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The Madonna Inn

July 2, 2015

madonna inn 3

Madonna Inn

Our friends got married at the Madonna, in San Luis Obispo, a month ago. Wow, The Madonna Inn is a hard place to photograph. I think it lends to its specialness… The whole inn is so sprawling, twisting, multi-tiered, that it’s impossible to get a photo of the whole thing at once, unless taken from the air!

madonnainn2

Madonna Inn

We left work on Friday at noon and made our way up to San Luis Obispo. There was a bit of traffic in Santa Barbara (which I hear is normal) but overall we made good time, especially considering the first night of a three-day weekend. We checked in while it was still light out and met up with a few friends in town for dinner and then made our way back to the hotel. One of the most fun and inspiring parts of the wedding weekend was the Friday night tour of rooms! Viewing the rooms on the Madonna Inn website is fun, but being inside them is so much different and awesome.

Madonna Inn

I am so glad that we were part of a large event because we got to see inside probably 10 or more rooms! Above, one of my favorites, the beautifully kitschy “Oriental Fantasy.” Many rooms had rough, dark rock walls and some even had rock showers! Below, the blue room is the famous circular “Voux” room.

Madonna Inn

We chose, in my opinion, the most striking (out of the cheap rooms), the Chestnut Foal. The paint was certainly green, the wallpaper- funny, and the light fixture was a show stopper! Oh yeah, and the bed was very comfy. An important factor in hotel choice, but here it pretty much becomes “a plus.”

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn

Overall, the Inn seemed like a strange alternative universe. Sort of like a grown-up Disneyland. The exterior and interior were adorned with gingerbread trim and carved wood– details upon details! I didn’t have a chance to visit the pool or spa, but the breakfast cafe was underwhelming (yet packed full of guests). It’s worth noting that the wedding dinner was very delicious, much better than the on-site breakfast. It seems like the hotel is straddling the line between tourist-chic, luxury-aspirational, and nostalgic kitsch. It’s truly a one of a kind place, absolutely worth visiting.

I am so happy and grateful that our friends decided to have their special day at such a fun and unique place. There are so many cool places in California, let alone the whole US, that sometimes it takes a special event to bring you somewhere you otherwise wouldn’t know about. I would never have visited The Madonna otherwise, and now I am so glad I had the chance to do so!

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn

Need a recommendation for where to stay? Check out my Your Turn section.

Paring Down

June 25, 2015

Now that we’ve been in the new place for over a year, I’ve been making a lot of progress on downsizing; the idea is to have more items leave the condo than come in. Since this place is more permanent (I certainly don’t plan to retire here, but I am not obsessing about my “next” place either), I have been parting with things that I “might” have needed to schlep to the next apartment, “just in case,” and focusing on organizational systems, furniture, and the like that serves a specific purpose. Things that were great for old haunts don’t make the cut for the new place.

One example is the plethora of curtains we bought for our bungalow in Kansas. When that place was built in the 30’s, numerous small windows were the way to go, and as such we had to buy a lot of curtains to dress them all. Between the guest room, bedroom, living room, and dining room we amassed twelve pairs of curtains. And that wasn’t even all the windows (some went bare). Our current place has four windows. Four. So, that’s one concrete example of super practical downsizing now that I know what I really need. I sold some online and donated the others to Salvation Army, and now I have a dresser drawer’s worth of space free! Just from finally purging curtains! I think that window dressings can be a semi-expensive furnishing that’s worth dragging from rental to rental until finally reaching a point which seems more stable.

 

Kitchen Essentials

Another example is kitchen stuff. Before I quit my gig at SLT I invested in a few pieces as far as pots and pans go. Three great items in, five good items out (to friends or goodwill). I followed the same rationale that I did when I upgraded my kitchen knives (which I’m still totally satisfied with, btw). If I invest in long-term and higher-quality pieces, I won’t have to shop for those items again for ten, twenty years, or in the case of stainless steel pots… maybe ever again! It’s a nice feeling. The employee discount helped, for sure, but I still recommend buying the best that is available and practical at the time, even if saving up for a little while is necessary.

Furniture is next. After a year we know what works and what doesn’t in this place. It’s an area where the pinch is really evident though– swapping out a sofa is not the same as purging a closet or investing in a stainless steel saucepan. I am in the market for a sofa and a bed frame, and probably new bedside tables, too. But I am going to play the long game and make sure we get the right item at the right price, instead of looking for the instant (cheap) fix.

Overall, I honestly hope this isn’t coming off as braggy or materialistic, I have just been reflecting on quality over quantity. Long-term investments slowly replacing short-term solutions. In addition to that– getting things repaired instead of replaced. I took some of my sandals to the shoe repair and two weeks and $12 later, they are better than new. I feel this is how generations before us filled our homes, and many people now see items as so cheap and disposable that the idea of “made for life” is largely forgotten.

Next on my list to pare down is media. Do you have any tips or personal rules when it comes to getting rid of books, cds, dvds? I hate to admit it, because I really love books, but having a Kindle has helped a lot. Please leave any advice in the comments! 

Tabletop Topics

June 17, 2015

My fifth anniversary is coming up this weekend, so weirdly I have been thinking about dishes. I’ve been getting really into browsing Etsy in every moment of spare time. If I were getting married today, I would set up an Etsy registry and sign up for a bunch of pretty vintage china.

When Doug and I got married we registered for Crate and Barrel Aspen dinnerware, and I am still so happy with it. No chips, breaks, or anything in the past five years (knock on wood). We use it for two to three meals daily and have used it when large groups come over instead of buying (and subsequently throwing out) paper partyware. If something were to break I like knowing that they still carry it. I didn’t register for “fancy” china because honestly I wasn’t, and still really am not, a “fine china” person. But I was so ill-informed. I didn’t know all the options out there! Still, I probably wouldn’t use it. But… my collector side begs to differ. Now, I just want to have an amazing, colorful, retro, collection to gaze at 24/7.  The struggle!

The good thing is that my white set can mix and match with anything! Especially these patterns which I am totally crushing on.

Villeroy and Bosch, Acapulco (’83-’91)

This is it. This is the one. I am sure of it. Those prices, though! This would be an amazing thing to get pieces of here and there and build up a set over time. Hint, hint; family and friends.  More drool worthy pieces here on Etsy.

Studio Nova, Hi-Fi (’85-’87)

I passed up a set of this at Goodwill a couple of years ago and to this day I regret it! (Stereo would be an OK one too but Hi-Fi has that special something!) Check out more pieces here. This similar pattern is cool too.

Figgjo Lotte

This set is not as bright and vivid as the two patterns above but the cute little people on them get me every time. They are so adorable and I love the Scandinavian flair! Shop Figgjo on Etsy.

Honorable mention: Fiestaware. Every time I dine somewhere that uses Fiestaware I want to go out and buy up a huge mix and match bunch and serve all my food on the bright and fresh colors.

Did you register for fine (or not so fine) china? Are you still in love with your pattern, or has your taste evolved over time? Do you know any patterns I need to check out? Let me know in the comments :)

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