my favorites: 8 stunning views

bixby bridge in big sur, california

bixby bridge in big sur, california

every year around this time, i start to get a bit of cabin fever.  it’s officially “busy season” for me at work, and i leave civilization for awhile and hibernate in conference rooms around the dallas metroplex.  inevitably, the travel itch comes along as i dream of warmer weather, exotic locations, and – due to lack of windows in the aforementioned conference rooms – a better view.

central california: farm to rail to sea.

central california: farm to rail to sea.

there’s no sense in fighting it, so i’ve compiled a few of my favorite views from my travels.  seeing these sights in person have produced gasps, “ah ha!” moments, a bewilderment at this crazy amazing place we call earth, and a larger-than-i’d-like-to-admit terrifying fear of heights.  enjoy the views, and please let me know some of your favorites that i’ve missed!

the view of cape town from table mountain

the view of cape town from table mountain

my husband and i traveled to south africa this past summer, and absolutely fell in love with the country.  read more about my trip to cape town (and table mountain!) here.

new york, as seen from brooklyn.

new york, my love, as seen from brooklyn. it doesn’t get better than this. period.

a year ago,during a work trip to new york, i fought the urge to stay in manhattan and crossed the river to brooklyn for the entire weekend, and was more than pleasantly surprised.  more brooklyn tidbits here.

santorini, aka my favorite place the whole entire world.

santorini, aka my favorite place the whole entire world.

ok, so santorini seems fake.  the photos that look fake?  they’re not.  the entire island looks exactly this perfect (at least, when it’s not erupting).  read more about santorini here.  spoiler alert: it will steal your heart.

barcelona, as seen from park guell

barcelona, as seen from park guell

barcelona is a city of color and life and art.  my best friend and i visited two years ago and it has stayed with me since.  if you only have a limited amount of time in europe, this is a must-see city.  you can read more about my favorites in barcelona here and here.

oregon pine trees, as seen from the window of our train, en route to seattle from los angeles

oregon pine trees, as seen from the window of our train, en route to seattle from los angeles

the amtrak from los angeles to seattle was so unique and reminiscent of bygone days that i keep dreaming of my next train trip.  read more about the adventure here.

the stunning mcway falls in big sur, california

the stunning mcway falls in big sur, california. this was one of my favorite vacations to date…must write about it soon!

my favorites: best texas swimming holes

thank goodness for summer! time to relax and slow down.

thank goodness for summer! time to relax and slow down. (taken at jacob’s well in wimberley)

and just like that, spring is over.  the temperatures are creeping up, and not cooling off at night.  my husband and i walked to our neighborhood wine night (yes) last week, and i was struck by how quickly jeans season ended.  after years in california with its cool nights, we’re back in texas, where it’s time to shed pants for summer shorts and skirts.

just relaxing at jacob's well in wimberley, texas

just relaxing at jacob’s well in wimberley, texas

so its the perfect time to talk about my favorite texas swimming holes.   i’m much more of a city girl than a nature lover, but california taught me a lot about appreciating nature (maybe it was our proximitiy to griffith park that helped me live at peace with coyotes and that rogue mountain lion), and now i can’t get enough of the perfectly and naturally formed swimming pool, shaded by trees and open to all. there are three that i’ve really enjoyed visiting: two in or near austin and one in far west texas.

the scene at jacob's well in wimberley, texas (the dark circle in the water is the 30-foot well)

the scene at jacob’s well in wimberley, texas (the dark circle in the water is the 30-foot well)

  • jacob’s well, wimberley, texas – just southwest of austin in the beautiful texas hill country lies wimberley, a place i visited a lot growing up and never fully appreciated until i was older.  jacob’s well is a 30-foot deep well in the middle of a shallow creek, surrounded by rock cliffs and shaded by trees.  though the well is deep, the surrounding creek bed only has about two feet of water lined with slippery rocks.  scuba divers used to dive to the bottom of the well, and crawl through a narrow space at the bottom that opened up to another drop-off, estimated to be around 150 feet deep (a couple of deaths caused the city to grate over the drop-off and prohibit scuba diving).  go early as lines can form in the summer, bring a picnic and goggles, and find a warm rock on which to sun bathe while taking a cool dip in the well.
cooling off in austin's barton springs

cooling off in austin’s barton springs

  • barton springs, austin, texas – located in the middle of austin at zilker park, barton springs is an austin favorite.  formed from natural springs from main barton spring, the water is refreshing and sparkling (read: freezing, no matter what time of year), and is where the party’s at.  the city has lined the springs with cement to make it into more of an outdoor pool, and there are plenty of grassy areas or bleachers to set up for the entire day.  the people watching is fantastic (especially if you go outside the gates a bit further down), and remember: topless sunbathing is allowed everywhere in austin.
sun bathing at austin's barton springs, with a token guitar player in the background

sun bathing at austin’s barton springs, with a token guitar player in the background

  • balmorhea springs, balmorhea, texas – so, this one is…remote.  we stumbled upon this gem during a trip to marfa in far west texas, and it is definitely worth a stop.  these springs have the clearest water i’ve ever seen, and are located at balmorhea state park.  for $7, you can enter the springs, swim for awhile, and enjoy the grounds.  there are campgrounds and cabins onsite, and it seems to be a favorite among kids.  this would be a perfect stop during a tour of west texas that could include a couple of nights in marfa, a stop in alpine, a drive through big bend with a stop at terlingua (home of the texas chili festival), and a visit to the mcdonald observatory (see more of my thoughts on that here).
mountains in the background at balmorhea springs

mountains in the background at balmorhea springs

the next step is to find some swimming holes closer to home around dallas – do you have any favorites in your part of the world?

rushing grass-filled stream at balmorhea springs

rushing grass-filled stream at balmorhea springs in west texas

my favorites: letterpress stationery

a collection of some of my favorite letterpress stationery and notes over the years

a collection of some of my favorite letterpress stationery and notes over the years

in honor of the national stationery show (nss) that occurred this week in new york city, i thought i would devote this week’s post to my love of pretty paper.  i’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere after college i fell in love with all things letterpress.  as someone who still prefers handwritten letters over emails, i find so much joy in a colorful or witty or charming notecard that has been made locally (anyone want to join my challenge to write one letter per day in july??  i totally stole that idea from someone, so apologies if it was you!).   see below for a few of my favorite stationery stops across the US.  and learn more about some of the best stationery in the business here (anyone want to go with me to nss in 2015??).

we are 1976 in bishop arts, dallas

the bishop arts location of we are 1976 – must.take.letterpress.workshop.

1. we are 1976, dallas, tx – this store has it all.  from greeting cards and graphic posters to felt donuts and handmade jewlwery, i could spend hours here.  with a couple of stores in town, i have found that my favorite is the bishop arts location, which i visited several weeks ago.  my heart just about skipped a beat when i saw the giant letterpress behind the counter and learned they also offer classes for cards, posters, and business cards!  can you even imagine how delightful teal pressed jaunt cards would be?  i can.

sugar paper los angeles poster

lovely words from sugar paper los angeles, next to my international vogues and venice postcard…bliss.

2. sugar paper la, los angeles, ca – what started as a small venture in the brentwood country mart has turned mega popular across the US thanks to their recent target line.  i adore their polka dots and gold inlay and basically anything they write in script, like my “work hard and be nice to people” poster i purchased from them a few years back.  they have the most pleasing cards and colors, and never cease to outdo themselves (seriously, check out their new kate calendar for 2015…never too early to plan!).

kate's paperie in new york city

ten years ago this summer (sigh), shopping for stationery with my bestie and coming out with too, too many finds (my bag not pictured!).

3.  kate’s paperie, new york city, ny – i stumbled in here on a trip to new york with my best friend, and we instantly fell in love.  first, it’s huge.  second, it has cards you’ve never even dreamt of.  perhaps this was the moment i fell in love with letterpress.  i’m pretty sure we spent a couple of hours (and many, many dollars) at kate’s, and came away with some delightful treasures.

do you have any favorites i should add to my list?

my favorites: canals

the canals of tongli in western china

the canals of tongli in western china

ok, i admit, have a list of favorite canals is a stretch.  and strange.  but here’s the thing: writing about venice on tuesday really got me in the mood for that other-worldly venetian spirit.  and i think canals have something to do with that.  two cities immediately come to mind with the same spirit of venice that somehow only a boat in a narrow green canal can create:

the canals of venice in los angeles

the canals of venice in los angeles

  • venice, california – it still amazes me that most angelenos don’t even know of the venice canals, though it was always on the top of my list for visitors (and the town’s namesake).  south of santa monica, tucked away just east of the crazy beach and west of eclectic abbot kinney, the canals wind through blocks of stunning houses, each creative and different from the next, connected through narrow alleys and steep foot bridges.  i could spend an afternoon wandering the canals, peeking into residents’ lush yards (probably not recommended?), and then spending the evening strolling abbot kinney and eating at one of its many famed restaurants.  the hardest part?  finding the canals.  good luck!
just some family fun along the venice canals in los angeles

just some family fun along the venice canals in los angeles

  • tongli, china – referred to as the venice of the east (sensing a theme here?), tongli was my favorite city on my tour of western china.  during a cruise along the canals, i overheard women singing at a restaurant, waved to elderly chinese men taking an afternoon stroll, and listened to the patter of light rain on the stone bridges as we passed underneath.  i also witnessed a truly absurd fishing habit.  an older woman had tied the ankles of large black pelican-type birds to her rickety boat. on command, the birds would dive for fish, catch them, regurgitate them into an empty bucket, and then get their necks wrung by the woman.  extremely strange.
the site of the bird fishers. seriously mad ritual!

the site of the bird fishers. seriously mad ritual!

which places have you visited that are simply magical?

street/canal signs in tongli

street/canal signs in tongli

my favorites: pizza

just a good veggie pizza at pizzeria regina in boston

just a good veggie pizza at pizzeria regina in boston

what’s better eating than a good slice of pizza?  pizza has always been a favorite food (does anyone not like pizza?), and here are a few of my favorites throughout the united states:
  • di carlo’s in los angeles – hidden in a non-descript building near the corner of hollywood and sunset in los feliz, this was my regular pizza joint for the duration of our time in los angeles.  it doesn’t look like much from the street, but the pizza is amazing, and you can have the leafy back patio with strung lights to yourself on most nights.  the owner is great (he’ll set aside the patio for you if you want to have a party), it’s byob (not even a corkage!), and the diavolo pizza is a personal favorite.  can’t go wrong here.
celebrating on the back patio at di carlo's in los feliz, los angeles

celebrating on the back patio at di carlo’s in los feliz, los angeles

  • pizzeria regina in boston – an oldie, but a goodie.  serving pizza since 1926, this north end tradition is sure to not disappoint.  i went a few years back with a good friend, and tried some pizza over a cask of chianti (i’m starting to see a trend here with the vino).  the pizza was amazing and the people were friendly – not sure what else you could want!
cask chianti at pizzeria regina in boston

cask chianti at pizzeria regina in boston

  • new york pizza, of any kind, provided it is cheap and sold by the slice – while i like a great pizza with wine and atmosphere, there’s nothing like stopping in a hole-in-the-wall pizza parlor in new york, chilled from the wind and the elements, ordering a slice of piping hot pizza, and perching against a standing-room-only table to wolf it down.  the entire process embodies new york for me almost as much as the obligatory morning bagel and chic evening cocktails.
  • the classic and delicious new york pizza by-the-slice

    the classic and delicious new york pizza by-the-slice

what are some of your favorite pizza stops?  i’m on a hunt for the best, so don’t be shy!

my favorite: food markets

the gorgeous west side market in cleveland

the gorgeous west side market in cleveland

traveling a lot can become pricey, and one way i like to save a little money is by buying food at markets rather than eating every meal out at a restaurant. my husband and i did this in santorini for several meals (ok, it’s a little more fun when you’re eating a homemade sandwich overlooking the aegean from a private balcony). and in addition to saving money, i’ve found that i really enjoy exploring food markets. they give you a sense of the tastes of that area, allow you to talk with a lot of people, and they tend to be in colorful, bustling settings that allow for some pretty cool people-watching. smaller restaurants nestled inside the markets can have fantastic food, at a fraction of the price.

though difficult, i’ve narrowed down the list to give you three of my favorites. each was unique and very specific to city in which it’s located.

granville island public market, vancouver, canada – hugging the water on granville island across from vancouver, this market has it all. aside from quite the delicious breakfast, the market has the most gorgeous fruits that runs on for aisles. nestled among the food are wine stalls, gourmet food displays, stationery stores, and more. but that is just the beginning. head out back to find granville brewery (we stopped to try a beer flight), more shops, and great views.

inside the granville island public market in vancouver

inside the granville island public market in vancouver

west side market, cleveland, ohio – i was in cleveland for work last year, and took a cue from 36 hours to stop by the farmers’ market. heaven. i ordered a crepe from crêpes de luxe and sat high above the stalls, overlooking the fantastic architecture (over 100 years old) and customers as they shopped for their day’s meals. i had no idea cleveland was such a foodie city, and if you’re laughing about that as you read this, then you clearly haven’t discovered it yet, either. home to many renowned chefs, cleveland knows good food, and this market is the hub of it all.

west side market

outside the west side market in cleveland with the welcoming crew

la boqueria, barcelona, spain – i briefly touched on this market in my post on barcelona, but it deserves another mention. colorful fruits are next to fresh fish are next to bright juices are next to a candy display. the market is overwhelming yet exactly what i was looking for as i enjoyed a fresh salad from puerto latino and a café from el quím. and since it’s located just off the la rambla, the large pedestrian mall, the people-watching is superb.

spices and chilies and fruits, oh my! at la boqueria in barcelona.

spices and chilies and fruits, oh my! at la boqueria in barcelona.

do you know of any markets i should add to my list?

los huevos at la boqueria in barcelona.

los huevos at la boqueria in barcelona.

admiring the fruit at granville island public market in vancouver

admiring the fruit at granville island public market in vancouver

my favorites: art museums

my friend, kate, and i on the lawn at the getty center a few years back

my friend, kate, and i on the lawn at the getty center a few years back

i’m a bit of an art junkie; i can’t seem to stay away from museums in any city i visit. the more modern, the better, but i appreciate it all. here are some of my favorite museums throughout the world. there is no way to narrow it down to just three, so stay tuned for additions to this list throughout the year. what are your favorites?

  • the menil collection, houston, texas – my friend, amanda, found this museum while we were both visiting my parents after they moved to houston. known for its surrealist art collection (it includes a room with other-worldly gadgets, knick-knacks, masks, etc. owned by the surrealists – a personal fave everytime i visit), this is a must-see for every magritte, dalí, and miró fan. and best of all, it’s free.
  • peggy guggenheim collection, venice, italy – i visited this museum, housed in peggy guggenheim’s former home in venice, while studying abroad in asolo, italy. overlooking the grand canal, the museum includes art peggy collected throughout her avant garde life. i highly recommend the tour, which provides scandalous insights into the life of the collector. sadly, i have no photos from the museum, so please check out this google images link to see how grand the setting is.
  • the getty center, los angeles, california – it’s hard to not fall in love with the getty. overlooking west los angeles, the getty’s unbelievable views are rivaled only by the architecture and bright gardens within the musuem’s campus. i love(d) bringing a picnic to eat on the expansive green lawn, and then taking a tour of the latest photography exhibit. while it does cost to park (discounted after 5pm!), entrance to the museum and exhibits is…you guessed it…free!
the cactus garden at the getty center in los angeles

the cactus garden at the getty center in los angeles

the gardens at the getty center in los angeles

the gardens at the getty center in los angeles

menil collection, houston, texas

my friend, amanda, and me at the menil collection almost 15 (yikes!) years ago. still one of my very favorites, even though my love for permed hair has lapsed.

my favorites: markets

vintage soda bottles at the san telmo antiques market in buenos aires

vintage soda bottles at the san telmo antiques market in buenos aires

i love a good market. i’m not sure if its because i like a good deal, or because i like sifting through old junk in search of a treasure (is the hunt better than the catch?). but one thing is for sure: find me a market, and i’ll be happy as a clam! here are a few of my favorites i’ve visited:

  • san telmo antiques market, buenos aires, argentina – there are many markets in buenos aires (maybe why it’s one of my favorite destinations?), but this one was a real gem. full of old world treasures including old musical instruments, china, jewelry, and postcards, i was hooked. i took home a green soda bottle (see above) for about $20 (before pottery barn made them famous, charging 4x what i paid), and had a comical exchange in my broken spanish where i learned to not use the bottle due to the nozzle being made of lead (good to know – definitely would have given future dinner guests lead poisoning!).
  • san lorenzo central market, florence, italy – ok, this place is overwhelming. bring some cash and some big bags. florence is known for its leather and paper products (i love a good stationery set), and this market delivers loads of both. also throw in olive oil, shawls, and decorative wooden trays, and you’ll see why its so great. pretty sure i purchased a white linen blazer, sequined silver flats, a traditional florence wooden tray, a stationery set for my mother, a leather bag for a friend, the list goes on and on…
  • madrid book market, madrid, spain – slightly under the radar on a quiet street near retiro park, this market houses stall after stall of books. a reader’s paradise, great people-watching, and sure to deliver a nice gift for your favorite bibliophile. most are in spanish, but you can hunt for a few in other languages and find the picture books if you don’t read the language.
madrid book market

madrid book market

my favorite: parks

barndall art park in los feliz, los angeles

barndall art park in los feliz, los angeles; looking north toward griffith observatory

i grew up in tulsa, oklahoma, which is a city full of parks. you can’t stroll more than a few blocks before running into one, so much so that i took green spaces for granted until i moved away. parks remind me of friends and family, picnics (i’m a sucker for a good picnic – check out my picnic board on pinterest), late-night walks, shakespeare in the park and, more than anything, lots of green space. in my opinion, the best provide a place to hang out with friends, beautiful surroundings, and a little bit of the arts. here is a small sample of my favorite parks i have found throughout my travels.

1.stanley park, vancouver, canada – i visited stanley park on a beautiful day in august with my best friend. we rented bikes, and cycled around the perimeter of the grounds, looking across the vancouver harbor and the burrard inlet, passing lighthouses and totem poles, and lazy beaches on the west side. after turning in our bikes, we looped back to the theatre under the stars for a performance of singin in the rain with a glass of wine and some themed photos during intermission (see below).

central park, new york city

central park, new york city

2.central park, new york, new york – ok, this is a given. it’s expected because it’s the best. it’s classic. where else can you find an ice-skating rink in the middle of green space with sky scrapers framing the backdrop? stop by the castle or run around the reservoir, or simply enjoy the plentiful art throughout the park (my favorite is the alice in wonderland sculpture on the southeast side of the park). and when you’re finished with the outdoors, step into the metropolitan museum of art, located inside the park and worthy of its own day entirely.

3. barnsdall art park, los angeles, california – this is my local neighborhood park, and i couldn’t be luckier. set on a hill in the neighborhood of los feliz, the park has views of griffith park to the north and the city and ocean to the west. frank lloyd wright’s hollyhock house sits atop the hill, as well as gallery space, a theater, and classroom space with weekly art classes. wine tastings and open air movie nights are huge perks, but my favorite thing to do is arrive on a saturday, spread out a blanket with a good picnic (told you), and enjoy a great book.

do you have any good parks i should check out?

themed photos during intermission of singin' in the rain in stanley park

themed photos during intermission of singin’ in the rain in stanley park

cycling around stanley park in vancouver (always wear a helmet)

cycling around stanley park in vancouver (always wear a helmet)

my favorite: bed & breakfasts

the inn at cooperstown

the inn at cooperstown in cooperstown, new york

i’d like to start a section titled “my favorites” and use it to explore my favorite things from around the world. this week: the b&b. i used to be a bit leery of bed and breakfasts. sometimes the floors creak, you can hear your neighbors, and you may be forced to talk to someone over morning coffee (not good for me). after having a few really wonderful experiences, though, i’ve done a 180 on the b&b and like to seek out the great ones. here are a few i’ve stayed at recently that were truly exceptional:

  • cass house inn, cayucos, california – this was our first stop on my husband’s and my first anniversary trip last summer. cayucos is a sleepy beach town on the central coast, and cass house is just across the street from the pier. a young couple own the inn, which is housed in the former victorian abode of the cass family (photographs of the family line the walls). the staff are amazing, and the personal touches are great (a glass of wine and a blanket to enjoy the chilly night in their gardens greeted us upon arrival). but if you do find yourself in cayucos, you must eat dinner at the cass house restaurant. the husband is the head chef, and the ever changing prix -fixe menu with wine pairings and ingredients from the garden out back is not to be missed.
  • la otra orilla, buenos aires, argentina – my best friend, kim, found this b&b in the heart of the palermo district of BA. close to shopping, restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife, we couldn’t have asked for more. the lush gardens and european decor provided for many great photo opportunities, and the breakfast in the morning was delicious and filing (not the case in all b&bs). we weren’t even disappointed when we were rained in one afternoon.
  • the inn at cooperstown, cooperstown, new york – my husband and i stayed here during our trip to see the baseball hall of fame. this b&b is walking distance from the hall of fame, as well as the cute downtown area (i recommend alex and ika restaurant – so good!). a long porch stretches across the front of this colonial house, and it was sitting in one of the many rocking chairs, sipping ice tea while enjoying the warm night, that i somehow met babe ruth’s granddaughter. in town to speak at the hall of fame, she and her husband were staying at the inn, and happily chatting with the other guests. delightful!

i’m interested in hearing your thoughts – do you have a favorite b&b you would recommend?