Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trailer Update: Almost done!

I swear. If my trailer were my daughter these shots would be the equivalent of her prom pictures. LOL. She looks all grown up outside in the sunlight. Seriously, it almost brings a tear to my eye :´)

I was joking with Fred, my trailer builder after I saw these pictures that if a 10 foot Shasta is a canned ham she must be a canned SPAM.

I have to say I really love my baby moon hubcaps from Vintage Trailer Supply and that we powder coated the chassis, wheels, and fenders yellow. They make the whole thing *POP* even before painting the cabin.

She's so tiny! She looks smaller now than she has in his garage. It makes her even cuter!

The door is large for easy entry and egress and so that if I ever want to use the trailer to haul anything I'll be able to get things in and out no problem.

One of the last things Fred has left to do is to cover the tongue box. Then he has to wait for me to come to Michigan to pick her up.

A lot of owners name their trailers, kind of like boats. I have a name chosen but haven't decided when or how to reveal it. I may tell you soon, or make you wait until it's painted on her.

The trailer that inspired me to want one in the first place is named Audree.

I don't even recall how I stumbled upon Tiffany's blog The Fancy Farmgirl. Come to think of it, I was  probably searching for Tiny Houses for my "Favorite Spaces" Pinterest board.

That's when I saw a post titled "THE CUTEST LITTLE TRAILER IN A COUNTRY MILE." It was all about Audree and full of fantastic pictures (Tiffany is a professional, free-lance photographer). She had purchased and decorated her vintage, 1959, Fireball trailer and, well, the rest is history.

It was my first introduction to the concept of glamping (camping in a glamorous way). It took just one look and I was hooked! Can you blame me? Have you ever seen anything more fun and flirty than Audree? I hadn't. In my heart of hearts I wanted a tiny trailer right then and there.

While I'd love to have something as large as Audree size considerations included not wanting to upgrade my everyday car to a larger, gas guzzling, tow vehicle, storage, parking, and even towing all made me lean towards thinking that, for lil' ol' me taking overnight trips around the Bay Area, smaller would be better.

My trailer will never look as vintage cool as Audree but I'm hoping it'll look just as cute in its own way.

If you love vintage travel trailers as much as I do go check out Tiffany's blog. Here are direct links to more posts about Audree:


By the time you come back I'll probably have a new trailer update published for you to catch up on :)

To follow my entire build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Trailer Update: The entry door

What's that on the back of my trailer? A door! And a door handle and deadbolt lock! And not just any old door lock. This is one spot where I decided to upgrade and go with a more modern option. Some online research and I found the  keyless RV Lock by The Mobile Outfitters. It includes a remote fob that will allow me to open the door as I approach it. I'm thinking that may come in handy at night once it's dark out. No need to fiddle with keys or a flashlight.

Purchased at Dyers RV Parts and Accessories, at 7x the cost of a standard door lock it was expensive but since it's one of my main lines of security it made sense to spend more to be more safe from break ins.

You'll also notice a peep hole in the upper center of the door. Though Fred encouraged me to add a window to the door I was reluctant to for two reasons:

1. I didn't want to feel like I'm in a fishbowl when I'm in the trailer. With windows large enough for emergency egress on both sides I felt a third window would be too much.

2. Not having a window within easy reach of the door lock may make my trailer less attractive to a thief who wants to break in and steal my stuff. No popping out a small window, reaching in and unlocking the door from the inside.

Fred needed to add an extra metal plate to thicken the door just a bit to properly fit the handle and lock. It's also good because it will give the handle area some extra support.

The interior of the cabin. At the moment you can see through the tongue box on the other end.

Interior door handle view.

And the door hinge.

As Fred said "Closing in on it. A few more details to finish this week."

Soon, very soon. Eeeeeeeeek. I can hardly wait.

To follow the entire build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Final Results from the Sony NEX-5R Unedited408

Over the past couple of months I've posted several times about the free camera Sony gave me to participate in a photo challenge. Posting unedited images online is kind of like a woman going out with no make up on. I don't always edit every image you see on the blog but will admit I often shortcut while shooting if I know I can make a quick adjustment later through editing. This challenge broke me of that habit.

Of the 50 required images there were 9 that I felt looked better with just a bit of post editing adjusting the light level of each image to make them a little brighter. The way the images played back in camera was brighter than how they appeared on my computer monitor at home. It was just something I needed to get used to as I familiarized myself with the new camera.

In six days I shot in seven cities to capture a total of 50 images. You can CLICK HERE to view all 50 images from my Sony Unedited408 Challenge on Flickr with in-depth image descriptions including how I took some of the images using different built in features in the camera and side by side comparisons of the nine images I brightened a bit in Photoshop.

Originally Sony was going to display the images in-store then post each gallery online. In the end my in-store display was on a tiny tablet and the online gallery turned into a compilation photo album where each photographer had 1-3 images displayed in a single album.

I'd worked so hard to live up to the spirit of the challenge I was disappointed that the gallery wouldn't be shown in its entirety, especially since I felt my images showed what a great camera the NEX-5R is.

Because Sony owns the rights to the pictures I took I asked if it would be ok to post my collection online to share them with you and received back word that would be fine. So, here in the post are some of the things that I think make the 408 a great place to live as captured by the Sony NEX-5R Micro Four Thirds digital camera, and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 55-215mm f/4.5-6.3 Telephoto Lenses.

CLICK HERE to view all 50 images, enlarged, with in-depth image descriptions including how I took some of the images using different built in features in the camera. In case you're curious here's the list of the locations I shot in Campbell:

23 Skidoo (Vintage Boutique)
Frost Cupcake Factory
Heritage Theater
Light Rail Station
Los Gatos Creek Trail (Swan)
Michi Sushi
Psycho Donuts
Simply Smashing Boutique (Apparel & Art)

Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge (Suspension bridge over HWY 280)

CLICK HERE to view all 50 images, enlarged, with in-depth image descriptions. In case you're curious here's the list of the locations I shot in Gilroy:

Gilroy Gardens (Circus Trees)
Pacheco Pass (Orchard)
Saint Mary’s Cathedral

CLICK HERE to view all 50 images, enlarged, with in-depth image descriptions. In case you're curious here's the list of the locations I shot in Los Gatos:

Andalé Mexican Restaurant (Horchata)
Campo di Bocce
Fleur de Cocoa (Dessert)
Summit Bicycles
Vasona Park (Kitai, my dog)

CLICK HERE to view all 50 images, enlarged, with in-depth image descriptions. In case you're curious here's the list of the locations I shot in San Jose:

Alum Rock Park (Fern)
Emma Prusch Farm Park (Turkeys)
Fallon House & Peralta Adobe
 - Daruma street art (Southeast corner of 4th St x Jackson St)
 - Internment Barrack at Japanese American Museum
San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
Santana Row
 - Consuelo Mexican Bistro (Pozole)
 - Mosaic Lizard Fountain
 - Giant Chess Set

CLICK HERE to view all 50 images, enlarged, with in-depth image descriptions. In case you're curious here's the list of the locations I shot in Saratoga:

Cooper Garrod Vineyard & Stables
Hakone Gardens
 - Koi
 - Turtles
 - Bamboo
Heritage Orchard
Montalvo Arts Center
 - Love Temple Gate
 - Adam and Eve Sculpture
Mountain Winery Amphitheater
From the Mountain Winery
- Night view of Silicon Valley
- Skyline at dusk

CLICK HERE to view all 50 images, enlarged, with in-depth image descriptions including how I took some of the images using different built in features in the camera. In case you're curious here's the list of the locations I shot in Sunnyvale:

Los Palmas Dog Park
A random sunset
Weird Stuff

Disclosure: While I did not rece payment for participating, I did receive compensation in the form of the camera and lens to use for the project and to keep after. This does not mean I was obligated to give a positive review of the camera or lens. My opinions are my own and accurate regarding my experience with the NEX-5R.  #Sony408 #SonyStore

Friday, April 26, 2013

A night of fashion in Downtown Campbell

Last night the Downtown Campbell Business Association and Villa Ragusa cordially invited me (as media) to attend their Color Me Spring: A Fashion Event and showcase of Downtown Campbell businesses.

The entryway at Villa Ragusa.

Along with a runway fashion show attendees were treated to free food tastings, gift bags, live entertainment, local vendors, raffle prizes, and a complimentary beverage with their ticket purchase.

This was the real deal with a platformed runway, festive draping, and event lighting.

It was the first time I'd attended an event at Villa Ragusa. Parking was easy to find in the garage across the street, and the venue is beautifully appointed for special events of all types. If you're planning a wedding or corporate party it's definitely a location to consider.

MC Richard Lane did a fantastic job hosting the event onstage and a pair of DJ's from "That Sound" kept the party hopping both on and off the runway.

Hair and make up for all of the models was a group collaboration by several local salons: Faux Salon, Fringe Hair Studio, Palazzi Salon, Rage Salon, Sorelle Salon & Spa, Diverse Salon, Beauty by Cherise, Mary Kay and Urban Oasis.

As we launch into the runway show I have to say that fashion photography is not one of my fortes. In fact, if you're a regular reader you've probably noticed that I rarely even photograph people! In a way models are like trying to photograph birds and wildlife. They move around quickly, and a lot, but the lighting is always challenging because it's dark and usually there's a mix of light sources. Composition is challenging as the placement of a model in front of a ceiling fixture that haloes their head can ruin a shot. 

That said, I took the pictures of the kids with no flash setting my ISO high, my shutter speed fast, and aperture wide. Eventually I gave up and used a flash which was in itself a learning experience on the fly. My new SONY NEX-5R has a multitude of flash settings that included a custom white balance and mode of flash. I used the "fill" function, angled the flash upwards and was quite pleased with the results.

The kids were all adorable. Seriously, cute as can be. From infant wear, party dresses for girls, and dapper bow ties for boys they were all huge crowd pleasers. So many "awwwws" and laughter as they made their way down the runway, striking poses, then running away as fast as some of their little feet could carry them.

Youthful styles from Bombshell Boutique

If you're a twenty something or any age and love to hit the club scene the edgy fashions at Bombshell Boutique may make it one of your favorite shops. Most of the hemlines of the skirts and shorts we saw that evening were on the short side and dresses that were longer had cute cut-aways.

Fine jewelry from The Jewel Box

Being able to "see" fine jewelry during a runway fashion show is a challenging thing. Still, I was able to get a couple nice shots of necklaces, earrings from the Jewel Box. I had my wedding band made there and would definitely encourage you to stop by in-store to see their designs and quality up-close and personal.

Bikinis and golden spray tans from Couture Tan

I'm a huge advocate of spray tans vs. tanning beds. Now in my 40's it makes me sad when I hear of a friend, many often younger than myself, having been diagnosed with skin cancer. The spray tans look great and are a much healthier, less damaging option to bronzing your skin safely.

Casual chic to sophisticated fashions from Simply Smashing

I've shopped at Simply Smashing for over a decade now and can honestly say whenever I wear anything I've purchased there I receive compliments for it. From clothing to a tiny pink chandelier I used to use in my booth at bridal fairs back when I made bridal accessories owner Deb Rohzen has impeccable taste.

From flats to heels to wedges fun and flirty shoes hit the catwalk from In Style Shoes. Also featured were handbags by local designer (and MC for the evening) Richard Lane.

Vintage fashions from 23 Skidoo

The best thing about vintage clothing are the designs, quality of the garments, and that each piece is unique. The worst part about vintage clothing is that each piece is unique. That means when you see a piece you have to hope it's either going to fit or be too big because you can always alter things down but rarely is there enough fabric in the salvage to let things out. Along with clothing and accessories 23 Skidoo also offers retro interior design elements, colorful wigs, and as assortment of beauty products.

ETA: Sandi from 23 Skidoo was kind enough to leave a comment to let me know that the outfits featured above are reproductions that they sell meaning there are PLENTY OF SIZES and quantities! Well, at least more than one for authentic vintage :)

Everyone loved this beaded flapper dress!

There was a raffle with lots of prizes.

The Bang, a girl group revue, and The Gentleman's Club (back up band for The Bang) performed during the two intermissions and following the runway show.

There was a dancing exhibition on the dance floor before the start of the fashion show and later couples took to the runway to dance during the intermissions.

There was plenty of food to sample from downtown eateries. Guests could wander from table to table sampling small bites and plates from restaurants they may have heard about or passed by but still had't had a chance to dine at.

Participating Restaurants:
Blue Line Pizza
Buca di Beppo
El Guapo's
Frost Cupcake Factory
Liquid Bread Gastropub
Regale Winery
Snake & Butterfly
Sonoma Chicken Coop
Sushi [Confidential]

There were also retail merchants and products on display and for sale nestled in with the food booths. They were:

BetanBrandon Busa PhotographyCampbell Furniture, Campbell T-Shirt Co, Devine Virgin Extensions, El Aguila Magazine, Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Gabrielle's Bridal Atelier, Madam X Emporium, Paparazzi Jewelry, Pure Massage TherapyTico Coffee Roasters, Urban Oasis, and Via Services.

The decor was fun and festive. The flirty floral arrangements were by Edgar & Argelia and the linens provided by A Party Place.

The lights by Kaleido suspended above the runway were true works of art.

And of course there were libations and dessert. Pictured here were bite sized cupcakes by Frost Cupcake Factory.

If you love fashion shows and live in the South Bay be sure to keep an eye out for next year's runway event. Subscribe to the Downtown Campbell website's bi-weekly newsletter and you'll be among the first to know once a date has been scheduled. You'll also know about lots of other events taking place in or near downtown Campbell.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I found the vintage, folding trailer chairs I'd been hoping for

Today was my lucky day!

For my tiny travel trailer I'd been searching and searching online and at local second hand and antique shops for months looking for a pair of vintage folding chairs to set up outside my tiny trailer. I'd seen several pairs like this with the cute circular shape and rounded back but they were all on the east coast. Not a problem until you find out the shipping will run around $70-$80 in addition to the price of the chairs. *Gulp.* As much as I loved them I just couldn't bring myself to pay for shipping charges that cost as much as, or more than, the chairs themselves.

So imagine my glee when I walked into the Antiques Colony, an antique shop in San Jose, and spotted a pair for around the same price as those I'd seen online, but no shipping!

I'm going to DIY paint them a bright, shiny yellow, sew little cushions for the seat, and get ready to hang out beside my trailer with an extra seat for company. Sweet! Since my trailer is new they'll be great for bringing a nice vintage touch when I'm set up at trailer rallies or just hanging out at a campground getting to know my neighbors.

ETA: Because several people have asked, the chairs will travel in the trunk of my car along with the table once I find one. They fold down to 3.5 inches so they'll fit just fine.

I'll be sure to post a before and after update after they're re-finished. For now I'm smiling ear-to-ear.

And after :)

To follow the entire build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

The 2013 Off The Grid Picnic season at the Presidio has begun

After attending the kick off of Off The Grid Fort Mason a month ago, my foodie friend Carl and I were invited back by PR Company Wagstaff Worldwide to experience the new and improved 2013 Off The Grid Picnic which this year includes a weekly Farmers Market for the very first time.

Upon our arrival we found the Wagstaff team had arrived early and laid out picnic blankets for us in the center of the lawn. I met up with Carl there (read his recap by clicking here). All we had to do was sit, eat, take pictures, and enjoy what felt like a perfect summer day in "The City by the Bay." We were, coincidentally, right across from the Bay and could watch a seemingly endless stream of sailboats cruising between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island to the north. Surrounding us on the other three sides were all of the food trucks and booths to the east, the Presidio to the south, and the farmers market to the west.

Hubby and I carpooled up to the city as he was heading off to Twin Peaks to take his own photos but he dropped me off along the way. We entered from the south end of the park and headed to the north end. We knew we were close when we saw this sign.

The Main Post Lawn at SF's Presidio National Park.

There were already a lot of people there. My best advice is:
  1. Gather 4-5 friends together, bring plates and a knife, everyone go get something, then meet back up and share everything so you can sample several booths all at once. 
  2. Go early! There's two reasons why. One is so that you don't have to wait in long lines to get your food. The other is because the booths and trucks do sell out and that would be far too disappointing and depressing to miss out on the dish you're most craving for.

While the Friday nights at Off the Grid Fort Mason provides plenty of folding chairs there's a small section of picnic tables and benches at OTG Picnic and a whole LOT of lawn.

And then the eating began. . .

We started off with Peruvian food from Cholita LInda. Their Baja fish taco made with soft corn tortillas, crispy fried tilapia, salsa roja, cabbage salad, and baja crema (2 for $7.00 or 3 for $10.50) were superb. The tilapia was tender on the inside with just enough batter on the outside to add a nice crunch to every bite. The slaw was fresh and tasty and the soft corn tortillas offered some depth of flavor. With each bite I had the sensations of creamy and spicy, crunchy and tender, all rolled into one.

Next we had dessert as our second course from Go Streatery. Lemon and Ricotta Italian Donuts ($3.00), also known as Zeppoles in Italy, arrived in a folded, origami-style paper cup. You could definitely taste a delicate fresh lemon essence and I can report that this dish, more than any other that day, drew the most attention from passersby who stopped and asked us "Where did you get the donuts?"

Next up were fresh Summerset, WA Miyagi Oysters ($3.00 each) by Hog & Rocks. That day I saw only oysters but visit the Hog & Rocks restaurant in SF's Mission District and you'll find the city's first Ham + Oyster + Whisky Bar. I did not partake in the oysters (I'm allergic to them and have given up eating most meats) but I still wanted to show them to you because you may like oysters and they were part of our experience that day.

And then came a trio of dishes from The Whole Beast. Half of a pumpernickel bagel, smeared with a layer of cream cheese, scattered capers, thin gleaming slices of smoked salmon, and thin rounds of tiny chives was oh-so-savory ($5.00).

The "Whole Roasted Willie Bird Turkey Sandwich" with double smoked bacon, avocado, and pepper jelly on an Acme sourdough roll ($10.00) would be the terrific lunch for a turkey and bacon lover.

The Smoked Potato Salad ($5.00) is a large enough portion you can easily share it with several friends if you're noshing your way through lunch together.

It's worth noting that The Whole Beast is one of the restaurants that serve Prather Ranch beef, the only red meat I'm eating at this point in time.

Our libations included Orange Cucumber Mimosas, assorted beers, and Bloody Marys. I had a glass of water then moved on to a mimosa which I have to say I quite enjoyed. Normally I can taste the alcohol in the champagne too strongly but something about the cucumber must have neutralized the flavor making the drink refreshing, smooth, and very delicious.

Part of the new OTG Picnic is the addition of a weekly Farmers Market. We were able to sample some of the goods by vendors who took the time to drop by our picnic blankets and bring us small bites to nibble on.

My favorite was the California Crazy Curd (Herbie Curd flavor) by the Achadinha Cheese Company (pronounced Osh-a-deen-a). The small cubes were flavorful and creamy made of an unusual blend of both goat and Jersey cow milk. The herbs brought an unexpected savoriness to the cheese, almost like you're eating meat, but you're not. Tiernan told us they use a Montreal-style steak seasoning blend making this one of the most unique cheeses I've ever tried. It really had a lot of character. I would have bought some that day but we weren't going straight home and I didn't plan ahead and bring an ice chest with me. Bummer.

Blue House Farms was there offering fresh produce that included perfectly red Albion strawberries. I didn't really get a chance to chat with the nice man who brought this box by to show us but did hear him say they're located in Pescadero and learned on their website they also offer a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.

OK, here's a foodie admission. For some reason, I have no idea why, in the past year I've become like a crazed, pickle craving, pregnant lady. Except for that I'm neither pregnant nor would I call myself a lady. LOL. Nonetheless I have been craving pickles of all types and Jarred SF Brine held a very special treat for someone as infatuated with them as I currently am. Their award winning, oven roasted, Golden Beets and Shaved Shallot pickles were fan-freaking-tastic. After sampling a bite I couldn't resist and purchased a jar to bring home with me (16.75 oz jar for $11.00).

Some of Jarred's pickles are unusually seasoned with spices like curry. Others use interesting vegetables and fruits like lemon cucumbers, spiced pickled cherries, and soy pickled shitake mushrooms. I'm now a huge fan of Jarred and suspect you will be too once you've had the chance to sample their products.

Fortunately we were able to sample Marla Bakery's Seeded Sour Rye bread with flax, millet, pepitas, sunflower, & sesame seeds earlier in the day because by the time we walked around the market at 3:00 PM they were sold out! In fact, a lot of vendors were sold out by early afternoon partly because it was the first day of the season, so they didn't know how much to bring, and partly I'm sure, because the crazy great weather made a lot more people turn out than would have if it had been a cooler, cloudier day. At Marla Bakery Joe told us they sold 55 loaves of bread in just 2 hours!

Either way, I'd highly recommend purchasing a loaf of Marla's bread and a container of the Crazy Herbie Curd cheese and pair them up. They were a perfect complement to each other, kind of like the old "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter" commercial only I'd welcome your cheese on my bread (or vice versa) at OTG Picnic.

At Dandelion Chocolate anyone can experience a chocolate tasting! There were three flavors to choose from and bars to purchase from this chocolatier located in the Mission in San Francisco. We even got to sample a roasted cocoa nib straight from the bean. It was interesting, not sweet. For me it was very sour, not bitter, and I needed another piece of Patanemo Venezuelan chocolate to chase the flavor away, stat! Or, maybe I was just looking for an excuse to try another piece of chocolate. I guess we'll never know.

Fair Share Community Supported Fisheries

A very unique booth was the Fair Share Community Supported Fisheries. It's like a CSA, but with seafood. It never occurred to me they even existed. And not only do they exist but they only offer local, sustainable seafood products. This may not seem like a big deal but really, it is.

After reading about how much environmental and habitat damage commercial fishing companies can wreck plus the collateral damage to unwanted species caught in nets that die before being thrown back into the ocean, to be able to purchase line caught, local fish was a welcomed sight.

To shock me even further it turns out (according to their website) that they make deliveries as far South as Palo Alto. That's still a bit too far for me to make a weekly trip to pick-up but if they make it down to San Jose I would definitely become a subscriber.

I didn't really get a chance to talk to him but the rep from Hidden Star Orchards dropped by with a bag of Apple Chips and large, syrup-sized bottles of fruit extracts to show us. To be honest I'm not really clear on the use for the extracts. I meant to ask him but he was deep in conversation with others in our group and left before I had a chance. The website doesn't reveal any other information so I'll have to ask the next time I see them at the market.

And this was just plain neat. The Sports Basement was there offering free use of toys and yard games for kids and adults alike. All they asked for in return was your driver's license and you could borrow anything to use that day while you were at the picnic. So cool and community oriented. I've always liked their stores but they went up another huge notch as a local business I'd like to support for caring about the community and giving back in this way.

What to do besides eat? Well, there's kite flying, all of the games from the Sports Basement, bocci ball courts were set up on the north end of the lawn, you could bike around the Presidio grounds, bring your (leashed) dog and let him or her make new friends, or visit The Walt Disney Family Museum located just across the street on the west side of the lawn.

We did have an opportunity to say hello to OTG founder Matt Cohen and his super cute pup Lily. It's really a fantastic thing he's done creating this opportunity for new restauranteurs and food producers to find a way to break into the SF food scene while also allowing brick and mortar restaurants a way to reach out to a whole new audience.

A final word of warning to go early. You don't want to be reading this when you arrive at your favorite truck or booth.

And another big thank you to Wagstaff Worldwide and Off The Grid. Looking forward to attending more  OTG events this year, eating great food, and making new friends in San Francisco.


Sundays from 11:00 AM  - 4:00 PM

Rain or Shine

To find the Main Post Lawn at the Presidio just search for one of the nearby buildings in your maps app or GPS. Using either of the following will do the trick:

The Presidio Trust: 103 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA (map)

The Walt DIsney Family Museum at 104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA (map)

Free street and lot parking are available

• A blanket to sit on if you don't want to sit on lawn
• Wear sunscreen and a hat
• Friends to share food with
• Check the weather report and wear layers, SF weather and the Bay Area's micro-climates can be very fickle. It can be 75º and sunny in San Jose and 60º, cold and windy in the city.