musings about food, travel, creativity and life

Close to Home

We have been doing mini-trips lately…easy little jaunts that give us new tastes of local-ish life.  I have been amazed at how “little” and “close” can give so much.

Take our trip to Santa Cruz the other day…just under 60 miles from our Carmel Valley abode.  And yet what fun discoveries we made.

First for all, The Power Plant in Moss Landing, or I should say the “other” Power Plant, not the official tall-stacks-on-the-horizon one.  This “other” Power Plant is a cafe and store featuring lots of local goodies, from coffee and baked goods, to all kinds of plants, outdoor clothing and paraphernalia, books, and ceramics by one of the Power Plant’s owners, Sally Russell.  

The building is light and bright, filled with green plants, orange cafe chairs, and a colorful wall mural.  The “Everything Cookie” and  almond croissant were very tasty treats to accompany our coffee.Next on our trip was the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz. Since it was a First Friday when many of the artists’ galleries were open in the evening, we got to visit with a few of the artists as they were setting up their galleries. I even helped support the arts (!) by buying a pair of earrings. The complex also included loft apartments nearby, a theater that was presenting a play about Corita Kent, one of my favorite artists, a dance center and workshop spaces for classes.  

Our food stop was Cafe Brasil.  We had often driven by this colorful house on Mission Street in Santa Cruz, but hadn’t stopped.  John’s reading an article about it being a favorite restaurant for a Brazilian basketball player who plays for the Warriors’ G-league in Santa Cruz made it a must-visit destination for us.  It had lots of new-to-me taste treats, including a dynamite Feijoada, a classic Brazilian black bean/sausage stew, followed by a cafezinho, a small potent demitasse of coffee.  Our waiter was from Sao Pablo and the music was Brazilian, so I pretended we were on a mini-trip to Brazil!

The final stop on our “close-cation” was for biscotti at one of my favorite food stops—Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola, which I have written about before.  It is soon to celebrate its 45th Anniversary.  As a part of their anniversary information, they published some statistics about what it takes to run this revered food establishment:

…currently 136 employees (yowza!)

…each month, the following raw materials, plus many others, are used:

          3.5 tons of butter

           l,586 pounds of chocolate

           60,600 eggs

           21,866 pounds of flour… 



And so, dear readers, I wonder what close-by-encounters with a little bit of newness and whimsy you are experiencing.  I hope they have been fun!


What I’m Reading:

Joy: A Celebration of Mindfulness by Katie Wilson.  A quick, fun, light and colorful board book for children.

52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time by Annabel Streets.  An informative, inspiring series of differently themed walks, like “Amble Amid Trees,” “Walk with Ions,” “Walk Hungry,” “Walk Within An Hour of Waking,”  “Walking with Others,” “Walking as Meditation…” I’m learning a lot and getting some new approaches to one of my favorite forms of exercise and inspiration.

What I’m Cooking From:

50 Easy Indian Curries by Penny Chawla.  I just made Saag Paneer and it was easy and good! 


And just for fun:

I’m writing my daily “To Do” Lists in this little notebook:


Happy Almost-Valentine’s Day, All.  Lots of love to you!!❤️❤️






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