About Gretchen

Advertising specialties (promo items) has been my sole profession for over 20 years.  (view my LinkedIn profile)

Gretchen-Nielsen-portrait

I live in Santa Rosa, next to Taylor Mountain Regional Park, in the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country of Northern California, with my husband and our two cats.

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(they’re not child substitutes – at least that’s what their pediatrician says…)

I was born and raised in Fresno, CA, where I swam competitively from age 6 through college, at one point swimming in a qualifying meet for the Olympic trials.

gretchen7

Later, while I was living in Mill Valley, CA, the local high school, Mt. Tamalpais High School, was about to disband the swimming program because they didn’t have a swim coach so I thought “I love swimming, it was the best part of my high school years- I want to be the coach!”.  So I was, for one year, until they got a real coach, and it was the hardest job I ever had.  It was hard to imagine that so much had changed for teenagers since I was in school.

 At my mother’s prompting, I recently took up the ukulele,

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and now we have a Ukulele Orchestra with my husband, my Mom, my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew.  Picture seven people, all (mis-)playing the same simple, silly song (eg., Tiny Bubbles) for half an hour over and over again before the whole thing falls apart in hysterics.  That’s our so-called “Ukulele Orchestra”.

(the peace love uke graphic is from a cd by Jake Shimbukuro, a wonderful uke player)