On Halloween
+ California Traditions

Posted on: Saturday, October 31, 2015

Our first Halloween in the Bay Area, Christian and I drove up to San Francisco to visit our friends Jake and Cecille. I dressed as Alice in armor from the battle scene in the Tim Burton adaption of Alice in Wonderland–no one really knew what I was, but I wore fabric that looked like mail wrapped around silver leggings and a duct taped coat I’d fashioned over a sequined top. I wielded a cardboard and duct tape sword. My hair was long and curly and wild. Christian dressed as a peanut. He got chased by some monkeys we met on the street. Our friend Meryl was Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Jake and Cecille were bacon and eggs. It was fun.

That year, we also hosted a pumpkin carving party at our first apartment in Live Oak. We’ve carved pumpkins with the same group of Santa Cruz friends (give or take one or two) every year since. This year we carved pumpkins at our friend Tish’s place. I carved a Hello Kitty face. C carved a Hello Kitty witch. After we were done with all the gutting and careful chiseling (and occasional hacking) of our selected pumpkins, we threw a bunch of food on the grill and sat around Tish’s fire pit. We also broke out some glow sticks and Christian and I played with neon light and long exposures on my camera (see the last photos of this post for a message from us!). It was a slightly new spin on something we’ve been doing together for years now.

These last three years, Christian and I have driven up Highway 1 to Bob’s in Half Moon Bay to pick out our pumpkins. There are closer pumpkin patches we could visit but Bob’s holds a certain charm. The sign declares “Pick ’em where they grow!”. At Bob’s you have a view of the ocean while you browse the fields in search of your perfect pumpkin to pick (I like mine short and squat! Christian favors the tall skinny ones). There are “spooky” stand-ins for photo ops, a rusted out truck and bins filled with bewitching miniature pumpkins and squash–striped ones, green ones, white one, yellow, gray, orange, peach. And just outside the patch, there is a small petting zoo with goats and pigs and chickens and a turkey. The whole area is usually shrouded in fog, which I love. It’s a very California version of fall.


This year we’re going up to the San Francisco to celebrate Halloween with Jake and Cecille again. I think it will be our last Halloween in the Bay Area. It feels appropriate somehow–that our very first and very last Halloween will have been spent in the city. Although admittedly I’m a little sad that I’m going to miss the downtown Santa Cruz experience this year. Every Halloween Pacific Avenue is closed off to cars and big lights go up and the street fills with crowds of costumed people, many of them decked out in the most incredible ensembles you could imagine. You walk up and down the street and marvel at people’s creativity. There is a lot of exclaiming and calling out to one another; lots of congratulations are exchanged. You take photos with people and their costumes. Groups of people stage dances and crowds of other people in masks and makeup and dress-up gather around them to watch and cheer and applaud.

That being said, I’m very excited for Halloween in San Francisco. Especially since our friend Russ is hosting a Halloween party. It will be good costumes and great people. Christian and I are going as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I think my favorite costume from our years in Santa Cruz was the year I bedazzled black leggings and a hooded sweatshirt and went as “outer space”. This year should be funny though (because I’m going as Bernie and Christian is going as Hillary). But mostly, I’m just looking forward to seeing our friends in the city.

I guess what I’m trying to get at, is that we’ve established traditions here in Santa Cruz. And even though my heart has never fully left Washington, I know I’m going to miss this place when we finally leave–I’ll miss our favorite haunts and all of our friends and the things we’ve done together every year for the last five years. It’s kind of silly that Halloween makes me feel this way, but it’s the only holiday that we’ve consistently spent here in the Bay Area. And it’s the one that has always meant hanging out with the friends we have here (people who we’ve grown to appreciate more and more each year). Since moving to California we’ve spent Thanksgiving in state, but typically it’s been with family; for Christmas we always go back to Washington. And Fourth of July… well Fourth of July is kind of a nonevent in Santa Cruz (to be fair, it could never compare with how we do the Fourth up in the Pacific Northwest!). But for the last five years, we’ve always celebrated Halloween in California with our California favorites. So Here’s to one last Halloween Hurrah in the Bay Area!

Photos of our pumpkin patch adventures at Bob’s and the pumpkins carved at our fifth annual pumpkin carving party below:


I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! I’m excited to see friends and strangers in crazy, creative, hilarious, beautiful, whimsical, nostalgic, surprising costumes! Maybe you’ll see a few of the costumes I saw on Halloween here on the blog in a couple of days… Think of it as my belated treat to you. I’ve never been very good at tricks…


*Photos 11 – 13 (of me and Buckwheat) taken by Christian

29 Portraits Project
Portraits 26 – 30 / 29: Alex, Tish, Christian, Tyler & Andrew

Posted on: Saturday, October 17, 2015

In September, Christian and I traveled to Hawaii with four friends: Andrew, Tyler, Tish and Tish’s boyfriend, Alex. Tish, Andrew, and Tyler all started grad school with Christian. I’ve known the three of them for over five years now. Alex is a relative newcomer–he and Tish started dating early this year–but he fits right in with the group. These are our oldest and closest friends in Santa Cruz–together we’ve celebrated birthdays, thrown parties, laid out by pools, gazed up at stars, floated rivers, spent weekends at a cabin in the woods, gone camping and backpacking, barbecued and pot-lucked, carved pumpkins, decorated cookies, watched super bowls, hosted game nights, had movie nights, thrown darts at The Poet & The Patriot, played corn hole, tossed frisbees, shot guns, visited the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, explored beaches, went out to dinners, met each other’s families, met up for drinks, danced our hearts out, talked late into nights, caught up over breakfasts, made plans and dreamed up trips. Andrew is from Hawaii, and ever since we all became friends, we’d been talking about a Hawaii trip. This September that trip came to fruition.


The beginning of our trip was filled with rain. We swam in the rain, snorkeled in the rain, ran from the grocery store to the car in the rain… It didn’t matter though–we were in Hawaii and the water was warm and the island was lush and we were on vacation with our friends. Sometimes the sun came out–warmed our faces and turned the gray clouds silver–but mostly the weather was erratic with frequent rain spats and wind gusts. I put off taking my final portraits because of the rain.

We arrived on a Friday. On Monday morning, the soggy gray clouds of the past three days burned off and the skies shone a brilliant blue. We passed the better part of that blue sky day at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, sunbathing and people watching on the crowded, bleached-blond sand; surfing and splashing around in water the color of a seafoam green Crayola crayon. By the time we packed up and headed back to our place though, the skies had clouded over and the rain had returned. Tish and Alex were leaving the next day. Being an optimist, I thought the weather might be better in the morning. It wasn’t. So I took Tish and Alex’s portraits under skies that threatened rain, while a wind whipped their hair around. They were great sports though. And I think we got some good ones!


I took Christian, Tyler, and Andrew’s portraits on my birthday. The plan for the day was to drive to the North Shore, where we would hang out at Waimea Bay and then go into to take some photos. For dinner I wanted dumplings and after some research, decided on Lucky Belly in Honolulu. Andrew took us to the North Shore on the Kamehameha Highway which hugged the coastline–it was postcard beaches and teal ocean waters to the right, and valleys and mountains of emerald jungle to the left. Partway through our drive, we stopped at Kualoa Park to take some portraits with the scenic island of Mokoli’i (formerly known as “Chinaman’s Hat”) as a backdrop. A little further up the highway, after driving through a stretch of beachside houses and imagining what it would be like to live that close to the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at one of a half dozen shrimp trucks and got plates full of garlicky shrimp to tide us over until dinnertime. Chickens loafed in the grass around the covered picnic tables while we ate.

At Waimea Bay people cliff jumped from a large rock just off the beach. The sky was dazzling blue and the soft yellow sand was screaming hot. Overhead were large, lazy, fluffy clouds. The beach was peppered with people in bright suits on patterned towels and out in the water tiny people bobbed around leisurely in neon inner tubes. In the winter, Waimea Bay is host to the famed Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational but in the fall, the waters are calm and flat. We reclined in chairs and beach towels; I took photos of the cliff jumpers and the boys took a dip in the bay’s blue green waters. It was beautiful and serene. It was my favorite beach.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we drove into Haleiwa. The town was full of colorful plantation-era buildings with cute shops and artwork. We took our time walking around, popping into a store or two and grabbing a shave ice. On our way back to the car, we stopped on the bridge for some final portraits and then headed back to Honolulu for what turned out to be an outstanding dinner with two kinds of dumplings (pork belly bao and oxtail dumplings!). Back at our cabin for the week, the boys sang me “Happy Birthday” and I blew out the candles on a Hello Kitty Cake. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my twenties.

My favorite portraits of Alex, Tish, Christian, Tyler, and Andrew are below. Thanks so much guys!

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This is the conclusion of the project. I took a total of 30 portraits and completed the project on my birthday. My goal was to take 29 portraits by my 30th birthday. Mission accomplished!


…of this project–I have more photo projects to come though,  so check back soon!

29 Portraits Project
Portraits 24 – 25 / 29: Tim & Andreana

Posted on: Thursday, October 8, 2015

Over the first weekend of September, I drove up to San Francisco and spent a lovely afternoon poking around the Mission District with Tim and Andreana. My visit started at their apartment in Noe Valley where we caught up over beers–we reminisced about our friend’s wedding earlier that summer, chatted about photography, and browsed prints from the rolls of film they’d taken on their summer camping tour around the northwest. Their place was charming–filled with plants and photos and sunlight from the tall windows gathered at the end of their living room.


Tim is another friend I met through Allison–he was one of her housemates when she lived in the Lower Haight. Both Tim and Andreana are originally from the east coast. They met at college in Rhode Island but didn’t start dating until a couple years after they’d graduated, when they were both living in California (although in different cities). The weekend I visited happened to be their fourth anniversary. They still had a napkin from that night. And on their fridge was a photo of the two of them from the very first night they hung out in college–they looked so young; it was adorable.

Tim is loud and enthusiastic and entertaining. He’s up for most things (except dancing). Andreana is warm and easygoing and charismatic. The two of them compliment each other. They hike, cook, camp, travel and go to shows–they explore together; they plan adventures. Last year they went to Peru. When I was visiting them, we talked about going to Mexico. I hope we do!


I always have a good time hanging out with Tim and Andrea. And taking their portraits was so much fun. From their apartment in Noe Valley, we walked to the Mission District–stopping to take pictures in front of colorful walls and murals that were vivid and bright and beautiful. We watched part of a street hockey match at Delores Park and Tim kicked around a soccer ball at a local soccer field. In between portraits, we cooled down with cocktails, popped into stores, and got incredible tacos with jicama tortillas at Loló (where there was talk about opening a sandwich shop). After we were finished with portraits, we sat around Tim and Andreana’s kitchen table and talked some more–about favorite recipes and the next five years and adventures in traveling… It was funny stories and good conversation with two people I’ve really enjoyed getting to know.

Below are my favorite photos from my afternoon exploring the Mission with Tim & Andreana:

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