Monday, November 18, 2013

Well it has been a VERY busy weekend here with all the talk about "The Living Studio" Are Retreat with Jeanne!  I'm so excited to see how many people have signed up for this AMAZING week because I KNOW it's going to be something they will remember for the rest of there lives!

As you can see from my pictures that I post on here and from the PASSION I have for this area of Italy, it really is a special place that time kind of left alone…

It's the perfect place to escape to and take time to enjoy life.  To feel the history, to be a part of the art because it's all around you and you are living IN it everywhere you walk.  This is a place that makes it easy to take it all in... the food, the culture, the art and the beauty.  No wonder the Italians are SO romantic!  hahaha

Just look at how they display plants and flowers everywhere you look…

Time has a way of making things even more beautiful too.  All the old buildings around the lake show their AGE, but those cracks and stains and moss covered walls tell a story and give this place it's character.  In the same way, I love to talk to the people here.  To hear their stories, to talk to them in the caffe's and to see this place through their eyes is a real treat.  Their history here is beautiful too…

But I have to say that I find it almost embarrassing that I am huffing and puffing as I walk up all the steps in town and I see men and women well into their 80's walking up and down all the steps like its just a walk in the park!  :)

Speaking about the people here, there's one such story I have to share…

When we come here every year, my family can't WAIT to have morning coffee at Caffe Bar Sport.  We DREAM about their cappuccino… It's just the best.  I can't find anywhere else that makes it as good as Augusto and Emilio do.  Two brothers who were born in Bellagio, grew up with their mother and father here, and have had this cafe since 1919!  In fact their father is the first person who brought GELATO to Bellagio!  They have pictures all over their cafe with them as little boys and their dad with the first gelato cart down by the water.  It's these kinds of stories that make this place special.  To hear their stories, to see them still here and to get to know them… it's priceless.  And you know what else,  getting pictures Augusto sends me on FACEBOOK (yes, they are on FB) of Bellagio so I don't get too "homesick" for my 2nd home is also a priceless gift.  He knows how much I LOVE his town and he's so kind to send me photos from time to time that show me life in Bellagio throughout the year.  We have friends all over the lake now that truly make this place like home.  That is why I love coming back each year and why I love to bring YOU here.  It's not just a vacation destination… it's a place you can become a part of, get to know the people, hear their history here and be changed because of it.

This is were Caffe Bar Sport is in the upper village 

This is Emilio giving a little one some gelato…

So if you come this summer, Caffe Bar Sport is a must.  Don't forget to say Hi to August and Emilio… And you can check out their Facebook page and LIKE it too!

I really hope you can make one of the retreats next year!  It truly is a joy for me to organize these events and get to know everyone that comes each year.  I love showing all of YOU why I love this beautiful lake and it's people.  To me it's about bringing people from around the world together in a place that offers so much beauty and nature and LIFE… and then leaving knowing that we now have made new friendships and little bit of "history" was made in this place that we will remember forever.

And we found out a little bit more about ourselves in the process as well as learning about this place we have journeyed together… 

Here are the dates and spaces available for the 3 Retreats I have for next Summer:

1.  3rd Annual Creative Retreat - May 17 - 24th, 2014 - $3,150

This is a Scrapbook and Mixed Media Art Retreat with Heidi Swapp, Lisa Pace and Rebecca Cross

THERE ARE 2 SPOTS THAT JUST OPENED UP!!  email me directly for information.


2.  Creative Retreat - May 24 - 31st, 2014 - $2,400

This is a more relaxed event with less art classes and more exploring time

THERE ARE 4 ONLY APARTMENTS LEFT!  you can sign up via this blog or email me.


3.  The Living Studio - Creative Retreat - June 21 - 28, 2014 - $2,949

This is a Art Retreat with Jeanne Oliver and will be an amazing week of exploring art and life in Lake Como!!

THERE ARE ONLY 6 SPOTS LEFT!!  you can sign up via this blog or email me.


All the details of each retreat are under the REGISTRATION page ---> on the right side of this blog.  You can check out the FAQ page for other useful information or feel free to email me any questions you may have.

A few questions I've had over the weekend that I thought might be helpful to put here:

1. If I want to come by myself and have a private room, what would that cost?

Yes, you CAN come by yourself.  We have most people coming on their own and we put three ladies to an apartment, unless you want a private room.  If that is the case, you can stay in a private room at the Hotel Florence.  This is a very nice hotel next door to the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and I use this hotel every year as a place for private rooms or people who have difficulty walking b/c it's right on the waterfront.  Since the cost of the retreat is based on triple occupancy though (to keep the costs down) there is a charge of $425 for the week for a private room upgrade.

2. I want to come with my husband or family, can they be a part of your retreats?

Yes, they can!  I can totally relate to why you would want them to experience this amazing place as well.  There are a few options for accommodations and different prices based on each option, so it would be best to email me how many people and I can get back to you on pricing.  If family members want to come to the retreats and not participate in the art aspect of the retreat, then the cost of the registration fee for them would be the price listed, minus the art supplies/classes and goody bag.  

3. What if I have a special diet restriction?

It's NOT a problem as long as you let me know ahead of time.  Italy is very aware of Gluten Free and other health restrictions and even though it's the land of pasta and pizza, it is pretty easy to enjoy the food here with whatever diet you need to live by.  Just please make me aware of it in advance so I can organize that with all the restaurants we will be enjoying.

Well, I hope this helps everyone who is interested in joining me next summer for a retreat!  It's an amazing place and I would LOVE to share it with YOU!

Again, feel free to email me anytime.

Have a GREAT day,


"The earth has music for those who listen."  Shakespeare 

Friday, November 15, 2013

I don't think I can get any more excited than I am right now… see, I have a SECRET!!

And I FINALLY get to share about an AMAZING EVENT that I am collaborating with Jeanne Oliver on!  Jeanne and I met in 2012 when we both taught at an event together in Los Angeles.  We hit it off immediately and I knew I wanted to ask her to teach at my Creative Retreats in Italy.  That friendship has grown and I can't tell you how AMAZING it was to spend time with her in Lake Como this summer, having her teach and learning ART from her!

She is an AMAZING artist, a lovely soul and dear friend that I am SO BLESSED to know.  That is why I can't WAIT any longer to announce that we are organizing an event TOGETHER...

In my {2nd home} of Lake Como, Italy!!!!

When she taught at my Creative Retreat this summer, I could tell she fell instantly in {LOVE} with Lake Como.  But then who doesn't??  I also knew I wanted to have her BACK to teach again because I also fell in LOVE with her JOYFUL SPIRIT.   So we talked, we dreamt and we planned…

Jeanne has been wanting to do her own "Art Retreats" and her vision is AMAZING for these retreats!  Believe me, you DON'T want to miss out on what she plans to do at her art retreats.  So we talked and decided to combine forces for a One-of-a-kind Event Next June!!  


"The Living Studio" - {Lake Como} 

Let me have her tell you about it in her own words…


Do you remember when I first told you about my idea for

"I wanted each retreat to be one of a kind.
Each city has a heartbeat all its own and I wanted to hear it and share it.
I wanted the retreat to revolve around the exhibits, some of the best food a city has to offer, finding the perfect cafe, creating art each day inspired by the art we experience and exploring based upon the city."

It has been so much my desire to create creative retreats, day trips and community groups that get you out into your town, city, world...and make art!
Last summer I had the honor of teaching for Laura McCollough in Bellagio, Italy.

This area of Italy stole my heart and I have dreamed of going back.
I am so giddy to tell you that Laura and I have collaborated to bring you the first: 

The Living Studio {Lake Como}.

Join us June 21-28th as we explore Italy and create art.

Our week will be the perfect combination of excursions, art and time to explore.
Bellagio and the other villages along the lake are some of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen.

The water, the villages, the mountains, the history, the architecture, the foods and the sweet smell of flowers fill the air.
Your retreat will begin with being picked up at the airport in Milan for a beautiful ride to Bellagio.
Once you get there you will get settled into your apartment at Villa Serbelloni and have time to relax.

We will all meet together on the pergola overlooking Lake Como for a welcome and dinner.
Your evening will end with the annual torchlight celebration.
This is only the beginning.

Imagine waking up and making your way to the Villa Serbolloni for the best cappuccino (I have to have at least one each morning).

Your days may include lunch by the pool, a hike to a nearby castle in Varenna or an art museum in Como.
You may find yourself sketching an old church or learning to sculpt with paper clay.
How about an afternoon kayaking on Lake Como and stopping for gelato later in the day?
You will spend hours exploring small alleyways and and cobblestone streets.
Enjoy Italian dinners overlooking the waters, mountains and islands along the lake.

You will enjoy a tour of the lake in a vintage boat, exploring a villa and lunch with peach sorbet that will make you cry it is so good:-)
You will take a cooking class that will connect you to this region and let you connect your trip with those you love once you return home.
You will be inspired by the sites, sounds, smells and tastes of the region.

You will never just sit in a room and make art.
You will make art in the town, at a cafe, with your friends on the balcony outside your apartment or in the park.
You only need to bring your clothes and leave room for the treasures and art supplies you will bring home.
All of your art supplies will be provided.
Each day that we will do art  you will receive new art supplies for the day.

You will also be given prompts that you can use if you choose to be open to the art all around you throughout the villages.
Our hope is that this will not just be a will be opening up your heart and mind to creating your studio wherever you go.

Sounds AMAZING right??

Well, we welcome YOU to come along on this journey with us!

To sign up, you must register HERE ----->  UNDER REGISTRATION ON THE RIGH SIDE OF THIS BLOG.  By paying the $400 deposit, you secure your spot.

Space is VERY limited so get your deposit in SOON!

Here's what is included in the price:  $2,949*

  • 7 nights lodging at L’Ulivo Apartments at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy (triple occupancy)
  • Transfer to and from the airport to Bellagio**
  • 5 dinners in and around Lake Como
  • 4 lunches in and around Lake Como
  • 2 Breakfasts enjoyed on the apartment balcony
  • Art classes in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Como
  • Cooking class with a local chef
  • Lake and Villa Tour
  • Opening night reception on the gorgeous pergola overlooking Lake Como 
  • Excursions around the lake
  • Art supplies and prompts
  • Snacks and gift bag in each apartment
  • Taxi's and Ferry's to and from provided dinners and excursions on itinerary
  • Hotel and Room Taxes
  • Live music nightly in the Music Room
  • Plus time to relax by the pool or sit at the waters edge
  • Time to stroll the streets, have some Gelato or shop
  • Plenty of opportunities to explore the lovely towns of Lake Como
  • An UNFORGETTABLE experience you will carry with you forever!

* Tuition does not include airfare

All the details and information are on Jeanne's blog as well as this blog.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please check out the FAQ page ---> on this blog for all the INFORMATION and DETAILS.  There is very important information on everything from the airports to fly into, the shuttle pick up to the type of weather you can expect.  I am here to answer any questions you may have as well, so feel free to email me at any time!


I am only taking a NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT OF $400 starting on November 15th.  Then I will send everyone who signs up the CONTRACT to sign and send back via email, fax or mail within 7 days to hold your spot!  Then you can sign up for the Payment Plan or Payment in Full via a Money Order.  The Payment plan will be for 6 monthly payments on the 15th of each month and will incur a $10 processing fee if you use PayPal.

So sign up NOW and enjoy this INCREDIBLE trip with Jeanne and I in Italy!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

It's OFFICIAL everyone!

I'm SO excited to bring to all of you a 2nd week in Italy next May!  I'm still so in AWE of the fact that my Creative Retreats are selling out…  and I didn't want ANYONE to miss this wonderful week together in such an amazing part of Italy, so I've added a 2nd week!!

This 2nd week is going to be a bit different though…  a little less creative and lot more exploring! But I think that will appeal to more people and give me a chance to share a little bit MORE of Lake Como with YOU!  There is just way too many things to do in this area of Italy and I'm so excited to share it with all of you!

So if this is something YOU are interested in, you can find ALL the DETAILS on the REGISTRATION page over here ---> on the right side of the blog!

I'm only taking 12 sign-ups for this 2nd week,  and I've already got half the spots filled so make sure you SIGN UP NOW!  And you know what, most of those ladies already signed up are people who have gone to my retreats here before!!  That just blesses me SO much to know that they LOVED it so much, they want to come back!  In fact, I have two ladies who have come every year and are excited about coming next year as well!!

As always, feel free to email me and ask me any questions.  I'm always a phone call away as well if you want to talk in person.  I love to hear from everyone and I think you can hear my excitement and LOVE for this part of Italy when you talk to me on the phone.  :)

So GO SIGN UP TODAY and join me in Italy next May!!!

Have a GREAT day,


Monday, October 7, 2013

Yes ladies, I have decided to add a 2nd week!!

The 2nd week will be May 24-31st.  Since the first week SOLD OUT, I wanted to give everyone a chance to come next year!  This will be a bit different and the details are not set yet, but let me share a little of my thinking for this 2nd week.

I wanted to offer a 2nd week for those who may want something with a little less CREATIVE time and more EXPLORING time, more RELAXING time and more CULTURAL time.

So this will be a week with no structured class time in the event room. It will still have some creative time because I plan to have a couple of the local artists involved in this week. Maybe an al fresco class by the lakeside with a local watercolor artist or some creative time up at our apartment balcony.  There's also a chance we could take a class from a local artist in Como.  So there will be SOME creative time, but not as much as the first week.  And it will be optional.

There will also be more time for some real Italian culture.  Maybe a cooking class with Luigi, the Top Chef of Italy!!  Or a hike to the Castle de Vezio in Varenna.  Possibly a day trip to Switzerland or Tuscany...  All of these things and more are what I envision this 2nd week to be about!

But I'm open to making this 2nd week work for YOU.  It's going to be much SMALLER group so it can be what WE want it to be!!  With this option, I have the flexibility to really make this something that can be special for a small group of people!  I have been to Lake Como many times now and I have so many things I'd LOVE to do each year, but there just isn't enough time to fit it all in. This week gives me a chance to share a little bit more of the reason why I LOVE this part of Italy and I'd LOVE to share it with YOU!

Now with these changes, I also have a chance to lower the rate for the weeklong event!  Since I don't have the costs of flying teachers over and no need for the event room,

 I can offer the price for the 2nd week for only $2,400!!

So this makes it the PERFECT WEEK FOR:

1. Those who signed up for week #1 and want to stay for week #2 (believe me, you will NOT want to leave once you see this place, just ask previous ladies who came to my events)

2. Those who have been to a previous Creative Retreat and want to come back for a little bit different weeklong event.  (This will have new excursions, more relaxing time, and different dining experiences)

3. Those who wanted to come to one of my Creative Retreats, but the price was too high.  This is a GREAT opportunity for a small number of people to still experience this AMAZING place, but at a cheaper price)

4.  Those who want to come to Italy with me, but aren't really into the "creative" aspect of it.  This 2nd week will be about YOU.  If you want to do the low-key classes you can, if you don't want to do any, that is fine too.  You'll have multiple choices of things to do during the week, to design the perfect week you are dreaming of!

So if this sounds EXCITING to you, SIGN UP SOON!

There will only be 12 spots available for this weeklong event!!  

So jump on this amazing opportunity and get your name on the list ASAP!

I don't have a sign up page yet, but I'll get that up in the next couple days.  If you email me I can put you on the INTEREST list and you will have PRIORITY when it does go LIVE!!

And feel free to email me if you have any questions or you can leave a comment on this blog post and I will get back to you!

Hope to see YOU in Italy next year...


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Where did the summer go?  I think I was home a total of TWO weeks this summer and blogging just wasn't on the summer plan...

But we are almost to OCTOBER now and I wanted to share some updates and photos to INSPIRE you to join me on one of my Creative Retreats in Italy!

Since last I blogged, I had not shared all the rest of this years Creative Retreat photos, so I'll start with a montage of photos from the amazing time we had this June in Italy:

In the afternoons there was some time for this...

On Thursday we headed to Como

And went to my friends SCRAPBOOK STORE!

Looks whose products they had??  

Here's my friend Sara who works at the store.

Had a nice lunch...
We walked around Como as well and saw some of the sights...
Here are the local ladies who came to the classes

And my partly finished Jeanne Oliver canvas

The last night was our finale dinner at Mistral with everyone

My beautiful daughters who helped So much this week!

The whole group (minus Dana & Tony)

Celebrating the Birthday girls!

With a little homemade ice-cream!

Then we had a few guys come sing...  and said our goodbyes!

I can't THANK these ladies enough!  They were AMAZNG teachers, FUN ladies and wonderful people to spend this week with!  It couldn't have gone any better!


There are probably over a thousand photos from the week, but I think all that I've shared shows you a bit of what we do during the week and hopefully will get you excited about joining us some day...

Speaking of which,  the next Creative Retreat is already FULLY BOOKED!  Yes, it's sold out and when that happens I'm always happy AND sad at the same time.  I would LOVE to have more people come and enjoy this week we share together, but I really do need to cap it at 24 people so we can really enjoy the intimate setting and all be able to do everything together!

BUT...  If you are on the WAIT LIST or if you want to be added, you can email me at: and be put on the list!


It's in the planning stages now because I know I had over 100 people on the Interest list and only 24 can come at a time.  SO IF YOU WANT TO COME WITH ME NEXT YEAR, 2014, SEND ME AN EMAIL!  I'm trying to decide now when I will do this.  It could either be a week FOLLOWING the May 17-24th, 2014 event OR you could be in the Fall, around the early part of September when the weather is still lovely there.  

I will give more details on a 2nd week soon!!  

And lastly, I wanted to put out an idea for anyone that might be interested...

I have had some people interested in coming to my retreats who aren't really "artsy/crafty"  and have asked if I would host a similar week but without classes...  The answer is YES!  I am passionate about sharing this part of Italy with others and have been thinking of doing a less "creative" retreat and more "exploring" retreat.  This is such a beautiful part of Italy that I really think time kind of left alone and I would LOVE to share it with anyone!  So if that's you and you'd like to have me organize an event for you and your friends, your family or even a business retreat... LET ME KNOW!  I actually just got back on Sunday from a weeklong event I organized for my husbands business!  It was SO much fun! Maybe I'll share some of those pictures some day on here so you can see some of the other things that are available on the lake.  

This is something I may do next year as well... A week or two AFTER my Creative Retreat for those who would like to either stay longer from the Creative Retreat, or those who would want to have a more relaxed time with less class time and more time to do other things.  It would be a week long event at a lower price since we aren't renting the event room or having teachers.

So I hope you enjoyed these photos and I'd LOVE for you to join me some day in Lake Como, Italy!



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hello everyone,

I'm sad to say it, but we are back home from Italy now.  Ya, real life is setting back in and we just want to go back to Italy...

So I'll go back in my mind while I blog about it.  :)

So last I left off, we were at Day 3 of the Creative Retreat and even though I blogged about dinner at Al Veluu, I don't think I posted pictures.  It was very hard to post pictures while we were there because the internet is a bit behind the times in Italy.  So here are some photos from that night:

Here we are by the ferry, ready to go over to Tremezzo for dinner

Some of the ladies admiring the gorgeous view from Al Vellu

I quick took the beautiful Jeanne Oliver down a little path by Al Vellu for a few minutes.  Doesn't she look totally in her element?

We were such a big group that they had to sit us in the outdoor portico 

My cute helpers...

On of our favorite meals...ever!  Al Veluu is amazing.

It was a perfect night dining al fresco at Al Veluu

Tuesday was an Excursion Day.  This is one of my FAV days of the whole week and I know the ladies loved it too!  I took the ladies on a boat tour of the lake, then we went to one of the most famous villas on the lake, Villa Balbianello, where many movies have been filmed. Maybe you will recognize it:

This is where Star Wars, James Bond, A Month by the Lake and other movies have been filmed.

The architecture is just stunning with all the gardens and beautiful vines...

It was a windy day and we tried to get some of the ladies up to the top to take this photo.

Then we were back on the boat to lunch... and a look around the lake.  here's Jeanne with her adorable hubby.

Sir Richard Branson's villa on the lake.  Maybe I can host an event here?  It will only cost me 140,000Euros for the week... lol

Lunch was at one of my favorite spots again... have a few of those now :)

Just imagine enjoying a gourmet lunch while in such a peaceful setting...

After such a great day, it was hard to go back.  But Tuesday night was my "Night of Artists" and I was beyond excited for this event!  I had asked a friend from the local area months before to help me with this.  My idea was to have local artists come to the GHVS and share their crafts with my ladies and the local people of Bellagio.  I want my events to be more then just me bringing people to Lake Como.  I really want the people I bring to get to know the people IN Italy.  That is why I opened up the classes to local people (more on that another day...) and why I wanted to have this event open to the public as well.  So the event room where my classes take place was transformed into a kind of "craft faire"  where 8 of local artists came and set up their booths and then at night we opened it up to the public to come, enjoy some wine and light snacks, a musician came and played music, and we enjoyed a night together and did a little shopping as well!  It was so much fun and I really want to make this a part of my event each year as it grows and more local people come out and meet with the people I bring...  

The musician played the piano in the salon first for a bit, then moved into the event room for the night.

Here's some of the first shoppers looking at all the handcrafted items.

Here I am with some of the artists later that evening.

This is Evelyn who helped me organize the event.  I know she did a lot of work to help this come together and I really appreciate it!

My lovely ladies... these are two of the NICEST people you will EVER MEET.  Love them and this week was so wonderful due to how AWESOME they are!  I will be having them back for sure...

I have SO many pictures to share and more thoughts from this amazing week, but they will have to wait for another time.  I miss all these ladies already and I can tell you that if you come some day, you will see first hand how wonderful Italy is and how fast you become lifelong friends with the people you experience this with.  We will all have memories to cherish for the rest of our lives.

If YOU want to share in that, I really do encourage you to think about joining us one of these years.  Next year is almost FULL so if you're interested in coming next year, just send me an email and I will see how many more I can fit in next May.  If that doesn't work out and I have enough people to do a 2nd one next year, you won't have to twist my arm to far!  hahaha  

I am thinking about the possibility of doing this next September as well.  So let me know and I'll start an interest list for next September.  I would LOVE to take you to this gorgeous part of Italy.  It's like stepping back in time to an Italy you dream about.  I was kind of talking about this with some of the ladies...  We all envision "Italy" a certain way and it is beautiful and there are unbelievable places all over Italy.  But the reality is that some of the places we DREAM about in Italy like Venice or Rome, etc... have a bit of "real world" in them as well with the traffic, the pick pockets, the people selling trinkets everywhere.  Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE those places.  But coming to Lake Como to me is like stepping back to a place that is what you "think" Italy should be.  You don't worry about a car, there's no traffic or barely any cars, no sidewalk trinket stands and it's just you and Italy and enjoying the beauty that is there around every corner.   I could probably talk about it all day long... so just think about it.  

Email me if you want to come and I will do my best to always bring you here.  

Even if you wanted me to organize a small group of your own friends or organize an event for you here.  I am organizing my husbands Sales Reward meeting here in September!  So I know the places that aren't talked about it the travel books and I love this place like my 2nd home.  

Have a GREAT day and I hope to MEET you some day in the beautiful place.