Category Archives: Travel

New Zealand pretties.

I never got a chance to post some photos from our trip to New Zealand and thought I’d use the long weekend to show some pretties with you!

We had a lot of fun taking boats, trains, and automobiles while we were touring around.

We flew into Auckland, then flew down to Wellington. We had a nice lunch by the harbor and then boarded the ferry to Picton.

It was about a 3 hour ferry ride on the Interislander, but it could not have been prettier.

We had a brilliant day for it!

Then we took another quick speed boat ride to The Bay of Many Coves. I was so excited to stay somewhere only accessible by boat!! I mean isn’t that just a cool idea?!

The style of the hotel houses really epitomizes New Zealand style… it blends into it’s surroundings in a rustic meets modern way.

The view was pretty epic! Ahhh… the color of that water! We had a long night sleep after ALL that travel and an amazing dinner. Seriously, I don’t know what all the fuss is about Waygu beef–the best steak and lamb I’ve ever eaten was in New Zealand. All the food was just so crisp and fresh.

Then we were off on a train down the Eastern coast. Unfortunately, our boat ride to the Kiwi Rail was a bit slow which meant we had to race the train in a taxi to the next stop. Oh my goodness!! It was so stressful, but we made it and the train is a fantastic way to see the wineries of Marlborough and the coastline.

Even though the food in the dining car was pretty standard dining fair, it still felt glamorous to me to go get a drink and sandwich there! We had a bit of excitement as another earthquake struck Christchurch while we were on the train… luckily no one was hurt, but we did feel aftershocks throughout Christmas Eve there. Scary stuff!!

The ocean was so pretty and there were so many seals! Kaikoura is famous for its seals and crayfish.

We got off the train and spent the night at the Hapuku Lodge, enjoyed another awesome meal (much of which was from the farm we were staying on), before getting back on the train the next afternoon and taking it all the way to Christchurch.

We had a nice little hike to a waterfall, which earlier in the season is a little nursery for the seal pups!

The landscape in New Zealand is so pristine and untouched, it really does feel like no one has ever been there before. We kept remarking that New Zealand is like every National Park in the US crammed into a state the size of Colorado.

I highly recommend this plane, ferry, train, train itinerary as a really nice way to see the Eastern coast. Just make sure you leave ample time for transitions!!

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Shanghai: Around town.

There are some really exceptional flea markets around Shanghai.

They make you feel like they haven’t thrown away a thing in twenty years!

We really enjoyed walking around town and seeing everyday life.

These gentlemen are making those rattan-type carpets, one string at a time.

Isn’t this a great shot? The Mr. took it!

And that’s all from Shanghai…. I do hope we get to go back again soon!

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Shanghai: Roaring Twenties Style.

The reason we headed to Shanghai with a bunch of expat friends from Hong Kong and Singapore was to celebrate our good friend Kim’s birthday.

Inspired by all of Shanghai’s amazing twenties-style architecture, on Saturday night everyone dressed up flapper-style.

Invites were of course by Minted. I took the Hearty Halloween invites by jody wody and re-purposed them to be more roaring twenties than pumpkin!

The evening’s festivities were held at the Shanghai Kee Club, which couldn’t be a more awesome space.

It’s located in twin 1920s building styled like personal residences.

The rooms are chalk-full of historic and contemporary art, antiques–many from the adjoining Alfred Dunhill Home–and beautiful textiles.

We were lucky enough to all get seated at one, big long table… I love long tables! Above the mantle is a quarter of a real car–talk about man cave inspiration.

I was especially excited about the night’s theme having become completely obsessed with Downton Abbey and it honestly felt like Shanghai was the most appropriate place in the world to dress like this!

The birthday girl making final adjustments.

Now, that’s a bar, am I right?

I highly recommend the theme for your next fête! Fascinators, long necklaces, headbands worn on your forehead, top hats… what could be better?

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Shanghai: Walking the city.

Last weekend, 16 of us headed to Shanghai to celebrate our friend Kim’s (far left) birthday. I absolutely fell in love with the city!!

While the boys slept in and ate dumplings and drank beer… us girls got in some shopping, walking and lunching. It was so much prettier and less polluted than I had expected.

The city is so full of contrasts… old and new… Chinese and Western.

I think this is anice shot of the old on the Shanghai side, and the new on the Pudong side across the Huangpu river. The building with the hole in it is the Shanghai Financial Center–at 93 floors, with the Park Hyatt at the top, it was until very recently the highest hotel in the world.

Aren’t these brushes beautiful? I was tempted to think of how one might decorate with them…

I got such a kick out of these GIANT xiao long bao — you suck the pork soup out with a straw they’re so big!

I also got quite a kick out of this woman getting her hair dyed in the middle of a bustling marketplace — I think it was a free demo. You couldn’t pay me to get my hair dyed in front of thousands by a complete stranger!

And there’s the famous Pudong skyline right on the Bund.

It’s such a pretty place to walk along… I loved all the historic, European buildings along the water’s edge. All proudly flying their red flags.

Shanghai is home to 23 million people and has been the commercial center of China since the 1930s, thanks to its great port and special status as the Shanghai International Settlement, which established it as a British settlement after the first opium war ended in 1842. Land deals with the Americans and French followed soon after… and the French concession is still intact and one of the prettiest parts of the city. The lands were returned to the Chinese in 1943.

I was so surprised that it has one of the world’s largest number of Art Deco buildings as a result of the construction boom during the roaring 1920s.

A Sex in the City – esque shot!

Being a group of six girls, we did a lot of hotel lobby hopping and as such enjoyed fabric napkins at every pit stop! Don’t miss a walk through the stunning lobby of the recently refurbished Waldorf Astoria on the Bund.

What an amazing hotel!! Image from CNTraveler.com

And here’s a view from the top of the Ritz from Pudong back to the other side… which seems to stretch on forever. I still can’t get over how old but yet futuristic the tv tower looks!

And of course what would be on top of a bridal Bentley pulling into a wedding at one of the nicest hotels in Shanghai? Why a Hello Kitty couple of course. Naturally.


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Sundance wants you! A how-to guide.

Ever wondered what going to the festival entails? Read on for a how-to guide.

It’s a little shocking to actually write this out… but this year was my 12th year at Sundance! I’ve been going with my friend Tammy and a bunch of our friends for over a decade. Suffice it to say, the festival has changed a ton. It used to be that you could walk into any movie you wanted, pay $8 at the door and enjoy, but since Paris Hilton started coming, it’s been a whole bunch of crazy–albeit still manageable. You just need to plan a looooong way ahead of time, which is why I’m posting this now!

–Rent a house now. I’m lucky enough that my parents have a place in Park City, which is how we’ve been able to do the festival for so many years. But even if you’re not so lucky, renting a house or condo is definitely the way to go with a group… you’ll be able to cook your own food and hang there, which will save an arm and a leg, plus be more cozy generally. Now that we’re a little older and more mature, I think everyone agrees that hanging fireside and discussing the flicks we just saw over some nice wine and yummy food is the best part of the weekend!

–Register in September. We usually have a large group… anywhere from 12 to 25 people and I make everyone (yes, drill sergeant over here… if you don’t register, you aren’t coming) register for tickets. It’s free and takes 2 minutes. If your group is smaller, I suggest having your siblings and other randoms register for you, but be sure if you do this that you check the option to have the tickets delivered to your address (not theirs) as you’ll otherwise be required to pick-up the tickets with ID in person. I put the odds at 1 in 7 that you’ll get a good enough time to get the package you want.

–Buy ticket packages in October. Unless you can swing a festival pass for $3 grand getting you (and only you) into every movie you want to see, you’ll end up going for an A or B package for the first or second weekends. There are advantages to both weekends; the first weekend you’ll see way more celebs, but it’s also way more crowded and difficult to get into movies. The second weekend is a lot more chill… and some movies don’t premiere until later in the festival.

–Select actual tickets in early January. Besides actually compiling lists of all the movies your friends want to see (we always use a shared Google Doc for this), I make sure that movies are at times people will actually get their butts in gear to go see. No one ever goes to midnight showings… no matter how gung-ho they think they are, they would always rather sleep or have a few more beeers. 8am movies also have a very low no-show rate. While you can only get four tickets to a screening per package, it helps to combine packages so you have lots of tickets to the same movie. This creates group momentum and doesn’t leave people stranded without transportation.

-GO! Enjoy the movies–especially the Q&A’s after with the actors and director, the ‘scene’ downtown, the snow–it almost always snows this time of year, and the skiing–everyone is at the movies so the three resorts in town (Park City, Deer Valley, and the Canyons) are literally EMPTY. Oh and don’t forget that even after all of the above tix hassle, that you have to be at the theatre 30 mins before the start time or they’ll give your seat away!

Tomorrow I’ll tackle large group hostessing logistics!!

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