Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I had the privilege early yesterday morning of visiting Portola Coffee Lab, OC's hottest new coffee hang-out, to watch their baristas in action & photograph what I'd consider some of the most beautiful, detailed latte art I've ever seen poured.

The guys at Portola have a passion for coffee that comes across in their craft -- these are no ordinary cups o' Joe. These are truly works of art.  So beautiful, in fact, I almost felt bad for drinking it. Almost.

I liken it to the exquisite, fleeting art of Native American & Tibetan Monk Sand Paintings. Perfectly-accurate, symmetrical masterpieces that are created for the sake of the art - for healing purposes - and then almost instantly destroyed. 

Latte art takes practice. And patience. And a steady hand. I found it ironic to learn that Baristas need to be careful not to drink too much caffeine while working on their art - otherwise, they risk a case of the shakes and things can get choppy & inconsistent. So, I helped them yesterday at Portola with those extra leftover cups of caffeinated black gold ...  It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it, right?

And believe me. Portola's coffee tastes just as good as it looks.

Visit them on Facebook - or, better yet, visit the Coffee Lab in person to taste for yourself!

(A shout-out to Portola Barista, Truman Severson, who created all of the beautiful latte art in the following photos. Nice work, Truman.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011


85 degrees, sunny and gorgeous - welcome to Southern California in late June.  And, what a perfect setting for today's 29th Annual Dana Point Concours d'Elegance vintage car show at the ultra-chic St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort.

I grew up in a car family - our version of a backyard barbecue or going to the movies was attending concours events and car shows on the weekends. Heck, sometimes we even hosted the car shows in our own back yard.  So, it feels like home to me - walking amongst the vintage cars - the smell of exhaust and leather cleaner in the air.  Ahh....

Today I saddled-up on my Harley and rode down Pacific Coast Highway to one of Orange County's best concours events - the Dana Point Concours d'Elegance (which in French literally translates to 'A Competetion of Elegance').  And spent the best part of my afternoon wandering amongst the classic cars and motorcycles on display - from exotic Ferraris to brightly-colored Chevys to a rare Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle and everything else in between.

I love the subtle beauty of cars & motorcycles - they are so much more than just a mode of transportation. They are an art-form. I remember a quote from Sir William Lyons, the founder of Jaguar Cars, that said, "The car is the closest thing we can create to something that is alive." I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


One recent evening I was sitting in our back garden, drinking a cold beer after a long day at work and looking for photographic inspiration as a creative release... when it dawned on me. What better to photograph than the very beer I was drinking!?

So, I enlisted the help of my very kind & patient husband for the hours that followed - he helped pour while I shot from different angles, with various lenses in different lighting until at last I captured what I felt was 'The Perfect Pour' and exactly what I wanted.

I love wine, I love Champagne, but sometimes life just calls for a really good beer.  There seems to be an explosion lately of fantastic places around Orange County to belly-up to the bar and enjoy a great brew. Some of my favorite haunts allow you to not just order a pint, but to experience 'flights' of beer so you can taste a few and see what you like best - plus, many offer fantastic Happy Hour menus.

In Old Town Orange there's Haven Gastropub (with Happy Hour Mon - Thurs from 3 - 6pm & nightly from 11pm - 1am) and The Breuery Provisions (no regular Happy Hour - but, be sure to follow them on their Facebook Page for news about special events that are open to the public - they host them regularly!) And, of course right here in downtown Santa Ana, I can't recommend Chapter One: The Modern Local (Happy Hour daily from 3 - 7pm) or The Copper Door (open Tues - Sat, 8pm -2am, this is a great spot to hit post-Happy Hour to keep the party going!) highly enough. All have beer lists about a mile long, so come prepared to peruse the menus and try something new if you're feeling adventurous!

Oh, and mustn't forget my local neighborhood (or, as they'd spell it, neighbourhood) pub right around the corner from our house, The Olde Ship! My English hubby & I sometimes need go head over here for a "proper pint" and some good live music.

So, cheers! Prost! Salud! Here's to beer! (And click here to see how to say 'Cheers' in 50 different languages, just so you're always prepared!...)

What is YOUR favorite Happy Hour spot in the OC?? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Today I was on a mission. To explore my neighborhood of Santa Ana, look at things from a unique perspective through the lens of my camera, and try to capture some of its beauty to share with the world.

So, this morning my husband Tim & I saddled-up on our Harleys and rode into Downtown Santa Ana - parked in front of the Artist's Village - loaded-up on caffeine at The Gypsy Den - and then spent some quality time wandering the streets, exploring every nook & cranny of every building we could find.  

I love this town. Founded in 1869, it's rich with Californian history and culture. I first moved here almost 10 years ago, and it was a completely different place then.  I always had hope for Santa Ana, though, and in recent years it has undergone a complete transformation. It's in the midst of a Renaissance - with new restaurants, bars, shops & art galleries opening regularly in its many newly-restored buildings. What used to be run-down and downright scary at times is quickly becoming a fun, safe, fantastic city to hang out in.

If you haven't been to Downtown Santa Ana lately, then you should definitely check it out - restaurants & bars such as Chapter One: The Modern Local, Lola Gaspar, The Copper Door, The Crosby, Proof Bar and Memphis Cafe are just the tip of the iceberg. Next Saturday, June 18th, 2011 is a GREAT opportunity to come down & check it all out at the 'Posse on Broadway' event in Downtown Santa Ana from 9pm - 2am where 11 venues will host 11 events with free admission for all. 

Meantime, if you don't live locally, I hope these photos can give you a small taste for Santa Ana's beauty...