More delicate than the historian's
are the mapmakers' colors

San Francisco purportedly has the second largest cherry blossom festival in the country, although the margin by which DC owns the North American capital of all-things-pink-and-pretty-in-April is probably pretty wide, In San Francisco, the emphasis of the festival is less on the Japanese cherry trees and their famous flowers, which are scattered one here one there throughout the city but not really anywhere in particularly magnificent fashion, and more on Japanese culture and entertainment. For two days each on two weekend, the city’s small but historic Japantown comes alive with street food, demonstrations, parades replete w Princess-and-Queen-carrying floats, deals and specials throughout the indoor mall and outdoor shops, etc etc. 

I happened to run through on one of the days of the festival and stopped to wander around. While it was early in the day and the scheduled lineup of events hadn’t started yet, the food stands were already busting out hot bowls of udon and various hand sized snacks. I was more than a little enamored w the process of making takoyaki and took tons of pictures of the older men pouring the dough into the molds and flipping the dough balls nonstop as they puffed up, as well as of the one young boy topping and saucing up all the balls hot off the press.

This late winter / early spring has been blessed w the sunniest nicest days (or maybe I should get used to this), which has meant ample weekend days at the park and on the beach. Although beach-side in these parts often means jacket weather and dangerous rocky waters, I’m not complaining. 

Two recent beach days - one by myself to Ocean Beach in the city, and another w a gaggle of oyster shucker / picnickers to Portuguese Beach about an hour and a half north on the Sonoma Coast.

A very joyous and spontaneous moment caught by Mister Alfred Eisenstaedt
(via kottke)

A very joyous and spontaneous moment caught by Mister Alfred Eisenstaedt

(via kottke)

I woke up in the middle of the night to this song playing last week. Couldn’t really imagine a better lullaby (the foreignness of the language helps :))

(Source: Spotify)

After the excessive food and drink of the first day, we were ready for a hike on the morning of day two. The closest one we found was the short Sonoma Overlook Trail just north of the town center. On a clear sunny day (which it was), you can see all the way to San Francisco from the top. Our reward for getting out of the house and doing something active? Coffee at Scooteria - a, you-guessed-it, scooter-themed drive-through cafe.

After rallying the troops back at the house, we headed to our last and final winery of the trip - Bartholomew Park Winery, in the Carneros region shared by Sonoma and Napa counties. One of the major draws of this place (in addition to the plethora of picnic tables) is the trail loop that starts right behind the main building. What I didn’t know was that the winery is situated on the site of an old vineyard owned by one colorful Hungarian count Agoston Haraszthy. After checking out the museum dedicated to the history of the place, we bought a bottle of white and embarked on the classiest hike that any of us had been on. A nice way to end the lovely time that was had by all!

Winery #2 (Russian River Vineyards, the original vineyard in the area that predated even the appellation) was not only conveniently just a stone’s throw from Winery #1 but also one of the favorites of friend Dan, who had spent some time in Sonoma County for work and was a faithful wine club member of RRV. 

This place did not disappoint. The Hansel and Gretel look of its main building, the large mesh iron horse (more befitting to the previous winery), the liberal pours of wine out of bottles w a beautiful logo and in one case a lopsided dog, the makeshift tasting tent (in light of building renovations), the adorable male staff member who had gone to architecture school and drew us a floor plan of the renovations, the funky female staff member who reminded me of the best servers in my favorite homey Chicago restaurants, the Casablanca quote on the tasting menu - it was all just parfait. By the end of the tasting, Robertson and I were both brand spankin’ new members, and I was ready to conk out for the drive to our AirBnB.

After two wineries, it was lovely to finally head to our home for the evening - but not without stocking up on bread, cheese, olives, fruits, and nuts at a close-by Andy’s Market. Our AirBnB, a couple miles north of Sonoma town center, was a spacious 3 bedroom which we happily took over. Most esteemed features of the pad - a trampoline, a very healthy collection of salt and pepper shakers, and views of Sonoma Valley from the shower.

First time in California wine country last weekend! Huzzah! Milestone!

The stars aligned, and Robertson came out during a weekend that his oenophile friend Dan was also in town for, so we planned a Sonoma sleepover trip for us, another Chicago friend, and a gaggle of European Bainies (love European Bainies, hi Ted & Arabella & Rik!)

I knew that for my first trip to Sonoma/Napa, it’d have to be Sonoma. Where Napa is known for prize-winning and big California cabs, VIP car services, Michelin starred restaurants, and spas, Sonoma has the windier and more spread out roads, the moodier atmosphere, the greater variety of varietals, the proximity to the coast, the cheaper and more casual tastings, the greater concentration of state parks and hikes, the more hippy small towns, all the things that a Kelly would love.

The week before the trip, I went way overboard w planning - addicted to recherch-ing cheese farms, wineries that hit the trifecta of view + food pairing (self-brought or purchased) + value, hiking trails… One thing I didn’t do - check the weather. The morning of our trip, the rain poooured down upon us, and I almost felt a pang of jealousy (okay I did feel a pang of jealousy) for my housemates who were planning on ‘staying in and watching movies all day and baking cookies.’ But there was no turning back, and onwards, northwards we went!

Once we got out of the city, the rain let up, and we made our first stop at the Tea Room Cafe in Petaluma, where we carbo-loaded on french toast, sour cream pancakes, and potato cakes. One of those places that was always full but where everyone was able to find a seat, and with a big giant steel-ish cow watching over us to boot - in other words, a totally lovable spot. After we sufficiently lined our tummies, we headed further up the 101 to Sebastopol, a funky town which we stopped in to wait for the second car to catch up. I almost picked up a coffee table from a mid century modern shop in town but decided I’d come back later when I’m richer and just buy the shop-owners too-pricey-for-me art instead. 

Finally oh finally, after a late and wet start, we arrive at vineyard #1 - Iron Horse, tucked in at the dead end of an offshoot off of the main road. We were worried about the outdoor tasting room, but the clouds kept their raindrops to themselves, and we enjoyed some expensivo Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (one of the best areas for it in the world) while overlooking a field of new green grape vines!

Extinct jobs - bowling alley pinsetter, people waker, enemy aircraft warner, rat catcher, 

(via boredpanda)

Myriam Dion burns tiny holes into photographs

(via mymodernmet)

Maui - Day 4

Luau at Feast of Lele. Kinda pricey for the experience (and for two people who can’t take great advantage of unlimited booziness) but the view was awesome, the kahlua pork was bottomless and bar-none the yummiest of Hawaiian foods, and the performances were entertaining and well done. Good night Maui!

Back after some brief interruptions, Maui day 4 - Komoda Bakery and Surfing Goat Farm

After our descent from Haleakala Crater, we made a much-awaited pit stop at Komoda Bakery in Makawao (a so-called cowboy town in upcountry Maui) for a donut stick. These bad boys were much denser and buttery than their lower-48 counterpart, and tided us over until our next stop - Surfing Goat Dairy.

One of the most sustainable goat farms in the US, Surfing Goat Dairy is a farm run by a German  husband-wife duo who brought the best and most sustainable animal-raising practices they found in Europe to a part of the world - thousands of miles from their original home  - that they had fallen in love with. One of the two must also have a love for surfing or for funny mental images; either way - the farm had quite a collection of boards donated by local surfers. While there, we not only saw some adorable newborn goats and goats on leashes but had a most delicious flight of cheeses.

Band of Horses | No One’s Gonna Love You

One of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in awhile

(via nprfreshair)

Architect and freelance illustrator Maja Wrońska  continues to amaze with her beautifully executed watercolor paintings of iconic cityscapes from around the world.

Sufjan Stevens | Impossible Soul

I know, nothing new

(Source: Spotify)