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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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.

On home, and tea

acs_0133Thanks to Erin Boyle I stumbled across a beautiful mediation on home, travel, and belonging in Candace Rose Rardon’s essay, Home is a Cup of Tea.  She combines sweet sketches with simple musings about traveling, moving, settling, loving, and living — and how we define “home.”  Like Rardon, I have fond memories of drinking tea.  The tall, narrow cupboard in my childhood home full of tea tins, the fun of choosing a flavor for that particular afternoon, and the steamy, milky sweetness in my cup.

Even though the world may be extraordinarily challenging and difficult right now, we can pull strength and resilience from a sense of home, whatever that might be for each of us.  Some days, a cup of tea and a quiet moment to recharge are exactly what is needed.  Then we can jump back into the fray, renewed and ready to face the day.

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!

 

Let’s move to Sweden!

Niki over at My Scandinavian Home has done it again with a house tour that has me dying to move to Sweden rightthisveryminute.  Everything about this space, from the high ceilings and clean white walls to the luxe layers of texture (that linen! the warm wood! those moldings!) has me yearning to call that space my own.  Stunning photos, right this way:

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If you have the flexibility to move to a foreign country and happen to be wealthier than I am, this gorgeous home is actually for sale!  I’ll have to dream from afar, I’m afraid, but if you’d like some more eye candy, visit My Scandinavian Home.

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!

I ❤️ Baleen

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This lovely maker was a happenstance find while in Seattle — meet Baleen!  Billy and Leah started Baleen in 2013 when they saw a niche for quality, affordable handmade jewelry they decided to fill, and their fresh and sculptural jewelry is all handmade in Seattle, WA.  Their jewelry is eco-friendly in a number of ways: about 95% of their materials (silver, brass, and gold-fill) are made from recycled metals, they are a zero-waste manufacturer, their nickel-free and conflict-free gold-plating facility is also zero-waste, and their packaging is printed locally on recycled paper made in Michigan in a green, water-powered factory.  And besides all of this, their jewelry is just plain beautiful!

I fell in love with their Fifty/Fifty earrings when I came across them in the Seattle Art Museum store, then bought yet another pair of their earrings as I shopped at the delightful Butter Home shop at Melrose Market.  Their Herkimer studs almost came home with me as well and still might.

If you’d like to visit, Baleen’s workshop and storefront is located right in Ballard, or you can shop online to your heart’s content.  Necklaces, bracelets, pins, rings… so many fun things to choose from.  And as someone with a mild nickel allergy, I can vouch that their jewelry is comfortable and worry free to wear.  Thank you, Baleen!

More picks: flux necklace  mint bangle  love pin
Via shopbaleen.com