Girls’ weekend

I’m in the process of planning a getaway in December with a few girlfriends, and we are all seriously looking forward to a few days away to relax, recharge, and savor some quiet.  Currently we are scouting out some AirBnB locations, trying to decide.  Beachy location?  Desert oasis?  Mountain escape?  Regardless of which we choose, I do have some essentials in mind.

Alice Munro’s Dear Life, for short stories to dip in and out of all weekend long.

A hair band in the perfect ochre for easy-yet-cute hair.

Comfy velvet wide-leg pants for lounging, because duh.

Softest hoodie that is ideal weight, ethically made, and beyond comfortable.

Faux fur mules that will be equally stylish outdoors as in.

Cozy candle with a hilarious boyfriend-y backstory, for all the comfort and none of the inconveniences of toting our menfolk along.

 

 

Ten days in Europe in one carry-on

0c7717c9-b477-4388-a7dd-01390034dbfcThis summer we spent a glorious ten days in Paris and Brussels.  It was a magical trip and I’ll share more recs for each city soon, but in the meantime… packing!  I’ve had more than one request to share my tips for traveling (relatively) light, so here we are.

Due to both the hassle of wrangling suitcases on trains and metros and the airline fees involved for checking bags, we decided to only take one carry-on for each of us (plus my purse, of course).  It was warm and summery in both cities so I didn’t need to worry about bulky outerwear, which helped immensely!  I knew we were going to be walking quite a bit, so I planned outfits with that in mind.  Stylish and easy, with several options to dress comfortably for a day of sightseeing, or dress up a bit for dinner out.

Here is what I packed: Continue reading “Ten days in Europe in one carry-on”

Dreaming…

A recent CNN article reminded me that in some towns in Italy, you can buy a fixer-upper for ONE EURO.  That’s right, you read that correctly!  For just a little over $1, you can own your very own pied-à-terre in Italy.  The stipulations vary from town to town, but generally there is a deposit of around $3,000 and a time limit of a few years to fix up the property to a minimum level of livability, after which point you get your deposit back.

While the price tag is beyond tempting, I’m not sure we can jump into a renovation project on a different continent at this juncture in our lives.  That being said, I’m still dreaming!  All of these stunning spaces leave me inspired and longing for a pretty place of my own to relax abroad — even more so since we just returned from Paris.  Le sigh.

Via studiolowsheen  contemporist  lonny magazine  decoholic  ari signes  matisse nz  jetsetter

J’adore Paris

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Oh Paris, how I love thee.  I’ve been planning a Paris travel guide for some time, but it always seems daunting to distill my favorite city into a single post, as I could wax poetic for hours.  I’ve been several times now, and with every return trip it feels more and more like my heart-home.  This guide is far from comprehensive, but here are a few of my very favorite places to eat and visit in the City of Light.

Visit

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Continue reading “J’adore Paris”

One of my favorites: Pigment

Nestled on 30th Street in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, Pigment is perhaps my favorite store in the city.  They strive to embody all the things I admire about a brand: organic, modern, friendly, homegrown, and local, with incredible style to boot.  It is a beautiful gift store with a laid-back vibe, full of plants, jewelry, home goods, accessories, stationery, and much more.  Every time I visit I am inspired!

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Besides amazing home wares, Pigment offers a “plant lab” where you can choose your plant, a planter or terrarium, and any number of pretty decorative stones, gravel mixes, and sand options to assemble your own creation right there in the store.

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Pigment also carries sweet children’s goods and an enviable selection of bath and body care, including tons of swoon-worthy candles.  (Btw, I am kicking myself for not buying that pretty little rainbow print to add to my gallery wall at home — isn’t it precious?)

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If you’re in San Diego and have a bit of time, Pigment is not to be missed.  Saunter, browse, and enjoy!  They are always adding fun new things, and many of their products are by local brands and makers.  If you only wish you could be in San Diego, they have an online shop as well.

Craving a bite to eat or an excellent cup of coffee?  Urban Solace two doors down serves a delicious brunch, and you can hop across the street for coffee at Dark Horse Roasters while you wait for a table.  Let’s just say you won’t be sorry.

Hey, Seattle (part II)

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Welcome to Part II of my little Seattle guide, with things to do and places to stay.  If you missed Part I you can read it here for all kinds of great places to eat!

Visit:

Pike Place Market

No visit to Seattle would be complete without a stroll through the public market.  Amazingly fresh seafood, bites of all kinds (see! told you more food!), beautiful flower stalls, and the original Starbucks location await you here.  Grab a salmon pâté piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky, walk down to pick up some smoked salmon from Pure Food Fish Market, and then wander as you munch.  You can duck upstairs to Storyville Coffee to escape the bustle for a few minutes if you like.  Oh, and I highly recommend a stop at Le Panier before you leave — this boulangerie and patisserie offers the best pain au chocolat I’ve had since Paris.

 

Seattle Art Museum

With an excellent permanent collection and innovative exhibitions, SAM is well worth a visit.  The museum “contains nearly 25,000 works of art from around the world. Dating from antiquity to the present, the permanent collection represents a wide range of global cultures and historical perspectives.”  The current temporary exhibit, Double Exposure, is worth a look even on its own; it is a satisfyingly nuanced look at portrayals of Pacific Northwest native peoples over the last 150 years.

 

The Elliott Bay Book Company

This bookstore in the Capital Hill neighborhood has been serving Seattle for over four decades, and is a delight in every way.  Highlighted local authors and subjects, quirky giftware for the bibliophile, and an on-site cafe make for a lovely afternoon.  Despite the likelihood of an overly-heavy suitcase, I had to bring three books home with me.

 

Melrose Market

Melrose Market is like the teeny tiny well-curated cousin of Pike Place.  Meats, liquor, shellfish, homewares — all can be found in this little urban refuge.  Sitka and Spruce is located here, as it the most excellent homeware store Butter Home.  I wanted one of everything!  Their art prints and jewelry in particular caught my eye, but their are tons of other fun things to be had in this lovely little shop.  Visit if you can, and then grab a cocktail at Still Liquor.

 

Segway Tours of Seattle

Perhaps a little cheesy and touristy, but so much fun!  We spent a morning touring the city center by Segway, and got to see so many great spots.  The Space Needle, Lake Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, and the Museum of Pop Culture were highlights, but the running commentary from our excellent guide was no less interesting.  We actually walked back to the Gates Foundation Discovery Center for a closer look later in the afternoon, which proved to be both fascinating and inspiring.

 

Seattle is the city where Nordstrom was founded, so you can visit their original store location for kicks (and excellent shopping).  And the Chihuly Garden and Glass is definitely on my list for next time.

 

Stay:

Seattle is full of both excellent hotels and great AirBnB choices.  This visit we stayed at the Ballard Jungalow and had a delightful stay.  The host is kind, and her home is just the kind of serene escape I was craving.

If I you prefer a hotel, I have heard nothing but good things about the ever-hip Ace Hotel Seattle.  Reasonable prices, great vibes, and a great central location make this one a great pick.

Thank you for such a lovely week, Seattle!  We had so much fun and can’t wait to return!

 

Hey, Seattle (part I)

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This summer we took a week off to unwind and escape the heat in Seattle, WA.  I had never been, but the laid-back vibe and sense of community had me at “hello.”  After 100+ degree temps in Southern California, high 70s in the Pacific Northwest was pure bliss.  Add amazing food and stellar coffee to the gorgeous waterfront views all over the city, and you have an idea of why I didn’t want to leave.  Since we visited so many lovely spots, I’ll be splitting my guide into two parts.  This one, Part I, will focus on food and drinks.  In Part II I will talk about sights, shops, and places to stay.

Eat:

The Walrus and the Carpenter

You will have the opportunity to eat fresh, delicious seafood everywhere you turn in Seattle, and this elegant spot was no exception.  I had some of my favorite oysters of this trip here, briny and fresh, and the Sea Wolf Bakery bread and butter was perfection.  Roasted medjool dates with vanilla oil and salt made for a decadent sensory experience to end the meal.  Open for dinner daily, and they offer an oyster happy hour M-Th 4-6pm.  Know that there is often quite a wait, but fear not!  Amazing cocktails reside next door at the Barnacle Bar.  Order a spritz with the Spanish sardines with salsa verde.  Trust.

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Sitka & Spruce

For my birthday we indulged in the tasting menu at this quaint eatery in Melrose Market, and it did not disappoint in any way.  Unable to choose between the wine and beer pairings, we got both and sipped among the table — great call, might I add.  Every dish was as beautiful as it was delicious, and the drink pairings were a delight.  Their menu changes daily depending on what is forage-able or in season, so you’ll always have something interesting to look forward to.

Shiro’s Sushi

Shiro’s made for a special meal, with their combination of local and Japanese fish offerings.  Our omakase meal was pitch-perfect, from the kampachi to the toro and everything in between (the local salmon was particularly nice).  And is there anything quite so refreshing and the freshest sushi and a cold Asahi?

Kamonegi

If you enjoy soba noodles, look no farther than Kamonegi.  This tiny noodle shop offers hot and cold handmade soba in a cozy, fresh space, along with playful and delicious appetizers like yakitori duck tsukune with soft egg and shishito peppers with a miso spicy cod roe aioli.  If you arrive early for your reservation like we did, hop next door to Midnight Cookie Co. for cookies and milk and a little Nintendo.

No Anchor

I was a bit dubious when we walked into the dim bar of No Anchor, but my doubts began to melt away with my first sip of ale.  By my first bite of shishito fritter, I was a fan.  No Anchor boasts an extremely well-curated beer selection, with drafts offered at 42 and 52 degrees F to showcase each beer in its best light.  They also offer a grid with each of their beers ranked by how approachable/esoteric and traditional/modern you can expect them to be.  Their food is also delicious (corned duck breast with strawberry curd and fennel, I’m looking at you).  Don’t skip dessert, either — between the vanilla semifreddo and the dark chocolate sorbet, I was a happy camper.

The Fat Hen

This adorable brunch spot in Ballard may have been my favorite meal of the trip.  A small slice of Europe plunked right down in Seattle!  Between the best crab Benedict I have ever had and the egg bake alla Boscaiola, I was in heaven — and a shandy that paired Austrian beer with a spot-on fresh lemonade put me right over the top.  Don’t miss their house-made ricotta, either.

Frankie & Jo’s

Just across the street from The Fat Hen is Frankie and Jo’s plant-based ice cream shop.  While a visit to Molly Moon’s homemade ice cream is a necessary Seattle stop, make time for Frankie and Jo’s as well, and you won’t be disappointed!  My scoop of chocolate mint brownie was out-of-this-world good.  Also, two words: moon goo.

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Coffee, coffee, coffee:

Regardless of where you fall on the coffee-lover spectrum, you likely equate coffee with Seattle.  Seattle was an epicenter for the second wave of coffee, is the birthplace of Starbucks, and is regarded as a world center for both roasting and supply chain management.  Let’s just say that tons of great coffee can be found here.

Starbucks Reserve

We skipped the line at the original Starbucks location in Pike Place Market in favor of visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery over in Capital Hill.  It is like Disneyland for coffee in every way: glossy, commercial, and undeniably delicious.  I highly recommend the experience bar downstairs, where you can order small-lot coffees from all over the world in espresso or siphon tasting flights (with optional chocolate truffle pairings!).  If sweet coffee drinks are more your style, order a Shakerato affogato and thank me later.

Espresso Vivace

For old-school espresso and an obligatory hat-tip to David Schomer, visit Espresso Vivace.  ‘Nuff said.  (My iced mocha was delicious.)

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Seattle Coffee Works

A homey spot just outside of Pike’s Place Market, Seattle Coffee Works’ flagship location offers an espresso counter and a slow bar for pour-overs.  Solidly good coffee and a great variety of direct trade beans.

Ghost Note

This modern spot in Capital Hill offers a simple core menu with stunningly good single origin coffees.  A Kenya single origin espresso shot recommended by the barista here was definitely one to remember.

La Marzocco

This grandaddy of espresso machines and grinders has a beautiful, light-filled cafe and showroom right in the Seattle city center.  Each month a new, renowned coffee brand or roaster takes up residence in their cafe, trains their staff on their coffees, and creates a unique experience for guests.  We had the pleasure of sampling coffees from roaster La Colombe while ogling the beautiful espresso machines.  Think car showroom for baristas, only full of light and plants and delicious coffee.

For places to visit, shop, and stay (and maybe more food, shhhh!), tune in to Part II here!