Along the banks of the Ohio River, sits a metropolis affectionately known as the Queen City. Overlooking the city, a hill rises. Mount Adams watches over the city, the river, and the banks of Kentucky. Even though Cincinnati isn’t as large or maybe as exciting as Chicago, it has a charm all its own. This neighborhood oozes charm and is one of my favorite places to visit.
The first time Jordan took me to Mount Adams was New Years Eve weekend in 2005, a few months into our relationship. He had lived in Cincinnati the previous year and was looking forward to showing me around. We only had a few hours to visit the mount before needing to attend a party elsewhere in the city. Thankfully, those road trips to Ohio continued in the following years and visiting Mount Adams became a part of the ritual.
Tuesday night Jordan and I braved the impending storm to spend the evening in Chicago. We shopped a little, ate dinner and took a nice long walk through the Gold Coast which is one of our favorite downtown neighborhoods. Those are my favorite kind of date nights. Sometimes it’s fun to have a fully planned agenda, but the summer months cultivate a sense of spontaneity in me. The streets are alive with a specific energy and if you feel like turning left you can turn left or stop at a park bench and talk. This is much harder to do when it is cold!
The rain was intense only for about 15 minutes, but it forced us to finally purchase that umbrella we kept telling ourselves to buy. We are now fully prepared for the next summer night storm.
P.S. I’m loving the resurgence of hats this summer. Why did they ever leave?
If you visit my parent’s house during the summer, please expect a tour of my father’s garden. Mostly likely after the meal, but certainly before dessert. It is a beautiful little journey, full of colorful, lively flowers and a variety of delicious vegetables.
Over Father’s Day weekend, Jordan and I spent time capturing my dad’s handiwork.
I was lucky to grow up eating vegetables and fruit grown in my own backyard. Cucumbers, lettuce, onions, beets, green beans, radishes, so many herbs, apple and pear trees and the list continues. Between my mother growing up on a dairy farm and my father’s love of gardening, an appreciation was cultivated in my brothers and I for where our food is grown. Hopefully one day, their green thumbs will rub off on me and I won’t kill my house plants anymore!
Jordan and I celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary during our stay in Paris. The original idea was to visit The Louvre, but unfortunately they were experiencing an employee strike. With no real plan for April 12, we continued to wonder that enchanting city. First stop was to visit the English-speaking bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. Pictures aren’t allowed to be taken inside, but if you want a peak, the bookstore has been featured in a few movies, including the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. Our lack of extra luggage space was the only thing stopping Jordan from buying the whole store!
Continuing on from the bookstore, we walked right into the Luxembourg Gardens (I had forgotten it was so close!). Spring literally sprang for us on that day; the gardens looked so lush. We bought baguette sandwiches and McDonald’s Cokes (because sometimes you need something familiar) and enjoyed lunch on the lawn with the locals.
Many of the large parks in Paris have these green lawn chairs sprawled about to use for picnics. I love the idea! The Parisians seem to take full advantage of any public outdoor space. This is the Tuileries Garden, located outside of the Louvre Museum. Even though we weren’t able to go inside of the Louvre we were able to see many statues, including a few Rodin, that were sprinkled around the garden.
After lunch, Jordan wanted to walk to see the location of the Bastille prison. The only remains left are surrounded by a park but this is the beautiful July Monument, marking the event that pushed forth The French Revolution.
Maybe you can see the huge storm that was brewing in these clouds because right after visiting this monument the rain fell hard and we were drenched! In fact, the rain fell so hard part of the roof in a local grocery store (we took refuge for a few minutes) starting caving in! An employee and I had an interesting interaction where because I greeted her with a simple bonsoir, she continued laughing and joking about the rain in French. I enjoyed being considered a local for a few minutes!
Those two days in Paris, where Jordan and I were able to wonder leisurely, were some of the best days.
The need to slow down has hit me recently. My soul is craving quiet moments, despite the warm weather beckoning me to be active. Jordan spent the week working on a fun new project and so we decided to recharge on Saturday. The weather was perfect. We spent the day walking and shopping. Purchasing necessities (groceries at Whole Foods – my first nectarines of the year!) and a few special treats.
My perfume collection was consisting of empty bottles, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to repeat or select a new scent. SeeBy Chloe is a fragrance I had tested during our time in Europe. I enjoyed it but wasn’t ready to commit at the moment. After testing it again last week, I didn’t need any more convincing. It’ll be the perfect smell for this new summer.
At work the next day, I passed my jacket a few times, I could faintly detect my new perfume. Instantly, I was reminded of my recharge day. This perfume will remind me to slow down and enjoy the present moments.
Arriving into London I didn’t experience culture shock. It felt comfortable and familiar, but that is not how Paris was for me. Paris is equal parts beautiful and intimidating. Like a mysterious women, who at first, appears to be cold and distant. You must be polite, respectful and eager to learn her ways, but once you do, you are welcome to stay and know her better.
We stayed in Le Marais area. It is found in the 4th arrondissement (district) of Paris. Only one major street separated us from the Seine, which made it extremely convenient to walk to everything.
On our first full day in Paris, we decided to use the river as our guide. We saw Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe among many other enchanting sights. Below are a few photos from our day in Paris.
This bridge was covered with locks that couples affixed to represent their unending love. It was a sight to see.
To our pleasant surprise, Notre Dame was open to the public and non flash photography was allowed. Every inch is covered with beautiful carvings or stained glass windows.
Walking under the Eiffel Tower was a surreal experience. It feels larger than life, especially for a structure that was intended for temporary use. It’s hard to fit the whole structure into a picture and we had to walk awhile until we were able too! The lawn is filled with runners, school groups and locals eating lunch; seemingly unphased by the beauty surrounding them.
To avoid interrupting the intense roundabout, entering the Arc De Triumph is accomplished through an underground tunnel.
Our bodies were sore from walking so much this day, but we were ready to tackle Versailles on day two.
My family moved from Ohio to Illinois when I was seven and it was very difficult on me.
In Ohio I was a social butterfly. Most of my days were spent at various friend’s houses playing until the sun went down. Our neighborhood was overrun with kids. The first street we moved to in Illinois lacked children my age and so I spent more time on my own. Often, while learning to play by myself, I would spend time in the basement with a particular dresser. This dresser had also been my changing table, but my mom repurposed it to hold pictures. The pictures were of friends and family that I missed and also of earlier times before I was even alive. These weren’t fancy photos, they were often out of focus or had people with their eyes closed, but they were mine.
Fast forward 18 years… Jordan and I discovered my parents old Canon AE-1 (35 mm SLR) camera and surprisingly it still worked. In the 90s my parents switched to a simple and lesser quality point and shoot, which is hard to believe considering the camera they already owned. The camera hadn’t been used in years and so they gave it to us. I’m excited to continue experimenting with film; perusing the unpredictability of the developed rolls just as I did as a little girl.
While traveling in Europe, Jordan and I had four layovers, stayed in three cities and took a variety of buses and trains. All the maneuvering between cities not only required good time management but also necessary reading materials. My goal was to pack light (1 carry-on suitcase, 1 tote bag & a small purse) so I brought one book and two magazines (which I had intended on leaving in Europe). I saved my book for the later leg of our journey, but the magazines were devoured quickly.
After the first week of London and Oxford, I realized I would need something additional to pass the travel time. Jordan was the first one to spot The Gentlewoman at the Gare Du Nord train station in Paris. I initially passed, I wanted to spend pounds instead of euros, plus it couldn’t be difficult to find the magazine upon our return to London, right? Well, I was wrong and the search for it proved more difficult than we imagined! It was like searching for buried treasure as we traversed the entire city. Every news stand and bookstore we visited either didn’t carry it or had just sold out. Eventually we found The Gentlewoman in the Spitafields neighborhood of London. It’s been a few weeks now since I got the magazine and I’m still going through it. The articles, images and design come together to create a truly beautiful end product.
Another aha! moment while traveling, besides bringing insufficient reading materials, is that a backpack would be more practical than an over the shoulder tote for carrying around the necessary odds and ends. This realization happened around day three of our trip, but alas I had to deal with what I brought for the duration. Once we got home, I made a mental note to look for a cute backpack for the future.
While looking for shoes at Madewell on Rush Street in Chicago, I noticed an entire wall of backpacks. I walked out of the store with a polka dot Herschel Supply Co. bag. Herschel Supply Co. originally was a barrel making company in the early 1900s, but have since moved on to various items that help carry our belongings.
Over the weekend, Jordan and I spent time in Lincoln Park and visited the Green City Market. Our camera battery was left at home on accident, so we weren’t able to capture all of the wonderful goodies, but oh did I want it all! Organic meat, eggs, honey, and veggies, etc. While walking through the market, the products had me thinking about one of my favorite aspects of summer; fresh berries!
When the seasons change, the recipes I use follow suit. I immediately wanted to dust off my summer baking favorites. Smitten Kitchen’s Raspberry Buttermilk Cake came to mind first. This recipe was discovered during the great Summer Baking Extravaganza of 2009. That was the period right after I graduated college but before I began working full time. I spent the extra time I had baking everything from bagels to pita bread. It was glorious.
This recipe is simple and delicious. It is also the perfect cake size for my little family or a small dinner party.
Yes, Marie Antoinette, Versailles is a little ridiculous but oh is it mesmerizing. Prior to leaving on vacation, Jordan and I created a list of places that we would like to see and places that we must see in London and Paris. My must see in Paris was the Palace of Versailles (despite being located slightly outside of the city!). I am drawn to royalty and couldn’t deny the pull to see first hand where the demise of the French monarchy took place.
We really need to thank the people of France. During the French Revolution someone had the wherewithal to know that the Palace shouldn’t burn down! Most of the furniture and paintings were sold (and subsequently many have been re-bought) but the structure was kept intact during all the upheaval.
We spent the whole day exploring the three structures (the Palace, Grand Trianon & the Petite Trianon) and the gardens. My favorite was Marie Antoinette’s estate, which includes the Petite Trianon as well as a working farm, styled like a British village.
Versailles is one tourist site that is completely worth the admission price.