Taverns and Caverns: 24 Hours in Murphys, CA

May 20, 2015

Last weekend we decided to take a road trip to someplace we’ve never been before, so we headed to Murphys, CA, a little Gold Rush town in the Sierra Foothills. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive east of San Francisco, and it’s full of wineries, cafes, art galleries, restaurants—and a whole lot of history.

First stop: Ironstone Vineyards for a little wine tasting. Our pourer, Bob, was the nicest guy. The kind of down-to-earth guy you want as your neighbor. He pretty much gave us a sip of everything on the menu—and then some—as well as recos for dining and more wine tasting.

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When we booked our hotel the week before, there was only one room left in town (and we soon found out why).

The annual Jumping Frog Jubilee was happening at nearby Angel Camp and there was a huge Harley-Davidson gathering. I’m assuming the two were related, although I hear the gatherings happen a few times a year. I have never seen so many motorcycles in one place. It made for a noisy weekend but was also kind of fascinating.

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We had intended to check out the Saloon on Saturday night, a historic landmark hotel and bar, but decided to do it on a less rowdy weekend.

The town itself is really small, with maybe 3,000 people, so it was really easy to walk from one end to the other. Murphys kind of felt like Yosemite meets Sonoma: charming little historical buildings turned into storefronts, dining spots and tasting rooms, with a touch of the Wild West thrown in.

I have a thing for barns, and there were a bunch of them scattered around the main drag. They have so much character.

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By the way, if you like red wine, check out the Villa Vallecito tasting room in town. Bob recommended it and they have a great Grenache and Payaso (which I hadn’t heard of before).

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We also loved Grounds for breakfast. And Aria for takeout sandwiches. We never made it to Vee’s for dinner, but wish we had. Bob recommended those too.

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There are three things we didn’t do, that I wish we had (and definitely had time for):

1. The Mercer Cavern tour: It’s 16 stories deep (the guide talked me out of it due to fear of heights but I think I could’ve done it).

2. Panned for gold (hey, you know…when in Rome…).

3. Checked out Angel’s Camp, which I thought was a state park, but is actually another small Gold Rush town, and ground zero for the jubilee. So again, maybe next time on a quieter weekend.

Which basically gives us at least three more reasons to go back.

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Flea Market Finds

May 5, 2015

Maybe it was my art school training, but there was a time when I would’ve been horrified to bring home art from the flea market. Now, it’s my favorite thing to buy. This past weekend I went to the monthly faire at Alameda Point, and found enough paintings to mentally make a nice little gallery wall. I had to pass on purchasing, as I’m almost out of wall space, but hopefully this inspires you to scavenge for some one-of-a-kind treasures of your own.

A Modern Calligraphy Workshop

March 23, 2015

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I try to participate in the Minted challenges as much as possible, and I’ve always been so inspired by the designers who do their own calligraphy and hand-lettering. So I finally decided to take a class over the weekend. My boyfriend and I signed up for an Intro to Calligraphy workshop at Pippa & Co. in Alameda (quite possibly the cutest party store I’ve ever seen).

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The class was taught by Jillian Schiavi using Micron markers and Jelly Roll pens, rather than the typical calligraphy pens and nibs. I’m not sure if that made it easier or harder, but we learned the same basic techniques, strokes and exercises.

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It did not come naturally to me, but my boyfriend seemed to have a knack for it. This is definitely something I’m going to have to practice for awhile before entering any contests. And we both agreed: if all we end up with is better handwriting at the end of the day, all the practice will be worth it.

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Regardless, I’ll most likely be back at Pippa & Co. to try another class. This store offers some really fun workshops from time to time. And if that’s not your thing, come for the adorable space and festive party supplies. You’re bound to find something that puts a smile on your face.

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Pippa & Co.

Pippa & Co.

Change Is Hard. Change Is Good.

February 9, 2015

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My motto for the new year is “See, and be seen, in 2015”, but it may as well have been “The year of change”. Just 5 weeks in, and I’m already adjusting to lots of changes, both large and small. I’m not big on change, but I’ve finally decided to stop resisting. So I’m going to add one more thing to the list: a new name for the blog.

Although I haven’t been posting much lately, I have been spending lots of time thinking about this blog. And the new name, daybybay, sums it all up for me as I continue to collect inspiration from my favorite place on Earth (otherwise known as San Francisco). In the coming months I’ll be doing a design refresh as well, but I wanted to introduce the new name first. Baby steps, right? In the meantime, you can still get here via jotsnap.com. And if you’re the type who likes to jump right in, and not hold on to the past, welcome to daybybay.

Alcatraz and Ai Weiwei

February 2, 2015

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The first time I went to Alcatraz was during my first visit to San Francisco. The second time was after I moved here and played tour guide. And the third was a few weekends ago, on a date, to see the Ai Weiwei installation.

I admit, I didn’t know much about this internationally-renowned artist/activist beforehand, but had heard a lot of buzz about the show, called @Large. Plus it was an excuse to play tourist in my own town for the day.

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The show was included in the ticket price, and intertwined within the prison walls. What’s really interesting is that Ai Weiwei created these seven site-specific installations—without ever leaving China. Briefly imprisoned himself, Weiwei is still not allowed to leave his own country.

Some pieces were so subtle, mainly using sound, I initially didn’t even realize they were part of the exhibit. But once we walked to the New Industries building, where the large, splashy sculptures were located, it became pretty obvious. This dragon kite, called With Wind, greeted us at the door.

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Those portraits on the floor are made of legos! You can read more about that here.

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The show also extended through the dining hall and hospital areas of the main prison, where porcelain flowers filled the sinks, tubs and toilets. And it was very (creepy) cool walking through the asylum and seeing those old beds. This would make a great night tour. Maybe on trip #4.

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If that doesn’t impress you, check out this amazing view on the way back. And just like Alcatraz, it never gets old. The Ai Weiwei show runs through April 26.

TheBay