The Most Beautiful City in Brazil: Ouro Preto

Before leaving on our extensive road trip through the historic state of Minas Gerais, I sat at the dining room table with my brother-in-law’s mother, studying the map of our anticipated route. She spoke Portuguese slowly, the pace of an elderly woman eager to share past experiences with a new friend. As her finger traced the [...]

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10 Blogging Lessons I Wish I’d Learned Earlier

If you have a blog, you know that “success” can be elusive. Reaching your goals can be a long and frustrating process, and often, just when you’re almost there, you realize that the bar has been raised by the work of your fellow bloggers. As a parent and professor who blogs part time, I have [...]

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Lately: September in Northern California

After a busy summer, so full of travel and even some uncertainty, it’s been a welcome change to be HOME and settling into the routine of a new semester. You may know that both my husband and I are professors at a community college in Sacramento, California, so between us and our now-2nd-grade son, our [...]

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Volunteer Travel: Plan Ahead and Travel for a Change

Volunteer travel has been on my wish list for a long time now. As you may know, my “day job” is teaching English as a Second Language to immigrants at a college here in California, but I started teaching English in the Czech Republic back in the 1990s. It wasn’t a volunteer job, but spending time with [...]

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Details of Brazil

It’s been more than a month already since I got back from Brazil, and I’m firmly rooted in Northern California right now, working and trying to enjoy my days off despite the late summer heat. I’m planning a couple of trips for this fall (Yosemite? Portland?) and looking forward to the change of seasons. I still [...]

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Slow Food Giveaway!

Eating healthfully is a constant priority in my life, but when things get really busy, it can be so hard to eat well. Dinner consists of frozen pizza more often than I’d like to admit. When a small health food company from San Francisco contacted me recently to see if I’d be interested in trying their savory [...]

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Cutting Edge Brazil at Inhotim

Art and landscape are two of my favorite things, so when I first heard about Inhotim from my culture-loving husband, I knew I had to go there. It reminded me of a much larger version of one of my favorite art/landscape centers, Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. Inhotim, a 271-acre botanical garden and center for contemporary [...]

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Art That Inspires: The Story Behind the David

For this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable on the topic of art that inspires…Yesterday as I was leaving the grocery store, I saw a bumper sticker that said “EARTH without art is just ‘Eh’”. That sticker reminded me of what kept going through my mind as I began reading Monuments Men and watched the movie, the story [...]

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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

Have you seen those blogs that show a beautiful family, perfectly dressed in the latest finds from Madewell or J. Crew, frolicking in a field of lavender somewhere after a picnic in the sun-kissed light of early evening? Did they mention that perhaps the kids didn’t want to touch any of the picnic food, that the [...]

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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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