Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nature's Creations Gallery

Just posting a shameless plug to check out my artwork for sale at the new Colorado gallery, Nature's Creations. Located just 15 minutes away from my favorite microbrewery, New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, CO. The grand opening is next weekend!

Please contact Sheryl Brunmeier for more info @ 970-484-1021

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bonne FĂȘte au musee du Louvre!

It is rumored that princes used to race camels through the corridors and the modern concept of a public museum was born within its wall during the French revolution. Awesome is defined as inspiring awe or admiration or wonder... and walking the vast corridors of the Louvre is truly awesome. In celebration of it being the 217th birthday of the world's first public museum, I thought I share five tips about visiting this overwhelming hub of culture and art.

1) Although most people enter via the famous glass pyramid, you can also buy tickets through the Carousel du Louvre (access via rue de Rivoli) underneath the museum. While you are there, you can also stop at La Maison du Chocolat for a taste of my favorite french chocolates, the bourbon truffles!

2) To protect the capital from Viking attacks, King Philippe Auguste (1180–1223) decided to reinforce Paris' defenses with a fortress in 1190, which came to be known as the Louvre. The history of the Louvre is as rich as its immense art collection... and one is easily reminded of this while standing in the crypt with the remnants of the 12th century foundation or stumbling across the sculpted murals from the time of Napoleon I in the Carousel du Louvre. The 1.5 hour guided tour is highly recommended for a broad overview of the Louvre's history and a look at some of its most famous pieces of art.

3) The best advice I was given was to take a look at the map and choose three specific pieces to look at during your visit. However, choosing an exhibit or just 3 pieces from the collections is difficult on its own.
It can be argued that the three most famous pieces at the Louvre are the "Winged Victory of Samothrace," the "Venus de Milo" and the "Mona Lisa." However, these pieces are also famous for being the three stops on the five minute and 56 second world record tour of the Louvre completed by american tourist, Peter Stone. To see if you could beat the record, check out this famous clip from the Band of Outsiders.

4) The Cafe Richelieu overlooks the outer courtyard and Pyramid of the Louvre. It is a great place to grab a cafe au lait and rest your feet while people watching amongst the somber statues guarding the Palaces rooftops.

5) On Wednesday evenings, the Louvre is opened until 10pm. This is the perfect time to go to avoid the large crowds and spend time with some of your favorite pieces.

Happy Birthday, Louvre!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Giant Win in San Francisco!

Quotes of the day:

"I couldn't get down to Montgomery Street to get into the office, so i grabbed a Giants poster off the ground... and walked down the middle of the street. Every couple of feet i would raise the sign, and the crowd would cheer and scream. I felt like a rockstar in business casual." - Overheard conversation in my office kitchen this morning

"Hey Giants fans, scoot to the middle of the train and cuddle... big mama has to get to work!"
- BART Commuter to other passengers this morning at 8:30am after 4 full trains passed her by.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Halloween Masquerade... Wedding!

Here are a couple fun picks of
my cousin's wedding in Southern Cali. It was a beautiful affair in a small town off the beaten track. If I didn't fly into a warm sunny morning in San Diego only a few hours before, I wouldn't have believed that the wedding was in California. The wedding was classy and tasteful, followed with a beautiful sunset and the donning of our masks for the masquerade reception. Overall, not a bad way to spend Halloween!

Congrats Eli & Megan! Thank you for sharing this lovely evening with us!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Home Sweet Home!

... I just returned from an amazing three week trip in Europe, including visits to Berlin, Munich, Paris, Austria, Heidelberg, Ramstein, Rodenbach ob du Tauer,

and a road trip down Germany's romantic road touring castles along the way. I hope to update the blog soon with some of my favorite journal entries!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Traveler's Sexiest Celebrity Men of 2010

In response to the ridiculous list of Glamour's Sexiest Men of 2010 ... (Really, let's be serious ladies. Why is Justin Bieber in the top ten?  I thought you had to be a man, not a little boy, to be qualified! And Russel Brand? Are you joking???) ... I bring you my top ten list of the Travelers Sexiest Celebrity Men of 2010:

10. James McAvoy - Funny. Intense. With a dash of the boy next door...


9. Ignacio Figueras - Argentinean Polo Player


8. Iker Casillas - One of the best reasons to watch the FIFA 2010 World Cup (Goalie for Spain)


7. Taye Diggs - If you were to believe ABC, all doctors are this dreamy... or is it steamy? Either way, he is McAwesome!


6. Daniel Craig - My favorite Bond..


5. Alexander Skarsgard - Heartbreaking Scandinavian Vampire


4. The Edge (U2) - Aka David Evans, at the age of 49 he is still changing the sound of Rock & Roll.


3. James Franco - A gentleman and a scholar. I wish I was a grad student this fall at Yale...


2. Johnny Depp - Because he can make anything look sexy!


1. Gerard Butler - My favorite Scottish Import. Enough Said.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pirates Festival of Northern California

When other little girls of my age were dreaming of being ballerinas and hollywood starlettes, my ambitions laid somewhere between being on the A-Team and working with Indiana Jones. However, I was 5 years old when I went on my first trip on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World and realized that what I really wanted to be when I grew-up was a swashbuckling pirate.

I can 't remember the day that I realized that Santa Claus was just a myth, but I do remember the day I had the crushing realization that the days of Jack Sparrow and sailing the seas on a tall-ship are over. I've held a special place in my heart for pirates ever since. So when I was told of a mythical Pirate Festival held this weekend in the Vallejo Marina, you can imagine my excitement. So with childlike enthusiasm, I took the BayLink Ferry from the San Francisco Warf to Vallejo in search of Pirates and hidden treasures.

The Pirate Festival was like walking onto the set of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, with most of the people in attendance in elaborate costumes. Designed to be like Renaissance Festival, the Pirate Festival was set up by the marina with tents full of costumes, cool crafts and gifts, games, and food. There were also multiple stages with entertainment going on at the same time including sword fights, cannon fights, craft demonstrations, bands, and even a pirate magician by the name of Jack Spareribs. However the biggest draw of the festival was the people watching with so many amazing dressed pirates, period dressed naval officers and Victorian ladies walking around. Even children, pets, and strollers came decked in Pirate gear! My favorite part of the day was the cannon show when a Pirate ship sailed the harbor and fought a battle with a village of Pirates on shore.

The Northern California Pirate Festival was created four years ago to celebrate pirate mythology: the world of sword fights, bawdy wenches and buried doubloons. The local newspapers are estimating over 40,000 people people will attend. And the count today was that 2,643 people came out in costume to try to set the Guinness record for the world's largest gathering of pirates. All in all, it was worth the hour long ferry ride from San Francisco and I highly recommend his free festival for pirates and pirate lovers of all ages!

Friday, June 18, 2010

North Beach Festival

The North Beach Festival is this weekend and I am looking forward to celebrating one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Tale of Two Artist

Recently, I have discovered two local west coast based oil painters that I admire and thought I should share. The first artist is Amanda Blake. Recently my friend saw a couple of her pieces at a gallery in Texas and forwarded me a link to her oil painting, "Rebecca Wore a Dress of Wildflowers." (Image to the left.) I instantly loved the piece and ordered a print to frame and hang in my flat. Doing some research, I found that Amanda lives in Portland, OR. Inspired by religious and literary symbolism, art history, superstition and found photography she works to create narratives that are at once familiar and mysterious. I love how each peace tells a story. You can check out more of her work at her blog:

The second artist, Leon Roulette, has many of his beautiful oil paintings scattered amongst the vineyards of Napa.
I fell in love with the painting, "Poppies in Sunshine," displayed at the Rutherford Hills Tasting Room a couple of years ago (image below.) and have been admiring his work ever since. His oil paintings are so realistic at times, sometimes you wonder if you are looking a photograph. Although he doesn't have a persona website, it appears that he has been teaching art in the West Coast for many years and his romantic styles are perfect for the Napa Vineyard settings.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Best Ports in Napa Valley

On the hunt for the best port in Napa Valley, my cousin E and I have traveled to vineyards all over the valley. He loves them sweet and syrupy, I love them to be smooth and nutty... so we tend to disagree on what quantifies a good port. However, we have found some diamonds in the rough that we can both agree on. Here is our list of the top four finds:

4. V. Sattui - All the sweet wine lovers in California know of V. Sattui. A great place to stop in the valley and grab lunch, this vineyard is known for its picnic grounds and sweet wines. (It is little known fact that it is one of only two vineyards that are allowed to host weddings in the valley.) Personally, I love their dry reislings for sunny picnics. However, my cousin E loves their sweet and syrupy Port as well. Not my favorite, but it's still worth the stop to see the vineyard, try the BBQ, and sit out at the picnic area and enjoy the scene!

3. Rutherford Hills - Tucked away in the hills above the Auberge du Soleil hotel and napa valley, this vineyard is famous for its wine cave and picnic area with views of Napa Valley. (You may recognize it from the 2009 Top Chef Finale.) However, its hidden secret is its 2005 Zinfandel Port. Coupled with chocolate covered blue berries, this port is smooth with a hint of cherry and blueberry jamminess. (is that a word?) This port is perfect for stand alone, or my favorite, dashed over some vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with raisins. A tour of the Rutherford Hills wine caves & tasting is $20, and is one of the best wine tours of the valley. Ask for Jack... he's the most entertaining tour guide on staff. My suggestion is to pack a picnic lunch (or swing by Dean & DeLuca) and have lunch on the Rutherford picnic grounds. Its less crowded than V. Sattui and since its on the Silverado Trail, its less touristy and not as crowded as V. Sattui's grounds.

2. Heitz Cellars - One of the oldest vineyards in Napa Valley, they have been selling wine for nearly 48 years. Located next to V. Sattui, I have driven past this unassuming vineyard dozens of times without knowing about this hidden gem. Recommended by some other port enthusiast, my cousin and I swung by to try the free tasting and was surprised by both ports that are available. The Ink Grade port is a shinning example of the best port has to offer. Smooth, rich, yet hints of ripe berries and sweet plum... this is a port that everyone will love. Even my cousin's fiance, who hates ports, thought this was tasty. The 2004 Grignolino Port was also delicious, with hints of orange and caramel. Its deep ruby hues reminds me of the antique ruby gem stones i covet at a local SF jeweler. This unassuming vineyard is highly recommended!

1. Prager Winery & Portworks - To be short and sweet, this is a must stop for any port lover. The 2005 Aria White Port is magical and takes your taste buds on a Willy Wonka-esque adventure starting off nutty, then a fruity sweet flavor... and leaves you with a hint of burnt caramel. Mmmmmmmm... pure yumminess. The 2004 Royal Escort Port is nothing to be laughed at either. Coupled with the Prager's caramelized walnuts, it is nectar from the Gods and you think that you should always have liquid desserts before dinner. Tastings are $15 for 5 ports/wines and you can keep your glass. The gardens outside the tasting room are beautiful, however the tasting room (tucked away through a barrel cellar that leaves you smelling of oak and old vineyard) has aesthetics that needs polishing and reminds me a couple dive bars i've hoped to forget. In some ways this is a good thing as you know that the vineyard pours all it's love and energy into their wines.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Advice for Rome...

In honor of my kid brothers having a Roman holiday next week, I thought I would post some travel notes. My colleague, Ginger, gives this advice for travelers going to Rome:

1) When you visit the Coliseum, buy the tickets to the Forum. There is a separate (very short) line for the Forum. The ticket gets you into both the Forum and Coliseum, and you don't have to wait on the 4 hour line for Coliseum tickets.

2) Try the Pizza Dolche, if you can find it.

3) If you visit The Pantheon, eat at the restaurant with the outside tables (apparently you need to try the gnocchi and sage)

4) If you go to the Vatican, do the guided Vatican tour... its worth it. (And the non-vatican tours are bogus.) Keep in mind, if you look at every piece of art at the Vatican for one minute each, you'd be there for 7 years...

5) "Don't be afraid to do all the regular touristy stuff because it is UNBELIEVABLE!!"

(PLEASE NOTE: Photo posted is from another blog.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Giants vs. Rockies

Yesterday, thanks to an unnamed director at my Firm, i was able to get my hands on two luxury box tickets to the Giants vs. Rockies game at AT&T Park. The ballpark is one of the most beautiful ball parks I've been too, with the stands facing the bay, and views of Oakland and the Bay Bridge. Luckily, I brought my Colorado Rockies gear back with me so that I can support my team and give the local fans a hard time. Although there were some nail biting moments, the Rockies stayed true against Barry Zito and show-off Torres, and won in the 11th Inning 2 -1. Of course, one of my friends in the box bought some Fat Tire so we could celebrate the Colorado's win! All in all, it was an extremely fun night with some good friends from the office. To quote my friend, I prefer to sit with the proliferate. However, an evening watching two of my favorite baseballs teams from the lap of luxury is not bad either.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Leopoldina Productions on the web!

It's official! My new professional photography website kicks off today! Please check it out!

I would just like to take some time to thank all my family and friends who have encouraged me to believe in my dreams and take things to the next level! I need to start scanning all my film and add them to the site soon... in the meantime, there are enough tasty treats to use as a digital portfolio. Enjoy!

Monday, May 31, 2010

3 Best Kept Secrets of DIA...

Happy Memorial Day! First and foremost, in honor of this day, I want to give a special shout out to my brother Jake and his colleagues who risk their lives everyday for our country. Coming from a family of US Veterans, I also want to thank all the men & women who have sacrificed their blood, sweat, and tears for us over the years. I saw a shirt that said, "Home of the free because of the brave!" I totally believe that and I am grateful for all you do!

I am celebrating from the halls of the Denver International Airport, on my way back to San Francisco. Being a frequent traveler through DIA, I thought i share it three best kept secrets, in Late-Night Show style:

Secret # 3: Terminal A Security Check-In

Anyone who has gone through the long security lines in DIA knows how time consuming they can be. The secret is the Terminal A entrance on the Departures level by the airlines check-in desk. (If you are facing the Burger King, head left to the end of the corridor.) First of all, even with long lines, its quick and fast. And there is always an interesting art/history exhibit in the glass cases along the way to keep you entertained. If your flight isn't departing from Terminal A, no worries - just shoot down the elevator to the Tram. Believe me, this has saved me hours of long security line waiting.

Secret # 2: Bathrooms by Arrivals

As any woman traveler knows, using the restr
ooms in the airport means long lines and small awkward stalls with gross sinks. Take my advice, and use the restrooms on the main floor of DIA next to the Arrival exit in the main hub. Not only are the stalls super big, the restrooms are beautifully designed with tile inlay and extremely clean. But the best part is that there is almost never a line!

Secret #1: The New Belgium Taproom in Terminal B

Makers of my favorite beer, Fat Tire, I always try to find an excuse to visit New Belgium brewery in Fort Collins, CO. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that New Belgium have a Taproom/Restaurant at the end of the United Terminal (Terminal B, by gate 90) Not only do they have my favorite Colorado beers on tap, they have great food and views that overlook the runways. If you have a long layover or arrive early for a flight, swing by and enjoy one of Colorado's best exports.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

MeadowGrass Music Festival - Part 2

Here are some photos, courtesy of my Dad, for today's closing acts, Great Lake Swimmers and The Greencards. Both were outstanding! Check them out!

The Great Lake Swimmers!


Friday, May 28, 2010

MeadowGrass Music Festival

My Dad surprised my mom and I with a BBQ picnic dinner and tickets to the MeadowGrass Music Festival in Black Forest, CO this evening. What a treat, especially with the unusually warm Colorado weather! This bluegrass festival is hosted at La Foret Camps, with the beautiful Black Forest and Rocky Mountains as a back drop.

Tonight's line-up was sponsored by the Black Rose Acoustic Society, a community that hosts an open stage concert bi-weekly at the Black Forest Community Center. My parents are members and are looking forward to going to more shows now that their youngest chickling is leaving the nest.

The concert kicked off with Changing Colors, a Manitou Springs based band of two brothers (Conor and Ian Bourgal
) that sounds like a cross between Glen Hansard of The Frames and Guggenheim Grotto, with s sprinkle of old school Ryan Adams. In other words, my kind of sad folk music.

Next, we were in for a treat with a special jam session of a group of instructors from the Colorado Roots Music Camp called "The Uncamped Band." The group included Cary Black on Bass, Raul Reynoso and Cyd Smith on Guitar, and Fiddle virtuoso Kailin Yong. This group of talented musicians played a variety of music and jazzy solos that gave a peek into what happens when you put a room full of talent together and see what happens. Their rendition of Nuages by Django Reinhardt brought the crowd to their feet with a standing ovation.

The final band to take the stage is a Colorado Springs treasure called Grass it Up! This fun bluegrass band lit of the stage with a mixture of old blueglass covers and original music. It was hard to stay in your chair with their fast picking tunes sung by lead David Jeffrey and the fantastic fiddling of "Black Beard," aka Ben Lewis.
Grass It Up performs every Wednesday in Colorado Springs at the Front Range BBQ, a venue that has grown into a hub for bluegrass music in Colorado and a showcase for nationally touring bluegrass bands. If you are in the Colorado Springs area on a Wednesday evening, I recommend you check them out.

As it was getting late when Grass It Up wrapped up their jam session, we didn't stay for the BonFire post-show picking contest with the various bands. I am sure it was a ton of fun! As the La Foret camps have both cabins and campsites available for the weekend as part of the entrance fees, I told my parents that next year we should make plans to camp-in at least one night. Either way, I am planning to go back on Sunday night and hopefully see my old friend, Brock Gleeson. (Shameless plug, check out Brock's new EP "Water" at his website linked here.) With the Sunday line-up including the Great Lake Swimmers and The Greencards, I am sure it will be a ton of fun! If you are in the area, check it out!

To hear songs from last year's line up, click here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bon Voyage, Peanut!

My littlest brother, Peanut, graduated from high school last week and is now on his first solo flight... all the way to Germany. Inspired from his departure, I thought I post a eight step guide for departing on your first solo flight (paparazzi style).

Step #1: Say Goodbye to those you love...

Step #2: Check to see if you have all your valuables. aka: Track down the postman with your European cell phone...

Step #3: Pack your fragile items with care...

Step #4: Make sure you have all your paperwork...

Step #5: Get some fatherly advice...

Step #6 (thanks to Caribou Coffee): Be a Hero minus the dorky cape (otherwise known as, give your sister a hard time so that she misses you...)

Step #7: Leave without looking back (so you can't see Mom crying)...

Step #8: Don't forget to send postcards back to those who love & miss you...

All joking aside... I love you, Peanut! Have an awesome time! I can't wait to hear about all your adventures!