Monday, August 31, 2009


One of the things I love about going home is staying up at my brother's house in the Santa Cruz mountains.

He lives on a hillside near the ocean, in the middle of a Redwood forest.

While here, I listen to the birds sing, and watch the deer leap through his property. The other night we saw a fox by the water tank.
Truly peaceful and therapeutic.

While visiting on our vacation, we decided to drive down the coast to Carmel-By-The Sea. We spent the morning going through the wonderful little specialty shops in the middle of town.
Carmel's most notorious resident is Clint Eastwood, who served as Mayor during the 1980's.
When I was a young girl, I actually met Clint Eastwood once at a back lot of Universal Studios.

Daughter #1 Aubrey (The Birthday Girl)
Even though these shops are very exclusive, we had to be our silly selves.

I blame Mr. Cactus for influencing the children.

Mr. Cactus loves anything to do with Golf.

We stopped for lunch at a wonderful Japanese restaurant called Hanagasa on Mission Street.

They had very authentic food at a great price. The service was terrific, and we loved everything we ordered. I have children who love sushi.
And other exotic foods.
Elizabeth ordered this dish: Ohitashi. The topping is dried fish flakes (Bonito flakes)
Daughter #3 Elizabeth is in her last semester of college at the University of Utah. She is double majoring in International Studies and Linguistics, with an emphasis in Japanese. Once she graduates she plans on going to Japan for a year to teach English.

She was so happy to have Sashimi (raw seafood).
We are a family of "foodies". Elizabeth has Japanese friends who have taught her to cook many dishes.

The afternoon was spent at the beach in Carmel. Mr. Cactus was especially happy to look out on the Pebble Beach, the most famous golf course in the Western U.S.

He pretended he was on Pebble Beach, playing in the U.S. Open with Tiger Woods., we are not in the price range to be able to golf here. A round of golf is $495.00 and in order to play the course you must also stay at their hotel which runs another $400 a night.

Mr. Cactus and me.

On the way home we stopped at the produce stands in Castroville, the Artichoke Capital of the World. They have an artichoke festival every May.
This is my kids favorite vegetable.
Artichokes have the compound Silymarin, a powerful antioxidant that some say may help the liver regenerate healthy tissue. In fact, artichokes are the best source of antioxidants among all fresh vegetables.
Of course, while we were purchasing artichokes, we also loaded up on figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and fresh herbs. I had to get my fix of fresh fruits and vegetables before heading back to Utah.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Prairie Queens Quilt Shop

When you are on vacation, don't you love to visit quilt shops in the area? I do. Every trip I go on I try and research at least one or two in my nearby vicinity.
Fortunately I came upon a wonderful store Prairie Queens Quilt Shop in San Jose, California.

Prairie Queens is owned by Debbie Thornton, who is as nice as can be. Her store was recently voted the BEST quilt shop in Silicon Valley by the San Jose Mercury News.

Prairie Queen is located at 14922 Camden Ave, San Jose, California 95124, and carries over 7,000 bolts of fabric.

They had a great selection and a wide variety of projects. They not only carried fabrics and quilts, but there was a section with wool, needlepunch, purses, and clothing items.
I loved it all.

My friends would have loved the batiks and solids selection.

Prairie Queens has a fantastic web site. One of the most complete and comprehensive I've ever seen. Make sure to check them out at

Debbie really has some talented people working for her.

I had the opportunity to visit with Keiko Clark for a little while. Keiko publishes patterns under her own company K Cotton Studio and works for Prairie Queens.
I found out she has just recently made a purse with Texture Magic that I was hoping to see. Unfortunately she didn't have it at the store. Keiko plans to make more projects with Texture Magic. She is such a talented designer I can hardly wait to see what creative things she comes up with. I will be following her for sure.

A Fig Tree Christmas stocking.

This is one of Keiko's purse designs Vanilla Raspberry Bag.
Don't these little berries add so much to the bag?

I purchased this pattern for "Naoko's Sewing Set".

She had it made up in two color ways.

The pattern includes a Scissor holder and pin cushion

And of course, another reason I was impressed with Prairie Queens Quilt Shop is because they had a great display of Superior Threads. These ladies go with the best!

And they even had packages of Texture Magic right in a visible area.
I agree with the San Jose Mercury News: Best Quilt Shop in Silicon Valley!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

San Francisco

We arrived home late this evening from our family vacation to the Bay Area.
For daughter #1's birthday we spent the day in San Francisco. We brought our children here often as they were growing up, and everyone still loves to do the touristy thing in the City.

We parked our car and rode cable cars and public transportation from place to place.
When ever I go to San Francisco, one of my favorite things to do is people watch, because I see such interesting people!

We stood in line for the cable car and I met this woman from Washington, DC. I asked her how long she had been growing her nails and she said 21 years! Believe it or not, she is a postal worker and can do quite a few things with her hands, despite the nails. I wondered what motivated her to grow her nails so long, and she said she is one of a set of identical girl triplets and wanted to be unique from her siblings.

Then there is Bush Man who hides behind these cut bushes and scares people as they walk by. Groups gather across the street to watch, and howl with laughter every time he gets a passer by to scream. He's so popular, he's even been on late night TV shows.

And then there are the statue people who cover themselves in gold or silver.

Some tourists see the city by Segway.

Others are driven around in these GOcars.

In our family, we consider ourselves "foodies". There are certain foods we HAVE to have when we go into the city. Sourdough bread is one of them.

We had clam chowder on Fisherman's Wharf at Boudin's.

And hot fudge Sundae's at Ghirardelli Square.

Looking out onto the bay with Alcatraz Island in the distance.

We visited the Art Museums and saw a Salvador Dali exhibit.
But my favorite part of the day was walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. I have driven across many, many times growing up, but for some reason, never WALKED across.

Our three daughters, Aubrey, Amy and Elizabeth.
I was proud of Amy for being willing to join us on this 1.7 mile walk. She is almost 7 months pregnant with baby #3, and yet did very well.

It had been beautiful weather in the city all day, but by afternoon the bridge was windy and cold.

My brother also joined us on the walk. He lives nearby and we stayed at his house.

Mr. Cactus
Me with my brother.
He knows this area well.

The Golden Gate Bridge was built in the 1930's and has only been closed 3 times because of bad weather.
38 painters work on the bridge and are touching it up continually.

A lot of people like to bike across the bridge also.

Brrrr... cold and foggy.

As you cross the bridge, you enter Marin County.

I thought you might like to see what it looks like underneath the bridge.
We walked through the beautiful city of Sausalito and had dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant.

And then in the late evening took the ferry back to San Francisco.

A wonderful ending to the day as we watched the sun go down and the fog drift back over the hills of Sausalito like a heavy blanket.