A few week’s ago we took a road trip from Los Angeles up north for an extended weekend getaway to the Central Coast of California. We stayed in San Simeon, nearby to the quaint town of Cambria. While I had been to the central coastal communities of Carmel and Monterey last summer, it had been about a decade since I’d been to both Cambria and San Simeon. It was great to escape the city for a few days, especially after the last several month’s of non-existent travel. It seems as if road trips to destinations nearby are going to make for the best travel during our current times. Fortunately, living in California we have beautiful coastal, mountainous, and even desert regions to explore!
Our trip began with a drive up the 101 freeway, past Santa Barbara, with a lunch stop at Firestone Walker Brewing Co in Buellton. A great choice for beers and burgers. (I’ve since learned we have a location in Los Angeles too - good thing, because the food and drinks were really good and I’d love to go back.)
Driving further up the 101, through some of the more inland areas, are several vineyards with wine tasting rooms. We stopped briefly in Santa Maria for a wine tasting at Costa De Oro Winery.
Arriving in San Simeon, we stayed at a family friend’s condo located on the beachfront. This is the view we woke up to the next morning.
Later that afternoon, we took a nature hike at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. The preserve offers cliff side coastal views and trails to walk, sighting some small animals like birds, lizards, and squirrels.
After our nature hike we stopped in the town of Cambria for a brief stroll and for drinks at a pub in the charming town.
Next we headed over to Moonstone Beach, right in time for the most spectacular sunset.
Along Moonstone Beach Promenade is The Sea Chest restaurant. It had been recommended to us by more than a few people and apparently it is well known for their seafood and oysters. The restaurant is in an old house reminiscent of a quaint New England seaside cottage. The oysters and seafood dishes were really great!
The next day, we decided to take a drive just a little further up the coast, past Hearst Castle to view the elephant seals at the Elephant Seal Rookery. Along the beach were several groupings of elephant seals. It was fascinating to watch them and learn more about their behaviors (mating, playing, molting, etc).
California coastal scenic views along the central coast.
After a few days in San Simeon and Cambria we decided to visit downtown San Luis Obispo on the drive home. The “Downtown SLO” area is a vibrant walking town full of bars, restaurants, and shops. It also offers historic architecture like Art Deco courthouse building above, Mission style, Craftsman, and Victorian homes too.
Above is the Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa located right in the downtown area.
We had a great time hanging out in Downtown San Luis Obispo for the day, checking out the scene and people watching, all the while sampling beers at a local spot.
Highly recommend a Central Coast road trip! Makes for a great getaway even for just a few day’s escape!
Last week while in Florence, Italy I attended the 83rd Florence International Artisan Fair. The event takes place at the Fortezza da Basso, a fort inside the walls of fourteenth century Florence. The fair consists of various pavilions including art, decor, furnishings, clothing, accessories, food and wine. The event also includes a courtyard set up of Italian street food and food trucks.
Outside the walls of Fortezza da Basso.
Innovative furnishings inside the first pavilion we toured.
A sculptural marble piece.
Details of a wood table.
A woven, roped like chair.
Love these marble vases.
The next exhibit we toured was inside this adorable landscaped cottage within the fortress walls.
It was called, “The Seven Wonders of Tuscany” exhibit.
Another favorite was this alabaster art piece.
I loved the vibrant color and color combination of these ceramic vases.
I actually tested out these marble loungers - and they are both comfortable and cool (cold) feeling, but in a way that felt relaxing from running around the show and feeling warm.
Green glass dishware.
A bronze sculpture.
The exhibit featured many live demonstrations, like this man painting.
A ceramic vase.
A marble lamp.
One of the other exhibits featured a mix of jewelry and handbags.
There was also artsy clothing, like this Pantone color chip skirt.
Italian street food vendors were in the outdoor pebbled courtyard.
Classic Cacio e Pepe was available at one of the food trucks.
And beers on tap!
I love how this food truck was selling “old Sicily & new food”!
As part of my recent trip to Italy to attend the 83rd Florence International Artisan fair, our Meet The Artisans group participated in a cultural excursion to the Museo della Ceramica in the town of Montelupo.
The town is a quintessential Tuscan countryside of a local community, about twenty five minutes from the city center of Florence.
The center of town mainly consists of about three streets of local shops, restaurants, and flats.
Public art is prevalent even in this small town.
The Italians are quite the artisans.
The locals are very friendly too. This beautiful dog took a liking to my friend and fellow group participant, interior designer Kim Lewis from Austin, Texas.
So much prettiness everywhere you look!
The man in the window above that door watching us, the tourists, taking photos of his front door.
Around the corner, sheds insight to daily life.
Exterior facades are colorful.
Decorative too: Ceramic tiles for address numbers and colorful potted plants.
After a brief walk through town we made our way to the ceramics museum to begin our tour. This is the front of the museum entrance.
The museum features a collection of ceramic dishes and bowls that were found in local wells from centuries past. Found were fragments and broken pieces that were discarded due to being unsalable.
The dishware depicts the Tuscan colors.
Motifs are a reflection of the various eras. The simpler ones are at a less prosperous time.
Others reflect life in the time they were made.
The museum consists of multiple displaying ceramics from various periods.
Thank you to PromoFirenze and The Florence Chamber of Commerce for coordinating this excursion for us. #MeetTheArtisans
There is a little town just outside of Florence, in the Tuscany region of Italy, called Vinci. It happens to be the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, or in other words, “Leonardo from Vinci”. On my recent trip as part of the Meet the Artisans group, we had the privledge of touring this small town as one of our neighborhood excursions.
It is a charming hillside town with very green Tuscan countryside views. Surprisingly, it’s reached after a drive through an industrial area. Once there, the town consists of a steep hill of shops and restaurants with a church and museum at the top overlooking the town.
Typical buildings with colorful facades and shutters.
A car in front of one of the many museums in this quaint town.
Archways and cobblestone streets adorn the town.
Looking up toward the church where Leonardo da Vinci was baptized.
The town includes a Leonardo da Vinci museum.
The sidewalk outside of the museum.
The Tuscan countryside.
Ode to Leonardo da Vinci.
Vinci is so charming and picturesque.
More views from the top.
Definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the region.
Thank you to PromoFirenze and the Florence Chamber of Commerce for including us on this neighborhood excursion. #MeetTheArtisans
I’ve just returned from a trip to Florence, Italy and although I’ve been to Italy many times, it was my first visit to the Tuscany region. I was there to attend the 83rd International Artisan Fair, a curated fair featuring local artisans and makers of art, decor, furnishings, clothing and accessories, & food and wine.
I arrived a day early and had some time to explore the city before our first night’s welcome dinner event. Our group stayed at the AC Marriot Firenze hotel, just on the outskirts of the city center in a more residential neighborhood. This was the view from my room.
The first day was a bit rainy but I managed to still get a lot of city walking in as the rain tapered off later in the day. As I was rushing to meet a friend of mine for lunch that lives in Florence, I turned a corner and came upon this carousel with a peek of the top of the bell tower from the Duomo behind.
As it turns out the Duomo was right next to where we had lunch and just as we were saying goodbye, I turned around and saw the very striking cathedral and bell tower.
At the Duomo.
The cathedral details.
Walking around the perimeter of the Duomo.
An exterior facade on the Piazzo del Duomo.
Cute cafes and restaurants around the Piazza del Duomo.
And beautifully engraved doors.
From the Duomo, I ventured out for more city walking and stumbled upon the Basilica of Santa Maria Novello.
Some of the buildings next to the Basilica include hotels and restaurants.
As I continued walking I came upon an open market area selling leather goods just before finding the Mercato Centrale, an indoor food market with restaurants. I’ve never seen so many varieties of pasta!
Street art on the streets of Firenze.
As I was making my way back to the hotel towards the end of the day, I came upon this 14th century fortress, the Fortezza da Basso, where the artisan fair I would be attending the next day is located.
Inside the fortress is this charming little building where one of the exhibitors we visited at the fair was.
On the second day, we had some free time after attending the fair in the morning, so I set out for more city sight seeing, strolling through narrow streets on a warm sunny afternoon.
Stopping to see cute local hotels.
And colorful buildings.
Bicycles lined up outside the Savoy Hotel in Firenze.
Suddenly and unexpectedly I came upon the Piazza della Signoria as I was making my way to the Ponte Vicchio.
Grand statues like this one overlook the Piazza.
Beyond the Piazza della Signoria is the Uffizi Gallery.
A “live” statue stands outside the Uffizi Gallery.
Looking up at the details.
Art and architecture is everywhere you look.
Just beyond the steps from the Uffizi Gallery is the river and Ponte Vecchio.
A view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Fiume Arno.
I am looking forward to attending the 83rd MIDA event in Florence, Italy next month. I will be attending on behalf of Promo Firenze, Florence Chamber of Commerce, and the Italian Trade Agency.
The artisan fair features 600 exhibitors and represents fifty countries. As part of our visit we will be given a hosted tour of the fair.
During our two day tour we will be introduced to the local handi-craft through the “Meet the Artisans” program.
Now in it’s 83rd edition, the Florence International Artisan Fair has been completely renovated, reverting to its original purpose: a platform for featuring the finest Italian and international crafts.
During the fair, two major exhibitions will be focusing on Florentine and Tuscan crafts.
I am looking forward to my first trip to Florence, Italy next month and being a part of the “Meet The Artisans 2019” group!
This past week I had the opportunity to participate in a designer training program on behalf of Monogram Appliances at their design center located on the first floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.
As part of the two day event, we learned in depth about the Monogram line of products as well as got to experience them via cooking demos and our own hands-on cooking experiences. Pictured here with my cooking partner in crime, Anna Gibson.
A bar vignette showcases a minibar dishwasher to the left and refrigerator with ice maker to the right.
A full kitchen display featuring the built in oven Advantium with speed cook technology and a column refrigerator to the far right.
Just outside of the Merchandise Mart on a beautiful spring day is the Chicago River ...still a little green from St. Patrick’s Day.
Fun with friends and fellow designers Anna, Florence, me, and Gustavo - checking out The Bean in Millennium Park.
Thank you to Monogram Appliances and Chef Jon for hosting us!
Last month while in Vegas to attend KBIS, we got to stay at the very cool chic Philippe Starck designed hotel, SLS Las Vegas. It’s in a great location if you are in town to attend a tradeshow because it’s very close to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Compared to many of the other hotels on The Strip, it is slightly smaller in scale yet still offers many amenities. I actually prefer the smaller scale and the convenience to many of the restaurants and morning coffee stop. It has an outpost of some favorite LA eateries , including: Katsuya, Cleo, and the more casual 800° Pizza. I also liked that to get to many of these places you did not have to walk far or through a very smoky casino.
The room I stayed in certainly reflects the Philippe Starck style. The walls are lined with a graphic wallpaper, there are several mirrors around which also light up, and the TV is also mounted on a mirror.
The bathroom is cool, crisp, and bright with some standard whimsical Starck touches. Often seen in Starck designs is his Axor lavatory faucet, such as in this picture, a line designed by Starck.
Again keeping with the Starck touches is a creative whimsical printed shade for the window treatments. Beyond that was this view from my bed! (Below.)
It was so great being a part of the Designhounds group attending the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas last month. I’ve much to share and a recap / roundup coming shortly! If you’ve never attended KBIS, it just so happens to be the biggest kitchen and bath convention ever! There is so much to see and experience, including the latest and greatest in the industry! More highlights coming soon!
Over Labor Day weekend I attended The Taste LA at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. The studio Backlot couldn’t have been a more perfect setting for a food festival. With the ambience of a NYC street scene, lights strung between buildings, tents set up featuring fare from local restaurants, and great music - we sampled bites from Eataly, Border Grill, Trois Mec, Granville, Stella Artois, Pacific Dining Car, and many more.
The scene for The Taste LA encompassed several “streets” on the Backlot of Paramount Studios with some of the “sets” open to showcase bars and shops, such as a Los Angeles Times cafe featured on site for the event. It was fun having access to and exploring the various streets during the event - all the while eating and drinking!
Stella Artois had two great set ups for serving their Belgium beer - one a cafe, a smaller location and another larger walk in serving bites and full glasses of beer on tap. It was so good - we went back twice!
This year at The Taste LA honored a tribute to the Los Angeles Times own renowned food critic, Jonathan Gold.
Aperol Spritz had a super cute drink stand and these yummy drinks went down easy.
Drink Bai had a fun photo booth with GIF pics that we took pictures in.
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