Friday, August 17, 2012

Behind the Redwood Curtain II

I'm finally getting to Part II of our trip up to the top of California, Humboldt County. If you read Part I,  you got to see all the primeval Redwood forests and more we visited. This part is all about where we stay and other fun landmarks...

This yard is part of the amazing Redwood retreat we get to call home when we are in Humboldt visiting Max's family. This house belongs to Marguerite, or Muffy as she's known. She's Max's step-mom and like a mom and grandma to us all. Max's dad died many years ago and they bought this home together. She welcomes us all to stay at here at this resort that she calls home and be spoiled. Included in this group besides our four is Max's sister Amara, her husband Brian and Max's mom Fay, who lives in nearby Eureka. We all takeover Marguerite's home and she lets us run amok! 

As you can tell her home is beloved by many. Including dogs like Josie and Bella who love to pay fetch a million times and relax...

Marguerite in her custom designed gourmet kitchen, where she is always cooking up amazing food.

We all pitch in and assist with some fabulous meals she makes. We hang out on her bar and have our morning tea and coffee while she cooks us up stuff like this:

The day before we left she made a new blueberry scone recipe from Cook's Illustrated here. I have never seen scones made this way and wow!

Did I mention she got the berries from her backyard? Arcata, where she lives has the perfect climate for growing berries.  To say it's lush, is an understatement!

Behind this tangle of vines and roses, there is an old growth redwood tree trunk that was supposed to be made into a hot tub by Max's Dad before he died. It's back there somewhere.

If you forget to trim for a bit, things can get a bit Amazonian...Nothing a few grandsons can't fix. Yes, they are happy to use machetes! Oh yes, it's all very safe they kept telling me.

           Guess we won't be playing ping-pong today. When vines attack!

Hey look what we unearthed...

There is just so much loveliness in this yard. Plus fruit! 

Marguerite and I like to hang out on the patio and look at recipe books. We were loving this recipe here in a cookbook we found at Los Gatos's Happy Dragon thrift shop. So sorry I don't have the original credit, but you can zoom in on this... Doesn't it look yummy?

Everyone else likes to just relax out while the sun shines. She lives in Sunnybrae, a part of Arcata that is a bit more inland and gets more sun than most parts up there.

Petting large dogs who think they are puppies...

Max and his mom, Fay.

Max's sis Amara and Grif.

We cook some more.

                                                    Piano by Griffin.

                                                 Dishes by Josie! ;P

I just love Marguerite's cooking library she has which is adjacent to the kitchen. Love to have that someday. It's fun to browse all her books!

Her home is filled with things from her travels. I love her shell collection from many of her dive trips around the world with Max's dad.

She also has souvenirs from trips to so many far-flung locations. Her most recent was Myanmar and Cambodia with her boyfriend Bill. Did I mention she's a high school teacher too? She just won an award last year for all she does to help students in need. She also founded the Vance Cafe in Eureka last year a non-profit place to help special needs kids get work experience. I don't know how she does it all!

Anyway, no trip to Muffy's would be complete without shopping and Amara and I were anxious to get to a Humboldt institution, Holly Yashi. This store is so fun. They have gorgeous jewelry made on site in their workrooms. They also sell lovely home decor and accessories and greet you with an espresso drink at the door if you wish. They had me at cappuccino!  Do not miss this stop if you are up here!

The men were happy with the coffee and some kind of yummy Beligian cookies and spread they sell called called Biscoff. We all bought a jar of the spread.
 Sooo good!

       There were all kinds of darling shops in downtown Arcata like this garden stop, Eden.

My personal favorite is The Garden Gate. I could spend days in here. The selection of merchandise is clearly chosen by someone with fantastic taste. From garden tools and pots to divine umbrellas, books, toys and jewelry, and handbags -it's all covetable!

I want these cups!    

And this book about Normandy!  

I have an umbrella obsession and finding full size beautifully made ones like these is rare.

Some folks found the yard furniture section near the books..


Arcata also boasts some deeply groovy shops...

Unfortunately, Funk Shui was closed when I was there! It could have been an experience. :)

Arcata is just cute with bits like this roundabout with tiles and pretty plants.


                                           And speaking of cute, I thought this was quite...

And no trip would be complete to this area without a stop at Los Bagels. With locations in both Eureka and Arcata, this landmark produces some of the best bagels you have ever had. The slug, (looking like you would presume), is one of their signature bagels. They also serve Larrupin sauce which is another Humboldt specialty, a kind of mustardy spread. I personally like the Eureka location below. The art inside is quite fun.

While Arcata is a evolving and hopping college town with a main square, Eureka is a small version of San Francisco, with it's hills and Victorian lined downtown. It's very charming and fun to wander through. I always like to check out the resale store HollyGoLightly. It's got the cutest selection of vintage dresses. Eureka below.


I hate heading home. I really like the slower pace of this whole area. It's a bit like being in another space/time continuum.

On the way back down 101, you'll encounter many burl shops along the way. They can do anything with those logs. Check out this burl (the knotty growth of a tree) fountain. Watch out Bellagio!

How about a nice surfing bear for your beach house? Just to make the neighbors jealous? :)

                                               There's an awful lot of these too.

Here's to hoping what's behind the Redwood Curtain stays that way.  The less discovered, the better!



All photos property of Northern California Style 2012. 


  1. Wow! Looks like a great trip. I love that area of California. Have you ever been to Ferndale? It's such a cute little town...smaller than Arcata, I think. But full of colorful Victorian homes.

    I think Muffy sounds delightful and she seems like a very giving soul. So great that you all stayed family even after your father-in-law passed. As a stepmother, I like to hear things like that.

    Thanks for all the great photos. I had no idea there was a big Holly Yashi shop up there...their things are so cute!
    xo, A

    1. Love Ferndale! Another great post for next time we visit. Yes, we are so lucky to have Muffy. She is truly an angel and we are so grateful to have her in our lives. Thanks to her, we are all together and close.

      You know Holly Yashi? You would love the big barn they have up there!


  2. I am pretty sure I'd love Arcata and Eureka and those Blueberry scones:)

    1. Dear Paul, You would love it. So many fun things plus scones!!


  3. Lovely post and fabulous photos! I love the blueberry scones and oh to have a cookbook library!! Hope you have a lovely weekend:)

    1. Anne, Trying to see how I could build a library myself!
      Thanks so much.


  4. Very interesting post. It's always great to learn new places. It is also always precious and fun to spend time with family. Nothing beats that. Those scones must be delicious. They live in a pretty town. Thanks for sharing this wonderful time you spent with family. Have a great weekend.

  5. Wonderful post Kim, your travel posts are fantastic! Muffy sounds like our friend's aunt -- she lives two blocks down from our friends' house, just retired as a teacher this year (must be those teacher kinds!), helps out with the kids and loves to travel. I think she's been somewhere like 30-40 countries, some places multiple times and goes somewhere new every year that most people have never heard of. By herself. Loves to cook and comes to all family events. Real heart of gold.

    1. They do sound alike. Love people like that. I always aspire to become that kind of person who has a home like that and travels the world too!

  6. I really enjoyed this post and what I have read so far on your blog!

  7. Goodness! So much to comment on here! Well.. First, I must visit in order to try those scones ~ with fresh blueberries! YUM! Those redwoods get me every time.. such a marvel they are. Beautiful country and shopping! Thanks for sharing the family photos :)


    1. Thanks Leslie! Those scones are sooo good. That's one of my real weaknesses! :(

  8. What a lovely pic of your hubs and his Mum and how lucky are yo to be treated with all those goodies, I love it when someone else cooks for me, everything tastes so much better

  9. Thanks for sharing your adventures and these wonderful photos. You find the best places! xoxo