Lifestyle

Brunch So Hard: Café ZuZu

The Hotel Valley Ho has always been one of my favorite places in Scottsdale. It has been open since 1956 and designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright student, Edward L. Varney. It quickly became known as a fashionable hot spot of the valley and a favorite of celebrities and sports stars. In 1973 it was purchased by the Ramada hotel chain and its vintage design was deemed “out of date” and covered. In the early 2000’s it was purchased again and restored to its chic, mid-century modern look where it has remained ever since. Throughout its years it has expanded to include a high-rise with new guest rooms and condos and the American restaurant, Cafe ZuZu. It has even been called one of the “best preserved mid-century modern hotels in the country.”

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Things I Like This Week

Keeping up with all of the cool things on the internet can be tough. There are so many things worth bookmarking from clothes I want to buy, music I want to listen to, and random things I insist I’ll revisit later when I get a free second. Truth is I probably only revisit those things when cleaning out my bookmarks further on down the road. 

I’m not entirely sure this post actually solves that problem, but it does give me the opportunity to share some of the things I really like this week with whoever is reading this. So enjoy!

Birthday Playlist 2017

I’m not sure how this tradition began but many years ago I began making playlist for my birthday. They don’t contain music I’m currently listening to at whatever given age I may be turning (which actually sounds like a better idea). Instead they take a glimpse back into past years almost like a nostalgic road trip.

I try to choose a relevant year and look at the music most popular during that time, but this year I issued myself a little challenge. The formative years of life where we begin shaping who we are range somewhere between ages 8 to 18. We develop quite a bit before then, but this is the time we really try to explore who we are, what we like, and the world around us begins to dictate more influence on ourselves. Finding music that essentially defined me during that time turned out to be really difficult. There are so many sources and it changed so much over time no one but me could possible ever listen to a playlist like that.

So the playlist I ended up coming up with is filled with 90s music that I listened from like 3 to 13. I did this entirely from memory trying to recall what CDs and cassette tapes I once owned, what my parents listened to frequently, and what takes up significant space in my brain. That said because music comes from many places there is tons missing from this. I didn’t want to self-disclose too much so there are a lot of personal songs missing because it became way too long (2 hours is already getting a bit long and it used to be about 4). No one is that nostalgic for the 90s.

Thanks to my parents for their influence, years of cheerleading routines, 90s teen movies, and the obscene amount of time I spent watching MTV for helping shape my musical taste during these years. While it seems wildly inappropriate for a child to listen to any of these songs, I’m pretty sure they made me the sparkling ray of cynical sunshine I am today.

Tracklist & Links below

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What I Always Buy At the Grocery Store

Sharing what I buy at the grocery store feels a little strange, but I try to curate this blog as more of a magazine. There are tons of articles and pieces from celebrity nutritionists and dietitians sharing what they make sure they feed their famous clients. But alas I’m a normal person so what does anyone really care about what I purchase on a daily basis?

Well the truth is, I eat like a bird. I eat tiny amounts all day long rather than set meals. Yeah, it’s a little weird for someone who loves to cook like I do but it’s what works best for me. Plus as an Italian my family values meals together so quite often that is the best meal I eat, but I do cook sometimes.

My approach to the grocery is simple: stay on the perimeter. The perimeter of most groceries contain the freshest of foods and usually the healthiest, but it really depends on the layout of the store. I know my most visited store has completely tried to undo this concept by moving things all over the place. When this happens avoid the middle rows of product. It’s where the most marketed products end up and where we make the quick decisions based on identifiable brand name rather than other factors.

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Springtime City Guide: Phoenix

Full disclosure: it’s been incredibly nice here the past couple weeks. Unless you count yesterday being about 96 degrees which is more of an outlier. Regardless, that means we are spending a ton of time outdoors lately. Phoenix in the spring has an influx of snowbirds avoiding the frigid temperatures of their home state in favor of pool days, baseball games, and hiking. While it might be my biggest driving annoyance (just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean we drive differently!), I figured I would share more of my favorite places to visit in the Phoenix metro area.

I’ve previously shared some of my favorite places to go (City Guide: Phoenix) but this time I tried to recommend places with more outdoor spaces to enjoy the brilliant weather. It’s only a matter of time before just the thought of stepping outside burns the bottom of my feet. So whether it’s enjoying a nice meal on the patio or taking in a baseball game these are some of the best places to check out and enjoy some time outside.

Churn

Churn
5223 N. Central Ave, Phoenix

Churn is an ice cream parlor with a vintage feel that sells ice cream, sweets, and even little toys. Their selection of vintage sweets and delicious ice cream make it the perfect place to take in a little afternoon treat. They have pretzel cones, cake cones, and even the classic waffle cone to fill up with delectable ice cream flavors and toppings. Choose a sundae, cone, or eat the ice cream all on its own. It’s just that good. My favorite are the ice cream sandwiches that are made to order from a variety of cookie and ice cream combinations. They are gigantic and quite possible one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. They also know that sweet cravings often happen at night and are open until 10pm!

SpringTraining

Spring Training Baseball

One perk of living in Arizona is the plethora of baseball games to choose on the daily. Plenty of teams come to train here so it’s a given to check out a game. Be the envy of everyone you know by spending the day outside, on the lawn, having a hot dog and beer while enjoying some baseball. There are plenty of stadiums and teams to choose from and many games cost as little as $13 dollars for a lawn seat. I personally choose the Dodgers who play out of Glendale or will settle for the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale (they offer complementary sunscreen!). There’s only a few weeks left so if you haven’t gone, go now!

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Crescent Ballroom
308 N. 2nd Ave, Phoenix

Crescent Ballroom is one of the best places to take in live music in the Valley. It’s a former garage which offers free music frequently or indie bands for a low price. They have specialty nights like the upcoming 80s dance party or the Drake vs Kanye hip hop nights. There’s always something going on so check their calendar. Not into taking in some live music? Enjoy some great Tex-Mex food on their new second floor patio. It looks like a great place to take in a sunset while having some of the best nachos ever made. I wish they still served up a cold PBR, but I love Crescent Ballroom just the same.

Postino

Postino
5144 N. Central Ave, Phoenix

There are many new Postino locations across the Valley, but this one is conveniently located across the street from Churn. Yes, you can take in a lovely meal on the patio and then head over for some ice cream. Postino offers a great selection of wine and Italian food in a really relaxed, comfortable setting. There’s great music and decor plus the food is outstanding. it’s one of my all time favorite places to go. I usually eat a sandwich and the side salad is incredibly tasty so I have no doubt their other salads are just as good. Don’t skip on the bruschetta and always try the seasonal offering when making your choices. Postino is the perfect excuse to eat all. the. bread. No seriously just trust me. Do it. 

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Taliesin West
12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale

NERD ALERT: I love Taliesin West and Frank Lloyd Wright and after listening to a 99% Invisible podcast episode on Usonia  I just knew I would have to recommend this.

If you don’t know, Taliesin West was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright and the headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship. It now is home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and School of Architecture. There are tons of tours depending on your interest level in the project. There’s a new Private Collection tour featuring tons of items from Frank Lloyd Wright’s vaults or you can take the Panorama tour which highlights the link between outside and inside. Enthusiasts can take the Behind the Scenes tour and romantics can take the Night Lights which looks amazing. The Foundation offers tours of the gardens and grounds for those who enjoy the outdoors much more than myself. The structure is built with the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright organic architecture forming deep connections with the desert surrounding it. It was handcrafted and maintained by Wright loyalists who believed in the Wright style. Its gorgeous and I love it. It’s well worth the money even just the generic tour.