california i'm coming home

teenagers heading into the surf at cayucos beach

i just spent a few days visiting my dad and then my brother's family in california. on the way up the coast i got to visit lori of lori times five!! as i've told many people by now, she is every bit as lovely and genuine as she seems from her blog. lori said that meeting blogging friends in "real" life is a new frontier, and i agree. it's amazing how much we can gauge about one another through cyberspace, and it's fascinating to see how it pans out in reality. well with lori, it panned out great - we could have talked all day and i hope to visit her again sometime soon for some hiking and kayaking in that great blue pacific.

once we got to my brother's, we spent a lot of time drinking good central coast wine, around fires.........

and at mind bogglingly gorgeous vineyards

such as this one

where the grapes were heating up on the vine in the 104 heat wave that hit this area (can you hear the sound of grapes bursting??)

love sipping that crisp white as we looked out over

ahhhhhhhh california....

then we headed out for a highschool football game to watch my nephew. just recovering from eye surgery, coach let him quarterback the fourth quarter....

and we were all happy to see him come off the field in good shape at the end -- they won 34 - 12!!
go tigers!!!!

since it was 104 degrees (the santa ana winds were blowing in from the desert, heating things up) what better remedy than head to a friend's beach house to drink beer 

and walk their dog near the sparkling pacific

one night we attended a charity dinner at the madonna inn -- if you've never been to this place, brace yourself for entering a twilight zone of sheer, unadultered kitsch.........

as in the pink dining room. 
did liberace live here or something?

on our last night, my sister and i prepared a birthday dinner for our sister in law, using the ridiculously colorful produce from the farmer's market

there were a couple meals that went uneaten at the charity auction, so we took home the filets, which my talented sister sliced, marinated and turned into a meal fit for a king (or queen, in this case!!) to which we added thai marinated grilled shrimp, orzo pasta (my favorite!), warmed artisan bread and salad with golden raspberries. and of course,
maybe i was drinking a little too much of that great wine when taking this foto? hehe

this -- a madonna inn birthday cake. pink,

and speaking of desserts, i liked this sign i saw hanging on a deli wall. 
dessert is much better than stress, wouldn't you agree?

so i'll leave you with this video of joni mitchell singing a favorite song, california. 
that 104 degree day on the beach i found myself alone for a little while, and proceeded to sing this at the top of my lungs to an audience of seagulls, rocks and crashing surf. it was a good house to play. 

this is dedicated to lori, the ultimate california girl, with love.

 it never gets tired, this driving along the california coast. much like watching a 747 take off, you could do it a million times and it will always be exciting, mysterious, and full of wonder. 
that's california to me. 
ocean, mountains, the sun and sky, the scrubby bushes, the yellow fields.
especially the central coast --
there are few places on earth that beautiful.
you always feel as if you are on the edge of something out here.

so as joni says,

I met a redneck on a Grecian isle
Who did the goat dance very well
He gave me back my smile
But he kept my camera to sell
Oh the rogue, the red red rogue
He cooked good omelets and stews
And I might have stayed on with him there
But my heart cried out for you, California
Oh California I'm coming home
Oh make me feel good rock'n roll band
I'm your biggest fan
California, I'm coming home



  1. This is a really beautiufl post and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

    I love Lori too.... she's inspiring, beautiful and I love the way she knows how to make her own heart sing.

    I think that you are beautiful too.

    best wishes always

  2. You're telling me. Took me 21 years to get back. Ugh.

  3. Amazing post, Amanda.

    The neatest part was that you had so much fun, in so many different ways (all of them legal).

    It reminds me of the one trip we took down the Pacific Coast, from Canada to Northern California. Such an awesome adventure.

  4. Oh Amanda,

    gulp. I loved this so much, it was fun to see us up there at the top (hughug!)and see all that you did here (i see the morrow rock!), but seeing joni sing one of my all time favorite songs made me get tears.
    And how lucky i felt at having the chance to meet you, bless...
    and of course Phil and Deb, hi everyone!!
    come back soon!

    with love,

  5. the madonna inn, heehee, my parents spent their honeymoon (in the 50's) there!

  6. Aaaaah California, I remember you, too! I fell into the Ocean on a windy day... what memories. Amanda, you are a great storyteller, and picture-shower, and memory-sharer. I could listen to you all day. And yes, of course I was there with you, and one day you`ll both be here! Waving to you and Lori!

  7. Lovely reminder of all California can be, even on a hot Santa Ana blown day. You captured the essence of the state, Amanda and your pictures spoke volumes. Glad you enjoyed your family visit and your visit with Lori ann.

  8. OK now I REALLY feel homesick. Yes, homesick for California, the home I've never lived in for more than 2 months ata a time.

    And I'm dreaming of a frosted glass of that chilled central coast wine in my hand as it clinks against yours and Lori's (and Geli's and Tessa's and Rosaria's etc etc) in the sunset. The smiles, oh thw smiles in Califooooorniaaaa.

    Thank you,
    Ele xx

  9. This is a lovely post...does your brother live in Cayucos??...mine does! Have spent much time out there - love the whole area.

  10. robyn - what kind words -- thank you very much my friend --- and completely agree about lori!!!

    jeff- 21 years? where did you live in the mean time?

    thanks dear bear - a trip down the coast from canada to northern california sounds awesome. i would love to do that sometime. any trip that involves being near the ocean is ok with me.


    lori -- i'm still smiling from our trip and our meeting, it was so special. i'm glad you liked the joni clip -- there is no one like her. or you!!

    love and hugs,

    p.s. your parents spent their honeymoon at the madonna inn? i can totally see how it would be the perfect spot for that -- the place is all about romance!!

  11. geli -- you fell into the ocean -- i hope it wasn't this time of year because it is COLD!!!

    waving back to you dear geli, and sending much love,

    p.s. i've eaten almost all the caramel chocolate hehe

    rosaria, thank you♡
    it's hard not to be motivated to take pictures when you are surrounded by such beauty. if i lived by the ocean, i would be there every day, but for now i am landlocked!!


    ele, someday that will happen hopefully, my friend, either in sunny california, or sunny italy --- either one works for me!

    sending hugs and xxx

    thanks mim!! my brother lives in the san luis area, but cayucos is a short hop away -- your brother is lucky to live there!


  12. California has everything! Including Lori! How wonderful that you had a chance to meet. I enjoyed your pictures and a chance to trail along on this wonderful trip. Wow - the food and cake were gorgeous.

  13. sis ~ we DID have fun didn't we! who knew that a family duty would turn into a truly renewing family experience. thanx to u 4 pointing out the stellar moments ~ kisses & hugs

  14. Wow, great photos - you can almost feel the heat shimmering off the screen. And those wines look amazing. I've never been to California. Definitely want to go one day.

  15. all your photos are successful , I find them really beautiful! you're lucky, the California is a
    beautiful country!... Bye amanda ! :))

  16. Oh, thank you for taking us along on this adventure. The beach... the wine... the beach... the wine ;-)

    Beautiful photos!


  17. Beautiful post. Your writing always takes me to another place. And that beach house is my dream house.

  18. nancy - i loved meeting lori - it was a highlight of my trip ;-)

    and yes - that cake! i won't be able to find anything like it outside the madonna inn, i fear~

    deb - we managed to combine both duty and fun in a memorable way for sure! xoxo

    dd - it was so hot that you could feel the heat rising off the pavement only a few feet away from the surf!

    i hope you get a chance to head out california way some day soon....

  19. mahon - thanks, and i agree - california is a beautiful country!! ;-)

    thank you japra dear♡ it's hard to take a bad foto of the place!

    loree - thank you.♡

    and that beach house is my dream house too-- but don't know if i lived there that i'd ever get anything else done besides staring at the ocean!

  20. Hi there! Every photo you shared spoke volumes! I could feel your energy, your spirit, your essence! I am also the kind of woman who would walk on the beach screaming out a favorite song ~ top of my lungs screaming ~ with tears streaming down my cheeks.

    I've often wondered how well we can gauge the folks we interact with in blogland ... it's reassuring to know our instincts are probably pretty accurate.

    btw ... I took a detour home from the Ball ... just arrived back in Bend today!

  21. Panda-just checked out the Central Coast post-made me feel almost like I was there! The fotos were great -can't get over the California produce-those golden raspberries were a sight for sore eyes here in the Midwest-and great fotos-bro and sis and Pheel with the dog-who's dog-cute dog! Our nephew quarterbacking despite just having eye surgery-Go Tigers! Hard to stay away from the Central Coast-and I have a feeling we won't have to-some way or another!

  22. What a lovely post..... I am green with envy that you and Lori met in person! I am just back from YART where I met my first group of "Blogging Family".... isn't it great? Love these captured your trip as you do all your posts - with beautiful photographs and equally beautiful words... I can just see you singing "ala" Joni M at the top of your lungs!!

    And....I must say...didn't we have fun at the Willow Ball! Mon Dieu!
    Did you notice that we both lost one Jimmy Choo..... hmmmmm..that Mr. Fowles is quite a rascal - perhaps he has a shoe fetish! But I think he liked having a "gel" on each arm.... What a night! What a morning! Ha-ha!


    ♥ Robin ♥

  23. helen - so glad you made it back safe and sound from the ball!! with that little red number i'm sure you gave mr. stafford ray a run for his money!!

    i will be over soon to visit ----

    famous one - of course you know we wish you had been there - we missed you so much!!!! the dog belongs to jim - friend of liz and zonny - his thick coat probably was not the best for a 104 degree day however!

    love you little sis -- talk soon ♡♡♡

    robin!!!! you are back!! i saw those cupcakes you and kj made for the YART -- sounds like you guys had a blast! glad you made it home safe and sound ♡

    and yes -- didn't we have our share of fun at willow's?! wherever that lost jimmy choo is, i'm sure it was worth it! mr. fowles was a gentleman and other than waking up in the wine cellar (hehe) it was one hell of a night!

    will be over soon to visit -- sending love my friend♡

  24. What a great spot to have family and blog buddies to visit! That was funny about stressed-desserts. I love that song too. Thanks for sharing your sunshine. It’s raining in Maine

  25. Lovely post ... did that pink cake taste as decadent as it looks?

  26. sarah - i loved that stressed/desserts sign too -- had never thought of that palindrome pair myself!

    annie - as i recall (having had two or so glasses of good central coast vintage!) that the cake was actually quite good!


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