Santa Cruz and the Ely Family

Emily’s day is the fifth in our series A Perfect Day in Santa Cruz.

The smell of breakfast sausage from El Salchichero carries on the waves of the summer sunlight that warms the side of my face as I continue to slip in and out of sleep. It drifts in from the kitchen where an English breakfast of traditional breakfast sausage and fried tomatoes are being prepared to perfection by my loving husband, Tucker. In my sleepy haze, I vaguely hear the subtle popping of the eggs he’s cooking in the sausage fat, then a quick mechanical “click” indicating the toast is done telling me breakfast is almost ready. I turn over, tempted out of bed by the anticipation of a deliciously scrumptious feast that has me salivating uncontrollably, and it’s at that moment I see Tucker bringing me breakfast in bed, a glass of orange juice on the side to wash away my hunger.

As I outstretch my arms to push my back up against the headboard and sit up, I hear a faint groan that sounds strangely like Tucker’s “I’m still asleep…is it really time to get up already?” groan. I wipe the sleep from my eyes with a balled up right fist, and I realize I’d been dreaming! Tucker really WAS still asleep, and really DID let out his “I’m still asleep…is it really time to get up?” groan. The rustling of the sheets wakes Oliver, our 1 year old King Spaniel Terrier, who then proceeds to lick us to death, or until one of us finally slides into our slippers to take care of his morning business…so romantic.

Oh well, it’s coming up on Valentine’s Day so honey, if you’re reading this, take that as a not so subtle hint of how you could make my day extra special! 🙂

Realistically, I suppose my perfect day would start with a fresh raspberry Danish from  Verve to be washed down with one of their hot mocha lattes. Living in downtown Santa Cruz  makes this short 10 minute jaunt a nice bit of early morning exercise (my English heritage shows through here I suppose with morning strolls and dreams of traditional English breakfasts), and as we walk back towards the boardwalk with our hot coffees in hand, Tucker explains to me the reason behind the morning’s beautiful pink streaked sunrise.

Along the way, Oliver works frantically to sniff at every passing tree, bush, lamppost, etc. before we pull him along again. Our destination is typically Its Beach on the Westside where Oliver loves to socialize with all the other doggies, but today we decide to loop back around and head home, grab a few snacks (yes, those snacks include our favorite Pacific Cookie Company cookies – Almond Joe, and Dr. Midnight), and take a drive north on Highway 1 towards Davenport, where we stop at a beach alongside the road to go tide-pooling.

Oliver leads the way to the sand, tugging his leash taunt as we cross the Highway, begging us to let him free. Not a second after we concede to his wishes does he take advantage of the opportunity to bolt away. With outstretched legs he carries himself as fast as he can to the shoreline where the water wets his feet and he comes frolicking back to us. The look on his face is pure happiness for me. We continue this way for an hour or two, as he follows us into the whitewater then onto the rocks and out into the seagrass. His curiosity gets the better of him and he misjudges the depth of a hole in the sand. But victory is his, as he doggie paddles for a moment to regain his footing, and he makes it out! We continue on in this fashion for sometime more before the afternoon winds begin to breeze through, making us realize we have all but missed lunch!

We head towards home, and stop for a late “to-go” lunch at Zoccoli’s for delicious “make-your-own” sandwiches. At home, we bathe Oliver and spend some time just the two of us at Bookshop Santa Cruz where Tucker and I buy each other a book to read. Romantically cliché, yes, But it gets better. From there we finish the night at Vino Prima on the Santa Cruz Wharf, our hands down favorite-of-all-time wine bar, and enjoy a couple glasses of local wines in good company (if you’ve never been, tell Larry, Stacey, or Craig I sent you!). The sunset there is the best in town – stunningly captivating – and dinner at Olitas is catered to you…what more could you ask for?

If you’ve never visited Santa Cruz before, I suggest putting it on the bucket list – especially if you’re a foodie. Downtown is a good place to start – just make sure to stop by our retail store (1203 Pacific Ave.) and grab a cookie for dessert!


Local favorites

Shelly’s day is the fifth in our series A Perfect Day in Santa Cruz.

I wake-up to a steaming cup of Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company’s Steve’s Smooth French coffee, lovingly prepared by my husband, Larry (Mr. Cookie). He’s just returned from his daily elliptical work out at 24 hour Fitness with his gym-rat buddies, Cliff, Greg, Ceil & Virginia. This morning I dip our newest iteration of our Ginger Spice cookie in my coffee. I think we are very close to perfecting this recipe. We’re looking forward to the customer response from the downtown store.

After breakfast, I wander down to my raised-bed veggie garden. Thank goodness the sun is finally shining! Larry and I had fun choosing our tomato plants this year from Cynthia Sandberg’s famous Love Apple Farm in Ben Lomond. My family really enjoyed the “Black Cherry” tomatoes last year. We also selected a golden beefsteak, “Chuck’s Yellow”, an “Early Girl” variety and “Casey’s Pure Yellow,” a new variety that is a large yellow with a pink blush. My three fabulous grandchildren love to spend time in our garden. Lily (4), Ivan (2 ¾ ) and our newbee, Mila (1), will love eating sweet snap peas off the vines and helping to water the beets, 3 types of squash, cucumbers, green beans, swiss chard and herbs.

As midday approaches, it’s time to meet my friends for lunch at The Walnut Avenue Café. The servers are so nice and efficient. My favorite is the Ahi Tuna Salad with balsamic dressing. The owner, John Climber does such a great job with the menu and the consistency of the food. After lunch, I stroll through Pacific Garden Mall and check out Stripe, such a fun store with a vintage flare. I also stop in The Sock Shop, Old School Shoes, Shoe Fetish (I think you can see that I like shoes!). There are also so many places that carry great things for kids. The Baby Shoppe on Pacific Avenue is great and Lolly Tree Toys on Cathcart Street is full of well made toys for children and the owner is so helpful picking out age appropriate gifts for birthdays.

After a lovely afternoon downtown, I pick up Ivan at pre-school and drive to the Santa Cruz Wharf to see and listen to the sea lions. He likes to go into Stagnaro’s Restaurant and look at the fish tank and then to Made in Santa Cruz to play with the wheels on the skateboards. I guess I have to wait until he’s 3 to buy him his first board. Ivan loves the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum so we head over to the Seabright neighborhood. The tide pool exhibit is especially fun. We take a walk to Seabright Beach and sit on the bench overlooking the cove. It is a memorial to my late father, Charlie Miller who was the unofficial mayor of Seabright. We then wander up Cypress Avenue to see if my granddaughters, Lily and Mila are home.

The end of my day is usually spent strolling the polished wood floors at Shopper’s Corner grocery store. The original owners, Bud Beauregard and Vinny Williams helped to start us into the wholesale cookie business and Jim Beauregard (Bud’s son) has continued to be super supportive. The store is always spotless and amazingly well stocked with every epicurean necessity and a cookie available at the butcher counter for the kids.

I’m so fortunate to live in this special community and share it with my close family and friends. So here’s to Santa Cruz and 30 wonderful years spent enjoying some of my favorite local spots.

Music in the air

Sharon’s day is the fourth in our series A Perfect Day in Santa Cruz.

My perfect day begins with sleeping in very late… I’ve always been a night owl and have no need to greet the day with the sun coming up. After I finally get up in the morning, I take my time leisurely reading the Sunday paper. Yes, I know, so “old school”! I linger a bit with a heavenly cup of Good Earth tea, and then I eventually head out on a walk. Living on the Westside means I don’t have to go far for the most fabulous walking path with a view of the ocean, West Cliff drive. The sea salt spray that breaks over the cliffs and the reflection of the sun on shimmering water makes this the ultimate place to go to unwind. When I get almost to the end of the path, I take a detour inland to the Swift Street Courtyard, home to Kelly’s French Bakery for some freshly baked sourdough bread to go with the cheese and fresh fruit I have in my insulated backpack. These are for an early afternoon picnic with a friend in her beautiful backyard garden a few blocks away.

After my picnic, well fed and rested, I head back down to the water ending up at breezy Natural Bridges beach. There are lots of young families playing on the beach, building sand castles, boogie boarding in the surf, flying kites, and just having a ball. It’s getting late and the sun is starting to go down, and there is no better place to watch a sunset in all of Santa Cruz. You feel like you’re at the edge of the world with nothing else to see except the deep azure blue of endless water. Sitting serenely on a bluff, I look out to sea with the horizon turning “sky-blue-pink”, watching as the fireball sun eventually disappears into the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

I briskly walk home, to change and meet my husband. A self confessed early bird, he was up and out of the house hours before me. We head downtown to Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Bar, for dinner and drinks. Once inside the dark, candlelit, back room filled with bamboo tiki torches and Polynesian masks, you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical island. This place has a fun vibe, killer drinks and the best sweet potato fries in town.

After dinner, we have some time before the Cabrillo Music Festival starts at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, so we take a short stroll to my all time favorite business, Bookshop Santa Cruz. I love to meander among their amazing array of stacks and stacks of books, but I spend even more time in their unique card department. They have some of the most eclectic and creative cards I’ve ever found, and everyone who knows me will tell you I am the “Queen” of finding “just the right card” for someone. And to top it off, they are next door to Chocolate, home of the ‘Frida’, a rich, Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon, and spices. This divine, decadent, drink has just enough heat to raise some eyebrows! Oh my God, Books and Chocolate together… food for thought, for body and soul!

As concert time nears, we make our way to the Civic. Kronos Quartet is playing tonight. This original, contemporary, quartet has been at the forefront of the kind of music that the festival puts on every year. People come from all over the country for this outstanding event, and I don’t even have to leave Santa Cruz to experience performances by some of the best musicians in the world!

After the concert and with the end of the perfect day approaching, we step into Red Restaurant and Bar for a nightcap. Settling into one of their comfy couches in front of the fireplace, I’m having the ‘Marilyn Monroe’ cocktail, a delicious drink with champagne, pomegranate liqueur, citronage and a sweet cherry that sinks to the bottom of the glass, waiting patiently for you to finish it off. After one of these, I’m feeling as close to tall, blonde and voluptuous as I’ll ever be at the end of one incredible day in Santa Cruz. We wind our way towards home with the strains of violins and cellos still playing in the air…

Going on a treasure hunt, X marks the spot…

Ashley’s day is the third in our series A Perfect Day in Santa Cruz.

My perfect day in Santa Cruz starts with me waking up without the sound of an alarm clock. Now, if it is truly my perfect day, then that means my fiancé is already up and the Surf City or Java Junction coffee is freshly brewed and ready to pour. I can’t dilly dally for too long though. I’ve got my coffee in a to-go cup, dollar bills in my pocket, and I’m off to the Santa Cruz Flea Market. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure I say. I meet up with my friend Jennifer and we are on a serious mission to find the deals. This is what we do best and, on really good days, we have to make multiple trips to the car. Used bowling balls as garden art, frames and mirrors to redecorate, and fresh fruits and vegetables are just a few of the goodies you can find at the swap meet.

After the flea market we must fuel up for more shopping and walking. We head to The Crepe Place and sit outside in their quaint garden patio. I love the luscious feel of all the plants and flowers outside but inside it is funky and fun if it happens to be raining. I think The Crepe Place has the best Bloody Marys in town and so far I haven’t been proven wrong!

With our bellies full, we are off to our next destination, The Goodwill Thrift Store. We are still in the treasure finding mood and why buy full price when you don’t have too?! [For all the book worms out there, the Goodwill has a location that only sells used books located on Soquel Ave next to Tony’s & Alba’s.] We also make a trip to The Daisy; another one of our favorite places to bargain hunt. Added bonus: both The Goodwill and The Daisy raise money for wonderful causes within our community.

Okay, so there are some things I am willing to buy new. Like a new pair of Bunny’s Shoes. The draw of the cutest and hottest shoes around brings us to Bunny’s in Downtown Santa Cruz. But we can’t go there without heading across Pacific Ave to their sister store Bunny’s Too. There we find everything from yummy smelling soaps, colorful and sassy dish towels, sparkling candle chandeliers, etc… If you are ever in need of a gift for your best girlfriend, sisters, or mom this is surely a one stop shop.

With the car full of my goodies and the dollars gone from my pocket, it’s time to go home and justify all the bags coming into the house. [Tip: put bags inside of others so it looks like you have less bags and therefore didn’t spend as much.] After a short rest at home, the man and I are off on a walk through the Santa Cruz Harbor. If our timing is right, we can catch the sun setting over the ocean. We are so fortunate to live in this wonderful place. I love the sounds of the harbor; the mast on a sail boat clinking in the wind, the birds circling for fish, and of course the waves crashing louder and louder as we get closer to the beach.

We stop by Bayside Marine to say hi to friends and then continue our stroll to the Crow’s Nest. We head upstairs to the Breakwater Grill and from any table we have a great view. After our spirits and pupu pupus we walk along the beach and then head home. Once home, the man builds a fire in our outside fire pit and my perfect day in Santa Cruz comes to an end. Good night!