June 1st 2014
Layla Margaret Smith, my absolutely beautiful niece turns nine today.
What can I say, I absolutely adore this little girl. She has sooooo much spunk it’s out of control. And the fact that she truly loves me too just adds to the specialness (naturally). Picking my favorite pics of her and of us together was hard. There are so many. So I tried to capture her personality as much as possibile with this selection. How did I go?!
Did you know that my nieces and nephews fight over me? Seriously they do. Layla often wins because she is sneaky. She will whisper in my ear “Didi, can you sleep in my bed with me tonight, don’t tell anyone, just come in after the others are asleep”. Stuff like that. I am a sucker for it.
She has an infectiously fun personality. Like most of my family she was born with athletic genes and is on her way to being excellent at every sport she turns her hand to. She is not the most academic of kids but she sure is well liked by her school mates. Already at nine she has quite the little posse of best friends. And she’s always at the center of them.
To be honest there is (not to surprisingly) also a very cheeky side to Layla. She can be a little bit naughty. But she has a very beautiful soul and she always knows when she’s done the wrong thing and with some time out apologizes. And usually has a cry because she is so very sorry.
In case you haven’t realized, I just love her to bits. I’m so very, very, very lucky to have her in my life. Missing her right now as I type!
My first visit to the Napa Valley
Did you know that Napa is only like an hours drive from San Francisco? When I recently needed to visit SF for work, research revealed this would be a perfect opportunity to add on a weekend of exploring wine country. I have a lovely friend (Elyse) who moved from NY to SF earlier this year and happily she said yes to joining me. We had such a brilliant time. It’s so pretty and between running through vineyards, tasting beautiful wines and enjoying sensational food I literally fell in love with the place. Would I go back? RESOUNDING YES! Actually mum is coming to visit me again later this year and has requested visiting the region…so I suspect I will be getting there again sooner rather than later. Which suits me just fine.
For the record, we stayed in Napa town and used airbnb. We found a super cute house with a host on hand who happened to be a tour consultant as well. He was fantastic, really accomodating and the house was perfect. From there we drove to Yountsville and St Helena for lunch (Bouchon - amazing) and tastings. My only small complaint is my balloon ride was cancelled due to weather issues. But that’s OK, it will be an awesome thing to do with mum me thinks!
Time to celebrate my 43rd birthday! I used to hate getting older. Since having breast cancer, I now choose to be grateful for each year I have. Every year is worthy of celebration. So today, I celebrated twice more……actually three times.
I took the day off work. First Tana and I went to Aire Baths (you know I love that place). My massage was one of the best of my life. Catching up with Tana was excellent too.
After that I went to Café Gitane for lunch. It was a time of reflection, Nicole and I shared meals there on both our birthdays in recent years. I ordered what we used to order to split all to myself (the avocado toast and the chicken coucous – yum). Then I sat and wrote her a post card and cried. Celebrations are hard for me right now, always both happy and sad.
In the evening I met the girls from triathlon for my final birthday celebration. We went to City Winery for what turned out to be a very entertaining night. First up was Kathleen Turner’s daughter Rachel Ann Weiss, and I must say her voice was beautiful. Then the main act, Ben Taylor. Ben’s parents are James Taylor and Carole King. He is VERY easy on the eye. He also has major daddy issues. And a fantastic voice. He’s kind of hilarious too.
Finally I must also say how grateful I am to have recieved so many calls/ skypes/face times/texts/posts wishing me well today. I am blessed.
After having had breast cancer and even more since losing Nicole, I have a new appreciation for birthdays. I’ve decided to embrace every year older and celebrate making it.
This year, I had a virtual festival! Here’s what I did…
Firstly, Chilli and I checked into Riverview B&B (where I stayed after foot surgery) for the weekend. I love getting out of the city and Nyack is especially pretty at this time of year.
It got even better when Emsy kindly had her first night away from gorgeous Harry and spent it at the B&B with me. We went out for dinner in town and we had a blast. Finishing up with a suprise cake (thanks Emsy!). Let’s call that birthday celebration one.
Then on Sunday, I had booked Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Nicole/Dave/Emma/Julian had been previously and at Nic’s recommendation it was high on my must visit list. It was even better than I ever expected. This place takes farm to table cuisine to another level. Every morsel was delicous. Dave, Harry, Francisco and Jen all caught the train out to join us (the restaurant is a 15 min. drive from Nyack). We had a super civilized, all round perfect time.
Lunch finished around 5.30pm and the team headed back to NY on the train. Except Chilli and I. We stayed at a local hotel and explored somemore. As you can see I caught an excptional sunset.
Then I woke up on my birthday in the lovely Tarrytown. The festival did not end there….to be continued.
A weekend in Miami in mid March 2014. This time I got great weather. Blows my mind that you can fly from sub zero NY to 28c in 2.5 hours. In a good way. All very feasible for a weekend break. Although I must say the 2 days got me wanting more. Much more. Sun and Miami both!
There were lots of highlights, but I will name just a few;
I was very fortunate to be invited on a work trip to Austin for the SXSW festival a few weeks ago. SXSW is a festival that covers digital, music and film. The work part for me is the digital but also music because of my Spotify client. Result!
I’ve been to Austin once before (last year) but mainly we ventured out to the hills. This time I got to soak in the city and I really loved it. It’s got a real outdoor bar culture so the weather is important. I’m sure it was more fun with the festival being on but it’s a cool place just the same.
The highlights for me were a return trip to the Elizabeth St Cafe for brunch (amazeballs) and seeing some awesome live music. Check out Jetta, Phantogram and The Colourist. The photos of me with the Spotify logo in the background, with the crazy brown haired check is Jetta herself! Good times.
In 2014, I had my first (and probably only) Superbowl party. It featured Chilli (the dog and food!), wings and plenty of beer. The game was rubbish. But that’s not the point. This little ole Aussie chick had a Superbowl party, in NYC and actually come to think of it, was the only non USA citizen in da house!
Another weekend spent in the Catskills with the Knoll/Ishida family. We skiied at Platekill Mountain, which was really lovely. A cute little family run resort. Only two lifts but quite a lot of runs considering. A big bonus is free skiing for kids 7 and under. And given kids are little and don’t need acres of ski space, it’s a very attractive mountain!
In other activities we had quality adult time over food and wine. Chilli and I spent a lot of time playing the girls - in the house and in the snow - and I also had a quick pit stop on the way home at Woodbury Commons.
Another great weekend spent with this family at their beautiful River house. Roscoe rules!