My Evian water bottle crates

Bonjour,

I have a story to share about how I copped the most coveted pink Evian bottle crates. I first saw the Evian crates on Apartment Therapy’s Instagram a short time after we moved to France. I thought they were perfect for our apartment but I had no idea where to find them. The next thing I knew, I was seeing them everywhere.

All the brasseries have their bottled drinks delivered daily, so you can’t help but see the colorful crates stacked outside on the streets.

I have asked the staff at every brasserie about buying one of the crates however they told me the crates were rented from the Evian water company so they couldn’t sell them to me. “Ç’est impossible” seems to be the French National motto. Thus began my Evian crate obsession, asking every time I saw some at a bar or restaurant. I never even knew how much I was willing to spend on them (€25 each probably) because no one would even consider it. Finally someone told me to just go to the source and ask the Evian water company directly.

I never got around to that, we happen to be driving back from Cannes when I saw a ton of crates on the sidewalk.

I made a quick (and probably illegal) U-turn and jumped out to ask the guy who was making the delivery. He didn’t speak English so I had my official translator do her thing and he sounded happy to help me.

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So the guy tells us, he isn’t allowed to sell them but we can go to a nearby grocery store to see if they have any. I had butterflies in my stomach with excitement!

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We followed the guy a few blocks away to a Franprix store (a smaller version of Trader Joes) and he spoke to the guy at the register. I was grinning like a crazy person when he walked us to the back of the store. He then pulls out a 12 pack of Evian plastic bottles of water and is like “Here you go!

OMG!

The language barrier is no joke. So that was a complete bust, I disappointedly drove back to Nice. I was over it by then. I knew that I would just end up bidding on an Evian crate on eBay for like $200 with ridiculous shipping. I looked for the crates online and I didn’t find any for sale.

So, the next day we went to the the Cours Saleya market in old town Nice. As we were walking over Antz noticed a door he thought would be interesting to photograph.

As I was posing in front of this door trying to get a shot without so much shadow, a guy came over with a delivery of water bottles and of course he had a few Evian crates.

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At first, I just moved out of his way but Antz insisted I ask the guy. He was confused by my horrible French but Liv translated and he told us to hold on while he went inside. I was fully prepared to hear the same thing “Ç’est impossible.” Well, he was smiling at us and he told us to come with him. We walked around the block to his truck. He jumped up and started moving things around. I was asking Antz for cash, not sure of how much I should offer. He then slide over a Coke Cola crate towards me. Liv then said “Non, rose Evian s’il vous plait.” I almost started crying when he jumped down he handed a crate to me, then another one he gave to Liv. I told him I only had €20 but he refused to take it. You guys, this angel straight up gave me two of the most sought after things I’ve been searching for in Paris for months!

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I gave him bises (two kisses on the cheeks) and said Merci a million times. I mean look at my face!! Nice is so aptly named. I couldn’t offer anyone any amount of money to get one of these things in Paris but he just gave them to us. So freaking rad!

I was ecstatic. It didn’t at all occur on me that I had to haul them on the plane back to Paris. I didn’t really care, I was just so happy to finally have them.

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If I had the space I would buy all the vintage postcards and portraits I could find. I love Victorian photographs.

 

This vide-grenier (antique sale) had so many good treasures. I was looking for a French emblem often worn after WW1 and WW2. The first ones we saw were expensive. He wanted €75 for this one.

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I found some cooler ones for €40 for two. They are so fragile, I’m afraid to wear them out because I don’t want to lose them.

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I also fell hard for this Parisian landmarks charm bracelet.

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I wish I bought it but it was a little over my budget and the bracelet was too snug. If it had a few more links it would have fit more comfortably. I am still on the lookout for a vintage bracelet, it’s exactly what I want.

I ended up having the Evian crates wrapped in plastic at the airport for €25 and then Air France charged me another €70 to fly them home, so in reality I spent almost €100 for these crates but I love them so much, I think they are totally worth it.

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I am currently using one of the crates for our plant and the other one is our printer stand until I find a replacement. I could also use one for a bed for Lola or to hold my records. They are super cute and functional.

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Have you ever been on a mission for a sought-after item? It’s so much harder here in France because my go-to websites don’t ship here. Yet, it’s still fun to search for treasures.

Bonjournée!

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Le Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen

Bonsoir amis,

There is a huge antique (Brocantes) flea market in Northern Paris. You have to walk through a few blocks of fake flea markets before you find the real one. I’m talking really tacky jeans, shady looking jewelry and cheap knock-off designer sunglasses. There are guys also selling “Chanel” perfume and unboxed cell phones aggressively. Once you make it through that, you will find a lovely antique flea market. We spent a few hours looking for items for our new apartment. I wanted a vintage street sign, a Camroon Juju hat, a Moroccan Fez, an embroidered tablecloth, and a steamer trunk. I left empty-handed because everything was super expensive. I am not into haggling over prices and most of the vendors were cranky. We encountered a few very friendly people however more vendors seemed annoyed by our presence than pleased.

I did stop at the tacky flea market for a second to try on this African necklace. Not for me. I need a longer neck to pull this off.

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The tacky flea market vs Brocantes

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I didn’t even dare ask the price of these vintage Louis Vuitton steam trunks, but aren’t they dreamy?

Just a tad too small.

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Olivia was looking for a ring with her birthstone, which a pearl but I told her most of the jewelry looked cursed. Kidding! There was so much cool antique stuff but so expensive.

Tell me I’m wrong…

Should I just casually purchase a crystal ball? Or do I need these guys in our new apartment?

So, if you thought the sweet doll from Annabelle was “scary” then meet her older brother known as Mister Nightmare!

Liv kept saying, I want a doll. They aren’t scary, Mom, they are just authentic!

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Hmmm, her birthday is coming soon, tempting.

This silverware was beautiful. I have the worst feeling those nightgowns were worn by actual ghosts!

This signage and lamp stall was my favorite but sadly everything was well over my budget. I would love to buy a French street sign but even the small ones were €250. I will keep searching.

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I love looking at taxidermy but would never dare own it. Cool cuckoo clock at the top. I really wanted a chandelier but I have no idea what size to buy, if they work or how to have it installed in our apartment.

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Another item I really wanted to splurge on was this incredible rabbit painting. I liked the size and the frame but I couldn’t justify spending €250 on a painting that wasn’t an original. Not when I’m married to an amazingly talented artist who works for cheap wine and kisses.

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I also was going to ask about this rad Moroccan fez hat but some old, mean guy who worked in another stall yelled at us to not take pictures did not seem to want to chit chat with Americans.

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After getting yelled at a few times for taking pictures (Okay, jeez didn’t know I was in a museum!) and running into one too many creepy dolls, we left just in time to get rained on. I’m glad we checked it out but I am an online shopper at heart. I’m still looking for those items on eBay and Etsy.

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The flea market address is:

142 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen, France

Make sure you walk north of the freeway overpass, stay to the right and look for rue Jean Henri Fabre, there are entrances all along this street.

My ignorant, American ass was snapping photos most of the time but some of the vendors don’t want their merchandise photographed, so be sure to ask first. And please, say Bonjour and Merci to every person you encounter!

 

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Life in Paris: Month Deux

Bonjour mes amis,

It has already been two months since our arrival in Paris! I cannot tell you how fast this time has flown by. We exchanged our house in LA with a sweet French couple in Nation (12th arrondissement) for the first two months so we could have time to apartment hunt. I am so happy we were able to live in Nation mostly because we were able to experience a new part of the city we have never seen before.

I feel like I have finally mastered taking Liv to school on the Metro. I used to be confused about which direction the train would go and call myself out as an obvious tourist during the ride by watching for every stop. Now, we know all the train lines and have the cool, I can’t be bothered look while on the train. I do still get secretly excited when an accordion player is on the train. Although once on a crowded train I got my skirt caught in the door.

Side Note: My hair is huge here. I spend hours flat ironing it and yet the second I go outside it turns into an instant pouf. Must be the humidity, there is so much moisture in the air.

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Liv and I usually discuss our plans for the week and how we are adjusting to life in France during the ride. I ask her about the differences between LA and Paris. She makes statements like France is so much more cultural and historic than California. She told me, “In Paris everyone takes public transportation but hardly anyone in LA does. Most people at the grocery store are grumpy but here they care about helping you.” She also said the food here is much better than LA. She’s doing well in school. I have met some of the parents of her classmates (although very few speak English). Her curriculum is very similar to her French school in LA but they go off the campus for PE (which is called sports) and I feel terrible because I can’t help her with most of her homework (only math and English).

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After I drop her off, I usually take the bus home because the Metro is very crowded and grab my luggy to pick up the day’s groceries. I still can’t get over how frequently I have to shop here. We go through groceries like crazy!

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So far we absolutely love living in Paris. I still cannot believe we are here after dreaming of this for so many years. However, there are some downsides to life in France. Please don’t think I’m some entitled brat complaining about my great life, I just want to keep it real and show both sides of our life.

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It is very expensive! So far we have plunked down quite a bit of euros for household items (new towels, shopping at Ikea for our new apartment, basic toiletries). It’s harder to stick to a budget because we had to stock up on basic items. Our first week here I bought Liv a scooter, new clothes and had to replace a pair of shoes she outgrew. This month Antz and I needed some new clothes because we (happily) lost weight! I spend €225 every month on our Metro/bus passes but sometimes in a pinch, we need to use Uber and depending on how far we are from home, it can be expensive. We needed to rush home from Versailles to make it to a birthday party on time and it ended up costing €65 for a 30 minute ride.

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Liv really enjoyed her €9 smoothie.

Then Monoprix had to come out with this rad limited-time collab with Maison Chateau Rouge. Just take all my money!

The romper was for Liv but if they had my size I would totally rock it. I pretty much cleared out their home decor display.

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However, groceries seem less expensive here than in LA. Like cheese, meat and beverages are super cheap. But let me tell you about the most magical, delicious item in all of France… la beurre!

Back home I buy insignificant salted butter for like $3.99 on sale. Here, I only buy Sel de Mer de Noirmoutier and it is so delicious. I use it on everything, you could tell me it has crystal meth in it and I would still be like “Pass the butter.” I must say, America is missing out on this fucking amazing butter. It costs €2.35!

However dining out is still costing a fortune. We stopped ordering cocktails and are sticking to drinking water but we can’t seem to keep our bill under €75. Recently, while out on a stroll around the neighborhood we found the famous rue Montorgueil. The heavens parted and angels sang as we discovered the most intoxicating smells of baked bread, meats and fresh fruit. The oldest bakery in Paris is located here. It’s now my favorite place to buy fruit and we fell in love with all the restaurants.

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We brought home the best BBQ ribs and a half a kilo of cherries for lunch. Liv gobbled the whole tray in five minutes! Oh, and I am now a basket lady. I have bought three baskets since I got here. This is who I am now. Note: The fluffy hair.

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We found this incredible living wall called L’oasis d’Aboukir. It rains almost once a week so I guess that is why this garden is so insanely green.DSC_0158

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There are a few other annoyances here that I can’t seem to figure out. Like getting mail delivered. It seemed to be easier to get our mail when we were staying in Nation but that could be due to our sweet neighbors helping us out by accepting our packages. In our new apartment, we have a mailbox that we put our names on but nothing has been delivered so far. It took many attempts to find which of the local post offices our address belonged to. My French is not as great as I thought it was. I was able to pick up one package (I ordered five weeks ago!) yet three more are in mail limbo because we were told if our building has a locked gate, they can’t deliver packages. Uh, like every single building in Paris has a passcode door so why wouldn’t they at least email me or leave a note so I know where to pick up my stuff? Today I am going to Fed Ex for the third time to pick up a package that was delivered nine days ago! My Mom sent me a huge care package and it took me two weeks to figure out how to track it down.

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Another thing I will never get used to is the military presence here. I mean, they all seem like nice soldiers but it’s jarring to walk down the street and then boom, there’s five or six fully uniformed army folks casually carrying guns that look like they belong in a video game. I don’t dare take photos of them but they do say bonjour without a smile as I walk by. Oh, and they wear berets. I suppose I am lucky to live in a relatively safe neighborhood because there have been random knife attacks since we have arrived and sadly, I am always cautious when we are in large crowds.

I also seemed to have a hyper-sensitive aversion to noise. I was equally annoyed by the nonsense noise caused by our hillbilly neighbors (they had the world’s lamest garage band) in LA. Here, the sounds are subtle but torturous. For example, we noticed the first night while in bed, the upstairs neighbor’s toilet must be directly above our heads. Imagine the sounds we heard. They also had some type of saloon door that swings shut. This door produced a boom, bump, bump, bump sound all day long, just about every 30 seconds. I was very close to paying them a friendly visit to offer some felt pads but we moved into a new apartment. Just as we arrived at our new home we were welcomed by the constant cooing of les pigeons. They nest outside of our kitchen window and their incessant cooing sounds make me want to murder. Liv and Antz swear they can’t hear them so I’m the only one going crazy over the sound.

My final (first-World) problem is our new apartment doesn’t have a separate dryer. They consider this country sophisticated? I was warned about the hard, scratchy towels of Paris so I’ve always traveled with my own towel. The night before we left LA, I took a shower and used my soft, brand new bath towel that I packed in my carry-on. Then as we were re-packing our stuff I realized I only had enough room for either my winter coat or my towel. I was already wearing my camel year-round coat on the plane so I had to make a Sophie’s Choice. I decided it won’t be so terrible to buy new towels in Paris once we arrived. Guess what? Soft, plush towels do not exist here! I was stuck using my face towel for the first week. Monoprix does sell towels but they have a scratchy texture and cost $32.99 each. So, lesson learned, travel with your own pillowcases and towels. I did bring my allergy-free pillowcase covers with me. So, I’m living in 1925 y’all!

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I adore freshly dried linen sheets or hand-washed pajamas but putting on stiff as cardboard undies sucks! Now I understand why everyone has to iron clothes here.

In other fun news, it’s peony season! My favorite flower is in bloom and you can buy four stems for 20 euros. Well, that’s how much they were at the marche however Antz found a sweet bouquet for me for Mother’s day for just ten euros.

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This is how they look three days later, swoon.

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May 1st is May Day. According to Wikipedia, on 1 May 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime, on 1 May. Nowadays, people may present loved ones either with bunches of lily of the valley.

Liv has been a crafting machine since most of her toys couldn’t fit in her suitcase. I took her to La Droguerie to buy a pom pom making kit. This colorful place is located on

9-11 Rue du Jour, 75001 Paris, France

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She was able to customize her own glitter! This kid and I were in rainbow craft supplies heaven.

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We try to go to visit a new arrondissement every weekend. The parks here are absolutely gorgeous. Just don’t ever step on the grass. When the sky turns blue here, you grab a picnic basket and run outside!

Jardin de Luxembourg
Rue de Vaugirard, Boulevard St. Michel, Rue Auguste-Comte and Rue Guynemer 75006 Paris, France

The boat rentals are €4 for 30 minutes. Liv chose Mexico to rep her Grandma Maria.

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I think the pony ride was €8. Sweetest pony but our seven year old child is a giant.

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Parc Floral
4 route de la Pyramide | Bois de Vincennes, 12th, 75012 Paris, France

We also love strolling our new neighborhood to hunt for Invaders.

Liv pointed out the heart shapes in the window panes of that heart.

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One evening we took a stroll and ended up on Île de la Cité just at sunset. I swear I am never going back to the US!! Life here is tres beau.

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Ask me anything about living in Paris.

Less Plastic, more experiences!

This post is a good follow up to Liv’s bedroom makeover since that was a result of my new mind-set after having an epiphany from reading the (seriously) Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I love to shop; from finding the perfect item, to getting best online bargain and that high from discovering packages on my porch. Olivia definitely has gotten the shopaholic bug from me now. She asks me, “Is that a package for me?” almost daily. However when I hear her asking for toys she sees on commercials or from youtube videos, I feel gross. Half the things are pure junk or she doesn’t even know what it is, she just knows she has to have it. Last summer I was feeling overwhelmed during our house tidying weekend, I was forced to think about what was really important to me. I was finding things I never even used once or I bought on an impulse. I was angry at myself for allowing so much clutter to accumulate in our house but my reasoning was always, we really need this stuff, our house is just too small.

My closet is all the evidence I needed that I’ve been overdoing it. I could hardly close the door and I never wore half the stuff crammed in the back. The Before & After shot.

Then I realized, our house is actually fine. When I think of what matters most to me it’s our memories from the fun times we’ve had. If my house was on fire and I could save only a few things, I would grab our photo books. Those books contain the priceless experiences we have shared as a family. Everything else are just replaceable things. So in that moment I decided to let go of the things. We totally have enough things.

Our precious “things” headed off to be donated or trashed!

I have proposed 2016 will be spent doing more and shopping less. I would much rather save our money for a lovely vacation than buy more Barbies or cute kick-knacks for the house. Now that Liv’s room is finished, I am all set to stop acquiring more stuff. I am making an exception for clothes, books and a few Christmas (not going overboard like last year) and birthday gifts but I’m ready to crack down. I can’t remember one trip to Target that we haven’t come home with things we don’t really need (I’m raising my hand here. Totally my lack of cuteness willpower!). Who isn’t guilty of shopping just because something was on sale but then later realized did I really need that? I did buy a few Christmas gifts on Black Friday (eye rolling at myself here but I couldn’t resist, they were on sale!) that I’ve been wanting all year, but I honestly purchased them out of necessity for next year’s travel plans.

Last weekend we took a field trip with her class to see the symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It was such an inspiring performance that I would love to subscribe for next year’s season.

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She brought Backpack Bear from school as her date. I love this photo of her sweet BFF I snapped after the show.

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I am also joining her school’s book club so every month she will get new books in French! Instead of writing her usual list of toys for Santa, I’ve asked Liv what things would she like to accomplish next year. We are joining LACMA and the Broad for sure. More concerts are on our to-do list. I would like her to take a skateboarding lesson with a friend of ours. I think a trip to Glaze Fire would be fun. My Mom mentioned a family camping trip would be fun. We definitely have to make to trip to the Safari Park in San Diego.

During the summer we finally made a trip to the LA Public Library in downtown. However, we didn’t plan for the parking to be cash only so we ended up parking at a meter for only 20 minutes. It was the fastest visit you could ever imagine.

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The interior was magnificent!

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The murals and painted wood ceilings are so dreamy!

IMG_7184IMG_7187It was very reminiscent of a Wes Anderson movie set. I forget we are so lucky to have fun things to do all the time. Next time we’ll be sure to have parking cash handy.

Liv has made her travel wishlist

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Iceland – sleep in an igloo to see the Northern Lights, swim in the Blue Lagoon and see puffins!

China  – she wants to see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and buy a dragon kite.

Japan – to see the Mizayaki museum, sing karaoke and take the Hello Kitty airplane.

Sweden – visit the Pippi Longstocking museum/Junibacken park, go on a Viking ship and see Vasamuseum

Belgium – to eat chocolate and waffles and see Mannekin Pis

Mom’s travel wishlist (the short version)

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Copenhagen, Denmark – Tivoli Gardens (one of the oldest theme parks in the world), Louisana Museum and canal boat tour to photograph Nyhavn.
(since I’m already in Scandinavia, I have to visit my friends in…)

Helsinki, Finland – see the textiles at the Marimekko store, visit the Design museum and take a sauna in the country.

Amalfi Coast, Italy – soak up the sun and lounge on the beaches of Naples, Capri, Positano, Sorrento, I’m dying to see the Azure Window in Malta!

Strasbourg, France – an adorable city that looks like the village from Beauty & the Beast.

Vienna/Salzburg, Austria – my dream Christmas vacation. I need to go on the Sound of Music tour, see the Halstatt Salt Mines and eat apple strudel.

Sydney/Melbourne, Australia – it seems that all my favorite Instagram feeds are from down under. The beaches look awesome and the fun things to do there blows my mind (would I dare to try this?!)

I’m with Liv, we must go to Iceland for obvious reasons!!

Antz travel wishlist

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Anywhere I don’t have to carry tons of luggage, with good food and has air conditioning!

Best husband response ever.

So as this year comes to an end, we are excited with the unlimited possibilities for 2016. We have been studying our Maps book together as a family to research future travel ideas.

Hither & Thither in Paris

Life in Paris is vastly different than in the States. Here, walking is the main mode of transportation, next the Metro and only if you are in a hurry do you take a taxi. We have logged many miles walking all over town and it’s crazy how close to everything we are. It took some time getting used to zigzag walking through the crowds. There is an art to not tripping on the cobblestone, getting burned by someone’s cigarette and not being hit by a taxi as you cross the street. By the way, jaywalking is the law here. You never wait for the light to change and even if you have to stop traffic like you are wearing an Iron Man suit, you walk when you are ready to go.  We did laundry for the first time in our apartment. The washing machine has a spin cycle that in theory dries your clothes but wrinkle free 100% dry clothes do not exist here. We are considering going to the laundrette to wash the towels so they can dry thoroughly.

Our rental is right in the middle of the cheap, tacky shoe district. So let me know your size if you need some €7 shoes!
Parisians do not use their umbrellas when it’s raining. You may carry it but unless it’s a hurricane downpour, you look silly using an umbrella
The greatest marketing idea, awesome taxidermy mice for a pest control business
Early morning walk, never smile in Paris
Look up, you will always spot Invader tile art

The most odd cake toppers I’ve ever seen
We found a cute child’s second-hand shop where the clothes were more expensive than brand new
I don’t know how often Liv would wear a trench coat in LA
This coat was cute but too pricey.
Apparently taxidermy is very popular.
I heard this is a pretty good farmers market. It reminds me of Larchmont Village farmers market
Peonies heaven
Fantastic cherise
Boo!
This store was incredible. The darling bebe clothes made me want to have 20 more kids!
Doesn’t this look like an editorial from a magazine?
Owning a vintage photo booth is my fantasy
I wish I could have taken more photos, but there were a bunch of folks waiting
It very hard to resist these adorable clogs but I can’t spend 150 on shoes she’ll outgrow in six months
the color palettes for kids were amazing
Liv can fit this, right?
Liv was totally digging the vibe
Antz had to drag me out of there. Fabulous store!
By far the raddest store in Paris
I am Andre the giant compared to this Fiat
So here’s what happened, I got this weird stage fright and walked around the store without buying anything. I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t decide what would be perfect for our house that would also fit in our luggage *I was seriously wanting that yellow Smeg* So I’ll have to try again next week.
I ran into a fashion faux pas at the marche. Call Guinness World records because I officially have the largest ass in Paris now that Kim has left the country.
I know this is all a dream and I’ll wake up in LA tomorrow but for now, I’ll continue riding this wave of euphoria that I am experiencing. Paris is magical!

Pack Rat

I have been running around like a chicken with her head cut off preparing for our trip. I hope to have everything done by next week so I won’t have any last minute surprises. I am trying to stay uber-organized because this is the longest trip we’ve taken so I am packing our entire lives. Not really but I did a preliminary pack last week and it turns out my clothes, shoes and toiletries didn’t come close to fitting in my tiny carry on suitcase.

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I’m trying to follow this example I found on Pinterest. Although I don’t think I will fit eight shoes in my suitcase!

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Luckily, I can borrow one of Antz suitcases and use my carry-on for Liv’s clothes and other stuff I couldn’t fit into my bag.

We bought this 4-piece Swiss Gear set from Nordstrom Rack for only $99 back in 2005!
I am wearing my heaviest clothes and shoes on the plane

I am trying my best to condense my packing list but it’s harder than it looks. So far I’ve got:

Suitcase

4 pairs of pants

2 pair of jeans

4 dresses

3 shorts

5 skirts

3 blouses

2 cardigans

3 sweaters

7 tops

2 scarves

1 trench coat

Pajamas/socks

Underoos

Clutch/Tote

Makeup Bag

Hair products *still unsure if I’m bringing my flat iron

Ban.do Accessories/Jewelry

8 Pairs of shoes *I know, I need to cut this down to five!

Laptop bag

Laptop/Cords

iPad

Adaptors

Extra chargers/Batteries

Backpack

Wallet

Passport *bringing extra passport photos

Itinerary folder *it’s 10 pages long!/Travel vouchers

iPhone/Headphones

Sunglasses

Umbrella *I hope it doesn’t rain

Nikon J1 Camera

Eos lip balm

Water bottle

Camera bag *we may put this guy in Antz backpack

Our heavy, giant Nikon DSLR

Extra lens

Cords/Batteries

Aye yi yii! My suitcase is bursting at the seams. I am praying we don’t get charged for exceeding the weight limit. I don’t know how I will be able to bring home any souvenirs. I’m sure I’m forgetting something, I always do.

I have been ordering things online like crazy. I got a new backpack for Antz and Liv *so excited for hers to arrive next week!* and we needed this Apple travel adapter kit. I also ordered some cute sandals I couldn’t resist that were on sale for Liv. I have a few more things I’ll share later.

So after two weeks of drama with finding a place to rent in Paris, we got our apartment!! I can’t believe our luck. It’s super cute and affordable and the host seems really sweet.

So many things I need to do today. Any tips for efficient packing?

Have a lovely weekend!!

Bando Fun Sale

Our trip is quickly approaching and I have almost all my shopping done. I still need to get our camera serviced *looking for recommendations*. I’m on the fence about buying an external flash but I may end up buying it from Target. There are some things I am ordering from Amazon like backpacks, headphones for Liv and some electrical outlet converters, so fun.

I’ve had a wishlist of things from Ban.do I wanted for the trip so last week at Cake Club when Christina mentioned they were having Ban.do studio sale I knew it was meant to be.

I made this floral crown a few days ago
I got there at 10:30 and we were maybe 15th in line
These two sillies
Hello lovely Christina!
I’m all about cutting off faces today!
Bonjour Kelly!
Follow the hearts
Hi Jen!
Liz at work, very focused!
Of course she wanted the giant ice cream cone
It was very crowded, so glad I went early
You just don’t pass up a $10 rainbow piñata!
those bins were emptied fast
Pretty dresses
XOXO ban.do!
Liv was featured on Ban.do’s Instagram feed

After the sale we headed around the corner to the Paul Smith pink wall for a quick photo shoot with my new heart clutch, pouf and piñata.

Merci Ban.do, I look forward to wearing my pretties in Paris!!

Let’s get down to essentials

I’m talking wardrobe. I saw this post on Say Yes and it got me thinking about how to edit my own wardrobe.

12 wardrobe essentials for every budget
12 Wardrobe Essentials for Every Budget

When I look in my closet, I always feel like I have nothing to wear. I also have been feeling like I wear the exact same thing everyday. I definitely have a favorite outfit!

 

I have worn my DIY skirt to death!

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a go-to uniform or in my case “a signature look” *striped shirt/skirt/statement piece and flats or sneakers* I don’t follow many fashion rules but I don’t wear dark colors often and I always stay away from purple *I don’t want to be mistaken for a certain dinosaur* However, when it comes to clothing basics, I could use some updating. There are some key pieces I am missing in my wardrobe.

In January, I cleaned everything out of my closet and took an inventory of my wardrobe.

Before I cleaned my closet
Believe it or not, this is after I cleaned my closet

I definitely suffer from clothes hoarding.

That sweater on top belonged to my Mom. She has patches from all the places she’s traveled. I love it but I don’t wear it anymore because I’m afraid I might ruin it.

What you are looking at:

10 pairs of pants in every color of the rainbow *except gray, denim or black!*

10 shirts *I really want a light chambray shirt, an embroidered tunic and a swiss dot shirt*

10 tops/tees *Nothing special here, I could use some new boatneck tops and I want this shirt really bad!*

15 Sweaters *I’m good here yet my white cardigan has a hole in it and needs replacing*

14 dresses *I could use a shirtdress and a navy jumper*

3 shorts *I am considering cutting my old jeans into shorts, well see how they turn out*

I made the most progress getting rid of tons of shirts. They were old and I never wore them. It was hard but I used the 12 month rule, if you haven’t worn it in 12 months, it goes in the donate box. I got rid of anything that didn’t fit well and I sent some things to the cleaners for repairs. I should invest in a good garment bag for my fancy stuff.

I also went through my shoes and accessories. I must admit, I have too many shoes. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any new shoes unless I got rid of a pair.

I sacrificed my old Green New Balances *they started hurting my feet* for my lovely floral Golas. I got them for next to nothing with my birthday discount at Anthropologie.

Unfortunately, as much trouble as I went through to get them, I am getting rid of my white oxfords I wore to Le DEB. They are super cute but I came home with the worst blisters on my heels from all that dancing. Funny thing is, they didn’t bother me at all during the night but when I took them off, I wanted to cut my feet off they hurt so bad. Lesson learned, always put band-aids on your heels when wearing a new pair of shoes. I am considering new white shoes for this year’s dinner.

So here’s my 12 Wardrobe Essentials

Trench coat, Saltwater sandals, dot chambray shirt, creme pullover sweater, mint jeans, polka dot oxfords, denim shorts, striped shirt, black t-shirt, statement necklace, green cardigan and gingham shirt

I have similar pieces to Liz Stanley but I don’t have a cable knit sweater, black ballet flats, I’ve yet to find a pair of booties that look good on my giant cankles and I am on the hunt for a pretty embroidered tunic. I would add a denim jacket, a pencil skirt, a shirt dress and my signature Ban.do piece for my basics.

I am starting to tone down my bright color choices and I’m leaning towards a more mature/classic style. I can always go nuts in accessories and jewelry. What’s going on in your closet? Have you mastered the essentials?

My DIY Midi skirt

I mentioned here all about my love affair with midi length skirts/dresses. You see, they are perfection for me, I am a giant. Someone of my stature can always use more length yet a maxi dress looks like I’m swimming in fabric *ie:a tent* Midi is in between your knees and your shins. Finally I won’t feel like I’m wearing a mini skirt all the time. So, I am doing my daily online window shopping and I stumble upon a midi skirt at ASOS.

Image 4 of Love Midi Skater Skirt

Everything fell into place, right fabric, right cut, right price *ASOS is always having a sale*, I put this guy right into my shopping cart. Then I looked in my closet and saw a sea of black skirts of various lengths *pencil skirt, maxi skirt, mini skirt…* We’re right around the corner from spring and I’m gonna buy another boring black skirt? I decided I needed something bright and cheery to add to my wardrobe. Ideally I’ve been wanting this lovely skirt for years but I haven’t found one in my price range *the one pictured was $200*

Stockholm Street Style
Image from Carolines Mode

I love this yellow Gorman skirt *yeah, I love how blindingly yellow it is*

gorman yellow skirt
Guess who’s out of stock? Bleh.

So I decided to make lemonade out of lemons. Why not use my dust-collecting Hello Kitty sewing machine to make my own skirt? I could custom tailor it and save major buckaroos at the same time. I enlisted my amazing seamstress Mommy-in-law to help me out.

Plenty of yellow fabrics to choose from
Two yards for ten bucks? Yes, please!
This was my first time using a pattern
Awww yeah, POCKETS ARE MY JAM!! *but very fucking hard to sew!*
Testing out my pleats

It was tricky and took all day but I had tons of help, thanks Mommy! Also, thanks to Gorman Australia for the inspiration of the design and color we used. I am so giddy that a skirt I was going to pay $169 for, we made with our own hands for $20!! You obviously got a peek of it yesterday, but here she is again.

R A D N E S S

I know I hated on roses last week but these guys matched my skirt so well and peonies aren’t in season yet

By the way, did you notice my lavender sliver of hair?

There’s no way I was gonna bleach my chemically straightened hair, so here’s my trick.
I wanted a silvery lavender color *definitely not grape* so I used Matrix SoColor 3VR
I bought white hair extensions, sewed some hair clips on the extensions and colored it myself.

I’ll take more photos of my hair this three-day weekend!

84804-life_is

 

Want/Make/Do for our Home

Since we are almost coming up on our Eight year house anniversary and the one year anniversary of our kitchen remodel, it seems time to plan our next project.

I don’t have any major renovations happening this year. We would love to do a ton of things in the living room/dining room but we have to have our foundation repaired before we begin work in there. I am hoping to get a few cosmetic fixes done in the next few months with my piggy bank savings.

Want

New curtains in the living room. The hazards of having a cat and a toddler is having your lovely curtains ruined from their shenanigans. I loved our orange poppy curtains but they are sold out so these would make a nice replacement.

Window Treatments - Plum & Bow Sketch Floral Curtain I Urban Outfitters - gray and yellow floral curtains, gray and yellow floral drapes, gray and yellow floral draperies,
Plum & Bow Sketch Floral Curtain

Replace our old Ikea chair with this one. We bought the chair on a whim and have lived with it for the longest. It’s not particularly comfortable and the design isn’t my fave. I like the structure and color of this guy but I hope the low arms aren’t a problem. It might be too mid-century modern for our style but Antz vetoed my pink chair. We’ll see if I can squeeze this into our budget.

Madeline Chair
Madeline Chair

I think this pillow would look quite regal in our new chair. I fucking love Bill Murray!

Bill Murray - replaceface Throw Pillow
Bill Murray throw pillow

Every spring I long for new bedding. I am ready to shed our heavy winter blankets *which are very unattractive but keep us warm* I am liking this set from West Elm but the Target price looks perfect!

Threshold™ Pinched Pleat Comforter Set
Threshold Pinched Pleat Comforter Set

I think these would look great holding up Antz art books and they are on sale!

Toy Soldier bookends

Make

I am always surprised with how long we live with embarrassing things that are such easy fixes in our house. For example, *besides our terrible plumbing we lived with for seven years* our front door lace curtain. I was reluctant to get rid of it since it felt like an antique in our house. But who am I kidding, that guy was a mess! I really hoped to find lace with peacocks but that was impossible on our budget. We almost gave up since most of the lace at the fabric store looked too Grannyish for me.

The lace has seen better days
We found this lovely dot lace from the fabric store on sale for only $12
My Mom-in-law *with a broken arm* helped me hem the curtains
Voilà! I think the new curtain looks terrific



Do

Our house loves to surprise us with headache-inducing problems. For the longest our plumbing was a nightmare but now our electrical wiring is being a brat. So instead of buying a new dining table and chairs set I’ve been wanting forever, I’ll be forking over cash to have the wiring repaired. Once I get an estimate, we’ll see if I can afford my pretty new chair or not. Wheee!

I am actually glad to pay someone to glaze our bathroom tub and wall in white. It will complete the bathroom makeover and I’ll be happy to finally say “au revoir” to the dusty rose bathroom.

So Gross!

I hope to get started in March. I am so happy to say our Zillow zestimate for the value of our house has increased to $434,962! Last year it was only $350k. Only $54k more to get to what we paid in 2006. So what’s the prize for killing ourselves to pay our two mortgages, put all our pennies into improving our house and attempt to live the American dream? Our property taxes are going up!!