Friday, September 28, 2012

While I was in Paris, I stumbled upon this quint little shop with custom jewelry. They sell jewelry handmade in Paris using Swarovski crystals. The shop assistant was very helpful, telling me which stone was my color, how to pin the brooch, how to choose long lasting jewelry, and showed me a little secret to wear the brooch without wrinkling and weighting down delicate fabric... the way to do it is by placing a small piece of round cotton pad behind the fabric and pin it together with the clothes.  How smart! It was really a lot of fun and all I could do was trying to remember the fashion gospel as best as I could.

I can see how it is easy to be fashionable in a city like Paris, where there are every kind of clothing boutique imaginable all the while there are so many impeccably dressed Parisians strolling the sidewalk. One morning, my husband and I had breakfast in a restaurant near us, sitting next us were two Parisian elderly ladies. They both wore cashmere sweater in beautiful color, slacks, accentuated by scarfs tied just right. It was elegant yet chic, something hard to describe in words.

When I came back home I was very much interested in revamping my wardrobe, I decided that I want to be chic and toss out all my old clothes. However, the second I slipped on my flip flops and put on my gardening gloves, the thought of fashion flew out the window, I went back to my unfashionable old self, and back to my gardener's clothes. Maybe next time I should stay in Paris longer and revamp my wardrobe there? Maybe maybe...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

After we came back home and got all of our dogs back from various places, it's been busy getting everything back in order around home, taking care of the garden, and cleaning and feeding the human and pets.


Today I made chili soup,


cleaned the house,


received beautiful flowers from my hubby, 


the doggies are taken care of. 


and I got this amazing bonsai as a gift from my local nursery! It's been a very good day!
We arrived in Paris via train from London. It was quite an easy ride and then taxi took us right to our hotel. We stayed at the beautiful St. Germain area, and the first picture was the view looking out from our hotel window. 

Our hotel room was tiny but very comfortable and well designed. Other than the queen bed, there was about two feet wide of space between the wall and the bed, opposite the bed was a thin slice of vanity table with a mirror on the wall, and a pretty tiny bathroom. Cabinets are hidden from sight but offered a decent storage, we quickly stored our clothes away, but in order to open doors we still have to move our luggage to a different place and move it back when we are done. The room was covered with beautiful upholstery, something I've wanted to do for our house but the price of custom upholstery stops me. Here is what I see so often in Paris, that there's always a little something extra you get besides the obvious. The room was perfectly designed, a sound prove door between the bathroom and the bedroom, and organic lotion and shampoo for extra comfort, etc., etc. If I could use one word to describe our hotel experience, it was delightful! To me having a tiny but beautiful hotel room was part of my Parisian experience.

After we settled down we went down for a bite to eat. The street has all the hustle and bustle of a lively neighborhood. Oysters bars right on the street with freshly shacked oysters, cafes with small tables out on the sidewalk, grocers selling fresh produce, bakers with a dazzling array of delicate cakes and macaroons, and there  are of course, people. At this part of Paris I saw people of all ages, young people, seniors, parents with kids getting a afternoon snack from one of the shops, it was a beautiful scene. Here dogs are not excluded from restaurants and shops, the pet owners so often walked into the restaurant with their pets on leash.

People say that the French are famously grumpy, but from what I saw, it was not true at all. At least the French we met were the friendliest people on earth. Our first meal was at a cafe right down the street from our hotel. We got seated right away and since we spoke not a word of French, the waiters always accommodated us by speaking English. I ordered steak while my husband pointed to a dish called Andouilette on the menu, the waiter explained that it was a type of sausage. My husband said oh, that's great, I'd like to have that. The waiter for lacking for the correct word in English, instead had a big smile on his face and a funny tweak in his eyes and rubbed his belly and said," oh oh oh?" So my husband replied in definite conviction that he would LOVE to have some sausage. When the food came out and we both had a bite to taste it, it turned out to be sausage made of pig intestines, and while I've never had pig intestine sausage before, it tasted just about how you would imagine a pig intestine would taste like.

Of course we saw the touristy sites like the Palace of Versailles, which, btw, very much felt like a tourist meat market jam packed with people. We also visited the Louvre and other historical places, but my personal favorite thing to do in Paris was wondering around the city randomly and see where it took us. One time, we walked along a small alley, check out some neighborhood court yards just to fill our curiosity and found a random hat shop with a lady selling handmade hats, and we found shops with all sorts of strange curiosities. At night my husband and I would have a appetizers in one place, get up and search for a oyster bar, then have some crepes at another cafe, stop to listen some top notch music whenever there are street musicians performing... I suspect that they are the best in the world! And just like that, time drifted away and before we knew it, our time in Paris was over. I have to say I was not ready to leave when we left, but it's safe enough to say that we will be back, and very soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ever since I discovered the existence of brush tip markers, I've been really liking to draw. This was me copying off a children's illustration book. I made some mistakes but it was mostly good fun! Can you learn to draw this way? Probably...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

We are finally back from our trip! It lasted a little over two weeks, quite a long time to be away from home for me. My husband and I traveled to death yesterday changing three flights from Santorini to Athens to London to LAX. From the time we left our hotel in Santorini early in the morning at 5 AM to when we got in our house, a whole 24 hours went by. By the time we picked up Kelly from our friend's house and had dinner, we were so sleep deprived that we could barely walk or talk. Was is worth it? Absolutely! I loved traveling and I think we will try to do more of it from now on! So now I want to share some pictures of our trip and document it while the memory is still fresh!

When we got married last year, with moving to a new house, having a wedding in China (nuts!) and receiving relatives and hosting new house parties, we completely ran out of both time and money to have our honeymoon, since these things require planning and we were so planned out, the honeymoon trip took place this year.  Actually things were not any less chaotic when we left our house this year than last, but we just went for it anyway!

When we arrived in London, I immediately forgot how to speak English since I didn't have the British accent that everyone around there seemed to carry. Our hotel was in the Covent Garden, not necessarily a family neighborhood because I saw mostly very young working professionals in their 20s and almost no kids. It was quite convenient to take the Tube everywhere, it seemed to be the preferred form of transportation for Londoners, so that was what we did aside from coming from the airport. The city has a way faster rhythm than LA, and it was also very exciting. We arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon, not wanting to waste anytime, we headed out immediately to see sights. We visited museums that day and after heading back to the hotel to freshen up in the evening, we head out to search for some dinner. The thing I noticed about London and also Paris is that it can be quite unpleasant to be on a major street with all the noise and traffic, but if you turn into the small alleys you quite often discover a string of cafes and shops, adding in that the surrounding buildings are so very old and full of history, it instantly becomes a magical place!
That first evening we had Indian curries for dinner and walked on those old cobble stone streets dimly shiny reflecting the street lamps. After dinner we looked at shop displays, ( everything closes way early) and found a British pub, or as they just call it in London, a pub. We sat among Londoners and watched people having a jug of beer at the end of day and chatting away with friends. It left quite an impression on me, as it was everything I imagined London to be, but better because I was actually there.

It was quite a task to find a breakfast place for Jeff and me. We Californians are used to sitting in breakfast cafes sipping coffee and having some waffles or scrambled eggs, not so in London, or at least not where we stayed. I decided that it would be a good idea to have some London breakfast, after much walking and searching, and found that super cute kitty in the picture above standing by the window sill, we found a very good place with beans and poached tomatoes.  The way coffee works there, correct me if I'm wrong, is that people don't really drink drip coffee. Black coffee is just a small cup of espresso, and white coffee is the general terms of coffee with milk.  Depending on the amount of milk you want, you called it cafe latte or Cappuccino etc. It took me a while to realize what this white coffee business was about, so I thought it was worth mentioning. Coffee everywhere was pretty good though, I have no complaint on that!

In my touristy mind, being in London you have to have fish and chips and at least see the sights once. Certain places like the Buckingham Palace is only open a few months of the year, so it is a good idea to keep these things in mind when you time the trip. I loved the Buckingham Palace, since it is still functioning as a real palace, it is in pristine condition and a great pleasure to visit. We made a half day excursion outside of the city and visited the Windsor Castle, saw the Queen's dollhouse, which was such a inspiration for me to start working on my disgruntled little dollhouse. We also got a tour to the Royal Kitchen in Windsor Castle, there were so few people there that it practically felt like a private tour, which was so enjoyable!

Before we left home I wanted to see a concert of some sort in London. The one we managed to see was a piano recital in Wigmore Hall. It was so funny that one of the piece was composed and originally premiered a hundred years ago or so on the same day in Wigmore Hall. After the concert Jeff and I went to get some late night dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant near by, and the pianist and his friends sat down not too far away from us and had dinner at the same restaurant.

It is quite amazing when we were at some of the restaurants or pubs and saw signs of the restaurant established from the 1800s, definitely not something you regularly see in the U.S.

Dinning out in general though, seemed extremely expensive. It is twice as expensive to eat in London as it is in the U.S., so we didn't see restaurants packed like in densely populated cities such as San Francisco.

Before our trip in London draw to a close, we visited a few shops and I snatched up a little purse in Jigsaw London. A vacation for a girl is not complete without a little shopping, right? But more on that later!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A few images from Notting Hill, the last picture was our waiter showing us how to eat bone marrow.

Monday, September 10, 2012

We are in London! Today we visited the Buckingham Palace, Windsor castle, and had proper fish and chips, life is good:)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A couple of times a year I tag along with my husband for his work trip. I am starting to like staying in resort hotels that have all the amenities you need. It was quite convenient to get up in the morning and have my exercise and breakfast in one place. After the morning peak hours I sat at the quiet breakfast area and worked my way through most of the day with a cup of coffee, it was pretty nice!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My husband and I went to the flea market today and look what we found! I am going to have so much fun with this dollhouse!

Well, it certainly has been a while since I checked in here, but today feels like the right time to pick it up again!  Mostly I...