life lately

Hi campers! Like I said Tuesday, my family spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Tuscany and it was the undisputed highlight of my fall. That said, I’ve gotten up to plenty of shenanigans since I last really regularly posted around here. I’m slowly going insane at work and all my free time is devoted to binge-ing on Hallmark holiday movies and the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018 - because of COURSE I can combine the highbrow and lowbrow effortlessly. While I had the best intentions of recapping most of these things in a lot more detail, realistically December’s not going to be when that happens - and I want to share so, so many of my sister’s insanely gorgeous Italy photos with y’all next week, so, that’s my priority.

Quick peeks of a frenetic/fantastic California fall:

Bita, Andrea and I achieved peak basic with a trip to the Museum of Ice Cream, where we took approximately 500 photos, ate approximately 500 grams of sugar, dove in a sprinkle pool…

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…and I celebrated my life ethos, “eat dessert first.” Duh.

Dave and I continued our streak of falling in love with dogs all over the peninsula, including this sweetie-pie at Alpha Acid. I went in to pet her on the head and she immediately flopped onto her back, gave me the doofiest tongue-out, begging-eyes grin, and before I knew it, I was kneeling on the floor of the brewery in seventh heaven making both our days.

Rob and I made a trip to Berkeley to see The National perform at the Greek Amphitheatre, and it was easily one of the coolest combinations of venue and artist I’ve ever experienced. Amazing live performance, all their hits, and photos like these - not zoomed at all.

The evening’s low: my front tire got slashed while we were at the show, and I didn’t find out until it went flat suddenly on the 101, at midnight. Fortunately, I am resourceful and badass and capable et cetera, and with the help of several Youtube videos, I got my spare tire on ALL BY MYSELF. Next stop: world domination.

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One of the cheapest nights of entertainment in the Bay Area is the San Jose Barracuda, our local minor-league hockey team. Dave, Laura, Drew, David (yes, I need to diversify friends’ names) and I went to $2 Beer Night on a Friday shortly before we moved - there’s truly nowhere else in San Francisco/the surrounding area where for under $20, you can enjoy (bad) sports and (bad) (but cheap) beer:

Damages were done, campers, and I had a ball. Bonus: The Cudas won in epic fashion.

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Shortly after moving, Dave and I lucked into 3rd row, $40 rush seats to “Miss Saigon” at the Orpheum downtown. I had never seen it, and I cried embarrassingly hard and frequently. The production was outstanding for a touring company, and our seats were amazing - I really need to get to the theater more regularly, it’s one of the things I miss the most about the Twin Cities.

One of our first houseguests was four-legged - Charlie and Tiny Tina joined us for a Notre Dame gamewatch the weekend after we moved! While we still didn’t have a couch, they were champs and I for one fully credit Tina’s lucky Notre Dame bandana for the win we got that weekend.

Francesca, a couple of her colleagues, and I went to the San Francisco Symphony for “Jurassic Park: Live” in early November…I had never seen the movie, somehow, because I’m weird, idk. It was unbelievable, crew. Give me a live symphony, a John Williams score, and a bunch of dinosaurs running around and I’m a happy camper.

Snuck off to the mountains for a quick weekend trip before Italy. While I wasn’t expecting it, getting to see snow when we woke up on Sunday was such a surprise and I couldn’t have been more delighted. I ended up going for almost an hour-long walk outside - frozen toes and chilly fingers were well worth the (mercifully short) burst of winter wonderland.

Sadly, I left Colorado and came home to a Bay Area blanketed in smoke from the Camp Fire. While the Napa and Sonoma fires last year were terrible and I’m definitely not downplaying it, the Camp Fire’s impact on the Bay was way more severe. I went into the city to pick up a suitcase and go to a benefit with Kevin on Thursday, the night before I left for Italy, and this was the view where the San Francisco skyline is usually visible. Gut-wrenching…I’ve donated to relief efforts through the Red Cross and entreat any of you with a little spare cash and Christmas spirit to consider doing the same.

Post-Italy, I laid low for a week or so getting over let lag and catching up on mountains of work, but last weekend, Dave, Bita and I went to Sonoma - Dave’s first time actually wine tasting in wine country! He fit right in with the crew at La Crema:

…and a trip to Sonoma would never be complete without a stop at Iron Horse for the best views and bubbles in the state. Dave actually liked sparkling wine, guys - this feels like a major victory for yours truly! Such a fun day with my two favorite Californians - can’t wait for more shenanigans as Bita moves INTO our building in just two weeks!

Speaking of that building - it’s looking extra merry and bright in Apartment 630 these days, as my mama bear so sweetly mailed me my Christmas ornaments early in the week. It’s made me so happy all week to see my sentimental favorites hanging on our tree, even if there are palm trees outside the window instead of Minnesota snow.

Cheers to a great weekend ahead, campers! Stay tuned for lots of Italy talk, a little more merriment, and general debauchery to come…

101 in 1001: The International Travel Edition!

Ciao campers! As anyone who follows me on IG or Twitter knows, I spent this Thanksgiving in Tuscany with my family. The trip was a complete dream and I can’t wait to share more about it in the coming weeks, but for now I’ve gotta share two quick checks on the 101 in 1001!

First up: #14, send postcards from a vacation.

I had the best intentions of actually doing this properly on our trip, but I sort of failed epically. I purchased a slew of postcards in Florence on Wednesday, the fourth day of our trip, but the store I bought them at didn’t sell stamps. I assumed I would stop at a “sali e tabacchi” (“salt and tobacco,” so named because back in the day the only two staple goods that weren’t taxed in Italy were salt and tobacco) to pick up stamps, but completely forgot to do so until the last day of our trip, in Cortona. The woman at the sali e tabacchi sold me a specific kind of stamp that can only go in a yellow post box (versus the standard-in-Italy red ones), but I couldn’t find a yellow post box and - topping it off - hadn’t written the cards yet.

So the end of our trip found me sitting in Fiumicino Airport in Rome, running on three hours of sleep in the last 24-hour period, writing postcards on a four-hour layover to the group of friends whose addresses I had handy in my phone. THEN I couldn’t find a post drop box in the airport - which for some reason blew my mind, as all American airports have spots to send mail - so I ended up just taking them home with me…

…where I slapped on some American stamps (apparently upside down, oops?) and mailed them from the “Outgoing Mail” slot in my building’s lobby. And that, my friends, is the story of how I basically checked this one off the list but actually pretty much failed, and failed hilariously, in classic Lizzie fashion. Allora!

Fortunately, the other item I checked off was a much bigger success - #80, "upgrade my luggage!”

I’ve had hand-me-down suitcases from my parents legitimately since college - two-wheel fixed-wheelie soft-sided cases that were mismatched and, in the case of my smaller bag, missing a zipper pull. This fall, with international and domestic travel coming up, I decided it was time to make the leap to grown-up girl suitcases. I’ve lusted after Away bags for awhile now, and pulled the trigger upon the release of their beautiful “sky” color:

This fall, my parents gifted each of the kids a “Bigger Carry-on,” which I love for its hard sides, internal compression and organization system, included laundry bag, and four-wheel 360-degree spin. My favorite feature, though? The built-in USB charger - I’m notorious for never having my phone fully charged, oops, and this was a godsend for me on a recent Colorado trip when I landed and needed to get an Uber with 3% battery left. Plus, that color - ugh, it makes me so happy, and nobody ever tries to take my bag!

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Before Italy, I purchased the “Medium” size - it was perfectly roomy for ten days of clothes and had ample space for souvenirs (including wine - the hard sides made me so much less paranoid about bottles breaking in rough transit!). I also bought Away’s packing cube system, which has completely revolutionized how I pack - truly unbelievable to see how much can fit in the cubes and how well-organized my suitcase was (and stayed throughout the trip).

Perhaps most exciting of all is knowing I’m going to get to check another travel item off the list - while in Cortona, my family decided (over several bottles of Barolo!) that our next trip is going to be to London…which means I get to check off #9, Plan a trip to the UK for my family, soon!!

Bookworm: November 2018

I had always found comfort between rows and rows of books: some familiar, some foreign, stacks of old friends and piles of new friends to be found.

-Emery Lord, “The Start of Me and You”

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I cracked up at this Italian version of “Green Eggs and Ham” in Florence a couple weeks ago - I think Sam I Am would definitely have enjoyed prosciutto ;)

Loved:

Cork Dork, Bianca Bosker: I picked this up in Colorado and ended up staying up my entire late flight home reading it - I’m fascinated with the wine world (which is news to nobody), and this chronicle of a journalist’s decision to attempt to become a certified sommelier - in just a year - was beautifully written, told a unique and riveting story, and taught me so much! Definitely worth a read if you’ve watched any of the “Somm” documentaries on Netflix or have a more than passing interest in wine.

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett: Another CO purchase - I somehow never read this despite its incredible critical acclaim, and I’m so glad I remedied that. The story of a high-profile political/corporate birthday party turned terrorist hostage situation sucked me in after the first chapter. Weaving in so much of the opera world that I love (the only female hostage is a world-famous soprano), the characters were beautifully drawn and the story’s gut-wrenching conclusion rocked me.

Every Note Played, Lisa Genova: This was a random find on Scribd - for serious readers, I really recommend/enjoy the site - telling the story of a world-class concert pianist’s diagnosis and illness with ALS. It additionally chronicles his broken marriage, frayed relationship with his daughter and struggle with his father and siblings - a fiercely intense, gorgeously-written novel. The way Ms. Genova illustrates the ravages of the disease was at times hard to read, but I think good writing sometimes isn’t easy to read…isn’t that the point?

Enjoyed:

Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis: Kels recommended this after she read it this summer, and it came at a great time for me to read it. A delightfully witty, self-deprecating self help book, geared at identifying the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves and breaking them down/reframing them to work through or overcome them.

Tolerated:

The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory: I should have liked this more on paper, but I kept finding myself thinking as I read it - “I could’ve written this, and better.” It’s a fairly insipid love story, good for a beach read, nothing to write home about and not particularly memorable.

Re-reads:

Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie: I had a severe need for some smart chick lit early in the month, and this fit the bill - it’s a typical smutty romance novel, but it’s also witty and incredibly entertaining, with a fresh plot that never really devolved into cliché. There’s also a murder mystery woven in, which I think is why I not only stomached this admittedly atypical read, but returned to it and enjoyed it just as much the second time.

Faking It, Jennifer Crusie: The sequel to “Welcome To Temptation,” and I may like it even better - again, it’s a love story/romance novel, but there’s also plotlines of art forgery and murder, and the characters are anything BUT perfect - quirky and relatable and fun to read. I think that’s maybe what sets Ms. Crusie’s writing apart from the Danielle Steels of the world (ugh, yuck) - her novels, while clearly written to appeal to romance readers, never rely on hackneyed tradition and are well-written and genuinely interesting reads.

The Hopefuls, Jennifer Close: I really enjoyed this novel both the first and second time - the story of two young political families in DC, and their ultimate efforts on a campaign in Texas to get one of the husbands elected to office, paints a fascinating and flawed picture of the political world.

The "Lizzie Is An Adult" Holiday Wishlist

I had a conversation with my coworkers over lunch the other day about holiday wishlists, and what their kids are asking for, and what’s at the top of their lists these days. It got me thinking about what I wanted this year - I can’t believe Christmas is only a little over a month away, YIKES - and what I’ll be gifting…funny how the list shaped up very differently than this one from a few years back! (Also funny how I wanted silly things like Urban Meyer as ND’s football coach LOL LOL.)

This year, I’m gifting very practical things to the vast majority of people on my list…I think it’s very telling of my current state of exhaustion and the intensity of my caffeine addiction that the first thing I purchased was coffee mugs for my bosses/teams. I’m a huge fan of Anthropologie’s monogrammed collections, and they were a perfect purchase at 20% off this weekend (my favorite new offering is this Margot mug, which reminds me of the Paris Métro!). For work, I’ll stuff them with homemade peppermint bark, wrapped up prettily in cellophane with a bow. Couldn’t be easier!

My friends and family will be receiving a much more festive and fun assortment of gifts - my favorite thing to do is to pull together sentimental little items, either inside jokes or things I’ve noted they want over the course of the year. I think it’s always nicest when you know someone has put thought into what to get you and why, versus just buying something trendy and/or expensive. Of course, details on gifts for my loved ones can’t be revealed here - suffice it to say I’m GREAT at presents.

As for what I’d like to see under the tree, any of these would suit just fine in a perfect and pragmatic world:

  • A really nice vacuum - we still haven’t purchased one and I’ve been making do with our Dust Buster hahahaha someone save me from myself PLEASE.

  • A Coravin - I’m the only wine drinker in our little apartment of two, and I certainly can’t - er, shouldn’t - drink a whole bottle by myself every time I open wine. That said, a lot of my wine is high-end or rare, and I don’t want to run the risk of letting it spoil before I can enjoy it! A Coravin would be the perfect solution - a single serving of wine, without having to even remove the cork? Genius.

  • A car wash and detail package - I’m very bad about keeping my car clean and have a horrid tendency to track in mess, and I would love to have an excuse to regularly go to the fancy car wash and have it hand-washed.

  • New Clarisonic brush heads - for my annoyingly combination skin - and an electric toothbrush - because I’m very jealous of Dave’s.

  • Pyrex glass food storage - we’ve been discussing wanting a set for months and have yet to pull the trigger, surviving instead on our mismatched and past-their-prime Tupperware.

  • A ClassPass membership - 2019 WILL be the year that I actually commit to trying fitness studios in the Bay Area outside my Stanford-sponsored classes!

  • A Kindle - I’m noticing my eyesight getting worse (must get to the opthalmologist) and attribute it to lots of time spent reading on my iPhone. Would love to see if Kindles are worth the hype.

  • Pottery Barn’s ultra-cushy rug pad - we need one for under our living room rug, which wrinkles terribly without one.

  • Starbucks/Philz gift cards and/or Nespresso cups - like I said, the caffeine dependency is ramping back up to its peak levels circa EY 2013.

And just because not EVERYTHING can be practical and utilitarian and utterly grown-up, I would legitimately die and go to heaven if someone bought me these:

HI. DEAD.

Happy almost-holidays loves!

Tuesday potpourri

I had the best intentions of having my shit really together this week, and failed utterly per usual. Starting to think adulthood is just going to perpetually be a to-do list with lingering items and hanging chads and endless reminders of the fact that I am a ridiculously ineffective person sometimes. Anyway, “BLOG!!!!!” (five exclamation points and all) has been hanging out on the list since the beginning of the month, and it’s the 13th, so hi MID-NOVEMBER. Here we go:

  • First and foremost, guys, the NorCal (and SoCal) wildfires are horrifying and terrible. I woke up on Friday convinced Dave had burned something in our apartment (at 5am, clearly very much a functional morning person). I was devastated to hop online and see the news, let alone the thick smoke haze covering my South Peninsula suburb, over 150 miles from the fires themselves. Our air quality is terrible - I’ve been waking up with nosebleeds, itchy eyes, and a sore throat daily - and I can’t begin to imagine how awful it must be closer to the fires, let alone for the families that have lost homes, possessions and loved ones this close to the holiday season. If you’re feeling generous this Thanksgiving, the New York Times has a great list of resources on how to help victims - I’m partial to the Red Cross and United Way, personally.

  • Fortunately, and on a much lighter note, I escaped to the mountains last weekend for a quick little getaway and missed a few days of smoke. While out of town, I discovered a ridiculous beer cocktail consisting of half dunkel, half milkshake IPA - the roastiness of a stout combined with the fruitiness and resin of an IPA was delightful. I also fell in love with a new bookstore, where I picked up “Cork Dork” by Bianca Bosker and bought Dave an ever-so-adult gift of “The Dogist: Puppies” - a must-own for those of us dying to get a pup (just me? No?)

  • I leave for Italy on FRIDAY and am completely mind-fucked as to how this trip is already here. Badly need to figure out what I’m bringing, pack, and coordinate all the random logistical things I’ve left to the last minute, eek. Work’s a nuthouse this week and the light at the end of the tunnel is that in just three more workdays and 24 hours of travel, I’ve got pasta, gelato, espresso and wine for ten straight days to look forward to!

  • In very exciting personal news, I was accepted to a finance program at Stanford that I applied to and thought I had zero shot of getting into, and I’m over the moon. The program kicks off in December and runs for eight months, and I already know it’s going to kick my ass in the best of ways. Looking forward to a major challenge and to diving deeper into this crazy institution I now not only get to work for, but study at - what a privilege!

  • Per Facebook Memories (which I use to delete all the old bs I spewed all over FB as a youth, oh god), today marks the five-year anniversary of my last day at EY. I was ruminating a bit on my time there last weekend in conversation, and it’s crazy to take a step back, look at where I am now and think about how far I’ve come since that day. To this day, leaving remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and especially in light of my acceptance to that program, it’s incredibly vindicating to see that I’ve succeeded way beyond what I had imagined as that stressed, angsty, audit-hating 24-year old.

  • Finally, Dave and I watched the first Netflix/Hallmark Christmas movie of the season last night - “A Christmas With A View,” and it was abysmally bad and cheesy in all the best ways. Paired with a pine tree candle, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in our little apartment - plus, I’m thinking a roundup of our holiday movie-heckling extravaganza is going to have to happen in a few weeks here.

Happy Tuesday friends, have a fantastic day!