Roberts Christmas Tree Farm (Pollock Pines, CA)

Roberts Tree Farms

It’s been a while since we got a real tree around here. I don’t like to admit this. We have been using the same fakie tree we bought for $12.99 on sale two days before Christmas the first year we lived together back in our first house in Davis, CA. Since then, every year we talk about going up to the mountains to cut down a tree. Then every year as we pull out our boxes and boxes of decorations we see the tree we bought, that first year and our emotions take over and we carefully assemble it again and promise that this is the last year we use it. That we have to move on from our tattered dust covered version of Christmas past.

This year we spent Thanksgiving in San Diego and when we got home I promised my tots we would head out to get a tree the first free day we had. On Friday, Benjamin came home and begged me to put up our old tree. I hesitate. I resisted then I totally caved and decided to set it up in our family room, reserving our formal living room for the tree we were going to cut down this year. (more…)

Colwell Thundering Herd Ranch. Mandarin Farm. (Penryn, CA)

Colwell Thundering Herd Ranch Mandarins

Just before Thanksgiving break a friend and I took one of my tots and hit the country roads from Loomis to Penryn in the Northern California foothills. This area is part of the Mountain Mandarin growing region and has some of the best mandarins we have tried, grown along sleepy country roads. We didn’t know exactly where we were going. We just had a map and drove around for hours exploring this countryside which was completely new to us.

We saw the driveway to Colwell Ranch and couldn’t tell if it was open. It was a Tuesday morning and the roads were quiet so we decided to drive in to make sure. The ranch was open and we were immediately chatting with the friendly family members that own the place. We even got introduced to one of the youngest generation of farmers on this land, a tot on a push toy being entertained by his grandma, ranch co-owner, Nancy Colwell. (more…)

Northern California Cut Your Own Tree Farms (Northern CA)

Farm 9

One of the best times to live in the foothills outside Sacramento, CA is during the holiday season.  It’s icy cold outside and seems like we are in the mountains and there are tree farms everywhere.  Tree farms can be found in many counties in the area and we are fortunate enough to have some less than 30 minutes away.  Since we were away for the break last week we are going to cut down our tree this weekend.

We wanted to share a comprehensive list of where to cut down your own Christmas tree in Northern California.  The tree farms listed are open this 2015 season.  If you have a favorite to share we would love to hear more about it.  Comment and tell us your favorite tree farm or tradition. (more…)

Struble Ranch. Mountain Mandarin Farm Visit (Loomis, CA)

Mountain Mandarins at Struble RanchYesterday I walked outside with our puppy in the mid afternoon and it was cold. Really cold. Now cold is a relative term since here in California I realize, only for us here in the Sacramento foothills, a 40 degree day is a sign that the seasons have changed. The icy wind whipped up the valley and I knew it must be mandarin harvest time. Mandarin harvest in the Sacramento area foothills usually begins in early to mid November and continues through December. The warm days and cool nights in Penryn, Newcastle, Loomis, Lincoln and Auburn make the area a perfect place to grow sweet, juicy, seedless mandarins. The mandarins there are tree-ripened and hand-picked to ensure they are perfecty ripe and ready to eat.

I wanted to visit a farm we haven’t been to before and a friend recommended Struble Ranch and said her family has been buying mandarins from them for generations. Turns out the Loomis, CA mandarin farm has been in the Struble family since 1918 and was planted in 1956. In 1961 the Struble boys sold their first mandarins from paper bags out of their garage and they continue this tradition today. (more…)

Fog Willow Farms. (Wilton, CA)

Fog Willow Farms

Last year we were exploring new farms around Elk Grove, CA and found Fog Willow Farms hidden along a country route. The farm is located just outside Sacramento and takes only about 20 minutes from downtown Sacramento and Folsom to get to. It’s in a gorgeous rural community off the lazy Consumnes River that seems hidden away from the hustle of the city. (more…)

Guest Post. Hither & Thither. 10 Farms to Get Closer to Agriculture.

Apple Hill Farm

Today I am featured over on Hither & Thither a blog written by a local mom, Ashley Muir Bruhn. Ashley asked me to write a local guide for her so I wrote a guide titled, Ten Farms to Get Closer to Agriculture in Apple Hill (Camino, CA).

I started reading Ashley’s writing this summer after she found me on my Instagram and I have had fun reading her lifestyle and travel blog since then. She features many of the same restaurants and getaways that are our favorites too.

Head over to her blog to access my guide. Apple season is wrapping up here in Northern California so it’s the perfect time to plan a trip. I always tell friends to try to visit Apple Hill midweek since weekend crowds make traffic and parking extremely difficult and the farms become so overrun with tourists that the experience is not ideal. (more…)

Best of Apple Hill 2015. Best Pie. Apple Pantry Farm (Camino, CA)

Apple Pie in Apple Hill

Apple Hill, the apple growing region just outside of Sacramento boasts over 50 farms growing local apples and offering visitors experiences of all types. Located just off Highway 50 on the way to South Lake Tahoe, Apple Hill is the perfect diversion for tourists and locals. Most apple farms in the area serve up homemade style apple pies during peak apple season. We asked around and tried our share of pies and found our favorite this apple season.

Apple Pantry Farm is in it’s 12th season and has been providing a quaint picturesque stop to guests to try their homemade style pies served up with creamy vanilla ice cream. The farm is located on Hidden Valley Road a country road off the beaten trail and tourists thin out here and the pace immediately slows down. During our visit on a Friday during peak season, tourists were arriving by busload at the more crowded farms and this one we had the whole place to ourselves for part of our visit. (more…)

Watch. History of Apples in El Dorado County. (Apple Hill, CA)

HIstory of Apples In El Dorado County

We spend so many weekends in El Dorado County’s gorgeous apple growing region of Apple Hill, CA. See how this region started with a video produced by El Dorado County Ag in the Classroom. We even saw some adorable cameos by my tots’ friends from the area which made this video even more endearing.

I learned that El Dorado County’s number one commodity is apples! Since this is our home it was fun to learn that a snack my tots eat daily contributes to the success of farmers in our area.

Best of Apple Hill 2015. Best Attraction. El Dorado Orchards (Camino, CA)

El Dorado Orchards Train

El Dorado Orchards has been a favorite attraction of our tots for three years now. The train ride is one of our annual stops and this year was no exception. We usually visit this farm on our way out of Apple Hill. It is a quick stop with lots of parking and a perfect last activity before heading home for naps. The train costs $3.50 and the ticket booth takes cash and credit. The ride takes about five minutes and makes a lazy loop around a scenic pond, through apple orchards and berries.

The farm offers visitors craft booths, food, apples, juice, baked goods and picnic tables. This year they featured Boa Vista apples, juices, dougnuts and bakery selections and caramel apples. Boa Vista apples are some of our favorite so we purchased juice and caramel apples this trip. (more…)