My Top 40 Travel Tips

If only all travel moments were as easy and carefree as this one! Actually, traveling can cause quite a bit of anxiety because it pulls people out of their comfortable, familiar surroundings. It’s been 24 years since my first trip abroad, but I’ve made my fair share of mistakes that continually keep me on my toes. [...]

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6 Favorite Wines for Summer

In my home region of Northern California, summer is looong…it extends through September and leads into October when the days continue to be warm but the mornings and evenings really start to feel like fall. That means there’s still plenty of time to enjoy summer wines, and I have some excellent suggestions for you. First, [...]

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Unexpected Beauty: Windows & Doors of Minas Gerais, Brazil

I knew the historic towns of Minas Gerais, Brazil, would be nice, but I didn’t expect the special atmosphere and beauty that we found in each town. One after another was filled with perfectly preserved historic buildings. The buildings’ details of color, shape, and material make up the windows and doors of Ouro Preto, Tirandentes, Congonhas, and [...]

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Design Tips for Summer Entertaining

Ahh, summer. It’s my favorite time of year, and fortunately, I get plenty of it since summer lasts through September here in the Sacramento area. I cherish my three-month vacation and its long, easy days dotted with details of summer in Northern California–cool mornings, incredible berries and stone fruits, crisp summer wines, dips in the pool, [...]

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The Truth about Traveling with Kids

In case you didn’t know, I’m donating $1 to UNICEF for every comment left on my blog in the month of August. Please consider leaving a comment on this post or another one–find more blog posts here. Thank you! Have you seen those blogs that show a beautiful family, perfectly dressed in the latest finds [...]

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An Art Day in Napa Valley

Napa Valley is one of California’s most important regions for tourism and, of course, wine, but a lot of people wonder what to do in Napa Valley besides taste wine. Actually, Napa Valley has cultural attractions because some winery owners are also art aficionados. This month’s ArtSmart Roundtable features “an art day in…” so I thought [...]

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Tiradentes, the Cutest Town in Brazil?

One of the pleasures of travel is that you never know what you will find. I’d heard about the small town of Tiradentes–that it was a cute colonial town in Brazil–but I didn’t expect it to be so…um…perfect. Tiradentes is a town of about 7000 people in the rural, hilly state of Minas Gerais, about 3 [...]

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The Best of Sao Paulo: Parque Ibirapuera

São Paulo is the world’s 9th largest city by population and also happens to be where my husband was born and raised. It’s a big, noisy, messy city, but it never ceases to surprise me, either with excellent food or with world-class cultural attractions. While I certainly indulged in plenty of excellent food during this [...]

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A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil

One of the things in Brazil that I look forward to the most is the fruit. Not only is the variety of fruit delicious, but it also takes a central role in the daily cuisine, being served at breakfast, for snacks, and as dessert right after lunch and dinner. Brazil is a tropical country with [...]

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Digging Deeper: The Historic Architecture in California

This month’s ArtSmart Roundtable is all about architecture, and I decided to give you a little overview of the architecture of California since there’s more history to be seen here than some might imagine. Because California is one of the westernmost states and had such a strong influence on 20th century culture, many people don’t realize the history that exists [...]

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Loving the Land of Samba: Favorite Things about Brazil

I never imagined that Brazil would become my second home of sorts. As a young traveler I didn’t have much interest in South America, and even after marrying a Brazilian with very strong ties to his homeland, I didn’t feel totally comfortable in the land of Samba. But after several (8? 10?) trips there, Brazil has [...]

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Inspiring Reads, May 2014

There have been more than enough stories in the news lately to leave me feeling down, but I have also found inspiration from other stories. I hope you enjoy this round-up of inspiring reads that I’ve been collecting this spring. Leaving Something Behind: Creating Community with Photos I love this idea of leaving photos behind [...]

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A Guide to Cheap Eats in Brazil

As soccer fans begin to rain down on Brazil for the World Cup, they need to know what to eat without spending a fortune. Many people don’t know how expensive Brazil can be–in São Paulo a meal at a nice but not super fancy restaurant can easily run $50 per person–but fortunately there is plenty of [...]

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One Gorgeous Piece of Highway

“I had forgotten how beautiful this place is,” I find myself saying to a new friend during our Big Sur road trip on the coast of central California. I don’t know how I could have forgotten, but it’s been a few years since I’ve driven this far down Highway 1. Plus, Big Sur looks different [...]

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Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide

If you’re still thinking about that perfect gift for Father’s Day, here are some of my favorite last minute Father’s Day gift ideas for dads like my husband–dads who are on trend and also enjoy practical items and special experiences. You might be asking where the power tools are since those seem to be the stereotypical Father’s Day [...]

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The Light of Venice

This month’s ArtSmart Roundtable is about light, which got me thinking about how light has such a different quality in different places. Where I live, in the middle of a big desert-like valley in California, the light is bright. The sun shines a lot; in fact, in our long summers, there is rarely a cloud in the [...]

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A Wine Lover’s Dream at ZinFest

I had only a few hours but there were 250 wines to try. Yep…250 wines. Lodi ZinFest is a wine lover’s dream–a festival of fine wine, food, music, and more wine held on a series of lakes in one of my favorite wine regions, Lodi, California. ZinFest celebrates the variety and quality of Lodi wines (well, that’s no surprise) in [...]

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