Tag Archives: Cambria

DIY: Cambria-Inspired Driftwood Necklace


I love driftwood – pieces that have been stripped of their bark and worn smooth by the sea.  This necklace’s foundation consists of two such pieces of driftwood – pieces I gathered on the beach in Cambria.  Cambria is a town on California’s central coast, and its slogan is “Pines by the Sea.”  It’s a charming, small town that combines a unique mountainy feel with that of a beachside community and I love it.  It’s my home away from home.

Not only does Cambria have pines and lots of driftwood, it’s also home to many deer.  I’m always entranced when I catch sight of them, and some of the gift-related stores in town feature antlers in one form or another.  And while I love these antlers and love the town they bring to my mind, I don’t want to have a real rack of antlers hanging about since I couldn’t be sure if they were obtained in a Bambi-friendly way.  They also don’t quite go with the decor here at home in Southern California.  :]

So, I love this necklace for two reasons.  Not only does it remind me of Cambria because that’s where I plucked the driftwood from the beach, but also because these two pieces of wood look a bit like antlers to me.  This simple and inexpensive statement necklace is a fun and animal-friendly way to embrace Cambria and some of the town’s natural beauty.

I’ve opted to keep this necklace very simple and natural, but there are many ways you could enhance this DIY jewelry project.  Whether you paint or burn designs into the wood, add beads and charms to your design, or even add more pieces of wood, the sky’s the limit!  It’s all a matter of personal preference.



Driftwood – 2 small pieces
Fine sanding block or sand paper
Thick/sturdy pin, very thin nail, or something similar to poke holes into the wood
Epoxy (I used Devcon 5 Minute Epoxy)
Thin wire (I used 32 guage)
2 screw eyes: #216 – 1/2″
Silver chain (my chain measures 22″ long)
2 jump rings (optional)



  1. Sand any rough, scratchy edges with a fine sanding block or sand paper
  2. Decide how you’d like your wood pieces to lay out and where you’ll join the two pieces
  3. Poke or drill a hole through the two pieces of driftwood – work slowly and carefully to avoid splitting the wood
  4. Apply epoxy to the appropriate spot of the bottom piece of wood, then insert the stick pin through the holes in both pieces of wood, to ensure they’re properly aligned while the epoxy sets
  5. Sand any extra epoxy from around the place where your two wood pieces are joined after the pieces have set
  6. Thread your wire down between the two pieces and out the bottom. Wrap the wire around the two pieces to bind them in a way that appeals you and twist the ends together at the back when you’re done.  Trim wire ends.
  7. Attach screw eyes to the back of the tops of the two wood pieces – one on either side.  (You may find it easier to first start each hole with a push pin, as I did)  You’ll need to screw them at an angle, so they lay flatter to the surface of the wood instead of being completely perpendicular
  8. Attach your chain of choice to the screw eyes with jump rings, or attach your chain directly to to the screw eye as I did – by opening the screw eye with pliers, slipping on the chain, and then closing up the screw eye.


What Do You Think?

I’m thinking about adding a small piece of soft sea glass to the bottom of this piece.  It would hang off the end where the two pieces of wood are wrapped together with wire.  What do you think?  Should I add a piece of glass, or leave it as is?

I’m hoping this post will inspire you to create something with materials you’ve gathered from a favorite place.  Whether you use wood, stones, shells, or something else entirely, inspiration is all around! Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers.

Warm regards,

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Monterey Bay Aquarium & An Elephant Seal Rookery

As I mentioned in a post last week I was on vacation – taking in the beauty of California’s Central Coast.  I stayed in Cambria for a week, and was lucky enough to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium during my stay.  What an incredible facility!  The exhibits were amazing, and the volunteers and staff were both friendly and helpful.  If you’re going to be in the area, and have a chance to take it in, I’d definitely recommend it.

The Kelp Forest was magical. Seaweed stretched from the “sea floor” to the surface of the water, and the exhibit was teeming with sea life.  From starfish and sea cucumbers to leopard sharks – and oodles of fishies in between – there was so much to see.  It was so lovely I could’ve stayed at this exhibit for hours, but finally had to move on.




I think of anchovies as being itty-bitty things, but these silvery beauties were around 4 inches long.  They swam round and round, and opened their mouths wide from time to time – which was both funny and kinda scary looking all at the same time!



The jellyfish exhibit was another of my favorites – I could’ve lingered there for hours. SO lovely!



I enjoyed the other exhibits, too, which allowed me to see things like anemones, sea horses, and other sea life and plants up close.




In addition to the aquarium, I was also lucky enough to visit the Elephant Seal Rookery near San Simeon, CA.  Though most of the thousands of seals that birth and mate yearly on this beach had already headed back out to sea for their annual trip north to the Aleutian Islands, I was able to see many of the weaned “babies” (they weren’t so little!) and a dozen or so of the large male seals.  It was such a treat to see these creatures sunning themselves on the beach!




In addition to drinking in the sun, the seals also made frequent “raspberry” sounds and occasional barking/crying sounds.  Another of their favorite past times is using their flippers, which have “fingernails” on them, to scratch and to flip damp sand up onto their bodies.  The sand helps keep them cooler in the baking sun…




One more photo: this was taken on the bluffs in Cambria, not far from Lodge Hill.


I went for a walk with my Cambria hosts, and we saw so many wonderful things!  In addition to the gorgeous ocean view overall, we saw seals, pelicans, dolphins and sea otters!  I was super excited, and actually jumped up and down while watching the dolphins.  Seeing and hearing the otters crack-crack-cracking their food open on their chests made me giddy, too.  Yep, I’m definitely a nature lover!

We also went whale watching, and saw at least four whales, but the sea was rolling our boat around so much that I was more focused on not falling over the rail than taking great photos!  Please feel free to comment and share some of your aquarium or sea life viewing adventures, dear readers…

Warm regards,

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Haiku: Cambria


Days in Cambria:
relaxed, quiet, beautiful.
Love that it’s tranquil…

I’m currently on my second annual week-long retreat in this magical spot along California’s Central Coast.  (Thank you for your hospitality, T.E.L!)  I’ll drive home to hubby and the bunnies this weekend, and will return to blogging from Southern California next week.  In the meantime, I’m wishing you a relaxed, quiet and beautiful weekend…

Warm regards,

Posted in art, haiku, life in general, nature, photography, poetry, travel | 2 Comments

My Week in Cambria, California


As you may recall, I spent a week in Cambria last month.  After a crazy and stressful start to the year it was a much-needed break, and I’m so thankful I was able to recharge my batteries in such a beautiful place.  Though I really just needed some down time, I was also very productive creatively.  I completed three art projects, redlined my novel draft, took tons of photos, and enjoyed some local attractions.  Nice!

If you’re not familiar with Cambria, it’s a small coastal town in Central California.  North of San Luis Obispo and south of Monterey, Cambria’s slogan “Pines by the Sea” is very appropriate.  The scenery is gorgeous, and pine trees do abound.  The scenery in and around Cambria is an incredibly beautiful combination of mountain, country, and beach-y elements.  It’s heavenly!

Cambria is a quiet town with population under 7,000, so if you’re into nightlife and a fast-paced vibe you’ll need to go elsewhere.  However, if you’re looking to relax, slow down, and enjoy a gorgeous piece of California, Cambria is for you.  Cambria may be a two-day destination for many, but if you’re an artist or a nature lover, the way I am, you’ll be able to pass a happy week – or more – in this charming town.

The Beach

I went to the beach nearly every day, and took photos as far north as San Simeon Cove. Moonstone Beach is my favorite, though.  With gorgeous beaches and wildlife (I saw birds, seals, and ground squirrels), it’s a real treat.  I made sure to visit Moonstone Beach for a sunset, and wasn’t disappointed.  It was stunning! (The photo at the very top of this post was taken at Moonstone Beach)


San Simeon Cove



San Simeon Pier



Rock formations at Moonstone Beach



Sunset at Moonstone Beach



Cambria is full of darling shops, and makes for a great day or two of shopping if you’re interested in some retail therapy.  Some of the stores I shopped at included:

Red Moose Cookie Company – Yum! Their “Cinnful” cookies and “Naughty Rods” are particularly fabulous.  I also liked and purchased the “Oh Joy” cookies.

A Matter of Taste – a great store for foodies

All the antique stores in town! I found two great vintage photos, including one of an incredibly dirty and rumpled little girl.  Most of the people in old-time portraits look carefully primped and dressed, so she piqued my interest.  Price? $1, so I had to adopt her!

*Bonus shopping experience: I was lucky enough to be in town for the big, twice-yearly thrift store event put on by Community Presbyterian Church, and got a bag full of art supplies (and two framed pieces of art) for $13 – major score!  Some of the things I bought (like fabric squares & playing cards) will be included in the art supply kits for this fall’s art journaling class.  I think finding inexpensive supplies for my students made me happiest of all!



There are several great places to eat in Cambria, but two of my favorites are definitely Robin’s and the Sea Chest Oyster Bar & Restaurant.

Robin’s Salmon Bisque is scrumptious, and so was the garlic bread and Lemon Poppyseed Cheesecake.


When I went to the Sea Chest for dinner I had some oysters, calamari (the best calamari I’ve ever had – the Sea Chest is the only place I’ll eat calamari), and garlic bread.  So good!




In addition to the wildlife along the coast, I saw horses and cows (in the hills outside town), deer, a wild turkey, tree squirrels, woodpeckers and egrets.  Though I live in the city I think I’m a country girl at heart, so seeing all these critters was a real treat for me!  Many of the trees in Cambria were draped with a soft green moss, and I was bewitched by the sight.


A ground squirrel at Moonstone Beach



A flower I photographed at the local nursery



One of the moss-draped trees


Hearst Castle

I didn’t go to Heart Castle during this visit, but fondly remember my visit in 1998 and definitely recommend a visit. I hope to get there again on a future visit, as there are different tours and hubby and I only saw a small little bit of the property.

I did see some of the Hearst’s “residents” on this trip, though – I saw five zebras on the Hearst acreage as I zoomed past on Highway 1.  What beautiful animals…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at some of my photos from Cambria.  Please let me know if you have any questions – at present I personally answer each and every comment posted and would be happy to hear from you.

Warm regards,

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April Giveaway: 6 books by award-winning author Catherine Ryan Hyde!


I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine Ryan Hyde in person last week.  You know, the incredibly talented author who’s written and published 15 books, including the world-changing novel Pay It Forward.  I became friends with Catherine through Twitter and Facebook, and interviewed her on the topic of rewriting and draft revision.  (You can read that interview here.)  Catherine lives in Cambria, CA, and since I was in Cambria last week, I suggest a meet up.  It was wonderful to meet her – and her canine sidekick, Ella – in person!

Literary Goodies for My Readers!

Catherine was kind enough to give me copies of some of her books for a giveaway here on my blog.  Thank you, Catherine!  These are the titles included in the giveaway:

Chasing Windmills
Electric God
Walter’s Purple Heart
Funerals for Horses
Love in the Present Tense
Earthquake Weather
(short story collection)

All six of these hardcover books have been signed by Catherine Ryan Hyde – even better!


Giveaway Details – How to Enter


Three books will be given away to folks on my blog’s subscriber list, so please subscribe today if you’re not already signed up!  It’s quick and easy to subscribe – and you’ll be eligible for all my future subscriber-only drawings.

The other three books will be given to folks who email me via my website’s contact page.  That means that folks following my blog via an RSS reader instead of a subscription can get in on the fun too, as well as folks who follow me on Twitter or just happen to stumble upon my site.

It also means that folks who subscribe AND send me an email via the contact page have an even better chance of winning!  One email/contact page entry per person, please.  Multiple contact page entries won’t increase your odds of winning – only the combination of an active subscription and one contact page entry will.

The drawing is on April 26th!

I’ll be drawing six names on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, so be sure to enter by Monday April 25, 2011.  Good luck, everyone!

Big thanks – again – to Catherine Ryan Hyde.  It was a pleasure to meet you in person, and it’s such a treat to be able to share these books with my readers!

Warm regards,

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