Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back in Vermont

We're back in Vermont. Oversized fleece and Uggs. Hot chocolate in big white mugs. The snow plow at 5 a.m. Sunsets on Lake Champlain. Snowmen made by my daughter. Cozy afternoon naps. Chili at Sleepy Hollow after a good run. White steeples and snowy plains. Starry nights and silent mornings in our loft. Snow. Snow. Snow.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Remembering Benazir Bhutto

She was a strong, independent woman -- groomed to take power and encouraged by her father to read about other women leaders including Joan of Arc. What made her so amazing is her ability to take and keep political power in a Muslim country, one that has become increasingly more militant and frightening. I worried when she returned to her native country from exile in Dubai and London, as did all of those who watch Pakistan from afar, particularly when her first rally was met by violence and a suicide bomber that killed over 130. Today is a sad day for Pakistan, a tragic one in fact. It's a sad day for all of those that hope for democracy, but fear for something much less in Pakistan.

Jane Perlez's obituary is worth the read.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some of my favorites for 2007

BRAC: This organization, founded in Bangladesh in 1972, is truly life transforming and helping millions escape poverty. With a focus on women, it makes the path to self-sufficiency a much easier one.

WORLD CHANGING: I've spent more time this year than ever thinking about the choices we make -- the car we drive, products we use, how much we recycle, what we read. This site is the one stop shop.

CENTER FOR U.S. GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT: For those of out there that care about our engagement and contribution to the world, this organization is making a difference; and Impact -08 is helping to ensure that the U.S. Presidential candidates focus some of their energies on foreign assistance and our humanitarian and development efforts from Iraq to India to Indonesia.

SMART POWER: First it was called "soft power" -- but now even Joseph Nye is using the term Smart Power to define a better way of engaging around the world and using our powers of persuasion. A smart combination of public diplomacy and engagement, including efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and reduce poverty, it just makes sense. Listen up Bush Administration.

THE BOTTOM BILLION: A must read, by Paul Collier, if you didn't do it in 2007 to help understand more about the world's poor, primarily in Africa, and how our actions impact them.

MINA AGOSSI: She is truly a chanteuse; saw this sexy French signer at Blues Alley in Washington, DC and was transported right to smoky Montmarte jazz club.

PANDORA.COM From Journey to Lauren Hill to Lizz Wright to Dixie Chicks, I love plugging into this free website for radio stations that I create.

SUNDANCE CATALOGUE: No matter that I live in the city and love my high heels, this catalogue always make me lust for mountain views and fresh air in Montana, Colorado or Idaho -- a life spent in kick ass boots with a big chunky sweater and a cup of jo' looking out over the horizon at my herd.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Old Saint Nick

Ho...ho...ho! Looking forward to Old Saint Nick's arrival! To all my family and friends in Kabul, Paris, Prague, Zagreb, Phnom Phen, Belgrade, Dili, Bangkok and beyond....have a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Favorite Christmas Windows of the Season

Here are just a few of my favorite holiday windows I passed by this season!

Makin' My List..and Checkin' it Twice

I've been trying to make my list. No, I don't mean Christmas gifts. I mean Christmas cocktails. From the famous Bellini to the red wine cocktail , I'm trying to figure out what to serve some friends on New Year's Eve. My husband is making hot wine (glog) but I think a nice champagne cocktail may be in order!

Monday, December 17, 2007

As Winter Sets in Here

Travel and Leisure's "best of" issue is out and it always makes me salivate. The photo on the cover is a place I visited a few years back, La Casa Que Canta in Mexico -- only for dinner but I've always lusted to go there and stay in one of those beautiful adobe rooms overlooking the infinity pool as music floats up into the cool night air. I lived vicariously through some advice to my friends, Paula and Mark, as I recommended it as their honeymoon destination -- and they ultimately loved it.

Now I'm lusting after these African safari locations.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Vermont Awaits...

I've been bad, very bad. I haven't posted in days with any real focus. I've been over, over, overwhelmed with work. Presents are piling up to be wrapped. Cookies to be baked. A party to throw. I love it! I love this time of year and the joy in my daughter's voice as she tells me what she'll be asking Santa for -- a watch, bubbles in a jar and a doll. I think Santa can deliver!

Then, it's off to Vermont to ski and relax, including a spa day the Pitcher Inn. Doesn't it look exactly how Vermont should look that time of year?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

....on Travel

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
~ Mark Twain

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Another Day...Another Valley

Another thing I love about long weekends is the ability to explore so many different neighborhoods in a city. We started this morning at Le Zinc, a French bistro, in Noe Valley, a neighborhoods which reminds me in many ways of ours in Washington, D.C. So many little time, including the Urban Nest, which is what I'd want my store to look like, filled with funky stationary, old-fashioned Christmas ornaments and little treasures tucked into many nookes and crannies.

A Hayes Valley Day

Today we checked out Hayes Valley in San Francisco, a once "seedy" neighborhood which is now home to quaint boutiques and French-style bistros. This is what I love about a long vacation weekend -- lunch with a bellini in a sunlit cafe watching strangers walk by, discovering new, funky shops filled with handknit sweaters and assorted designers...and ultimately knowing we have nothing more significant to do than return to the hotel and....nap.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Counting our Blessings

I'm counting my blessings this time of year, particularly when I think back to the months I spent in East Timor and how so many families lived in thatched huts, often sick with malaria and lacking basic food and clean water. As we think about the holidays, it's the perfect time to reflect on how we can help those less fortunate abroad, be it through an organization such as World Vision, UNICEF or CARE.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Things Swedish

This is what happens when you start thinking about a Swedish table and searching for get fixated on all things Swedish!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Swedish Inspiration

Given that my husband is partly Swedish, we've often talked about doing a lavish Christmas Eve Swedish table -- pickled herring, lingon berries, glog -- you get the blue and yellow pciture. But until this year, I haven't been truly inspired. Transport me to Sweden and you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be whipping up a Swedish feast but admist the hustle and bustle of the American holidays, I've never been truly inspired...until now. What has contributed to this state of mind? I was partially transported the other night on Coming B (okay, it was a French website) and a trip to Ikea today, so I'm now dreaming of our lovely table.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Can We Go Here Soon, Please?

Can you believe this place, Camp Ya Kanzai? Amazing....I was flipping through my November Travel and Leisure tonight and voila! Last year, South Africa...this year dreamin' of Kenya.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Another wonderful Thanksgiving -- and so much to be thankful for, including my family, friends, health, travel and so much more!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Winter Travel to Japan

I am absolutely spellbound by these photos in today's New York Times special winter travel section. Is it the steam coming off the sulfur bath as inches of snow weigh down the nearby bushes and trees or sight of the serene Japanese model treading through the deep snow in that fur-trimmed lovely silken outfit, hair up swept?

Friday, November 16, 2007

White Grass -- Shhhhhhhhh

We got up this morning in Washington, D.C. and could feel the snow in the air. You know what that means! We'll be heading out soon to White Grass in West Virginia - a little find that my husband introduced me to a few years ago. The basic "chalet" takes me back to Austria or Slovenia with it's very basic design (okay, design is a gross exaggeration), dark wood and cozy, wet atmosphere after a great day of cross country skiing. Then, we settle in at night for some great food and blue grass at the cafe or the Purple Fiddle.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Flight Attendants?

Today's post is not about travel, per se. It is about flight attendants. Trust me, I know a few smart ones -- including a very good friend from college. Yet, I was struck today when reading a piece by Maureen Dowd about the power (and potential threat) of smart women. For many of us who would like to think that old stereotypes have vanished, some recent studies illustrate that is not the case. So, this is an ode to smart women, whether flight attendant, senior vice president, consultant, attorney, stay-at-home mom, know who you are! And if you happen to share a love for travel, that makes two things we have in common!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who Were the Orientalists?

I just fell in love. With the Orientalists. Okay, so they have all since passed into the Netherworld....but it has taken me a century or more to meet these wonderfully adventurous, daring and intrepid painters. I was introduced to their work the other night at a black tie soiree at the Saudi Arabian Embassy. No, it's not my typical evening but, then again, nothing was typical about the evening. A rich, Silicon Valley investor has amassed a tidy number of Ludwig Deutsch paintings like these. The details, including intricate lattice work and metal shields and swords, are amazing...the rich ambers and azure blues are inspiring...and the everyday scenes of 19th century Middle East life are as mysterious now as they were then.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Holiday Photos -- Oh, the Decision!!

It's about time to order our holiday photos and I've been poring over numerous photos we had taken on Fire Island this summer. While I won't give you the preview, here are some of the precious photos that I'm framing in black and white. I'm still undecided about which card to order from Tiny Prints.