Monday, September 26, 2016

KSW Travels: 2 Days in Venice

Justin and I just returned from a wonderful Italian Holiday to celebrate my birthday.  We started out, just the two of us, in Venice and then met up with the rest of my family in the Amalfi Coast.  I can't wait to tell you about the entire trip but let's start with my favorite things to do in Venice!  I collected tips and advice on Venice from a few friends including the amazing Jan Showers who heads there annually to work on her fabulous lamp collection.

 Day 1

After a charming water taxi ride from the airport to the hotel, we checked into the wonderful Hotel Londra Palace.  We requested a room with a terrace and it was certainly worth the extra cost.  Our view of the city is above! The location was wonderful - close to shopping and San Marco Square - and the staff was incredible.

Start your trip with a gondola ride through the city.  We loved seeing the city this way and it is as romantic and charming and you imagine!  There are several spots around the city where you can start and we found one on a back street with a singing gondolier.  Take a photo or two and then sit back and enjoy the ride! You will need cash (half an hour runs 80E).  

I love this shot from Grey Magazine showing a pendant from Attilio Codognato.
Whether you are in the market for a new bauble or not, a visit to Attilio Codognato is a must when in Venice.  Four generations of gentlemen have been designing and presenting the rarest and most extraordinary jewels.  We had a blast trying on these exquisite bracelets, necklaces and rings and hearing the stories behind the gems.

We wandered to our lunch reservation at Grand Canal Restaurant

Hotel Monaco Grand Canal, a recommendation from Jan  Showers that didn't disappoint.  It was the first of many meals of pasta for me as I can't eat seafood!  Our view from our table on the terrace is the image I used to open this post!  It was the wonderful and exactly what I expected from Venice. 

After lunch we decided to walk off our pasta-induced calorie overload.  We wandered toward the Ponte dell'Accademia bridge and crossed over to the other side.  Our first stop was for some Venetian Slippers.

With soles made of old bicycle tires and tops of colorful velvet, Venetian Furlane Slippers, or Gondolier slippers are both trending and comfortable.  They are a must-have souvenir from a visit to Venice!  The advice I got was to select a size that is "snug" because, over time, they mold to your feet.  I have to admit that I left with more than one pair and even bought a pair for my three year old!  There are stores everywhere but we enjoyed a stop at Pied-a-Terre.

With our new shoe purchases made, we stopped for a quick coffee and then wandered through the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.  Located in her dramatic one-story Villa, the art is beautifully arranged and the scenes of the rooms and art as she lived with them really make you feel at home.

Venice is the kind of city you want to get lost in.  When we let ourselves wander down side streets, we always found our favorite surprises.

We stopped on the steps of Santa Maria della Salute and enjoyed some live music being played outside and waited for the ferry.  It was one of the best parts of the day!  People were gathering around to listen and there was a calm and serene feeling in the air.

Back at the Hotel Londra Palace, we dressed for dinner but took our concierge's challenge before we left.  He was positive that we would prefer the Bellinis at the hotel over those served at Harry's Bar!  They were invented at Harry's Bar so I couldn't imagine he was right but he was!  Dinner was still amazing thought...I can't decide if I liked my food or the people watching better!  It is certainly a must in Venice! 

Day 2

We started our second day refreshed and ready with a beautiful buffet breakfast at the hotel.  I loved having my coffee under the row of Venetian chandeliers!

A small section of the windows in the Murano Glass Factory.
A water taxi picked us up and took us to Murano where we toured a glass factory and wandered in and out of the little shops.  The large factories were impressive but I really loved finding shop keepers hard at work on their own small projects while waiting for customers.  Click here for a great article about buying Murano glass.

After wandering and shopping in Murano, we took the Ferry to Burano, a nearby island famous for it's colorful buildings and it's lace.  La Perla seems to have the best reputation for it's hand-made lace so we went there first.  Of course, after admiring the work of a charming lady making lace right in front of me, I found a beautiful dressing gown that I just had to take home.  It is important to ask to see the hand made pieces as the shop is filled with both machine and hand made items.

We almost skipped our lunch reservation in Burano because it was a bit out of the way but I'm so glad we stuck to it.  It was the best meal we had on the trip and people were waiting for hours for a table! If you are headed that way, please make yourself a reservation at Trattoria al Gatto Nero! 

Loved the colorful building's in Burano!
We loved our day in Murano and Burano but we were exhausted!  We had a water-taxi take us back to our hotel and we relaxed on our terrace for a little bit before wandering to dinner.  Our reservation was at Cip's Club at the Hotel Cipriani.  I stayed at the Cipriani twenty years ago so it really brought back memories!  To reach the hotel, you have to take a boat from the Cipriani stand in San Marco Square.  It was a lovely evening on the floating terrace restaurant and the service was outstanding!  I certainly recommend it!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Currently Obsessed: The Choker

The jewel of the season is certainly the choker.  Whether you are looking for something western or wild, formal or flamboyant, look no further!  I've rounded up over fifty of my favorites ranging in price from $12 to $22,000!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Birthday Tablescape

My "lunch bunch" loves to celebrate birthdays but they really went all out for this years big 40!
I wanted to share the gorgeous tablescape they created at The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek for me.  The mansions gorgeous china reminds me of the project we are working on with Pickard for our Halo Home for Pickard Collaboration!  I love the mix of white and gold.

They made these wonderful monogrammed ring dishes for each of the guests to take home as a memory of the day.  They certainly know I love anything with a monogram!  They purchased the ring dishes from World Market and Halo Calligraphy added the monogram!

The gorgeous white flowers were the perfect complement to all of the guests who were asked to dress in white.  It made the room feel so fresh and beautiful and it made for pretty pictures too!

 My lunch bunch and my sisters!

It was such a special day!  I am so blessed with wonderful friends and family.  As I looked around the table yesterday, my heart felt so full.  Thank you to the friends who gathered to spend the day with me!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

5 Lessons on Work - Life Balance Lessons

This past spring I was asked to speak at a conference, something I do often.  The thing is that I typically speak about entertaining or the history and etiquette of monograms.  This event, The Southern C Summit, was different because I was asked to speak on the art of work/life balance.

I don't mind mixing up the topic but this one really got me because I certainly don't feel like I have that topic mastered!  I'm never one to decline a challenge so I set out to analyze my own struggle with the topic and get tips and advice from those who seem to have it mastered.  

First, I asked my husband....

That wasn't totally the insight I was looking for but I took it and I'll try to learn from it.  I  know he is right though.  I have only two modes - non-stop and breakdown!  

Lesson No. 1 - Try to slow down so that I can find a pace that I can maintain.  I'm always rushing.  Always!  I end up crashing and burning because I operate at a pace that I simply can't keep up with.

Next I turned to a friend who always seems to have it all together.  She told me that she was working with a life coach that has changed her life....

Well that statement hit me!  I don't know about you but I spend a lot of time working on these little tasks that aren't important and let that dictate what my day looks like.

Lesson No. 2 - Take better control of my calendar.  I think part of what I need to do is allow some bonus time in my schedule for the unexpected things that come up during the day like the "sick" call from school, an impromptu lunch with a friend, technical glitches, the printer not working, or a project that needs more attention than I expected.

I was feeling a bit down and out and I was being hard on myself and then I thought of my dear friend Pat Smith.  She is a gem!  She has a very full life as a mother to five children and as a wife to former Dallas Cowboy and Dancing with the Stars Champion Emmitt Smith.  In addition to those responsibilites, she has taken on her ministry, Treasure You, and operates their non-profit, Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities!  Now that is a great deal of juggling!  

Lesson No. 3: Her secret that I have adopted - giving grace to our friends and to ourselves.

A few months ago I was asked to host a live Q and A with the amazing Tim Gunn at a large event in Dallas.  In anticipation of the event, I learned so much about all that he does!  He is a serious juggler of many creative tasks and, with his role on project runway, guides so many creative types who are under pressure to create magic in a matter of minutes sometimes! 

How does that apply to us?  That leads me to
Lesson No. 4:  Well, no matter what you do, sometimes we just have to be ok with the way things are and make them work!  Love that!  It is a game changer if you decide to take what you have and mold it to suit your goals.

That leads me to my next waste of time - I just knew that I had to eliminate worry and stress about what I was missing out on or not getting to.  I lived with constant professional FOMO.  I had so many goals that I just couldn't seem to touch!  I found a great article by Cali Williams Yost that focused on what natural work/life balancers do that we can learn from.

Lesson No. 5: Let go of what doesn't get done. When I started doing that, I felt so much more satisfaction from accomplishing the goals I did reach and the check marks I did get to put on my to-do list!  I learned to edit my list of goals and make them a bit more realistic as well!

I hope this helps you a little bit!  It is something that I am constantly working on and I would love to hear from you about what you do to find better balance!  I hope you will leave your comments here and share!  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Favorites - Travel Day!

I'm so sad to pack up and leave my favorite place today but it is time to get back to reality.  We had another amazing summer in Canada filled with fun in the water, walks on the beach and breathtaking sunsets.  I'm so grateful for the time I get with my family and friends here every year.

Traveling back home today - I always take this and this! 

Do you get the same conflicting advice I do on caring for your orchids? I hope the few I left at home are still hanging in there!  I love the tips in the article - makes sense! 

BIG swim sale! Maybe ordering a new suit will help me hang on to summer a little bit!

I hope you had a great summer too! 


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