You Should Go to Sonoma for Sunset Celebration Weekend

Spoiler alert: After my ramblings I will give you a buy one, get one free code for Sunset Celebration Weekend 2017 in Sonoma.

Ever since moving back to California, I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with Sunset Magazine. Its garden layouts and home features are my wish book. I’ve used more than one travel piece as inspiration for trips. I basically want to live inside Sunset Magazine.

For today, I contented myself with being inside Sunset’s test gardens and smart cottage, at the media preview day of Sunset Celebration Weekend 2017. It was well worth driving an hour and a half each way on a weekday to Sonoma. (SCW used to be in Menlo Park, but when the magazine moved to Jack London Square in Oakland, their test gardens moved to sunny Sonoma.)

First up was a garden tour.

Everything was beautiful, but one area I particularly liked was the California low-water garden, which had a lot of plants with different shades of foliage to make up for the fact that it had fewer flowers. It did have these little devils that always make me think of the Chicago area, though:

After the garden, we visited the Smart Cottage. Sunset often has a tiny little home they decorate to show new ideas in design, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one focused on tech.

This Samsung smart refrigerator has cameras inside so that your kids can stare at the contents without ever opening the door, and better yet, you can view the inside of your fridge with your smartphone so you can check whether you’re out of milk while you’re at the store.

At first I wasn’t sure I’d like a huge video screen on the front of my fridge, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am constantly trying to prop up a tablet, phone or computer in the kitchen to read recipes. If my kitchen were set up so that my work surface was opposite the fridge, I would actually use that screen a lot, I think. And of course, watching TV while working.

Sunset didn’t limit themselves to Samsung technology for the smart cottage. They also had Amazon Echo in two different rooms, and I learned some new tricks from how they were using them — mainly that I need to activate Mosaic, a software tool that allows the Echo to connect to other platforms, including Facebook and SMS texting, as well as other smart devices if you have them (like smart light bulbs).

Call me an addict (what else is new?) but I have more than once tried to click on a Facebook or chat response on my phone with wet dishwashing gloves or chicken grease all over my hands. I would much rather ask Alexa to read me these things. The thing that impressed me the most was when our host told us she has Alexa tell her how long it will take her to get to work each day, as part of a regular morning “workflow,” because just this morning I had tired to get that robo-bitch to tell me how long it would take to Sonoma and she didn’t know. So apparently you can tell Mosaic your destinations and it will tell you how long it will take to get there in current traffic. I’m checking it out now. (Apparently Mosaic can also help me with “controlling Tesla,” so once we win the lottery that will be very handy as well!)

The cottage’s bedrooms were beautiful, one with botanical wallpaper by Hygge & West that is now my new obsession, and the second with a murphy bed by California Closets that I know Pebbles is absolutely going to want when we redo her room and get rid of the bunk bed.

The cottage was (and continues to be) the bride’s cottage for when weddings take place at Cornerstone Sonoma, the marketplace where the test gardens live.

After the cottage, we enjoyed a delicious mimosa, and then somehow I missed the stop at Prohibition Spirits Distillery, which is really not like me. Thank goodness I got this photo so I can remember to come back and order all the things.

Then we had lunch with editors including EIC Irene Edwards, who is actually my neighbor! Well, you know, one of those mile-away neighbors, but still! You’d think the editor in chief of a big fancy magazine would look like this and be very frightening to eat lunch with:

but let me assure you that is not the case. Cool chick, Irene! I did not take a pic with her because I was trying not to fangirl all over the place, so you will have to click the above link to see how much she doesn’t look scary. She even stayed and did crafts with us after lunch. Would Meryl do that? I don’t think so.

Also I drank a can of wine!

Finally, I was showered with goodies, including fragrances that do not give me a headache from an outfit called Juniper Ridge and a beautiful box of pens and stationery from Pigment & Parchment.

OK, so, nice talking with you all … j/k I know you only scrolled down this far for the buy-one-get-one-free code. The event is this weekend, May 20-21, at Cornerstone Sonoma, and to get the deal, click this sentence and enter the code BOGO2017. Seriously, you should go. Go!