Monday, March 18, 2013

paris: day 1

Dear Blog, I went to Paris.

Sounds kind of silly doesn't it, but for the past five years this blog has been the closest thing to a diary I have ever kept. A dynamic journal with a search function, this weblog has become a part of my life: a place where I share, document and connect. Before I ramble endlessly about all that blogging continues to mean to me, I'll continue with tonight's dreamy entry.

Dear Blog, I went to Paris. One month ago ...

If you're just tuning in, you can catch the trip's backstory here but in a nutshell, once I decided to go to London there was no way I was skipping Paris. And Paris looks like this. Like a post card. Like a work of art. Like a dream.

Here is the shop where I needed to communicate with gestures that I would like some ribbon cut.

Silly me. I could barely keep my mercis from my bon jours but tried my best.
My traveling companion / beloved oldest sister Betsy, booked two nights for us at the elegant Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais where she had stayed years before after reading about it in a magazine. We took a taxi directly from the train, dropped off our luggage and began strolling le Marais section of Paris.

Every few steps I would look at Betsy, grab her arm and say, "We're in Paris! This is crazy!" and she'd always reply, "No. It's wonderful!"

Click to enlarge
 Our first night we just walked and walked and walked ...

Bon jour!
 We walked to Angelina to sip cups of rich hot chocolate amidst grand surroundings.

We walked to the Roue de Paris and took a spin for a brilliant aerial view of the city at night.

Skipping the Metro and taxis to explore!
We walked across the Seine River on the gilded Alexander III bridge, always keeping our eyes on our prized destination, our grounded North Star ...

Me and Betsy
GASP ... the Eiffel Tower.

Pinch me!
I didn't go up, I wanted only to gaze upon it. It's beautiful. It's magic. It's Paris.

No dinner? No problem. Il est merveilleux!
We returned to the vicinity of our hotel for dinner and wandered into Le Coude Fou. At once rustic and vibrant, the bistro features walls covered in art, chalkboards scrawled with long lists of wines, and tables of friends spilling over with lively conversation. With no translations on the menu, it was definitely a place for locals and me with my limited French, obviously only ordered wine and a cup of soup for dinner. C'est la vie! It was wonderful.

Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais
Who could sleep?

Stay tuned for the final day of our whirlwind trip. And always remember, it all begins with a thought, with an idea, with a dream!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

london: day 3

I generally like to keep blog posts succinct but this one is a bit long. You might want to grab a cuppa!
I was very excited about my third day in London because plans came together for me to meet stylist Selina Lake. As a long-time admirer of Selina's work and brilliant books I was thrilled when our meeting was suggested by my U.K. publicist (I know! Crazy, right!?). Selina's publisher and mine are under the same umbrella and according to Amazon our books are often purchased together.

Selina suggested that we meet at the Columbia Road Flower Market. So, that Sunday morning Betsy and I took the tube and then realized we'd also need a taxi to meet Selina on time. How fun for us that we ended up in the taxi of Tony Walker of the famed Up series of documentaries. Bursting with life and good cheer, Tony told us how he'd just been in New York City ("I'm famous!") and how by going to the Flower Market, we were seeing the real London. Yeah!

Columbia Road was beautiful! Cool shops, bakeries and restaurants, with the road between packed with crates of sweet-scented flowers and plants. I loved hearing vendors yell, "Tulips!" which to my American ears sounded like "Choo-lips!

As my eyes searched for the shop's address where I was to meet Selina, she and I literally came face-to-face at a glass door. I knew her pretty face in an instant. We hugged and strolled along the busy area with her sweet friend Chloe. Restaurants were so crowded that we simply got teas-to-go and stopped near an antiques shop, using a table displayed outside as our make-shift cafe.

Selina had my book with her and I had the new paperback edition of her first book, Bazaar Style with me. As we stood outside, signing books, sharing stories and drinking tea in London on this spring-like day in February, I actually stopped and said, "I'm having a moment." It felt like a dream. It still does.

J & B The Shop
After Selina and Chloe left, Betsy and I SWOONED and GASPED as we made our way in and out of the many wonderful shops and enjoyed a delicious meal at Campania. {I bought a roll of wallpaper from the shop shown above. Beautiful shop!}

The rest of our final day in London found us giggling in a double-decker bus and then walking along the windy River Thames to look at Tower Bridge before heading back to our friends' cozy flat to pack and set an early alarm for our train ride to Paris.

Vintage Heaven
Selina took this photo of me. Gosh, I really loved London. The people were bright and friendly, the food was delicious, and the city streets were very much like the designs of Cath Kidston to me: steeped in tradition but with cheerful pops of color. I was told by everyone I met that I was living like a local while I was there. This trip wasn't about seeing Kensington Palace or even Big Ben, it was about meeting people, taking the tube and taxis, tasting new foods, and savoring every brilliant moment.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

london: day 2

A chintz treat for M of {oc cottage}
Yesterday I posted about my second day in London and while attempting to figure out some formatting issues (I don't want text-wrapped images!) not only did I accidentally delete the post but messed up much of the design of my blog. I actually had struggled with that post a bit, so here's to a second chance of sharing about my second day in London and a fresh look for my blog.
Bunting, bikes, books!
Okay, so day two in London we took the tube to Notting Hill (and sorry, I haven't seen the movie yet) to our highly recommended destination of Portobello Road, famous for its busy street market full of antique and artisan shops and stalls. The area was busy and bustling with people and the air was filled with aromas and sizzle from a myriad of food vendors.

My 2nd Cath Kidston
Portobello Road also had the added attraction for me of having a Cath Kidston shop ("No pictures, please!" Sorry.) What did I buy? The kinds of little things that even I wouldn't be able to justify paying shipping costs for: an eraser, spools of ribbon, nested tins, paper napkins, lip balm.

and a {GASP} Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic store ("I said you could take some pictures ..." Sorry.) which was just as breathtaking as I had imagined it would be. What did I buy? Two overdyed napkins which have no plans to be near any dinner table and a pretty fabric corsage type of thing. I also asked and received a little fabric swatch. Continuous small treats, right?

Birthplace of Shabby Chic
We enjoyed a full day of meandering through shops, stopping for lunch, and buying souvenirs.

Fifi's book at Harrods
In the early evening we took a taxi to the luxurious department store Harrod's, where I mostly kept my camera mostly tucked away but assure you that it was quite impressive. I did manage to sneak a pic when I saw my fairygodmother Fifi O'Neill's first book; we were also thrilled to find a copy of Victoria magazine featuring my sister Betsy's lovely essay, Winter Comes.

Day 2 was another delightful day in London. Each night I barely slept, excited about what I had done and seen and looking forward to the next day's plans. Stay tuned for Day 3: Meeting the brilliant stylist and author, Selina Lake (!!!).


Italics have been replaced by this color since they appear wonktacular in this font.