Published Articles

Published Articles

Oh, Mama!

Published in Tucson Lifestyle Magazine, Fashion Issue, September 2008

There’s nothing like Mama’s home cooking…especially if she happens to own a culinary school. Four clients from Tutti a Tavolaa well-known cooking school in Tuscany, Italyrecently shared their regional Italian cooking tips during four private in-home dinners in our city.

Known as the “Tuscan Mamas,” these cookin’ ladies have appeared on NBC’s Taste of Tuscany program and have been highlighted in many newspapers. Chef/owners Mimma, Franca, Simonetta and Lele of Tutti a Tavola (or “Everyone to the Table”) were quite a hit with the lucky few who were able to attend. The rest of useat least the ladies!can learn the feet of these masters during a tour to Tuscany, Italy, offered through Gateway Destinations, which will include both the Chianti Cooking as well as a special Tuscany Spa Retreat.

Locally owned by Jan Acorn, Gateway Destinations specializes in tours for small groups of women. The eight-day, seven-night tour to Tuscany, Italy, where you can meet
and cook with the Tuscan Mamas themselves is departing Oct. 5. For more information, call 888-429-1242 or visit

Less Is Better When It Comes To Packing

Published in Connections for Women, June 2008, by Jan Acorn

Have you ever returned home and unpacked clothes you never wore during your vacation? Do you think all the strangers you met during your vacation cared that you were sporting a different outfit than the one you wore the day before? Ever had to pay the airlines for excess pounds in your suitcase (especially important now since the airlines are trying to gain very dollar they can), or re-arrange contents between two or more suitcases at the ticket counter? Experienced difficulty in getting your luggage to fit in a small European rental car? Had to haul your own luggage up several flights of stairs in a small hotel or country B&B? Better yet, have you ever missed disembarking at the right train station because you couldn’t wrestle your luggage off the train in time?
This actually happened to one of my clients recently in Italy. Luckily, they were able to turn around about 15 kilometers down the track and the conductor gave them a free ride back!

This list could go on and on and undoubtedly, you may have had one or more of these experiences – I certainly have. Some of my experiences were comical, yet some were painful lessons. My best friend literally stumbled into her large suitcase that was open flat on the floor after traveling an exhausting 24 hours to our destination! By sharing some of these experiences with you, I hope you can save yourself some frustration, energy and maybe even money! Here are a couple of suggestions to streamline your packing for distant or extended journeys.

  • Cosmetics and toiletries – take only what you really need and in the smallest quantities. Many hotels now offer shampoo and lotion so use theirs! Purchase travel size hairsprays, toothpaste, brush and make-up, etc., whenever possible. Remember to put all liquids you wish to carry on in no larger than 3.5 ounce containers, and place in ONE clear quart-size zip-lock bag. Check with your favorite hair product and cosmetic company. You’ll find that many are now carrying air travel specific sizes. Don’t carry a hairdryer! 99% of hotels will have one available.
  • Shoes – don’t think like Imelda Marcos! Three pairs of shoes really will do the trick, even for several weeks. Make sure they are
    neutral AND comfortable. If it is wintertime and you want to bring boots, plan on wearing them on the airplane so you don’t have to pack them. In fact a good tip is to travel wearing the heaviest items of clothing…layered of course.
  • Lingerie, socks or stockings – plan on taking no more than five changes of underclothes and only two pajamas then hand wash as needed. You may even want to hand wash your no-iron blouses. It only takes a minute or two in your bathroom sink at night and shampoo works fine. When planning for a trip, check out some of the chains who make travel specific clothing. Travel Smith and Chico’s come to mind. Fashionable, wash and wear, no crease coordinates.
  • Skirts and slacks – choose neutral colors and avoid prints that will be limiting to match. If possible, choose ones that can be hand washed.
  • Blouses – choose tops that will coordinate with each of your skirts or slacks. Plan on wearing them several times, hand washing as needed. You can’t go wrong with one little black dress but choose something in a non crease, roll in the suitcase fabric. Dress it up with a silk scarf.
  • Coats – if you need one, plan to wear it or carry it on the airplane so you don’t have to pack it. Put gloves and scarf in the pocket.
    Choose a neutral coat that you can wear with everything you have packed. Black is always chic in Europe. If it’s a “shoulder” season, i.e. between warm and cold weather, don’t bother with a coat, invest instead in a woolen shawl that you can wear over a sweater.

If you plan on an activity specific vacation such as hiking, take
activity specific clothing with just a couple of dressier outfits for sight seeing and evenings.

Cruises encourage over packing but don’t fall for the hype and find
yourself squeezed into a mini cabin surrounded by suitcases. Apply the mix and match principles above and you can still dazzle on deck and at dinner.

I was the queen of last-minute packing but have learned that if I
allow some time to think about how to coordinate outfits, I can pack far fewer clothes. Checking the weather forecast before you leave and take the guesswork out of what type of weather to pack for. Unless you are going to a truly third world situation you’ll be able to replenish missing items if the need arises.

Trends in Women’s Travel

Published in Connections for Women, May 2008, by Jan Acorn

With an increase in discretionary money available to them, an impressive number of women are traveling today for pleasure. This trend is expected to not only continue, but grow as more women enter the professional workforce and many female “baby boomers” retire with sizeable financial assets. A recent survey of members of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) revealed that 92% of women travel for leisure, with over one-third traveling at least five times per year. Not only does the frequency seem to be on the rise, but this survey indicated that 85% of female travelers are taking extended vacations (more than two weeks duration) for at least one of their trips.

Coupled with traveling more often, a significant number of women travel alone or with other women. An astounding 57% of women surveyed revealed that they travel solo at least 25% of the time, and 17% do so nearly all of the time. Women traveling with other women (friends or family members) accounts for another significant trend in travel, as 76% of women travel in this manner one out of four trips. When asked what appeals to them most about women’s travel, 43% stated they are single and feel more comfortable traveling with other women, while 31% stated they like the safety of traveling with a group. An additional 13% of women surveyed stated they travel with women because their spouses don’t enjoy the same type of travel.

When asked about their favorite dream destination, the clear choice was Australia and New Zealand, with Italy and Alaska close behind. International venues amounted to 79% of the overall choices and over 80% plan to visit their dream destination within the next three years. It appears that the frequency, duration and distance women travel will increase in the future, creating opportunities for travel consultants, hotels, clothing manufacturers and transportation suppliers. In turn, travel options for women will continue to broaden.