Remembering in Santa Monica

Hello from Los Angeles!


That picture almost looks fake, it’s so pretty, doesn’t it?! I took it in Santa Monica from the pier yesterday, where I was lucky enough to spend the day with this lovely lady :)


That would be my beautiful cousin, Willow.


Those of you that are longtime readers will remember that I came to visit her here in January, as well as my cousin Derek, who very sadly passed away in August from colon cancer. It’s still kind of hard to believe that I’m here and I won’t be able to see him. Willow is Derek’s sister, and we were talking about how sometimes it just kind of feels like he’s on vacation. Willow has had a lot to deal with in life and is handling it very gracefully… I’m proud of her. :)

Anyway — Derek was actually a Santa Monica police officer, and the family spread his ashes in the water exactly a mile out from the end of the Santa Monica pier. Willow brought me there yesterday so I could see and say hi to Derek. :) It is a beautiful spot for him to rest.



Willow and I had a great day filled with laughter, fun photography, and reminiscing about Derek. Enjoy the photos :)

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Can you tell Willow used to be a ballerina? I thought this photo was amazingly powerful.


I was much less graceful ;) But what can I say — the beach just makes me want to frolic, I love it so much! I find the water to be so calming. I think I need to live near the beach at some point in my life :)







And now — for the real reason I’m here in Los Angeles — the first ever Dole Nutrition and Wellness Blogger Summit! The event officially kicked off last night with a cocktail hour and dinner, and today is the main event, so stay tuned for some fun posts. Basically, Dole is giving me and a select group of fellow food and health bloggers (there’s 20 of us here) a behind-the-scenes look into the world of Dole! We’ll be:

  • Learning firsthand about Dole’s nutrition research and the latest food, nutrition, and wellness trends.
  • Getting a sneak peek from the Dole Test Kitchens about some of their upcoming product releases.
  • Viewing demos from Dole Fresh Fruit, Dole Fresh Vegetables and Dole Packaged Foods.
  • Having an “iron chef” style healthy dinner cooking competition at the California Health and Longevity Institute.
  • and much more!

I’m so excited and honored to be here, particularly because something like this is perfect for me, considering I’m currently working toward becoming a Registered Dietitian and very passionate about improving the nutrition and eating habits of the population as a whole. I can’t wait to share today with all of you! Stay tuned :)

~ ~ ~

Disclaimer: While Dole has paid for my airfare and accommodations for this trip, anything I write on this blog is, as always, my opinion and mine alone.


  1. 1

    What a special way to honor Derek, Anne. Those pictures are fantastic and Willow definitely looks graceful in the ballerina jump.

    The Dole conference sounds really cool too. I can’t wait to hear more!

  2. 2

    Beautiful photos and a wonderful way to honor your cousin.

    Santa Monica is an absolutely wonderful place to visit. Of all of L.A. I think its the most “Californian” place – with the boardwalk, beach, and lovely palm trees. Can’t wait to see what else you capture.

  3. 3

    You’ve outdone yourself with the quality of these gorgeous photos!!!

    Enjoy your time in California.

  4. 4

    Your cousin is so beautiful just like you! Enjoy your time at Dole!

  5. 5

    That ballerina photo is very powerful, I agree! It makes me think of surrendering to life.

  6. 6

    My random Santa Monica story: I was in LA a few years back with a group and we saw MC Hammer filming a music video at the beach.

  7. 9

    I am going to be a total Debbie Downer here but can you talk to them about exploiting their workers on the plantations? Banana harvesting is a very dangerous occupation and Dole is not so nice to its laborers or the environment. Just a different take, nothing aginst you or your blog (I read it every day!).

  8. 10

    Wow, neat photos — and Willow’s gorgeous, as are the photos. Nice of you to say hi to Derek. Have fun!

  9. 11

    Ah, I knew it was California. You are so lucky to be there now and with your wonderful cousin. Enjoy!!

  10. 12

    What a special day! So glad you got to spend time with your cousin and the photos are amazing.

    Enjoy the rest of your time. Excited to read your updates about the Dole Summit!

  11. 13

    Oh my gosh, Anne, those are some BEAUTIFUL photos! I was at the Pier last December for the Rose Bowl festivities ( I went to and work at the university of oregon). Unfortunately, the weather at that time of year was much worse than this and it was dark and drizzly when I visited. I love the beach. Have fun!

  12. 14

    That picture of Willow is beautiful!!

  13. 15

    What an exciting experience!

    I love the Santa Monica Pier! Your cousin is gorgeous!

  14. 16

    OMG. What a gorgeous gorgeous photo shoot!!

  15. 17

    Looks beautiful, glad you were able to see Willow :)

  16. 18

    That photo of your cousin doing that ballet move is awesome. I love it. It’s like she’s dancing for him. Beautiful.

  17. 19

    That picture of her jumping is GORGEOUS! So are all the others, but you’re right that there is something special about that one.

  18. 20

    The pictures are amazing! Really beautiful :) Have fun in Cali! I’m excited to hear more about your trip.

  19. 21

    im so sorry about your cousin. i live in santa monica. im glad you were enjoying the city, even if your memories werent the happiest. it seems your celebration of his life is the best way to honor him.

  20. 22

    Beautiful pics! I *need* to live near water–lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and/or the ocean! I think it is from growing up in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (a.k.a. Minnesota)!

  21. 23

    You look plenty graceful to me! What a beautiful day you had :)

  22. 24

    I remember your reunion with your cousins last January. No one is ever guaranteed tomorrow and it is always sad when someone so young dies. His memory will be here for as long as his family tells his story. Have fun and your pictures are beautiful and the seascape would be beautiful on the wall behind your sofa.

  23. 26

    I just found your blog & I am super excited to start following along! You seem like a go-getter and tons of fun! I was just out in Santa Monica last’s truely gorgeous–glad you’re enjoying it!

  24. 27

    Wow – you can totally tell she was a dancer – what a beautiful picture! All of them are beautiful actually…

  25. 28

    Amazing photos! Have fun in Cali and with Dole! Sounds like it will be a fun experience! :)

  26. 29

    Love the pictures! They are gorgeous.

  27. 30

    That is so cool! I was so envious of your Stonyfield trip – this one seems equally amazing! Have fun!

  28. 31

    What a neat trip. Enjoy — and tell us all about it, pls! Look fwd to ur next post.

  29. 32

    Love how your family can visit the Ocean to say hi to your cousin Derek. That’s very sweet.
    Hope you had fun, can’t wait to read about the summit :)

  30. 33

    So… your cousin might be a better dancer… just sayin’. But you photographs are beautiful and what and awesome way to remember Derek!

  31. 34

    Wow, gorgeous!!! Glad you got to come out and say hello to Derek! Have a blast with the trip!!!!!!!!

  32. 35

    oh how fun Anne. Welcome to L.A. :)

    It’s seems to cold right now for me but the pictures at the beach looks gorgeous, almost summer like.

  33. 36

    Thanks for you remembrance of Derek. I know that he ADORED you – he said
    you were “one of us” in that creepy zombie voice – and he was right! You and
    Willow are both in some great shots, but the BEST is your photo of Willow leaping – amazing.

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