Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sweet Deal at Blush

If you love makeup and beauty products as much as I do, you are going to love this! My girlfriend owns a fabulous makeup store called Blush and is giving 20% off of any product to the first 10 people that follower her blog. The second 10 people to follower will receive 10% off. She has the best products around including Kiehl's, YSL, Jane Iredale, Mr. and Mrs. (they have these incredible mini emergency kits), and so on. If you are a beauty junkie or need to buy Christmas gifts for the girls, just go to her blog and become a follower.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paris Part Deux

The second day in Paris, we woke up refreshed and with a new sense of energy. We had already "checked off" a few things on our must-do list, and wanted to relax a little and take our time seeing the city. We went to a breakfast that became our beloved routine, cafe au lait and a chocolate croissant. We had a first Parisian croissant at a famous bakery called Eric Kayser. It was the most buttery, light as air, sinful thing I had ever eaten up until that point. Thank goodness we don't have an Eric Kayser in Wilmington. I would be as  big as a cow for sure. I couldn't stop eating them. You have to go there before you die just to have the experience. I'm almost positive there is nothing like them in America.

We took the metro to the Marais area where Merci and other boutiques I had read about are located. It is such a charming area of Paris and all of the shops had tons of eye candy. We stopped in small men's shoes boutique and bought Gray a great looking pair of shoes. We ended up at Merci right around noon and spent at least an hour looking over everything. It's like a Parisian Anthropologie but much more selective. They have the softest leather shoes, adorable children's section, to die for clothing for both men and women, and a houseware section in the basement where a small cafe is located for an espresso fix. We ended up buying four light fixtures that we are going to have installed on our bookshelves as well a little lingerie set. That was the one thing I wanted to buy there because I had always read how beautiful and simple it is there; unlike the tacky stuff that I always see here. 

In that same area, there are tons of art studios, cafes. and gorgeous homes. The doors in Paris alone could make you fall in love. Every door is painted a different color, they are massive, and always have really great hardware. We took tons of pictures of doors when we were there. 

After hours of shopping and site seeing, we settled in to another culinary delight, French pizza and cold beer. There is something about hot pizza and cold beer on a foggy autumn day. When our pizza arrived, they brought olive oil and balsamic vinegar to put on top; doesn't sound very good but it was delightful. It was about 5pm and we were starving and tired. We had so much people watching and sat outside almost every meal. 

That night, we went to the Champs Elysee to window shop and see a different side of Paris. We walked right into Hotel Crillon. We were a little cold and we always love a swanky hotel. They were so friendly in the hotel and welcomed us right in. We would have sat down for a drink, but I was on a mission to find the Chanel and Hermes stores just to see the window displays. I just read that the Hotel Crillon was sold for 250 million Euros. That is one swanky hotel. The interior of the hotel is beautiful and it was very cozy in the lobby area. We walked right through and Hermes greeted us as soon as we stepped out of the door. The window displays were not disappointing. 

We walked a few blocks, enjoying the architecture and ran into the famous Buddah Bar. A friend of mine had given me a journal before I left for Paris with notes that she had taken while there on her honeymoon. Buddah Bar was one of her favorites, so we decided to go in. The drinks are gawd awful expensive, but sometimes a 18 Euro champagne cocktail is worth the view. 

This kind of place is not Gray's scene...AT ALL... so after a drink, we left to find a more reasonable dinner option. We took a cab drivers advice (mistake) and he took us to the Pont Neuf area and dropped us off a seafood restaurant that was like an upscale Long John Silver. We laughed the entire time we were there. Sometimes Gray makes me laugh when he thinks I'm going to cry. Our first "real" dinner in France was at a cheesy tourist trap. It was like we were in a tacky restaurant in Myrtle Beach with bad lighting and themed uniforms. The food, although not horrible, was not really what we were looking for. We made the best of it, drank our wine and ate our gallon size order of mussels, and high tailed it out of there to another culinary delight, Publicis Drugstore. We sat at the bar and had the best cocktails of the entire trip. It was a slower night for them and getting late, so the manager sat with us and we just talked and talked about Paris and his life and our lives and had a great time. The building alone is gorgeous, but the interior and the company is really what made what could have been remembered as the Long John  Silver's night turn into something spectacular.

Publicis Drugstore

The bar

 The amazing food

Paris Part One

I'm so sorry I have been MIA. The day we got back from Paris, I had a photo shoot, wedding, and bridal show to work on with Salt Harbor. It's amazing what a team of people can pull off. Have I told you how much I love working them? I'm amazed every single day. 

Paris: Introduction with a dab of dramatics

 Paris was fabulous. It was more than I had ever imagined in so many ways. I wish so much that I had pictures to share. The husband took hundreds of photos. We made a vow not to look at them until our flight home so that it would be more special and then on the very last day, we left the camera on the train to Versailles. It was devastating. It was the perfect storm of a disaster and could have been a lot worse. It was a rainy day and we were a little exhausted by all of the traveling and celebrating. We weren't quite sure which stop to get off on. The train had a few other obvious tourist with cameras and backpacks, but none of them spoke English. Gray stepped down on the platform, leaving the camera on the seat, and we decided that it was the most obvious stop as it was called "Versailles" although it looked like a small village instead of a Grand Palace. It was a split second decision, and the wrong one. As soon as the doors of the train closed, Gray realized that we had left the camera. Frantic, we went to the train station, telling the attendant exactly what train we were on and what had happened. He couldn't have been less interested. He said "it's gone." Just like that. No help at all. It was so infuriating because we had had such pleasurable experiences with the French. Everyone had told us how rude they were and we hadn't experienced any of that until this moment. If I wasn't a southern lady, I would have bashed my fist right through that glass window and strangled that little French man. That's exactly what I wanted to do, but after seeing my husbands face, and how bad he felt, I just wanted to hug him and go back to Paris. 

So that's what we did. It wasn't it the cards for us that day to go to Versailles, so we did what any self respecting person would do. We had the most expensive, fabulous lunch of our lives at Brasserie Lipp and shopped until we couldn't shop any more. Who needs Versailles when you have Colette, Merci, and Zara? I think that's one hell of a trade off and a great last day in Paris, don't you?

Paris: Day 1
So, let me go back to day one. I'll impose a few borrowed photos just so you aren't so bored reading this post. We flew out of Wilmington at 3:45pm on Monday, November 1st and landed in Paris at 6am Tuesday, November 2nd. We didn't sleep a wink on the plane because (a) we were too excited and (b) there was a very sick baby that cried and cried. I felt so sorry for that little thing, but was so glad when we finally landed. We flew into Paris when it was still dark, so we saw the city lit up and it was spectacular. We got our luggage and took a long taxi ride into the city. We didn't reach our apartment until 10am, after zooming around the city in a black Mercedes with a driver that loved to speed way up and then SLAM on the breaks. I thought I was going to loose my airplane food right then and there. We took a sharp right up a tiny skinny little road and then again, SLAM, we were there at our apartment for the week. We walked up two flights of spiral staircases, luggage in hand, and were greeted by Sabine, our lovely German apartment manager. She had dyed red hair and very cartoonish red drawn eyebrows. She said "Voila" after every sentence and was so charming. Once we were acquainted enough with the apartment, she left, we showered and got ready for our first day in Paris. (It was 3am NC time, 10am Paris time) We were in for a full day. 

We walked out of our apartment and into the first Brasserie we saw, Brasserie de Jessieu. We ordered espresso and Croque Monsiur and it was delicious. Something that I didn't know about the French is that they don't eat on the run (students here and there, but typically not). They sit down and have a proper meal. They sit down and have a proper espresso, a cigarette, and leave a few small coins as a tip. We saw one Starbucks and it was full of tourists. We never had a coffee to go the entire time we were there and I love that. Something else that I didn't see were people on cell phones or texting. It was so refreshing. I have a love hate relationship with cell phones. They are convenient and great, but there is nothing worse than being at dinner and hearing someone yapping on their phone the entire time or stuck in a car with someone that is talking to someone else the entire time. The French really take their time and enjoy the small things in life. A good espresso needs to be enjoyed, without a cell phone. I'm trying to adapt that a little now that I'm home.  

The Eiffel Tower is huge. I squealed a little when I saw it because I have literally wanted to be in Paris my ENTIRE life and there I was, finally in Paris. I'm not sure if any of you have feelings similar to that, but I hope that everyone has a dream that they can fulfill. Whether it is visiting a city, accomplishing an iron man, or whatever it is that makes you joyful, I hope everyone can experience what I felt that very moment when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. My heart was so full and I was so happy. I was finally in Paris and I am so glad that my husband could be the one that made it all happen. 
We went up in the Eiffel Tower, to the top, saw the City, and spent a lot of time just looking at all of the architecture and the brilliant layout of the city. Afterwards, we found another little bistro, sat outside under heaters, ordered a bottle of wine (Bordeaux) and a Nutella and banana crepe. It was one of my favorite meals ever. 

Our energy was wearing off a little off being up for almost 36 hours straight,  and it was getting dark, so we decided instead of walking back the Latin Quarter where our apartment was located, we would take a boat down the Siene River that splits Paris into the right bank and the left bank. It was a great way to see the city and I highly recommend it. We got off at Notre Dame and caught the beginning of a Mass which was really incredible. All along the sides of Notre Dam, you can donate a Euro or two and light a candle. We lit one candle for our dear friend Tonia Megaloudis that passed away from colon cancer two years ago (she was only 39) and then lit a candle for ourselves and our future. It was a really special thing to do in such a historic church. The outside of Notre Dame was full of life, folk bands playing and tons of kids running around. We got another bottle of wine, a plate of french fries, and called it a night. What a great first day in Paris. If you are going and are planning on going, I would highly recommend doing the Eiffel Tower and the river cruise on your first day. It gives an overall idea of how the city is organized and the views are breathtaking.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Paris and the Parker Palms Springs

I'm really sorry I have not posted one time this week. It's been a whirlwind. In between jet lag naps, I made some major technology purchases (iMac, iPad, and replacing my lost camera)  and have also been working non stop catching up on work projects and emails. I promise lots of Paris details, minus photos. (I mentioned that we lost the camera on a train on the very last day didn't I? Total devastation.) Anyway, I thought that since I have not had an exactly relaxing weekend, I could at least research our next vacation spot. I'm thinking a road trip down the coast of California with a definite stop at the Parker Palms Spring. Who can resist a hotel that has such a fabulous mission statement?

We believe in the American country club experience: mixed doubles, a long steam, and a stiff cocktail.
We believe in inner beauty. But, do what you can on the outside.
We believe in old-world etiquette and new age simplicity.
We believe you can swim right after you eat.
We believe we should trust those seeking enlightenment and doubt those who claim to have found it.
We believe the earth is three-quarters water, and your body is three-quarters water, and... this is purely coincidence.
We believe in good sport as well as fitness: P├ętanque and Pastis, Pimms Cup and Croquet, Snooker and single malt whiskey.
We believe you are only young once... but you can be immature forever.

Monday, November 8, 2010


We are just back from Paris and the trip was more than I could have ever imagined. The architecture, gardens, art, music, food, wine, shopping, and culture were  beyond what I ever imagined. Lots of catching up to do with emails and final details for this weekend's wedding, but I promise lots of details in the next few days!