Let me introduce you to my friend, Franziska; I call her Franzi. She is energetic, adventurous, diligent, generous, amiable, considerate and sincere. Really! And, now you too can benefit from her thoughts about travel, beauty, lifestyle and well-being. She was born and raised in Europe and has travelled extensively. She holds a Master’s degree in hospitality and is employed as the Director of Spa Operations at a beautiful resort on California’s Central Coast.
When I want advice about:
shoemakers in Italy
sightseeing in Germany
anti-aging night cream
best spa treatments
I ask Franzi. Now, you can, too!
She’s also fun to talk to. She’s just as honest and accessible in her posts as she is in person. Franzi consistently informs, entertains and motivates me. I think you’ll like her, too!
I’ve been thinking a lot about time and place lately. It seems to me that place matters little if the time is not right. It was a philosophical cabana boy who got me thinking about this. I had left the Carmel fog for the sunshine of Carmel Valley to enjoy a glass of bubbly poolside. I was admiring the stunning view of blue skies, old oaks and green hills when he handed me my chilled glass.
“This really is paradise up here, isn’t it,” I commented. I hadn’t phrased it as a question and yet he took it that way. “Well,” he said flatly, “I guess paradise is where you find it.” Clearly, he had not found it where I had.
It could be argued that he was working and I was lounging and as such we had different viewpoints, but I think it’s more than that. In my younger days, I often failed to appreciate the beauty around me…the beauty that offers solace, inspiration and perspective. Understandably, I was rushing, worrying, working and tending; now there is less of all of that and more time to notice what’s around me.
I do remember the orange leaves in the fall of 2000, though. It was my brother’s last fall and he knew it. We’d met to have coffee and pastry. We sat outside at a small bistro table admiring the view. “Of course, I never appreciated it quite so much,” he said. Fall had always been my favorite time of year, too. I loved the tree colors and the crisp air and, in my younger days, the joy of beginning a new year in school. Yet, that day was different; we sat and breathed it in. We were happy.
As I grow older, I do stop more often to appreciate trees, stars, flowers and vistas and I am always struck by how marvelous it all is. I feel content to sit by the windows in the morning and watch the breeze in the grasses and the squirrels in frolic. In the afternoon, I marvel at the fog as it drifts in slowly to ultimately form a thick wall. I walk outside at night sometimes just to look up at the sky.
I enjoyed a visit with my neighbor this morning and as we cleaned up the coffee cups she pointed out the kitchen window to her garden. “People talk about yoga,” she said. “This is my yoga.”
And, I understood what she meant. If you take the time to notice it, the world is a beautiful place.
I nearly collided with a jubilant young girl yesterday upon my arrival in the lobby of a large hotel. She was happily spinning about with her arms outstretched. “I’m flying Mom! I’m flying!” she exclaimed.
“Fabulous,” came her mother’s enthusiastic reply. “But, don’t fly too close to the stairs!”
I remembered my daughter at the same age. She was energetic, determined and curious. I could imagine her dancing beside me. She is now in Southern California, a 20-year-old college sophomore, earning excellent grades while working part-time. Today she made a deposit on her first off-campus apartment for next year. She is flying!
She is also studying abroad this summer. She received the good news that she had been accepted into the international program on March 22, the day the terrorist attack took place in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster in London. I was shopping for fun stuff for the girl’s apartment when I received a message from my husband about the Manchester attack two days ago.
Terrorist attacks are by nature appalling, but those that target children and young adults are the most heartbreaking. It’s hard to hold back tears when listening to a parent describe how they feel about their child’s death. This is not the way life should be. Parents should not have to face the death of their children. I wish there was something I could do to assuage the pain of those who have lost children and yet I imagine that there is nothing anyone can do. The pain will never leave.
Within hours of the attack at the concert, the Facebook page for college parents was filled with one simple question: Is your daughter/son still planning on traveling to Europe this summer? Though our “children” are young adults, study abroad is made possible by parents. So the decision to go or not to go becomes a conversation that begins with: “Do you still want to go?”
My daughter was upset by the news but does not want to “waste the opportunity.” My husband and I agree. As a young child we taught her to look both ways and to dial 911, and, most importantly, we tried to model responsible behavior. Thankfully, she was an inherently careful, thoughtful, observant girl and she did not cause us undue worry. Now that she is also an adult, we can discuss the fact that life is unpredictable which makes it that much more precious. One must fly despite the fact that the stairscan not always be seen.
Unless circumstances drastically change, my daughter will soon be on a plane heading toward a wonderful 7- week- long adventure…and my heart will be there, too!
“Go to the farmers market and buy food there. You’ll get something that’s delicious. It’s discouraging that this seems like such an elitist thing. It’s not. It’s just that we have to pay the real cost of food. People have to understand that cheap food has been subsidized. We have to realize that it’s important to pay farmers up front, because they are taking care of the land.”—Alice Waters
The word for the day is aperitif (pronounced “ah-pair-ee-TEEF”)… the lovely Latin word for a pre-dinner cocktail that’s usually big on refreshment and light on alcohol. The sun has arrived here on the Monterey Peninsula (and hopefully to your neighborhood), so it’s the perfect time to head to BevMo! for supplies to make one of my favorite afternoon coolers. The Aperol Spritz is orange soda for adults. It’s a sparkly, happy drink with notes of rhubarb and a hint of grapefruit rind bitterness. This is the cocktail that says: the day is done…it’s time to celebrate!
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda water
1 slice orange
It’s very simple to make; here’s a tutorial for you!
I have some expert mixing notes to offer:
Adjust the drink to suit your personal taste. If you’d like a more sweet, less bitter taste, lower the Aperol to Prosecco ratio.
Make sure to use large ice cubes, not crushed ice! This is essential for slow dilution of your drink!
Choose a chilled, dry Prosecco, but if that’s not handy use whatever you’ve got in your frig: Gruet, Cava or anything French but not expensive.
Use a Bordeaux glass and add a straw…black is the traditional color. If you haven’t got one, a rocks glass will work.
Ladies, I guarantee you’ll look lovely sipping this spritzer while your man fires up the grill or orders the appetizers!