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A Visual Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Architecture Studio in Oak Park, Chicago

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A Visual Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Architecture Studio in Oak Park, Chicago

Frank Lloyd Wright is synonymous with iconic American architecture, and thus its impossible for any design aficionado to visit Chicago without a pilgrimage to his home and studio in Oak Park, just outside the city limits.  Although my husband, an architect himself, had been here many times, we went once more so I could see this historic landmark where FLW spent about two decades designing multiple homes in the neighborhood and exploring design elements that lead to the famed Prairie Movement. 

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Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

On our last morning in Chicago, we hopped into our rental car after a hearty breakfast at The Robey Cafe and drove away from the skyscrapers into Oak Park, a quintessential American upscale suburbia with lush green lawns and stately Craftsmans. Just down the block is another Chicago landmark-  Ernest Hemingway's childhood home, another significant sight worth visiting if you have ample time in the area. 

I highly recommend arriving early before the tour and doing a leisurely stroll of the neighborhood, where 25 homes and buildings in this small area were designed by Wright, making it the largest collection of Wright's buildings in the world. Oak Park retains its quiet splendor and its quite enjoyable to wander around, imagining it at the time when two great American icons spent time here. Curbed Chicago has a pretty comprehensive description for the walking tour with brief descriptions of the various homes designed/remodeled by Wright.

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The studio and home is only accessible by guided tour so purchasing timed tickets online before arriving is highly recommended. We milled around the gift shop while waiting for the tour to start and had the luxury of roaming the house with a relatively small group and a very knowledgable guide.

It was pretty incredible walking through the drafting room, seeing where the drawings for so many buildings began as sketches and formed into full fledged buildings still standing today. Wandering inside the home structure and taking in the details and intentional way he continued to expand his vision while committing to using particular architectural elements felt pretty inspiring. All the restored details and prized artifacts blew me away by how timeless they remain. 

Hopefully you'll get a chance to stop by and admire the home as well! 

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FLW was a fan of Japanese prints, many of which were displayed in the studio area.

FLW was a fan of Japanese prints, many of which were displayed in the studio area.

Timeless exterior.

Timeless exterior.

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Picturing all of the life and creativity happening in this beautifully lit space.

Picturing all of the life and creativity happening in this beautifully lit space.

Manicured gardens outside.

Manicured gardens outside.

Memorabilia in the bedroom.

Memorabilia in the bedroom.

Below are a few of my favorite homes in Oak Park with the FLW stamp, all pretty distinctive and yet belong perfectly on the block. 

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Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio | 951 Chicago Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302 | 312.994.4000

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It's Always Sunny In Venice, California

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It's Always Sunny In Venice, California

While the rest of the country is hit by snowstorms and bone-chilling weather, the forecast in Venice, California is currently 76° and sunny with a predicted high of 82° tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day. In the spirit of gratitude, not only for the warmth but the iconic California light that inspires my daily work and play, this photo essay is a celebration of the quintessential California surf, sand, and sea lifestyle. Happy Thanksgiving from my the city I'm grateful to call home.

The iconic Venice sign at dusk.

The iconic Venice sign at dusk.

Protect your eyes (while accessorizing) with an array of sunglass options.

Protect your eyes (while accessorizing) with an array of sunglass options.

Treat yourself to a strawberry and pina colada shaved ice any time of the year.

Treat yourself to a strawberry and pina colada shaved ice any time of the year.

Never underestimate the power of beach yoga.

Never underestimate the power of beach yoga.

But first...a beach selfie.

But first...a beach selfie.

Surf year round or grab seat and watch the pros.

Surf year round or grab seat and watch the pros.

This light...

This light...

Spicy Mango Tree Cocktail at  High Rooftop Lounge  at the  Erwin . 

Spicy Mango Tree Cocktail at High Rooftop Lounge at the Erwin

Best views in town from the rooftop of the  Erwin Hotel . 

Best views in town from the rooftop of the Erwin Hotel

One of the best times of the day to catch some waves.

One of the best times of the day to catch some waves.

The colorful Venice Boardwalk.

The colorful Venice Boardwalk.

Beauty as far as the eye can see, from the rooftop of the Erwin Hotel. 

Beauty as far as the eye can see, from the rooftop of the Erwin Hotel. 

Destination tips:

- I like to park anywhere near the Pacific and Windward intersection. From there, walk under the sign and follow the golden light towards the beach.

- In addition to Hotel Erwin for a sunset cocktail, I also frequent Larry's for their burger or Venice Ale House for the nachos. 

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8 Hours on Isla Mujeres

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8 Hours on Isla Mujeres

A 500 peso (about $45) taxi ride from Cancun, Mexico, Isla Mujeres is worlds away, a charming oasis of white sand beaches and a small town vibe. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for the bustle of Mexico's spring break metropolis but I personally prefer the laid back island time of Isla. While in Cancun for TBEX 2014, I was fortunate to have an extra day before returning home to Los Angeles. Thanks to my new friend Britney of GypsyJaunt, who visited Isla prior to the conference, I decided to see it for myself. A day trip was enough to confirm that this is a destination I plan on returning to.

Ticket to paradise

Ticket to paradise

Gentle breezes on the island

Gentle breezes on the island

The Ultramar at Puerto Juarez is the fastest way to get from Cancun to Isla. Round trip tickets can be purchased for 146 pesos and it boards every 30 minutes between 5am and 8pm. 

With the exception of taxis, cars are not allowed on the island. My freshly rented golf cart.

With the exception of taxis, cars are not allowed on the island. My freshly rented golf cart.

First things first. To get around the island, I rented a golf cart to make the most of my 6 hours there. Prices are pretty standard - about $45 for a 9-5 rental and almost all places take credit cards. Above was my mode of transportation for the day. Not having ever driven one on an actual golf course, it was extremely simple to operate and park. 

Below are some of my sights along the way. Isla Mujeres has no shortage of color and charm. The tiny pedestrian friendly streets make it easy to park your golf cart or moped at the sight of anything cool to explore, something I did almost every few blocks.

Residential building on a side street

Residential building on a side street

Playa Norte

Playa Norte

First official stop - Poc-Na Hostel for a refuel of fresh watermelon juice and wifi. This charming hostel is steps away from the ocean, with hammocks scattered across their beach access area. Hydrated and refreshed, I was ready to get back on the golf cart.

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Crystal clear waters and powder-white sand, enjoyed by tourists and locals together.

Crystal clear waters and powder-white sand, enjoyed by tourists and locals together.

Isla Mujeres pretty much has one main road that runs from the north to the south of the island. It was about an 85-90 degree day and I stopped once again for some refreshments and chatter at this colorful beach shack on Playa Norte before heading south. On the way, this lush palapa caught my eye and I had to go inside. I immediately made a mental note of staying here at the aptly named Casa de los Suenos when I return. 

How could anyone resist this entrance looking straight through to the ocean?

How could anyone resist this entrance looking straight through to the ocean?

Loved the colors of the open lobby.

Loved the colors of the open lobby.

The deep blues contrast perfectly with the lush ivy.

The deep blues contrast perfectly with the lush ivy.

Whats a boutique hotel without an infinity pool?

Whats a boutique hotel without an infinity pool?

By this time, around 2:30pm, I was ready for some protein and ordered some fish tacos. The dining area faces the infinity pool (above) with open, expansive views of the ocean. Seated next to me was a friendly couple from Colorado who watched in amusement as I snapped pictures of the tacos before tearing into them.

Three of the freshest fish tacos I've ever tasted.

Three of the freshest fish tacos I've ever tasted.

Stunning views from the dining area.

Stunning views from the dining area.

Winding my way around the southern part of the island, I stopped to marvel at this beauty, and of course, snap a few images. Despite many sightly beachside homes, this simple shape and color of this one caught my eye. I love the seeing the ocean through the street entrance. I was admiring it from my golf cart when Kyle, whose parents built this beauty, arrived and asked if i wanted to take a look inside. Of course, I said yes. Recently built, it also features an infinity pool and cool architectural elements. If you're looking for a vacation rental on Isla, Casa Gemelos happens to be on the market. 

Casa Gemelos aka The Twin House

Casa Gemelos aka The Twin House

After so many leisurely stops, I was now close to my time limit and ended my visit with some fresh coconut water before returning my golf cart and getting back on the ferry to pack for my flight home. 

Destination tips:

- Pack lightly (wielding huge luggage on and off a ferry slows everything down)

- Try to stay overnight if possible. I would have loved to continue exploring but most of the golf cart rentals by the day end at 5pm. 

- Seems like a no-brainer but lots of sunscreen is mandatory for all of the beach time you're going to want in the crystal clear waters.

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photo essay: she dreams in color

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photo essay: she dreams in color

No matter where I am, dawn and dusk is an awe-inspiring time for me. It urges me to drop everything during those precious moments and reflect on how small we are in the wide expanse of universe we inhabit. Whether I'm on the shores of Venice Beach or traversing Echo Beach in Bali for fresh-grilled catch, the sun continues to make its journey around and every new day and new beginning is just one lingering sunset away.  

Getting cozy in Venice Beach

Getting cozy in Venice Beach

Another epic sunset at home in Venice Beach, California

Another epic sunset at home in Venice Beach, California

Sutro Baths in San Francisco

Sutro Baths in San Francisco

Dusk at Big Bear Lake

Dusk at Big Bear Lake

Smoky skies in Desert Hot Springs and Venice Beach

Smoky skies in Desert Hot Springs and Venice Beach

Closing out the day at Echo Beach in Bali

Closing out the day at Echo Beach in Bali

That magical moment just before nightfall at Big Bear Lake, California

That magical moment just before nightfall at Big Bear Lake, California

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