Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Although, I didn’t have much time for sightseeing on my recent trip to London, I was determined to visit Petersham Nurseries. Located a short walk from the train station, along the River Thames, Petersham has two cafes, a wine cellar and an inspiring garden center.


The setting around Petersham couldn’t have been more picturesque.


The public footpath


Above, the sign to Petersham Nurseries.


A peek inside the glasshouse restaurant





The teahouse, with gorgeous hydrangeas and geraniums out front


Inspiration for my next garden party…





How lovely & simple is this?


Although, I couldn’t bring back gorgeous plants or antiques, I was able to enjoy a beautiful lunch and take it in, if only for an hour. Looking forward to my next visit!


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The Satyagraha House was built in 1907 by the German architect, Hermann Kallenbach, a close friend of Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, who lived there from 1908 to 1909. The house, which is now part guesthouse part museum, is located in Johannesburg and was originally designed after a traditional African farm, called a Kraal.



Image by Elsa Young via House & Leisure


Image by Elsa Young via House & Leisure


Image via Styles de Bain



Image by Elsa Young via House & Leisure


If I could have a home built just like this and dropped right into my Southern California neighborhood I would be oh so happy! The simplicity of the architecture, black and white palette and mix of organic materials is simply beautiful. Click here to read more about this gem.

Photographs via the Satyagraha House unless otherwise noted.

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Settled in a gorgeous residential neighborhood in Santa Barbara, Lotusland is a 37-acre garden that was once the private residence of Ganna Walska, an eccentric opera singer turned plantswoman. The garden is full of subtropical and tropical plants from around the world, as well as more than 130 varieties of aloe, rare species of cycads, Chilean Wine Palms and massive amounts of cactus. unnamed-2

 The main house (now offices), was built in 1919 by architect Reginald Johnson and is a gorgeous example of Mediterranean style architecture.


The famous Lotus pond, which was once a pool.


An old Euphorbia drooping from weight and old age.


A fountain near the Olive Allee and Cactus Garden.

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Old Man Cactus


A beautiful old Euphorbia in the background with barrel cactus and purple aeonium in the stone planters.

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One of my favorite agaves, and one that is extremely popular here in Southern California –the Fox Tail Agave or Agave Attenuataunnamed-47 A group of striking colored Euphorbia


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An idea any garden lover can take home — an interesting planter potted with one type of succulent — left alone to grow into a little gem like the one above.


A 130 year old Dragon Tree

Ganna Walska’s reflective pool with giant clam shells and tons of abalone shells


She lined her entire reflective pool with abalone shells.

The Cactus Gardenunnamed-1

The work that went into this garden is amazing. The dedication in growing many of these species from seed, or as small pups, must have taken an extreme amount of patience and vision. It’s definitely worth a visit. For more information on Lotusland, click here.

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unnamed-8The Palihouse is a boutique hotel in Santa Monica, that some are calling, “The Chateau Marmount by the sea”.  It has great style, a lovely garden, a bocce court and is just minutes from the beach. Plus, you’re in a wonderful residential neighborhood (not a hotel zone) and only several blocks from 3rd Street Promenade and shopping on Montana Ave.


PalihouseSM_LobbyThe Lobby


The lobby

2631759-Palihouse-Santa-Monica-Hotel-Exterior-1-DEFOne of the guest suitesPaliHouse-santa-monica-traveller-7-4jun13-pr_b_646x430A kitchen in one of the guest suitesPaliHouseSM_Bedroom_Dylan_Jeniunnamed-8unnamed-10

unnamed-6 My husband, daughter and friend enjoying a game of bocceunnamed-11 The back patio


A gorgeous Velvet Leaf Kalanchoe

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Click here for more info about the Palihouse in Santa Monica.

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If you haven’t heard of One Kings Lane, the trendy home and style source, you definitely need to check them out. It covers all tastes and styles from traditional to mid-century. Today, I came across some fabulous finds that reminded me of Big Sur style, the hippie/bohemian coastal town along the Northern California coast.

The Sandpiper

Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton in The Sandpiper, filmed in Big Sur

Big Sur Goodies From One Kings Lane~

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One of my favorite places to visit is the Huntington Botanical Gardens, especially the Desert Garden. For those of you who love cactus and succulents, below are several photos from my last visit.


parry’s agave, barrel cactus and more


one of my favorite’s – the agave attenuata


one up closeIMG_1532

one of the pathways in the desert garden

a sea of aeonium succulents


torch aloe


I believe another torch aloe (I don’t know what the tree is to the right but it was incredible – very dr. suess like)


blue agave


more barrel cactus and parry’s agave


a saguaro cactus surrounded by barrel cactus and parry’s agave


barrel cactus with little ones


could this be an organ pipe cactus? I’ll have to check the tags next time I go.

Happy Weekend!

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A little garden inspiration heading into the weekend is Nicole de Vesian’s garden, La Louve (The She-Wolf). It’s located in Bonniuex, Provence France.

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After having a fashion career in Paris, Nicole de Vesian moved to Provence and designed the garden at age 69.

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The pool was later added by the current owner, Judith Pillsbury.

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This garden is one of my favorites, absolutely beautiful. One reason I adore it is that it feels very organized, as well as soft and calming. The green shades of the Rosemary, Boxwoods and Cypress’ mixed with the silver hues of the Sage, Santolina and Lavender work perfectly together.

Some of these photos are from Garden Design Magazine’s website, but if you have the chance to pick up Provence Interiors (by Angelika Muthesius) you will see many more that show the beauty of this garden.

Or you can click here, to check out more photos by Clive Nichols.

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My recent hotel obsession is Hotel Fasano Las Piedras in Uruguay. This is another one by the Fasano Group. Known for their luxurious hotels in Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro, the Hotel Fasano Las Piedras is their first venture outside of Brazil. Designed by the Brazilian architect, Isay Weinfeld (who also designed the Fasano Sao Paulo), Las Piedras is situated on over 1100 acres. The amenities include an equestrian center, polo fields, boathouse, private beach and an incredible spa.

The reception lounge

The reception lounge

One of the suites

The bungalows

The spa

The pool area

The entrance to the Fasano restaurant

The Fasano restaurant

The surrounding landscape.

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Viva Mexico!

Today, is Mexico’s Independence Day!

In honor of Independence Day and because I adore the country of Mexico, I put together my “favorites list” highlighting just a couple of things I love about this country.

First, a brief history of where my adoration came from. I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, an area in the southern part of Texas along the border of Mexico. Therefore, my proximity to Mexico and it’s people, culture and food was quite close. My grandmother, Felicia Benavides Trigo, is of Spanish/Mexican decent and would speak to us in Spanish all the time. She made THE best homemade flour tortillas and consequently ruined me for life. I have found very few flour tortillas that can stand up to hers. In the late ’70’s, my father bought a place in CanCun, Mexico and would take my sister and I there every summer. These three ingredients brewed a strong love affair with Mexico, its people, culture and, of course, the food. Later, my sister and I went on to study in Cuernavaca, rented an apartment in Oaxaca and traveled throughout Mexico every chance we got.

I haven’t been to Mexico in several years but I had so much fun writing this blog. It reminded me about all the fabulous places and things I long to see again.

Favorite Mexican Artist:

Joaquin Clausell

Joaquin Clausell

Joaquin Clausell (1866-1935) is one of my favorite Mexican painters. Born in Campeche he was considered the one who introduced Impressionism to Mexico. 

Joaquin Clausell

Favorite Hotel:

 Las Mananitas, Cuernavaca

The gardens

Where you can sit and have a cocktail and enjoy the setting sun

Las Mananitas is a quaint 29-room colonial style hotel. Because of the hotel’s small size, incredible service and attention to detail, you feel as if you’re visiting a friend rather than staying in a formal hotel. I love the rooms with fireplaces, as well as the ones facing the gardens where exotic birds roam freely. A beautiful, beautiful place.

Favorite Album:

Bachata Rosa by Juan Luis Guerra

There are so many great artist from Mexico, but I think the Spanish CD (yes, I just said CD) that had the most impact on me is, Bachata Rosa by Juan Luis Guerra. The first summer I lived in Cuernavaca, we would always listen to it as we drove through the mountains on our to Acapulco for a long weekend. I realize that he is actually from the Dominican Republic, but nonetheless it’s a fantastic CD!

Favorite Dish:

Chiles Rellenos

It’s impossible to think of a one all-time-favorite dish, but today it would be the chile relleno.  Stuffed with cheese or ground pork and topped with a light red sauce it’s incredible!

Favorite Restaurant:

Axitla, Tepoztlan


One of my favorite restaurants in Mexico is one located in the mountainous and mystical town called Tepoztlan. It’s the restaurant, Axitla, and it’s located at the foot of the trail leading up to the pyramid Tepozteco. The restaurant is situated in a garden and has a very treehouse-like feel to it.  When we lived in Cuernavaca in the early 90’s, we would take a bus there every Saturday for a late lunch. The food is amazing and we would linger over our lunches for hours.

I do long for days when I can take my children there and travel freely without hesitation. To introduce them to all I fell in love with, hoping they will one day feel the same way I did about such an amazing country and its people.

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Hotel Havana

About a month ago, I finally checked out San Antonio’s Hotel Havana. I wanted to see for myself what all the talk was about. It’s another establishment by Liz Lambert, who also has Hotel San Jose and the Saint Cecilia in Austin.  I admit, I did fall in love. Her use of vintage furniture recovered in vibrant colors is inspiring! The overall feel is very warm and sophisticated, yet casual and comfortable — more like a friend’s home than a hotel.

My daughter excited about the “griddle cakes”

Yesterday morning, a friend and I checked out their new little restaurant, Ocho that had just opened. It’s housed in a glass conservatory and felt much like a hotel in Florence I visited last summer. It was also nice to see an uncomplicated menu, friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere. It doesn’t hurt that the little restaurant overlooks the River Walk either, and on pleasant days they can open several huge garage-like doors to allow the ultimate in dining alfresco.

In the summer, the dimly lit bar in the basement, with its blue painted cement walls, is a welcome refuge from the South Texas sun.

I did snap some more pictures of the rest of the hotel but I thought I would just include the link to the Hotel Havana website instead.

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