Parisian Charm

When you have beautifully pruned gardens, pedestrian paths along the Seine, and museums in what were once ornate palaces and grand train stations, it’s no wonder that you’re labeled the “most romantic city” in the world. At the same time, I’ve never been in any other city where I’ve had to try so hard to please the locals — speak their language, order proper 3-course meals, and avoid inadvertent offense. Nor have I ever been so paranoid to hear “Speak English?” (and then “Hablo Espanol?” seriously?), especially when I’m trying to take a photo in peace. Oh, Paris…

But when your opera houses and city halls look like palaces and roundabouts exhibit [former] imperial glory…you can’t help but be charming and dramatic at the same time, like the residents. Continue reading

Le Marais District in Paris

After nearly a week of obligatory tourist visits (and averaging 8 miles of walking per day), we decided to take it easy the day before our flight and stick to one area. Without actually doing any research, we chose to hop off the metro at the Hotel de Ville stop and wander around. Much to our surprise, we stumbled upon the cutest historic district of all time! Even the Uniqlo is in a beautiful, historic building! Continue reading

Château de Versailles

Despite the occasional rain, the pollen count in Paris was off the charts while we were there. Thankfully, pharmacies in Europe are as plentiful as convenience stores in Asia — on every corner, with a flashing green cross instead of “7-11″. As painful as it was to walk through seemingly endless acres of landscaped gardens, it was totally worth it.

True story: Versailles is only about a 20-minute train ride from Paris; no big deal, right? Except when the “train broke down” and the station closed, so we had to walk to the next station, hop on the only other RER train going in the other direction, and wait nearly two hours to get back into the city. At least we got a mini-tour of the ‘burbs countryside! Continue reading

Le Musée du Louvre

The first time I visited the Louvre was on a class trip the summer before high school started. I was jetlagged and not quite old enough to appreciate much of anything, really. The second time, I was on one of those obnoxious Chinese-English tour groups that blazed through the crowds from one key art piece to another. Needless to say, I didn’t really experience the Louvre until this trip — third time’s the charm, right?

Ryan and I walked from the L’Arc de Triomph all the way to the Louvre (reference frame: that’s 6 metro stops), so we were able to experience the Champs Elysees leading up to Place de la Concorde, through the Tuileries gardens, which finally opened up and revealed the magnificent palace. It was so breathtaking that we went back the next day. Continue reading

Snapshots from New York City

Ryan and I spent a few days in New York before our Euro trip, to make the trans-atlantic flight more bearable. I think it was a good idea to adjust our internal clock a few hours forward and get used to the tourist crowds in advance, too. Highlights of the Big Apple? The High Line, Brooklyn Bridge, and Lady M crepe cakes — with an emphasis on the last. Continue reading

Before & After: Our Dining Room Reveal

Last July, Ryan and I bought our first home: a cute little ~900sqft condo in a suburban neighborhood of Seattle proper. I fell in love with the unit at first sight, due to the amount of natural light flooding into an efficient floor plan — not to mention the plethora of windows affording awesome views of the downtown skyline and Capitol Hill. The building is a little over 20 years old, but our unit was pretty well maintained, so aside from new bedroom carpeting and a few layers of paint, we had little renovations to do.

I’ve been meaning to do a home tour ever since we moved in, but decorating took much longer (and proved much more difficult) than I imagined! Sometimes, when a piece seems to fit (mentally), it doesn’t actually work in real life because the proportions are off, or, by measurements, the furniture will fit, but when you actually assemble it and move it into place, something is off. As a recent Seattle transplant and first-time homeowner, we didn’t have much to work with, thus the partial reveal 10 months later. Regardless, I am most proud of our living room progress (thus the debut!), as I think it is the most collected and composed room in our home thus far. Continue reading

The Galvin Ranch House

Ryan advises a few companies on technical architecture, and a few weeks ago, one of his clients graciously flew both of us down to Santa Barbara to spend a weekend on her ranch. Crazy how rooster crows, fresh eggs, furry pals, and horse rides can make this city gal crave country life! Or maybe it was the endorphin-inducing California sun. Continue reading

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