More About Farms, Food, Flowers, and Friendship

I received a text message last Friday from Carolyn with an invite to a flower design class she had signed up for. Carolyn and I have a love for all things creative and crafty.  Food and home decorating are my thing and food and flowers are hers. It should be noted that she is an amazing baker and loves cooking, sharing recipes, trading cookbooks, trying new restaurants, and attending food themed events with me and I’ve also been known to play with flowers on occasion – helped her with a friend’s wedding flowers, shopped farmer’s market flowers, spent hours at Green Acres and other flower farms and nurseries with her. We support each other’s hobbies and are always on the hunt for new things to explore to expand on them. That kind of friendship rocks and it’s why I always click on links from Carolyn. 

Flower Class at The Feathered Nest

The above graphic appeared on my phone. I was intrigued, so yes, I clicked on the link and after some mild arm twisting (not really), I purchased my ticket to join Carolyn this past Sunday. 

Happy Road Farm – a small, 1 acre, local, family owned, flower farm in Loomis, CA was bringing the best of their summer heirloom flowers to The Feathered Nest – a dreamy/new store also located in Loomis.  I immediately recognized both names as I was already following them on Instagram. @happyroadfarm and

We started off our adventure with grabbing lunch at The Flower Farm, located in Loomis, CA at 4150 Auburn Folsom Road.

The Flower Farm

Carolyn ordered first and I basically copied her – I’ve been cutting way back on carbs, but fresh ciabatta bread from The Baker and The Cakemaker (a husband and wife owned artisan bread bakery) providing Placer County and surrounding areas with quality handcrafted artisan bread… sounded fabulous.

Hand carved turkey breast, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and sliced provolone on a warm ciabatta roll (Organic wheat flour, olive oil, water, yeast, sea salt).

I opted for pesto pasta salad as my side and unsweetened iced tea as my beverage. I tasted hints of mint in the pasta salad – it was unexpected and I ended up really liking it.

The Flower Farm Café outdoor seating had shaded areas under willow trees, umbrellas, shade sails and arbors with great views of the pond and garden areas. We chatted about it being a nice place for a bridal shower or birthday celebration. It was the perfect start to our fun day.

We left plenty of time to drive the less than 10 minutes to The Feathered Nest for our class.

We pulled up and immediately wanted to move in. Ha-ha! The building was incredible. I went into full-on blogger mode and walked through the parking lot getting different angles of the building. I half expected to see Joanna and Chip Gaines because of the style. 

As soon as we walked through the front doors, I new I was in trouble. I wanted to purchase everything in the store – from a new dining room table (metal and wood inlay) to gorgeous lamps and a replacement couch for our great room. Since robbing a bank or winning the lottery isn’t in my near future (that I know of) – I had to stick to drooling and snapping inspiration photos. I did find a rug and a really cool throw pillow, but I’m trying to curb my obsession with pillows and switching them out with every trip to HomeGoods or Crate and Barrel. My guest bed has seven pillows, it’s a decorator’s sickness and one I’m having a hard time finding the cure for. 

You can visit The Feathered Nest’s website to learn more about the beautiful store and how three girlfriends decided on making their vision into a reality. 

The Feathered Nest

Carolyn and I gave ourselves a sneak peak into the room our class would take place in – and WOW, the light from the huge windows was perfect. We were surrounded by vibrant colors from all of the flowers and fabric samples – man I would love a room like that in my future farm house. One can dream! The flowers were simply amazing and we were excited to get started. 

Once all twelve attendees arrived, Lisa from Happy Road Farm got started. She talked about how she left her corporate job as a writer – searching to find something that fit better with her family, her passion, and her need for a more flexible schedule. Her house is on an acre and she always felt at peace spending hours in her garden, her happy place. She decided, why not? She started growing more of the flowers she loved and over a year ago – Happy Road Farm was born. (Sounds easy, right? Ha-ha. You can tell it’s a labor of love and growing in a sustainable way, not using pesticides, etc., has been a huge learning process for Lisa and her family as she doesn’t have a farming background.) The farm is not open to the public, as it’s basically her backyard – but they do sell at the Placer Grown Loomis Farmers’ Market, which opens for the season this Thursday, July 12th, from 8am to noon in the Taylor’s Burger & Shake Shop parking lot at 3636 Taylor Road.

VillaSmith, High Hand and Newcastle Produce also have Happy Road Farm flowers on occasion – be sure to check out Happy Road Farm’s Facebook page or Instagram for updates and locations.

It was time to get started. Lisa explained the process using a bird metaphor… perfect for “The Feathered Nest”.

Build your nest: Create the base for your flower vessel. We used mason jars she picked up thrifting. She talked about using greenery – zucchini leaves,  grape leaves, frosted explosion, and different herbs for her nest. 

Let the bird fly: There are no rules. Pick a color scheme and start selecting flowers that speak to you and your personal vision.

Feather in cap: Choose a few show stoppers and carry out the color scheme in little places throughout.

Name that flower – paging Carolyn to the white courtesy phone! Does anyone know what the above flower is? Is it an Ombre Ball Dahlia? I missed jotting down the name.

The Floodlight Dahlia was beautiful – definitely a “feather in cap” type flower. 

Fluff your nest: Once you think you are done, grab a hold of your flowers and fluff them – creating more space in between the stems.

Happy Road Farm

Figuring out when you are done is the real challenge. With so many beautiful flowers in front of you, it’s hard to not keep fussing with the arrangement. “Do you think it still needs a little something, something?” was the theme at the table. 

I apparently think it’s fall with my color scheme, LOL. What can I say? My house is beige, cream, and other neutrals with plants and artwork adding pops of color. I can’t even say my pillow obsession has helped with pops of color as I’m drawn to neutrals and textures when it comes to those. 

I used Kangaroo Paw, Rosemary, Echinacea (with the petals removed – a fun tip from Lisa that I hadn’t thought of), Lisianthus, Strawflower, Zinnia, Celosia and Yarrow in my arrangement and I’m sure I missed a few others. I was trying to be in the moment and some of the names escaped me. I also thought to myself – oh, I’m sure Carolyn will know them all because she’s a big flower nerd. Yep, pretty much the truth. 

We had spools of ribbon and jute to choose from for our finishing touches. I ended up braiding my jute and I liked the way it turned out. 

We enjoyed some beverages and chatted with other attendees as we continued selecting flowers. The Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower & Rose Lemonade hit the spot. One of the girls said you can get it at World Market or Whole Foods. I did a little research and Walmart apparently has it too. I’ll for sure be on the lookout. See, see… I mentioned something else foodie in this post. It’s not all flowers. 

After we finished our masterpieces, Lisa invited us to take some extra flowers home for a second vase and we had fun picking those out too. I mostly grabbed more white Lisianthus, Yarrow and Frosted Explosion for my second arrangement. Look at us all cute and bridesmaidy-ish.

Lisa made an arrangement for The Feathered Nest staff to enjoy. She whipped that up in about 5 minutes. 

Image Source: Happy Road Farm Instagram

Such a fun group of ladies. We really enjoyed the class and are already looking forward to the Happy Road Farm Crown Making Class in the fall. Not sure on location for that – this was Lisa’s first class at The Feathered Nest. Also, I’m so sorry for blocking 3/4 of your face Carolyn… my bad. 

I am happy to report that my arrangements made it home safely thanks to Carolyn’s quick thinking and a handy granola bar box. 

Fresh flowers make me smile. Fresh “farm grown with love” flowers brighten my world. Thanks to The Feathered Nest for hosting the class and to Lisa at Happy Road Farm for teaching us things and supplying all of the beautiful flowers and to Carolyn for letting me know that I needed this in my life. 

Another adventure for the books/blog. Do you buy flowers for yourself and your home on the regular? What’s your favorite flower? 

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A day of Holocaust studies, human rights and Solomon’s Delicatessen

Today I took part in The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI) and Holocaust Educators Network Summer Satellite Workshop: Crossing Lines – Tools for Teaching Tough Topics. My colleague has been co-facilitating this workshop with another educator from Chico, CA for the past eight years and I’ve had the opportunity to be part of this engaging offering for teachers over several summers.

TOLI Banner

Each year brings new opportunities to connect with amazing educators who are passionate about teaching for social justice and providing students with an understanding of the common threads that connect the exclusion and forced removal of any group of people. Through the lens of the Holocaust, Japanese-American incarceration, the “Secret War in Laos,” and the recent Rwandan genocide, participants have the opportunity to examine the impact of “bystanders” and the power of “upstanders” to change the history of their communities and the world.


Our first day included our keynote: The History of Antisemitism: Rescuers, Perpetrators & Bystanders – Carol & Sam Edelman, co-directors, The Center for Excellence on the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights, and Tolerance.

Carol Edelman is a Professor of Sociology at California State University, Chico, and Sam Edelman is a retired Professor of Communications at CSUC. They have been teaching courses on the Holocaust and genocide since the mid 1980’s and Carol continues to offer these classes every semester. Together, they have raised over $700,000 for their center and have been running seminars and workshops all over California for teachers on the Holocaust and genocide.

Sharing cultures and heritage through food traditions and giving each other nourishment through enjoying a meal together is one of the most communal things we can do – worldwide.

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from the get-go.”- Anthony Bourdain

(It should be mentioned that I was completely gutted to hear the horrible news of  Anthony’s death… I  can’t even begin to estimate how many hours of his stories I’ve watched and re-watched on his various TV shows and online. He was real, he taught me so much about food and brought me to countries and cultures I will never experience in my lifetime. Thank you Anthony for loving food and for delivering your spirit and enthusiasm into my living room and life.)

Today we shared an amazing meal catered by Solomon’s Delicatessen. Educators had the opportunity to learn a little bit about the history of how Solomon’s came about, while filling their plates with items from the delicious “Newish Jewish” deli spread. 

Named after Tower Records founder, the late Russ Solomon, the deli’s menu pays homage to Russ and his legacy. No Music, No Life – became – No Bagels, No Life. Just like Tower Records once was, Solomon’s Delicatessen is a community gathering place where music and culture is celebrated and everyone is welcome. 

Solomon’s Deli opened in the Davis Commons shopping center at 500 First St., Davis, CA in May of this year. Their Sacramento flagship location is expected to open at 730 K St. later this year – they hit some delays with the city, but are plugging along. I’m SO looking forward to the K St. location and will be waiting in line with other supporters when they open their doors. 


Solomon's Deli

Solomon’s breads and bagels are made daily through their partnership with Grateful Bread Co. The Challah was soft and airy and I WILL be comparing all rye moving forward… to theirs. 

Solomon's Delicatessen

I’m not kidding, the sliced rye was really amazing – I loved the little kick at the end.

Solomon's Deli

The spread included pickles, pickled onion, smoked white fish salad, egg salad, sauerkraut and horseradish cream. I was told that the white fish salad was a must try… so I did and would definitely order that again.

Solomon's Deli

The salad combined greens, pickled onion, cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers and beets – man I love beets. We had a side conversation about beets and how my husband and other friends think they taste like dirt. Ha-ha – apparently there are a lot of beet haters out there – they must hangout with the Brussels sprouts haters on the corner of no sense of adventure and you obviously haven’t had them prepared correctly.

Solomon's Deli

The corned beef, and pastrami was out of this world. Best I’ve ever had… the smokiness of the pastrami will be etched into memory for a long time. A slice of that with the spicy mustard on rye – yes please!

Solomon's Deli

The roasted turkey paired great with the black salt bagels.

Solomon's Delicatessen Desserts

Solomon's Deli

While my brain was left with a million thoughts and questions swirling around after discussing such a horrific topic and time in history, my body and soul were nourished with tasty Jewish food, new friendships and important connections.

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Friendship, Flowers and Food

I never take the day off to celebrate my birthday – ever. In fact I don’t really take many days off, so this was something new and different… and I loved it.

My girlfriend Carolyn and I started our morning off with a trip to Starbucks for a free birthday drink. I’m boring – Venti iced green tea, no sweetener. I made up for it later in the day with delicious eats.

Amador Flower Farm Oak Tree and Daylily Gardens

Our first stop was the Amador Flower Farm in Plymouth, CA … to get a sneak peek at their daylilies.

The flower farm hosted their Daylily Days event this past weekend. Their website claims to have more than a million flowers in bloom and after spending an hour plus walking the grounds, I believe it. The weekend festivities invited guests to join the flower farm family for picnicking, demos, wandering, free tram ride tours, garden art artisans and more. I would consider attending next year, but it was nice to have the entire place to ourselves… minus staff running around prepping for the event.

The farm is 14 acres of serene beauty – it was so peaceful to chat with each other as we wandered along the paths and enjoyed the shade of the huge oak trees.

Calla lilies and hydrangeas are favorites of mine and they had plenty on the grounds.

I was tempted to buy a bunch of things but refrained and instead took away some great ideas. I’m seeing a few Bergenia ‘Sakura’ –  in my future. When researching online I learned that if you place a Bergenia leaf between your thumb and forefinger and rub, you are rewarded with a very realistic pig squeak – for real? Now I really want some. The leaves also turn a deep plum tone in the winter – which intrigues me. While the plants at the farm didn’t have any of the pink flowers, the ones online are very vibrant and would add a pop of color to one of my more shady areas of my backyard.

Our next stop was a quick drive through Fiddletown, population 235 – I did say, “quick” – I had never been and it was fun to see the historic buildings.

Sutter Creek was up next, the home of my favorite garden store, The Antique Gardener on Main Street. If I won the lottery and opened my own little shop, it would certainly have the same type of vibe as this place. Every time I visit, I pick up more decorating and yard decor ideas. My take away this trip is that I need to find a rusty/old metal watering can and wagon that doesn’t cost $50-100. Hey Paul… I also might need your vintage stove 🙂 – just kidding. 

We then hit up the Sutter Hotel for a little lunch break. The hubs and I have previously enjoyed several meals at the hotel and I really like the overall vibe of the place.

Sutter Hotel

I ordered the Wedge Salad (Baby gem iceberg lettuce, applewood smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes, and Point Reyes blue cheese) – it was perfect! Crunchy, creamy, and very refreshing on a hot day.

Carolyn ordered the Crab Louie Salad (Baby iceberg, cherry tomatoes, crab, shrimp, avocado, deviled egg and Thousand Island dressing)  – which she enjoyed as well.

After lunch we strolled through a few more antique shops and the Fine Eye Gallery where we both wanted to buy a bunch of stuff… but again, refrained. Go us!

The drive home found us stopping in at Meadowlands Restaurant in Sloughhouse for some cocktails and cake.

Pineapple mojitos and a piece of zucchini cake with candied orange…pure heaven. I could eat that cake all day long. Our server named off the desserts, they weren’t on a menu, so I don’t even know what the sauce was and never asked. We enjoyed the deck patio and watched the band set up for their evening performance. This picture below was from a previous visit where we enjoyed the outdoor patio and live music.

Thanks Carolyn for being my birthday buddy and planning a fun day!

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