GARDEN DREAMING IN OJAI CA:

Happy October!  Honestly, I've literally changed that from Happy August to Happy September to Happy October.  This post has been in my Que for so long. That's life lately.  Everything is late.  Grief stinks.  So here is my post, from May. EK!

This is for my fellow ~ beautiful gardens, adorable animals and spectacular homes ~ lovers.

I have two favorite events each year, the Ojai Holiday Home Tour in November, which I attend as a tradition with one of my girlfriends and the Ojai Garden Tour which I attend in May with my husband.

There was a very special home on the Holiday Tour last year, called Patina Farm.  It's the home of Brooke and Steve Giannetti, she's a designer and he's an architect, and Patina Farm is a dream come true for them.  Literally, they dreamed it, designed it and built it from 5 acres of nothing in Ojai CA.  It's a farm complete with in and outdoor animal access, veggie gardens, barns and greenhouse.  But this is not your grandpa's farm, this is farmhouse chic at it's finest.  And it's dreamy to say the least.  Every detail just makes you want to move right in. (My grandpa actually had a grocery store in Queens lol).

Also, last year was a special year for the tour as the previous year, in December of 2017, Ojai was on fire from the horrific Thomas fires.  So the 2018 Holiday Home Tour was special and we were going no matter what, except that now the West Valley and Malibu was on fire and our neighborhood was just one neighborhood away.  I won't rehash how hard the decision was to go because you can read it on my original blog post here.  From the crazy experience of getting there, the hour trip that took three hours, to driving passed landscape engulfed in flames and getting lost in a rock query!  Just a note ~ all of the pictures on my blog posts are taken by me with the exception of the Ojai Holiday Home Tour because, out of respect for the homeowners privacy, there are no photos permitted inside the homes.  So I used the photos from the web site and brochure, since they're already out in the public eye, so check out that post to see inside the gorgeous home that is Patina Farm and for an extra up close and personal peek follow Brooke on instagram at @velvetandlinen.

OK so now we're up to speed and into this past May and I find out that Brook and Steve are hosting a book launch party for their new, and amazing book, Patina Living at Patina Farm.  I knew I had to get us on the invitation list.  After all, I had blabbed about this home to Mike for months and now he could actually see it for himself.  I was beyond excited.  And, drum roll please, it was going be the same day as the Ojai Garden Tour!  Be still heart.

It was so lovely and so interesting to have Steve (homeowner and architect) himself give a tour of their home and explain the ideas behind some of their architectural and design decisions, so much creativity.

Brook singed my book and the next day I read it from cover to cover and when I was done I literally felt like I had just been on a very relaxing vacation.  Not to say that taking care of that kind of space and all those animals isn't hard because just taking care of our 3 dogs and one cat sometimes feels like we're running a zoo, but the rewards from that I totally get.  Brooks honest depiction of their life and how they take care of that many animals was a dream read for me and her intro to the book where she describes having to evacuate all the animals when they where surrounded by flames the morning of the Thomas fire is extremely moving.  So get the book!

Again, if you want to see their home check out this post, and Brooke's instagram.  I just took pictures of the animals because I was totally obsessed.  And with endearing and hilarious names like Thelma and Louise (those are the sister pygmy goats) Dot, Linen, Paisley and Cashmere, who wouldn't fall in love?  There's SeƱor Hector Fuzzbottom, the adorable rabbit that lives in Steve's office and the donkeys Blossom and Buttercup.  There's the quail habitat and the doves, the ducklings and the chickens and they just adopted the cutest three little pigs, Prudence, Alice and Frank.  And I'm sure I've only put a dent in the list.

Just going to start with this Shayna Punim (that's yiddish for cutie patootie).  I mean seriously this face!
And this one!
Look closely, I was photo bombed by a Donkey.
When I started following Brooke on Instagram I saw that they have a store in Santa Barbara so I followed @giannettihome and I noticed the store has a beautiful court yard, I'm a sucker for a beautiful courtyard.  It looked really familiar to me and sure enough I scrolled through my instagram and there it was from a few years ago.  Before I had ever heard of Patina Farm I had walked passed that courtyard in Sant Barbara and took this picture to post on my instagram! That's just a little tidbit that probably only I think is cool :/
Now, as if that wasn't enough, here are the beauties from The Garden Tour.


And guess what!?  It's almost time for the Holiday Tour again.  Well that just made my head spin.




TRAVEL AND TRANQUILITY:

This month I took a solo trip to Washington DC to attend the Tranquility du Jour Soiree, AKA #TDJSoiree, and I still can't stop thinking about it!  Tranquility du Jour is a lifestyle created by the fabulous Kimberly Wilson.  Kimberly grew a huge yoga following from humble beginnings in her living room, way back when, to building Tranquil Space,  named  one of the top 25 yoga studios in the world, according to Travel and Leisure.  She recently sold Tranquil Space to Yoga Works, that's pretty huge, and moved on to a private therapy practice, also huge.  All the while continuing to inspire her followers, like me, with her blog posts, love notes, her eco-friendly fashion line TranquiliT, not to mention her charitable events including her recent Pigs & Pugs Project.  She hosts retreats around the globe and is the author of nine books.  And I'm probably forgetting something.  I'm tired now.

Just a little background ~ It all started at Barnes & Noble one summer night about, oh my gosh maybe 15 years ago.  I spied a book binder of pink and leopard.  Hello ~ have we met?!  Like a fly to honey I made a bee line, (haha, get it), across the floor and grabbed that book and I was hooked.  All my life I had been told "you do too much" and here was someone who was doing more, and encouraging others to do more.  Over achievers unite! The Tranquility du Jour Tenants inspire me daily to live my best and most tranquil life, even among it's daily chaos.

Then one day she came to LA and did a book talk at a store in Hollywood, of course I had to go. We met, she signed my book.  Then completely at random Mike and I were in San Antonio when she posted she was going to be at a book store in San Antonio, what are the odds?  It was the day we were leaving so we left early, hopped in a cab and found our way to this remote bookstore and met again.  But wait there's more!  In 2013, (I cannot believe it was that long ago!), Kimberly, her partner Tim and their fur baby Louis the Pug rolled up into our driveway in their vintage camper, Ms. Lillie, for their LA stop of the cross country Tranquility Tour.  When they were looking for volunteers to host in LA I was all Ooo Ooo Ooooo, you know, like when you had the right answer in 6th grade, or if you were Horshack, and were busting out of your seat, can I host? Can I, can I???  Yes, I hosted and we had a blast.  You can read about it here in an old post.

Jump ahead a few years and Kimberly announced a Soiree.  Soiree, I just love that word.  Who wouldn't want to go to a Soiree?  And the description got me right in the gut.  I'm going!  Was my first reaction.  The idea of being with the TDJ community in person, spending the day with like minded women, many of whom I have interacted with on social media and in Kimberly's chat boxes during on line events, having an inspiring day of creativity in a beautiful venue, learning, creating, eating world famous vegan food, sharing, and so much more, would be incredibly nurturing for my soul and it was!  My theme this year has been all about me saying yes to what inspires my personal growth, sense of adventure and fun.  And this had all of that!  I was going! No matter what! I did mention the Soiree was in Washington DC and I live in LA right?  Minor details.  Plane tickets, hotel room, schedules, and could I survive two red eyes in one weekend?  Yes, I could.

I arrived off a red eye at 7:00 AM into Baltimore. For whatever reason there were no red eyes out of LA Friday night that would put me into Dulles Airport so I flew into Maryland.  Oddly, I had made a shuttle reservation for my return to the airport but not for my arrival, I thought I'd wing it.  I had googled getting to DC from Baltimore and there is a free shuttle from the airport to the Amtrak Station which also had the Marc train, both trains take you to Union Station in DC.  I met three other women, at the shuttle stop, all traveling solo.  They were all taking Amtrak so I did that too, it took about half an hour.

Once I arrived in Union Station the instructions were to take the Metro.  DC has a great transit system and Union Station was beautiful and reminded me of Grand Central in NY.  As I was about to walk to the metro I noticed all the exit doors and one said Massachusetts Avenue.  Hmmm my hotel is on Massachusetts Avenue.  But how far?  I called the hotel.  The concierge said about a fifteen minute drive.  Well, I thought, that's probably a 45 minute walk and after all check in time wasn't until 3 PM and it was only 8 AM so I wasn't in a rush.  Also, I love to walk and I love to walk in a city where I have never been.  Yes, I have never been to Washington DC, and yes, I'm from New York, and yes, that's weird!  Growing up all our vacations were spent in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the Amish Country, is that the same thing?  And why do they call them Countries?  Or the Host Farm upstate NY, the kind of hotel where you'd find comics like Don Rickels.  Yes, my sister and I were prisoners of our parents antique hunting habit.
Happy with my decision and excited to get out onto the street the first thing I saw when I exited Union Station was the white top of the Capital Building.  That was kind of exciting.  I started walking up Massachusetts Avenue.  The next thing I saw was the address on the first building I passed to my right.  It said 0, zero, ZERO Massachusetts avenue.  My hotel was 2200 Massachusetts Avenue.  Maybe I should re-think my decision to walk, I thought, maybe I should go back inside and take the metro.  No, I decided to walk, it's a city right, I could always catch a cab.
So I walked and walked and walked and walked.  Somewhere around the 100 addresses I spied a cute cafe, time to get some breakfast.  The neighborhoods were interesting and changed as I walked and it was a beautiful day.  But once I got into the 1,000's it started to get hot and humid and I was running out of steam, time for another ice tea.  I thought the walk was a straight shot but to my surprise there were a few times when Massachusetts Ave. disappeared and I had to ask someone where it went!  Even my phone map was confused.  Then finally, after some other circles, which gave me false hope, I finally arrived at my destination, DuPont Circle, a very cool neighborhood.
My hotel was on Embassy Row and the Embassy's, one after another, were all in beautiful historic old buildings.  Then finally, hoping it wasn't a mirage, sweaty and frizzing up, I arrived at the Fairfax Embassy Row.  It was 11 AM.   I miscalculated my walk by a mere 2 hrs and 15 mins.  I went up to the women at the desk and told her I had gotten off a red eye at 7AM and walked from Union Station, asking if I could possibly check in early.  She gasped "you walked here from Union Station?!" She upgraded my room and handed me the key cards.

The room was very Edwardian and looked like it should have had a plaque "George and Martha Slept Here".  I changed my clothes, freshened up and checked my phone tracker, I had walked 4.5 miles.

It was also Gay Pride weekend and the streets were buzzing with people and activities and I decided to go back out.  Always time to nap later.  And what does a naturally curly haired girl do in a new (humid) city?  Find a Dry Bar what else!  If you're not familiar with Dry Bar, it's a place to get your hair washed and blown, that's all they do is wash and blow, it's a genius concept created by a now very wealthy millennial.  And they are always booked, in advance.  There was one in the neighborhood, I knew it was a long shot but I thought I'd try.  Even my red eye walked from Union Station story could not get me in.  Eh, no big deal, on to lunch.  I wanted to try a Kimberly recommendation called Teaism but I decided to just scope out something within 10 feet of where I was standing.  I found a very cute Greek cafe where I could sit outside with a Greek salad, a spinacopita and a big ice tea and people watch.
Before my trip I had been looking for white leggings.  Please don't try this at home!  White legging should be prohibited by any woman over the age of five but this was an exception to the rule because  I bought a new dress for the Soiree, a Calvin Klein (via TJMaxx) pin stripe cotton dress which was a little sheer in the skirt and I also thought we might be sitting on the floor at some point so I wanted leggings under the dress.  I could not find white leggings anywhere in LA, why would they have them in DC?  But I walked into this cute little boutique and asked and what do you know they had one pair of white leggings.  Sold.  I also stopped into Krammer Books another Kimberly recommendation, and strolled the sides streets full of beautiful brownstones.
Then I headed back in my room (with a view) I decided to take a nap and I set my alarm to give myself plenty of time to get ready and get to Kimberly's office for a meet up at 6PM.  I knew where it was and I knew it was only a 5 minute walk but I would give myself a half hour to get there.  Good thing because I stepped out of my hotel and right smack into the Pride Parade.  And I mean smack-dab into the parade.  For some reason I thought it had been in the morning, but no it was now.  I ran across the street and started walking in the opposite direction to go around it.  I thought I was pretty slick until I circled back and then it was even worse.  I had walked blocks out of my way only to find that metal barricades were up and there was no way to get across to where I had to go!  I asked a police officer for help and he told me it would be at least an hour before I could cross, I walked back and forth, I was trapped in a parade not to mention a cloud of weed that spanned for miles! 
Finally, in my desperation, I noticed a 20 something girl who looked like she was looking for a place to get through.  I asked her, she said she lived on the other side and had to get home.  That was where I had to go, the other side!  She said she was going climb over.  WHaaaa! Climb over, well I hadn't thought of that. I think I'm passed the age range to have thought that, can I do that?  Will I get arrested???  Those are the things that were going through my mind, what came out of my mouth was, "Wait for me!"  She was in work out clothes and sneakers, I was in wide slacks and heels.  I threw my camera and purse around my neck and followed her over the first barricade.  My thought bubble ~ please don't get arrested, please don't fall! I did it!  Then we ran across the street and climbed another one.  Another one, why not? We made it to the other side, I ran down the street to Kimberly's office.  I was late, sweaty and I smelled like weed but I made it. You may call me Ninja.  Bell Star and Gizmo were hosting.
By the end of this very full day I had walked 8 miles.  I woke up early and excited Sunday morning and took a cab, luggage and all, to Elizabeth's Gone Raw. This time I wouldn't arrive sweaty and smelling like weed.  Elizabeth's is a beautiful venue and one of the top 10 vegan restaurants in the world.  And I can see why, the food was incredible!  We were greeted with warm vegan beignets and if you've never had a beignets please, please find one.  There was the most adorable TranquiliT pop up shop, green juice and the most amazing kale chips I've ever had.  How can kale chips be amazing you ask, I don't know, but these were amazing and we ate a garden full at our table.  After a little mingle and another beignet Kimberly started the day with a rundown of what our five modules would be for this master class.  We all got to go through our amazing goodie bags full of lush treats.  There was a self care station with goodies to refresh our minds and bodies throughout the day, the most delicious food, dreaming, growing, sharing, planning, creating, art journaling, a TranquiliT fashion show and at the end Kimberly and her partner Tim hosted a live podcast.  Then it was cocktail hour for mingling and the most beautiful delicious hors d'oeuvres that I've ever had.  From the crystal chandeliers to the creative power in the room it was a magical day.
The next group of photos are not from my camera, credit goes to the creative eye of Marie Maroun. Find her on instagram @_grabacup_
I had a great time, can you tell?  I was sad to leave.  Then I schlepped my stuff to a hotel around the corner to catch a cab to go back to my original hotel as the Shuttle would not pick me up at another location errrrr.  It was now raining.  When I got back to The Fairfax I completely changed from Soiree look to sleep on a plane look.  As I walked out of the lobby restroom the shuttle pulled up.  Perfect, but then there was an accident on the highway and I literally made it to the gate just as my flight was lining up to board.  Whew, I'd be home by 1 AM.

For anyone who has never traveled alone, I highly recommend it.  It really gives you a sense of your own resourcefulness.  (Like barricade climbing).  Seriously, venturing out on your own even only for a day or a few hours is extremely restorative.  And of course if you're lucky enough to get the change to go to a Soiree, grab it!