beauty in the heart of texas

The San Antonio Botanical Garden is a veritable playground for nature-lovers. My grandparents spend their winters in San Antonio, and every few years I join them there for Thanksgiving. I tend to forget that Texas is so far south, so the lovely weather in November never ceases to surprise me. I've visited Botanical Gardens across the globe, from Singapore to London, and the San Antonio Botanical Garden remains one of my favorites. From the formal gardens to the plots representing plants native to Texas, this beautiful 38-acre garden reserve is a tranquil place for a long walk with family or friends. It's also home to a yummy bistro and a gift shop brimming with treasures for your favorite gardeners!

Images by Lauryl Lane.

a visit to grammy and grandpa...

I took these images at my Grandparent's winter abode, their San Antonio condominium, three and a half years ago. My {lovah} and I were visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, and it had been quite a few years since I'd been there, so I wandered around one afternoon, taking pictures of things that I remembered from when I was a little girl, fascinated by all the lovely, fragile items that my Grammy decorated with. My skills with the camera have improved dramatically since I shot these images, but sharing them now seems necessary, cathartic.

My grandfather is dying. He doesn't have long. I plan to be with him soon in Cleveland, to say goodbye, but every day is difficult. My grandmother loves him so much, and I can see her falling apart at the seams as she contemplates life without him. They've been married for over sixty-five years. It seems so unfair to me that they've recently reached such a milestone, only to have it be their last. In between my daily meetings, photo shoots, writing contracts and recipes, sketching design ideas... I spend time on the phone. With my grandmother, my mother, my siblings, my cousin, discussing the inevitability to come. I break down crying, in random moments, while I'm typing at the computer or washing dishes or even in the middle of a morning run.

My grandfather is nearly 88 years old. He's lived a long and incredibly rewarding life. He's touched many lives, saved many lives, during his years working as a neurosurgeon. He's been such a kind and generous grandfather. In fact, he's been like a father to me- giving me advice when he knew I needed it, pushing me to work harder, to follow my dreams. He financed most of my education, an education that I am so grateful for today.

I could go on and on about my Grandpa George, and I'm sure I will, eventually. But for now, these pictures remind me of all the happy times I spent here with them. In the next month, my mother and I will be dismantling this house. It's been sold, my grandparents won't be back. The thought is devastating, but I suppose that all good things must come to an end. Even the lives of those we love.

I thought that I would narrate these images, but it seems unnecessary. My grandmother has very eclectic taste, which I'm sure is quite obvious from the images. She loves chinoiserie, and there are bits of oriental design and art throughout all of her homes. She has a knack for arranging things so that even the most mundane items are aesthetically pleasing. My mother has that knack, too. They both passed that knack on to me. I am grateful. Grateful for the dearest, sweetest, kindest, most wonderful grandparents in the whole wide world, for everything that they have taught me. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for Grammy Laurie and Grandpa George, and I just felt the need to put my feelings out there, into the universe, into the world wide web, so everyone can know how much I love and adore these two beautiful people.

the best view in the world

Although I definitely consider myself an Angeleno, the East Bay will always be my second home. I was born in Berkeley and lived in Oakland until my mother and stepdad migrated our family to the MidWest. My Dad has remained in the Bay Area, and now my eldest sister and her husband have settled back into the Oakland Hills after years of living on the East Coast. This is the view from their home, and as much as I love Los Angeles, I have to admit that there is no prettier view in the world than this view of the Bay Bridge, the Bay, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Heaven on earth.

Image by Lauryl Lane.

saint james tea room

About an hour from Denver, nestled into the mountains, lies the quaint, historical mining town of Georgetown. When two of my best friends visited over the holidays, I was quick to suggest that we make for the mountains, despite the cold and falling snow.

When I first agreed to move to Denver for {lovah}'s job, I thought Denver was IN the mountains. Imagine my surprise when we landed at the Denver International Airport, which is in the middle of a barren, depressing flatscape. I thought we'd accidentally landed in Kansas. I was very disappointed to find that Denver is about as flat as my home neighborhood of Silver Lake is hilly. So the obvious response? Head to the mountains as frequently as possible!!!

As {lovah} and I are fascinated by history and nostalgia, we find Georgetown to be particularly endearing. The facade of main street is almost untouched by modernity, apart from the ability to string colorful holiday lights across the street, which is, of course, utterly charming.

We visited just a week before Christmas, and with the snow falling softly, the little town really did appear to be a magic winter wonderland.

My favorite destination in Georgetown is the tea room. On a little side street, it is also home to a store full of miniatures-- the type of miniatures you'd use for making dollhouses! The tea room is kitschy but delightful, with beautiful mis-matched china, funky lace linens, and, thankfully, individual space heaters for each table!

With a very wide selection of teas to choose from, each of the four people in our party decided on something different. Four pots of wonderful tea led to hours of sipping and conversation...

We also enjoyed delicious tea sandwiches, in traditional English style, along with scones and clotted cream, and other wonderful delicacies.

The potato soup was the most flavorful I'd ever had! I am now determined to replicate this soup because it really was extraordinarily good.

My favorite tea ended up being the White Avalanche, which has the unusual added element of coconut, a flavor I'd never had in tea before. Erin was the one who chose this particular blend, and I'm ever so glad she did. She also purchased a tin of the loose tea for me, and I've been enjoying it for months now.

By the time we finished our tea time, it was dark out and we set out to begin the rather treacherous and nerve-wracking drive home, as the snow had picked up a bit and I'm not a fan of driving in the snow... but we made it home safe and sound, and I'm already pining for another little excursion to Georgetown and the Saint James Tea Room!

Saint James Tea Room 614 Rose Street Georgetown, CO 80444 303-569-3100

Images by Lauryl Lane.

beautiful big bear

Yesterday I awoke to another eight inches of snow. On top of the 2+ feet that still remained from the last snowstorm, everything seems devastatingly snowy to me. I find it both funny and sad how quickly the novelty-aspect wears off. The sun is shining today, so hopefully it will melt, melt, melt the aforementioned snow. In the meantime, I've been going through pictures and remembering times when I was warm!

When I needed an escape from Los Angeles smog (which I now miss, believe it or not!), my favorite excursion was to drive the two hours up into the mountains, and rent a cabin in Big Bear. Whether getting a bit of color on the porch, or sitting in front of the fire on a cooler evening, everything about Big Bear is relaxing. I love the hustle and bustle of urban living, but sometimes it's nice to take a break, breath the fresh air, revel in the beauty of nature, and recharge.

A view like this is a tremendous stress reliever!

And besides my own home, there isn't anything more cozy than a cabin.

Nothing says "relax" like a beer tasting.

Alpine sledding? Sure, why not!

Hiking? Yeah, I dig that!

Taking the ski lift to drink in the gorgeous scenery? Yes, please!

And it's pretty magical to look up at the night sky and see it filled with stars!

Big Bear is a skiing destination during the winter and it's quite lovely to visit then, but I prefer it during the off-season, when it's perfectly sunny and warm, wonderfully green and blue, less crowded, and exceptionally serene.

Images by Lauryl Lane.

memorial day weekend

I am still trying to get caught up on business + life after traveling for the past two weeks. For Memorial Day weekend, {lovah} and I drove up to the Bay Area to visit with my family. My oldest sister and her husband are moving back to Berkeley after many years out East, so we went house-hunting with them. It was such an enjoyable, relaxing weekend. Here's a little peek at our adventures, courtesy of my iPhone!

Brunch at Crepevine in Oakland | House-hunting in Berkeley & Oakland | Breakfast (twice!) at Fat Apple's, an institution for my family | Exploring the beautiful Berkeley campus, where my brother-in-law will be teaching | Book-buying at Pegasus in Berkeley (the book thing runs in the family, too!) | A Pear Sage Martini at The Claremont in Berkeley | Watching my Dad compete in the Marin Memorial Day 5k Race!

Images by Lauryl Lane.