San Francisco is known for it's steep hills, it's golden bridge and it's out of this world culinary experience. In fact, there's a collection of 40,000+ mouth watering photos filed under #sfeats on Instagram and every time I check off one restaurant, I add two on my never ending list of places to eat and sip at. Terrible problem to have, right?! Bon Appétit sums it up pretty well...
I once heard that San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. The red lanterns hang throughout the streets here and the hustle bustle of urban life is very apparent. While busy shop owners and consumers go about their daily operations, you'll find tourists snapping photographs of the surrounding scene with their shiny iPhones, woman collecting weekly vegetables and fruits at sidewalk stands and locals cutting through side streets to get to their further destinations.
From the gold and pink accented china, colorful ingredients which make up the entrees and delicate champagne glasses, 20th Century Cafe is without a doubt one of the most popular spots to catch up with friends and split a piece of cake with. It's almost impossible to snap a bad image in the perfectly designed corner location in Hayes Valley and if you're on Instagram you may recognize the brightly lit marble tables and delectable Russian honey cake, which is a must order every time you visit!
Within the heart of the mission district holds some of the most captivating murals in San Francisco. An alley famous for murals that come and go, and ones that have yet to be painted over. Here, you'll see artists, locals and tourists gather for image taking, painting and quick access to Mission Street from Valencia Street.
I absolutely love succulents and I would bet that you do too! They are super low maintenance and grow well in almost any climate. With the drought here in California, these plants are a lovely way to accent your garden and home that require very little watering. Just outside my apartment, my succulents catch light and accent my patio perfectly without me having to worry to much about watering them, sun exposure and overall well being. Because my collection has been growing quite rapidly, I wanted to present them in a way that is unusual, creative and eye catching.
With wide eyes and a soft breeze flowing through the car, we drove through some of the most beautiful redwood forests on our way up the North Coast with the sunbeams casting a golden glow all around us. In high hopes of warm weather and continued sunshine when the redwood forest opened up onto the coast, we were suddenly reaching for an additional layer of clothing. It really is quite amazing how the weather can switch so quickly in California, but I didn't mind. Despite the desired fog-less sunset we were hoping for as the day came to an end, the hazy horizon and white skies added a little Mendocino magic to our first time this far north of the Bay Area.
It had been exactly one year since my last getaway to South Lake Tahoe, so when it was time to pack my weekender bag and drive the four hours in search of sapphire blue waters and crisp mountain air, I was ready to hit the road. Celebrating the 4th of July in Lake Tahoe is one of the craziest and most crowded weekends to visit, but it's also one of the most fun. The overall vibe is friendly and patriotic, with American flags everywhere, a chance to participate in water sports and sunshine galore.
There's something about over saturated signs, sun kissed skin and the smell of cotton candy lingering in the air that just screams summer. When a work opportunity spontaneously presented itself to photograph an event at the Petaluma-Sonoma Fair last Friday, I was eager to take the assignment and explore the fairgrounds in the warm sun at the same time. On past road trips north to Sonoma County, Petaluma has always been a town I've driven through, but never stopped. As I made my way into the fairgrounds, I realized how much it reminded me of times spent at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk growing up (only substitute golden hills for the Pacific ocean). On my way to the event, I made a detour to the open aired and upscale shopping village in Corte Madera. I had to check out the summer Anthropologie sale and I would be lying if I said I didn't walk out of the store with some major steals (if you're an anthro fan, you won't want to miss this sale!) After I got home, I immediately browsed their online store and found so many inspirational pieces that would be perfectly comfortable and appropriate for not only summer, but for a day at the fair. Here are my top picks (and a stick of cotton candy would be the perfect accessory!)
Bright white skies, soft sand and wildflowers galore are the essential elements to an adventure. After a long desire to drive up the North Coast, we packed a picnic and headed to Caspar, California in search of fresh air and cool vibes. While the ocean washed up seaweed along the shore and the flowers rooted in the sand danced in the wind, I couldn't help but appreciate everything the earth provides to us. We set up our beach blanket and had a mini-wine tasting of our own on a mild Saturday. For most traveling on Highway One, Caspar Beach can easily be missed as bigger towns such as Fort Bragg or Mendocino are popular destinations. Lucky for us, the beach was close to empty and the dunes were just begging to be enjoyed.
Summer has officially arrived and unlike many, this means adding an extra layer or two to your #ootd when you live in the city. Casual date nights are one of my favorite events to dress up for. It's an excuse to get more dolled up than normal and it gives you a perfect excuse to style a new item you've added to your closet. After two seasons, my favorite Vince Camuto riding boots were ready to be retired and I knew I was ready switch up the style of my new boots to ensure a completely versatile look.
Perched above the Pacific with out of this world views, a home away from home feel and a restaurant sure to satisfy was just what the doctor ordered. I have long admired Little River Inn and have only dreamed about staying there one day. A few weekends back this dream became a reality when we were packing our weekender bags and pulling up directions to take us to my most desired California destination...Mendocino county. After a quick drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and through Marin County, we suddenly found ourselves on the grape lined hills along Highway 128 with tasting rooms and run down barns in the middle of golden fields. After a couple hours in the car, we were ready to stop in Boonville at Anderson Valley Brewery for lunch and a tasting flight. After the quick stop there, we headed further and eventually the 128 turned into redwoods galore. With the windows down, sunroof open and the music a little louder then usual, my eyes were wide with wonder and fulfillment.
Two years of drooling over instagrams, researching on travel sites and daydreaming about a northern romantic getaway to Mendocino and it finally happened! The winding road to this section of the coast through tall redwoods from San Francisco is nothing short of amazing, so try not to have doubts when you enter the directions on your GPS and it tells you how long it will take. The sun may not shine much in Fort Bragg, but the colorful display of sea glass at Glass Beach, the quaint downtown shops and restaurants in addition to the pastel buildings dotted along Highway One make this seaside village shine bright.
They say that Saturdays are for adventures and Sundays are for brunch, but I'd have to disagree. I say when the adventure itch hits you, go for it, no matter what day the calendar states. A cloudy Sunday may not seem ideal to the normal traveler looking for blue skies and beach hopping along Highway One, but for our girls trip it was just the kind of low-key Sunday we were looking for. To escape the madness of last month's Bay To Breakers, we ventured on the 1 with no exact plan but good eats, interesting discoveries and a glass of wine overlooking the pacific ocean at one of our favorite spots.
The past two weeks have consisted of soaking in the sunshine, swimming in the ocean and digging my toes in the bright white sand of Panama City Beach! The soft winds, heavy flash rain storms and overall bliss during my time there was an excellent way to kickoff summer. Our colorful, bright green beach house we called home during the trip was absolute perfection and the ability to walk across the street and dive into the turquoise waters was just the trip I had been looking forward to. The pastel beach houses, beach shops and restaurants are the main attractions to this side of Florida.
It's no secret that here on the blog, I am consistently sharing my favorite local (and no so local) getaways but you may be surprised when I tell you that summer is on the horizon! It's so close I can feel the sand between my toes and a golden glow on my skin. Summer is for road trips, we all know this, but sometimes a little encouragement and inspiration is helpful for all of us, don't you think? I have a never ending "to see" list of places to visit in California for quite some time know and I've done my best to consistently cross things off of it. It can be challenging sometimes to get away, but if you try hard enough, I promise you can fit a few of these trips in this summer and make the most of it! The wind in your hair and sun on your skin will be the perfect combination to refresh and recharge, so grab your favorite weekender bag and toss if your cutest pair of sunnies, pick out your most patterned pieces, a camera or two and your best friends. I have a feeling you'll have the time of your life.
When it comes time to escape the big city and head to warmer lands, I always have this love-hate relationship with packing. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the process, I actually think it's quite enjoyable...it's my wardrobe that I have issues with. I have my solid set of quality staple pieces, my go to coats and of course a pretty great selection of boots all to survive the harsh winds and foggy days in San Francisco. Take a step back four years when I was living in sun soaked Santa Barbara during college and my closet was the exact opposite. Knee length dresses, bright colors, sandals galore and the most vibrant and beautiful bikini collection I ever had...ahh to be twenty and living on the beach. Fast forward to San Francisco and all those pieces have either been donated or packed in a small box in the depths of my walk-in closet. Hooray for vacations, am I right? Here are my inspirational items when I hit downtown this week, because I have to pick up a few new things, right?!
After a day of admiring the bright colors and hanging lanterns of San Francisco's Chinatown, I realized that I have very little knowledge of the skills and techniques it takes to prepare and cook Chinese food at home. Other than the limited selection of what Whole Foods and Trader Joe's has to offer, when we crave Chinese food, we tend to go out to a restaurant as opposed to purchasing the ingredients and cooking at home. This sparked an interest in me to learn how to cook some amazing dishes perfect for a summer party or backyard get together.
I'm so happy with the way this engagement session went the a few weeks back at Baker Beach that I just had to share a few of the outtakes. True to San Francisco, the rolling fog made a slight appearance at the Golden Gate Bridge. It was very important to Chris and Lindsey to get the bridge in their engagement photographs, as he proposed to her under that very same bridge just a few months prior during a sunset cruise. We had such an excellent time shooting and they even brought a bottle of chilled wine to make the shoot even more personal!
Happy Friday friends! I hope that the start to May has been a great one for you. With Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Memorial Day and some early signs of summer, I'm sure you've been just as busy (if not busier) than me lately! The past weeks have been full of baseball games, family visiting from Florida, and five art filled days at Art Market San Francisco while the upcoming weeks include a day of champagne tasting in Sonoma, a fashion event I'll be attending in Union Square, a comedy show in Walnut Creek and of course, Memorial Day Weekend! As we gear up for summer, I've put together a guide to keep you informed of some awesome parties, festivals and events this month in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
You may or may not be familiar with this tiny neighborhood nestled between the Inner Sunset and Haight Ashbury, but it's charming shops, small town feel and familiarity are what make it my favorite neighborhood in San Francisco. While the blocks which house shops, salons and restaurants can be walked in about 10 minutes, the simplicity of this area make it ever so charming and it seems as if everyone here has a puppy in one hand and a latte in the other. It's distance to Haight Street is awfully close, but the difference in atmosphere makes it seem as if you are miles away from the free spirited and hazed out vibe which makes the upper Haight famous.
A photo walk with Chronicle Books, VSCO and the amazingly talented Victoria of SFgirlbybay on a sunny Saturday on the streets on San Francisco to celebrate the release of her photo travel book? Sign me up! After Victoria announced that she had chosen my photograph as one of five in a contest to join her on the walk, I was beyond thrilled! I have been following her rose colored instagram account and design blog ever since I moved to the city almost four years ago. Her blog and love for San Francisco has been an inspiration in many aspects of my life including a constant desire to explore my city, the impact and beauty of clean design and her colorful pictures that tell a tale of the city through the lens of a San Francisco local with her book, See San Francisco.
If you are looking for a beautiful, true to San Francisco neighborhood to spend the day in, look no further than Noe Valley. Nestled in between the Castro and the Mission district, the streets located around 24th and Castro Street have unbelievable pops of color, pretty boutiques, small restaurants and one heck of a flower shop. The neighborhood is covered in classic Edwardian and Victorian architecture everywhere you look and the beautiful homes in the area are decorated with rose bushes and cherry blossom tress. The adjacent Twin Peaks block most of the fog and wind, leaving the valley drenched in sunlight and happy vibes when other districts are chilly.
Bright golden hues, fresh scents and clean design are three of my favorite things. With the arrival of spring means the opportunity of a fresh start in any or all areas of life. When I first teamed up with nyl skincare, I was quick to discover the brand has elements that are perfect to freshen up any skincare routine. The products are especially good for spring! With ingredients such as watermelon seed oil, scents of citrus, gentle sugar polish and earthy aromas, nyl skincare has everything your looking for to brighten up a skincare routine!
Okay so maybe this time around wasn't so much of a search than it was an adventure, but the first time certainly was one. Passing through Muir Beach onwards to Stinson Beach, then eventually making it into to the small town of Bolinas is just the perfect Sunday escape. Something about Marin County has always stuck with me. Perhaps it's the smell of the tall eucalyptus trees, the hometown hippie-ish feel, the blooming wildflowers, or maybe its simply the way the small waves gently roll onto the soft golden sand. There is endless adventure in the rolling green hills and steep cliff sides along Panoramic Highway and the proximity to San Francisco is just too close to not take advantage of. When it is cloudy and cold in the city, it's most likely warm and sunny in Marin. My trick is to keep the town of Mill Valley on my weather app to remind myself to cross that golden bridge when I'm craving an off the beaten path kind of adventure. Sometimes getting in touch with the simpler towns can make a world of difference on your mood and will most likely keep you coming back for more!
While California has my heart, it's about time we shine some light on southern hospitality. A large majority of my extended family are from Georgia and I've traveled my fair share of miles to the South and I can say that southern hospitality is definitely a thing. While California has its unlimited perks, hospitality is one that we are lacking and I'm pretty sure we'll never be able to match the South on this. This is where the Bluebonnet Lane Belle comes in to help us spread love to our friends and family through truly stunning and hand packed gift boxes. This Bluebonnet Lane Belle, otherwise know as Alex, has got to be one of the sweetest ladies I have collaborated with yet. Her Texas roots shine through her love for cultivating the perfect gift for friends and family near and far and she has shared her expertise on gifting with us through her brand new company, Bluebonnet Lane operating out of Dallas, Texas.