It has been one heck of a summer, but I’m seriously ready to get back to some of my routines and rituals like eating better and taking the time to truly sit and savor as many moments as I can after a long day’s work.
I’ve been redefining what self-care means to me and I’m dedicating a whole month to it on the blog. The complaint I hear the most amongst friends is that they don’t have enough time for self-care. I couldn’t agree more, but I also don’t want that excuse to allow my days to wither away without taking full advantage of the time that I do have. So I’m excited to share with you a few simple self-care tips and tricks that I’ve integrated into my daily/weekly routine that help me to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Maybe you’re already doing these and don’t define them as “self-care”. I’d love to hear the simple ways in which you spoil yourself in the comments below!
Journal/Write a Gratitude list
You’ve probably heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again because it always helps put things into perspective. I’ve been doing this once or twice a month when I’m feeling extremely grateful as well as when I’m feeling some kind of lack. The latter might be an even better time to do this as we tend to get carried away by what we don’t have rather than acknowledging all the good that we do have.
Spend the first or last 5-10 minutes of your day jotting down a few of the things you’re grateful for and see how that list grows! I always like to go back after a few weeks or months time and reread my gratitude lists. This is a reminder of how fortunate we really are.
Give Yourself an At-Home Spa Treatment
I love splurging on a facial when I can, but treating my skin to a weekly face mask when I can’t make it to the spa is such a simple and affordable alternative. I’ve been using Caudalie products for a few years now and during my last visit to their West Village location, I tried the glycolic peel mask. I’ve been using it once a week ever since and I love it. It’s my 10 minutes of pampering during the week and leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft yet firm. Finish it off with their night oil and you’ll wake up feeling like a million bucks. I’ve also been loving this moisturizer. It’s light, yet very hydrating.
I’ve also been doing a deep conditioner for my hair once a week. I pick one day where I leave in my conditioner for 10-20 minutes before rinsing. My hair feels so healthy.
Create a Home Sanctuary
Carve out a space in your home where you can escape to when you need to just be. Break out the candles, burn some incense or diffuse essential oils. Set up a comfy reading chair, or meditation pillow and make the space clean and uncluttered. Add a few plants, like succulents, for aesthetic and voila(!) your sanctuary awaits. Don’t have too many distractions in your space so you can focus on being present whether it’s to read, journal or meditate. Speaking of meditation, I’ve been using the insight timer for a few weeks and there’s a great variety of free guided meditations on there. If you’ve been looking to start a meditation practice, but don’t think you can do it, Insight timer is a great starting point.
Invest in yourself
A huge shift in my self-care over the past few years is feeding my passions outside of work. I felt like for too many years I was going through the day to day motions without really tapping into my purpose. When I decided to leave my second job over a year ago and pursue yoga teacher training, I felt so liberated and empowered. I was tapping into a new calling. I listened to my heart and took the leap.
Investing in yourself is about educating yourself. Once I finished YTT, I realized how much I didn’t know. It’s a big responsibility to guide yogis and there’s SO MUCH to learn about anatomy, chakras and the list goes on. So over the summer, I took some in-person and online trainings for additional yoga certifications. Not only did I meet some great people, but I learned a ton. If we don’t fuel our passions by making the time and financial investment in them, we may never reach our full potential.
Where can I start?
Not sure how to invest in yourself, where to start, or feeling unclear about the direction of your life? This month my friend and Kundalini teacher, Courtney Clifford is hosting a workshop at The Guided Healing in Brooklyn with Kundalini Yoga, Meditation, Facilitated Journaling and Sound Healing. If you’ve never done Kundalini, it is a powerful practice. “An uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices, Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam, meaning “truth is my identity.” The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness”- Yoga Journal.
Check out Courtney’s site here to sign up or see other offerings. Invest in this evening of self-care and you never know what it can stir up inside of you to get you more aligned with where you want to be.
Set The Tone in the Evening
Unplug from phones and computers an hour before bed. When you set boundaries and time frames for “logging off”, you create more space for yourself and the evenings become more sacred.
Make a cup of chamomile tea, draw yourself a bath or read a book just for pleasure. Start to settle in an hour before bed and make the last hour of your day just about you. Slowly incorporate this into your routine by getting to bed 30 minutes earlier at least twice a week.
Now Go and Take Care of You
So how are you incorporating self-care rituals into your days? I’d love to hear what you’re doing in the comments or on my instagram page.
Thanks for reading! Until next week,
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The third and final installment of this Pacific Northwest travel guide ends with 24 hours in Seattle. The last leg includes a roundup of what we ate, where we stayed and something a little touristy, but so worth the experience.
If you’re looking for a chill city with cooler temps, a laid-back vibe, and a great food scene from what I experienced, then Seattle is for you!
From Olympic National Park, drive to Bainbridge Island to catch the ferry to Seattle. This is about a 30 minute ride. As you come into the terminal, you’ll get fantastic views of the Seattle skyline and the Pike Place Market. I was pretty giddy as we were out for the woods and into the city. A warm welcome indeed!
But first, breakfast
After we packed up our camp, we drove through Sequim, Washington to fuel up with a big breakfast Country Breakfast at The Oak Table Cafe.
This family establishment serves up the fluffiest pancakes and some real farm-to- table breakfast. Think Walla Walla onions from East Washington that were picked that morning and delivered to the restaurant that afternoon. The French style omelet with heaps of sharp cheddar cheese and chicken apple sausage was the quintessential country breakfast in Washington.
Piggies in a blanket is their signature dish. 3 breakfast sausages wrapped in pancakes. Yes, pancakes! Espresso is really big in Washington and they have drive-up espresso stands every few miles. Definitely pair your country breakfast with one of the espresso drinks here.
Inn at the Market was a perfect location for our 24 hour stay in Seattle. It’s within walking distance to many restaurants, shopping and the Pike Place Market. The rooms are comfortable, clean and spacious. There’s a beautiful rooftop terrace with lounge chairs, tables and a daily happy hour to enjoy sunset views of the Puget sound.
Eat and Do
Shopping at Pike Place is a very unique experience with hundreds of local artisans selling their wares. It can get a bit overwhelming, so hold out for that special something. Maybe aromatherapy from All Things Lavender ?!
For once, shopping was not at the top of my travel to-do list, but eating my way through this city was.
Start at the Old Stove brewery. Grab a cold beer (I went for the Streaker Citra Pale Ale-YUM) and sit outside for a great view of the Puget Sound.
The food options at the market are endless so try as much as you can. The fish is literally the freshest it gets in this country. The diverse array of options ranges from Filipino cuisine, to empanadas, to Greek and Moroccan, but we settled for some raw oysters and fried clam strips to kick off our foodie adventures in Seattle at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar. Located just off the marketplace, it was the quiet we were looking for amongst the throngs of tourists at the market. It felt like our little secret place!
En route to meal #2 of the day we stopped for some Russian pastries at Piroshky, Piroshky which smelled amazing, but tasted just meh. I would liken it to a dry croissant. It wasn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t go back. I really do like saying the name though, Piroshky, Piroshky.
Sushi to be Savored
We knew we couldn’t leave Seattle without having sushi and Sushi Kashiba did not disappoint! Not only was the sushi super fresh, but the level of service we got at the bar was top notch. The bartender perfectly paired our dinner selection with a Washington Viognier and was incredibly knowledgeable about the sushi. He also gave us a bunch of suggestions for our next meal.
Chef Shiro Kashiba, also known as The Sushi Sensei of Seattle, opened Seattle’s first sushi bar in 1970. He was classically trained by Jiro Ono who you may know from Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This was a truly special dining experience and we would’ve stayed here all night if we could!
Finally to satisfy your sweet tooth, try Shug’s soda fountain and ice cream bar. A Seattle staple serving up sundaes, coffee and ice cream cocktails. Shug’s was a great way to end the night. We got the Sunday’s Best which was the homemade vanilla with fresh fruit, a waffle cookie, whipped cream and a cherry and the Brown Derby– a Mighty O chocolate donut with a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. It was a sweet ending to a sweet day.
All the Coffee
The last and final stop in Seattle was a morning well spent at Starbucks Reserve. This is an experience. It is unlike any coffee shop or Starbucks I’ve ever been to. My favorites here included the chocolate bread with orange marmalade and a the prosciutto with parmesan and arugula croissant.
The coffee options are abundant so make sure to try something different. Check out the menu and a barista will guide you toward what your taste buds are craving. It was so hard to go back to basic Starbucks after the exotic options served at the Reserve store.
So there you have it, a 24-hour foodie adventure in Seattle. I hope to add more to it on my next trip. Have you been? Share in the comments below and let me know where to go next time.
Spending two days out in the woods initially didn’t sound like much of a vacation to me. I’m not a hiker and the only outdoor activity I do in the summer involves swimming in the ocean. But, I was persuaded that the weather would be cooler in the Pacific Northwest and Olympic National Park had more to offer than just hiking trails.
So I went off into the wilderness and geared up for what nature had to offer. Camping and hiking can be fun, but they also challenge you in different ways. Using your resources, having the perseverance to continue up a mountain when you want to give up, and putting in the effort to set up your “home” is all part of the experience.
And to everyone who doubted my outdoor skills, you’d be very proud of me. I survived the wild with limited cell phone service and no shower for two days! This vacation was a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively.
If you read part one of this travel guide, you already know that this trip began in Vancouver and continued onto Victoria, BC. From here The Black Ball Ferry Line will take you to Port Angeles, Washington. Stop by The Olympic National Park Visitor Center to pick up your map and ask any questions you might have before entering the park.
Part of the journey is driving from place to place and there’s so much to see along the way. Drive about an hour to Marymere Falls at Lake Crescent. After a day hike, drive 90 minutes to the Kalaloch campsite. (For all my Twilight fans, you’ll drive through Forks along the way!)
If you’re renting a tent and other equipment, you can have it shipped to the Eighth Avenue UPS store in Port Angeles. We went with Outdoor Geeks for our camping needs. Make sure to reserve your equipment in enough time to have it for delivered in time for your arrival.
Swain’s general store in Port Angeles has everything for your camping/hiking needs. If you forgot to order or rent something, Swain’s will likely have it. Don’t leave without getting a bag of the 25 cent popcorn on your way out!
Fuel up for your day with smoothies and sandwiches at Country Aire Natural Foods. This place is a smaller scale whole foods, but so much better! Some of the specialty items included local honey, Washington state wines, delicious smoothies, fresh deli sandwiches and baked goods like lemon-fig cookies.
This market is a one-stop shop for all the food you’ll want to grill up at your campsite.
Hike to Lake Crescent where there are two trail options. Marymere is an easy, mostly flat trail that you can complete in under one hour. The payoff is a gorgeous waterfall.
Mount Storm King trail is a much longer, harder and steeper hike, but the payoff is unbelievably beautiful. As hard as it was and as sore as my body was the next day, the view from the top made it all worth it. This hike can take you close to four hours so get an early start and bring snacks with you to enjoy for when you get to the top.
Camping by the Beach
Kalaloch Campground is a great choice for beginner campers like me. There’s access to bathrooms and running water. The campsite is just a short walk to the beach and you can hear the waves crashing from your tent. It’s magnificent. This is one of the rainiest places in the country, but we lucked out with sun and warmth on the trip The days are long here and the sun sets after 9 pm in the summer. Walk down to the beach to check out the tree of life and definitely don’t miss the sunsets.
Stop along the way
Ruby Beach is unlike any other beach I’ve been to. It’s like something you only see in pictures and movies, but it actually exists! The driftwood and sea stacks are a sight to see!
Camping in the Rainforest
Solduc Falls is a beautiful area of Olympic Park with natural hot springs, waterfalls and a few easy hiking trails. The hike to Sol Duc Falls from The Sol Duc Resort was a flat 2.8 miles.
Just when you start to wonder if you’re getting close, you hear the sound of rushing water get a little bit louder and you arrive to this…
Take a different route on the way back. Lovers Lane trail is another 3 mile option.
Enjoy the night sky with a bottle of wine and some s’mores around the fire. A good night’s sleep awaits you when you’ve been trekking through the rainforest for miles and miles each day.
There’s no better teacher than Mother Nature to show you how to slow down, breathe in the fresh air and savor each moment you have in this lifetime.
I hope you found this guide useful in planning for your future trip to the Pacific Northwest. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below.
I recently spent 5 days in the Pacific Northwest and fell in love with yet another destination I’m quite sure to return to. This trip was a bit of a different experience for me as I spent some of it sleeping in a tent, but more on that in Part 2.
I’d been hearing such great things about Vancouver, British Columbia for quite a while. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend Phillip, he jumped at the chance to plan this trip. Together, we got to experience and appreciate another part of Canada (remember our trip to Mont Tremblant?) just in time for Canada Day! We also made our way over to beautiful Victoria, BC.
If you’re looking for destinations with lots of charm and natural beauty, put Vancouver and Victoria on your list.
Alaska Airlines has frequent flights to Seattle and Vancouver. We knew we were ending our trip in Seattle so we opted to fly into Sea Tac airport, rent a car and drive to Vancouver. It was a 6 hour nonstop flight from New York City to Seattle and a one-hour drive to Vancouver from there.
On day 2 we took a 90 minute ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria which was $90 USD per vehicle. BC Ferries provided a first class experience. This convenient way to travel throughout Canada also brings some beautiful views of Galiano Island and the San Juan Islands along the way. Buy your tickets in advance and arrive to the ferry about 30 minutes early. There’s a cafe on the boat, but you MUST stop into Sweet Thea Cake Company for a croissant at the Ferry hub before boarding.
Vancouver is a quaint, walkable city with lots of food and drink options. After 10 hours of travel we were ready to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of the Canadians. Since we would be in the city for less than 24 hours, we narrowed the down neighborhoods we would visit to Gastown, the Waterfront district and Granville Island.
Eat and Drink
My favorite picks are Cactus Club Cafe for the best cocktail menu and light bites. Fresh fruit cocktails and frose are the specialty there. Get the guacamole with chimichurri sauce. It’s one of the best guacs I’ve had! There’s music and a big crowd. Sit at the bar for faster service.
Granville Island is a seaside village and foodie haven. Wild Canadian Seafood serves up lots of yummy options like poutine, chowder and plenty of seafood straight from the Pacific Ocean. My must-try here was the lavender chai latte served with lavender rum. Yum! On a Sunday, most places close on the earlier side, so definitely get here early to enjoy.
Stay at the Delta Inn and Suites, Vancouver in Gastown which offers easy access to most neighborhoods by foot with comfortable, well designed and spacious rooms. The hospitality and efficiency of service here is one of the best I’ve experienced for a chain hotel.
24 hours in Vancouver was just scratching the surface, but the short time spent here just gives us an excuse to go back and see more!
See and Do
The Butchart Gardens are by far the most beautiful public gardens I’ve ever been to. You simply cannot visit Victoria without going here. Once home to the Butchart family, this has since been turned into fifty-five acres of exquisite gardens.
Visit for the 5 different gardens and stay for lunch, afternoon tea, or gelato.
Stay, Eat and Drink
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub and Guesthouses is a triple threat. With a waterfront restaurant, brewery and rooms right on site, Spinnakers is the perfect destination for your time in Victoria.
Upon arrival to Spinnakers you’ll be greeted with a beer flight and chocolate truffle tasting. Dine on the outside patio with views of the harbor or sit upstairs in their brewpub.
The Heritage House is a beautiful Victorian home converted into 5 guest rooms. Each room provides a homey stay with a full bathtub, fireplace and patio. If you followed along on my instagram stories, you got a sweet tour of our room!
Out on the town
After checking into our home away from home for the night and getting a buzz going, we walked along the harbor into town to see what else Victoria had to offer.
Although a bunch of places were closed in observance of Canada day, we managed to find a great bar in downtown Victoria. Bard and Banker is another establishment full of history. The bar opened in 1885 as the Bank of British Columbia. Robert Service was a banker, but an even more successful bard (poet). His writings became so profitable that he was able to leave the banking industry and focus solely on his writing. Hence the name, Bard and Banker. He lived most of his life in France and the wine list here is heavily influenced by that.
Besides the cool history, this place has a great vibe and gave me feels of a classy London pub.
An Unphogettable send-off
We capped off our stay in Victoria at Green Leaf Vietnamese Bistro. This authentic Vietnamese cuisine did not disappoint. We had heard that Asian food in this region was a must-try and I wholeheartedly agree!
I hope you enjoyed part one of my guide to the Pacific Northwest. Stay tuned for parts two and three coming soon!
I’m so excited to bring you a beautiful evening of yoga, wine and live music at grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden on Thursday, July 19th from 6-8 pm.
Last year I started teaching yoga at this beautiful garden and it brought me so much joy to serve the community with weekly outdoor yoga classes. This year I was lucky enough to snag a plot and start growing my own fruits and vegetables alongside a community of welcoming gardeners. The beginning of this growing season has brought an abundance of lettuce, tomatoes, kale, strawberries and so many other delicious vegetables.
Growing the Mission
The mission of the Lincoln Park Conservancy and grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden is to involve the entire community in a healthy eating initiative by growing fresh fruits and vegetables, educate children about good nutrition and different types of healthy food, and provide a place for all ages to come together to work and learn about sustainability and healthy eating.
I knew I had to take part in growing this mission (no pun intended!) when I saw the larger impact on the community.
Please join me on July 19th from 6-8 pm for a one-hour yoga class, live music by Omar Ramirez, and a selection of delicious wines and hors d’oeuvres.
Donation: $35 to benefit grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden and help to bring more programming to New Rochelle and the greater Westchester community. Space is limited! RSVP here.
Let’s enjoy a summer night together while supporting the community too!
Summer is so close I can taste it! One of my favorite things about summer is practicing yoga outdoors. There’s something about practicing under the sun that allows me to connect with nature and get into my body in a different way. Outdoor yoga is abundant this season and I’ve included a few options in this post.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to practice on the rooftop of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with the amazing Lauren Taus. The practice, the view and the community were unbelievable. As a celebration of Global Wellness Day, Mind Body Access and Athleta NYC hosted this beautiful event with a day of yoga, pilates, reiki and beauty. It was such a special treat to practice with this community in this extra special space.
If you’re looking to practice outdoor yoga, here are a few opportunities for you:
Select Saturdays in June, July and August at 10 am with ME at the grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden in New Rochelle. Classes are $5 and all proceeds directly support the Lincoln Park Conservancy. Find peace among this beautiful sustainable garden with a gentle yoga class and meditation suitable for all levels. You may even get to bring some fruits and veggies home with you! Register Here. Bring your mat and a water bottle. The first class in on June 23.
Summer Solstice in Times Square
Thursday, June 21. Check out this link for registration and schedule. You’ll be surprised how you can find calm in the busiest part of NYC!
Wednesday, June 20th at 5:30 PM. Court Street, between Main Street and Martine Avenue White Plains, NY. In light of recent events, this cause seems so timely and necessary. I know we all have someone in our lives battling mental illness and showing up to our mats on this day in support of mental health can be our first step. If we know that wellness welcomes everyone and everything maybe we can invite more of the messy stuff into our lives and create that space for our loved ones too. Sign up here.
If you’re looking to go even deeper with your practice off the mat, there’s an amazing Heal Yourself workshop happening this Saturday, June 16 at the beautiful La Palestra in The Plaza Hotel in NYC. My teacher and friend, Bee Bosnak, is hosting her signature workshop for the last time this summer. Bee creates the space for us to show up as we are and dig into vulnerability. This practice allows us to ignite what we’re passionate about and speak our truth. This workshop will be a taste of what I experienced during my yoga retreat in the south of Spain last summer. Offering a vinyasa flow practice, journal time, meditation and sealed with a deep rest, this is sure to be a magical day.
Get tickets here.
I’m having a wine and yoga fundraiser for the garden in July. Although I can’t reveal the details yet, it’s going to be a pretty spectacular event and I can’t wait to share it with you once it’s official!
Traveling throughout Europe has been a mostly easy and stress-free experience for me. I’ve learned that you can cross countries by train relatively inexpensively within a few short hours. While planning a trip to Paris, I knew I wanted to make one more stop in Europe before heading back to the states. For about 100 US dollars you can travel from Paris to Amsterdam on a clean, comfortable and fast-paced train in only 3.5 hours. Nap, snack, read and before you know it, you’re there! I found the best rates on goEuro.com.
Here are my tips for visiting Amsterdam in 48 hours!
Getting there and around the city
If you’re flying into Schiphol airport, it’s very convenient to access other cities from here. There are trains and other means of transportation in the same terminal and access to lockers if you’re only in town for a short layover. This is great if you don’t want to worry about lugging your bags around the city.
From Amsterdam Centraal, you can walk to the City Center or get in a taxi (if you have heavy luggage). You can also travel to many other European cities from here.
The bus system is a good way to check out different neighborhoods. Bus fare is €2.90 for use within one hour and you can purchase it on the bus using a credit or debit card only. They don’t accept cash on the buses.
More than anything, Amsterdam is a GREAT walking and biking city. Now I know why the air feels so clean and fresh, everyone is riding a bike!! You can easily traverse different neighborhoods by foot.
The Jordaan neighborhood was a great choice for a home base in Amsterdam. You can feel like a local while still experiencing a few tourist attractions here. It’s perfectly situated right along the canals for lovely walks down the picturesque streets. I could live here.
The Linden Hotel was a great find by my forever travel companion, Debbie. It’s within walking distance of everything you can see and do in two days. There’s a bus stop conveniently located one block away from the hotel as well.
Upon arriving a few hours before check-in, the hotel concierge offered us a coffee, a place to hold our bags and a map of the city with all the must-see attractions. He gave us a great breakfast recommendation and made us feel right at home. The decor of this place exceeded our expectations with the perfect blend of green and pink details, free postcards for the taking and so many little extra special touches. The Linden Hotel was the perfect stay for two chic women traveling together.
The rooms are small, but they make up for that by providing stroopwafels on your nightstand! There’s an espresso machine offering the most delicious make-yourself cappuccinos for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up on your way out to see the city!
You can get very reasonable rates for this neighborhood at 100-200 US dollars per night. I would definitely stay here again.
If you’re like Debbie and I, your vacation is a mix of experiencing the local culture, shopping, eating and some sightseeing. In 48 hours you can fit in all of this!
Anne Frank House
It’s VERY important that you plan this ahead of time. You cannot buy tickets at the museum. You MUST buy them online in advance. Tickets sell out quickly, so I suggest picking your dates and purchasing at least one month in advance. They are 10 euros, but if you wait too long to book, go to stubhub.com and purchase them for a hefty markup at 50 euros per ticket. This was still worth it to me to experience the real space that Anne Frank and her family were hiding in.
The museum is so well done with real video footage and artifacts of the Frank family. You’ll get a guided tour through the museum with the headphones provided to you. Be ready for some steep stairs as you make your way up to the area where they lived. Photos are strictly prohibited out of respect for the family and other visitors who may have been affected. It’s quite an emotional experience and photos would just tarnish that.
The House has been restored since Anne Frank lived there. Go around to the side of the building to see the original architecture of the house. You can take photos here.
Spring is a fantastic time to visit Amsterdam because all the tulips SHOULD be in bloom, but due to an unseasonably cold winter, the tulips at Keukenhof were scarce. So at a 45-minute drive from the city center, we didn’t want to go there to see only few tulips. So although we visited at prime tulip time, it all depends on Mother Nature! However, a good alternative was the Tulip Museum right in town. They had a plethora of flowers that you could shop and take home to plant. Two-months later and a gorgeous Amaryllis plant I brought home as a gift has bloomed beautifully!
(Pronounced da peep) is another great neighborhood for shopping and walking. Check out the open air market for souvenirs and all sorts of fresh food. There are a few cafes and eateries as well as thrift shops and yoga studios here.
The 9 Streets for shopping
There are so many great small boutiques with unique gifts for yourself or to bring home to your friends.
I scored a beautiful dress at Samsoe & Samsoe (a Danish company with such great quality clothes and accessories), that I plan to wear to the number of occasions I have coming up this summer!
If home decor is your thing, definitely visit Entrepôt Holland. They carry a beautiful selection of jewelry, art, and decor designed by all local artists and artisans. This was like visiting a museum. You can find so many beautiful pieces at very reasonable prices. It’s one of those stores where you walk in and think I can’t afford anything in here! But to my surprise I found a number of unique gifts to bring home including a pair of earrings for my sister and Debbie found a gorgeous handmade flower vase that we both swooned over. The best part was the wonderful store owner offered us low-cost shipping as we didn’t want to pack such fragile gifts. They don’t currently have online ordering, but if you see something you like on their instagram page, send them a message and they will gladly ship it to you.
You’ll get a diverse array of food options in Amsterdam. Authentic Dutch cuisine can be found, but you have to look for it. Don’t leave Amsterdam without trying the local beers, stroopwafels, fries, apple pie, and fresh mint tea.
Piqniq is a wonderful local spot with only a few breakfast options, but you can’t go wrong with anything there. Get the chai latte for sure. We enjoyed a traditional breakfast with a cute cat napping next to us.
VleminckX fries in the Centrum neighborhood- wait on the curbside line to get your afternoon snack.
Cafe Wester to enjoy a beer outdoors and people watch along the canals.
Food market De Pijp- hot off the press stroopwafels, fresh squeezed juices and other Dutch delicacies like meats and cheeses.
Apple Pie at Winkel 43– Winkel’s apple pie was the single best food item I had in all of Amsterdam. When locals recommended it, we knew we couldn’t leave without trying it. Sit at the bar for faster service because it fills up and you may be waiting in line for a while. Trust me, this pie is worth the wait. Debbie and I are the sharing type, but my only regret is that we didn’t get one for each of us! I will go back to Amsterdam just for this pie and if you know me, you know I mean it.
De Reiger was the real deal Dutch cuisine that we were looking for. The food and beer were on point. Just be prepared for a menu that’s only written in Dutch! The waitstaff will try their very best to translate it for you. But if you want to know before you go, we ordered the ravioli appetizer and the fish special. If you’re into IPA’s try the brouwerij’t ij. This was a solid meal in Amsterdam.
Cafe Duende is the oldest tapas bar in Amsterdam. You can’t go wrong with the tapas and red Sangria. It’s another great local spot if you’re staying in the Jordaan neighborhood.
End your stay with a nighttime stroll through the city. The canals are lit up and it’s just one more way to appreciate all the beauty that Amsterdam has to offer.
Have questions? Recommendations? Leave me a comment below or on my instagram feed!
Every time I go to Paris I fall in love with the city all over again. My most recent trip was no exception. It was so lovely that I came back missing it more than ever.
So upon returning from my trip, I’m doing everything I can to bring Paris to moi! Restarting my French lessons, spritzing my new favorite French scent, reading a Parisian themed book and creating a new French playlist on Spotify are just some ways I keep those French feels alive and well.
Here are some of my favorite French finds to help you bring a little bit of Paris to you too!
While staying in Le Marais during this past trip, I discovered some great new brands that I am sure to covet for years to come. As I walked down the Rue de Sévigné heading to Easter brunch, I smelled the most beautiful scent of Lilac that I couldn’t get out of my mind for days. I made it a point to stop back at Parle Moi de Parfum before leaving Paris and pick up the scent Totally White. It’s the perfect scent for spring- light and flowery. I feel so uplifted the moment I put it on.
The creator’s son (and a very handsome Parisian!) was heading the store that day and let us sample every single scent they had in their lab. He was so passionate about his perfume. Go give him a visit at their shop in Le Marais!
My recent obsession is Rebecca Plotnick of Everyday Parisian. Her love of all things French is a match for my own! As an aspiring travel photographer, she picked up her life in Chicago and moved to Paris to follow her dreams. Since then she has been making the most beautiful prints and writes a great blog that constantly quenches my thirst for Paris. One of her recent blog posts was so relatable for me. You can read it here.
Paris is Stride is a beautifully illustrated walking guide that highlights the well known as well as some lesser known cafes and neighborhoods in Paris. It really came in handy on my trip.
I think this is a great guide if you’re a first-time visitor to Paris. So if you’re planning a trip anytime in the future, I highly recommend it! If you’ve been to Paris before, this guide will highlight some old favorites and add some cool new spots to your list. Discover a new neighborhood without worrying about getting lost!
Don’t forget to check out the Broken Arm. Such a cool store!
Fluent in French
Jen is a French expat living in NYC. She teaches French language classes virtually or in person to students of all ages. I discovered her on instagram over a year ago and I recently won a free one hour French lesson and book from a giveaway she had. I was so excited to have my first lesson with her this past Sunday and it was fantastic! Check out her French word of the day here.
She also has a crêpe catering business on the side and I can’t wait to host a party catered by her very soon!
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CRÊPE PARTY and today, I’m the chef 👩🏻🍳! The best bosses are the ones who can take on any situation!!!!! @crepesalamaison #newyorkeatscrepes 💕💕💕 #foodporn #food #foodie #crepes #crepe #yum #sweet #cater #catering #instagood #womenempowerment #womeninbusiness #toklas #eat
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My French Inspired Playlist
Whenever I’m working, relaxing or just putting on my own little fashion show at home, I love to listen to my Paris is Calling playlist that I created on spotify.
Check it out here
I hope my French favorites can become some of your favorites too! Questions? Visiting Paris soon? Leave me a comment below!
Food is such a big part of why I love Paris and definitely something I look forward to when planning a getaway to the city of light. On my first visit to Paris 6 years ago, the only place I wanted to eat was Ladurée. (They have the most divine french toast on the whole planet.) Other than that, I just stumbled on places to eat and every meal was the best ever. On my second trip, I planned nothing and had the most delicious croissant ever. This time, I planned my whole trip around food!! Between the croissant, the cheese, and the array of fresh ingredients, there isn’t much I don’t like about the food in France.
A food tour, a five course tasting menu, street falafel, and a pop-up pastry shop that’s worth waiting in line for, I’d have to name this one of my favorite foodie trips to date. I’ll give you a taste of all of my favorite places to eat in Paris and why you should go there. Warning: don’t read while hungry!!
Good for: Lunch or Dinner
Carbón Paris. Since this was the first Easter I would be spending away from my family, I wanted to make sure it was still a special day with an extra special meal. Carbon did not disappoint. Upon arriving a few minutes early for our reservation (You must reserve a table here, you won’t be seated otherwise, even if you see tables that are free) the waitress told us that the kitchen would be open soon, but would we like a drink first? Mais, bien sur!
We went with the 2017 Judith Beck Koreaa, a great white to pair with the scallop and cauliflower appetizer. It was easy to drink with light fruit notes. A perfect Easter wine from Austria. All of the wines they serve are organic and they only have about 7 bottles to choose from. They only advertise by the bottle, but you can get certain wines by the glass. Just ask!
We had the greatest server, who was very accommodating and helpful with choosing our wine and food. I’d go back here just for the great service. The ambience is très bien aussi. It’s cozy, not pretentious (as some may think restaurants in France to be) and just beautiful to look at. And is located right in the heart of Le Marais.
The food is super fresh made with seasonal and mostly local ingredients. All of their dishes are cooked over fire, no gas or electric is used. Just like Francis Mallman’s Los Fuegos in Miami. The menu offers about 6 different appetizers, 5 mains, and 2 desserts with specials du jour.
What to order
For a party of 2, I’d recommend you share two starters. We ordered the scallops. They were perfect texture and served with a cauliflower puree which was one of my favorite tastes of the meal. Then, we shared two mains which were the halibut and the lamb. Both delicious and perfectly cooked. The menu is constantly changing based on what’s in season, so don’t go looking for these dishes. Just know that no matter what you order, Carbón will do it right.
Good for: Dinner
My top pick for a full gastronomical experience in Paris that won’t break the bank is Verjus. After reading several reviews and recommendations for this restaurant, I was convinced I had to try it!
Verjus serves a tasting menu so each item is selected for you. Ingredients are sourced locally and seasonally. The restaurant is small and reservations book up quickly so I recommend booking a few weeks before your visit. Plan to stay for a few hours as you will be savoring every bite and enjoying the experience. This isn’t a quick dinner.
If it’s a special occasion (when is Paris not a special occasion?!) do the wine pairing. It’s worth it to discover some new wines and have a fresh glass with every course.
You’ll start with a few finger foods that are sure to satiate your sophisticated palette. So simple, yet so delicious. This is followed by 2 veggie courses- ours were asparagus and morels (mushrooms). The main course was a lamb tartare. You’ll end with 2 separate dessert courses. Save room because you won’t want to pass this up!
Paris by Mouth Food Tour
Good for: Tasting/ Cheese &Wine/ Desserts
After stumbling upon the Paris by mouth blog I was convinced that I had to hop on one of their food tours during my trip. This was such a special treat. Being guided to the best croissants, baguettes, cheeses, wines and chocolates by an insider and French food expert was a priceless experience. Not only will you get the best of the best when it comes to food, but you’ll get a history of the neighborhood where you choose to take your tour and a lot of the food history as well.
I won’t give away all of Paris by Mouth’s secrets, but I encourage you to take one of these tours. If you really want to know some of these spots, and can’t get on a tour, just email me! Tours last about 3 hours, all tastings are included, and you will have a chance to sit and enjoy a wine tasting with your food.
Here are some highlights from the tour…
We kicked off the tour with bread, baguette de tradition to be exact! Shouldn’t every day start that way?! I learned so much about the history of baguettes and how you can tell the good from the bad! If you want more info on how to find a great baguette in Paris check out this article.
We went to a local fromagerie and a charcutier traiteur (Butcher) to grab some meat and cheese to pair with our wine from La Cave de Turenne. Here we enjoyed six cheeses, a variety of meats, and three wines. We learned about where and how our wine and cheese was made- a delicious education!
The grand finale was only the best chocolate! Don’t leave without trying the mint ganache in dark chocolate. It’s tastes like a mojito!!!
Great for: Lunch/ A shopping snack break/Views of the city/Cheese/Artisanal French products
I highly recommend you check out Printemps du gout- located on the 8th floor of the Printemps Haussmann- Homme. If for nothing else, go here for a great view of the city!
Enjoy a perfect french onion soup and croque monsieur du jour with la tour eiffel.
Cedric Grolet’s pop-up shop at Le Meurice
Good for: Pastries
This pop-up pastry shop located at 6 Rue Castiglione is brought to you by Cédric Grolet, Chef Pâtissier at the restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse. He was elected World’s Best Restaurant Pastry Chef 2017 by the Association Les Grandes tables du Monde. Don’t miss this, because it won’t be here for long. Otherwise you’ll have to spend a pretty penny to taste his creations at Restaurant Le Meurice.
Mi Va Mi
Good for: Falafel/late night snack
After a long day this just hit the spot in every way. Located in the Jewish Quarter in Le Marais, this authentic and fresh made falafel was totally worth waiting in line for!
Although there are many more to mention, these were my top picks and what I thought worth sharing! Have you tried any of these? Chime in in the comments below.
Contrary to popular belief, Miami is not just South Beach and it’s so much more than a party city. Don’t get me wrong, you can party plenty, but there is so much more to appreciate here such as the art, culture, shopping and cuisine.
I put together a guide for you to eat well, enjoy the beach, see some beautiful art and experience a little bit of culture too, all while avoiding South Beach!
The Fontainebleau Hotel is a beautiful resort located in Miami Beach. If you have no interest in leaving the resort and want to just chill out for the weekend, then this is the place for you! Boasting 3+ restaurants, 5+ pools, easy beach access, a club and boutiques on the premises you seriously never have to leave this resort. The rooms offer 2 balconies and beautiful amenities like a full kitchen and 2 bathrooms! We had a little party in our room before hitting the town with a gorgeous view of the ocean and pool.
The pool is where you’ll want to soak up some sun, have a few cocktails, and even grab a delicious al fresco lunch at La Côte. You’ll want to head to the pool by 10 a.m to get a chair because it fills up quickly. Once you’ve claimed your spot, order a mojito (savor it because they go for $20 a pop, but you don’t need many to get a buzz!), and head straight to one of the 5 pools.
La Côte, a french mediterranean bistro serving appetizers, sandwiches, and fresh ceviches. I had the seared ahi tuna sandwich and it was perfection.
Check out Hakkasan for a fantastic cocktail menu and dim sum brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Also if you just want a snack, stop by chez bon bon for amazing gelato and pastries. Warning: everything looks amazingly decadent and you won’t be able to choose!
A Gastronomical Experience
Don’t miss out on Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann in the Faena hotel. Ever since Phillip and I started watchingChef’s table on Netflixwe’ve been addicted and made a goal to hit up the restaurants we see on the show! Mallmann is special in that he only uses open fire to cook. No gas or electric, just fire!
A quote from the menu: “You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: How could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?”~ Friedrich Nietzsche
As you walk into the Faena hotel you are greeted by gorgeous art deco paintings. What a welcome!
As for the restaurant, they have indoor seating or an outdoor deck. The bar is set high with the bread basket- authentic Argentine rolls (you can’t just eat one!) and the creamiest butter you’ve ever tasted. Appetizers not to be missed include the octopus and filet mignon empanadas. For wine, order the Malbec- smooth and medium bodied, the perfect complement to the appetizer course. I had the Mediterranean Branzino served with charred brussel sprouts, quinoa salad, and a charred eggplant yogurt for the main course. My mouth is watering thinking about it. Perfectly cooked. I cleaned my plate!
After dinner hop over to the bar for live music. You can hang at the bar or reserve a table. I’d suggest reserving a table so you can sit down and enjoy the music.
The Epic- A Kimpton Hotel- is in a great central location with beautiful views of the Biscayne Bay. The hotel has two pools,an Exhale spa and yoga studio, and two restaurants on site. The room is stocked with exhale spa products and a jacuzzi bath perfect for relaxing before or after a night out on the town.
This neighborhood has a completely different vibe than Miami Beach. Visit for great street art and a fun foodie scene.
Check out the Wynwood Walls for instagram worthy graffiti and street art. It’s like a small outdoor gallery similar to the walls I wrote about inConey Island last summer. Jeffrey Deitch calls it “a museum of the streets”. It will only take a few minutes to walk through the exhibition and snap a few photos, but there are some little boutiques and art stores around the area you can peruse afterwards. Doors open at 11 a.m so if you get to the area early, grab brunch first.
Brunch atMorgan’s restaurant. The chicken and waffles and maple bacon are 100. The fresh squeezed juices are on point too. Sit outside on their nautical themed porch to enjoy the beautiful breeze Florida offers this time of year.
Just a 5 minute drive from ourhotel in Downtown Miami, our uber driver, a Miami native, gave us some tips on where to go in the heart of little Havana. With a few hours to spare before heading to the airport, we spent our afternoon hanging in Havana oh na na…
Check out Domino Park where all the Cuban men play dominos as they drink their shots of espresso. There are a bunch of cigar bars where you can roll your own cigars (if you’re into that). I love the smell, but can’t smoke them! Stroll around and snap some cool photos.
Stop at La Isla, a local shop that sells art, accessories, and other goods made by local artisans in Miami. I purchased a handmade necklace and earrings made out of orange peels. The store is so bright and fun, you’ll surely find something you love!
Eat and Drink
Ball and Chain offers a great cocktail menu with live music. The cuban sandwich was arguably the best cuban sandwich I’ve ever had. A perfect balance of cheese, meat, pickles and sauce on perfectly toasted cuban bread. Enjoy drinks on their back patio where there’s a big pineapple stage for live entertainment.
North Miami Beach/Bal Harbour
At the northernmost tip of Miami beach, you’ll find an upscale neighborhood and shops in Bal Harbour. Surrounded by colorful flowers, palm trees, and a live koi pond, you will feel luxurious just strolling around the vicinity of the shops.
Enjoy an amazing Italian lunch at Carpaccio. Many of their ingredients are shipped in daily from Italy and their fish is caught in the Mediterranean a few days before it is served to you. Sip a Bellini on their patio while you people watch and admire all the fancy cars. Order the special Burrata and prosciutto plate. You’ll thank me later.
Grab a coffee at Santa Fe News and Espresso on the second floor and take away a few macarons from the Ladurée Bal Harbour Carriage. Eat under the palm trees as you admire the beauty around you.
Treat yourself to something extra special from one of the many high-end shops. A watch from Audemars Piguet for a mere 65K. Who says money can’t buy happiness? Perhaps a classic investment piece from Goyard or a spring splurge with this amazing box bag! Seriously, come prepared to drool over some of these windows and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere.
Well, there you have it. Turns out you can still enjoy Miami without ever stepping foot in South Beach. Explore off the beaten path and discover something new.
Did I leave anything out? Do you have any insider tips on Miami? Let me know by leaving a comment below or on the instagram page.Thanks for stopping by the blog!