Monday, March 31, 2014

{monday morning with}

I hope you enjoyed the Monday Morning With series that ran during the last 3 months while I was living in Paris.  Today's feature will be the last one now that we are back in Chicago and I thought it might be fun to answer all those interesting interview questions myself!  So here is a sneak peak into some of the things you might now normally know about me from simply reading my blog- check out all the previous bloggers from the past 12 Monday mornings right here.

what's your drink of choice?
For cocktails: either The Business or a Negroni.  For wine:  A nice dry sparkling wine or a strong Pinot Noir.

what's the most recent store you shopped at?
Ebay- I finally hunted down an amazing Three Floor dress. I scour ebay almost daily!

do you have a signature scent?
To say I am obsessed with perfume would be an understatement.  For a longtime I wore exclusively Marc Jacobs original scent, but now I like to mix it up between 7 or 8 different ones depending on the day.  Current favorites include Hermes Jardin Sur Le Toit and Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black- although the one I get the most compliments on is Bond No. 9 for Saks.

what is the top item on your wishlist right now? 
The Celine Luggage bag- practically every girl in paris was toting one of these which made me want one even more than I thought I did. 

what'd you do this past weekend? 
Chris and I spent our last night in Paris at the fabulous W near the Paris Opera before using up the rest of the weekend to travel home and get our place back in order after a 3 month absence.

where are you or where would you like to travel to next?
We are going to be taking a little break from travel given how much we have been doing recently, but the next big place on my wishlist that I would like to get to within the next couple years would be Thailand.

what are you currently reading?
The Power of Habit - I love to read non-fiction and this one is extremely thought provoking about how we develop our habits and how to understand or modify them.  

favorite quote of the moment?
“No one’s going to come tell you how it’s done”

whats your new favorite blog discovery?
I recently discovered The Love List and I appreciate her fabulous snarky way of writing and her awesome playlists!

tell us a secret?
I double dip chips.  There it’s out. Feels good to admit it. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

{a week off}

As you might have noticed from Instagram lately, we are currently traveling around with 4 other friends who came to meet us in Paris.  We spent last week in Paris, Valencia and Marrackech. As I write this we are about to board a plane out of Morocco headed to the Bordeaux region of France for a few more days before we all head home.  I'll be back with recaps of all these travels next week once we return to Chicago, but not until after I spend a solid 7 hours cuddling with Muji since we haven't seen him in almost 4 months!  In the meantime you can follow along here and see you next week!

Friday, March 21, 2014

{friday cocktail: classic absinthe}

Even though it has been legal in the United States for a while now, we still wanted to hunt down some unique absinthe from France to bring home with us.  One of our friends recommended this tiny little absinthe shop in the Marais neighborhood of Paris and we spent an afternoon there last week.  The tiny shop is about as big as my closet and filled with more than 30 different types of absinthe from all around Europe.  The extremely knowledgeable shopkeeper helped us pick out a few interesting bottles to bring home in addition to telling us the correct way to enjoy it.  He also informed us that the lighting of the sugar is a hollywood gimmick which was a complete surprise to me!  We promptly opened one of the mini bottles we purchased at the boutique to enjoy before leaving France, but back home one of my favorites is Kubler.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

{a day at Versailles}

One of the biggest things on my list for our time in Paris was to take a day trip out to the Palace of Versailles which is located about an hour by train outside of the city.  When we visited Paris the first time we were only here for a handful of days and couldn't justify spending a quarter of our trip outside of the city.  We waited until March to visit the palace hoping for the nicest weather possible given the winter months were here and we were not disappointed.  Temperatures in the high 60s and radiant sunshine awaited us when we got off the train and made our way up the steps to Versailles. Read below for my tips on visiting Versailles.

 {view of the back of the palace from the gardens. in the winter months the fountains are drained which isn't ideal but certainly doesn't take away from the beauty of the property.}

 {hall of mirrors}

 {maria antoinette's bedroom. epic floral overload.}

 {adorable swans in the pond outside the restaurant}

 {golf carts. best kept secret at versailles.}

 {marie antoinette's hamlet- aka peasant town where she pretended to be one of the "simpler" folk- definitely do not skip this part of the property as it is completely intriguing to see in relation to the over the top spectacle that is the palace}

{pink marble at the grand trianon}

Tips for visiting Versailles:
  1. Buy Tickets in Advance: This is really not negotiable- you need to do this. It's very simple and they can scan the tickets directly from your phone at the entrances so no need to print.  Unless you enjoy standing in 1 to 2 hour long lines upon arriving, buy your tickets online here.  
  2. Pick up the audio tour of the palace: While most museums offer audio tours at an additional cost, the one for the palace at Versailles is included in the ticket price and it really enhances your experience walking through the interior palace portion.
  3. Where to go first:  A lot of sites recommend starting out at the Grand and Petite Trianons at the far side of the grounds first and then doing the main palace last.  Even the Versailles official visitor website recommends this, but the day that we went it wasn't that busy so we started with the Palace first, then went through the gardens following by the Trianons and Marie Antoinette's Hamlet ending with a lunch.  After lunch we leisurely walked back through the gardens. 
  4. Rent Golf Carts:  There are golf carts available to rent by the hour outside the back of the palace which you can use to quickly get you to opposite end of the property where the Trianons and Hamlet are located.  This may sound incredibly lazy to rent a golf cart to get you around, but the palace property is massive.  If you would like to see everything at a nice pace and not feel incredibly rushed then the use of a golf cart will cut out hours of time walking between the sites. Golf carts cost $30 euro per hour and we used ours for 2 hours.  Note there is a 4 person maximum on the carts.
  5. Eat lunch on the Property: While normally museum restaurants are overpriced and not all that great, the ones at Versailles are absolutely wonderful.  You basically have 4 options for food ranging from a nicer restaurant (aka white tablecloths) to a casual sit-down bistro to a take-away cafe.  We chose to eat at the casual restaurant (which has beautiful outdoor seating if the weather permits) and were surprised at the great food at reasonable prices. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

{paris: week 11}

This past week was our last full week in Paris before we leave on a 2 week traveling stint with 4 other friends of ours who escaped Chicago winter (some have dubbed it Chi-beria) to meet us here.  Our time here flew by which is something I definitely didn't anticipate as 3 months living in a new city seemed like forever before we arrived.  I am content knowing that there is nothing left on my list that I feel I didn't see or experience in this amazing country.  In addition to taking in all the sights, I feel like we got to experience what it is really like to live in Paris not just visit it for a few days.  I'm not quite ready to write my "love letter" post about our time here, but I promise it will come soon along with a big PDF of all my recommendations for this wonderful city.  One thing I will say now is that this city has definitely given me a new perspective on life and changed me in ways that may be subtle to an outside observer, but feel significant in every way to me (sounds incredibly cheesy to write that, but it's undeniably true).

{welcoming our friends to paris with a sunday morning eiffel tower picnic}

Monday, March 17, 2014

{monday morning with Molly of Almost Makes Perfect}

I only recently discovered Molly's fabulous DIY blog, Almost Makes Perfect, but I have been totally hooked ever since (the kind of hooked where when you first go to the blog you spend an hour going back through the archives of posts because you can't get enough!).  Molly and I also share a love for getting married in Palm Springs as she will be having her wedding there in the coming months and I can't wait to follow along with all her wedding projects!  Check out her interview below and then go fill your pinterest page with all the inspiration from her blog!

what's your drink of choice?
moscow mules forever. i also am always down for a margarita on the rocks. if we're talking non alcoholic, i consume about 2 liters of soda water a day.

what's the most recent store you shopped at?

broome st general in la, i could spend hours in this tiny little shop filled with perfectly curated goodies.

do you have a signature scent?
it's embarrassing but i've worn victoria's secret since high school. it used to be love spell, but i matured into sexy little things noir. i can't even picture switching because i essentially bathe myself in the stuff.

what is the top item on your wishlist right now?
the gus modern gt rocking chair. i almost got one on sale but my fiancée talked me out of it because of how much our cats would destroy the upholstery. they rule the house unfortunately.

what'd you do this past weekend?
on friday we drove to the desert to see hall & oates play at a casino -- so peak. also saw the grand budapest hotel, which was great. spent the rest of the weekend trying to clean the apartment which i almost never take the time to do.

where are you or where would you like to travel to next?
i live in la, and were currently trying to pick a honeymoon location. my #1 was always greece, but fortunately we got to go already. so now we're thinking somewhere where we'll sightsee less and relax more. bora bora or bali?

what are you currently reading?
strictly coffee table and cookbooks. sadly its been way too long since i've read a book cover to cover. sunday suppers at lucques is the one i flip through the most. she talks about the origins of her recipes and shares early career stories. i love that woman. you must make her chocolate bread pudding!

favorite quote of the moment?
"you can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live until a hundred" woody allen, it's kind of my lifetime mantra.

whats your new favorite blog discovery?
i just recently discovered fall for diy and i love her simple projects and aesthetic. ann marie loves paper is another new favorite -- she shares lots of helpful little photoshop and organizational tips.

tell us a secret?
i cannot wear jeans at home. like no matter what -- they are removed the second i walk in the door. it's even so bad i once asked my guy to remove the pants while i inhaled pirates booty. he's never let me live it down.

Friday, March 14, 2014

{what i loved this week}

on instagram:  Pretty much die over this Miami bar set up.  Gorgeous cherry blossoms blooming all over Paris.  How amazing is the luscious floral backdrop?!?! These swans continue to be one of my favorite things ever- especially since you can grab em up on Amazon for $35!

on pinterest:  These DIY crepe paper anemones look so realistic- would be adorable for a tablescape at a baby or bridal shower. 

on the blogs: Pretty obsessed with this impeccably styled 30th birthday soiree on Design Darling. 

on the internets:  One of my fave home decor blogs, The Decorista, just launched a little online shop called Ashe to sell one-offs she finds throughout her work. 

on my wishlist:  This Bjork inspired tee is pretty great.  Why does Zimmermann just nail it every time with the most amazing feminine swimsuits?!?

{friday cocktail: blushing kiss}

With warmer temperatures and early blossoms starting to show on the trees around here it is really starting to feel like spring came early.  In the spirit of the changing weather I searched around for a perfect simple cocktail for today's recipe.  This one from Baker's Royale seemed like the perfect fit- I added in muddled basil for an herbal component rather than garnishing the drink with thyme.  The cocktail is light and sweetened solely by the St. Germain which makes for a lovely floral drink to welcome in a new season!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

{carry-on travel essentials}

One of my favorite features to find on blogs or in magazines is an inside look into people's purse or carry-on bags (Hallie has a great/super useful one here).  Whenever I read through people's travel essentials, I try to unlock their secrets to making travel a more seamless process.  See the thing is...I love to travel and to experience new cities, but the getting there part is never my favorite.  I'm a notorious over-packer (although I like to think I'm getting better) and I never fail to raise some sort of red-flag when going through security whether it's my laptop I left in my bag or some random metal on my body that sets off the detector.  In addition to all that, I have a general aversion to people in my personal space which gets violated constantly during travel.  I could probably continue ranting about my dislikes with the act of traveling for another three paragraphs so I'll just cut myself off right here.

Since we have been living in Paris and are conveniently located a short one hour flight or train ride away from some of the most desirable European locations, we have been traveling a lot!  A jaunt to Barcelona a few weeks after we got here, following by some time in Florence then Amsterdam, plus a train ride last week to London for a few days has me feeling like I'm finally getting the hang of traveling comfortably.  Next week we embark on our longest trip since being here- starting with 2 days in Paris at a fabulous AirBnb in the Marais then flying to Valencia, Spain for the Falles festival for another 2 nights.  After Spain we hop on to a plane to Marrakesh for 4 nights and then we end the trip in Southern France's wine country with 3 nights in Bordeaux.  I cannot overstate my excitement for the upcoming trip minus the fact that we are only bringing one carry-on piece of luggage each!!  I'll be spending this week packing up and getting ready for this trip which includes stocking my carry-on with all the essentials and I thought it would be fun to share those for you here!!

1.  Incase neoprene laptop sleeve & Ted Baker Bow Ipad case:  I have both of these, but in different colors.  The neoprene laptop sleeve is amazing because it's as slim as it gets and features zips in all corners so you can charge your laptop while it's in the sleeve.  Since I use this ipad stand when I'm at home, I don't like to keep a cover on my Ipad and opt for zip around sleeves instead- the Ted Baker ones are the cutest you can find!

2. Travel Sleep Set: This is the one item on here that is actually on my travel wishlist, but I don't own yet.   Whenever I am packing I don't feel the need to use up space with a travel sleep set, but then when I am on the plane I immediately regret that decision.

3. Herban Essentials Wipes:  These smell heavenly (my favorite is the lavender one) and can come in handy in a lot of gross travel situations.  You can also find them at Whole Foods!

4. Klorane Dry Shampoo, UD All Nighter Make Up Setting Spray & Caudalie Beauty Elixir:  The dry shampoo is sort of a given for travel.  UD's make up setting spray is a miracle worker- I have never had make up stay on throughout an entire flight before using this.  Caudalie makes a few different beauty elixirs, but the L'Wren Scott edition is by far my favorite for freshening up after a flight. 

5. Travel Atomizers:  I'm obsessed with perfume and these allow me to bring travel sizes with me.  They also sell these at Nordstrom and if you buy an empty one they will fill it with any perfume you would like for free! 

6. International Converter/Adapter:  This little guy costs $4 and allows my curling iron to work pretty much anywhere so enough said.

7. Luggage Scale:  This doesn't necessarily come into use during travel, but I can't live without it since I like to pack my checked luggage to within an inch of its life (as long as its under 50lbs of course!)

8. A big cozy scarf:  Zara makes the best ones since they are huge, chic and affordable! I have my eye on this one!

9. Portable Ipad Stand:  This little ipad stand folds up super tiny and works like a dream since I can't travel with this one that I use at home.

10.  Kindle Books:  I am currently in the middle of reading The Power of Habit and am about to start Cleopatra's Daughter.  Both very different books, but I generally find myself wanting a little variety during flights. 

11.  Chloe Edith Bag:  I have had this bag forever and its HUGE which makes it the perfect carry-on bag to fit all the essentials into.  It has shown me many good years, but it starting to show some wear so I am hoping to locate a vintage version of this bag on ebay sometime soon! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

{paris: week ten}

This past week in Paris was a total dream- the weather warmed up significantly which was perfect for showing our friends around the city who stayed with us during the week.  We crossed a lot of sights off our list that we had previously never seen before like the breath-taking Sacre Coeur Basilica and the impressive Notre Dame cathedral.  We also took a day-trip out to the Palace of Versailles which I'll be doing a full post on soon!  Having friends in town meant we got to have a lot of fun nights out for dinner and drinks including one of our new favorites, Club Raye, and a delicious dinner at one of our restaurant neighbors, Les Cocottes.

This upcoming week is our last full week in Paris before four of our friends meet us in the city and we embark together on a two week trip to Spain, Morocco and Bordeaux in the south of France.  I want to soak up as much of this city as possible in our last couple days here, but I know this week will probably be spent preparing and packing for the upcoming trip as well as shopping for a few things to wear in the 80 degree heat of Morocco!

{first spring blossoms}

{pont alexandre- my favorite bridge in the city}

{enjoying the sunshine on the steps of the Sacre Coeur}

{candles at Notre Dame}

{dramatic beauty inside Notre Dame}

{relaxing along the fountains in Luxembourg Gardens}

{entrance to Versailles palace}

{eclairs to end an amazing night at Club Raye}

{hamburgers are kind of a big deal here and in my opinion the best burgers in Paris are at Blend}
{spending sunday afternoon drinking wine along the Seine}

Monday, March 10, 2014

{monday morning with: Lauren of A Fabulous Fete}

For today's Monday Morning With we have the super creative Lauren of A Fabulous Fete.  I'm not sure what originally led me to start following Lauren's blog almost 3 years ago (maybe its because she is a fellow Southern California lady!), but I have been hooked ever since.  Besides Lauren's inspiring point of view on her blog, she also just launched an adorable online shop in addition to her established Etsy shop (does Lauren ever sleep!??!). Check out her interview below and then go get your shop on!

what'd you do this past weekend?
Spent a ton of time inside! Last weekend we experienced two days of the craziest rain and wind I've ever seen. So my husband and I braved ikea on a Saturday (without killing each other), built a new dresser while having a few cocktails, met friends for dinner, then enjoyed mimosas and a movie marathon Sunday. So exciting.

what's your drink of choice?
A buttery glass of chardonnay.

what is the top item on your wishlist right now?
This cuff. Amazing.

do you have a signature scent? 
Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb.

favorite quote of the moment?
You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.

what are you currently reading? 
Tons of business advice on any blog I can find (sadly I don't have the patience to read a real book).

what's the most recent store you shopped at? 
Anthro for my birthday last week!

tell us a secret? 
I take at least 5-10 pictures of something before I Instagram it (you should see how many pictures I have on my phone. Insane).

where are you or where would you like to travel to next? 
Jamaica in 2 weeks. I'm trying to convince my husband we need to go to Africa next year though.

whats your new favorite blog discovery?  
Sara's blog is just so pretty.

Friday, March 7, 2014

{what i loved this week}

on instagram: Maybe the perfect laid back outfit for spring from Sincerely Jules.  Love these striped beach balls and I hunted them down on the most random website right here!  Adorable tablescape for Oh Joy's Target collab.  Seeing some of the top sites in Paris last week while some friends stayed with us.

on pinterest:  Skinny Cake Batter Ice Cream Recipe- enough said.  Love the look of this floor to ceiling grid of simple frames with punchy art. 

in real life: We've been listening to Pharell's new album, GIRL, on repeat lately.

in the magazines: One thing I'm surprised isn't popular in the US is Grazia magazine, it seems to available almost everywhere in Europe with many different country editions.  It's one of my favorite magazines to pick up whenever I can find a version in English.  Grazia is a weekly magazine that is basically like a mash up of US Weekly and Elle with a bit of world news thrown in.  Thank god they have an Ipad app for after we move home!

on my wishlist:  I've been on the hunt for a good mid-size black quilted purse- this Rebecca Minkoff one at the top of the list so far.  After spending the last couple months with what might be the worst hair dryer on the face of the planet, I'm ready to bite the bullet and invest in something amazing like this GHD one.  Adorable gold rimmed trophy bowls from Rosanna

{friday cocktail: hemingway daiquiri}

Ever since I came across a photo of the interior of Club Raye, I have had it on my list of places we absolutely had to visit before leaving Paris.  Decked out in black and white stripes with pops of emerald green (raye actually translates to "stripe" in French), the restaurant/bar is the perfect place to relax with a cocktail and soak in some of the wonderful live jazz music they have every night.  Besides enjoying the music and decor, I got to try a Hemingway Daiquiri for the first time which is a cocktail that is rich in history as much as flavor (watch a video on making it here).  Similar to other cocktails named for or created by Hemingway this one is very strong and slightly sweet.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

{party inspiration: cocktails & croquet}

Lately I have been daydreaming of warmer weather and all the fun outdoor activities it brings with it.  Roaming along the historic Paris streets and soaking in all the beaux arts details is truly inspiring, but it has also made me long for the bright pops of color more present in America.   After coming across a designer croquet set in a small boutique, I though what could be a more perfect party than throwing a "cocktails & croquet" themed get-together on a sunny spring afternoon!?!  I have a mild obsession with croquet (and cocktails for that matter!), forcing our friends into a game every time we are out in Palm Springs plus we even had a croquet set up during cocktail hour at our wedding!

Throwing a "cocktails & croquet" party would be as simple as whipping up a few batches of cocktails, purchasing a fun croquet set and heading to your local park (unless you are lucky enough to have a fabulous backyard!).   This email invite from Paperless Post would be perfect especially with a note asking guests to dress in "croquet whites" as well as requesting they bring along an easy snack dish to take some of the work off the hosts!  I would also pick up some striped napkins and tablecloths, this trophy vase for table decor, and of course a pack of lawn flamingos!  

Here's a little inspiration board I put together for this event and hopefully I can make it a reality on a sunny weekend once we return from Europe!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

{paris: week nine}

Settling back in to Paris last week after a fun 7 days of travel in Amsterdam & Florence, made for a bit of a slower week for us in the city.  We took a beautiful walking tour starting in the Montparnasse neighborhood (including their centuries old cemetery) winding through the Luxembourg gardens and ending with rewarding cocktails in the afternoon sunlight at a tiny cafe in the St. Germain.  I also took a little time to shop around the newly arrived spring clothes in stores in search of the perfect pieces to bring on our Morocco trip coming up in a few weeks.

On Friday, we hopped on an early morning Eurostar train to London to stay with with some friends and enjoy the UK for a few days.  We got lucky with the normally rainy weather and were able to spend a gorgeous Saturday walking around the outdoor markets (sampling British meat pies!) and drinking champagne served from a tap.  We ended the day by bouncing around between a few fun English pubs including one that was overflowing with kitchsy collectibles of the royal family and Princess Diana.

 {the fountains at Luxembourg Gardens}

 {Montparnasse cemetary}

 {adorable London streets in Primrose Hill neighborhood}