#bexandalex + DC

Good morning, Wednesday! Taking a quick trip back in time a few weeks to Alex and Rebecca’s beautiful wedding. 


After Asheville, we arrived in Greensboro on Saturday afternoon. We stayed at the O. Henry Hotel and it was gorgeous. Built in modern times (late 90s) but fashioned in a classic style with Craftsman features, it was an absolute treat.

Alex’s parents threw an incredible rehearsal dinner. They even brought in Diddy Riese cookies for ice cream sandwiches! 

David and I started the next day with a decadent southern breakfast at the hotel. The rest of the day, he was at the farm with the groomsman and I caught up on work at the hotel. One of my favorite parts about traveling is relaxing at pretty hotels, and it was nice to spend the day in the room…and order room service lunch… :) before the wedding.

Soon it was time to put on the James Taylor Pandora station (felt appropriate) and get ready for Alex and Rebecca’s ceremony!  

The rabbi from Rebecca’s family’s congregation led the ceremony under an incredible tree at Summerfield Farms. The weather was perfect and it was positively thrilling to see two incredible people commit to each other and to marriage. Rebecca was a stunningly beautiful bride. I loved seeing Alex watch his beautiful bride walk down the aisle. I wish I had more photos!

Cocktail hour was on the patio of the barn, overlooking the farm. Alex’s dad concocted the signature drink for the evening-the GSO 8. GSO, for Greensboro, 8 for their two families coming together. And it was delicious! I wish I could remember combination-I think it was tequila, a splash of St. Germain, lime juice, and…something else? 

One thing that struck me that evening was total admiration toward Alex and Rebecca’s beautiful community of family and friends. Many people were just meeting for the first time and were from all over-CA, DC, NC, Europe. But everyone seemed to click and get along, joining together in a joyful celebration of two good people. It’s certainly a reflection of Alex and Rebecca-they are phenomenally kind, thoughtful and genuine people. During his toast, Rebecca’s dad described this as their powerful sense of Ubuntu (I hope I remembered the right word!)  which basically means their impressive humanity toward others. I certainly felt it that evening and it was beautiful.

Also, so much joy!! 

The flowers, the table settings, the food, the DESSERT FIKA-all of it was so pretty. 

How beautiful is Rebecca? And her dress? The rest of the evening we danced, and danced, and danced. I wasn’t drinking that night, and assumed that the no drinking would lead to no dancing on my end. But the room was buzzing with so much joy and energy, we got super into dancing and had an absolute blast. SO FUN!

It was a beautiful evening! So happy to celebrate two of the best!! 

The next morning we slept in and David left for the airport to head back to Stockton. I had an evening flight to DC, and thankfully, the hotel gave me a generous late check out! It was nice to have the day to do work. I took a break that afternoon for afternoon tea at the hotel lobby. I wish I could beam myself back to that comfy leather sofa, and relax with some creamy English breakfast tea and a butter scone. It was heavenly. 

The timing of the NC trip worked out well with a last minute DC trip for work. And in evenings, I got to see some of my favorite people!

Max was in town at the same time, and on  Tuesday I got to join the newly engaged couple for dinner. I LOVE seeing them together, and am so excited for them!

Wednesday night, I met up with Shannon and got to meet her daughter!!!

So thrilling to see Shannon as a mom and meet her sweet Evelyn. 


I hope Evelyn gets her mom’s remarkable sense of humor and storytelling abilities-it looks like she’s well on her way :)

Another lucky break? Janou’s amazing friends happened to be throwing her a surprise engagement party the same night! Her friend Kendall planned everything so thoughtfully, down to the gorgeous Mediterranean tapas and appetizers. 

So special to be there and see Max and Janou surrounded by their community of friends who love them. Very happy older sister moment :)


And-Thursday night, I got to see Mr. Parker! Just a few weeks before his first birthday. He is as adorable as ever. Such a happy kid. Katie and Dave got pizza and it felt so nice to just relax in their living room and catch up. The best part-I get to see Katie again on Friday! So excited. Just two more days until the weekend :)

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Filed under DC, Reunions, Travel

Are you there Fall?

As I got in the car this morning, I was surprised to find it was drenched. Did the sprinklers go off? And then I realized, it RAINED!!!! Haven’t started a day this excited in a long time. It looks like it was a total fluke-it’s supposed to be in the mid-90s next week-but for now, I’ll relish this pretend fall.

A few things I’m looking forward to-whenever Fall does decide to arrive:

1) Not sleeping with the air conditioning. 

2) Maybe, maybe seeing some greenery? It’s just so dry everywhere. Hoping we get more rain soon.

3) David’s chili. David’s been making the same incredible chili recipe for YEARS. I’m craving it, but it’s tough to justify it when it’s sweltering. Much better with cooler weather.

4) Fall leaves. Hoping to see pretty leaf changes in Stockton and looking forward to more leaf peeping during some East Coast trips over the next few months.

5) Turtlenecks! And sweaters and scarves and just being comfy and cozy. 

6) Apples? I always find the onslaught of apple picking photos that fill my newfeed every fall a bit amusing. I’m always curious-what is everyone DOING with all those apples? Like, how many pies are actually being made? Janou and I went to a cute farm in Maryland a few years ago, and it was SO fun spending the day together, but I have no idea what I did with the apples. Now that we’re a much shorter drive to farms and Apple Hill, it might be nice to dive in to the whole fall ritual.

7) Corn maze? Actually no. I have zero interest in corn mazes. BUT-I do remember going to a gorgeous farm in Connecticut when David was living in Hartford. We went for the corn maze and pumpkin picking, yet the best part was pancakes. We sat on the deck and enjoyed hot berry pancakes in the cool fall air. 8 years later, it’s still one of my favorite fall moments. Definitely interested in some pancake/donut tasting at a farm.

8) Canella/night tea. Like chili, it’s tough to justify hot tea on a summer evening, but it’s such a nice way to wind down. A favorite treat-hot water with a cinnamon stick and honey. So soothing.

Looks like we have about 24 hours till it gets hot again-going to try to enjoy this fall teaser :)

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Filed under Holiday, Marriage

End of summer road trip 

When we had dinner with Budak in Stockholm during our November trip, two exiting things happened: 1) Budak asked David to be a groomsman in his wedding and 2) he told us the date and place for his wedding: Greensboro, Labor Day Weekend. I immediately began to dream about Southern food and an end of summer vacation…

When it came time to book the trip, as tends to happen, we realized our vacation time and travel funds didn’t quite lineup with my lofty daydreams (next time, OBX  Athens and Savannah!). So, we got creative.

Flying into Atlanta was dramatically less expensive than NC airports, so we decided to start there before driving to Asheville, where we would spend a few nights before the wedding.

We arrived at ATL late Wednesday night and used SPG points to stay at the Westin near the airport. We had a surprisingly delicious meal at the hotel restaurant before crashing after the long day of travel.

Despite the time change, we woke up early, eager to see a few Atlanta highlights before heading…northeast? West?….to Asheville.

David read about Home Grown‘s breakfasts, and after making our way out of the ATL megopolis and car rental, we were in the city, ready for grits and cozy chicken.


More than fortified by that heavy breakfast, we decided to browse through Krog Street Market before heading downtown.

Impeccable design with a charming home store next door, it would definitely be a great stop for lunch or dinner. After admiring the food stalls, we walked a bit on the Beltline before the humidity got to be too much.


Two years back in CA and I’ve become such a humidity wimp! We saw people jogging and wrapping up long walks in the 90 plus, humid weather. Impressive. The Beltline is beautiful and reminded me a lot of the Katy Trail in Dallas.

Before heading to Asheville, I wanted to stop at Olympic Park. Katie’s forthcoming book, Wing Jones, takes place during the 96 Olympics, and I wanted to go back to the park (the last time I was there was 20+ years ago as a child just before the Olympics opened :)).


Eventually, we hit the road for the 3.5 hour drive to Asheville.


The mountains were beautiful-and so green! “It feels like Maui,” David said, as we wound our way through the misty, rainy drive. I was thinking the same thing. Perhaps we’re just totally greenery starved in our dry-as-a-bone California drought-but something about the drive definitely reminded me of the Road to Hana.

After checking into our hotel downtown (thanks again, SPG!) we got ready for dinner. Walking through the downtown on the way to dinner, past the funky shops and eclectic coffee shops, I felt like I was in Portland, but surrounded by the mountains. Everything was just so cool. Including Nightbell, our dinner restaurant. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t nearly as great as the vibe, but maybe it was overhyped?

During the walk back, we must have passed a half a dozen chocolate shops (no exaggeration-two were next door to each other). Everything looked super tempting, but I was pretty content with a cozy tea I picked up from a hilarious Double Decker Bus-turned coffee shop.

The next morning, we started the day with another walk downtown, this time to the highly reviewed Early Girl Eatery for brunch.


It’s on Wall Street, a charming little side street with fun window shopping.  Eek! Once again, I didn’t think the food lived up to the hype-it was good! But no need to return.

Next up-our main plan for the day: touring the Biltmore Estate. As David’s friend Jeff said: “it’s so worth it, even though it’s stupid expensive.” He was right on both counts-it’s awesome, worth it, and absurdly expensive.


Any commentary I have on the Vanderbilt’s “summer home” would fail to accurately depict how magnificent it is. So, I’ll just hold on to these few photos and the happy memories of wandering through, admiring the beautiful rooms and gardens (and pretending I was in Downton Abbey).


That dining room table can seat 48 people! And look at that fireplace.


How on earth did FL Olmsted manage to make so many gardens so beautiful during one life? He was the mastermind behind this beauty, which continues to amaze in 2016.

After a delicious scoop of cookies and cream ice cream, we said goodbye to the estate and made our way back downtown.  Lunch was DELICIOUS.  We stopped into White Duck Taco Shop and tried four different tacos–all incredible.

Soon enough, it was time for dinner. We started the evening with a tasting a Wicked Weed Brewing.  The place was PACKED, but we got seats at the bar.  Since moving away from a city, we basically never meet up at a bar anymore, so it was quite fun to just sit at the bar counter, sip yummy drinks and relax.  This was Friday night, and it was exciting to see how much more buzzy and alive downtown was with a weekend crowd.  Most of the buildings are gorgeously preserved art decco stunners.  As we walked to dinner, we just kept asking each other, “how is this place so cool? Like seriously, what is the history of the city that made it so charming?”

After a loooooooooong wait for dinner, we finalllllllllllyyyyyyyyy got a table at Buxton Hall BBQ. So worth the wait.  I had a FRIED CHICKEN sandwich with PIMENTO CHEESE SAUCE and a slice of cheddar cheese and it was incredible, so worth all the unhealthiness, and I’m still thinking about it every other day.

Saturday was our last day in pretty Asheville.  Thank goodness we were leaving to go to two of our favorite people’s wedding, because it was hard to say goodbye!  Part of it was the realization that we have no idea when we’ll ever return to Asheville (it’s not super easy to get to from CA) and the fact I wasn’t quite ready to part with that relaxing mountain air.


We walked to Tupelo Honey in the magnificent Grove Arcade.  Once again, super crowded with two seats left at the bar-perfect! If we do ever go back to Asheville, I will definitely go back here.  The biscuits and honey were perfectly buttery, as were the rich scrambled eggs. We sat next to the nicest couple, Frank and John, who kindly told us all about the history of Asheville and explained why the architecture is so lovingly preserved (Asheville was a boom town in the 20s, and devastated by the Great Depression. Over the next 50 years, it slowly paid off its debt. During that time, while other cities built skyscrapers, it was still paying its creditors, leaving its gorgeous art deco and historic architecture largely in tact).

Before leaving for Greensboro, Frank encouraged us to drive up the road to the Grove Park Inn-“you have to see it,” he said, “it’s absolutely incredible.”

And it was. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a gigantic hotel-and the setting was even more impressive than the architecture.  It sits perched on a perfect spot for spectacular mountain views, and there is a gorgeous patio that overlooks a golf course to do just that–sit and admire the view.  In another “if we return to Asheville, let’s….” mental note, I promised myself we would have brunch on that gorgeous patio if we ever returned.

So, hopefully we’ll return someday! At that point, it was finally time to say goodbye and get on the road to the #BexandAlex wedding!!

 

 

 

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Filed under Travel

Hello, Friday :)

Hello almost weekend! Friday’s are always the best but this Friday I’m particularly happy thinking about my mom-happy birthday Mom! Wish we could all celebrate together in person, but toasting to you, sending love, and thinking of that beautiful Crystal Cove view :)

We had a bit of a fall teaser here-just a few days of cooler, windy weather-and it made me so eager for more fall and rain. 

David’s buddy Jason is visiting for the weekend. He’s our first actual visitor! It was fun to get the guest room ready last night and actually have a place for guests.

This weekend was super quiet which was wonderful since the previous two weeks were packed. Can’t wait to write more about our trip to the South, Alex and Rebecca’s absolutely gorgeous wedding, and my week in DC.

On Sunday, I’m driving to Burlingame for book club. This month we read articles instead of a book. Have you read this story about Irvine? I started scrolling through it on my phone the other night while getting ready for bed and an hour later I was still in my work clothes, just sitting there, completely gripped by the story. Incredibly well written, totally eye-popping.

Speaking of books, last week I read Catherine Newman’s Catastrophic Happiness. It was such a comforting, joyful and FUNNY book. I found myself snapping passages to re-read again later.

Alright, time to get started on the day. Sending good thoughts for a restful, nice weekend :)

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Filed under Family

Remembering

Thinking about a remarkable person today.  I’m sitting in our little house, in Stockton, and thinking, how many people woke up this morning, and the first person they thought of was Tim.  How many people in this city are carrying beautiful memories of an incredible man, while making their way through their morning, remembering and reflecting.

This weekend, the mental replay of my few memories of Tim was on a constant loop.  Memories of the first time I met Tim and Katie.  I must have been back in California for just a few months, totally overwhelmed by the change, and completely unclear about David’s new job, and what did this whole downtown revitalization thing really mean? From the moment we sat down at Mile Wine with Katie and Tim-they already had a crisp bottle of bubbly open-and shared afternoon drinks and laughs, I felt at ease.  Tim’s enthusiasm for the city combined with his remarkable ability to zero in on tactical actions to ignite change left quite an impression.

Memories of Tim at a birthday party, at Huddle events and the Stockmarket, and stories from David, came flooding back this weekend.  At the time, living in Oakland, I was so removed (geographically and mentally) from everything in Stockton. I realize now I was present for so little of that year.  This weekend, I felt like I was wringing memories from a sponge, trying to get another drop, another memory.  I realized, tragically, how briefly I knew Tim. Reading about his friendships and impact-across this city and world-it is totally clear that I was a blip on the screen of his life, at best.  Yet, in my life, and likely in the lives of so many others, his impact was profound.  That must be the mark of an incredible life; to move and impact a universe of people far more than they will ever impact you.

A week after he died, I read Ta Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Interestingly, my work book club is reading it and we’re talking about it tomorrow.  At the time, I felt haunted by Coates’ memories of his friend Prince, who the world lost far too soon.  Once again, these words keep playing in my mind as I think and reflect on Tim’s memory.

I think every day and about whom I expect to think every day for the rest of my life.  I think sometimes that he was an invention, and in some ways he is, because when the young are killed they are haloed by all that was possible, all that was plundered.  He was kind.  Generosity radiated off of him, and he seemed to have a facility with everyone and everything. This can never be true, but there are people who pull the illusion off without effort and (he) was one of them.  I can only say what I saw, what I felt.  There are people whom we do not fully know, and yet, they live in a place within us, and when they are plundered, when they lose their bodies and the dark energy disperses, the place becomes a wound.

Like Coates’ says, I can only say what I saw, what I felt.  A man who helped others see promise where there was so little hope, who brought electricity to every moment, and who brought great relief, inspiration and laughter to this sometimes doubtful outsider.  Tim, you are so missed.

tim-and-david

B. Getty Photo

 

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Filed under California Discoveries