Wednesday Wanderlust

Chicago

Oh Chicago! You really are one fantastic city. You have the charm of my beloved Boston and the big city feel of my one and only NYC. Your lake is majestic, your skyline breathtaking, and your people so kind. Thank you for a wonderful Memorial Day visit. We can’t wait to visit you again!

Stay

Stay- Chicago

When K and I decided to travel to Chicago this past Memorial Day weekend, I was torn between staying at the newly opened Soho House Chicago in the West Loop and Public Chicago in the Gold Coast. The decision was made easy when I learned that my request for a holiday weekend at the Soho House was not fulfilled. So Public is was.

With 285 rooms, this hotel is much larger than we typically like to stay at. The rooms are tastefully designed by Ian Schrager and the common areas on the first floor are beautiful, including a coffee bar, a library den and a movie room. However, I must be honest and say I was a bit unimpressed with our experience. We heard our neighbors, the bathroom was tiny and had few amenities {no robes, only 2 towels and lackluster products} and the accent chair in our room was dirty and stained. Thankfully we had lots to see {and eat} so there wasn’t much time spend relaxing in our room.

Eat

Eat Chicago

While I was disappointed with our hotel of choice, the food in Chicago did not disappoint. My favorites include:

Little Goat – Located in the West Loop, Little Goat should not be missed. We had our first breakfast here and loved every single delicious bite. We started with their enormous ooey gooey cinnabun and shared the Kimchee + Bacon + Eggs + Pancakes Asian Styke BreakfastTasty Thing. This is the actual name… I promise! And the service was fantastic. We asked our waiter, who had just been in Boston oddly enough, his not to miss spots. Fortunately, we had dinner reservations at his top spot. Score!

The Winchester – Located in East Village, we enjoyed a leisurely Sunday brunch here. The interior is beautiful and my cocktail of Allagash white and grapefruit juice with a salt rim was delightful. A perfect neighborhood spot!

Doughnut Vault – I’m a total sucker for a good doughnut and the old-fashion buttermilk glazed is all I’ve been thinking about since I left. So good.

Floriole – Located in charming Lincoln Park, Floriole is the bakery of my dreams. And although we didn’t visit on this most recent trip, I have indulged in the pastries at this french inspired cafe more times than I’d like to admit!

Milk & Honey Cafe – Located in the eclectic Wicker Park neighborhood, I would refer to Milk & Hone as the Flour Bakery of the midwest. Great sandwiches, pastries and plenty of room to eat. It really is a place where “fresh and goodness meet!”

avec -Meaning with in French, avec was initially designed as the place to enjoy a light bite before your meal at critically acclaimed Blackbird next door. However, avec has now become the place to go for your meal. A dinner reservation is nearly impossible to get so we opted for lunch, which I highly recommend. The chorizo stuffed dates with bacon in a piquillo pepper-tomato sauce is worth every calorie.

Big Star -The place for tacos in the Windy City. Located in Wicker Park, right by the L, this is a great place for meeting up with friends. They have a huge patio and the beer list is quite impressive.

Piece Brewery + Pizza – Although Chicago is known for it’s deep dish, I’m a thin crust girl so highly recommend this local establishment with musical roots. Just guess who is a part owner? Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick!

The Bristol – Located in Bucktown, The Bristol is that neighborhood spot I wish we had in Boston. Good comfort food, tasty cocktails and friendly staff. You can’t go wrong.

Girl & the Goat – You all remember Stephanie Izard from Top Chef, right? With her winnings, she opened up this Must-go spot in her hometown. If you can’t score a reservation, Little Goat is hers as well.

Ruxbin – “People who love to eat are always the best people.” One of my favorite quotes from Julia Child and the introduction to the menu at this Chicago gem in Noble Square. Ruxbin’s concept is a curated, family style meal. You pick two small plates, two large and two desserts. Meals arrive on the most beautiful pieces of pottery that are available for purchase here. The chickpea pierogi with apple, zurek, celery leaf, and radish bonito has moved onto my top 5 best dishes I’ve ever had list.

Maudes Liquor Bar – Located down the street from Girl & the Goat, this is a romantic spot to grab an after dinner drink and dessert. The chocolate mouse was sinfully smooth.

The Allis – The most well designed bar I’ve ever been to. I literally could move right in. They also offer afternoon tea service. A must!

Another must is a Chicago hot dog. We had ours down on the waterfront from a street vendor but I’m told the best place to go is Downtown Dogs. The poppy seed bun, relish, mustard and celery salt make you realize you don’t need ketchup after all!

A few places that we didn’t make it to but are on the list for next time include: Mott Street, Parson’s Chicken and & Fish, The Hampton Social and Fat Rice.

Do

Besides eating my way through a city, I always like to take in a bit of history and a bit of culture. I highly recommend an Architectural Boat Tour, a walk around Millenium Park and Cloud Gate and a visit to The Art Institute.

And if time allows, get tickets to a comedy show a Second City Not sure I’ve ever laughted so hard in my life.

Can’t wait to see you again, Chi-town!

 

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Tuesday Travel

Paris

For my 37th birthday, K surprised me with a trip to Paris. Truth be told, the surprise came last November, after the horrific attacks, when K sat me down and revealed that she had booked tickets to Paris for early May. With mixed emotions and a broken heart over the events that unfolded, I remembered the words of Audrey Hepburn who said “Paris is always a good idea” and thus we decided to move forward with the trip. And how happy I am that we did!

I spent the last several months doing an extensive amount of research on the must do’s in the City of Lights. Once I had what I thought was a final itinerary, I emailed it along to my sister Michelle, who lived in Paris for three years during university. She wrote back and said “cross 2 things off your list for each day.” I guess I didn’t realize how big Paris really is. Did you know that Paris is made up of twenty arrondissements, or neighborhoods? That is quite a bit of territory to cover. To help ease planning, I tried to plan each day around visiting one or two arrondissements.

A few things to note: the Metro is super easy to navigate and I highly recommend using it to get from place to place. Uber is also available in Paris and we used this on rainy days where walking to the metro proved to be a bit of a challenge. Almost everyone we met from shops to restaurants spoke English but we always greeted each other in French. I think it’s the polite way to show you are trying. Oh and if you want to see the full collection of my photos from the trip, check out my Instagram feed and search #MayinParis.

Stay

Stay

After contacting several Airbnb owners with little success, we decided to book a room at the chic Hotel Henriette, a design boutique hotel located on the left bank in the 13th Arr. near Les Gobelins metro stop. Everything about this spot was perfection. We stayed in Room No. 44, a deluxe double that had a delightful king bed, day bed seating area and a tub. Every detail was perfect. After a day of exploring, I would make myself right at home on this little day bed.

room

Do

museum

There is so much to see and do in Paris but since both K and I had visited several of the main attractions in Paris before {Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Versaillies} we decided to spend more time exploring a few key neighborhood {the Marais, Montmarte}. With that, though, we did make time to visit a few mainstays, which I suggest you add to your list should you be planning a trip.

Musée de l’Orangerie – located in the 1st Arr. in the Jardin des Tuileries, this small but mighty museum is a must. The two rooms featuring the curved Monets will leave you mesmerized.

Musée Rodin – located in the 7th Arr. on the left bank, we enjoyed our first afternoon in Paris in the sculpture garden, seeing such works as “The Thinker” and “The Gates of Hell.”

Notre Dame – K and I have developed a little tradition when traveling abroad. We like to light candles for our loved ones who have passed in as many churches as we can and thus a visit to Notre Dame was a must.

Sainte-Chappelle –  Just to see the 1,113 pieces of stained glass is reason enough to visit Sainte Chappelle. You know what I fell in love with though? The floor tiles. Just look.

tiles

Shop

shop

I could devote an entire blog post to the shopping in Paris! It’s incredible. A few of our favorites shop include:

Le Bon Marché – located in the 7th Arr., this department store has everything. My favorite part? This escalator.

Merci – located in the 3rd Arr., Merci is a concept store that has a carefully curated collection of goods for the house, the garden, and your closet, in addition to a wonderful cafe situated in a library. I contained myself and only purchased my fourth Paris travel guide that I justified as it isn’t available in the states.

Paper Tigre – In every city we visit there are two places I need to visit: the local cafes and the paper store. Paper Tigre, located in the 3rd Arr., is a fantastic paper shop that was the ideal place to pick up a wonderful collection of gifts for upcoming birthdays. They had a wonderful selection of candles named after each garden in Paris. The perfect keepsake to bring home!

La Tresorerie – located in the 10th Arr., La Tresorerie is stocked with a wonderful selection of items for your kitchen, living spaces and bathroom. I found the greatest colander that I was able to fit in my carry-on for the trip home. Next door to the shop is a delightful cafe named Cafe Smorgas that is a must after some shopping.

Jamini – with locations in the 9th and 10th Arr., Jamini is a beautiful shop filled with textiles made in India.

Jacques Genin Chocolate Shop – A trip to Paris isn’t complete without a visit to a chocolate shop. My favorite was this one, located in the 3rd Arr. Their chocolate covered orange peel… I’ve been thinking about them since our return.

Pierre Herme – My most favorite dessert in the world is a French macaroon and thus a visit to this Parisian institution is a must. We purchased a box of 16, with flavors including Mogador {my favorite – milk chocolate and passion fruit}, vanilla, chocolate, matcha, mint, and caramel. They are almost too beautiful to eat, don’t you think?

Eat

MaryCeleste

Les Cocottes – located in the 7th Arr., I first read of this spot in the Goop city guide. We arrived early {6 pm} to avoid the crowds and I suggest you do the same. Also, order the chocolate tart. It’s incredible!

Rose Bakery – located in the 3rd Arr., we enjoyed a healthy and delicious breakfast here on our second day in Paris. They are known for their baked goods, especially their carrot cake. Try it!

L’As due Falafel – located in the 3rd Arr., this is my favorite place to eat in Paris. Get the falafel sandwich with the grilled eggplant, add the harissa sauce {you have to ask for this} and sip on a lemonade. I promise you won’t be disappointed. It will also be the cheapest meal you eat. Trust me!

Fragments Coffee Bar – located in the 3rd Arr., this charming coffee shop is a must visit while exploring the Marais. Their lemon cake is divine as well as their brews. And the facade, worth a photo or two!

coffee

Le Mary Celeste – located in the 3rd Arr., this is the place to go for a cocktail in the Marais. Wish it were my neighborhood bar!

Claus – located in the 1st Arr., this is where I celebrate the first meal of my 37th year. Delicious eggs with roasted tomatoes and a yummy bread basket. We ordered a piece of lemon cake to go and it may have been my second most favorite thing I ate in Paris.

Honor – located in the 8th Arr., Honor is Paris’ first outdoor cafe. They also serve a selection of pastries from Broken Biscuit. A wonderful place to escape from the husle and bustle of the Champs.

Buvette – located in the 9th, this is the second location of the famed West Village french eatery. We enjoyed the coq au vin, the carrot salad and the chocolate cake. All amazing. My favorite part of the meal… the cocktail menu. It’s a work of art.

Septime – located in the 11th, Septime is a place that shouldn’t be missed. Since it is nearly impossible to obtain a dinner reservation, we opted for a lunch reservation and decided upon their 6-course tasting menu. Let’s just say, this meal was the top dining experience of my life. We had hoped to make it to their sister restaurant Clamato, a charming oyster bar, but time ran out.

Le Sirocco –  located in the 13th and across the street from our hotel, Le Sirocco was a delightful find. We had reservations to eat at Candelaria for our final night but we were both exhausted so decided to just take the walk across the street for dinner. And what a dinner we had. A traditional Moroccan meal that was an experience for the senses. Should you find yourself in the 13th, I highly recommend going.

Du Pain et des Idees – when you think about food in Paris, one thing comes to mind, right? Croissants. This bakery in the 10th Arr. is claimed to have the best in Paris. Go!

*****

Bon

“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.” I couldn’t agree more with this quote from Ernest Hemingway. I can’t wait to plan our next trip to Paris. There is still so much more to discover in this city!

Today

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Happy April 1st! You remember what today marks, right?! The start of National Letter Writing Month. Taking the challenge to write a letter a day like me? If so, the above should come in handy. I came across it while scrolling my Pinterest feed and I thought it was too good not to share.

Hope you have a great weekend! We are off to the island tomorrow. Can’t believe I haven’t been home since January. I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Image Credit: Pinterest

Spring Bucket List

Spring

The sun is setting at 7 pm tonight. That must mean spring is here!

I seem to be encouraged with the change of each season to take pause and think about what I want to take place over the next couple of months. It’s all about intention and what you put in the universe. With that, I wanted to share with you a few of the items on my Spring Bucket List:

Craft. I come from a long line of crafty ladies. I know I have the ability inside of me. I just need to tap it. So this spring, I’d like to try my hand at some needlepoint work. Maybe one day I’ll be able to create a piece that looks like these.

Sweat. This seems to make all my seaonal bucket lists but I really do need to get out there and sweat. Not only for my physical health but also my mental health. Soul Cycle has opened a studio a few blocks from my apartment. I think it is about time I get myself on a bike!

Connect. April is National Letter Writing Month. With that, I am making a commitment to write a letter a day to friends near and far.

Learn. My sister and I are signed up to attend Laura Hooper’s calligraphy class in May. Hopefully Laura will get me on the lettering kick I’ve been wanting to be on.

Grow. “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Wise words from Audrey Hepburn. With recent events, it is easy to become distraught about the state of the world. Last summer, we planted a small herb garden and watching our basil, thyme, mint, dill grow brought a sense of peace to my life. And thus, this spring I hope to expand our garden. I’m thinking to add a few different lettuces to the mix. Any suggestions?

I look to you to keep me accountable to these. I promise to share the highlights too!

Write On

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Today I wanted to share with you a really cool campaign that is underway from two amazing companies: Egg Press and Hello Lucky! As I’ve shared on several occasions, I obsessed with all things paper. I receive tremendous joy sending a letterpress card that has traveled back with me from one of my favorite paper stores (Sugar Paper in LA, Gus + Ruby in Portsmouth and Parchment on Nantucket, to name a few).

The Write_On campaign‘s mission is to promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence. Technology, whether we like it or not, has changed the way we communicate with each another. The mission of this campaign is to bring back communication through the art of sending a handwritten note. The Write_On campaign encourages people of all ages to write more letters, challenging each person to write 30 letters in 30 days. Inspired by Egg Press founder Tess Darrow’s challenge to herself to write a letter daily, the campaign launched two years ago in April, which just happens to be National Letterwriting Month. I’m adding that to the list of things I learned today!

Two years later, the campaign is looking to be bigger than ever and has set a goal to raise $60,000 to help cover our costs of sharing Write On kits with 10,000 individuals. Every dollar donated will go directly into the campaign.

Donation levels range from $10 to $2500. As a thank you, you get some really cool paper gifts too. I contributed at the $75 level and thus the cool calendar pictured above is on its way to me.

Interested in receiving 1 of my 30 letters this April? Leave your address in the comment section (don’t worry, I’ll delete for privacy purposes) and I’ll send you a note. And speaking of notes, you have to check out my sister’s Letters from Nantucket Instagram feed. Isn’t she amazing? Truth be told, my letters won’t be as cool but it’s the thought that counts… right?!

So let’s join together and #writeon!

Possibility

May

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.”

My namesake month is here! I am overjoyed and oh so happy to say hello to May and again goodbye to winter, although the weather as of late has me wondering if spring really is here. I’m excited (and a bit sad) to share some exciting news with you. As you know, I returned back to island life nearly 24 months ago. I fondly called it “my time-out on life.” After many quiet days (and nights) and endless hours of soul searching, I have peace in my heart to let you know that I will be leaving my little island 30 miles out to sea. But please don’t worry, I won’t be leaving before summer. I mean, who leaves Nantucket before summer, right?

With this revelation, though, I have decided to return to managing an island catering company full-time. While I have loved nearly every minute of my time at Nantucket Looms and all the creative endeavors I have been a part of, I need to work my little tail off this summer to put away some hard-earned cash for this next chapter. Where will it be? I’m not sure just yet but as soon as I decide, I will let you know. And as Edwin Way Teale so beautifully reminds us in the quote above, anything is possible in May.

I have lots of fun plans to look forward to this month. Let’s see…

– I am off to Fryeburg, Maine and Hardy Farm this weekend to be celebrate the marriage of one of my nearest and dearest.
– Next Friday I will awake to my 35th year. More on that later.
– The weekend of May 15 is the 18th Annual Nantucket Wine Festival. A few Boston friends will be visiting so very much looking forward to yummy dinners and delicious wine, of course.
– The official start to summer is Memorial Day weekend (and the my last day at Nantucket Looms). I’m hoping to do a little weekend getaway for the thought of waiting in-line to dance at The Box with those Figawi sailors… no thank you!
– And I will end the month with a concert on the Boston waterfront with the one and only Ray Lamontagne (and two of the greatest friends a girl could as for). Can’t wait!

Gift Guide – Mom

Mom...Love you
With Mother’s Day a little less than 2 weeks away, I thought it would only be fair to share a few gifts ideas for those special ladies in our lives… our dear mothers.

For the New Mama
I love this diaper bag that is a result of the collaboration between Oh Joy! and Feed. A gift that gives back. My favorite, of course.

For the Mama on the Go
For that mom in your life who is always on the go, I think gifts to help her stay organized are key. This bag from Anthropologie is a sort of updated Mary Poppins’ tote. Everything will fit in it! And, to help with all the lists and notes, I just love this notebook set from Tory Burch.

For the Working Mama
Juggling work and kids… seriously, I don’t know how moms do it. For the working moms, I like gifts to help her unwind. This bubble bath from Philosophy says it all, “to find peace, you must first quiet your mind and open your heart. abandon the pulls, pushes and obligations to see beyond. beyond the deadlines. beyond material wants. beyond impulses. to find peace, you must look beyond the turmoil of life and balance your spirit. in the absence of activity, you will find the only thing that matters, the gift of living in the present moment. become peace personified.” And while she is in the tub, a candle to add some ambiance is a must. This one, part of the Mara Mi travel collection, will remind her of past and or future travels. They are available for Copenhagen, Paris, New York and St. Paul.

For the Mama Chef
For the mom who loves to cook and entertain, these kitchen letters are genius. This exclusive-to-Provisions (one of my favorite on-line shopping sites) subscription includes two recipes and two letters a month for a year. And what about these bowls from Wisteria. I may just take a set myself.

For the Hip Mama
What mom out there wouldn’t love a new piece of jewelry. This bracelet is simple and oh so hip.

But really, all our moms really want to hear is that we love them. So don’t forget to tell them next Sunday and as often as you can. Mom… if you are reading, I love you!

#BostonStrong

Boston
Boston. What a place. This city is like no other. The architecture. The people. The landscape. Home.

My heart aches that I can’t be there today to watch my city come together for the running of the Boston Marathon. So many incredible stories have come out over the last year. Stories of tragedy and triumph. New beginnings. Bravery. Community. One such story is from my sweet church Old South located at the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth. The finish line.

In February, members of the Old South Knitters Club came up with a beautiful idea: the Marathon Scarf Project. A simple idea really. To wrap runners in marathon blue and yellow scarves knit by hand. The group thought they could complete a few hundred at best. But like all good things, news of this project went viral and as of this weekend more than 7,000 scarves were handed out to runners. What an act of love. Now that’s what I call Boston Strong!

Boston Marathon

Good

Magic
Good Friday has always held a spot near and dear in my heart. You see, it was on this day many year ago I received my acceptance letter to Mount Holyoke. The story is actually quite funny.

My Mom went to the mail and saw the package: an express overnight envelope. For anyone who knows a thing or two about college acceptance, a big package is a very good thing. She was so excited she quickly made her way to Beautiful People, a little boutique I worked at my senior year of high school (my shopaholic tendencies started early). Since it was one of those first gorgeous spring days and we had a half day of school, my boss said to take the afternoon off, which meant I could join my friends for lunch. I must have missed my Mom by no more than 10 minutes. Now remember, this is well before cell phones so I didn’t give my Mom the courtesy call that plans had changed as I figured I would just head home after lunch. The magical part of this story is that there were two Mount Holyoke alums in the shop at the precise moment she was relaying the good news to my boss… that a large envelope had arrived for me. They wouldn’t possibly send a rejection letter overnight, would they? The exact question my Mom asked. Love her.

I decided to walk home that afternoon as I wanted to take in every moment of the arrival of spring. As I turned into the driveway I saw my Mom in the garden and she told me I had received a letter from Mount Holyoke. I said “big or small” and she didn’t answer. I ran in, saw it, opened it and in that moment knew my life would change forever. Earlier that week I received the dreaded rejection letter from Davidson, my top choice. This acceptance quickly eased those wounds. I ran outside with tears in my eyes and was beyond words. In those moments I knew that Good Friday was always gonna be a good day in my book. As I shared before, my years at Mount Holyoke were some of the best. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. It turned out exactly as it was meant to. My mom later confessed that she may have opened the package. I guess she is as impatient as me at times.

And friends, on this Good Friday I am more hopeful than ever that life is revealing itself to me just as it should be. Have faith. Trust yourself and believe in magic for as Roald Dahl reminds us “… watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Picks

Easter Basket
Happy Friday! A week from today is Good Friday, which means you have exactly one week to get all the elements to create the perfect Easter basket. I don’t know about you, but I always love getting a bunch of little gifts no matter the holiday. Some practical, some funny, some delicious. My grandmother had a special talent for finding those little items that always came together and were so much fun to open. Inspired by her, I thought I would share my picks for an Easter basket that is sure to please those nearest and dearest to you.

First and foremost, you need a basket. I think this lunch box from the ever so talented Lulie Wallace will do the trick. And will certainly serve as a reminder to bring your lunch to the office and save a few extra bucks for your next getaway.

I am sure it comes as no surprise, but I have a sweet tooth. I’ve had to curb my addiction just a bit as I recently had my first cavity filled but I will allow myself to indulge for these holidays. My sweet picks include these candy bars from one of my new favorite sites Provisions, these sour gummy eggs and my all-time favorite mint candies that always remind me of my Nana.

I love introducing friends to new products or lines that I adore. A few that I know would be well received and fit the occasion perfectly include: a market pad from my all-time favorite stationary company, an egg-shaped soap from the one and only Fresh, my new favorite spring scent, and a travel book for one of my favorite cities.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and I look forward to seeing you back here next week!