeen years, and farewell to all the neighborhood dogs I know by name. No bonus room for Chloe and friends to escape to with their noise and their tween secrets, or for Ron's Jets games. No office for me; where would my piano go, and how about my much loved just-remodeled-four-years-ago kitchen? My mom miles away instead of just down the street, her trampoline and support much harder to visit. No pool filled with laughter and rising voices in the summer.  How about the squirrels in the back yard and the birds that we feed? How about my collection of green and blue vases or all of my seasonal wreaths and stakes for the front yard? No staircase where I kneeled in labor with Chloe, no backyard where Ron and I said our vows in front of our family and friends and we danced with KD the magic dog and Kayla the puppy. How about those same pets buried under the roses?

How could we possibly leave all of this?

For a shorter commute and some money saved?

Maybe someday there will be some place that could pull us away, that we all will walk into and say, yes, this is it, this somehow calls us. There would have to be some powerful magic there to make me say goodbye to this place where my family, and my heart, live.

Today, we'll enjoy the open houses and most likely come home happily grateful for all that we have here. Bruised and battered by dogs and humans that our house is, located in Elk Grove where maybe the property values aren't going in the best direction long term, it is home. It truly is beautiful in the spring when all of my roses put on their very best show. This picture was taken a few years ago when the paint was fresher, the slate path newer, the landscape a little less overgrown. Still, today, it is lovely.

Deliciously, that doorway of beckoning possibility, of the unknown, is open. And that, in itself, is a gift.


Elk Grove Farmer's Market | Fall Edition

Such a perfect fall day...sunshine, a bit of chill in the air in the morning and evening but warm during the height of the day, blue sky, time to spend as we wished. So nice.

First stop, Elk Grove's Saturday morning Farmer's Market...every Saturday, rain or shine, all year. I haven't been in a while and it was fun to see how much the selection had changed with the season. Fall in full force...squash of every variety, bok choy, so-fresh-the-leaves-squeak lettuces and kales, plump little carrots, beets and radishes, walnuts, huge ruby red grapefruits, persimmons, deep red sliced open to show the seeds pomegranates, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro. And, sunflowers.

Plus, a new booth of organic, humane certified, cheese from Spring Hill Jersey Cheese. With samples. The State Fair Gold Ribbon Winning Sage Cheddar? The Firehouse Jack with its fabulous bite? Yes, please.

NowThisLife.com - Bok Choy

NowThisLife.com - Broccoli

NowThisLife.com - Carrots

NowThisLife.com - Fall Bounty

NowThisLife.com - Spring Hill Cheese

NowThisLife.com - Spring Hill Jersey Cheese

NowThisLife.com - Winter Squash & Lemons

NowThisLife.com - Radishes & Beets

NowThisLife.com - Sunflowers

NowThisLife.com - Walnuts

NowThisLife.com - Farmer's Market Stall

NowThisLife.com - Hiding Pumpkin

Such a nice start to the weekend.


On Stillness and That Small Voice

The weather has turned...dark at five o'clock, today the first rain arrived. Not that cold, but definitely time for boots and cardigans and a scarf looped around my neck. With the dark comes a change in my mood, always. A reflective change, a going inwards, sometimes to places that feel dark themselves.

This year though, I am trying to find the light inside through whatever means I can. Yoga is helping...Therese and I go on Sundays now to a much loved class, which is a mixture of Yoga and meditation. Last week we did twenty eight sun salutations and I felt so amazing when I made it through all of them, with a vibrancy and a fullness in my heart and body. It was challenging, yes, but also wonderful. Then stretching and that lovely final reward of Savasana, my legs propped up on a bolster, a woven blanket over me, my mind finally quiet.

Also, of course, books. Ed Bacon has written a book, The Eight Habits of Love, and I am reading it slowly, trying to take it in instead of just buzzing through it like I tend to do. He writes of finding the stillness, in whatever way you need to get there, of its rejuvenating power, its necessity. And I do find it in yoga, in my walks, in my writing. This is the first time I've sat down to write in ages, a gift I am giving myself. An iced tea, a grilled cheese sandwich with spinach at Old Soul at the Weatherstone, sitting on the well worn leather sofa with my macbook in my lap. My feet are up on the bottom rung of the coffee table and my soul is at peace. Surrounded by music and people, still. It is truly lovely. Chloe is in acting class and instead of going back to work, or to Bernado or Tower, I came here, to somewhere that truly feeds me.

I've not written on my blog in so long...scared away by GOMI and fear of revealing too much. Busy with Teddy and all that he has brought into our lives, tired at night. But it's feeling like the window is opening again in a small way. I am feeling a little touch of sunlight sneaking through here, beckoning me. I know it's not about writing for other people or growing an audience of readers. Somehow it's about this, right here, finding my center and maybe sharing that.

Also, gratitude. I've been needing to go there so badly, to focus on what is working, on being kind to people, to myself. Teddy is really doing so much better, and there are moments on our morning walks around the big field when I feel transcendent when I look into his eyes in a watch me. When I see him frolicking in such apparent and overwhelming joy and I am allowed to witness, to share in it with him. Or when he curls up next to my body at night, pressed tight against me. When sometimes he puts his big head on my shoulder or on the pillow next to me and I can feel his breath. Happiness.

NowThisLife.com - Teddy

I am wanting more soul time in my life. This morning I heard a radio show, just a snippet of it, where Cheryl Richardson suggested writing out questions...what do you want, which of those are things you think you should want, what does your soul want? I need to spend some time pondering those things and finding a way to fit more of what I truly want into my life and filtering out some of the other. I spend so much time shopping and picking up our house, commuting and being worn out at the end of the day that it isn't conducive to how I really would choose to spend my time. I think it's just a click here and there that will make it better, not a whole life overhaul, although heaven knows my mind likes to go there. To that fantasy of my little house downtown and growing my organic vegetables and fruit trees and volunteering with dogs, of living with much less. And maybe there is some of that I can incorporate, while still valuing the things that I do have, the people who I have chosen to love. I just need to spend some time thinking on it, give myself some space to go there.

This, tonight, is a start. There can be more of this. More time to write and reflect. A choice is all it is. A choice to take care of myself, to value that small voice inside of me, to let it out.

It feels wonderful.


Feel LIke a New Place for Lunch? Baguettes.

Hungry? Kinda wanting somewhere different to go for lunch?

I've got a great new find for you.

Most Saturdays, I do my weekly shopping...Elk Grove Farmer's Market, Target, Trader Joe's...with a break for lunch in the middle. Usually my Mom and I go to Chevy's and split chicken fajitas, to the point where the waiter expects us each week! This Saturday, she was busy so I decided to try something different and ended up at a little sandwich place that Therese has raved about, Baguette's.

Originally opened by the folks who own the excellent Boulevard Bistro in Old Elk Grove, and then sold not too long ago to new owners, it retained the fresh and surprising menu filled with gourmet sandwiches. There's also a tempting bakery case, daily freshly made baguettes and ciabatta, breakfasts, and big glass dispensers of iced tea and lemonade so you can make your own Arnold Palmers. Add in a few chairs and tables outside, a cart full of magazines to browse, and a smattering of customers smacking their lips while trading bites of sandwiches and you have a definite find. Especially in Elk Grove, land of the chain restaurants, it's refreshing to have this option. There's not a ton of curb appeal, but it's worth getting past the strip-mall location and unassuming facade.

Too many mouth watering choices on the menu so I just went with the special, a shrimp salad sandwich with lemon aoili, avocado, arugula and sliced red cherry peppers, with a side of homemade brown rice salad. Had my Kindle loaded with new library books, my iced tea/lemonade combo, some shade and a comfy chair...happy Saturday. Even sitting on the side of a parking lot!

NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Signboard
NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Signboard
NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Drinks

NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Shrimp Salad Sandwich
NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Apple
Photo | Baguettes

NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - ExteriorNowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Menu

NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Interior

NowThisLife.com - Baguette's - Cookies
Photo | Baguettes

Baguettes • 9380 Elk Grove Florin Road, Elk Grove • Open every day 9 am - 3 pm.

See you there!

(Not a sponsored post. Just want to spread the love.)


Playing Model For a Day

One of the perks of my job is knowing wonderful photographers and having family photos taken over the years by these talented people. Chloe's been photographed by my dear friends Beth Baugher and Kelsey Edwards several times, starting when she was just four months old. Each time I really have to gear myself up to shoot...it's a lot of work, especially back when Chloe was little and not that excited about the whole process. But I treasure all of those beautiful photos and I'm so glad that I've made myself continue the tradition. I've also been sure to have pictures taken with me in them, and with Ron and my Mom too. So often we take eight million photos of our kids, but us Moms are nowhere to be seen. It can be tough to watch yourself age in this way...each time we shoot there are more lines on my face and bigger bags under my eyes, and I get a little blonder! (Luckily, there is the miracle of Photoshop and I can soften things a bit.)

This year, I was very eager to have Chloe shoot with Victoria Bradley, who does such a beautiful job on our lifestyle models at the agency. She really has a way with tweens and I was super excited to have her work her magic on my girl.

After waking up early to blow out Chloe's eight tons of hair and straighten all of it, I packed our trusty orange Saturn with lots of outfits and snacks, and we made our way to the Marin Headlands where we met Victoria and her assistant, Rachel. Despite my best Mapquest directions, I managed to take the wrong exit and get lost and flustered. Luckily Victoria was gracious enough to drive to where we were and lead me in to the location. There we were greeted by the fog rolling over the mountains, a curvy drive up the Headlands, and finally by the picturesque Presidio Riding Club with its stalls filled with gorgeous horses, friendly horse people, and an adorable shaggy terrier. Chloe got a little lipgloss and blush and then to be a star for the day.

If you don't know Victoria, you should. She makes everyone so comfortable, and has such a gentle and calm way about her. Parents and models always rave after shooting about what a great day they had, and we felt exactly the same way.

I took some photos throughout the day, and thought I'd share them with you to show a little of what goes on behind the scenes at this type of shoot, and then what the finished product looks like. It's a great testimony to what a talented photographer can do.

I was so proud of Chloe this whole day. All those years of shooting have paid off...she's very comfortable and happy in front of the camera and loves the process. She was also a major trooper in the extremely cold and windy beach weather. We had a special day together and now we have gorgeous photos too.

It also was a great reminder for me of all the sacrifices our agency parents make to get their kids to auditions and bookings...in time, energy, money and love. A big thank you to them for being the amazing people, and parents, they are.

Very glamorous hair prep
Archie and Chloe
Victoria shooting
A little touch up 
On the (cold!!) beach
Behind the scenes

The finished product...


A Teddy Mischief Update.

Teddy's online adoption ad describing his personality as highly energetic and "Dennis the Menace-like" has turned out to be frighteningly accurate...

Sneak on top of the kitchen table and steal my peanut butter and jelly english muffin in the thirty seconds while I jump up to put the American Girl doll away that he had in his mouth? Check.

Pull every piece of bark that he can reach off the palm trees? Chew up uncountable pieces of tree branches and bark and spread the leavings all over our house? Check.

Have a definite reputation at Camp Bow Wow for having the most "energy" of all the campers earning quite a few squirts from the "knock it off" water bottle daily? Check.

Think that nibbling on ear lobes and toes and fingers, with very sharp puppy teeth, is one of the best things in the world? Check.

Effortlessly jump up on 4' high counters and make you think that perhaps he's part kangaroo? Yep.

Slide his big head under every piece of furniture, sofa, chair, and bed, to shred the staples, webbing, and fabric underneath? Yes, that too.

Go, go, go most of the day with barely a break for a nap? Wake me up at 6 am with those ear nibbles and big scratchy stretches of his huge calloused feet in my face? Bring you his ball or his rope or his bone over and over again to throw? Cost us a fortune in doggy day care to keep him from destroying our house? Uh huh.

When he finally calms down, snuggle up with his head on your lap or on your shoulder sweet as anything? Have everyone at Camp Bow Wow telling us over and over again how much they look forward to him coming in the door because he's so much fun? Make fast friends with every dog in the neighborhood, large or small? Look at you with that adorable wrinkly face and those big brown eyes and melt your heart? Once in awhile surprise you with a lovely soft kiss? Rearrange himself in bed in a right-up-against-you ball so he can be closer to his humans? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

Have our hearts wrapped up all around him while simultaneously driving us crazy? Absolutely.

Love you Teddy Mischief. Teddy Moose. Teddy Beaver. Love you bunches.

I can drive Mom...

Best Friend Bishop and Teddy

King of the Dog Park

Finally Worn Out

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