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Historic Globe

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Travel | 6 comments

I stumbled across the Arizona Good Roads Association Illustrated Road Maps and Tour Book at the Tempe Public Library. It’s a reprint of a 1913 book full of hand drawn maps and photos of Arizona towns as they were back then. (Yay libraries! And yay maps!)

globe-good-roads book

Phoenix was sparsely populated when there wasn’t air conditioning blasting away the desert heat. All the recent development makes the city feel so new that it’s easy to forget that people have lived here for centuries. I love the window back in time this book provides.


I brought the book along when we went to my uncle’s house in Globe over Fourth of July weekend. Globe is an old mining town about an hour and a half east of Phoenix with lots of quirky antique and thrift stores. In 1913, it already had 5 hotels (!)


As we drove, I looked for surviving landmarks and tried to picture the route we would have taken in an early Ford or horse-drawn wagon. The map from Phoenix to Globe passes through Tempe, over railroad tracks no longer in use (but still there), right by the old creamery that now houses a handful of businesses – including the ever-popular Four Peaks Brewery. It continues down Apache Boulevard, which I believe was part of US 60 before the freeway was built, and winds through the Superstition Mountains over Apache Trail, and past the Roosevelt Dam.


It would have been a much slower route. Instead, we made it to Globe early enough to grab a coffee before heading out to the cookout at noon. We had a great time catching up with cousins I hadn’t seen in forever, picking cherry tomatoes from the garden, sitting in the shade and chatting.


On the way home, Phillip and I stopped in the historic downtown and tried to spot a few of the buildings in the book.



We found the 1st National Bank (now an antique store with a new facade), the courthouse, and Gila River Bank Building (currently empty and for lease).

photo 2
photo 1


I thought the school looked like what’s now The Noftsger Hill Inn, but, once we were in front of it, the details weren’t quite right. Turns out it was built in 1917. We’ll have to find the school in the picture another day. I think I’ll just have to get my own copy of the book.

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Seattle sights and upcoming trip #SeaSFBlog

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in Travel | 2 comments


It seems like only yesterday I was buying plane tickets “too early.” And now my big trip is about to begin!

Saturday I fly to Seattle. I’ll do some sightseeing, so I can tell you how to get a taste of the city in a short time. I’ll also see my brother and family and a few friends.


Then I’ll spend a day in San Francisco before heading to the BlogHer conference in San Jose. I’ll be tweeting and Instagramming with hashtag #SeaSFBlog. (It comes from the three parts of my trip: Seattle, San Francisco, and the BlogHer Conference. It’s also kind of like “see Stef blog.”)


I’ve been reading up on what to do in Seattle. Here are a few sites/lists I wanted to share:

Is there a Seattle sight that you’d like to hear about or have enjoyed visiting?

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Papago Park and making time to celebrate

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Travel | 0 comments

The celebratory Nutella brownie bites I made last month for Craft Hack were actually part two of the Travelcraft-Journal-turns-one festivities.



On the actual day of the site’s anniversary, Phillip and I took a little break to commemorate it on our own. It had been a tough day, and he was swamped with finishing up school stuff. So we couldn’t do anything big, but he said “let’s do something.”


So we picked up donuts at our local Tempe favorite, Arizona Donut Co., and headed to Papago Park. (I’m back to eating gluten – at least temporarily, so I’m taking advantage of it. Carpe donut.)


There are some nice picnic areas just beyond the Phoenix Zoo parking lot with ramadas and grills, but we hardly ever see anyone there. It’s a short drive for us, and it’s a very peaceful spot.


It was windy enough that it took several tries to light the birthday candle we stuck in a chocolate coconut donut. The wind blew it out again a second later. Maybe it made a wish.



We enjoyed our donuts and then went down to the little lake to feed crackers to the ducks. There was one that had this super noisy way of paddling that made us laugh.

Our little break only lasted about an hour, but we were both so much happier and more relaxed when we came back.

PS More info about Papago Park below. Also, Phillip took the donut shop sign pic. Gotta love the dizzying angle! :)


Things to know about Papago Park:

  • Papago Park is home to the Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Gardens, rock formations (such as Hole in the Rock, which you can see in the background of a photo above), picnic areas, and hiking trails. (There are also several other attractions in the area.) 
  • The park encompasses an area that used to be a fish hatchery, which is why it includes several (manmade) lakes.
  • The city of Phoenix has a PDF map that shows some of the picnic tables, but there are more out there than the map shows.
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Hollywood Costume: The art of film costuming

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Last weekend I got to meet Marilyn Monroe’s dress.

It was (and will be through this weekend) at the Phoenix Art Museum, along with 100 other costumes from both recent and classic films.


Fun fact: The last time I was there was for Arts & Flowers. While I was waiting for Phillip (and getting lost on the second floor), he stopped in the lobby to talk to Phoenix Comicon volunteers. Which inspired us to go to the Con, where we stopped to talk to Phoenix Art Museum volunteers, snapped a photobooth pic for their Hollywood Costume Instagram contest, won it, and found ourselves in the Museum lobby again, thus completing the circle.

It was our destiny.


Officially, we’d won an Audrey+Marilyn grab bag. But when the Museum heard we hadn’t made it to the exhibition yet, they made tickets part of our prize. Super nice, right?!


This time we didn’t even get lost. The Hollywood Costume exhibit is on the first floor with a giant marquee.

You pass the velvet ropes and ticket taker (also a no photos sign). Before entering the main exhibit, you pause in a room with a large screen showing the most famous clips for the most well-known costumes inside. It’s like a sneak peek.


Inside, there’s exhibit information projected onto glass, teleprompter style. Costumes are clustered together based on themes. We snaked around the edges of these costume islands with the rest of the visitors, lines forming at points where people were lingering longer. In front of each costume is a stand with what looks like a script page that gives details on the costume and sometimes additional backstory. Woven throughout the exhibit, there are video interviews of actors and costume designers talking about what goes on behind the scenes, as well as animated projected images that explain the process.

We learned that costumes for movies have a lot to do: they need to be true to the time and the character, fit with the film’s artistic vision, and be practical for the actor to actually play their role in – whether they’re running or dancing or just wearing it during long days of shooting a scene.


I loved checking out the details of the costumes – the way the light shines on different fabrics, beaded gowns that must’ve weighed a ton, “dirt” and frayed edges added to make clothing look worn. Meryl Streep’s Mamma Mia! costume was made to sparkle. Darth Vader’s costume had more layers than we realized and buttons that reminded me of ’80s electronics (which, I guess, makes sense).


It’s always a little surreal to come face-to-face with something (or someone) that has previously only existed for you on a screen.

We spent awhile checking out Indiana Jones’s Raiders of the Lost Ark costume and the video that explained how the different components were designed, sourced, and adapted. You could see the individual distress marks in his signature leather jacket.

There was a whole section devoted to Elizabethan period costumes. One dress was hand-embroidered to match a painting exactly, while another costume designer felt it was more important that the clothing convey the right message to a modern audience than to be historically accurate in every detail. We also spotted two dresses used in films about Queen Elizabeth that expressed two very different takes on the same historical portrait.


The exhibit ends with two iconic dresses – the sexy halter back Marilyn Monroe wore in Seven Year Itch and the innocent blue gingham Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz. Both are behind glass, unlike the rest of the exhibit. You walk out to a “The End” montage and find yourself back in the real world – or, at least, a museum corridor.


We perused the gift shop and wandered through a few galleries. Then we decided there’s no place like home, so we headed that way.

If you get a chance to see the Hollywood Costume exhibit, do it!

Here’s what you need to know.


Hollywood Costume at Phoenix Art Museum

UPDATE: The next and final stop for Hollywood Costume will be the historic Wilshire May Company building in Los Angeles from October 2, 2014 through March 2, 2015. It will be presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Chicago sightseeing on a conference schedule

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Travel | 2 comments

I had been to Chicago O’Hare. But the airport doesn’t count. I had driven by Chicago on the interstate. That doesn’t really count either. The first time I was really in the city of Chicago, it was for a conference. Which just barely counts.


A conference can be like it’s own self-contained universe. You can eat, sleep, socialize, work, learn, and be entertained for days without ever leaving its confines. Or ever talking to someone who isn’t wearing a lanyard. Whether you’re there for knowledge or networking, you want to get as much as you can out of the conference itself. But it’s also nice to see something of the area outside the convention center.

As I prepared for last year’s BlogHer Annual Conference, I also looked into what was near the downtown convention centers and hotels where I (like many conference/business travelers) would be starting from and how I could see a small slice of Chicago if I found a spare hour or two.




McCormick Place

McCormick Place is the largest conference center in the U.S. It feels isolated from the rest of downtown, but you’re really just a short cab ride away from all the sights.



For a quick escape on foot, your best bet is Burnham Park, which runs along Lake Michigan and where locals run, picnic, and hang out. I say ”quick,” but it took me 10-15 minutes to wind my way from the Hyatt connected to the convention center through a labyrinth of expo halls and walkways out to daylight. I wasn’t lost – it’s just that massive of a complex. Ask for directions to the Lakefront.

  • Park and Lakefront Trail – Enjoy looking at a lake and trees, and not a slide deck. Run along Lakefront Trail, if that’s your thing.
  • McCormick Bird Sanctuary – To get your wildlife fix, visit this 6-acre grassland preserve created as a habitat for migrating birds, which most locals don’t seem to know exists. And by “most,” I’m including the McCormick information desk staff – even though the bird sanctuary is literally built on top of one of their parking garages, and it’s just south of the conference center. Get directions out to the Lakefront, and then let the signage and/or Google Maps get you the rest of the way there. (More info – PDF.)


If you have a little more time, there’s a lot to see at the nearby Museum Campus:

Of course, museums, etc. are priced based on a full day’s admission. I couldn’t find anything with a special I’m-here-for-a-conference-and-only-have-an-hour rate.




Near North Side/Chicago River area

For conference-goers in the Near North Side of downtown, there are a lot more options in walking distance.

  • Chicago River - Walk along it, take a river cruise, or just sit and watch boats go by.
  • Millennium Park – Take a selfie under the Cloud Gate (the large silver sculpture also known as “The Bean.”) Maybe catch a free concert. Also, the park has free wifi (!)
  • Art Institute - Perusing art museums can be good for the soul. Especially after all that PowerPoint. (Yikes.)
  • Michigan Avenue - Magnificent Mile shopping.
  • Navy Pier – Rides, food, shows, and this random (but lovely) little stained glass museum when you’re ready for a quiet moment.





West Side

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) with its famous Sky Deck is about a mile inland. If you just have to go but are short on time, they offer a Fast Pass with an elevator express lane for double the regular admission price.

For public radio nerds fans (like me), WBEZ’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me sells nonrefundable tickets to tapings 6 weeks in advance. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait wait in line the day of the show and hope hope seats open up.


Finally, you may not be able to do everything you’d like. But keep your eyes and ears open, and you might be able to catch some glimpses of life in the city.

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June is not the end of the world

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in Life, Travel | 0 comments

Yeah, I get it. Summer in Phoenix is hot. But I think we Phoenicians sometimes give up too early on the great outdoors.


Even in mid-June, the temperatures often still drop at night. And that makes everything so much more bearable. You can still get out early or late in the day to take a walk or sit in the shade. We still get an occasional coolish day. (After it’s been 108, 93 seems quite lovely!)

Just getting away from the city can lower the temp by 10 degrees or so – you don’t have to go far, just away from all that concrete.

There comes a point in the year where it never cools down. It’s how we pay for our gorgeous non-summer days. We get our version of cabin fever, and it gets a bit depressing.

But June can still surprise you.

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