Travel

Pura Vida = Playa Guiones, Nosara and Tabacon

It takes about 3 hours from the Liberia Airport to get to Nosara. A little bit more if you miss the right turn after you pass the Samara Gas Station. As of the last visit, there are no more signs indicating the turn to Nosara. At some point, you will realize it as you arrive in the town of Samara. From there you will have to go back to Nicoya and then drive uphill to bring you to the dirt roads of Nosara. 

Located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica on the northern pacific coast, Nosara is home to pristine beaches, 6km of consistent surf breaks and stunning sunsets. There are no high rise buildings nor massive hotel presence. Instead, green, lush protected jungle (green zone) separates the beaches from any establishments or attractions. In fact, environmental laws are strictly enforced by conservationists (comprised mainly of members from the large expat community) and that all development starts 1km off the beach: Preservation first over profit.

Playa Guiones in Nosara is a mecca for expats, surfers and yogis. The unpaved roads, the quirky smell of molasses glazed on the grounds to keep the dust down, the dense jungle and thick vegetation gives away the fact that preserving simplicity is of utmost importance. It is raw, rural and unpretentious. So unless you are seeking tranquility, serenity, peace, learning how to surf or getting your 300 hours of yoga teacher training, this may not be the place for you. 

It usually takes some convincing and even more time to "pluck" me away from working. But somehow, I've managed to visit Nosara three times in eleven months! I would work remotely for a few days and then take a certain number of days off. But regardless of whether I am working or not, I feel so isolated from the world...in a good way. I feel so isolated from the worries and ambitions of the world. Because in Costa Rica, it is PURA VIDA - pure life and Solo Bueno - All is well!

Cameras:
Here are the photos I took from the most recent trip. I took the photos using a Fuji Film mirrorless camera, some from my Canon MkII and a lot from my Samsung Note 4 smartphone (some photos of which were automatically uploaded to my FB account and are not featured here). There are two sets of images here.  One was from Nosara and the other, from Tabacon, a grand spa thermal resort in the heart of La Fortuna/ Arenal Volcano, 4 hours away from Nosara.  

 
 Glorious Sunsets 

Glorious Sunsets 

 Garrobo (small alligator / iguana)

Garrobo (small alligator / iguana)

 Believe me when I say, this guy is the best surfer in Nosara!

Believe me when I say, this guy is the best surfer in Nosara!

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 My favorite food: tico breakfast: gallo rice, bacon, eggs and plaintains

My favorite food: tico breakfast: gallo rice, bacon, eggs and plaintains

Playa Pelada
a small fishing village where you can buy fish straight out of the boat

La Luna Restaurant at Playa Pelada, a perfect sunset dinner with a dear friend and local artist, Nathan. 

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La Fortuna/ Arenal Volcano / Tabacon, Grand Thermal Spa Resort

 

We traveled for 4 long hours to La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano

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San Juan Bautista, A 4th Grade Field Trip

"Yes, I'm driving."

My son was ecstatic that I was one of the volunteer parent drivers.

So what else is a mom going to do when she sees a beautiful, scenic place as the Old Mission San Juan Bautista? Take photos of course!

There is such a wealth of history in this place and it is definitely worth the drive with or without a field trip. I highly recommend visiting this historic site. 

All photos were taken with a Fuji X-E2 camera and a 56mm f1.2 lens, loaned to me by my good friend Sheldon. Photos were processed in Lightroom 5.6 using a combination of VSCO Film emulations. I have to say, my friend may have just convinced me to jump on a Fuji camera.  I LOVE IT!

If you wish to use any of these photos, just ask. Be nice and give credit to: Owen Donnahoo, Most Precious Art Photography.  Thank you and happy viewing!

San Juan Bautista


Nathan Miller, Artist, Surfer, Nature and Animal Lover in Costa Rica

On my second trip to Costa Rica, I had the wonderful opportunity to do a photo shoot with full-time wild life artist, Nathan Miller. He grew up in Florida, went to school in Israel and worked as a graphic designer in Texas prior to him settling to Nosara, Costa Rica.

His deep love for nature and animals, surfing and desire to go back to painting led him to Pura Vida. As an artist, his work speaks for itself.  He captures the deep jewel colors and spirit of Guanacaste: from the women, the surfers and the wild life. As a person, he carries one of the biggest, most gentle hearts one can ever find. He is very sweet, can carry a great conversation, and probably the best looking, single dude in Nosara :) I am lucky to call him now, my friend.  Hint, hint....here is where to find him:

http://costaricawildart.com/
http://society6.com/nathanmiller

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Photos from Venice Beach, California

There are moments when what I feel dictates where I want to be and this past memorial weekend spent in Venice Beach, California hit the spot. It was gritty, loud, urban, grungy and amidst it all, there was beauty, art, and acceptance. 

Originally, the bf and I were going to drive to Santa Barbara. Yes, by the area around Isla Vista where the shooting rampage of a young, deranged misogynist man carried out his “war on women.” We felt lucky we weren’t there but extremely sad for those families who lost a loved one that day. Anyway, I don’t want to get started ranting on that as I already carry so much sadness and anger in my heart. In fact, the whole point of driving somewhere was to release some of these feelings and let go.

When my friend Ana lost her battle with cancer and passed away last March, it was Costa Rica that helped me in my healing journey. She was beautiful, kind and pristine just like the beaches and town of Playa Guinoes.  This time around, I welcomed that grittiness, funky and edgy carnival atmosphere that is Venice Beach. The art walls shouted and the boardwalk filled with the homeless, the skateboarders and hippies were in your face. Within walking distance was the dreamy community along the 16 miles of beautiful canals, the idyllic ground for creative inspiration and artistic pursuits. And just west of Lincoln Blvd, boho-chic shops peppered with restaurants serving good food and wine lined the historic Abbot Kinney Boulevard.  Yes, just the right ensemble of eclecticism and individualism for my taste and my mood. 

Just a few weeks, ago, I lost a special someone…someone once very important to me. He decided he didn’t want to live anymore so he left this world hastily. I cannot even begin to express the pain, the sadness and the anger I feel. I have no choice but to deal with it internally while continuing to enjoy the life I have with my loved ones right now, right here. 

Here are the photos.  I am starting once again to document life via Project Life Digital Scrapbooking and I will be sharing those more as I get further along. Check these out if you haven't been to this part of California and see if this is something you might want to check out for yourself!

View From The Hotel Erwin Balcony

Venice Adventure

Venice Art Walls - you need a permit to paint otherwise it's vandalism

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Restaurant on Promenade
 She sat there the whole time hugging the dog while the rest of her family ate.

She sat there the whole time hugging the dog while the rest of her family ate.

Definitely the vibe for everything yoga, paleo, organic and chic

 Restoration Hardware for Baby and Child - My jaw dropped at how dreamy this place was.  The folks at this store didn't allow me to use my big camera: "You can only take pictures with that"  pointing to my iPhone :(

Restoration Hardware for Baby and Child - My jaw dropped at how dreamy this place was.  The folks at this store didn't allow me to use my big camera: "You can only take pictures with that"  pointing to my iPhone :(

 At the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

At the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

 There's my man - smile honey!

There's my man - smile honey!

There were some interesting characters at the market but they will only allow me to take pictures if I pay them or buy something from their shop...bummer!

 Venice Canals. Mr. Abbot Kinney wanted to replicate the Venice Renaissance so he made this idyllic community with all the money he has  from his cigarette manufacturing fortune.

Venice Canals. Mr. Abbot Kinney wanted to replicate the Venice Renaissance so he made this idyllic community with all the money he has  from his cigarette manufacturing fortune.

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 I so love this open concept living.. For a second, I thought I could move here but then again, what would I do with my kids?  LOL!

I so love this open concept living.. For a second, I thought I could move here but then again, what would I do with my kids?  LOL!

 Shop at Abbot Kinney Blvd. Love this boho chic vibe

Shop at Abbot Kinney Blvd. Love this boho chic vibe

 Nope...I refuse to smell your armpit!

Nope...I refuse to smell your armpit!

 Dinner with friends.  Hmm, I just realized we didn't take pics with our other dinner dates the following evening...oh well...

Dinner with friends.  Hmm, I just realized we didn't take pics with our other dinner dates the following evening...oh well...

 Favorite breakfast: Poached eggs and smoked salmon

Favorite breakfast: Poached eggs and smoked salmon

 The bf loves to sleep in but I was starving...

The bf loves to sleep in but I was starving...

 Barlo could really be a cool place to eat but service sucked!  Too bad food was good :(

Barlo could really be a cool place to eat but service sucked!  Too bad food was good :(

 10 PM at Hana Sushi...Yummy toro!

10 PM at Hana Sushi...Yummy toro!

 Staring at this while eating my 2 for 1 empanadas

Staring at this while eating my 2 for 1 empanadas

 Talk to me about this

Talk to me about this

 The world of ticky tacky begins..both the shops and the people

The world of ticky tacky begins..both the shops and the people

 I got busted! 

I got busted! 

 They biked, and we ran for miles so we can eat later.

They biked, and we ran for miles so we can eat later.

 Who wants to workout and show off in public?  Surely, not I.

Who wants to workout and show off in public?  Surely, not I.

Skaters

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Skate park
 What is a road trip without a KitKat Bar?

What is a road trip without a KitKat Bar?

Reasons Why I'm Going on a Memorial Day Road Trip

I'm super excited!
Memorial Day Road Trip Reasons:

1.  It's a long weekend with no kids so why not.
2. Spend quality time with the bf.
3. Escape from the heaviness, sadness, anger even of losing someone tragically. RIP.
4. Californication. The bf got me hooked and I just have to sniff notorious Hank Moody's hood.
5. Beach, Sun, Explore, Live Life.

Wherever the road may take you, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Roadtrip

A Little Bit of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West

Throwback Thursday on a non-Thursday (because  I like to bend 'em rules sometimes).

Lately, my mind has taken me back to last year's escapade in Florida.  If not for these pictures, I wouldn't remember as much (because I was always drunk).  Glad I took them and I get to re-live the crazy times I once had in this very unique place.  I want to visit again and make new memories.

Pictures posted were selected based on their PG rating :)

Bouchon Bistro Over the Weekend | Yountville

After being ill last week, I longed for the weekend to come and wanted to get away. A week laden with heavy work, antibiotics, a pathetic Friday dine-in experience and M's sleepless night, we needed salvation.

The Bouchon Bistro in Yountville reset our weekend, made things right and we could not have made a better decision than this.  Let's just say, the rest of the weekend was romantic and fabulous.

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Confit de Canard - duck confit with Brussels sprouts and mustard sauce

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My dish: Steak Frites - Flat iron steak with caramelized shallots and truffled fries

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M's dish: Poulet Roti - roasted chicken with trumpet mushrooms, whole grain mustard spaetzle and butternut squash

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Dessert: Sorbet aux Fruits: pineapple

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Bouchon Bistro is located at: 6534 WASHINGTON STREET | YOUNTVILLE, CA 94599

An hour and a half drive from San Jose, California, the restaurant is worth every minute of the drive if you are looking for some genuine quality time, superb experience and help in turning what could be a drab of a weekend to a fab one.

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Private Wine Luncheon Tour at Hanzell and Corison Winery | Napa & Sonoma Photographer

Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited to photograph a small and intimate company event that took place in beautiful Sonoma Country. My clients took their VIP clients to a private luncheon, wine tasting and promenade tour at the gorgeous Hanzell Winery, one of the oldest operating wineries in Sonoma. This winery is a secret gem tucked in oh-so quietly within the mountain ridges of Sonoma and those who know of its existence probably don't mind keeping it to themselves.  The drive to the Hanzell property is unassuming and once you get through the iron gates, you are taken to a tranquil, intimate and simply exhilarating place.   It is a perfect setting for new friendships, new beginnings or just simply, a quiet celebration of life, existence and human connections. And I am going to add, I have never enjoyed Chardonnay as much as I did until this day.

At the property of Hanzell:

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The group's post lunch affair was at Corison Winery where Cathy Corison, the woman owner, winemaker and producer of the classic Cabernet Sauvignon shares her tale of striking a balance between strength and elegance through her signature cab she named "Kronos" ~ from the Greek God son of heaven and earth.

Off of the Saint Helena Highway, magic happens within the confines of this old victorian barn. But you must come and see for yourself.

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Overlooking Kronos Vineyard:

The cast that made this day special. Like  wines, each tells a compelling story without actually telling it. I am fortunate enough to be able to get a few moments with each of them and let them share with me a gist of their tale..Thank you for trusting me.

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This was the first frame I took of them. As a photographer, I think it is important to let our clients know that we can be trusted. The difference between a snapshot and a photograph lies on the fact that a photograph shows you what the heart is...what lies beneath..

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When you allow them to tell you their story, this is what you get. Apparently, they have for work related reasons, been separated from each other for some time and they have just recently reunited.  For the photographers out there, crop in tighter...

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To Zakk, Amelia and Ben: Thank you for your warm hospitality and for making our visit at Hanzell "beautiful".

Last Minute Road Trip - Sometimes We Just have to let Go!

I don't like wasting time and therefore, I typically like to plan everything! But I must say, sometimes, we just need to loosen up, hop on the car and go...when we get the chance. And that's exactly what my girlfriends and I decided to do 2 weekends ago. We knew we wanted to head down South, but we don't know exactly where to go nor where to stay. C'mon how often do we really get some free time?

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