~ Take in October ~

Fall time with the low sun, the crisp mornings and cool breezes throughout the afternoon, October lets me see the world around me with fresh eyes.

Some images from home:


Out of a stump


The Front porch

Views and Brews

local brew

Photo sourced from WV Living

I wish I’d come up with the name Views and Brews. A northeastern US club, Views and Brews, has the same philosophy as my husband and I do: vacations that are coordinated around where we can hike, and if we’re lucky, where we can enjoy a cold local craft beer to commemorate it.

As someone who enjoys all kinds of brew, I also look forward to breakfast with coffee too! The best combination of place has all three, a good coffee shop, a local brewery and a mountain nearby. I’ve had this app on my list of things to discover for a while – the Best Beer at Untapped.

Halleck Morgantown WV

Morgantown has recently added to the list of breweries to try in the state of West Virginia with the opening of Chestnut Brew Works. What’s the thing I heard most while enjoying the flight at the bar? I’ll have a Halleck, I’ll have a Halleck, I’ll have a Halleck… it may be the beer of choice for the whole city.Chestnut Brew Works Mtown WV

Places we’ve tried:

Lost River Brewing Company in Wardensville, WV

Marietta Brewing Company in Marietta, Oh

Morgantown Brewing Company in Morgantown, WV

Mountain State Brewing Co. in Morgantown, WV in Deep Creek Md, and in Thomas, WV

Blackwater Brewing Company in Davis, WV

Rivertown Brewing in Pittsburgh, PA

Portsmith Brewery in Portsmith, NH

The Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, VT

Woodstock Inn and Brewery in North Woodstock, NH

Lexington Avenue Brewery in Asheville, NC

Wedge Brewing Company in Asheville NC

Deschutes Brewery in Portland, OR

Weasel Boy Brewing Company  in Zanesville, OH

Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh, PA

Fat Head’s Brewery in Pittsburgh PA

Crean’s Brewing in Ireland

Flagstaff Brewing in Flagstaff, AZ

Lumberyard Brewing Company in Flagstaff, AZ

Bridge Brew Works in Fayetteville, WV (via Pies n’ Pints)

Wheeling Brewing Company in Wheeling, WV

Chestnut Brew Works in Morgantown, WV

Chic Formal Wear at Showers & Weddings

Narcici Winery 1
narcici Winery


It’s summer, which means everyone is getting married and having showers. A few years ago I attended a shower at the Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia, Pa. It is a lovely winery set in the flat lands of a wide hollow. The building seemed to come from the ground, intertwined in the landscape with the grape vineyard. It is a large venue that hosts a restaurant and many meeting rooms under one roof. They host events throughout the summer on the lawn which I look forward to attending some day. The shower is not the only reason I want to bring up this winery and restaurant. It turns out that the proprietors are Giulianova natives!

Black Jacket Required

What I noticed lately is that shower attire has really become much more elegant. After attending two in the past few months, one wedding and one baby, I thought I’d share my thoughts about what women wear. One piece dresses, black tights, and high high heels are now the standard.

Inspiration comes from dresses as this grey number below. Shift dresses found on Amazon, or bold block prints are also popular. With a bold glass of wine in one hand, we congratulated the bride-to-be and enjoyed an afternoon among her friends and family.

ban ModClothGoodie Gazebo Dress knitteddovemazecrazedress-pbj-shop


A baby shower I attended recently in Pittsburgh, Pa was hosted by the lovely family of the mother-to-be at Andora Restaurant. Welcome to Andora.


The renovated home comfortably sat the family and friends of my beautifully pregnant friend. Center-pieces for the day were frilly girls dresses. I enjoyed the company, the atmosphere and again, the attire. Pearls, thick gold bangles, silk skirts, and little girls in poofy dresses.

In September I will attend a colorful-tie event at Oglebay celebrating a close friend’s wedding. What’s a colorful tie? Well, I’m not sure -we’re still trying to figure out the language. What do you call a formal event, where you want girls to wear long dresses, but the men aren’t required to wear black tuxes?  Developing what to wear should be fun!

Traveling as an Architect

Calatrava Lisbon Portugal.JPG

It’s fun to talk about how to find what you are good at, and what those talents are, so they can be easily incorporated into every day. The drawing obsession of mine began while traveling as a student of architecture at Virginia Tech. My fall semester of 2002 was spent on a bus  with 35 students and a handful of professors.


Cathedral Photo by CED Berkeley

My first job at Kendall/Heaton Associates pushed me to work on construction documents for two years. I was fortunate to work under Rex H. Wooldridge, Steve Bell, and Joon. These men formed the foundation of detailed work and dedication to the profession that I still lean on today. After working in Houston, TX I moved to Ohio to work solely on a house project for my parents. Needing to find an expert in the area, I sought out Victor Greco, a mid-career architect practicing in Wheeling with SMG Architects (now Mills Group.) He invited me into the Wheeling, WV office and I easily found the job that would take me into the next phase of my architecture career. SMG supported me to take the ARE exams, and I became a licensed architect in 2009. In 2013 SMG split and became SM+P Architects  in Baltimore while Victor merged with Mills Group. I moved to Morgantown, WV to work for the Mills Group shortly after this change.

In the last year I have drawn three hotels, one small hotel project has been completed while the other is under construction here in Morgantown. The third one desperately wants to rise off of the drawing board. I have worked on two local residential projects that required additions, helped one interior residential project, and have continued to work on one large renovation that is going on 2 1/2 years. In the last few weeks as Marriott has moved fully into construction administration I’ve jumped on a university renovation project about to go out to bid as the final set-of-eyes over the documents, and am working on a small theater renovation in southern WV. I have a wide range of tasks that seems to change every day. I look forward to a mix-use project that is to begin in three weeks. Mills Group has responsibility over the design, and I can enjoy the freedom that comes with decision-making in my work.

All of the above is just my work. There are about 8 total project managers in this firm who draw off of a pool of three to five young designers across the two offices. With more people and more projects it is important for the structure of the firm to have a strong project schedule. Easier said than done when we are in a constant search to answer RFP’s or interview for new work. Projects have different levels of service, and each one continues to move along a different deadline.

One of my most talented colleagues who is currently completing her Master of Architecture at Lawrence Tech while working full-time suggested I read Project Management for Design Professionals. As a few of us continue to develop Gantt charts to schedule people and projects, I begin to understand how important it is for a healthy firm to balance talent, expertise, and time management.

Peter Zumpthor Chapel in Switz

What I learned in Architecture School


Yesterday I shared the principles I have during my workday. I have many other personal desires, but my most enjoyable pass-time is to travel.

My husband and I work to travel. We are, as you know, avid hikers. Our last trip to Italy focused on family. Traveling with a few other people made my husband and I experience northern Italy like we hadn’t on our honeymoon -we went into many more churches, for example. But, I had less time to write and draw, considering the interest of many is constantly changing. As an architect, my vacations are where I rejuvenate creatively and mentally. Outside of vacation I need to develop a routine that balances my creative spirit in an office environment, which is why I practice my four beliefs as described yesterday.

How I got to this point, after 11 years in the profession of architecture has been influenced by my past. The part of me that wants to put my creative growth into my work, and the belief that I should came from my experience at Virginia Tech. To be idealistic is what a young architect learns in school. What we create affects the world for good. Upon our shoulders is the responsibility to design well and build sustainable architecture. I am encouraged that with my knowledge I can help others build the shelters they need, and enable the life they are born to seek. I am also encouraged that I live in an area of West Virginia that is booming in growth, one that has an acclaimed University (WVU) with many students and academic minds.

The type of work that a firm completes begins with the type of client each firm attracts. The project must support how I want to grow professionally, to enable creative advancement. Architects are like artists in that way. My university experience pushed me to find my passion, which is research and drawing. (Luckily I’ve just started a Master of Architecture at Fairmont State and I can continue on this path!) The open studio environment and discussions that students of architecture uncover are limitless in their bounds, and this is the artistic part of what I can do every day. Architecture is work that reveals itself after practice, and to do this the architect must practice. Practice, seek, look from a different perspective, focus and keep working.

So, if it is ideal that the type of work you do every day supports these thoughts, and at times I feel caught in paperwork, how do I find something within that to allow growth? It could be hidden in the talents of co-workers. At the very least it starts with communication.

Photo by Huffington Post

How does a Project Manager continue to be an Architect?


Eleven years an architect, and what I can show for my work each day seems unrelated to architecture. Are my young co-workers carrying out the tasks I miss completing myself? I miss drawing, I miss figuring out the details and having the opportunity to draft them with my own attention (bye bye AutoCAD.)

I’ve worked with a couple different firms in the last decade. Time slipped by comfortably when there were many licensed architects in a small-sized firm. The position I held before the one I hold now differed in size and in number of projects. At it’s best, the 6-person firm had two lead architects, an office manager, and three young professionals (at the point of taking license exams). At this size we each filled one another’s gaps easily because we sat in the same room and could listen. (Not that this was always preferred, but…) Our office manager was in charge and knew something about our last-minute-loving, architect-like schedules.

My role has changed since then, and I am part of an 11-person group in Morgantown. (Wheeling has five more.) Being with a larger firm means, overall, that there are more projects and people, of course. I now lead younger designers and many projects, or larger projects at once, instead of focusing on one. I’ve struggled recently with how to maintain the sense of being an architect with the many tasks of coordination that an architect in my position maintains. Some days I feel like I only respond to colleagues questions, answer the phone and check email. As a leader I’d like to share my attraction to architecture with others. Our current Mills Group team is creative and technologically advanced. I’d like to share the part of me that believes in what architecture can do for humanity in the work I do every day. I do believe that no matter what I’m doing, I can be fulfilled and I’d like to share that. I’d love input from others in a project manager position. The best thing I can think to do is the following:

1. Focus on one task at hand. Do this by turning off distractions, and by organizing time with colleagues to discuss questions all at once.

2. Move away from the computer. I set aside 3-4 hours in my day at my stand-up desk. I red-line and review real paper and can draw.

3. Take lunch. Move around, take a walk, read a book. The mind needs to rest to be able to focus for the remaining workday.

4. Encourage drawing. I began a Sketchy Friday event a few weeks ago. We’ve only met once, but I really enjoyed the hour of drawing with my colleague (hopefully more show up next time!). I also encourage being at the location of the project to determine design solutions. Go on site! The best place to draw what will be is to draw where it will be.

Sketchy Friday

Nearby to Morgantown, WV


The things I love about Morgantown have everything to do with where I am in the US. I love the mountainous state I live in, and enjoy the places I can be in a few hours. This spring my husband and I found ourselves at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, where Spring was in full bloom. My husband is a part of the design team working on the Spring Show for 2016.
verigated hibiscus

Since laying my eyes on this variegated hibiscus, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

I found this image off of Wiki, which shows the part of the plant I most enjoy -the leaves.


I encourage you to enjoy where you live, beginning right now.

I love Morgantown image from here.

Ponte Vecchio in Florence Italy

ponte vecchio

We crossed the street to the side of the river and got our first glimpse of Ponte Vecchio. Because I had read Dan Browns’ Inferno my mind was racing about secret passages over the bridge, from Boboli Gardens to the Uffizi. We walked across the old bridge of shops, small jewelry boxes being closed for the night by intricate hardware mechanisms from above, like an old roll top desk.

Ponte Vecchio

Easy espresso breaks were often and once we crossed over the river we spotted a gellateria for one. We walked down to the Boboli gardens, though they were closed. The intricate carvings, wooden revolvers, coat of arms, stone buildings, the stores that sold leather and linens. The Medici family’s wealth had washed over the entire city and they were so rich that even 300 years later it was still detectable.

A Healthy Lifestyle

Drdansiegel mind platter

Deepak and Oprah offered a 21-day meditation experience this spring. One day Deepak introduced 7 ways to apportion the day, as studied by Dr. Dan Siegel at UCLA. The healthy mind platter involves spending time in the following ways: Sleep time, Physical time, Focus time: time alone to concentrate and be, Time In: reflection or prayer, Time Out or rest, Playtime: fun in a carefree mood, and Connecting time: private time with those you love.

Times in my life where I’ve listened to my body and natural rhythms have been during travel or in unconstrained work without distractions. I think the key is being focused on whatever it is you are doing. Seven things to divide a day seem like a lot to handle working a 40-hour week in an office environment, but I’m going to explore the challenge.