Archive of ‘Travel’ category

London 2012

It’s been so busy this summer and I have so much that I want to share. I think I’ll dive in with the most recent stuff and work my way backwards. Kind of like timeline in reverse. Let’s start with my amazing vacation earlier this month! Cathy and I spent 10 days in London, Paris, and Brussels and it was so. much. fun.

I was so excited to get back to London for a few days and especially to show Cathy around one of my top 5 favorite cities in the world. We had tons of things planned and were able to do about 95% of what we wanted to. Here are some pictures I took while we were there.


40×40 List #5: Attend the Sundance Film Festival

Karyn and I added an extra day to our Alt Summit experience and planned a day in Park City, UT to attend the Sundance Film Festival. A few weeks before our trip, I bought tickets to a remake of Wuthering Heights in the ticket lottery, so we were all set to enjoy the festival experience.

On Sunday morning, we hopped into the rented Subaru and headed north. It snowed the night before, so the scenery was beautiful.

Snow-covered mountains, dry roads, and hardly any traffic. It was enough to make me giddy with excitement.

As we were parking just off of Main Street, we spotted Paul Giamatti walking along the road. First celebrity sighting and we weren’t even out of the car yet? This was gonna be good.

We decided to find the main box office to pick up our tickets first. Our film was set to start at 3pm and it was getting close to noon. The line at the box office moved pretty quickly, but I was disappointed when I discovered that our film was moved from a Park City theater to one in Ogden, about 2 hours away from Park City. There was no way we’d make it AND we had just arrived to Park City.

The friendly ticket agent happily exchanged my tickets for a film showing later in the evening back in Salt Lake City (literally around the corner from our hotel) called Hello I Must Be Going. With that sorted, we had the whole day in front of us. It was actually way better that we didn’t have a movie right in the middle of the day. We decided to do some exploring and have some lunch.

On our way to lunch, we popped into a bookstore so that Karyn could pick up a book to read on her flight home. I was up front checking out the journals (Hello, I have a paper addiction!) and behind me I could hear her hissing my name. I walked back to see what the commotion was and, hey look! It’s Paul Giamatti!

As we made our way to a little French bistro for lunch, we spotted Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite chatting with a friend, John Krasinski being interviewed on a balcony above Main Street, and Olympian Shaun White taking pictures with fans.

The energy and excitement was palpable and you never knew who you might run into.

After lunch we walked down Main Street doing a little window shopping and browsing the boutiques. Karyn was keen on making some contacts to see if anyone wanted to carry her jewelry and I was keen on more celebrity sightings.

We found the Sundance Channel Headquarters and were presented with a pass to get in.

They had a bar and a coffee shop with a lounge where you could sit and watch the live interviews happening in the studio right next door.

Or you could be lucky like us and have Univision conduct an interview right next to you on the sofa. Fun!

Not long after, I heard a very familiar voice say, “What’s Up!” As I turned towards the entrance, Ice-T  was being whisked to the studio to be interviewed about his directorial debut at Sundance.

We watched some of his interview before it was time to make our way back to SLC for our film.

We made it to the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, tickets in hand, and waited in line to enter the theater.

The holding area was packed with people, but we only had to wait about fifteen minutes before the doors were opened and we were allowed into the theater.

Once everyone was seated and right before the lights went down, the theater director announced that the film director and screenwriter would hold a Q&A session. I was super-psyched!

The film was adorable and quirky. Set in Connecticut, the story follows a happily married thirtysomething woman who is dumped by her husband. She moves home to sort out her life while dodging the advice of her family. At a dinner her parents host for her father’s client, she meets the client’s son and they strike up an unlikely retationship. Hilarity ensues. The audience really loved it. There was a lot of laughter at all the right moments.

After the credits rolled, the director, screenwriters, producer and two of the main actors came on stage and answered questions asked by the audience. It was a cool experience to hear why the writer added a specific scene or why the director chose the music for the soundtrack. It was really fascinating!

As we exited, we were encouraged to cast our ballot for the Audience Award. We voted by tearing the corner that best represented our opinion. Though the film didn’t win any festival awards, I hope it gets picked up by a distributor so more people can enjoy it.

The festival was a great experience and something that I would like to do again. In Park City, there were events happening all day and well into the evening. Talks, screenings, seminars and parties, there was always something happening. I would love to go back and spend a few days in Park City really soaking in the whole festival experience… maybe if I go to Alt Summit again next year I can add a few extra days to the trip now that I know what to expect.

Alt Summit | Saturday Sessions

Saturday at Alt was a really cool day. There were so many things to do. From a photowalk, to a foodie tour, to a thriftshop tour or a trip to the ski slopes in Park City, you could choose a sightseeing adventure or take a day filled with hands-on classes. I chose to take three classes, Bookbinding, Printmaking and Food/Tabletop Photography.

The morning started with a bookbinding class with Alison of Igloo Letterpress. We made three different projects but my favorite was the actual bookbinding where we sewed paper signatures together with waxed linen thread.

The second class, Printmaking with Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press was really cool and really messy. I only have this one picture of Eva giving us instructions before it was gloves on and paint flowing.

In the afternoon, I was thrilled to take a food photography class with House of Brinson. William and Susan were super amazing. Susan spoke first about styling a shoot and using what you have as props.

Then William went through some of the more technical processes.

Before the light was completely gone, they set up four stations for us to practice on.

Here are some of the pictures that I took.

All the beautiful food inspired me to take more pictures at home after grocery shopping. I want to really expand my portfolio of food images this year. I think these few shots are a good start! I honestly think I learned more in that two hour session than I did in a year’s worth of photography school. Amazing what a little hands-on learning can do!

Just as the class was ending, it started to snow giant, wet flakes on the gorgeous courtyard. I stepped outside to take a few pictures, but the best one that I took was a quick snap with my iPhone through the window:

Classes ended around 5:30 and I headed back to the hotel to hang out with Karyn. We decided to stay in and chill in the room. We watched a few movies and relaxed since the next day was a big day in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival!


Also in this series:
Alt Design Summit: Day 1- Wednesday
Alt Design Summit: Day 2- Thursday
Alt Design Summit: Day 3- Friday

Alt Summit | Friday Sessions

Friday started with a series of roundtable discussions. There were so many to choose from and at least three that I would have been thrilled to take. I ended up selecting “Re-naming Your Brand, Re-inventing Yourself.” Led by Becca Gorski, of Cake, we had a lively discussion of how to rework websites and blogs to better suit our intended audience. I was truly grateful that she provided a handout that I could study later. If Alt is anything, it’s information overload of the best kind.

After the roundtable discussions, we had a 30 minute break to have a snack and network. I discovered that the lounge was transformed by Cottonelle.

The colors were bright and there were exclusive Jonathan Adler toilet tissue covers for us to take home. Too cool!

Maxwell from Apartment Therapy was conducting interviews for Cottonelle that were going to be uploaded to Facebook and voted on by readers. The subject of the winning video wins a chance to interview Jonathan Adler in NYC! Cool!

Up next was a panel on Growing a Readership. The main theme of Alt was reiterated in this session: 1. Original content; 2. Consistency of posts 3. Professional, clean & polished design. The panel was hugely engaging and I took tons of notes. I am hoping to employ some of the tips on my blog and am excited to get the ball rolling!

Lunch was up next. We were excited to hear the keynote speaker, Ben Silberman, the founder of Pinterest. But first, we were served an amazing smokey red pepper soup, chef’s salad, and strawberry shortcake.

Ben was an engaging speaker. He talked about how he quit his dream job to pursue the development of Pinterest. He was funny, self-deprecating, and completely engaging. He also had one of the best PowerPoint presentations I’ve ever seen.

After lunch, I popped by the HP Pavilion to say hello to Anya from Project Runway. They had computers set up where we could create a look for her next collection.

In the afternoon, I took one session called “Building a Personal Brand” where I was introduced to the photography powerhouse, Jasmine Star. Her portion of the presentation was so passionate everyone in the room left feeling like a superhero.

For an afternoon pick-me-up, the Cottonelle lounge had an amazing spread of lovely cupcakes. There were so many amazing flavors and colors to choose from.

After the final session of the day, there was a closing keynote by Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project. I was so exhausted (and knew we had a long evening of partying ahead!) that I only stayed for the first fifteen minutes. I headed back to the hotel for an hour of downtime before it was time to get sparkled up and make our way to the third floor for the “Suite Parties.” Holy moly. Each suite was decked out in a specific theme complete with inspired decor and food.

In true Stella fashion, I only have pictures of food and decor, none of people. I definitely need to get better at that.

This lovely table of desserts was courtesy of Wilson Art and HGTV’s Design on a Dime.

They had this amazing 50s vibe going on complete with a photobooth using one of their original ad campaigns. All the ladies hostessing the event had the cutest vintage aprons and throwback hairstyles. It was adorable.

Next up was Blurb and A Subtle Revelry’s suite party. They had a chocolate and wine tasting along with a wall that we could graffiti with whatever we wanted to write or draw.

The Rue La La party had sort of a futuristic theme with cool table centerpieces and amazing ceramic travel coffee cups.


Girls with Glasses and Pinhole Press planned a night in Paris complete with a mini Eiffel Tower, Macarons, and black & white umbrellas. It was tres chic.

The Handmade by You party had an ice cream sundae bar with vanilla and chocolate ice cream along with tons of toppings. They also had a cool “make your own beaded necklace” station.


Each of the parties had amazing food, personalizable photobooths and incredible giveaways. It was shocking that some of the parties were so hyped up that there was a line to get into the suites! Around every corner was a new surprise. There were plenty of adult beverages flowing and great opportunity for chatting up a new friend or blog collaborator. After we circulated, we decided to have a drink and do some people watching in the Grand America lounge. It was a great way to end the night.


Also in this series:
Alt Design Summit: Day 1- Wednesday
Alt Design Summit: Day 2- Thursday

Alt Summit | Thursday Sessions

We woke up bright and early on Thursday and headed over to the Alt HQ at the Grand America. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott just around the corner so it was an easy-peasy commute.

We arrived about 30 minutes before the first session so we could take a look around and check out where our sessions would be held. We also found the lounge sponsored by Epiphanie, Minted, and Daily Luxe. Epiphanie had a photobooth set up with an exclusive sneak peek of a collaborative art print created by Kal Barteski and Karen Walrond. I used it in my photobooth shot below and you can pre-order it here.

After a bit of meet and greet, it was time for my first session. Each timeslot had three sessions running consecutively. It was always impossible to choose which to go to, though I was really pumped up for the first session on collaborations. I am a true believer in shared work and working together to make something amazing. It’s no different with blogging.

I learned a lot from the four panelists on how to develop collaborative relationships and find others with a similar aesthetic. What we didn’t talk about was how I need to get over myself and just contact people to collaborate with. More on this later!

After the first session, it was time for a break. There were thirty minute breaks between each session to network and pick up a snack or two. This break found us nibbling on mini muffins and fruit smoothies.

Session two was all about managing your online life. Each of the panelists chose an online organizational tool and spent about 30 minutes showing the pros and cons. I already used three of the four methods but the one tool I learned most about was Evernote. Adelle Charles, from Tinder, sold me on the benefits of keeping an online notebook using Evernote. I can make multiple notebooks and fill it with links, photos, articles, maps, whatever. I no longer have to weed through a bunch of random bookmarks in my browser or email myself links to articles. Evernote keeps it all together. Hooray! (If you’re curious, the other three online organizational tools discussed were: Google Web Tools (docs, reader, calendar, etc.); Pinterest; and Flipboard.

After the second session, it was time for lunch. Walking into the Grand Ballroom at the Grand America Hotel was quite a site! Cargoh sponsored the keynote lunch and put a gift at each participant’s seat. The tables looked gorgeous! This is the gift I chose:

The amazing assortment of gifts was incredible. You would think that the same packaging would yield the same contents, but you would be wrong! I received a letterpressed datebook and others at my table received scarves, a watch, jewelry, USB plugs, and so much more. Everything was uniquely created by Cargoh clients! Amazing.

Once the gifts were opened and squeals of delight resounded around the room, it was time for lunch. We ate and chatted with our tablemates while the stage was being set for our keynote speakers.

Lunch included a salad, pot pie, and dessert. I’ll let my pictures tell the story:

After lunch, it was time to sit up straight and pay attention to the amazing keynote panel that was presenting.

Some of the takeway points from the keynote were to know your reader, master the art of storytelling, inspire your readers and to make sure everything you do fits your brand. Branding was a hot topic and I spent a lot of my sessions working on my personal brand. It’s all very exciting!

While the panelists spoke, there was a huge screen scrolling twitter feeds for #altsummit, and #cargoh and the nerd inside me was thrilled to get one of my tweets on the jumbotron:

After lunch it was back to the smaller sessions. Next up was “From Blog to Book” and I was like a kid on Christmas when I took a seat 50 yards from THE Amy Butler.

This was a very well attended session with people sitting on the floor scattered around the room because all the seats were taken! I learned so much about the process of getting a book deal from a blog. What I loved most was that the panelists shared the dirty details as well as the upside of publishing a book. I took tons and tons of notes.

Afternoon snack consisted of a Green Goddess dressing fountain and fresh veggies for dipping. I have to admit, seeing this green fountain was a bit startling, but quite delicious. It was not uncommon to see tables of people mingling during the breaks exchanging business cards and chatting about their businesses.

If the previous session wasn’t enough to get the creativity going, I was set to sit in on the “Kickstarting your Next Project” session.

Mistakenly, I thought the panel was going to speak about Kickstarter, but was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was geared more towards finding the next great idea to blog about. Way more my speed.

Done with sessions for the day, it was time to head back to the hotel room for a bit of sprucing up for the Winter White party. I had no idea what to expect and spent way too much time trying to find just the perfect outfit. I ended up wearing white jeans and a gauzy cream top. I decided to do my hair in a faux-hawk since there are not many opportunities for me to rock the hawk. (You can’t really see it in this picture by Justin Hackworth, but it’s the only one I have.)

So many amazing white ensembles. Amazing hair styles. Tons of food (hello, a mashed potato bar? That’s right.) There was also a shaved ice station, a photobooth complete with faux skis and winter gear props, and snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. In a word, it was fab.

After we had our fill of braised ribs, salmon, potatoes, and bread pudding, we tucked ourselves back into our rooms in preparation for another busy day ahead.

Tomorrow: Friday Sessions.


Also in this series: Alt Design Summit: Day 1- Wednesday

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