Bringing the Outdoors In

I have been feeling so thankful for my house plants during shelter in place. Not only do they make my apartment look infinitely more Instagram-worthy, but they also provide myriad health benefits like air purification, mood improvement, and better sleep quality. Not to mention, caring for something (especially if you live alone) can give a sense of purpose and motivation, something we all need in this time of isolation. Since our house… Read More

A Couple of Neighborhood Flowers

neighborhood flowers

As we stroll our neighborhoods and greenways, practicing social distancing as we go, there are a couple of spring wildflowers in gardens and lawns that we can appreciate during these difficult times. The golden poppy is hard to miss. It has been California’s official state flower since 1903, but it was first collected and described scientifically long before that. In 1816 the Rurik, a Russian ship of exploration, sailed into the Bay… Read More

Buy Local: Shop at Your Neighborhood Farmers Market

local farmers market

Growing up, every Saturday morning my mom would take my sister and me to the farmers market. While she shopped, we would run around with sticky hands, covered in samples of honey and strawberries. These are some of my fondest memories, and probably the reason why food is such a huge part of my life. I have carried this tradition into adulthood — you will very rarely see me miss my Saturday-morning… Read More

Sit Spot with a Nature Journal

nature journal

I started a nature journal when shelter-in-place began. I like to sit on my porch in the sun and write down what I see, hear, feel. The journal is homework for a naturalist training course I’m taking, but anyone can do it. I’ve found it calming in the midst of the pandemic. You can follow the guidelines of Naturalist John Muir Laws, but really any pen and paper will do. So far, I’ve… Read More

Explore Nature’s Healing Powers Right at Home

Russian Gulch State Park

On all my Zoom calls with family and friends lately, we are exchanging recommendations for a good read. We’re all looking for something uplifting, while substantive. Fascinating without being too fantastical.  So of course I am telling everyone about one of my all-time favorite books that will hit the spot: The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams. If you’re a lover of the outdoors—whether… Read More

Neighborhood Lemon Hunt

As we follow directives to stay close to home, I have been turning to explorations of my own neighborhood, the Grand Lake district of Oakland. Spring gardens are in full bloom and citrus trees are bursting across the East Bay. At the same time—to help pass the time and motivate my family to keep active with school assignments, choir practice, and soccer drills—I have been using baking projects as a fun reward…. Read More

Sheltering in Place with a Couple of Unusual Backyard Visitors

bird watching

I have a tall redwood tree in my backyard that two raptors have begun to use as perches, one in the day time and the other at night.  My day time visitor is a white-tailed kite, an accipiter that eats mostly small rodents. The white-tailed kite hovers above its prey, wings flapping, until it suddenly swoops down, talons out, and grabs its meal. This type of behavior is called hovering. The kite… Read More

Take a Closer Look at Birds in Your Neighborhood, Learn About Local Climate, & Recycle Empty Toilet Paper Rolls

bird watching

With just four materials (see instructions below), you can make your own bird feeder and watch birds in your neighborhood! Recognizing and noticing the different types and numbers of bird species in your area can be a sign of how the local climate is behaving. Climate change does a lot more than just heat up our planet, it can also cause more intense weather, including floods, heatwaves, and droughts. This extreme weather… Read More

Beach Day for Kids, Dogs & Anyone Who Loves the California Coast

dillon beach california

My family first discovered Dillon Beach when looking for a weekend getaway — not too far from our home in Oakland, good for multiple generations — as we were celebrating my father-in-law’s 70th birthday. With just one small store and restaurant, this beach remains less well known than the Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay coastline to the south and Bodega Bay to the north. Public access to Dillon Beach is… Read More

The Hidden Stairways of the Sunset

Sunset's hidden stairways

In San Francisco, we’re lucky to have so many outdoor options within such a big city. In the Sunset alone, we have Golden Gate Park’s trails to wander and open fields to frolic in. And we can’t forget the soothing waves of Ocean Beach. But one gem that may not be quite so obvious in the Sunset is its hidden stairways. Walking the district in search of these unique stairs is a… Read More