I’m Baaaack!

You just can’t get rid of me! I’ve been on a moving/travel sabbatical for the past few weeks and I’m excited to be back blogging because I’ve got plenty to share. Before I introduce my new work digs (I have my own studio workshop!), explore my research on how to move cross country on a budget, and of course my last minute road trips and Los Angeles excursions, I want to start by sharing my trip across the US.

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Los Angeles to Hamden, CT is quite a journey. I took my time, but didn’t “dilly-dally”. As the map shows, I started in LA and drove to the Grand Canyon. From the Grand Canyon I passed through 4 Corners (where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet) and headed on to Durango for the night. From Durango I went to Denver, CO where I stayed for several days over the Thanksgiving holiday. After Denver I spent a night in Omaha before connecting up with RISD friends in Chicago for a couple nights. I continued on to Cleveland after that, and then made my big push with the longest driving day getting me into Connecticut. This is the short story.

Here is the long story:

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My friends through me the sweetest going away party at Golden Road in Glendale. So many people came and of course I was crying. After I went out for sushi at Octopus (one of my LA favs), then I spent some time freaking out and panicking instead of sleeping. I left Sunday morning after packing up the car, going for my last regular Toluca Lake walk (not my last ever- no lasts!) with my friends and then I hit the road. I cried/weeped for most of my ride to the Grand Canyon. My cheeks had the ultimate cry bath and were very pruny upon arrival.

When I left LA it was 75 and sunny and when I arrived at the Grand Canyon, it was about 22 degrees and pitch darkness. I was poorly dressed in my tee shirt and yoga pants (perfect comfy driving attire but not perfect winter clothing). But this was all fixable with a winter jacket (thank you, Uniqlo!), a hot meal and a cold beer.

10326415_1505040636434287_1730050933_n10817857_805660969480510_2017350428_nI was very proud of myself, as the following morning I woke up at 6a to get dressed (in many many layers) and make the 7am sunrise at the South Canyon rim. As the child next to me said “I’m freezing my eyeballs off!!”. My sentiments exactly.

After watching the sunrise and tracking down a warm english muffin and coffee, I hit the road as I had a 7 hour drive ahead and so much to see along the way! One thing I didn’t realize is that the drive through Arizona takes you right by Monument Valley. It didn’t make sense for me to go there (the entrance was actually still a drive away and it would add many hours to my day), but it was fun seeing some of the “monuments” along the way. And this way I was seeing them for FREE! I cheated the system.

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As I made my way out of Arizona and onto Colorado, I had to stop in at one of my favorite childhood vacation spots: 4 Corners. 4 Corners is where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet and it’s gotten a whole lot fancier since I was a kid. As a child this was all dirt with a plaque in the center (where of course I sat, so my butt was in 4 states at the same time), with wooden shopping stalls surrounding the plaque. It has gotten a whole lot fancier:

10809543_1501063186840049_1570193732_nIt was freezing and windy so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time walking around.

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As I got closer to Durango, the weather and landscape changed pretty dramatically.
Thankfully while it was snowing in the air, not much was sticking so the roads weren’t too bad. I made my way into Durango after dark and enjoyed a beer and dinner at Steamworks Brewing company before making my way to my hotel and crashing for the night. Durango is an adorable town and I highly recommend visiting it.

The next morning I left around 9am and made the trek into Denver. I was most nervous about this day, so I allowed a lot of extra time and took a not-very-direct route to avoid snowy mountains. If this was summer I totally would have gone to Aspen and driven in through the Rockies and it would have been beautiful. Since this is December and I had all my belongings crammed into my little mazda 3, I opted for the longer but less mountainous route.

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But I made it! And in record time too. No snow and no ice, yesss! Above you can see some images from my several days in Denver. I stayed with my uncle (bottom right) who was very generous and always the perfect host. We even got to go to a night showing of the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens (top right). It was a really fun visit. I even got to meet up with a childhood friend who just moved to Denver, and I’ve known her since nursery school days. Ah, to be young again.

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But alas, I had to continue on my journey so I cleaned off the mazda and drove through Nebraska (above) to get to my destination for the night, Omaha. The following day I was up early to continue through more of a similar landscape as I went through Iowa and eventually made my way to Chicago!

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In Chicago I have some RISD friends I was excited to see. I also stayed at this awesome, cute and cheap airbnb in Wicker Park (message me if you want the info on it). Since I love walking and had been cooped up driving the past few days, it felt so good to park my car and just spend the day walking around the city and poking my head into the cute shops.

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I ended up walking all the way to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and saw the David Bowie exhibit. They were very fussy about cell phones/ cameras since this is the  only US stop for the exhibit, so sadly this is the only photo above. It was a very fun exhibit featuring a lot of his most famous outfits/costumes, Bowies lyric notes, and footage showing his progression as an artist. This exhibit really is only about Bowie as an artist and I wish we got more of an idea of his personal life. I would have loved to see photos of David Bowie eating breakfast in his kitchen on a Saturday morning, or anything to show that he’s human. Does he shop at Ikea?

After 2 fun nights visiting with friends in Chicago, it was time for me to continue onward to Cleveland. Why Cleveland? I’m glad you asked. In the tv show 30 Rock, Liz Lemon visits Cleveland and everyone asks if she’s a model because things are just different there. I was hoping to have my Liz Lemon moment in Cleveland. Also they have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were the natural place to stop and spend the night before getting into Connecticut.

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is right next to a sport stadium (football I think??) and is an awesome pyramid architectural shape. I took SOOO many photos in there, but I don’t want to bore you so I figured I’d share he most impressive iconic item they had (in my opinion): Michael Jacksons glitter glove. They had much more Michael Jackson clothing, about 8 of Beyonce’s outfits from different music videos and events. They also have a wall dedicated to the Rolling Stones and to the Beatles. This was a very fun place to visit and I highly recommend it to people driving through Cleveland. As for the sporting arena… sure, I bet you could visit that too.

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I made my last drive from Cleveland to Connecticut, which was the longest stretch. I knew it might be an 8 and a half hour drive but with traffic in New York and bathroom/coffee stops, it took about 10 hours. Bummer. But at least when I made it to CT I got to sleep in my own bed, and get started on all of the projects I have going on and there are SO MANY! Now it’s time to apartment hunt (anyone know of any apartments for rent in East Rock, New Haven?), setup my shop in Meyer Wire, and get going on all my design projects!

Next up: This week I’ll be back-tracking a bit to tell you about my road trip up the coast from LA to Portland and back. I’ll also do a post dedicated to the cheapest way to move cross country. And lastly, I’ll introduce you to my new digs: Meyer Wire. I’ll share all of what it entails. I hope moving forward to start updating you about Connecticut events and doing “Do This Today” posts, although it’l take me some more time to amerce myself in the scene to pass along all the details.

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Christmas Tree Cutting ’12

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Denver in the morning. Isn’t she beautiful? You can see the snow capped mountains far in the background. Such a fun city.

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If you remember from last years tree cutting adventure, we go up into the mountains on every black friday to pick out the perfect Christmas trees (with permits of course). The drive from city to mountain is a beautiful one.

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This year the roads were exceptionally dusty (given the dry winter). Normally there is snow and mud, but this year dust.

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Look at our spread of food! It’s the fanciest tailgate I’ve ever seen 🙂 Everyone makes something to share to accompany the annual turkey chili that is made with the Thanksgiving leftovers (Steve is so kind to make me a delicious veggie chili).

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Once our stomachs are filled, the great tree race begins!!

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We all search for the perfect trees. This year we were on a different side of the mountain and we were shocked at how many good ones we found. In previous years it would take hours and going deep into the woods.

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We found the tree! It even had an abandoned birds nest in it. Little did I know, when the photo was taken above, my body was freaking out on the inside.

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Once the trees are tagged, cut and mounted on the cars it’s time to pack up and hit the road back to Denver.

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It’s a beautiful drive in and then back out.

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After returning and washing down the tree (to rid any bugs), we got to catch this gorgeous sunset 🙂

Thanksgiving Tablescape

I’m not sure how other families celebrate Thanksgiving, but one of the highlights is the tablescape. My designer uncle and florist friend tackle our Thanksgiving tablescape every year, and they are amazing. Half the fun of Thanksgiving is seeing how they out do themselves, and it becomes a thread in the conversation for the night. After a few years held with restraint (given the recession, it’s best not to be showy), they really out did themselves.

Such thoughtful care put into the details.

Do you notice that there aren’t any flowers in this display? Isn’t that fun? It’s all natural fruits and vegetables providing the myriad of textures and colors.

…adding in some final touches.

A master at work.

Candles lit, as the tablescape is almost done.

The glow of the water and wine bottles add a final texture and color to the tablescape. Tablescapes are meant to be thoughtful, creative and most importantly, fun. So next year assign a few friends the task of tablescape, give them a concept to work with and then let them have fun with it. It’s become such a great tradition for us.

Rewind… Denver Turkey Trot ’12

Lets rewind back to simpler times (aka pre-hospital-Thanksgiving-morning), where my uncle, sister and I donned turkey hats for the Denver Turkey Trot. Every year when we see crowds dressed as turkeys, we always say “awww… next year that’ll be us”. Well this year we did something about it and bought these hats to surprise my uncle (he was VERY surprised and a VERY good sport about it).

Here we are pre-run.

Look at the crowd! Every year I’m always surprised to see the massive crowds of people who donate their money and time to run the Turkey Trot. Especially given it’s an early morning for people who never get a day off.

Part of the fun of this race are the people who come out to support it. The band who performed on this front lawn is called More Cowbell.

Just up the block I passed this bagpipe player, playing tunes for the runners. Just beyond him, a family was having a morning gathering to watch the runners. It’s just fun to see the community getting into it. Thankfully the weather was perfect for running, not too cold but not to hot.

Some people get really into it. In the distance you can see runners following up, as the race loops back around Washington Park.

Other people start putting out their Christmas decorations while watching the runners. Aren’t these homes beautiful? This park has a big lake in the center, so to have a house along the edge of the park provides a great view.

This is just one view of the lake in the center of the park. See all the Canadian geese?

We did it!! The after shot.

I passed this statue on the walk back to the car after the race. This angel is so old-school.

Alas, our tired turkey hats took their rest on the mantel. Don’t worry, they’ll be ready for next years race.

Black Friday Indeed

I’ve been very quiet on the blog the past several days because an emergency came up. While on my Denver Thanksgiving, it came to light that an antibiotic I’ve been taking is actually my kryptonite. Unfortunately I had already taken 17 doses of the medication before the allergy symptoms revealed themselves. After a couple of scary days Im currently back from Denver and on bed rest today. Even typing this post is taking so much of my energy. I have so many things to share with you (Palm Springs, DYI projects, Secret Stair Walks, and tons more) but I’m just physically unable to even think about all of that right now. It’s time for my head to be against my pillow, despite sleeping also being one of my many challenges right now. When Im better, you’ll be the first to know.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

Another year, another Denver Turkey Trot! As much as I love LA, visiting my uncle (above) in Denver is one of the highlights of my year. It’s become our Thanksgiving tradition to get up early and Turkey Trot before we head to the days festivities (see last years post here). It’s a great way to feel good about all the food we are about to eat. This year I’m suffering from a nasty virus, so my trot was more of a speed walk, but I’m so glad I was at least able to participate. And Erica and I surprised our uncle with TURKEY HATS!

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving! So much to be thankful for!

Annual Tree Expedition

Another adventurous day in Denver! Today we slept in a bit so we could rest up for our annual Christmas Tree Search. Five cars full of people made the treck into the mountains each in search of the perfect Charlie Brown tree. We all get permits, of course, and arrived within the designated areas. We began our quest with some tailgating fun. Steve makes a mean veggie (and non veggie) chilli. People bring drinks, homemade desserts and thanksgiving leftovers. It’s a really special low-key tradition that we all really look forward to.

Once the food was digesting inside us, the tree hunt began. It’s all about finding the perfect tree while following the permit rules (can’t be too small or too big. Can’t be close to the road etc). While it is not a race… it totally is. After about 40 minutes of going deep in the woods, we found our tree.

We sawed it down and dragged it to the car like champions. Everyone gathers as trees start coming in. Before we knew it everyone was done and we were tying them to the roofs while saying our goodbyes. We will all meet back here in exactly a year where we will catchup and share more memories. The tradition lives on.

Tonight we are having an impromptu gathering for dinner and drinks. Tomorrow we are getting a tour of a new art museum before we leave for Los Angeles and our Denver thanksgiving trip comes to an end.