Thursday, January 31, 2013


 Last summer we spent a little over a week in Italy, three days of which were spent in Rome.  It was hot and crowded but still oh so beautiful.  It was amazing knowing how much history had taken place right under our feet thousands of years ago.  Our days were spent visiting landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Pantheon, and St. Peter's.  At night we enjoyed gelato, threw pennies into the Trevi Fountain, and ate Cacio e Pepe {a famous Roman dish of pasta, cheese, and lots of black pepper - recipe here}.  La dolce vita! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Happy Wednesday friends!  I have been in bed the past two days sick, and am aching to get out of the house.  Fingers crossed that I'm feeling all better by the weekend.  Other than that, here is what I have been up to lately...
{Enjoying the beautiful (but cold) Midwestern weather}
{We had a bunch of out of town friends come up and visit for Ryan's 25th was a smashing success!}
{Dining on oysters}
{A gorgeous snowy hike}
 {Finished my thank you notes}
 {Rearranged some of my books}
 {Had dinner at the infamous St. Elmo's Steakhouse}
 {Purchased my mom a slate & oak cheese board for her birthday - to go along with the French Cheese Knives and "The Cheesemonger's Kitchen" book she received for Christmas}
 {Playing in the snow}
{Baked Alaska from The Oceanaire, a surprise for Ryan's birthday}

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Giraffe Manor

 Giraffe Manor, a luxury hotel outside of Nairobi, was set up by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife as a breeding and conservation center for the endangered Rothschild Giraffe.  Built in the 1930's, you can base your African Safari at this beautiful manor - with the giraffes vying for your attention at the breakfast table, the front door and even your bedroom window.  Another place to add to my bucket list!
Images via

Monday, January 28, 2013

Miranda Brooks' Brooklyn Home

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the gorgeous Brooklyn home of landscape designer Miranda Brooks and her family, and can I just say I am having total home envy?  First of all, the color palette, exposed beams, potting shed, and not to mention her adorable family are all picture perfect.  And then I remember that this home is not in the countryside - it is in BROOKLYN!  How is this even possible?!  The yard is so lush, they even have a pony and bunnies!  The ideal combination of the city and the country.  More photos below!
Images via

Friday, January 25, 2013

Favorite Paris Eateries

Yesterday I gave you some tips for enjoying the best possible meals in Paris, and today I am going to tell you about five of my absolute favorite eateries!
Laduree: The most famous patisserie in Paris.  They have shops throughout the city {as well as across the world} but my favorite is their location on the Champs Elysees.  It is always swarming with tourists and nearly always has a line outside -- but it is so worth the wait.  Not only are their pastries and teas amazing {they are known to have some of the best macaroons in the world} but the elegant interior of the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous.  Its multiple dining rooms across two floors are filled with crystal chandeliers, gold molding, beautiful textiles, pastel-hued china, and silver tea services.  Marie Antoinette would clearly approve.  My absolute favorite dessert was the Saint-Honore Rose Framboise which was a gorgeous combination of fresh raspberries, rose-petal creme, custard, pâte feuilletée, raspberry compote, and rose fondant -- topped with one beautiful red rose petal.  I would give anything to have one of these for lunch today!
Le Comptoir du Relais: This brasserie received the trifecta of accolades - it was recommended by Fodor's, Bon Appetit, AND a Parisian friend.  Clearly we had to give it a try.  On my first trip to Paris I ventured to this restaurant with my boyfriend and sister {who had flown over from Germany to meet us}.  They do not take reservations so you have to stand in a line outside of the restaurant to get a table.  It is quite small and we had to wait about 90 minutes to be seated -- but it was so worth it.  The extensive menu features farm to table classic French fare with a twist.  I ordered the tuna {pictured above} which was absolutely fantastic.  I loved it so much that I went there again with my mom this fall.  This time we were seated outside under a heat lamp and given fleece blankets to keep us warm.  It was her favorite meal of the entire trip, and we still daydream about it!
Les Cocottes de Christian Constant: This was another restaurant with a lot of hype, so my boyfriend and I decided to save it for our last night in Paris.  Located in the uber-posh 7th Arrondisement, only a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower, it was even more crowded than expected.  Since it also didn't take reservations we were a bit nervous that they wouldn't be able to seat us, but after a slightly uncomfortable 45-minute wait {the waiting area was tiny and packed with people} we were seated at the bar.  What ensued was a two-hour long feast for the taste buds.  We started with the infamous Vraie salade César Ritz which was simply perfect.  It {along with the majority of the other items on the menu} was served in a cast-iron Staub cocotte.  For my entree I had the most delicious provencal-style chicken with root vegetables, again cooked in a cast-iron cocotte.  To finish we split the insanely rich and delicious La fabuleuse tarte au chocolate de Christian Constant, which most certainly lived up to its hype.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect week in Paris.
Chez Georges: I was dying to visit a quintessential Parisian bistro reminiscent of one of my favorite era's - the 1920's.  After doing some research I decided on Chez Georges, which was recommended by Bon Appetit and Julia Child herself {during my trip I was actually reading "My Life in Paris" in which she describes Chez Georges as one of her favorite bistros}.  Located on a quiet little street, it would be easy to miss {thank goodness for Google Maps}.  However, once we stepped inside we were transported to an era of classic French food and style.  I ordered the Sole Chez Georges {similar to Sole Meuniere} which was delicious and incredibly rich.  I could only finish about one third of it!  We sipped wine and enjoyed the lively atmosphere.  If you're looking for classic French fare I would highly recommend Chez George.
Fromage: Ok, so I know this isn't a "restaurant" but honestly a trip to Paris is not complete without a simple meal of fresh baguette, cheese, a bit of fruit or preserves, and some wine by the Seine.  It is quick, easy, and the absolutely out of this world delicious.  Believe me when I tell you the cheese in the United States doesn't even hold a candle to French cheese {many of which are actually illegal to sell in the US because they are unpasteurized}.  I highly recommend picking up your cheese at the fromagerie on Ile Saint Louis then walking just a few hundred steps to the Seine.  If you're feeling extra lucky then stop at the patisserie on the island and pick up something sweet for dessert.  It is one of my happiest memories of Paris, and I know it will be yours too!

Images via {1} {2} {3} {4} {5} {6} {7} {8} {9} {10} {12}