Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Paris Perfect

Is there really anything more beautiful than Paris in springtime or anytime for that matter?  I've only been to Paris once, it was the spring of 2008 and our daughter was studying abroad in the south of France so we went over to spend a little over a week with her.

We spent four wonderful days along the Mediterranean and then we traveled north by train to Paris to spend the rest of our time touring the most visited city in the world.  It was almost exactly two years ago this week that we were there, during Easter time.

I'm not a big travel planner, I don't make lists or know exactly where or what I want to see when I go someplace new.  I do however have a running tally in my brain of things I've seen in magazines, heard from friends, or simply found online that make me take note and remind me that I "must" see something when I do visit one of the locations on my wish list. 

For instance, I know that one day when I visit Fiji I will insist on staying in one of those hotels with huts built directly over the water or that the next time I'm in England I will take a train to Devon and Cornwall to try and find the castle where one of Mr. Tide's ancestors was born (she was supposedly the daughter of the castle's gardener!).

I do look online and get an overview of what is in a particular area, but I just don't have a "plan" per se where every waking moment is mapped out with times and destinations.  I guess I never view anywhere we go as the "last" time we'll visit that place, but always as though it's the first time, and I'll be back again one day.  That way I don't feel like I have to squeeze in every possible attraction while I'm visiting, and instead can just enjoy being in a place, just for the sake of being there.  I want to experience it the way someone who has lived their all their lives experiences it.  So we eat at restaurants recommended by locals and we skip most of the huge tourist attractions, we do see some of course, but those places are never at the top of our list.

Mr. Tide was much more of a planner when we first met, so it took a few years before he learned to love my style of travel, and no I didn't brow beat him into submission, he truly has embraced this more carefree, unscheduled approach. 

So he wasn't surprised at all when just one week before we were due to leave for France that I didn't have a hotel reservation in one of the busiest cities in the world over Easter weekend no less!  He trusted that, like they always do, things would work out and we wouldn't be sleeping along the Seine somewhere huddled together on a bench.

I had contacted Paris Perfect, a wonderful company that rents apartments in some of the most posh neighborhoods in Paris.  Although that may sound like a very expensive way to stay in the city, it really is one of the most cost effective things you can do when visiting Paris.  I also love that these apartments are in real Parisian neighborhoods, filled with the sights, smells, and sounds of everyday life in Paris! 

Just a few days before we left I received an email from the wonderful folks at Paris Perfect saying that they would rent us one of their gorgeous apartments for less than the full week that they normally require.  See, it does pay to procrastinate!  And it was almost half of what we would have paid for 2 hotel rooms during a holiday weekend.  

The apartment had a full kitchen, two baths, a bedroom, and then a wonderful sleeper sofa that converted into two single beds...perfect for a family of 4!  The location was perfect....just as the company name indicates, and we had the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower from the beautiful big french doors along one wall of the apartment!

We had such a wonderful time traveling around the city for those few days and I have very fond memories of spending time with my family in such a marvelous and beautiful city.  So today when I stopped by French Kissed and saw a whole post on one of my favorite places to eat macaroons, Laduree, it was as though I was transported back 2 years for just a moment in time!  I was sipping tea, eating raspberry macaroons, and soaking in all that is Paris in springtime! 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sworn Enemies

Our wonderful neighbor "J" has 3 beautiful cats.  They are the lights of her life, aside from her family of course, but for our dear dog Mr. Quinn, they represent evil in it's purist form.

I'm not quite sure what it is about these friendly felines that gets his ire up so badly since he's lived side by side with them since he was just a wee pup, but whatever it is, his feelings of disdain for them runs deep.  He is somewhat irritated by all of them, but there is one cat neighbor in particular that he has it out for!

Her name is Katie Kitty, and even the mere mention of her name will send him flying to a window or door to see if she is invading our territory by walking through our yard.  Now you have to understand that we live next to 200 acres of undeveloped land, about 30 of which is open fields, so Katie Kitty finds this wide open hunting space completely irresistible.  Mr. Quinn on the other hand finds her need to cut across our yard to get to the fields as a personal affront to his doggie manhood and so he goes completely ballistic every time she does this, and I do mean every time!

I'm not even sure how he does it, he can be lying at my feet in a dead sleep and somehow he senses her little paws treading across our lawn and races to the window as though 6 heavily armed intruders are trying to break down the doors!  Also keep in mind that sweet Katie Kitty knows just which buttons to push and will sashay past the windows and flaunt her fluffy tail as if to say, catch me if you can you dumb dog you!

Aside from being rather loud and startling when Mr. Quinn goes in to high alert mode, he pretty much just goes straight to red alert level, which doesn't really help me stay calm and zen like I'm supposed to.  Not to mention the fact that this is great fun if you are in the midst of an important work phone call!  And it is wreaking havoc with our new wood floors and nicely painted window sills! Today he added a few more scratches to the sill in our bedroom and found himself in the dog house as far as his momma was concerned!

Last week, Katie made an error in judgment and lingered a little too long in the yard.  So of course she ended up in a tree for awhile, once the dogs spotted her, and didn't come down until all was quiet on the western front!  

So it's man against beast, or at least woman against dog at this point.  So listen up, we like Katie Kitty and her mole killing skills so Mr. Quinn, as cute and lovable as you are, I'm afraid you and Miss Katie Kitty need to sign a treaty, come to an understanding, and just plain call a truce!

Dear Blogger, Get Well Soon

It seems that our dear friend Blogger is having a few issues today.  She or he, hmm not sure which it is, hasn't been feeling up to snuff.  I think she's a little sluggish and unable to load all of our wonderful posts and pictures.  Maybe she's on spring break too?!  Whatever the problem, I want to send some get well quick wishes to our dear friend in hopes that my posts will look good again and be filled with pretty pictures.  And that all of the other blogs I spend hours looking at will be all better too!

Get Well Blogger...we're all pullin' for ya!

Making Dreams Come True with Matthew Mead

Have you drooled over Matthew Mead's amazing design genius for years now, like I have?!  Then why not enter to be a part of his wonderful 2010 holiday issue?
Head over to Holiday with Matthew Mead to find out how you can win the opportunity to have your blog or online shop mentioned in the magazine. Holiday with Matthew Mead is a  "book-azine" celebrating and offering inspiration for the Christmas holiday season. To be released in October 2010, Holiday is offered via online orders only - in limited quantities - and will not be sold on newsstands. But, by simply following the BUY HOLIDAY MAGAZINE link below their banner, you can reserve your own copy of this beautiful magazine, with guaranteed delivery of the magazine straight to your mailbox!  Holiday with Matthew Mead is144 pages of holiday inspiration with well-known and admired designers, bloggers and top-notch features, printed on beautiful paper and not drowning in ads!

Now, head on over for your chance to win!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

April Showers Bring May Weddings

The old saying that April showers bring May flowers is very fitting considering that my daughter and I are hosting an April wedding shower at our house which will then be followed by a beautiful May wedding. 

The bride to be is the daughter of my dear friend "J" and one of my daughter's oldest and dearest friends.  And while the bride and her mother are in the throws of all of the stress and anxiety that comes with planning and preparing for a wedding, I've been having a ball getting ready for the bridal shower.

I love party planning, a trait I inherited from my mother.  And finding just the right invitations, selecting flowers, ordering a cake, these are all things I consider fun!  I love pouring over wedding magazines or searching online for wonderful ideas and budget friendly ways to throw a fun and memorable shower, especially when it's in honor of someone so special.

The first order of business was to find the invitations.  I wanted something simple, yet feminine, and after hunting online for just the right shower invitations, I ended up finding some that I loved at Target.  They're by a company called Jenny Sweeney Designs, and they were everything I was hoping for.

I love the little dress dancing among the hearts and branches of the tree and how it says "Love is in bloom..."!  And I also loved the fact that we could use the printer to fill out the time, date, location, etc. to give the invitations a more polished look.

Next, it was time to find a pretty tablecloth.  The wedding colors are pink and green so this beautiful floral tablecloth from Home Goods was quite the find!  And at only $14.99 it was calling my name!

Then it was time to decide what to use as party favors.  I think favors can be one of the most daunting things to decide upon for a bridal shower, wedding, or any time favors are called for.  I decided to use Jordan Almonds after reading about how symbolic they are in certain cultures when it comes to weddings.  Mr. Tide and I had these sweet treats at our own wedding, but it wasn't until recently that I knew the meaning behind them.

Below are a few quotes from The Knot explaining what Jordan Almonds signify in traditional Greek and Italian wedding culture.

"In traditional Greek weddings, sugarcoated almonds are called koufetta. They are placed in little bags in odd numbers and are served on a silver tray. Because odd numbers are indivisible, this symbolizes that the newlyweds will share everything and remain undivided. Tradition holds that if an unmarried woman puts the almonds under her pillow, she'll dream of her future husband."  

"At traditional Italian weddings, five almonds signify five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. These almonds decorate each place setting as favors, tucked into pretty boxes or tulle bags called bomboniere that are often personalized with the couple's names and wedding date."

I found some wonderful clear cellophane bags that were just the right size to use to hold the Jordan Almonds, and remember those tags I used for my laundry room makeover?  Well, I went back to Michael's and bought some more, this time to use on each favor bag.  I think we'll put the bride and groom's first initials on each tag.

I also found these wonderful Martha Stewart scrapbooking stickers while I was at Michael's.  I haven't decided if I will use both on the favor bags, but they were just so pretty I couldn't resist buying them.

I love these dainty white embossed heart stickers by Martha Stewart...

And I may just have to use a few of these floral stickers along with the hearts.  They are so pretty and have just enough glitter to add a bit of sparkle to the bags.

I also bought a few spools of this wonderful ribbon in shades of the wedding colors to use to tie up each bag.  I think they will provide the perfect punch to the almond filled favor bags!

And because the bridal shower's theme is a variation on an afternoon tea, there will be plenty of silver, depression glass, and china used.  I found this lovely silver tray on one of my recent thrift store visits.  It needs some polishing up, but it will be lovely stacked with finger sandwiches.

There is still plenty more to do, like nailing down the menu, buying the food, putting together the favor bags, and polishing up all of the silver, but I really am having a blast planning this bridal shower with my daughter.  And if I can find a small umbrella (see the photo above which appeared on The Knot but I found it via The Party Dress), this is what I hope my centerpiece will look like!  Isn't that about the most adorable bridal shower table setting you've ever seen?!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Belles Fleurs and a Winner

Today was cold and rainy, like late March and early April can be in our area.  Yesterday Mr. Tide and I stopped by to visit an old friend of my mother's.  She is in her 80s and is slowly trying to become a retired florist.  The problem is that she does such beautiful arrangements that no one will let her completely retire.  Truth be told, she still enjoys doing flowers for people and it really keeps her young.

After visiting with her for awhile and talking about everything flower, family, and yard related, she insisted that we go downstairs and get some Ranunculus from her big walk in cooler.  She had ordered some for a funeral arrangement she was asked to do this week and then decided not to use them.  I love Ranunculus and think they are one of the most beautiful flowers going so I was more than happy to take them off her hands.

When I got up this morning I transferred the flowers into a large glass vase and didn't really even bother to arrange them.  Sometimes I think that flowers just need to find their own place in a vase and not be told exactly which spot to occupy or how straight to stand.

As always, I played around with the settings on my camera and used different backgrounds to highlight the flowers.  I recently purchased a digital photography book by Scott Kelby and he recommends shooting flowers with a white or black background so I tried both.

It's amazing the variations in colors and textures you get by just using different settings on the camera.

Although the white background pictures are lovely, it's the ones with the black backdrop that I think really highlight how beautiful the Ranunculus are.

Nothing adds color and beauty to a house quite like a fresh bouquet of flowers.  This weekend I will be running around taking our son to look at different colleges and universities so that he can decide where he wants to attend next Fall.

I hope each of you find a little color and beauty for yourselves this weekend.

It's time for Mellow Yellow Monday.

And before I leave you, I wanted to thank everyone who entered to win my latest giveaway and to announce the winner of the napkin holder from Lola Belle Co.
And the winner is...#26 Laura.  Congratulations Laura!!!

Laura said... 26
Hi- My last picnic was eating outside while at a flea market. We had a blast. I love your blog and was a follower before the giveaway- Laura White Spray Paint

Free is Good

This week has been a blur, with appointments, road trips, and general house "stuff".  I've also been having a blast helping my daughter plan a bridal shower for one of her oldest and dearest friends.  I truly can't believe that one of my best friends has a daughter getting married and that her daughter and mine are the same age!  It seems like just yesterday that our girls were making mud pies in the backyard or playing dress up!

Amidst all of the running around, I did take a little bit of time to work on my guest bath this week.  Our guest bathroom was the first project we completed in our whole house remodel.  It's been finished for a while now, but I just never got around to doing those all important finishing touches, like putting up artwork.  I have been trying to find just the right thing to hang on the wall in there for a long time, and this week I just decided that the "perfect" artwork would have to wait...good enough would have to do for now.  And if I could find something good enough that was also cheap, all the better.

A week or so ago I was visiting another blogger's site, the tasteful and talented Rene of Cottage and Vine, when she showed us this picture of some beautiful vintage artwork she had hanging on the wall of her gorgeous kitchen.

Rene also mentioned that she had printed these lovely bird egg prints from Vintage Printable, a wonderful online source for vintage artwork you can print for free.  I had visited their site before and then promptly forgot about them until Rene's beautiful prints reminded me to go back and take another look.

Vintage Printable has a wonderful selection of botanicals, sealife, birds, and all sorts of things to choose from.  Being the water loving girl that I am, I knew I wanted something beach inspired so I went straight to their seashell prints.  And since we live in an area which is famous for its oysters, I fell in love with the vintage prints of bivalves, which  included illustrations of scallops, clams, oysters, and mussels.

The next step was to find some inexpensive frames that didn't look inexpensive.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time then you know that I'm a bit of a cheapskate.  I love beautiful things, but if I can find something on the clearance aisle I'm one very happy camper!  I went to Target, Marshalls, Home Goods but came home empty handed every time.   I was getting a little frustrated, especially after seeing Rene's gorgeous bamboo frames, until I realized I had the perfect frame already, a little ladder made from old barn wood that has been tucked away in our garage for the last 3 years.

I removed the cobwebs from the ladder, gathered up the supplies I needed, and got busy on the project.

I also perused the vintage shells and printed the ones I liked the best.

I trimmed the prints and then simply put a bead of glue on the 4 corners of the ladder where the prints would be attached.  Because the bathroom gets moisture I used Krazy Glue for a stronger bond.  After letting the glue dry, and adding a small sawtooth hanger to the back of the ladder, it was time to hang my new artwork on the bathroom wall.

So my boring blank bathroom wall went from this...

To this...

There are no windows in this bathroom so trying to take good pictures with very low light is nearly impossible, at least for me!  But I love how my new artwork turned out.  It is the perfect compliment to the rest of the bathroom and the room finally feels finished!  

I love the mix of the rustic ladder with the vintage prints.  And yes, I know that some of them are a bit crooked, but hey I'm not even worried about that, I kind of like that it's not perfect, kind of like me!  And the best part of all, the whole thing was free!  And I really love that! 

It's time for another Saturday Nite Special over at Funky Junk Interiors!

I'm linking up for Shop The House Sunday at Finesse Your Nest!

It's Metamorphosis Monday again at Between Naps on the Porch!

Head over to Coastal Charm for Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays.