Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dreaming of Paris // Part II

Last week I did a “throw back Thursday” post about a past trip to Paris I went on with a few colleagues of mine.  We crammed several activities into just a few shorts days. If you missed the first post, be sure to check it out. I had so many photos and things to share that I decided to break the recap up into two posts. So I bring to you part deux!

 
After a wonderful dinner at Au Pied De Cochon, we headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep for what was going to be a very early morning.  The next day we took a road trip to Fresnoy-le Grand in Northern France about 2 hours outside of Paris. It's also where the factory for the company I work for is located. It was so amazing to see all the hand crafted work that goes into making one single piece of cast iron cookware. We had the opportunity to tour the factory and stop in the nearby retail store. After a long day of touring, we had a wonderful "light" lunch prepared for us onsite.

Le menu du jour!
 
Our first course was served in this cute little mini cocotte.


There was soup with a baguette on the side.
 

Beef bourguignon with mashed potatoes.

 
 And chocolate pots de crème.
 

 After lunch we made a quick stop at the store outside the factory. I picked up a few treasures that weren't available in the U.S. (things small enough to fit in my suitcase.)
 
 
On the drive back I was actually awake enough to enjoy the scenery. Although we were in the middle of nowhere, it was still beautiful. We passed miles and miles of vibrant green fields some with windmills some for farming. In my mind this is what I would assume the "French country side" looks like.
 

We made it back to Paris in time to stop at a few stores here and there before dinner (which I sadly have no photos of). These pretty little sweets seemed to be everywhere. 
Macaroons anyone?
 
 
 The next day was all about shopping and of course some more site seeing along the way!
 
Our first stop....Galeries Lafayette, an enormous upmarket French department store consisting of 500,000 square feet and 511 department stores.  Even if you aren't going to make a purchase, the inside of the store is worth viewing in itself. 
 
Look at all of gorgeous details. Upon walking in, I had to just stand there and take a moment to appreciate all of the beauty (and say a prayer that I wasn't going to get lost.) These photos show the different levels in the store.

 
That ceiling though...
 


Aside from the fashion portion of the shopping trip, (which was amazing and overwhelming), we did a little food browsing shopping too at Lafayette Gourmet.
 
We saw everything from colorful spices galore...
 

to nutella jars that would last a lifetime.
 
 
A few small purchases later and after coming to the realization that my bank account funds weren't going to get me very far if I stayed any longer, we decided it was time to do some more site seeing.
 
The next stop, Musee d' Orsay, best known for it's extensive collection of masterpieces by popular artists such as Monet.  As with most museums, photo taking is frowned upon, however I was able to snap a few near the entrance.
 

 
 
 After our informative tour, we decided to walk to the Lourve Museum. We didn't purchase tickets given the time crunch but instead walked around and admired the architecture.
 




Rushing to beat the sunset, we quickly hurried over to our next destination, possibly the most anticipated stop yet.
 
 
 
Although I am terrified of heights, I knew I had to somehow put that past me and make it to the top.
 
 
I am so glad that I did it because the views were breathtaking and totally worth it!
 


 
 By the time we left it was getting dark and I managed to capture this pretty shot.
 
 
Next on the agenda was dinner at Le Florimond. This was our last dinner in Paris and a delicious one at that. I don't recall the descriptions of exactly what it was that I ordered because everything was in French, but it was all amazing.
 
My entrée was a savory ravioli dish.
 
 
Followed by this leaning town of dessert.
 
 
 

As we were leaving dinner, we had to stop for one more look at the Eiffel Tower. I'm so glad we went back. I was able to see it at all different times of the day which made for some nice photos.
 

It was a great way to end our trip! 
The next morning we were on a plane back to the US. I was sad to leave but so thankful for the opportunity and the experience. And Whit, if you're reading this, feel free to book a trip for us anytime...just saying.
 
Au Revoir! 
 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On a Beach Somewhere....

This weather has been so crazy lately. I guess I shouldn't complain because at least we aren't seeing snow here in Charleston unlike the Northeast. However, it has been pretty cold this week. We have been getting once nice day here and there as just a little teaser and then it's cold again.

All of this winter weather has left me day dreaming of warm beaches, tan lines, soft sand between my toes, an ocean breeze, and fruity drinks. Are you with me?!? I could use a tropical vacation right about now, and any of these places would suit me just fine.

The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort

W Retreat & Spa- Maldives
The Naka Island, Phucket, Thailand


Gansevoort Hotel Turks & Caicos
 
Royal Davui Island, Fiji
 
Stay warm!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

8 Little Denim Dresses (LDD's)

 
I love a good dress that can be worn through multiple seasons. I feel like I've accomplished something when I buy a dress that I can put on in the winter with tights and booties, and yet wear it again in the spring with sleek sandals and a tan.

Whether you are going for the shirtdress trend, sleeveless or color block, a good denim dress makes for a perfect transitional piece.  Here are 8 of my favorite denim dress picks that would make a great addition to any closet. And the good news, they are all under $100!
 
8 Little Denim Dresses
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
               
 
             

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekend Recap // Road Trip

Well this weekend sure did go by fast. It seemed like most of our time was spent in the car.  Saturday we took a quick road trip to Greenville, SC and met up with some friends for the Tracy Lawrence concert.  If you can't recall who he is, he's the man behind songs such as Paint Me A Birmingham, Time Marches On, and Sticks And Stones.

We had dinner at an excellent restaurant a called Bacon Bros Public House before the concert. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect when we pulled into the parking lot because it's located in a shopping center type area. We found this hidden gem on yelp and aside from the great reviews, the name had us convinced. Bacon...enough said.  Walking in the door was like being transported to a warm, rustic and chic downtown restaurant. We were told there was 2 hour wait, but fortunately for us we ended up with a table within 5 minutes.

I can't say enough about this charming spot. I loved the recycled pallet wood used throughout the dining room as well as the accent walls.  The environment was warm and inviting and the service was fantastic. Our server was very knowledgeable about everything on the menu and happily shared his recommendations. Chef Anothy Gray was whipping up some superb southern style fare in the kitchen. After getting the scoop of the menu, we decided to order the pimento cheese jar and cornmeal fried pickles to start.

The pimento cheese was delicious, topped with bacon jam and served with a side of house made "saltine" crackers.  The savory, sweet pimento cheese really paired well with the cheese crisp like crackers.

http://www.baconbrospublichouse.com/menu/

The cornmeal fried pickles were just as appetizing. It was a pleasant surprise to have fried pickles with cornmeal breading versus the typical flour breading.
 
http://www.baconbrospublichouse.com/menu/

I had the pulled pork grilled cheese for my entrée. This sandwich had a ridiculous amount of flavor and was filled with smoky pork, pepper jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and pickled jalapenos adding a little bite.


Whit had the pulled pork shoulder with a side of crispy brussels sprouts and glazed hakurei turnips and mushrooms. The way the brussels sprouts were prepared would make anyone gladly eat their veggies. I don't know what it is but I can never seem to master brussels sprouts at home the way they are served in restaurants.


Obviously none of us left hungry.
 
 
 If you are ever in the Greenville area, I highly recommend making a stop at Bacon Bros.!
 
After over indulging at dinner, we headed to the concert, which was great by the way. Tracy Lawrence put on a good, old fashion concert complete with all of his greatest hits. By the end of the show we had managed to squeeze are way up to the front of the stage.
 

Such a fun night!
 
 
I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, February 20, 2015

News Feed Friday



How pretty is the Main Street Bridge in Jacksonville, FL?! I snapped this photo a few years ago when I took a trip there for work.
 
Now this is a use for eggs that I've never seen before.
 
How funny is this Instagram account?!? I think I may just have to start following.
 
If only I could be this lucky!
 
According to Travel & Leisure Magazine, this is the #1 "Most Romantic City."

I may not be a huge fan of sweets, but I sure am drooling over this cookie recipe!

Look out all you bacon fans, this pizza is sure to satisfy all of your bacon cravings. I wonder how many calories are in it?

Sing it girl!! And those expressions though...how cute is she?!?!?

I would love for this necklace to find a permanent home in my jewelry box.

Some people want an Oscar, I want this swag bag!

Speaking of the Oscars, if you're looking for some cinematically themed cocktails to sip on, check out this list.

 This sounds about right...

 Happy Friday!!
 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dreaming of Paris // Part I

I was going through some old photos on my computer this week and I came across an album that brought back fond memories. An album that I felt compelled to share. I realized that this week 3 years ago I took my first trip to Paris. Ever since then, I have been dying to go back. I hope that my husband Whit and I can make the trip together sometime in the near future. But until then, I will relive the memories I captured through the photos I took.

So in light of all the (Throw Back Thursday) TBT photos everyone posts on Instagram, I thought I would do a little throw back Thursday on the blog. I apologize in advance for the picture overload. It was hard to narrow down the photos because I had so many to choose from. With that being said, I've decided to break this into 2 posts. I will share the second half of my adventure with you all next week.
 
Bonjour Paris!


So let me start from the beginning. I went on this trip as part of a "thank you" for the hard work I put into planning a conference at work. A few colleges and I headed out for a 5 day and four night trip to the "City of Love"... without our loved ones.

We arrived mid afternoon on the first day and set out to do some site seeing. Just a short walk from our hotel was the Arc de Triomphe. This was such a beautiful monument. I watched in amazement at how all of the vehicles maneuvered around this structure without lines on the road. It basically looked like a free for all, taking turns and hoping for the best.


We did so much walking on this trip and I'm thankful for that after seeing how the cars drove through this "unorganized traffic circle."


One of our first stops was at the famous Laduree Paris to take a peak at the tea room and check out the macaroons of course. The place was packed inside, so needleless to say I browsed around for a minute and was in and out. I just adore the pretty little details and packaging with everything they do.

After a little more sightseeing, we made our way back to the hotel. That evening we had a casual dinner at a little Italian spot on the street. Unfortunately I have no photos from dinner, but I do remember that it was delicious. I think the jet lag was sinking in at this point.

The next day we set out to explore more of the city....but first, breakfast.


I loved the fact that there were Patisserie's on almost every corner. We stopped at Lacombe Café to warm up over a cup of coffee and a pastry.

 


The inside of this patisserie was eclectic and funky with black trimmed mirrors covering the Barbie pink ceilings and palm leaf light fixtures. Not a bad spot to warm up for a few minutes.
 
After breakfast we headed to Marche aux Puces at Clignancourt (St.-Ouen), otherwise known as the Paris Flea Market.  This is one of the largest markets in Paris.  It was like a treasure hunt; strolling the alley ways and browsing the perfectly curated collections dealers had on display.  I learned quickly to use the bargaining tactic. There were so many vendors leaving room for competition.  There was everything from rustic antique pieces to fine chandeliers and art. 

 
 
 
Shopping the market was like going in booth after booth at an antique store the size of a small city.
I would have snatched up all of these oyster plates and taken them home with me if I could have fit them in my suitcase.
 
 
Oh the stories this silver could tell. Piece after piece just begging to be placed in a fancy dining room of someone's home.
 
 
 
I seriously could have spent days there going through all of the booths. I just wanted to ship a container home full of treasures.

 
 
Understanding the layout of the market is key to not getting lost and especially important if you are on a search for something in particular. There were submarkets within the market, with upstairs, downstairs, indoor and outdoor booths, shops and warehouses. It’s much like a maze. I however was just taking it all in, hoping to stumble upon a unique find. I did manage to leave with a gorgeous silver bangle for my mom and I also purchased an old print ad from a French magazine (that has yet to be framed.)

 After browsing the market for a few hours, we walked across the street to grab lunch. I of course ordered the Parisian café cliché, a croquet monsieur. That my friends was more than just your average ham and cheese sandwich. It was so savory, layered with ham and smothered in béchamel sauce.
 

Lunch gave us just the energy we needed to continue on with the day and do some more exploring.

The lines were too long for the Louvre Museum, so we decided to admire it from afar. Judging by how beautiful it is on the outside, I can only imagine what the inside looks like.
 

Notice all the locks attached to the bridge we are standing on?! This bridge holds the locks of thousands of people who have visited, placed a signed lock on the fence and tossed the key in the river. Very fascinating and sweet.
 
 
 
Our next stop was Notre Dame de Paris. Unfortunately for us, it was closed that day so again we admired it from the outside.
 
 
The details of this structure were incredible. I tried to zoom in enough to get a close up of the gargoyles. The photos don't do it justice.
 

Making our way back to the hotel, we passed by the Roue de Paris. I can only imagine how amazing the views are from the top of this Ferris Wheel.

 
After a long day of exploring, we finally made it back to the hotel to freshen up for a nice dinner.
 
We had reservations at Au Pied de Cochon, a famous restaurant that has been around since 1947 and has seen the likes of various celebrities. This restaurant serves a variety of popular specialties as well as traditional dishes.
 

 We started with escargot. You know what they say, "when in Rome," or in this case Paris. They were actually pretty good, but then again what isn't good soaked in butter.
 
 

 I also had a bowl of their French onion soup, and yes the top of that bowl was covered in a blanket of cheese.
 

For the main course I had the filet with a side of bone marrow, and something along the lines of a cheesy scalloped potato.  Everything was delicious!  And while I can say that I'm glad I tried bone marrow, I don't believe it's for me.


For dessert.... Crêpes flambées au Grand Marnier!
 
 

Last but not least, these cute little cochon meringues and a round of coffee to end a wonderful (3 hours +) dinner. I also learned that dinners are typically lengthy in Paris. No need to rush, just enjoy the food and each others company.


If you enjoyed reading about my Paris experience, be sure to check back next week for Part II of the trip!

-xoxo