Hello Sping

"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming" ~Pablo Neruda

"Spring is the time of plans and projects." ~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

"if we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." ~ Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet

Hello Spring

(Hello Spring Photoshop brush is courtesy of Tracy Larsen)

Happy Friday

Here is a pic I took from Santa Cruz Beach recently. These pinnipeds makes me want to chillax now!  But I am working and shooting a 50th Wedding Anniversary tomorrow evening.  For now, I will log off and have a relaxing evening. 

Happy Friday!

A Birthday Gift for Jimmy Lou, A Leather Album

For Jimmy Lou, happy 97th birthday!

I was told that when you received this Leather Art Family Album, you were overjoyed. You kept showing it to your friends, page by page, from front to cover, and then starting all over again. I wish I was there to see the commotion, but Delaware is a few thousand miles too far away for me to visit just to see the reveal.

It has been a few weeks since you received your gift.  And until today, I still hear from your daughter-in-law how thrilled you still are and carry the album with you wherever you go. 

This second set of 10 x 10 Leather Art Family Album is traveling via courier to Kentucky this time. If I may be bold, I think the boys' other grandma will equally be pleased.  And truthfully, I cannot wait again to hear the reaction. 

The best gifts are the memories captured in photographs, then shared beautifully. I am glad to be a part of this experience of sharing family love and preserving memories.

10 x 10 Classic Leather Album

10 x 10 Classic Leather Album

Leather Album

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It's been a while since I hung out at Rosie McCann's but how can I stay away from all that green when it's the weekend before Saint Patrick's Day.  I seriously love this place. Great food and just an awesome place to chillax.

"May the dreams you hold dearest be those which come true and the kindness you spread keep returning to you."

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!  Check out some photos I took for Rosie McCann on my Facebook page and don't forget to check them out at the row.

Nicole @ Rosie's

Nicole @ Rosie's

A Weekend Immersed in Gratitude ~ My Thanksgiving Retreat

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu

This past weekend, a group of people from all over the Bay Area and one wonderful gal from Calgary, Alberta gathered together in the name of gratitude. We sat in community, reflected on what it means to be grateful and explored the countless possibilities and ways to practice gratitude in our everyday lives. Each and everyone of us came to the circle fully present and open: open to all the sharing, the kindness, the beauty, the grace and the gifts of seeing the present and what is to come with grateful eyes. We lifted our hearts, stretched our hands and bodies through our morning yoga practice and released anything within us that is not cultivating gratitude. Then with feet and knees planted deeply on the ground, we touched our hearts and minds to the open space beneath us and sought in earnest, support for our intentions.

It’s been days and I am still in bliss...I am still soaking in gratitude. I am so thankful to have come to Avalon, this magical place so giving and so healing with its rustic peace and magical spring waters flowing from the earth. I feel so rejuvenated and invigorated. And most of all, I feel my heart open…I have experienced non-stop gratitude from both Avalon and my new friends and have been bathing in joy since.  I wake up with a yearning to live more consciously, more mindfully;  to appreciate everything that I have, and to show appreciation daily. I feel so connected and such an integral part of this expansive universe. I am blessed and there is nothing more that I can ever want.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday and I couldn’t ask for a better way to prepare for this wonderful season of love and generosity. And before I end this post, I would like to say that I am so grateful to my children, my parents, my family and friends.  I am grateful to the wonderful children, women, men and families who have allowed me to photograph them. I am grateful for my lines of work, my colleagues, my clients. I am grateful for my talents, my challenges, my body, my mind, my soul. I am grateful for my home and the food on the table. I am grateful for my faith, my community and my country. I am grateful for my joys and my fears, my insecurities and my accomplishments. I am grateful for my health and my life. I am grateful for every day that I get to wake up. I am grateful for you reading my blog. I am grateful for kind words, and honest advise. I am grateful for caring and not so caring people. I am grateful for technology. I am grateful for books. I am grateful for music, and rhythm and songs and words.  I am grateful for everything.

Last but not least, I am truly, truly grateful to Katia Sol for helping me establish a foundation to continue a daily gratitude practice and for teaching me to go deep into thankfulness.  A huge thank you to Salina Espinosa-Setchko for the yoga, the "bed", the "scaffolding", and the body tapping.  And to my new friends, I am grateful for your vulnerability, strength and courage.  I cannot wait for our check-ins and learn where our individual journey leads us.  Love to you ALL.

Here are a few photos from this weekend and I know that everytime I look at these photos, it will always remind me of the beautiful time we spent together.


Plus 1 to About Time, the Movie and Chances

About Time Movie Poster

I am so glad that traveling back in time is an ability that exist only in the movies. Because if I have the ability to go back in time, I would re-write every plot, every script and every circumstance in my life.  I would be so concerned with all the minutiae of my life that I would be re-doing things over and over just to ensure the outcome is just how I like it: Perfect! But here I am at 37 years of age,  an amalgamation of every good and bad decision I made all throughout these years, and I am still standing: a bit scarred but ok. Honestly, I don’t even know if I would have made any better decisions if I went back in time:  Sure, I would have probably not gotten married to the man I divorced 6 years ago nor dated the men I did post divorce. I would have probably chosen a different program at the university back then or I would have shown up at a Fosse audition in Toronto on that one Saturday morning, then moved to New York and perhaps, even got a chance to dance on Broadway. I could’ve made different and  perhaps smarter choices, but would the outcome be any better?  Who knows...

If you saw the movie “About Time” with Rachel McAdams and Domhall Geeson like I did last Friday night, you know what I’m talking about.

“About Time” is such a delightful movie that goes beyond looking and finding love. It is about this guy, Tim who on his 21st birthday was told by his father that he can travel back  to his personal timeline and reverse the past to redefine a future outcome. It is also about holding on, letting go, second chances and most importantly, living everyday like it’s the last day of your life.

Unlike the movie, we cannot control what happens in our everyday lives. However, we can always choose HOW we react to them. We cannot go back to our past and reverse the decisions we made to avoid feeling the pain or the hurt we experience as a consequence of that choice. There are no second chances in moments passed. But there will always be another chance, and another…and another for every new moment for the rest of our lives. We just need to choose wisely: with open minds, stronger hearts and brighter awareness.  And we can practice approaching life with these, if we choose to.

It’s okay that I cannot travel back in time. It’ll probably be more complicated if I can. But I do hope to have more moments where I choose to smile, to say thank you, or I’m sorry.  I hope to have more days where I choose to give, to forgive, to be compassionate and to love. I hope to make better choices in WHO I bring into my life, because it’s about time.

If you could go back in time, what part of your life would you like to go back to?  Would you go back to make changes or would you do it to revisit  a moment that you wish can last forever?

Some Photo Booth Pics from Prince of Peace Harvest Festival, Fremont CA

So another Halloween has passed and we are either left with bags of candy loot or costumes (or both) that will never see the light of day again (Well, maybe until next year...).  But it doesn't really matter, does it? Because what does, is the guilt-free fun that we all had from all that sugar and sensory overload. That one day where we can be anybody we want to be but ourselves, all out in the open! {Honestly, I think we grown-ups need more days like these so we can get all our craziness and pretensions out of our system and be our true selves the rest of the year. }

My son was a zombie hunter but it was "dadtime" so I didn't really get to celebrate that night with him. I did visit him in class during their halloween party earlier that day so it's all good.

If  you know me personally, you know how I love the Prince of Peace School. So when they asked me to do a photo booth for their Harvest Festival this year, I was certainly delighted to do so. This was my second year and I enjoyed seeing all the kids and families who stopped by my booth in full costume galore.  I love the variety, the themes, the colors, the coordination and the spirit that everyone had that night.  Here are a few of them to share with you:

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Pumpkins at the Ardenwood Patch under the the Bright, Glaring Noon Light

Life is hectic and sometimes, as much as I want to take photos at the perfect time of day, our schedule just can't accommodate it. So we squeeze.  We squeeze and we make time.  I was not going to let this year go by without our annual visit to the patch.  So we made our way to Ardenwood Farms in Newark at the worst time of the day: noon.  The sun was directly above us which means a lot of squinting, raccoon eyes, harsh shadows and uber warm tones. Plus trying to get a good photo without the entire nation joining in?  Good luck!  But I must, the mom in me insist and if not now, we will have to wait for next year.  There was only one thing I had to make sure was right: my son's disposition.  Setting the expectation with him that it's going to be hot and that there will be tons of people everywhere ahead of time was helpful. Ok, maybe that accompanied with a little bribe.

Nonetheless, we made it and while they are definitely not the perfectly lit photos, I captured Troy at the patch at nine years of age.  This one is not going on my wall but definitely on my binder of 2013 memories.

(We got two pumpkins: one for him and one for his big brother, who is just too cool nowadays to go pumpkin hunting with us...I also took home some butternut squash, acorns, and winter squash and those never made it for display.  They went straight into the oven and put to good use.)

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Fall, Grapes and the Bee | Big Dog Vineyards, Milpitas California

I don't know how many times I've re-written this blog post.  Perhaps because I was trying in the beginning to be poetic, perhaps I was trying to make it light and fun, or maybe I was not being truthful about what I really want to say. Within the past few weeks, I've been struggling about some things with this very special person in my life. There were questions but no answers. I was confused and felt really alone. I needed perspective. I needed prayer. I needed solace.

And I've also been craving for Fall.  I miss the beautiful, brightly colored, golden leaves of autumn...those sugar maple leaves with their brilliant, amber glow scattered in every street, every corner of Genthorn Avenue where I used to live back in Canada. Somehow, I have been missing and craving for all things Fall and the paradoxical feelings it bring: melancholy and warmth. While I have no nearby access to any magnificent fall foliage, I do know where I can go to just get a hint, a feeling of it.

I drove up to Calaveras Hills, on to Felter Road and turned left into the entrance of Big Dog Vineyards. There were speckles of red, gold and orange leaves throughout the landscape and that was enough for me. It was also harvest season. The grapes were being harvested by workers, friends and neighbors amidst the beautiful Indian summer sun and I was happy to be there. I knew I've come to the right place for a bit of solace, peace, prayer , company,  diversion, and a bit of fall.

I kept my conversations at a minimum while walking through the vineyard aisles and spent most of my time photographing the leaves and observing the little creature residents. I was hoping they would whisper their nuggets of wisdom to me but only one cared to look up: guess which one from the photos below. I wonder if it was my special person reincarnated into a bee at that moment.

I left the vineyard right after lunch time and on a full stomach too but I had no answers. But perhaps, there was a lesson imparted: just like the grapes that need to go through seasons before it ripens and ready for harvest, so must all other good and beautiful things need time to come to fruition.

Some things are revealed in due time.

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“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ― George Eliot

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“I love like a leaf in the wind. Please, hold your applause until the end of the performance (the last day of fall).” ― Jarod Kintz, This is the best book I've ever written, and it still sucks

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My heart is drumming in my chest so hard it aches, but it’s the good kind of ache, like the feeling you get on the first real day of autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are all flaring at the edges and the wind smells just vaguely of smoke – like the end and the beginning of something all at once. ― Lauren Oliver, Delirium

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Wednesday Quote by Meher Baba

The Eyes of the Soul "It does not require a large eye to see a large mountain. The reason is that, though the eye is small, the soul which sees through it is greater and vaster than all the things which it perceives. In fact, it is so great that it includes all objects, however large or numerous, within itself. For it is not so much that you are within the cosmos as that the cosmos is within you."

-Meher Baba

The Eyes of the Soul

Duxbury Reef Hiking Adventure in Bolinas California

A dose of nature, a bit of fresh clean air, and a dollop of new friends - that's what Dr. Me recommended. I drove north to Larkspur where I met with the Bay Area Wine and Hikers Group, and after our host Mr. Tom gave us instructions, we set out to Bolinas on California's north central coast.  We hiked, crawled down Cypress tunnels, crossed bridges, trekked Eucalyptus groves, drank wine, rock and roped climbed. Definitely something new for me, and I welcome the change.


Meeting Place

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Our Trek Begins....

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Ok, they are not part of our group, but surfer dudes that were making their way down the beach

We stopped by the the Clifftop altar hut where folks leave their wishes and whisper their hopes...I just took a photo

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A pre-WW structure...there were radio towers all over too...

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The surfer dudes are at it

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We made our way down to the beach for a picnic and rest (Thankful to fellow hiker Eric for sharing lunch)

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Grateful for new friends and adventures...

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After lunch - on to tide pools and the great reef

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This is my most favorite photo

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 Guess who was the first one to climb that rope...On the way back to the outpost where we started: MOO

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Chow time @ Point Reyes

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I know I shouldn't be eating this....and should be eating more of this....but life is short...So I had a cookie and this.

Eli's Hair | Campbell Photographer

I definitely have a thing for hair.  The morning I took Eli's photos was the day he was going to cut his hair....waaahhh!!!!  Andrea, Eli's mom said it took almost 3 years to grow those gorgeous, wild fro and while it gives a lot of joy to people...in particular me, it requires so much TLC and it is time to retire them... So I was really happy to capture these images of Eli.  Maybe someday, he will grow it back but for now, it's going back to clean cut.

Good luck on your track, Eli and continue to do well in school!

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New Chapter

I have reached a new chapter in my life and arriving here was no easy task, but it was a necessary one. The last few years were about ensuring that things were moving along: bills were getting paid, kids were getting to school on time, job was stable enough, and happiness was always within a reach away. I was always coping, running, and chasing for something I didn't know exactly what. All I knew was that I cannot stop and I have to keep putting my best foot forward because that was the only option for me. I didn't want to be lonely and alone and I was constantly ensuring that my hours were filled with everything but silence.  And that was ok...but that was then, this is now... I'm grateful for all the experiences, and especially the new friends I've made. But I'm ready to move on from coping and sustaining to pursuing, creating, and taking my own strides, on my own pace.  I am happy but this time, I am happy even in the midst of silence, even in the absence of company, and where less is so much, much more.

I am starting this year with renewed strength and self-awareness. I'm grateful for everything that transpired in the past but I am ecstatic for what's to come ahead...I can only hope to be a better person this year for myself, my family, my friends and my love.


First Digital Scrapbook Layout After 6 Years

Scrapbooking was one was of the reasons that paved the way for my love of photography. And for the first time after 6 years of not journaling, documenting, putting a page together, I find myself going through what was left of my supplies (I have given/sold 95% of everything that I once had in my loft studio) and now also venturing into digital scrapbooking. It feels so good...I forgot how amazing it feels to be able to put a page together. It allows me to take a pause in my everyday life and give myself a chance to realize the blessings I have and to remind me not to take anything for granted.

Here is my first page after a 6 year hiatus....in digital format:

(Supplies Used: Paisley Press You are My Fave  Collection for the papers and elements and Sahlin Studio, The Good Life Word Art)


Wednesday Quote by Richard Paul Evans

"In the cold of our soul's winter, we bury our hearts.

And then we wonder why it is dark and we feel so alone.

And we risk spending so much of our lives occupied with our loss and what we have not,

that we forget the beauty of what is and what we have still.

And this is sometimes the greater loss."

---Richard Paul Evans

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.


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


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


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


Dessert: Sorbet aux Fruits: pineapple


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.


Goodbye 2012, Hey 2013

Hey 2013.  I don't know you yet but I hope we get along fine and much better than 2012.

Let's begin with a few reminders, shall we?

  1. Let go and let God
  2. Learn to gain happiness from within
  3. Remember that impermanence is the only permanent thing. No past, no future...
  4. Remain focused on priorities, on what is truly important
  5. Never lose yourself

May we all leave everything that has withered us behind as we enter a new year.  As everyone walks through the doors of the new year, may everyone find  their way to happiness whatever that may be.