My aunt and uncle amaze me with their design skills and aesthetic. Every time I go over to their house I can’t shut up about how gorgeous everything looks and I’m transported. Tucson is not really a city known to architecturally inspire…I mean I’m sure there are some historical buildings here and there with a good story behind them but it’s not like Los Angeles or San Francisco where almost every residential street has some quintessential vintage charm and history.
Don’t get me wrong I love Tucson for so many other reasons. But Tucson is Tucson and as a person who gets visually aroused, for the most part Tucson makes me feel meh. My point with all this blabbering is that my aunt decorated her home in such a way that you feel like you’re in Europe. She curated and cherry-picked her inspirations and accuracies about how things instinctively work, and crafted a home that is everything.
A short and boring yet insightful conversation about how I don’t care what things are technically called I just love them full-heartedly.
Me: “I love your house tia, it’s like Spanish style inspired.”
My aunt Josie: “No no honey it’s Tuscan.”
Me: “But it’s Spanish-style like, no?”
My aunt Josie: “No, it’s like in Italy, out in the country. Tuscan.”
Me: “Ohhh…Tuscan? Okay. Well whatever it is, I’m into it.”
So let me give you a digital tour of the beauty that is my aunts house (mainly her backyard because that’s my favorite part of the whole house), are you ready?
Let’s MTV Cribs.
This stunner of a tree is the first thing that greets you upon entering the backyard. Isn’t it lovely? With the twinkle lights and the built-on base. I’m dead.
I mean…just gorgeous. Stunning. 10 out of 10 tree, well done.
Oh this vine? It’s a climbing Arabian Jasmine and it smells like sugar, honey, and flowers had a baby. It blooms in the spring and it has a faint but distinguishable mild pleasant fragrance. Look at it climbing! This is more exciting to me than watching a toddlers ballet recital.
My uncles imported pots from Europe (I think — again, I’m a details person but not an accuracy person.)
This is my birthday cake, I am spoiled rotten by my mother and my aunt Emilia! Honestly, no 33-year-old deserves a cake anymore (just kidding, they do, I do, we all do!). It was a lovely surprise and living in Arizona again it’s been nice to feel properly celebrated just for being born.
Look at this fucking salad. I mean it’s borderline disrespectful how beautifully arranged and simple yet rustic (Tuscan?) it is. Are you dead yet? Because you should be. My aunt breezily explained to me how she put it together and how it’s so easy to assemble right when a party starts. The day before you quarter the romaine, blanche the green beans, and boil the eggs and store the ingredients in the fridge. Then the day of the party you respect the salad by properly assembling it with the preprepared ingredients and finish it with olives, a can of drained tuna, anchovies (they are not for everyone trust me bb I know, if they are too much for you step aside this salad isn’t for you baby kitten) olives, balsamic, olive oil, and a generous sprinkling of salt and cracked pepper. It was so good, a salty crisp punch of flavor in your boca.
Do you see this ramada, the beautiful glossed table and benches (and the beautiful Kalli fanning herself!), the wood fired pizza oven, and the gorgeous Saltillo floor? My uncle Frank built all of it with the help of his handy assistant and free child labor, his son slash my cousin, Santiago. Initially I thought my uncle had the vision and laid out the blue print and then hired the contractors to get to work. Because honestly that’s what I would do because if you asked me to build anything I’d faint and cry and it would take me a lifetime to learn how because physical labor is not my love language. But my aunt Josie swiftly corrected me that he did it all. I was floored and all night I couldn’t shut up about how “Frank built this, he built it all.”
Here’s another view, isn’t it quaint? Never mind that it was 40% humidity and 105 degrees in Tucson that weekend, I would get light headed and sweat bullets all over again just because I loved the setting so much. I’ve never had a heat stroke but it’s never too late.
Look at the pizza topping wheel? I’m reborn. And the stainless steel bowls. Industrial, functional, and aesthetic.
All night my uncle churned out wood-fired pizzas from 6:30pm until 1am. He made it look so effortless. I would have fainted from the proximity to the heat but all night he nonchalantly cracked jokes and made conversation, drank beer, and helped people craft their pizzas so he could dutifully cook them. For Christmas, I wish to have a pizza oven (@Benny).
I mean, ARE WE IN TUSCANY WITH THIS TABLE SETTING? So rustic. So chill. I DIED AGAIN. The bread in the basket, the smaller cutting board to cut said bread, the french serving board with the majestic cheeses all laid out in an honorable and flavorful display. Again, the simple yet authentic touches.
OH MY GOD I JUST NOTICED THOSE BREAD STICKS IN A MUG.
Jesus. My. Savior.
And let’s end where this all started because I like when things comes full circle, let’s wrap this up with the tree of lights and a peek-a-boo of the gorgeous tiled steps on the right.
My aunt and uncle bought this house 20 years ago, I was an awkward 13-year-old and not much has changed in that department. Year after year they’ve made improvements and expanded it and made it better and better. It was metaphorical for me and it reminded me to be a more patient and strategic person with vision and intention versus my MO of being impulsive, wishy washy, and shortsighted. I connected the home to my own slow growth and ever-going inner renovation and it reminded me of the old adage, Rome wasn’t built in a day.