Category Archives: Phoenix

Leslie and Peter’s Wedding

I’ve been having trouble deciding how to recap my sister’s wedding.  On the one hand, lots of great stuff happened.  On the other hand, you’re probably not that interested in my sister’s wedding–this isn’t LESLIEVIOLIN after all (no offense to her, of course!!).  So I’m just going to do a picture heavy recap here, and then probably down the line share some professional photos and a vendor recap in case anybody is from the Phoenix area and interested in what vendors Leslie used.

We flew to Phoenix on Thursday.  We rented a car and checked into our hotel for the weekend, The Clarendon Hotel.  Our plan for Thursday night was to meet up with my friend Sarah for dinner.  We had a great dinner at a place called the Blue Hound Kitchen.


It was fantastic!  We ate ridiculous amounts of food (Chris had the short ribs and shared—I can’t recommend them more.)  Afterwards we went back to the hotel to have a drink but the bar there ended up closing really early.  We ran into my folks at the hotel too.

The next morning I met my mom for a walk, and then went to lunch with Sarah.  After lunch I met up with Leslie for mani/pedis and then she and Peter were hosting a barbecue at their house.  We met Peter’s family and some of his friends.


Saturday morning Chris and I took it easy.  Some people went for a hike, including my parents, and my mom ended up falling down and scraping up the front of her legs pretty badly.  Luckily she didn’t break anything though!  Saturday afternoon we hung out by the pool and then it was time to get ready for the rehearsal dinner.


The dinner was at Beckett’s Table and the food was AMAZING.  After dinner we hung out at the hotel which was really busy that night!

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Sunday was the wedding day.  I was up early for hair and makeup.  Then we had lunch, got dressed, took pictures, had the wedding at the Japanese Garden, then back to the Clarendon via Olly the Trolley for the dinner and reception.  My toast was fantastic.  Some of these pictures were taken by my friend Loren.

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Anyway, it was a wonderful weekend.  Leslie was much more of a DIY bride than me—all the calligraphy, handwriting, and origami were her own.  The cupcakes were delicious too.  It was a stressful weekend, but it was a lot of fun.  It already seems so long ago!

Best wishes to the happy couple!  I can’t wait to see the professional photos!

(Want more pictures?  Here’s the facebook album I put together: it’s public for now.)

Taliesin West Recap

Who hasn’t heard of Frank Lloyd Wright?  I know I have…but I really didn’t know anything about him until my recent tour of Taliesin West.

Located in North Scottsdale, Arizona, Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school.  The wikipedia article is very informative.  Leslie and I took a guided tour—the 90 minute “Insights” tour.  I could recap what our guide told us, but I’d probably give some misinformation.  Suffice it to say that Wright and his students built the house and grounds together and his architecture is unique and WAY ahead of its time, in my opinion.  I really enjoyed this tour, though it is a bit pricey for the amount of time.



It was an absolutely gorgeous day!  The weather was just perfect…gotta love Arizona in January.


How gorgeous is the landscaping?  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside many of the rooms, so I primarily took photos of the outside.


That is a four sided music stand with a light in the middle.  Evidently Wright was an accomplished pianist, and invented that stand for a quartet.  It even has room for a plant in the middle.  Brilliant…except once the musicians sit down they can’t see each other over it, which, contrary to popular belief, is very important for chamber music!

After visiting the house I am definitely interested to visit more of Wright’s buildings.  I know there are many in the Chicago area.  There is also a house in Kirkwood, Missouri that I am definitely interested in visiting.  Has anyone been?  Would anyone like to go?

Home from Phoenix

My, it’s good to be home!

My flight was on time, though my car at the lot was covered in a whole bunch of snow.  I should have taken a picture, but I was cold, tired, and desperate to just get the darn thing cleaned off.  15 minutes later…I was on my way home for real.  The roads weren’t too bad—I had been worried since I knew that morning had been awful and many schools and businesses had been closed.

Traveling made my eating day super weird.  I had two meals and two large snacks.  I considered going to the gym for a run tonight…oh, wait.  No, I didn’t.  Well, I might have entertained that thought VERY briefly, but ruled it out based on: a) meeting Mike tomorrow and b) cold, tired, snowy, and probably too soon to run again?  I am happy to be home to my own fridge though…I am going to be very strict with my diet for the next few days, at least.

I finished rereading “Teaching from the Balance Point” by Ed Kreitman while on the plane.  He has so many wonderful ideas.  I know I need to be more picky with my young students.  It’s the hardest thing in teaching—teaching a young beginner.  There are so many things to worry about all the time.  And tomorrow I am meeting a family with two very young students to see if they are ready to begin lessons…I often feel like I need to retake the Suzuki Volume 1 training (always an option for the summer).

I also read quite a bit of “War and Peace.”  I haven’t finished yet, but I am still engrossed.  I didn’t read much while in Phoenix, but now I am eager to get back into my reading.  My kindle says I am 78 % of the way through. 

I have a ton of “business” to catch up on.  I’m going to start with spending one dedicated hour tomorrow afternoon on paperwork and phone calls and see where that takes me.  I think I should be able to get a good start on it!  I also need to do some practicing, since I spent the last week violin-free.  Time to buckle down on the Brahms C Minor Quartet.  I also have some prep work before classes on Monday…but that seems so far away right now!  I have already cleaned up my email inbox though, AND unpacked my suitcase (unheard of!).

Well, now I’m going to “catch up” on some of my television watching…I missed a couple of my favorite programs while I was gone and I want to watch some of them before bed. 

Upcoming Weekend highlights:

Spinning Class on Sunday

Yoga for Runners workshop (after my successful Bikram class, I am eager to try more yoga!)

Hang out with Chris!

Hang out with friends? 

P.F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon 1/16/11

As promised, my detailed race recap!

I decided way back in October to run the P. F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Half Marathon.  My sister Leslie was running the marathon (she ran the half last year), and my friend Sarah was running the half marathon.  I thought it would be a nice challenge plus a good opportunity to go visit them both.

I got to Phoenix on Friday, and Leslie and I went straight to the expo.  I hadn’t run a race with an expo before, so I was very excited!  We picked up our race numbers, our shirts, and our bags of ads and stuff.  We then walked around and picked up loads of free samples from a variety of booths.  We also looked at some of the shops, but I didn’t buy anything—I figured anything I wanted I could likely find for cheaper online.

Saturday was for resting, and then Sunday morning was the race.  The marathon start time was 7:40 am, and the half start time was 8:30, but there was a wave start and I was in corral 21.  I got a lift to the start with Leslie, so I hung around with her beforehand and kept her company until her race began.  It was completely dark when we got there, and the sun came up shortly before the race started.  There were loads of people milling about, and there were 9 corrals for the marathon (I think).  Leslie was in corral 6.


At Leslie’s apartment, then at the race, waiting to start.


At corral 6!

It was a bit cool outside, but not too bad—I was pretty comfortable with my jacket and vest.  Leslie was wearing a paper jacket she bought at the expo.  It was funny looking but she said it was warm and she didn’t want to wear anything around her waist.

The marathoners left on time, and it only took them a few minutes to all get going. Leslie was shocked how quickly it was time to run.  I wished her good luck as she ran away.


I then went in search of my friend Sarah.  I also made a gear check stop and a porta-potty stop.  Just for the record, I seriously hate porta-potties.  They were super gross at this race, probably because there were about 40,000 runners using them…you could apparently pay extra to use fancy bathrooms, but I didn’t do that.


I finally found Sarah and her boyfriend Sam who was there for moral support.  She was supposed to be in corral 23 and I was supposed to be in corral 21.  They didn’t seem super strict, so we split the difference and got into corral 22.  I’m glad we did, because it took about 40 minutes to cross the starting line AFTER the official race started and it was really nice to have somebody to chat with.


Sarah and I posing in front of…the porta potties.  Seriously we didn’t notice that until later.

The race started at 8:30 after a moment of silence for the victims of the Tucson shooting and the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner.  Sam went up to the starting line to try to get some pictures, and we just waited…and waited…and waited…


They used a “wave start”, which meant that the first corral left, then they waited just a bit, then the next corral, then a short wait, etc, so that the field would be moving along decently after the start.  We slowly walked towards the start line, and FINALLY it was our turn to start running!  Sam got a few great pictures at the start.



I ran the first mile or so with Sarah, but her pace was just a bit slower than I was comfortable with so I left her behind.  The first couple miles went along pretty easily, but from about mile 4 to 9 I kept having cramps/side stitches.  I managed to keep running for the most part, but I was really frustrated by that.  I don’t know if I ate too much for breakfast or what—maybe having a little of the sports drink they were giving out at the race was a bad idea.  In any case, I pushed through, but I put on my headphones.  I like running alone and wasn’t planning to use my ipod, but I really needed something to distract myself from my discomfort.  I like to listen to podcasts while I run, so I listened to two or three episodes of Car Talk.

Throughout the race there were tons of people running with me.  Basically the route was from Phoenix to Tempe, and the whole time I was surrounded by people, and at times it was really congested.  I got frustrated sometimes that people would be walking in lines right in front of me and I would have to work to go around them.  Other times I was walking and was likely frustrating other people!  It was exciting to be around so many people though, and there was definitely some great people watching!

Along the route there were bands playing, and often small groups of people cheering.  Sometimes there were large groups, and of course a large number of water stops.  The water stops were always a MESS with cups all over and the roads seemed sticky, probably from the sports drink (cytomax, I believe.)  Around mile 10 my feet started to really hurt, and I just wanted to stop.  I realized, however, that walking didn’t help my feet feel any better…so I kept running.  I told myself if I kept running, I would get done sooner, and the sooner I got done, the sooner I would be able to take my shoes off and sit down.  So I kept going.  And going.


I see I clench my fists when I run…I need to work on that!

I had thought perhaps I would be able to finish close to 2:30 but I knew early on that wasn’t an option.  I decided to try to finish under 2:45.  It was a challenge!  I really had to run hard the last few miles, and I really had to push myself.


I crossed the finish line!  You can see the great sense of relief!

You can watch me finish using this link:

Action Sports International.


Not quite under 2:45, but I’ll take it!  I wore my garmin for the race, but I haven’t yet uploaded the splits.  I actually am not sure how to get it to do the mile by mile breakdown—can somebody help me with that?

I ran MOST of the race with just occasional walk breaks and one short potty break, which was really my goal.  After crossing the finish line I got water and my medal and then they took finish line photos.


I was very happy!   I love this picture, by the way.

There was an area for only finishers with food and drinks—I picked up a bottle of cytomax, some fruit and some energy bars.  Then I went to get my gear check bag to put on my flip flops and find my friends.  I got my bag and turned on my phone, and then I saw Leslie getting her bag—she finished in around 4:15.




I was happy, she was sad because she was so tired.

We didn’t wait around for Sarah because her boyfriend’s sister was running the full and we didn’t want to wait any longer and just get back.  However, they all finished too and had a great time!


Overall the race was as advertised:  flat, fast, and fun.  It was a pretty boring course through the city, but the crowd support was great.  The amenities were fantastic, the gear check was quick and easy, the medals very substantial feeling, and the t shirt is a nice technical shirt—I just wish they had women’s fits instead of men’s.  Would I run this race again?  Maybe!  Definitely if I lived closer, maybe for traveling.  Or maybe I’ll do the marathon someday… I definitely recommend the race to others.

Bikram Yoga Phoenix

Wednesday night Leslie and I decided to go to her Bikram studio for a class.  I had tried Bikram in St Louis in November and left feeling a bit turned off.  I liked the feeling afterwards, and enjoyed the stretching, but didn’t like being told when to drink water and lectured on being dehydrated and not sitting down when I felt like I was going to pass out (which was fairly frequently).

However, after talking with Leslie about her class, it seemed the atmosphere was a little more relaxed, though still officially a Bikram studio (there are certain rules, and all classes use the same series of 26 postures).  After our races, we agreed a bit of yoga would be great to make our legs and bodies feel more normal, and we had plenty of time in the evening to attend a class.


The owner of the studio, Brooke, was teaching our class.  She was wonderful!  I sweated a ridiculous amount, but I loved feeling free to drink water when I wanted (I didn’t even drink that much), plus the instructor spoke calmly and in a relaxing voice, plus there was soothing music in the background.  Occasionally she would open the doors to the outside to let in a little cool air, and there were ceiling fans as well.  It was still VERY hot and my towel and clothing were soaked through.

Overall, I was able to get through most of the postures and only had to sit out a few.  I enjoyed being able to do more of the class than I ever had, because I felt like I got more out of it.  I wish this studio were closer.

I suppose I won’t rule out attending in St Louis again, though I see now that things can be a little different.  Perhaps just knowing that would help me get through it—I do love what the sweaty 90 minutes does for my flexibility and skin!

Other activities in the day:  lunch at La Condesa, coffee at Urban Beans, and a little shopping with my friend Karen. We also watched a bunch of episodes of Parks and Recreation on Netflix online…makes me want to become a Netflix subscriber again—maybe over the summer when I have more free time.

Unrelated:  Let’s hope my flight goes out as scheduled—St. Louis is getting a bunch of snow, again.  Evidently both of my schools had snow days (that means that the students I canceled for this trip…wouldn’t have had Thursday lessons anyway).  I do hope I can get home safely and without much delay.  I’ve had a wonderful time here, but I miss my home.  I also have tons to catch up on, and my email inbox has 28 emails…I prefer to keep it on one screen rather than scrolling. I also can’t wait to get back to my regular workouts and cooking for myself.  And of course I miss Chris and my cat.

Has anybody attended Bikram Yoga at more than one studio?  Thoughts on different styles? 

Happy Birthday to Carrie!

Today is my youngest sister Carrie’s birthday.  She’s 19, and I can’t believe it.  I remember the day she was born…I remember the day my mother told me she was expecting.  I remember how little she was when she was born, how soft her little feet were, and how firm her grip was around my fingers.  And now she’s 19, and plays the viola, and is a great success in so many things, ranging from yoghurt making to viola playing.  How fast time goes by!  Happy Birthday, Carrie!  May you have 19 more years.

It’s been a great trip to Phoenix so far—

What I’ve done:  run the P.F. Chang’s Rock and Roll Half Marathon, visited Taliesin West (Frank Lloyd Wright School), went shopping at the Scottsdale Fashion Mall, went to many different restaurants including Postino, Wild Thaiger, Cibo, and The Main Ingredient.  We had a fondue party with a few friends, made Pasta Puttenesca, did an upper body workout at Leslie’s gym, rode the light rail, and I attended the Phoenix Symphony’s Concert over the weekend.  Possibilities for today include hanging out with some friends, going to a Mexican restaurant, and attending a Bikram yoga class.

Bikram yoga, you ask?  Well, talking with Leslie it seems that the St. Louis Bikram studio might be more strict than hers and I’m very curious to compare.  It seems that some of the aspects that turned me away from Bikram might be location – specific.  In any case, I’d love to have a more informed opinion, plus the sweaty stretching might be fantastic.  But we are also feeling quite lazy and want to relax as well.  If we don’t do Bikram, we’ll do a different fitness activity, perhaps a video workout. Today is my last vacation day before travel, and then it’ll be back to work.  The rest of January is busy, and February looks to bring some great activities as well—opera, Mark O’Connor workshop, St. Louis School of Music teaching, plus delving into the Parents as Partners Online which officially started the other day.

What I haven’t done in Phoenix:  followed my diet very well or kept up on my reading, as in I still haven’t finished War in Peace, much less started on my other books.  I’ll have to catch up on both upon my return.  My travel day will likely do wonders for my reading as well, though I certainly hope things aren’t delayed due to weather…ugh, it’s always a crap shoot, traveling in January.  I also haven’t seen as much of a few friends as I had hoped to, but I guess people are busy.  Maybe I’ll get to catch up with them today…


You can see my fists clenched…not very good form!  PIctured in yellow is my friend Sarah.  Working hard, we were!