Archives for category: Travel

In college, my friends could basically be put into one of two categories.  Volleyball friends, and Studio.  Those two categories pretty well sum up how I spent most of my time for those few years.  I feel very fortunate that both categories have established friendships that I continue to cherish to this day.  It seems appropriate, this week of Thanksgiving (a little delayed in posting…having some technical issues with adding photos to this post…argh), to write a post that’s primarily about gratitude for some of the people in my life.

The volleyball friends never really understood where I went when I had to go to “Studio.”  They didn’t have majors that allowed them 24/7 access to their own private workspace.  They usually weren’t pulling all-nighters, either.  So when I said I had to leave volleyball open gym to get back to work in Studio, it was pretty nebulous to them.  Some of them thought I was making up this mystical place.  Not so the 16 other people with whom I shared said Studio.  ASU’s interior design program required that design majors “apply” for upper division in their major after sophomore year.  We had to submit portfolios and transcripts and take part in an all-day design charette.  Out of 50+ applicants, 17 were admitted to upper division for the remaining 3 years (it was a 5-year program).  So for those last three years of college, this group – 16 women and one guy – was my sorority, of sorts.

We realized a year or so into upper division that our little group was unique.  We talked to students in the class behind us, and they were so competitive, they would ask questions during critiques designed to trip each other up…our classmates, on the other hand, asked questions to help the presenter remember what she wanted to say, but in her state of sleep-deprived delirium, had forgotten.  We were competitive, but in a way that raised the bar for everyone, and made you proud to be part of the group.  We had studiomates that helped each other put together the last-minute touches of a presentation board, or lent a hand to glue together a model that had fallen apart right before the crit.  We celebrated holidays together with massive pot-lucks.  Even before graduation, we started the circuit of weddings, and then shortly after, babies – all of which made great excuses for reunions.

Fast forward 14 years, and we still keep in touch.  I just got back from a weekend in Arizona where we got 9 out of the 17 together for another little studio reunion of sorts.  It started out as a chance to introduce my 4-month-old son to the group, but was really just a long overdue opportunity to get everyone together and catch up, husbands and children included.  And in typical form, our get togethers are marked by a real show of support for whatever challenges life might be throwing our way – whether it be an ailing parent, a sick kid, or a marriage in trouble – all without judgement.

It was so comforting to be around this group.  I’m one of the last to join the “motherhood” club of our circle, and it was wonderful to feel the support of a bunch of moms whom I trust to be real with me about the challenges of raising a child.  So when I admitted that my son wasn’t sleeping through the night, or anything close to it, I got a lot of reassuring nods from friends who had been there and were willing to admit that their kids sometimes still didn’t sleep through the night.  And when I had to interrupt a conversation with one friend to tend to my crying infant who was outside with Dad, she called after me, “good sentence!” like “good talk!”, and with a shared smile, we both knew that she meant it, and she understood what I had to do, and that we’d eventually pick up where we left off.  Just like we always do.

People talk about friends being the family you choose, but in this case, we didn’t really choose.  It’s like life chose for us.  And for us, the word “Studio” has come to mean something very close to “family.”


Or, the ten best…in Italian.  Here’s our top ten list from our Italian honeymoon.

10.  Our Itinerary:  Milan – Venice – Florence – Tuscan Countryside – Rome – Amalfi Coast.  I received some great recommendations from my cousin’s wife when I asked for her “ultimate itinerary” if she were to have 3 weeks in Italy.  She did not disappoint.  In most cities, it felt like the right length of time; and in Tuscany and Amalfi, we wished for even more.


A Typical Venetian Scene

9.  Old stuff.  Duomos, cobblestones, the Colosseum, ruins.  What better way to reminisce about all my art and architectural history classes than to see these places and pieces of art in person.


Really old stuff, Rome

8.  Traveling by train.  What a way to go.  No security lines.  Watching the countryside fly by.  I wish the US had a train system like Europe (and that SF had a metro system like Milan!).

Stazione Milano Centrale

7.  Cappuccino.  Every morning.  And I don’t even drink coffee.  With only one exception, everywhere we stayed included breakfast, and I just could not resist saying, “Un cappuccino, per favore,” when the nice waiters came by.

Breakfast at Villa Podernovo, Tuscany

6.  Meeting up with familiar faces.  Our friend Nicco took us on a walking-eating-drinking tour around Florence, his home town, complete with childhood stories, and Chris’ cousin Melissa and her Italian boyfriend, Vincenzo, took us out for an amazing dinner in Rome – we didn’t have to order a thing.

familiar faces in far away places

5.  The wine.  Whether it was a Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany or the glass of Prosecco every night before dinner at our hotel on the Amalfi Coast, we were never disappointed.

Vino in Firenze

4.  The food.  I think we ate our weight in prosciutto and salami, more than our fair share of pizza, some amazing Risotto Milanese and a couple kickass sandwiches from the Mercato in Florence, but…we had some standout memorable meals – particularly our dinners at Trattoria Quattro Leoni and Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco in Florence, and our honeymoon finale at Le Sirenuse in Positano.  Huge thanks to our friends for the recommendations!

Happy Hour at Enoteca Gola e Cantina, Florence

3.  Gelato!  Favorite flavors were definitely pistachio for him and hazelnut for me, but we never met a flavor we didn’t like.  It became our daily ritual.  Walk around until we’re hot, get gelato, repeat.

Our very first gelato in Italy; would not be our last

2.  Villa Podernovo in Monticiano, Tuscany.  It was a beautiful villa (found via in a teeny tiny village, but a perfect home base for exploring the nearby hill towns of Siena and San Gimignano.

Villa Podernovo

Villa Podernovo, aka heaven – our apartment was upstairs in this building

1.  The Amalfi Coast, by scooter… When the road is really only about one-lane wide, you definitely want the smallest, most agile vehicle.  We were so glad we rented a scooter for three of our days on the Amalfi coast.  Zipping to Positano or Amalfi for dinner, from our centrally located hotel in Praiano, was not only convenient, but so much fun!

Sunset from Praiano, looking towards Positano

La dolce far niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing” – really the best thing we learned in Italy, and what we hope to maintain, at least a little bit, in our lives back home.

I have a new obsession.  It’s the biggest computer time suck since Tetris in the early 90s (for me, at least).  And I love it.  It’s called Pinterest.  Slap me if you’ve heard all this before, but it’s fairly new to me.  It is genius.  I’m sure I’m not the only one with a folder full of of inspiration images on my computer (and several binders-full, torn from magazines, on my bookshelves), but this great little website allows you to “pin” your favorite images from around the interwebs, with links to the original location (great for tracking things down later), and you can share them with friends who “follow” you.  You can also sort them into “boards,” which is great for categories like food, clothes, design, etc.  I really wish I had discovered this at the beginning of my wedding planning, instead of near the end, but hindsight…oh well.

Crack – well that’s one way to describe it.  I’d rather think of it as a place for all the pretty things.

Happy Friday!

I had the honor and pleasure of arranging the flowers for Cameron & Amanda’s beautiful wedding in Tahoe two weekends ago.  The ceremony was at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and the ceremony followed at the Chateau, both in Incline Village.  But the adventure started long before that…


Flowers prepped in the garage


It’s been ten years now that I’ve been helping Emily do wedding flowers, but this is the first complete wedding I’ve done on my own.  Well, not completely on my own.  I certainly couldn’t have done it without huge help from my mom and Megan!  Thanks you two!

But back to the adventure…I started some time around o’dark-thirty on Wednesday morning.  I made it to the San Francisco Flower Mart before the sun.  Armed with my buying guide (you’re a Godsend, Em!), I made the rounds to all the different shops and booths, searching for calla lilies galore (and orchids, and bells of Ireland).  It was a little nerve-wracking, a little thrilling, and a lot of fun.  And I am not a morning person.

With flowers and greens loaded up in the back of my dad’s SUV (so thanks to Dad, too!), I headed to Chris’ garage to prep.  This involved unwrapping all the bunches, removing rubber bands and cellophane and cutting all the stems.  Hundreds of stems.  I should’ve counted.  Not really.  Then with the flowers in buckets, I loaded up the car once more.  It was packed.  To the gills.  Side-to-side and floor-to-ceiling.  Thank goodness I got Chris’ golf clubs in there beforehand.  I went upstairs to break the news to him that he could only pack about two cubic feet worth of clothes because that’s all the room I had left.  I drove the whole way to Tahoe with my purse in my lap, that’s how packed it was.


Ready to go!


Oh, and then there was the temperature.  We had to keep those flowers fresh!  A/C the whole way.  Chris thought he was in a meat locker.  Stay tuned for more about the wedding and pictures of the end results!