Home & Garden

More bloom for your buck

Spring blooms aren’t always about budding flowers. Get the best bang for your buck by cultivating indigenous drought resistant plants that offer vibrant color year-round. My clients often ask, “How do you plan your garden; where should I start?”

Planning a garden can be a daunting task. It was for me in the past. I had a brown thumb until I gained loads of knowledge through trial and error.

Succulents are full of life ~ Photo by Courtney Paige

As with any topic these days, gardening information is endless, so I share three tips to start.

1 ~ Create a balanced mix of annuals and perennials so you aren’t committed to start from scratch each year. Make a mental note of which plants thrive.  This simple habit will increase your bloom real estate each year.

2 ~ Watch your garden closely over the course of several days (or several seasons) to assess which areas are shaded or sunny.

3 ~ Take the time to get to know your plant’s watering needs.

All three points are vital, yet number three is essential. If you envision a dazzling garden,  you’ll need to assess your lifestyle. Do you travel, do you forget to water, do you live in a dry arid area, do you live in a foggy moist area or somewhere in-between?

With the basic three observation steps in place it’s time to commit and purchase your flowers. Deciding which plants to grow is a tad overwhelming. There are so many choices. Again, where to start?

Pansies & Petunias at Home Depot – Photo by Courtney Paige

Consider succulents. People tend to think succulents are fragile and difficult to grow. Actually, the opposite is true. You may be surprised to know most succulents thrive in full sun. A drought resistant beauty, perfect for California’s hot and arid weather. Cold and foggy mornings keep succulents happy & cozy. They also thrive in shallow dirt or sand which makes them easy to replant. 

Soft vibrant color year round – Photo by Courtney Paige

Succulents tend to be a bit pricey $$. So if your neighbor happens to have some, don’t be shy, ask for clippings as if you’re asking to borrow sugar.  Luckily, succulents are perennials and prolific. Here’s a link to Amazon, where the prices are reasonable if you have Prime and don’t have to pay for shipping. Otherwise, Home Depot is another option – unless you have a good neighbor. 

If your goal is to create a low maintenance garden, succulents are a perfect choice. You’ll plant them once and enjoy their beauty year after year, unlike annuals, which need yearly replanting.

Iceland Poppies & Marigolds at Home Depot- Photo by Courtney Paige

Blogged while listening to Sheryl Crow Soak Up The Sun and U2 Beautiful Day

~ Courtney Paige

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Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

Perfect place to sip & see on a rainy day

Sunshine on a cloudy day – Photo by Courtney Paige

It’s been a long wet winter and most of us, I imagine, are ready for some heat. As I sit here pondering spicy things on a rainy day, Flying Goat Coffee calls my name. Today is a chai type of day, I say. When winter feels like it’s lingering on because a groundhog didn’t see its shadow, Flying Goat Coffee is the place to lounge sipping a hot chai latte while watching trains cruise by. The Goat, as it’s referred to by the locals, sits nestled in one of the oldest buildings in Sonoma County.  The stacked stone monolith, built in the late 1800s, stands majestically as commander-in-chief of Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square.

Flying Goat Coffee ~ Commander-in-Chief of Railroad Square Photo by Courtney Paige

The Goat lives just across the street from the old Santa Rosa Train Depot. There are also two locations in Healdsburg near the square. It anchors the railroad track as if it’s the end of the line. Reality is, the Goat is where everything begins. 

Back Patio at the Goat – Photo by Courtney Paige

It’s the perfect place to start the day – with a chai latte and a gluten free banana bread pastry perhaps. The Goat just may be the only place in town that crafts artisan gluten-free pastries. Their chai latte, consistently delicious, is made with all natural ingredients, and of course, the froth artwork is icing on the cake.

I like to say, “the Goat is the quintessential pinnacle spot in Santa Rosa where east side meets west side.” An unexpected surprise in an unexpected space. Give the Goat a whirl, I bet you’ll get hooked. The stark interior, restored to a 1920’s black and white art deco decor, pops with bright yellow accents and a 50 feet high ceiling that hugs its guests with a bright picture window enclave.

Flying Goat Foyer – Photo by Courtney Paige

On sunny days, a brick patio shaded by 150-year-old magnolia trees await your arrival.

Photo by Courtney Paige

For now, I’ll take the spice, skip the rain, pine for the sunshine and head to Flying Goat Coffee in Railroad Square.

Sunshine served all day long – Photo by Courtney Paige
Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

An irresistible wine country humblebrag

Follow me to Preston ~ Photo by Courtney Paige

Humblebrag: to make a disguised boast or brag, for example: He’s humblebragging about how tired he is from his world travels. bit.ly/humblebragdefinition.

Blog post created while listening to: Doobie Brothers ‘Listen to the Music’ Bottle Shock movie soundtrack. http://bit.ly/bottleshockalbum

For some reason, I think the word humblebrag is so funny. It’s one of those words the more you say it, the more it makes you laugh. The act of humblebragging dates further back than ancient Greece. Yet, the term itself, coined in 2011, had a bad wrap during its infancy. Most recently though, it’s finding a favorable place in our rapidly changing digital world. As with anything, there’s good timing and bad timing. Everything in moderation is always a good idea too, except when it comes to certain types of indulgences.

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Photo by Courtney Paige

There are times when one can’t help but boast about the geographical area with which they live. This is one of those moments. Spring is in the air whispering about the festivities on the horizon, and there’s a lot going on this week in Sonoma County. I’m bursting at the seams to share two annual events that will fill your belly and wet your whistle. You’ll want to permanently place both events on your calendar. Barrel Tasting and Restaurant Week.

Photo by Courtney Paige

If you’re a foodie and/or a wino…errr….wine aficionado, then these two events are not to be missed. There’s lots of land to cover in Sonoma County. It’s a challenge to navigate and pin down choices without spinning your wheels. Truth is, Barrel Tasting and Restaurant Week are the perfect reason to don your LBD (little black dress), get social IRL (in real life) and wiggle your way out of your comfort zone.

Barrel tasting kicks off wine season during the first two weekends in March. Here’s the link for the deet’s. http://bit.ly/SoCoBarrellTasting  Hot tip, remember, if tickets are sold out, passes are available for purchase at any participating winery. Take note, no food pairing during barrel tasting at the wineries. Pack a picnic, or be sure to make reservations at participating restaurant week venues listed here: Sonoma Insider

Sonoma Insider has a helpful legend to sort restaurant options by category including region, city and cuisine for over 130 Sonoma County restaurants. http://bit.ly/restaurantweekchoices

Barrel tasting and restaurant week are the perfect pair, like two love birds. Sip and swirl by day, and savor bits and bites at night. By the end of the evening you’ll humblebrag to your friends and family about how exhausted you are from over eating and drinking at barrel tasting and restaurant week. Enjoy!

~ Courtney Paige