Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Bloghouse Scottsdale - Day 5

I was fortunate enough to have time for an additional night at the Andaz Scottsdale and a final FAM tour with Experience Scottsdale before heading to the airport. Before leaving the hotel, I fueled up on this Purple Power bowl with lightly brûléed bananas, kiwis, blueberries, yogurt, coconut milk, pistachios, and granola, along with an iced latte. 
Frank Lloyd Wright's Office at Taliesin West

I have always been a bit obsessed with Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture, so when Jen from Experience Scottsdale said that Taliesin West was top on her list of "not to miss" things in Scottsdale, I easily decided to go out for a tour. Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright's third and final studio + home (he liked to build them together for the "shorter commute"). And, in case you were curious, Taliesin is located in Spring Green, Wisconsin and Frank Lloyd Wright and his students spent winters at West and Summers at the original location.

One third of Frank Lloyd Wright's work was completed between the ages of 80 and 91, including the Guggenheim, so this location was (and still is) home to much creativity. The properties, walls, wells, and roads were built by hand over ten winters, starting in 1937 with the help of 23 male and female apprentices. This site is still home to an accredited school of architecture, the smallest in the country.
In 1928, Frank (I think I can I call him that now that I've been in his house) and his third wife, Olga, camped south of Tucson for eight months in a canvas tent (like you did back in the day). He liked the translucent light coming through the canvas so much for drafting, that he built the roofs of Taliesin West's buildings from canvas panels to mimic them, hence the soft glow inside his office.
You can see them more clearly in this photo of the living room, which was a separate building. All the buildings on the property were connected by pathways and I honestly lost track of what was connected by doorway inside or hallways outside. Frank is credited with inventing many things, including the living room. He started building them in the 1920's so that people could be together in a crowd of people they loved and trusted the most.

Although he invented many things, he didn't file many patents because he thought they took too long. However, he did patent his signature color, Taliesin Red, seen throughout this room. He also invented a way to collect the rain coming down that hit the canvas panels into guttering systems to have greywater for other uses. He was so prolific in his designs and managed to write more about architecture than anyone else in the world, including Leonardo da Vinci. 
One of the many bedrooms on the property where you can see not only the iconic architectural design elements, but also the Japanese art influence, which is most apparent around the property in the height and width of the doorways, ceilings, and low seating. In the bottom left corner you can see the edge of the canvas screen that could be left open to let the outdoors in.
This is the courtyard outside of the Cabaret (behind the red doors). I couldn't capture a good photo of this, but if you visit and look at the reflection of the bubbles coming out of the fountain on the blue background, you'll see tiny little stars. 
Inside the Cabaret, the acoustics are 98% perfect, so there's no echo and it's excellent for listening to Beethoven (Wright's favorite composer, who he said made "liquid architecture") and movies, which he loved (the screen is the white canvas square in the background).
I learned so much from Molly, our tour guide, in 90 minutes, so hopefully you learned something too. If you see anything factually incorrect, do let me know, I was trying to take notes and photos while balancing an umbrella for shade. Thanks!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Bloghouse Scottsdale - Day 4

My experience at Bloghouse Scottsdale has been quite the four-day journey. From the first day, when I honestly wondered if I should just give up blogging altogether, to today when I am raring to go with a new blog platform, niche, brand, and a to-do list a mile long, it's been quite a trip. Coming into this conference I knew I would be challenged and learn new things, but I underestimated just how much. The five mentors and eleven other bloggers were incredibly generous with their time and expertise, not holding back on the seemingly personal stats and private details that will, no doubt, help us all raise the bar on our blogging pursuits.

Each of us were assigned a mentor for private critiques--Lisa Lubin was mine. She answered all of my questions, no matter how random and rapid fire, and is the mastermind behind Bloghouse
Here's the full crew of bloggers and mentors--also, in case you noticed too, I'm not sure why I always think I'm so tall that I need to crouch weirdly like I need to go to the restroom.
After we graduated from Bloghouse, a group of us headed off to Phoenix for an art tour with Billy from Arizona Pedal Cab sponsored by Visit Phoenix.
Although it was hot (105 degrees!), Billy's tour was great. We learned a lot about the history of the city and where to view the best street art accompanied by lots of witty social commentary.
These two are part of Roosevelt Row - which is just mural after mural of amazingly beautiful pieces. If you're in town, there's a cool site that provides a virtual tour, or give Billy a call when you're in town!
Once we survived the scorching sun, we headed to The Churchill, a shipping container entertainment complex of shops, bars, and restaurants that opened last August, to meet Doug from Visit Phoenix for a cool drink (and a gallon of water). I had this tart and refreshing cocktail by Pobrecito - the Watermelon with cucumber, lime, Luxardo Bianco, and Ford's gin.
Before heading back to the Andaz Scottsdale, we popped out for a few more photos of the incredible murals right outside the doors of The Churchill. I thought this was a great representation of Phoenix and the desert.
When we got back to the Andaz, I had one thing to do that I hadn't found time for all week--take a dip in the enticing salt water pool that's been greeting me every time I have left or come back to my room (it's just to the right of the umbrellas).
After my swim, I headed to the Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen at the Andaz. I had what I figured was a balanced meal of a Diamondback Fizz (sauza reposado tequila, grapefruit, lime, jalapeño agave, cucumber, and soda), the Baby Beets & Quinoa salad, and a side of Shaved Sweet Corn "Elote Style". It was just the fuel I needed to get back to working on the plans I have for the next phase of this blog (new and improved coming soon!). Okay, talk to you soon, bye!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Bloghouse Scottsdale - Day 3

Walking to breakfast this morning, I couldn't help but stop to photograph this beautiful agave plant.
This was my tasty and healthy breakfast (I mean, croissants are practically a staple in France, right?). We've been having our breakfasts together as a group of 17 outside our conference room at the Andaz Scottsdale.
After an info-packed morning, we climbed into a bus for lunch with Experience Scottsdale at The Mission. I was really excited for lunch because not only was it authentic Mexican food, we had also heard about their table-side guacamole service--which was made even better because they prepared a batch without onions (yay!)....
...okay it did have green onions, but nothing super strong...
...and the avocado margarita, the Aguacate with cazadores añejo tequila, avocado, and pressed lime. It was super flavorful and delicious, with a creamy texture - definitely order one when you're there!
The Mission was a great place for lunch with a large group - they were super attentive about all of our different dietary restrictions and served us an amazing coursed lunch of kale salad, tacos, elote, mini-cocktails like this sangria-margarita, and a mini churro shake for dessert. 
The we headed over to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to check out some of the exhibits, including this one, Divergent Materiality, which is all glass. I loved this deep blue piece.
And this graffiti-inspired piece with glass spray cans. Although our visit to the museum was super quick, it was quite stunning and our docent was super knowledgeable. The glass exhibit is open until October 13, 2019.
After our afternoon of learning about social media, resources, and professionalism, we headed to The Phoenician Spa roof for our closing party. We all enjoyed taking photos by the pool as the sun set over Camelback Mountain while sipping the signature cocktail -- the Phoenician Rising (Woodford bourbon, Cointreau, orange juice, grenadine, and orange bitters).

We got to visit with representatives of Experience Scottsdale, Visit PhoenixVisit Mesa, and Discover Salt River and learn about what they have going on in their cities for travel, entertainment, and food. Lots to see and do from kayaking to art to foodie tours!
The food was beautiful and came from some of The Phoenician's eight dining options. The salmon teriyaki, the tuna tartare, the squash hummus, and the seasoned tater tots were so good.
My favorite part was the tray of tiny desserts (thanks for being my holder, Brie!). I think my favorite was the mini fruit tart or the mango mousse dome. These are from the Afternoon Tea served at The Phoenician.
We ended our night with a lovely tour of The Phoenician - this is looking down on one of the many pools on property.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Bloghouse Scottsdale - Day 2

On our second day of Bloghouse Scottsdale, we started bright and early with an optional selfie class, which included lots of pointers on color, composition, movement, and Instagram tips. I always feel like my selfie lens flattens my nose out a bit--and my version of a selfie is still using my own arm--but I think I learned after this (and from my friend Dynasti) that tripods are key.
As part of our class, we participated in "The Gram Walk" with Darnell from Andaz Scottsdale. He showed us all the best locations, angles to shoot from, and took lots of shots including this one of me and Kim from Oh My! Omaha.
After a learning-packed morning full of SEO and Google Analytics, we hopped into a small fleet of cars and headed to Hula's Modern Tiki for some lunch.
Inside the vibe was so authentic, it felt like the only thing missing was the ocean.
We shared a bunch of delicious appetizers, which I didn't quite manage to photograph--if you've ever dined with 17 hungry travel bloggers, it might be hard to imagine how many photos and hands are in the mix. I did manage to capture my Vegan Jungle Tofu Bowl with fried plantains, jungle curry sauce, beans, and rice. It was really delicious and coconutty. Hula's Modern Tiki has a GIANT menu, so taking a peek at the menu before you arrive is not a bad idea.
After lunch we headed back to the Andaz for sessions on photography, video, working with brands, and more. We got a very behind the scenes with Jennifer Duffy from Experience Scottsdale, who gave us amazing insights on the goals of the city, how people can work with them to promote businesses in Scottsdale, insights about strategy, and more.
After a short break in the day (which gave me some more time to do research on blogging), we headed to a Welcome to Scottsdale reception at Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room & Osteria, which is one of six tasting rooms in Old Town Scottsdale. I had a glass of the Merkin Jane Pink with 100% Monastrell grapes grown in Arizona (also a grape grown in my adopted state of Missouri). The wine was tart and easy to drink.
This is what it's like taking photos and Boomerangs with a bunch of bloggers. :)
The food we had there was excellent - the bread with rosé butter, the spicy cucumber salad, the cheese, and the roasted potatoes and cauliflower (not pictured) were all super fresh and delicious. It was a nice healthy way to end a productive day.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Bloghouse Scottsdale - Day 1

I'm in Scottsdale, AZ at Bloghouse Scottsdale (a travel blog conference). I have never done something conference-like for my blog, but I figured it was a good time to learn more about what I have been doing as a hobby for almost 10 years (this November). As I walked around the resort this morning, I was struck by these beautiful flowers.
I arrived the night before in order to take part in my first FAM ("familiarization") activity with Discover Gilbert in Gilbert, AZ. Glenn bought us a lovely brunch (which makes this photo sponsored). I had this delicious plate of chilaquiles at Liberty Market, which is housed in a former grocery store founded in 1935.
We took a walk around the adorable downtown, where I found this cute mural.
We spotted Topo (the gopher-topped burrito restaurant) across the street and learned that they also served prickly pear soft serve ice cream.
I am never one to turn down ice cream, especially local flavors, so we stopped by. I had the prickly pear with a lime shell dip. It was so good!
On our way back to Scottsdale (I went with two other travel bloggers), we stopped by Agritopia, a planned community around a family farm and community gathering places.
They had a coffee shop, a wine bar, lots of independently owned artisan shops, and this self-serve farmer's market. If you are ever nearby, you need to make this a lunch and wander stop!
After our Gilbert tour, the retreat kicked off in a classroom with critiques (!!!) and sessions about monetization, affiliate marketing, niches to blog about, and more. Once we wrapped that up, we headed to a Welcome Reception hosted by the Andaz Scottsdale (I love their properties!). They focus on local artists and display a lot of it throughout the rooms, spa, meeting spaces, and on-site restaurant. 
We enjoyed drinks and snacks on the lawn while listening to a live band and trying our hand at crafts - which I wasn't so great at. It was nice to get to have some casual time with these great female travel bloggers.
The sunset over the resort was such a nice way to end the day. I know I am in for a lot of learning, which will lead to a lots of personal projects in my spare time. I look forward to sharing more with you tomorrow!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Rediscovering Seattle - Days 2 + 3

Known as a coffee mecca, I had to check out as many local coffee shops as possible. On my second day in Seattle, I headed to Anchorhead Coffee for a tasty latte (and a blueberry scone, which disappeared too fast for photos). The latte was delicious, but the decor and vibe of the shop was my favorite part - I do love anchors, rustic rope, and narwhals!
I'm in Seattle for the GEO Funders Learning Conference (focused on measurement and evaluation of philanthropic investments). Between sessions I walked by something called the "Healing Room" and heard some music and a maraca coming from inside. I ducked in and found a beautiful oasis of calm that included coloring books, meditation stations, and this make-your-own scent sachet. I thought it was so nice and feels like something every conference needs. You can reach out to the organizer at Centered Spaces here to book for your next event/conference that could use a little calm.
After lunch, I needed a little fresh air between sessions - and the sun was OUT (it doesn't always rain)! I walked around the block to Top Pot Doughnuts for a little treat.
I had this tasty raspberry glazed chocolate cake donut - yum!
After the conference reception, I headed to see some friends I met in St. Thomas a year and a half ago when we were all volunteering after the hurricanes. Pamela and Andrew live in a beautiful house they built that overlooks the Seattle skyline.
A better view, without our smiling faces in the way.
Pamela made us this amazing spread of vegetarian delights - which we ate on the roof before chatting and warming ourselves with wine and a fire. It's so fun to get to travel to places and catch up with friends, I definitely don't take that privilege for granted.
Keeping in the spirit of trying as many coffee shops as possible, on my last morning, I headed to Monorail Espresso for an iced latte. As I was paying I spotted their most delicious looking chocolate chip cookies, which I skipped, but if you're ever in town, have one for me!
On my walk for doughnuts, er I mean, fresh air yesterday - I came across the Seattle Spheres by Amazon. Since Andrew works for the real estate arm of Amazon, he offered to give me a tour before I headed to the airport.
The spheres are home to "more than 40,000 plants from the cloud forest regions of over 30 countries." It's quite impressive.
The space is primarily for Amazon employees (it's part of Amazon's 40-50 building downtown campus) to co-work and relax. They have tours open to the public on the weekends - definitely worth checking out if you're in town.
Although the trip was way too short, and I missed my travel partner in crime, it was a lovely couple of days getting back in the know of what's going on in Seattle. Thanks for stopping by!