Local Love: Bloom Mobile Boutique

You guys. I know how to give gifts now. I’m sorry to everyone that I’ve given an envelope with a pathetic gift card in the past. I promise that I could do better now that I’ve found Bloom Mobile Boutique.

I am blooming (ha!) with love for this adorable mobile store. It’s a fresh take on gift stores with small business etsy gifts, soft California T-shirts, mythical creature tea towels and delicate understated jewelry.

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The thing about most gift stores is that they are designed for one to find something for someone else. This is supposed to be a great thing to make gift card givers like me some relief. The tragedy about some gift stores is that they are filled with  unattractive magnets with personalized names (if you see one with the name Olla or Stephen (with a PH!), BTdubs, please purchase and I will pay you back), silly mugs that are close but no cigar and unfortunate overpriced candles that either are overwhelmingly strong or make you question the power of your nose. If you’re like me, a person who wants to find the perfect gift, gifting is very difficult. I want my gifts to be useful and desirable to the person I’m buying for. So what do I do? I end up buying everyone I know an Amazon gift card. Boring.

Enter Jodi Pyle, professional gift giver and thoughtfulness expert.

“I’m good at giving gifts,” she says with a little blush illuminated by the bright walls of Bloom.

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It shows by the way her boutique makes you feel. Pretty precious earrings, feminist mugs, California pride and handmade everything sets the stage for the most instagrammable place in the world. More importantly, it made me think of the women in my life that I love because Jodi picked out something for each and every one of them.

As if that weren’t enough, Jodi knows the story behind every company and crafter that made that gift. Everything in the store is handmade by special small businesses.

“I am a sucker for a good story,” Jodi admits after telling me about a small company that crafts accessories to raise money to adopt a child and a husband and wife team who have, “the BEST love story!”

This is where Jodi has a one-up with gifting: with her help you can tell the best story of where your present came from while your loved lady oohs and ahhs.

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Pretty much, Jodi has made it easy to be a hero and get the ideal gift for a loved woman:

Something different.

Something modern.

Something useful.

Something with a story.

Something that makes them feel loved.

Bloom Mobile Boutique
Follow Jodi and the Bloom Truck to find them at various locations:
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Prosperity Through Perseverance

There is an ancient Chinese tale about a huge school of beautiful golden koi that swam upstream in the Yellow River of China. This school came upon a waterfall at the end of the river. Some koi turned back and let the current take them back down the river. But there were 100 koi that wanted to keep going. They leaped from the river and attempted to reach the top of the waterfall with no success. The koi got the attention of demons who laughed at the jumping koi and out of hostility, made the waterfall taller and more powerful. One by one each koi gave up and let their body flow into the current of the Yellow River. But there was one koi that was determined and finally reached to top of the waterfall. The gods praised this koi for its perseverance and turned it into a dragon, a symbol of power and strength.


This koi tale is a story that Maren Conrad tells when explaining her inspiration for the 11K square foot mural she has been commissioned to paint at the MARRS building downtown for the Wide Open Walls festival on this coming Sunday, August 20.

This koi tale is also her story.

In grade school, Maren found that she was dyslexic and it caused some apprehension as a child. But as children do, she found a place to escape that apprehension and that was in her world of drawings.

“When I was drawing, I felt confident,” says Maren.

She pursued her art further and worked to obtain her art degree. Later, she gave birth to her son and after that stopped painting all together. But, with art in her heart, it remained in her life. When her son started attending school, she noticed the lack of art programs for children and spread her love of art by teaching.

But then, her own waterfall presented itself. Jane, a fellow artist, offered to share her artist studio with Maren as a way to keep each other company while still creating their art. Like gym buddies, Jane and Maren would promise to meet each other at the studio to paint.

When other budding artists would give up and go downstream like the koi in the story, Maren was the special one who took every opportunity to climb her artist’s waterfall. She and Jane showed their pieces at an art show and she jumped on an opportunity for another. One art show after another, Maren’s artwork sold and her own brand grew.

The gods have rewarded Maren to transform into a dragon with the impressive commission on the MARRS building. Fifteen other artists were bidding for that space and just like the mighty koi that became a dragon, Maren “fought for it.”

Her mural will be a beautiful and imposing piece of art on the downtown Sacramento landscape when done. It faces the railroad tracks between 19th and 20th street which were built by Chinese immigrants and were essential in the growth of Sacramento and California.

She is painting koi fish in honor of the Chinese immigrants.

When you tell her that the koi story is her story, she says the koi story is just like the Wide Open Walls story.

We have all have to work hard to make something big happen.

See Maren Conrad’s mural at the MARRS building located at 1050 20th St Sacramento.

Maren Conrad
Wide Open Walls

14 Thoughts I Had During My First Visit to Philz Coffee

  1. Oh, my flying monkeys. There’s actually a parking lot with open parking spaces.
  2. Where the heck am I supposed to walk here? There’s sand everywhere. There isn’t a clear way into this place – ooop, there it is.
  3. Thank you for the poster of directions on how to order. You guys do it different.
  4. There’s not really a lot of places to sit in here. It’s cool that there are power plugs at every seat though.
  5. This menu is limited. Call me commercial, but I do like a million choices on how to take my coffee.
  6. Oh, hello mustachioed rare blonde dude manicuring mint. I see, you’re my barista out of the three. I’ll take the… Mocha Tesora (the most Starbucksy drink on the menu—shut up).
  7. I’m so relieved the barista didn’t treat me like a lame-o for asking a million questions about what I’m ordering (“Is there milk in it?” GAH).
  8. I forgot my wallet.
  9. Oh, so the cool cashier just gave it to me for free. There must be some kind of awkward working girl rule here.
  10. It is way too crowded in here.
  11. It is not too hot outside on the patio!
  12. Everyone here is young, professional and savvy. This place is clean and bright, but not particularly instagrammable. I give it a 6 out of 10 on the Instagram spectrum.
  13. This coffee is good. Carmelly, light and gave me a buzz. I like how it comes in a paper cup too.
  14. I’m so glad I got to try it out on a slow day. The line out the door on the weekends doesn’t make that much sense to me… but then again, I avoid lines at all costs.

Philz Coffee
1725 R street Sacramento
iceblocksmidtown.com/project/philz-coffee

Why Chris and Anna’s Separation Breaks Our Hearts

It’s a big deal in the news right now that Chris Pratt and Anna Faris have announced their separation. I personally am one of the many whose heart is broken over this news. When it comes to any celebrity news, I’ve noticed that there have been a few that put a lasting heaviness in my heart and this is one of them.

I don’t know the true love story of Chris and Anna, but I do know what I’ve seen in the media. Chris seems to be America’s first male sweetheart. His start in celebrity as the lovable Andy Dwyer in Parks and Rec, with his adorable dad bod and affable stupidity made him a guy that everyone wanted to hang out with. When his celebrity grew, we found that he was similarly silly in real life which was a pleasant surprise. Then, as the main protagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy, we all cheered Chris on as he frustratingly dieted and bulked up while still keeping his relate-able sense of humor.

Then there’s the beautiful and hilarious Anna Faris. Her wonder face in the Scary Movie series, coupled with her sweetie pie, funny delivery made Anna one of my favorite ladies on the screen. She nailed the very difficult task of combining sexiness, cuteness and humor in the House Bunny. And if that wasn’t enough, Anna won my heart in her top-rated podcast, “Anna Faris is Unqualified.”

This is a couple that I thought mirrored my own. My husband is also silly, affable and a sweetheart. I identify with being feminine and funny at the same time. They seemed to have a similar relationship to mine. Just a couple of silly kids having a great time.

And that’s why their separation is so hard to take. They weren’t an untouchable, perfectly manicured couple (think Brangelina, John and Chrissy or Kim and Kanye). They were like you and me. Real, genuine and a bit rough around the edges. Or they were that fun couple that we like to joke around with. If they don’t make it… and we are like them… then, as a lot of posts are saying: “How is there possibly any hope for me?”

Thankfully, their separation seems peaceful and mutual. This is a welcoming end in this world of overdrama, domestic violence and permissible stalking. They finish their relationship gracefully, and I hope that those who identified with them as I did can learn from that if something beautiful does have to end. I know I learned something.

Did Chris and Anna’s separation affect you? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Love,

Olla Swanson

The Day I Realized I Morphed Into a Fancy Pants

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this review that I realized that I ordered a glass of wine and a salad at a brew pub. Luckily, my hot date is a real man and actually got a beer and sliders like any true American so we can talk shop about Old Fair Oaks’ popular mahogany den, Fair Oaks Brew Pub.

ENVIRONS

FOBP’s front door is big, dark and heavy to open, a fitting greeting to the cave-like inside that somehow feels dark yet sunny, musky yet airy and exclusive yet friendly. The typical pub-like décor of dark wooden walls, unmatching large chairs and ye chalkboard of beers has that comfortable and inviting feeling that I adore.

CREW

Expectedly, this Old Fair Oaks crew was warm and friendly. Our bartender, Casey, had met my husband on several occasions and welcomed us to join him by the bar where he gave us knowledgeable advice on the beer, wine and food. We were also so lucky to meet owners, Wei (sp?) and Gary, an attractive and approachable husband and wife team who made us feel like a new part of their Cheers-like family.

FARE

Like I said, I ordered the salad. It was a caprese and it is the best caprese I’ve ever had. The mozzarella was quality (none of this cheap, rubbery cheese that needs to be hidden with sauce and salt), the produce was fresh and the dressing was perfection: a thick balsamic glaze that was generously crisscrossed over the plate. The pulled pork sliders were a dream: melt-in-your-mouth pork with a hint of smokiness, crunchy, cold, tangy coleslaw inside a sweet bun. It was one of those close-your-eyes-and-enjoy-this-feeling kinds of good.

 

There’s no question why Fair Oaks Brew Pub is so dang popular. Who wouldn’t want to go somewhere comfortable and welcoming? Who wouldn’t want to hang out with the cool staff that will learn all my favorites and ask me about my life? Oh, and the food is solid. So, there’s that. Next time I want to try their pizzas and nice large cold beer. Wanna come with me?

Fair Oaks Brew Pub
7988 California Ave, Fair Oak
http://www.fairoaksbrewpub.com

My Heart Belongs to the Northwind

Dear Northwind Campground,

My husband and I have visited you twice this year and we’ve found our outdoor home in you. Your very low number of smaller campsites (less than 20) gives us the security that there won’t be too many bright headlights in the middle of the night, no city slicker that plays their music so loud that I could feel it in my bones and no large parties taking over the whole dang place.

In fact, because of this, the daunting trek up the mountain, your proximity to other larger and more popular campsites off of highway 50 and limited facilities, I get to be in the company of more seasoned campers: the family across from us that wants to jam with Stephen on guitar, the couple next to us with a fancy tent that pops up on top of their car, the little boys next door with braided long hair and walkie talkies and the teenagers who escape on their bikes to the reservoir to do cannonballs. This is the company I like to keep.

Yesterday, I was daydreaming while taking a sun nap on the soft ground and about a dozen cars passed by with envious passengers who didn’t get a spot with you. Luckily, there are other grounds but once you’ve gone Northwind, everything else is just dirt and a fire pit.

Your beauty is outstanding, awesome and breathtaking. Every site looks like it was created by an exterior decorator: boulders strategically placed, framing the flat ground, large trees providing the coolest shade ever and shrubbery that seems as though it was planted there on purpose in lieu of nature just taking its course.

Northwind, since you’re right up against the Icehouse reservoir, I get to take a kayak trip during the day to take a dip in the cool water. We might paddle across the water to an uncharted area of California for a picnic of wine and soppressatta. Or just float in the middle and talk about vintage cars and shooting stars. But my favorite thing is to paddle at sunset, when the sky is rose and blue and the water is black and violet, the breeze tickling my hair and sun is saying goodnight. It’s the best make out spot, for sure.

Speaking of city slicking, can I tell you how thankful I am that I get perfectly great mobile service out here? I’m literally blogging right the eff now. While being offline is cleansing, it’s no surprise how ridiculously convenient it is for us to be able to do some work in the middle of the day… or just fire up some Netflix by the campfire.

Your price per night is jaw-dropping. Only $10? For all of this? While it does take some amenities away (no camp host, dumpster or plumbing), it really is worth it. I don’t mind having to use a kerchief on my face when using the ladies room or remembering to bring water and firewood. It’s a small price to pay for a place so pretty that it might as well be a joke.

Thank you Northwind. For your smells, your beauty and the memories. We’ll be back as much as we can.

Love,

Olla

Northwind Campground
Location: 23 miles east of Placerville on Highway 50 and 11 miles north on Ice House Road (Forest Road 3),then east (right) on Forest Road 32.

Let’s Go to a Real Bar

I want to talk about Old Fair Oaks’ historical staple: Stockman Club. This bar would be unassuming from the outside save for the name in lights on the street. Cutie roosters and chickens dot the area, them being the natives, giving this neighborhood it’s quaint and friendly reputation. Men with lined faces and hot tattooed bitches share inside jokes anigarette outside of the neighborhood’s historical bar.

Inside, you’ll be greeted with the jukebox lazily playing Sublime, a couple of backwards hatted skaters making jokes and poorly playing pool, retired women laughing so loud that you heard them from your car outside and a bartender pouring an old fashioned while giving a good-looking couple tips on dice. It’s Thursday before 9pm, the best time to chill at the bar with a nice, cold, cheap, local beer while the game is on. Maybe I’ll shoot the breeze with another loner at the bar. They all seem pretty cool.

But later, the night owls arrive and the chill vibe of Stockman Club turns into a circle pit of laughter, loudness and libations. Sublime isn’t chosen on the juke anymore, some metal head picked a mixture of hard Johnny Cash and soft Metallica. Empty pitchers are being exchanged quickly to feed the camels in the pool room. A harem of lipsticked and short shorted besties shamelessly down a round of fuzzy navels. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see Stephen and James behind the bar. Lucky because they are moving so fast, and with so much focus, they’re Quicksilvering to keep up with the dozens of tabs laid out behind the counter.

Sit by yourself by the bar (if you can find a spot!) and an elderly gentleman might sidle up next to you and say, “Hello my name is John. I’ll be your creep for the night,” followed by peals of laughter and a friendly handshake. John just wants to say hello and gossip about everyone at the bar. Or maybe the beautiful hipster chick with the big brown hat and dark red eyeshadow will compliment you on your glasses. She’ll admit that her favorite movie is Legally Blonde and you’ve made a friend for life.

Everyone loves their own dive bar. What makes mine so special is that it can read my mind. When I want a crazy lit night, Stockman delivers the shots and the rage. If I just want a quiet wine with my bestie, we can be completely left alone in the dark corner while we whisper each other’s fantasies and wisdom. A game, a night alone or an opportunity to talk someone’s ear off, Stockman is always there for me. Let’s go sometime yeah?

Stockman Club
10219 Fair Oaks Blvd. Fair Oaks
facebook.com/stockman.fairoaks

Bright & Bennyful

Two glasses of mimosa and a full plate of eggs benedict later, I’m… feeling like I could actually take a little run around the Capitol. Pushkin’s Restaurant, the breakfast and lunch eatery by the husband/wife team, Olga and Danny Turner, does everything light and it comes off as a heavy hitter in the brunch competition in midtown/downtown Sacramento.

ENVIRONS

Very instagrammable. The lighting is to die for. Pretty people and prettier dishes everywhere. The outdoor patio is drunk with airy-ness and sunlight. The interior is hand-clap bustling with an open kitchen and a dining area inspired by the most-pinned pinterest search: kitchen décor.

CREW

If I were to cast a show that followed the lives of the waitstaff at a restaurant, I’d pick these folks. Young, bright and enthusiastic, the staff at Pushkin’s Restaurant deliver the best mix of hipster style and genuine smile.

FARE

Pushkin’s unique selling point is that the entire menu is gluten-free. This makes for a very light-digestive menu, even with the heavier items like fries and pork belly. Also, I want to hi-five any restaurant that carries a full vegan menu. Fist pump to the back of the house for making it all happen.

My vegan brunch date applauds the menu (which she had tried on a prior date… without me :P) and had a hard time picking between the tofu scramble and the avocado toast. Indecision with a regular brunch menu is frequent with me, but with a vegan menu? The fact that it exists deserves high hipster praise.

Now for the meat of the matter (haha). Because of the aforementioned indecision, I turned to my adorable, bespectacled server and asked, “Is there anything else on the menu better than the pork belly eggs benedict?” (Yes my friends: Pork. Belly. Eggs. Benedict. I will retire from cheffing now, it’s all been done. Shut down the patent office because nothing else will ever be discovered.)

Bespectacled server tells me that the regular eggs and benny is really good so we went with best of both worlds and got one of each.

The egg was creamy, the ham was just a bit meaty and slightly salty but with its own perfect savory flavor. The hollandaise was light but still the perfect consistency. Foodies, it’s the best eggs and benny that I’ve ever had.

But (and this is just a small but), the pork belly benny was just OK. It comes out and looks gorgeous. The slab of pork with a jiggly poached egg and bright yellow sauce… its pornish. I’m so glad my server suggested I try the regular benny because I would not have had the same experience. It was just too much meat.

 

I might be biased with Pushkin’s Restaurant’s magic and wonder since I’m their exact target market. I might have just too much affinity for perfect lighting and a nice large patio. Maybe I like cute servers with the best ideas a little too much. Beautiful, tasty food is just one of my things. I know.

That’s it. I have nothing else to say. #nodenouement

Pushkin’s Restaurant
1813 Capitol Ave Sacramento
pushkinskitchen.com

The Don’t List

 

The other day, I was sitting at a bar waiting for a friend. There were two people talking and I (of course) dropped some eaves. There were two young women sitting across from me and they were talking about something exciting. I don’t remember what it was but what did catch my ear was what one of them kept saying/shouting:

“OH MY GAWD!”

It was wince city for me every time she said it. Now, don’t get it twisted. I thought they were both beautiful, intelligent women and I think nothing wrong with them. The reason why I winced is because I say that a lot and I didn’t like hearing it from another person. I vowed to never do it again.

Sometimes we are smacked right in the face with how we don’t want to be. Sometimes, we don’t know what we want to be until something shows us what we absolutely do not want to be.

I’m not talking about being critical of people. I’m talking about how when we recognize the negative stuff we can identify our blessings. When we identify our fears, we can see what actually motivates us.

So, what gives you the heebie jeebies? Then, let’s look at the flipside of that. The flipside is where the magic is. It’s what we really want.

What’s your Don’t List?

11 Coco Chanel Quotes to guide you through life in style.

DON’T: Be catty. Don’t act bitchy because I think it’s “cute.” Don’t make snide remarks to be funny. Don’t justify my bad behavior because he/she/they do it to me. Don’t surround myself with other bitchy people who validate my feelings. Don’t romanticize bitchiness.

DON’T: Be irrational. Don’t be selfish. Don’t need to have the last word in a fight. Don’t refuse to take a second to see if I’m the crazy one.

“Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.”
-Elvis Presley

DON’T: Stop evolving. Don’t stop moving. Don’t get stuck in a routine. Don’t be afraid of change. Don’t stop believing in yourself. Don’t let small setbacks lead you astray. Don’t get comfortable.

What about you? What’s your Don’t List? Write it down and revel in another list that helps motivate you in being the most beautiful bad ass bitch in the universe.

Love,
Olla Swanson

 

Marin County: You’re Hot, Then You’re Cold

Marin County is filled with colorful sights like the Richardson Bay Marina lined up with beautiful boats awaiting their next adventure. Then, there’s the picturesque tiny shops stuffed with antiques, handmade jewelry and the rare vintage dress that you must buy while gallivanting the beaten paths of Pt. Reyes. It’s proximity to the City while having it’s own chill charm makes it the destination for those who want the best of both worlds.

On a whim, Stephen and I decided to skip one of our favorite campgrounds (Peninsula by the Folsom Lake) in lieu of something that promised cooler weather. Sacramento was having an exceptionally scorching heat wave and the thought of the cool coastal breeze enticed our senses.

1) Drive Through The Clouds

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We drove up to Marin County into Pantoll Campground. The drive up the hill felt like moving into a different dimension. Below, at near sea level, we swept through some patchy clouds but more sunny rays. As we ascended Mount Tamalpais (Mt. Tam to the locals), we drove through the clouds. It was chilly and wet through the clouds and ethereal as the heavens. But even higher, were our camp was, we got above the clouds. It was clear and crisp. Cool and a bit hot.

2) Meditate At Stinton Beach

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Right smack dab in the middle of the cloud dimension was Stinton Beach. The grey and tan beach was still warm and busy with families and kids mostly with the sweetest and happiest dogs on the planet. We shared some charcuterie, wine and a meditiation. Stinton Beach is such a friendly place to the senses. The feeling of the warm air and chilly cloud on my cheeks and the sound of  laughing couples and feet running through the sand is a perfect welcoming committee to Marin.

3) Hike To The Peak of Mt. Tam

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There was only one other view that left me speechless and that was the Grand Canyon.

Across from the Pantoll Campground is the entrance to the Mt. Tam peak hike. Drive up the mountain for about 15 minutes and you’ll pass by at least a half a dozen professional photographers catching a view that you will never forget.

San Francisco is known for being foggy and as you ascend Mt.Tam, you can witness white, silky, feathery clouds pouring into the bay. When you start the hike (it’s only a half a mile roundtrip!) where you’ll see San Francisco as the cereal and the clouds as milk. At the end of the hike, you’ll see north and the view of the beautiful homes and countryside of Marin County.

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It’s a view I promise you’ll never forget.

4) Go to No Name Bar in Sausalito

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Stephen and I popped into a local bar to play their open mic. No Name Bar is one of those no-nonsense, clean bars filled with older folk who want a dirty shot and a glass of the latest local brew.

While hanging out in the fully furnished and most instagrammable patio, I had started speaking to a group of gals and what started off as an analysis of whether or not to sit next to or across from your date turned into hours of gossiping, debates on feminism, creamery recommendations and then of course the exchange of numbers… because of course you find your kindred spirits at a bar in Sausalito.

5) Make Out In The Mist

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“Is it raining?” I whined as I stirred my brain to wake up.

“No, we’re in a cloud,” Stephen whispered from outside of the tent. He had been awake for a couple hours already and he encouraged me to come outside and check it out.

Everything was dewey and wet. You couldn’t see ten feet in front of you with the wisps of water floating in the air. The trees were dripping and hitting everything with a tiniest little splashes.

When you kiss in the mist, the mixture of cool and hot hits your brain like a hot fudge on ice cream. Always always make out wherever you can, but don’t skip out on the mist kiss. It’s a bucket lister.

Have you ever been to Marin County? What are your recommendations? What about experiences in changing climates in one day?