Q: Courtney, welcome - again - to A News Cafe.com. I'm so glad you're here. We've already posted one of your blogs, and I hope everyone got a chance to read it. I think I've read every one of your blogs, and I am so impressed by not just the fact that you're a good writer, but you cover a wide range of topics. It helps that you wear so many hats. So, speaking of hats, how about if you start by telling a little about yourself.
Thank you Doni! I’m thrilled to join your team of talented writers. Here’s a little bit about me. Originally from Texas, I made my way out to California in the early ‘90s. I first moved to San Diego for three years, on to Los Angeles for 3 years, then San Francisco for 6 years, and finally Sonoma County. I found endless adventure migrating up the coast. Like Goldie Locks, I prefer the weather just right.
Life is funny, I didn’t plan on ending up in Wine Country, but I’ve lived here the longest I’ve lived anywhere my entire life. It’s a great place to raise a family, farm to table cuisine is at our fingertips and endless outdoor recreation abound.
Sonoma County is a geographical gem, the perfect place for a writer. I understand why Jack London settled here.
Q: You're a journalist with a passion for fashion, wine, food and travel.
My interest in the eclectic genres I write about stem from curiosity. As a young child, I dreamed of becoming a writer. You see, I love storytelling. I love sharing stories with people about the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. I remember once in 2nd grade, I said to a classmate, “You know Manhattan is an island, right?” The kid looked at me as if I were crazy and proceeded to argue his case. I simply smiled to myself and knew then, that I had to see the world for myself.
I became a classic foodie while living in San Francisco. Truth is, I became addicted to Micheal Mina’s tuna tartare at his famous premier restaurant, Aqua. A friend of mine dated the bartender, so he gave us the hook up. I love deconstructing ingredients in a dish. Aqua is where I consumed my first glass of Helen Turley wine. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
After that, I never looked back.
Q: I'd love to hear more about your blog. Great blog name, by the way. Clever. Because of your myriad interests, I'm sure you'll always have material. You are also a hairstylist. How have all those interests played out in your life? What inspired you to start it?
My desire to help and inform others is my inspiration. Ultimately, my intention is for readers to benefit somehow from my shared experiences and the research that goes along with writing a good article. I approach the platform more as a journalist than a blogger.
An artist by nature, I’m inspired by useful information. I love capturing beautiful moments and sharing those experiences with others, whether it be through writing or through photography.
A hairstylist moonlighting as a writer, I noticed so many people aren’t properly informed. Yes, we have Google, but even then, for some topics like travel, fashion, food, wine and hair, information can be quite intimate and overwhelming.
Hairstylists have a special relationship with their clients - almost like therapist. For years, I’ve shared valuable information with my clients about an array of subjects. Suddenly I realized, if I combine all the hot tips and useful info into one platform, my clients and readers will have a permanent reference.
Q: What's the best and worst parts about being a blogger?
It’s funny, I don’t really consider myself a blogger. I think more of myself as a writer sharing stories & experiences. I’ve always loved magazines. I was obsessed with them growing up. And now I have published articles in Sonoma Magazine, The Press Democrat, Rosa Roots, The Oak Leaf and my current blog/magazine Good to Know.
The best part about managing my own topics and writing for my readers directly is the freedom of choice. As a hairstylist, I am able to keep a finger on the pulse due to the wide demographic of my clientele. Other topics are inspired by whispers I hear through the grapevine.
I haven’t discovered a worst yet, but I would have to say time management can be quite a challenge.
Q: What are some of your favorite blogs?
http://bleubirdblog.com/ - James Kicinski-McCoy, aka Miss James, the author of Bleu Bird Blog is one of my favs. James is a she, and a mother of 4. She’s a great inspiration to me. I discovered her blog through a friend several years ago. A few things my friend, James and I have in common are: we all lived in Houston, Texas at one point during our lives, we’re mothers and all three of us want to make the world a better place for our children.
com/ - Fresh Off the Grid is a great go to blog because it incorporates food, travel with practical useful info.
ash Bhattacharya was voted by National Geographic as 2016’s travel blogger of the year. His blog is visually captivating and his budget travel tips are useful and insightful. I take a gander at his blog even before I check out Trip Advisor.
Q: I know when I have a visitor come to my neck of northern California for the first time, I have a list of must-sees, such as the Sundial Bridge, Whiskeytown Lake, Burney Falls, Shasta Dam, and the Sacramento River Trail, to name a few. What are your recommendations for first-time Sonoma County visitors?
Sonoma County is a special region with an eclectic variety of tourist options. The first stop all Sonoma County visitors should make is the train depot in RailRoad Square on Fourth Street. Not only can you take the SMART train from Downtown Santa Rosa to multiple locations in Sonoma and Marin County, you can pick up brochures, maps and wine tasting discounts at the California Welcome Center.
Sonoma County isn’t known just for wine anymore, we are rolling in the hops. Artisan beer has crafted its own accolade system. A Sonoma County phenomenon, Pliny the Younger and Pliny the Elder have developed a cult following. People gather from all over the world to stand in lines lasting more than 6 hours during the winter month of February just to get a taste at the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa on Fourth Street.
Santa Rosa heads the pack in craft beer with bragging rights of seven new breweries opening by fall 2017.
The perfect adult playground, Sonoma County boasts bays, rivers, oceans, lakes and plenty of hiking. Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville is a great place to enjoy the Russian River (wineries in route: Martinelli and Korbel). Bodega has stunning bay and ocean views with an incredible scenic drive out to Bodega Head. Lake Sonoma offers boat rentals for cruising or waterskiing (wineries in route: Wilson, Ferrari Carano and Sbragia).
Q: Can we talk about hair for a moment? What's the biggest mistake you see women make with their hair?
The biggest mistake I see women make with their hair is attempting to color or cut it themselves. Improper products are also a big mistake. The ingredient ‘sulfate’ is harmful to the health of the hair shaft. Sulfates are defined as a detergent meant to create suds. It strips the hair and, subsequently over time, damages hair porosity. Reading hair product labels for ingredients are just as important as reading food labels.
How about men?
For men, the two biggest mistakes are - the combover or long and stringy. If the hair has receded to the point of needing a combover, then it’s time to shave it all off and embrace the bald look. As for long and stringy, this look isn’t good on women so it certainly isn’t a good look for men.
Q: Have you ever given unsolicited hair advice to a stranger?
I have never given unsolicited hair advice to a stranger, but I have offered my card to a stranger and offered to do their hair for free the first time. More often than not, people check out my website, view my portfolio, make an appointment and become loyal clients. My stylist motto is “Make the world a more beautiful place one head of hair at a time.”
Q: You have a daughter. What advice have you given her that you wish someone had given you as a kid?
This is a tough question to answer because my daughter is currently 13. I feel like every day (and sometimes several times a day) there are times I wish someone had taken the time to share tidbits of wisdom with me. Metaphors help my daughter understand the value of a lesson.
Here’s my favorite - “Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important and capture the good times. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t turn out, take another shot.”
Q: You write about food, too. Are there any dishes that you consider a litmus test of sorts to determine the quality of a restaurant? For me it's scrambled eggs and French onion soup, not in the same meal, of course. And at the risk of sounding like a snob, I'll admit I give extra points if the wait staff can correctly pronounce bruschetta.
This is my favorite question! I feel like you totally get me 🙂 I’m right there with you about the French onion soup. If it’s on the menu, I order it. Other go to’s include tuna tartare, Caprese salad, Caesar salad and creme brûlée.
Q: What might some people be surprised to learn about you?
People may be surprised to know that I was a flight attendant during my ‘20s for 10 years. I’ve always had the travel bug so that chapter of my life opened the flood gates.
Q: What's your dream job?
My dream job is to be an editor of a major national magazine.