Tour Blake Garden, Kensington

A group at the garden tour in Blake Garden, KensingtonEvery second Thursday from 2 pm to 3 pm you can join a free tour of Blake Garden in Kensington. Here you learn about the history and design of the garden. This is a fascinating walk starting from the former residence of Anson and Anita Blake with the koi pond to the redwood grove, and to the more experimental parts of the garden.

The former residence of Anson and Anita Blake with the koi pond in front.The garden was deeded to the University of California in 1957. From 1967 to 2008 the former residence was used to house the UC Berkeley president. Now structurally unsound because the Hayward Fault Line runs underneath it, and crucial maintenance has been deferred. On clear days, as we had, you can enjoy a view of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. 

A stack of sticks and a sign that reads: Create with natureI really liked the projects that included art but also a few play gardens. There is a huge boulder and a wonderful tree that would invite kids to climb, but for security reasons it is not allowed. Luckily they created a few play garden areas that will inspire kids to interact with nature. 

Bay view from Blake GardenNowadays, Blake garden is part of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design (CED). It serves as a site for experiential learning for students in the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning.

Starting in 2009 the garden opened to the public. The next garden tour is Thursday, April 11, 2024 from 2 pm – 3 pm. The tour meets at 70 Rincon Rd., Kensington. Parking is free. To register for the tour email Kathryn Lincoln, Blake Garden Manager, at klincoln@berkeley.edu

A bee hotel at Blake Garden, KensingtonBesides the monthly tour, Blake Garden is also open for exploring on your own, weekdays, Mondays through Fridays, 8 am – 4:30 pm (closed for major holidays). Admission is free. 

Please remember that you should not pick any flowers. Leashed well-behaved dogs are also allowed on the tour. Due to some steep hills and uneven ground this is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.  

 

Visit the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, Berkeley

Visit the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, Berkeley

One of my earliest blog posts was about the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale. A small storefront in a stripmall with amazing examples of lace and rotating exhibits.

A table with leaflets about upcoming classes at the Lacis MuseumI was expecting a similar small space for the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley. It turns out the Berkeley museum is exponentially larger! They have a store that sells lace, and equipment for embroidery and lace making. If you’d like you can take one of their classes, on embroidery, tatting, or bobbing in their upstairs classroom. To receive an overview of the museum we enjoyed the two tours they offer. 

Mannequins wearing pajamas at the day's end exhibit Our first tour was Day’s End: Personal Glamour Exposed, a fascinating look into the history of night time fashion. From the rather starchy looking undergarments of the 1860s to the silky, lacy nightgowns of the 1920s, a collection of nightcaps and bonnets, and the pajamas of the 1930s. They made a YouTube video of the exponents, but of course it is more stunning to see them in person.

A collection of handkerchiefs from the Transcending Fashion exhibitThe second exhibit is a lesson in lace history: Transcending Fashion: The Lace Accessory. First you learn about the secret language of handkerchiefs, while you bend over a looking glass to see the snowflake like miniature patterns. The history of the communal work of Irish lace and other different techniques to create these intricate patterns are truly amazing

Lace seen through the looking glassEach tour is $3.00 per person, Monday through Saturday, at either 1:00 or 3:00 pm. Tours are by appointment and can be scheduled by calling the Lacis Museum at (510) 843-7290 during regular business hours.

The Lacis Museum is located at 2982 Adeline Street, Berkeley. Hours are Monday to Saturday from noon  to  6pm.

 

Buy Chocolate in Bulk, Ghirardelli

Buy Chocolate in Bulk, Ghirardelli

A shelf full of Ghirardelli's chocolatesGhirardelli is the longest continually operating chocolatier in America. In 1849, Domenico Ghirardelli opened a supplies and confections store to miners in Stockton, CA. Within the same year he established himself in San Francisco. The San Francisco store at  900 North Point, near Fisherman’s Wharf, is now labeled the original store. In 1965 San Francisco declared Ghirardelli Square an official city landmark.

Little Ghirardelli chocolates by the poundAs a bargain hunter I was intrigued by the outlet store. In fact they have four outlet stores in the Bay Area! We went to the San Leandro’s outlet store. It’s fun to see all the different products they offer, from small packaged chocolates to hot chocolate mixes, and all chocolate related baking ingredients. As an added bonus you can also sip a mocha or enjoy an ice cream fudge. Which is a nice idea so you won’t shop hungry. We found that the super bulk items are the best deals. So, if you eat a lot of little chocolates, you might consider visiting. 

A bag of chocolates by the pound from the Ghirardelli outlet store in San Leandro including a chocolate bunnyGhirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Factory Outlet Stores: 

1111 139th Avenue, San Leandro

1015 Promontory Pkwy, Tracy

11980 S Harlan Road, Lathrop

447 Great Mall Drive #189, Milpitas

 

Are you a chocoholic?

Entrance to the exhibit Different Worlds at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

View Different Worlds, Sonoma

View of some of the artworks by Tsherin Sherpa. In front is one of the carpets.Different Worlds is the title of the new exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in downtown Sonoma. The exhibit shows works by Bay Area artist Tsherin Sherpa

SA carpet depicting a tiger and in the back some of the paintings by Tsherin Sherpaherpa was trained in his home country of Kathmandu, Nepal as a thangka painter. Thangkas are traditional Tibetan Buddhist art. The artist invites us to his different worlds as an artistic mixtape of his religious roots and contemporary perspectives. The outcome is mystic but familiar. On our visit we caught up with a museum guide who explained some of the symbolism and techniques. I really liked the vibrant deconstructed paintings of swirled thangkas suggesting the artist’s mixed emotions and introducing the western world into his traditional upbringing. 

Multiple collages but also two carpets and a statue are on display until April 28th. Opening reception is Saturday, January 27th from 5 -7 pm. The film screening of ‘Above and Below: The Life of Artist Tsherin Sherpa’ is unfortunately sold out. But the museum might add a second screening. There are also activities for kids, for example free mangalas.

Two of Tsherin Sherpa's paintings with swirlsThe SVMA is located at 551 Broadway in downtown Sonoma. Opening hours are: Wednesday thru Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. Admissions is free every Wednesday, otherwise general admission is $10, seniors, students, and Sonoma Valley residents pay $7, people under 18 are free. 

How would your different worlds look like?

 

Fourth Street in Berkeley with Holiday light display

See the Holiday Lights on Berkeley’s 4th Street

Stars are hanging from a tree wrapped in lightsA great inexpensive activity for the holiday is walking or driving through the holiday lights display on Berkeley’s 4th Street. Unless of course you end up buying a lot of things in the stores and restaurants of this high-end shopping street.

4th St in Berkeley decorated in Holiday lightsThe canopied shopping district wraps all its trees in tiny lights, then decorates them with stars and colored bulbs. Garlands of lights with blue snowflakes in the middle hang across the streets. 

Until December 31st the lights will turn on at 5pm. During the weekends stop by for some caroling and crafting events. You can even drop off a letter for Santa in front of Peet’s Coffee. Last day for mailing your letter is Wednesday December 20th, 2023. All letters with a return address will receive an answer from an elf!

This Saturday is the annual Artisan Asian Market, 11 am – 4 pm, along the paseo between Warby Parker and Cafe Reville, 1911 4th Street. Additionally, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, you can wave at the participants of the Holiday Fantasy Parade – You Drive, We Wave

Each Friday and Saturday participating shops will stay open until 7 pm. The holiday lights spectacle is on Fourth Street between Hearst and Virginia Street in Berkeley. 

Where is your favorite holiday light display?

Cherish a Historic Walking Tour, Capitola

Cherish a Historic Walking Tour, Capitola

The most iconic buildings in Capitola are the Venetian Court built in 1924. A group of colorful houses right by the water, near the pier. If you ever wanted to stay in an iconic place right by the water you are in luck, these are vacation rentals. This is definitely the place to be seen in Capitola!

Capitola Trestle on the Soquel Creek walkIf you are tired of chilling out (is that even possible?) you should enjoy a historic walking tour of this charming beach town. From the Venetian Court start by walking north and turn right onto the Stockton Avenue Bridge. From here you’ll be able to see the Capitola Trestle. Built in 1874 trains still cross here several times a week. The red Windmill House with the Silo in the back

Across the street, next to the Armina Winery, starts the Soquel Creek walk. This path along Soquel Creek takes you by the bright red (1926) and its adjacent Silo House. 

Stop by the Historical Museum

When you are visiting on the weekends, make sure to pay a visit to the Historical Museum at 410 Capitola Ave. Right next to it is an example of a beach cottage. These micro rooms put tiny houses to shame! 

Sign for the Capitola Museum with the museum in the backFrom here you can walk to 202 Cherry Ave to see the oldest year-round residence, the Henry Van Syckle House, built around 1887. If you walk over to Hihn Park, this short loop along more historic buildings will eventually guide you to the oldest house in Capitola. The Averon Lodge House was built in 1877 and is located at 919 Capitola Ave. 

The 86 steps up to Depot Hill will get you close to the Esplanade Park. The bandstand marks where the Hotel Capitola once stood. Finally the Six Sisters, 110 – 122 Esplanade, are six, nearly-identical, two-story Victorian apartments.  

You can download a PDF with a map of Capitola and its historic buildings.

 

Are you a history buff?

 

Flames and Tears by Vojtech Blazejovsky

Experience the Flame Within, ACCI Gallery, Berkeley

Metal sculpture Round and Round by Barbara M. Berk The Metal Arts Guild provides its members with opportunities to show off their creations in galleries and museums. Their current exhibit ‘The Flame Within” is at the ACCI Gallery in Berkeley. Until November 12th, 2023 you can marvel at the creative ways these thirty three metal artists express their medium. From jewelry to sculptures the material was heated, bent, and formed into beautiful designs. 

Inside the ACCI gallery in BerkeleyWhile there is a space dedicated to the Metal Arts Guild, I also enjoyed the other artists’ creations. As the oldest Arts and Crafts co-op west of the Mississippi, it consists of over 100 juried artists.

Floral Fancy by Kim WebsterI highly recommend checking out the ACCI Gallery for gift ideas. Are we getting close to that time of the year already? Unique gifts from paintings to jewelry to pottery and other creative art, there was so much to see! I really enjoyed the urban garden in the back with the decorative glass flowers and other sculptures. 

The Flame Within will be open until Sunday, November 12th, 2023. 

Entrance to the ACCI Gallery in BerkeleyACCI Gallery is located in the middle of Berkeley’s Gourmet District, at 1652 Shattuck Ave. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 11 am – 6 pm, Sunday noon – 5 pm.

A sign announcing West Cliff Drive Outdoor Market

Shop with a View, West Cliff Outdoor Market, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz lighthouse with the outdoor marketI love to walk on West Cliff Drive. You can stop and watch the dogs having a great time, or the surfers catching a wave at Steamers Lane.

Market stands at the Outdoor MarketIf you like artisan gifts you can shop this Saturday, October, 28th, 2023 or December 9th, 2023 at the West Cliff Outdoor Market in the lighthouse parking lot on West Cliff Drive. You will also find food trucks. 

If you are looking for some unique gifts this is a great place to shop. I enjoyed browsing and talking to the artists. Admission is free and they will give out tokens to some lucky shoppers that can be used with the vendors!

Sign for the West Cliff Drive Outdoor MarketThe West Cliff Outdoor Market is open from 10 am to 5 pm (in December from 10 am to 4 pm), located in the lighthouse parking lot. 

If you are into scenic shopping you should also check out the farmers market at the College of San Mateo.

Entrance to the Radius Gallery at the Tannery Arts Center showing TEN

Count to Ten Artists, Santa Cruz

A kinetic sculpture by Moto Ohtake at Radius GalleryOne show, two locations, ten of the most notable artists of Santa Cruz, from September 28 till November 5, 2023. I was exploring the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz and stumbled upon the Radius Gallery. They just opened their doors for their impressive exhibit TEN. The curator and I agreed that the playful, movable, kinetic sculptures from Moto Ohtake are amazing. She even set all of them in motion for me!

TEN at Radius GalleryThe other nine artists are:

Thomas Campbell, Linda Christensen, Tim Craighead, Marc D’Estout, Kalie Granier, r.r.jones, Kajahl, Robin Kandel, and Beverly Rayner

The second location is the M.K. Contemporary Art gallery in downtown Santa Cruz. I, of course, had to visit this exhibit. Both locations show all ten artists with different artworks. 

M K Contemporary Gallery shows TENYou can visit the galleries during their opening hours, Wednesday – Sunday noon to 5pm. Or on First Fridays (October 6th, November 3rd) from 5 pm to 8 pm. October 14 and 15th are Open Studios for Santa Cruz North County, which includes the Tannery Art Center. South County’s Open Studios are this weekend, and on October 21 & 22, Open Studio is for the whole county. Check the website for participating studios or pick up a directory. This is a great opportunity to visit and talk with the artists. There are also two artist talks scheduled on October 22nd at the Radius Gallery and on the 29th at the M.K. Contemporary Art gallery. Both talks start at 3 pm.

The Radius Gallery is located in the Tannery Art Center, 1050 River Street #127, Santa Cruz.

The M.K. Contemporary Art gallery is located 703 Front Street, Santa Cruz.

 

Opening hours are ​ Wednesday to Sunday noon to 5 pm and by appointment.

Both exhibits are free.

Stroll Through History, Woodland, CA

Stroll Through History, Woodland, CA

Gable mansion with roses in the foregroundAs some of you know and some of you might suspect already, we moved to Woodland last year. One of the first events we enjoyed here is their annual ‘Stroll Through History’. Besides an open house tour, where generous owners open their door to the public, there are walking and bike tours. Last year we did one walking tour, the bike tour explaining Woodland’s trees, and enjoyed the open houses. We learned so much about our new home town and met really nice people along the way!

Stroll through history walking tourThis year on Saturday October 7th, 2023, the 34th edition of the Stroll Through History invites people to five homes. Among them is the Gable Mansion, Woodland’s signature Victorian. Their sidewalk roses cascade around the fence, enclosing it with beauty. I just recently learned it is in private ownership; it is so grand! Imagine it as an event space. I think couples would love to have such a marvelous backdrop for their wedding celebration. I can’t wait to see it up close myself.

Indoor fireplace and rotisserieLast year I was amazed at the generosity of the home owners to open up their private residences. Some were present to talk about original features, things they changed, and memories. 

The bike and walking tours are free. If you decide to participate in the house tours advanced tickets are $30, but they also offer tickets to purchase at the event for $35.

Do you enjoy a stroll through history?