Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spreckels, California

Just off Highway 101, south of Salinas and east of Monterey lies the sweet small town of Spreckels.

With a population of 485, Spreckels was originally built to house the workers of the Spreckels Sugar Plant. Though the plant shut down years ago, the town still remains with its post office, fire station, elementary school, church and corner store - complete with soda fountain, old fashioned cash register and infamous owner (she scares me to this day).

Growing up in the outskirts of Salinas, PJ and I are graduates of Spreckels Elementary School.

Each morning we would travel down Spreckels Boulevard, lined with beautiful, historic walnut trees and surrounded by lush agricultural fields filled with lettuce, strawberries, spinach, and more.

We’d turn left at the corner store, pass the park - home to countless school picnics, soccer practices and my 8th grade graduation, not to mention the annual Fourth of July celebration when thousands gather to celebrate in true American style - to Spreckels School.

When I graduated back in 1995, the school housed kindergartners through eighth graders. Everyone knew everyone, whether you liked it or not.

The only thing I recall dreading about my time spent at Spreckels are the recesses we had on the days when the fields were fertilized. I can smell it now.

While it is fun to go back and reminisce, the best part of visiting Spreckels is Marmie and Chones.

For those of you new to the family, this is Mom and Dad.

A few years back they moved across the river from the house we grew up in and bought a beautiful home on Nacional Avenue. It is picturesque with an east coast feel and a lovely view of the fields and boulevard.

This past weekend I was blessed to escape the hustle and bustle of Southern California for an all too brief visit with Marmie and Chones.

We relaxed in the mornings, chatting over coffee while enjoying the beautiful view out their front window. Marmie and I hit the Gilroy outlets one day and spent the next day in Carmel, treating ourselves to pedicures and lunch in a quaint, almost hidden panetteria.

We visited one of our favorite shops, Anthropologie, where I exercised a great degree of self control - making up for the self control I did not exercise at the outlets!

Chones joined us for dinner, which was followed each night by homemade strawberry shortcake.

Home sweet home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I love Trader Joes!

I love Trader Joes for many reasons.
Their friendly, helpful staff.
Their location - we can walk from our house.
Their creative foods.
Their competitive pricing.
And most of all...
Their packaging.

I just got back from a quick trip to pick up a few random items: brown sugar, mustard, bell peppers, sushi and today's lunch - a smoked turkey sandwhich on ciabatta bread with bell pepper, red onion, lettuce, tomato, provolone and basil mayo. Yum!

I almost made it out of the store without veering from my list, but then this adorable treat caught my eye and I fell in love...

With such cute packaging, how could I ever pass it by?

The cocoa powder is also one of my favorites packaging-wise, but I've had self control knowing I have an almost full container of Hershey's at home.

Then again, who needs Hershey's when Trader Joe's sells this?

I love that place!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Few Good Men

Here are a few of our favorite guys. We wish they were all a little closer.

Justin Howell

Fitzgerald Samuel

Camden Samuel

Xavier Garcia

Jordan Ayers

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Buffalo Exchange & Friends

The Buffalo Exchange in Costa Mesa is by far one of the coolest stores around.

It's a buy, sell and trade store that has a pretty amazing selection of shoes, purses, hats, jewelry, and clothing of all sorts - for both guys and gals. Bring in your own gently used clothing and if they think your stuff is worthy of hanging on their racks, you receive either 35% of the sale price in cash, or 50% in store credit. I LOVE IT!

Besides the prices, the best part is that you're not likely to see what you purchase anywhere else, like this dress I found for $12.50. That makes me happy!

It's in a funky, artistic shopping center called The Lab, also known as The Anti-Mall (really), and its definitely worth a trip up the 405.

Once you're done shopping at the Buff, you can celebrate your good finds with a perfect cup of coffee or bowl of homemade soup from the eclectic coffee shop just a few steps away. The Gypsy Den has a special place in my heart as we planned much of our wedding out of the vintagey cafe.

We recently discovered the Gypsy Den's other location in downtown Santa Ana's Artists Village, a much larger venue with a full bakery, live music and open mic nights.

If you decide to check out The Lab, its also worth mentioning The Camp which is just across the street and home to another set of funky shops - my favorites being Seed People's Market and the garden shop which is in an actual airstream camper.

Even parking at The Camp is fun. All of the spots are labeled with fun messages. I'm not really sure what this one means, but the others are cool!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Meet our pound puppy, Charlie.

Affectionately known as Char Char, Sir Charles, C-Bone, Char-Bizzle, C-Beezie, and so forth. Everyone seems to have a different name for him and he loves them all.

We adopted him from the
Irvine Animal Shelter a few years ago and our lives have never been same. No, really. Not even close. I guess we should've known what we were getting into when they gave us an extensive interview and offered to pay us to take him through training, twice.

This is the 3rd place trophy that Charlie received at his obedience school graduation.

Note: Only six of the twenty dogs showed up that night; two of the dogs competed in a separate division.

Charlie is the source of many, many stories. He has dug up gardens, ransacked houses, jumped out windows, chewed through seat belts, opened locked doors, drained toilets and ate his way out of multiple kennels.

He has more energy than he knows what to do with and more love than one could possibly imagine. Charlie brings much joy to our lives and we think he's really cool.

I hope you have a chance to meet him.