musings about food, travel, creativity and life

Easy Does It

We just returned from our first trip of the new year.  It was to a little inn on the bay in Baywood-Los Osos, California and then to nearby San Luis Obispo.

Our sojourn included lots of walking along the bay and in the Elfin Forest, and lots of reading and writing.  We enjoyed the wine/snacks happy hour and eating dinners at two local spots just walking distance from our inn.  Easy. Laid back. Fun.

John, Cosi and I especially loved sitting at the outdoor tables of the Nautical Bean cafe ( which is adjacent to the inn.  “Regulars” meet there to enjoy their cups of coffee and breakfast/lunch items.  Birders, cyclists, and kayakers add to the mix and we visitors join right in. It’s almost like the town piazza.  People watching, listening and interacting at its best.  

Then on our way home we stopped in San Luis Obispo for two new-to-us locales.  One was the SLO (San Luis Obispo) Public Market (, “a gathering place where people can sample and enjoy the best of the Central Coast.”   It  is home to many restaurants (most of which have outdoor seating), a workout spot, a ballroom dance studio and a general store.  I liked “the vibe.” 


The other was an ice cream shop called  SLO Ala Mode featuring ice cream from The Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company of Madison, Wisconsin—how could we not stop there! Unfortunately they were out of one of John’s favorite flavors—Exhausted Parent, “creamy ice cream steeped with real Colombian coffee and infused with notes of bourbon, churned and loaded with hunks of bittersweet chocolate.”  Next time!… be it in San Luis Obispo or Madison.

So there you have it.  A mini-vacay close to home that provided an easy way to explore and savor.   No big new culture, that’s for sure, but a slight variation of  the vistas and lifestyle we experience on the home front that gave us a bit of a spark for the new year.


What I’m Cooking:

•Minestrone!  Always a comforting upper-supper for me. 

•″Sweet Potato Chowder and Avocado-Tahini Crostini from an inspirational cookbook called The Forest Feast Gatherings: Simple Vegetarian Menus for Hosting Friends and Family by Erin Gleeson.  I have written about her cookbooks before and I will, I’m sure, again; they are wonderful sources of good healthy food, beautifully presented with visually delightful  photographs and watercolors.

•Golden Cornmeal with Sultanas Biscotti from Ciao, Biscotti by Domenica Marchetti.


What’s On My Bookshelf:

Old Dogs, by Sally Muir, is touching my heart. It is a collection of paintings and drawings by Sally based on photographs people submitted of their old dogs.  Sweet and poignant as she “celebrates the grey muzzles and wobbly legs of our ageing pets.”  Here’s to our little doggie, Cosi, 18 years old next month, and still at it!❤️

A Tidbit:

I’m having fun doing some of the daily drawing challenges presented on-line by Wendy MacNaughton, illustrator of many books, including Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat and The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert by Richard Betts.  

One of my favorite exercises was “drawing a food that brings you delight,” with the added instruction of “consider the story of the food—where it’s from, who has touched or made it, where it all started.”

I drew  one of my favorite candies—Baci (which means “kisses” and is the name of our VW van), made in Perugia, Italy, and consisting of hazelnuts and chocolate.  Such an easy sweet (ha!) way to take a quick trip to Italy! What might you draw?


SO…may 2024 be good to you and for you.  If you encounter any inspirational foods, restaurants, cookbooks, or locales—near or far— that bring you joy, I’d love to hear about them!. 





14 thoughts on “Easy Does It”

  • The suggestions about places to visit in the SLO area are great as we drive up that way on occasion. I made my version of minestrone last week and added the spices and Parmesan ring from your grandmother’s recipe. It was delicious I have to say. Sorry about John not having his favorite ice cream. Roger would like that flavor too. Your blog is always a joyful read on an otherwise ordinary January day. Love, Jeanne

    • You dear heart! So good to hear from you, Jeanne. You made my “ordinary January day” a happy one! Much love to you and Roger💓

    • Thanks so much, Luisa! And I always love seeing your paintings. Happy New Year to you and Jay—hope to see you two at some point😍

  • Happy New Year Archers. It sure was GREAT to see you in Monterey both at our counseling department meeting and your lovely visit to our little cottage.
    The empanadas you brought us were fabulous. It was great fun being back on the peninsula where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a fabulous place to eat.
    I am glad you enjoyed your quick visit to SLO. Hopefully you received good news on your van’s health.
    Hope to see you both when we return in April. Cheers, happy travels and dreamy meals to you. xoxo

    • And it was so great seeing you and your casita! I’m glad you liked the empanadas! And I’m up for “happy travels and dreamy meals”—-YES! Happy 2024❣️

  • Thank you Lynn for the inspiration of recipes and recipe books and authors to look up, and also to start thinking about travel to new places, on this continent 😉 Love the sound of that Sweet Potato Chowder and Avocado-Tahini Crostini and the recipe book, and the wine expert book! Will look those up.

    • How wonderful to hear from you, Sharon❣️ I do like The Forest Feast cookbooks and I think you would, too. And the wine expert book is fun! Sending much love💓💓

  • Your descriptions are so vivid that we get to travel vicariously with you, Lynn: see the sights , taste the flavors. Speaking of flavors, I want some “Exhausted Parent” ice cream right this minute!!

  • Hi Lynn, Happy New Year to you and John! I knew you were is Los Osos when I saw the photo of the boats. We love the Nautical Bean Cafe – wish we could have joined you there. Maybe a little like Java in Ketchum? Cali-style. Hope to see you soon. Lenore

    • Hi Lenore! Who knew you were a Nautical Bean fan❣️ I love that we have some favorite spots in common🥳. We look forward to seeing you in one of them soon💓.

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