Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Finds

Happy Friday!!! I can't believe we're now a week and a half away from Christmas - where has the month gone?! This weekend we have two holiday parties, baking, and lots of gift wrapping on the agenda. And who am I kidding, probably watching Christmas Vacation four more times.

Here are my finds for the week:

one / two / three / four / five

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Week in Paris

Jeff and I jetted off to Paris the day after Thanksgiving, and you guys, it was amazing. I've wanted to go since I started studying French in middle school, so it was sort of surreal to actually be there. We stayed in Paris for the whole week we were away, which was great because we really got to know the city.

After a very small amount of research (because we booked our plane tickets three weeks before the day we left - pretty reckless for us!) we decided to stay in the St. Germain neighborhood, which I ended up loving. There were still tourists, but it felt decidedly less touristy than staying near the Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tour, or Louvre. We stayed at the Hotel de Buci for the whole week, which was a cute little boutique hotel surrounded by restaurants and shops.

If we hadn't chosen the St. Germain neighborhood, I would have gone for Le Marais. I wouldn't pick Montmartre for a first visit to Paris since it's a bit further from everything, but for a repeat trip I would definitely consider it.


Visiting in November turned out to be the perfect time to visit all of the museums - there were no lines! Seriously, the longest we waited to get into a museum was a five minute security line at Musee d'Orsay. We walked right into the Louvre and had zero people in line ahead of us to buy the museum pass - crazy! That being said, after the Louvre we did have the museum pass in hand, which allowed us to jump the lines at a bunch of museums.

The Louvre was cool, but my favorite museums were the Musee d'Orsay, where there's a huge impressionist collection, and Musee de l'Orangerie, where there are two circular rooms with these huge Monet water lilly paintings. I'm an impressionist girl through and through, so it was really a dream to see everything in person. The Musee d'Orsay is also where I took the photo of the skyline with Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur in the distance - there were some beautiful views from the fifth floor.

Notre Dame and the Crypt
We visited Notre Dame (no line again) and did the climb to the top to see the view of Paris and to see the gargoyles up close - so cool! It was a lot of stairs but we were able to climb all of them without stopping - I did get dizzy on the way down though because it's such a tight spiral! We also realized our museum pass gave us access to the archeological crypt under Notre Dame which was really interesting - you can see the original walls of the old city of Paris.

Arc de Triomphe
And then of course we had to climb the Arc de Triomphe. I'm not sure how this compares in height to Notre Dame but it's a much wider staircase meant to have thousands of tourists tramping up and down, so I thought it was a pretty easy climb. The view was great too, you could see straight down the Champs-Elysees, and you're pretty close to the Eiffel Tower too.

Eiffel Tower
We walked right up to the Eiffel Tower but actually never went into the park! I would have gone in had the weather was nice, but we were really just looking for a view. The view from Trocadero (across the river) or from Avenue de Camoens was good for us! Trocadero is definitely the place to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. We went one night to watch the lights and then went to Cafe de l'Homme for dinner, which is right next to the Trocadero, and had a view of the Eiffel Tower sparkling from our table. This was a little touristy and probably overpriced, but I thought it was worth it for that view.


I knew that the cafe scene was huge in Paris, but I didn't realize that it still happened in the winter! At least once every day we snagged a seat outside of a cafe under a heat lamp for some chocolate chaud (for me) and a cafe creme (for Jeff), or for a drink before or after dinner. The people watching was so fun. Our favorite place out of all the cafes we stopped in was Maison Sauvage, which had the warmest heaters, great cocktails, adorable Christmas decorations, and really cute decor inside.

Explore the neighborhoods
We went up to Montmartre, a little medieval village on a hill within Paris that has great views and the huge Sacre-Coeur church. The church was crazy and full of tourists, but I loved wandering through the neighborhood and seeing all of the artists at work in the Place du Tertre. We also had one of our best meals up in Montmartre at La Cave Gourmande, a tiny little place that was packed when we stumbled in and had amazing beef bourguignon.

We also loved wandering through Le Marais, the Latin Quarter, and, of course, St. Germain.

Find some jazz
One of our favorite things we did was actually a place I heard about from Gal Meets Glam - visit Chez Papa, a jazz club! We had our hotel make a reservation for us for our first night in Paris, and it was a great introduction to the city! They served dinner, which is where I tried (and actually liked!) escargot, and a jazz trio was playing the night we went. Just a note - the music doesn't actually start until 9pm even though it opens at 7:30. We showed up at 8:30 and were some of the first people there, which actually was great because they gave us a prime table.

I'm not usually a shopper on vacation, but we stumbled on some amazing boutiques in Le Marais on Rue de Rossiers and Rue Pavee so I had to torture Jeff for a while. There were also cute boutiques on every street in St. Germain that wasn't Boulevard Saint-Germain. We also had to stop into Laduree for macaroons (ahem, twice), and because I'm a basic b/blogger, I also dragged Jeff to Sezane, and then back again on a day that it was actually open (note: only Wednesday-Saturday). I maybe packed an extra foldable duffle bag to bring back all of our treats ;)

There are tons and tons of amazing restaurants in Paris, so I'm just going to share one standout. Just a note - Chez Papa was actually the only reservation we made in advance. If you're trying to go somewhere really trendy you may need to think about a reservation in advance, but we mostly relied on our concierge to make day-of reservations for us.

We were looking to do one fancy menu in Paris and love tasting menu, so our concierge suggested Boutary. Oh my god you guys. It definitely lived up to the hype. The food was modern french, so while we got to have a couple tastes of caviar, it was much lighter and more creative than the other french food we had that week. The most amazing thing was one of the starters, a little pot of smoked potatoes with caviar that they poured hot cream into. It was seriously one of the best things I've ever had. The restaurant itself is tiny so definitely make a reservation for this place - there were only six tables in the main room, and then it looked like there was a party room in the back. Oh, and oddly enough, Eric Holder, the former US Attorney General, was sitting at the table next to us. Don't worry, I made Jeff take an awkward photo with him in the background. Because pics or it didn't happen.

I'm always nervous to try the public transit system in a new place, but had heard great things about the trains in Paris. You guys, they were so easy to use. There was a stop a block away from our hotel, and with one transfer we could get anywhere we wanted to do. Besides the train, we just walked everywhere! We looked at getting an Uber once but decided to walk instead, and only took taxis to and from the airport. Pro tip: our concierge told us not to get an Uber to or from the airport, because the taxis have a flat rate no matter the traffic, and in an Uber you might have to pay for a surge or for sitting.

I took French in middle and high school, which was over ten years ago now, so I didn't remember a ton, but knowing a tiny bit of French definitely helped. We were told that people wouldn't be rude to us if we tried speaking French, and I found that to be true. It's customary to say bonjour (hello) whenever you walk in a store or restaurant. Some other words that could come in handy are au revoir (goodbye), merci (thank you), s'il vous plait (please), and parle anglais (speak english) or ne parle francais (don't speak french). I actually had to use that last one a lot because I'd walk into a restaurant and say we had a reservation or needed a table for two en francais, and then have to backtrack when the person actually started speaking in rapid french back to me. Whoops.

People did speak English almost everywhere we went though, and the majority of restaurants had an English menu.

Whew, that was a long post! Big ups to you if you managed to make it to the end. If you're planning a trip to Paris and have specific questions just let me know, I'd be happy to help!

P.S. Check out my travel guide for Southeast Asia.

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide for the Home

I think you know you're really a grown-up when you start asking for things for your home for Christmas. Now that I've hit full adult status, home goods are some of my favorite gifts to give and receive - especially if they're pretty! Here are a few home good gift ideas:

1. A gold banana leaf tray to collect keys on their entryway table.
2. An amazingly cozy blanket for date night on the couch.
3. The prettiest champagne glasses, because you should always be ready for a celebration.
4. An espresso machine, to fancy up their morning coffee routine.
5. A pretty bottle / wine opener, so they can open their beverage of choice on the go.
6. A cookbook, to up their weeknight dinner game.
7. A fun tray, obviously for piling up with cheese the next time you visit.
8. Fancy cheese knives, for cutting said cheese.
9. A pretty serving dish that doubles as decor.
10. Fancy candlestick holders to dress up the dinner table.
11. The cutest little teapot that will look great on their countertop.
12. The best holiday candle - these things smell amazing!!
13. A fancy throw blanket to dress up their couch or the end of their bed.
14. A beautiful citrus juicer that they'll actually use, as opposed to that giant contraption that's still sitting in its box in the basement. Not that I'm talking about any specific juicers in any specific basements.
15. A stylish wine rack to store all of their "chef juice."

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tied with a Bow

Coat (this season's version) - Old Navy / Sweater (similar here) - LOFT / Skirt, Earrings, and Hair Bow - J.Crew / Heels (similar here, or an almost identical red pair. I also love this splurge pair.) - Ann Taylor / Bag - Tory Burch / Lip - Maybelline (color is Pioneer)

Okay, so here's an important question: how many bows is it appropriate to wear in one outfit? 

With the holidays upon us and hair bows coming back into style, I'm starting to find myself wearing two or even three (ahem, or four - the back of this sweater has a bow too!) per outfit. What can I say, they're fun and girly without being over the top, and seemingly go with everything! 

Initially I was a little unsure when hair bows started showing up everywhere this fall, but I decided to try one out for myself and am now fully on board. They're such a fun accessory, and make even the most casual hairstyle look dressed up. It's just too bad I didn't keep my giant hair bows from the '90s, because I'd be set right about now! I currently just have the one, which is attached to a giant barrette which makes it easy to clip in and go. 

I've also been all about the red lips this year. I've tried red lips in the past but would always get frustrated with the color fading too fast and ending up all over my cups / food / clothes / husband. This year I decided to try a few long-wear formulas, and I'm totally hooked! Here I'm wearing Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink in Pioneer, and it is a serious game-changer. The color really lasts all day! You just have to let it dry for at least 10 minutes before trying to drink or kiss anything. Which is usually something I can handle ;)

Coat (this season's version) - Old Navy / Sweater (similar here) - LOFT / SkirtEarrings, and Hair Bow - J.Crew / Heels (similar here, or an almost identical red pair. I also love this splurge pair.) - Ann Taylor / Bag - Tory Burch / Lip - Maybelline (color is Pioneer)

Linking up with Style Me WednesdayTrend Spin Linkup.

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

Monday, December 11, 2017

This Weekend...

This weekend I...

...went out for date night with Jeff at Monteverde. We went once before and only got the gigantic ragu alla napoletana (seriously, so huge that between two people we still had leftovers) but wanted to try some of the small plates this time - the cacio whey pepe was amazing!!
...drove down to Indianapolis to visit a couple of friends who moved there earlier this year. We did a lot of hanging out and watching babies roll around on the floor, but also managed to make it out to Christkrindlmarkt (where I had the best waffle of my life - why have I never tried liege waffles before?!) and to Rook for dinner, which was amazing - definitely go if you're ever in Indy! Just don't try the cocktails, as a group we collectively decided they were basically juice.
...binged several episodes of Champs vs Stars with Jeff. A fun fact about Jeff and I is that we both individually were obsessed with The Challenge on MTV before we met, which is hilarious and odd. You might remember that we actually went out of our way to meet Leroy when we were in Vegas last summer ;) Well anyway they're doing a special season of regular cast members versus stars, and it is hilarious and amazing and everything I ever dreamed the show could be. I mean, in the last episode, Lil Romeo brought out his giant bodyguard to threaten someone because he thought he had gotten an unfair elbow to the face during one of the competitions.

I hope you had a good one!

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Finds

Happy Friday! Here's hoping there's a glass of wine waiting for you somewhere :) Today Jeff and I have some fun dinner plans, and then tomorrow morning we're hopping in the car and driving down to Indianapolis to visit some friends. Any recommendations on good podcasts to listen to in the car? Let me know!

one / two / three / four / five

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide for Her

What to get for the ladies in your life? I always like to try to think of pretty or fun indulgences that she wouldn't think to buy for herself. Here's the holiday gift guide for her:

1. A pretty personalized keychain, so she can always find them floating around that giant bag of hers.
2. A necklace with her initial, to wear every day.
3. The cutest bow scarf, to keep her warm (and stylish!) this winter.
4. Fun wine glasses, for her Friday night (and every night) happy juice.
5. A giant pink thermos, because sometimes you need to be able to take an entire bottle's worth of wine on the go.
6. Thermal leggings, to keep her cozy and cute at home.
7. An indulgent face mask, to keep her face hydrated this winter.
8. A mini wallet, to keep her cards organized in even the smallest of bags.
9. A pretty watch in millennium pink, because we all need a little more millennium pink in our lives.
10. The cutest mug, to help her get her day started on the right foot.
11. A fun water bottle, for easy hydrating during barre class.
12. A pretty phone case, for when she repeatedly drops her phone while trying to take selfies.
13. A fun gold peace sign, to liven up her work desk.
14. A cute pair of earrings that go with everything - I wear mine all the time!

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Plaid Elephant, Obviously

Tee - J. Crew Factory / Sweater (similar) - Loft / Scarf - J. Crew / Jeans - Old Navy / Flats - Sam Edelman / Bag (similar budget or similar splurge) - Coach Factory / Bracelet - Michael Kors

This tee is one of those things where I saw it, and immediately had to have it. I even paid for shipping. For a tee shirt with a plaid elephant on it. Where on earth are my priorities?

That being said, I obviously needed another plaid piece in my closet, so the tee fit right in. I literally have a whole section of my closet devoted to plaid, and my pajama drawer is slowly being taken over. Last weekend, I found myself wearing three different plaid pajama pieces at once, and then the next day managed to wear four. We were decorating our Christmas tree at the time though, so I feel like it was fully acceptable. Please don't try to tell me otherwise.


Tee - J. Crew Factory / Sweater (similar) - Loft / Scarf - J. Crew / Jeans - Old Navy / Flats - Sam Edelman / Bag (similar budget or similar splurge) - Coach Factory / Bracelet - Michael Kors

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!