[Fallen Leaf Lake photo by Sean Patrick McArdle]
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
We happened to visit in October during the off-season, so it was quiet and all to ourselves - a very different feel from the 'see and be seen' summers of this popular French beach destination. However, this didn't stop the 'red carpet' treatment we received from the beyond gracious owners, John and Pauline Larkin, and their amazing staff. They truly made us feel like personal guests in their 'home'. The delicious breakfasts, the evenings enjoyed sitting under the stars listening to John's personal cd favorites while sipping on aperitifs, and the delightful conversations we had with everyone there along with the incredible attention to detail made this an unforgettable stay. Our room was so beautifully decorated with soft linens, plush towels, unique objets d'art, a copper soaking tub, and a large sunny terrace for our own private use.
Pauline and John have a passion for Provence. They relocated from the UK to follow their dreams of owning a boutique hotel in the South of France. Now, they provide a dreamy experience for all of those lucky enough to be their guests! The hotel is filled with 20th-century art, paintings and photography as well as furnished with a perfect mix of period and 'modern-classic' pieces. It is one of our favorite hotels in the world. In fact, we could easily just move in and never leave...it's that perfect!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This recent trip to Spain was her first adventure on European soil, and let me tell you, she hasn't been the same since! Not only does she dance the Flamenco to every Spanish guitar song, but she also proclaims "OLE" at the end of each piece of music she hears including Tchaikovsky. Her taste buds have been primed with delicious ice creams, she discovered the Fountain of Youth, and she has a special affinity for Vespas.
So instead of trying to answer the question we hear most often: "Are you really traveling with a baby/toddler?" We have a rebuttal...."Why NOT travel with them?" My goodness it was great, and we can't wait for our next trip because this little girl has a lot to learn and see. We're thinking Paris should be next.....
[photographs by Sean Patrick McArdle]
Monday, July 20, 2009
I'll admit it...I LOVE really good gelato! It doesn't matter if it's summer or the middle of winter, I gleefully enjoy a petite scoop of this creamy perfection any time of the year. So you can imagine my sheer delight when the most incredible gelateria opened near our house - Cici (pronounced the Italian way, "chee chee").
This gelato is artisanal...meaning Michael and Liana (the owners) make every flavor from scratch in the kitchen above the shop! They use organic ingredients including Straus milk and cream (which is my ULTIMATE favorite dairy farm), organic eggs, and local fruit. The flavors change with the seasons according to what is available fresh from local farms. Some of the flavors yesterday included: Toasted California Pistachio, Organic Blackberry (yes, it's the stunning purple one in the photo! AND they just happened to hand-pick the blackberries on their way to work that morning!), Organic Coffee & Honey, Organic Fresh Spearmint & Chocolate Chip, Organic Strawberries & Cream, Fior di Latte (the Straus dairy sweet cream which is always offered and one of my very favorites), Organic Lemon Sorbetto, and at least 6 other flavors that will make your taste buds swoon!
I'm not sure if having this delectable gelateria near me is a good thing or not because every where we go, I compare the gelato to Cici...and I've yet to find anything that supersedes any of their creamy scoops. Michael and Liana are not only my gelato heroes, but they also operate Cici as a green business (less packaging, compost food waste, eliminate paper waste, and recycle - not to mention they deliver gelato locally via a very cool bike!) because they honor and respect our one Earth.
As you can imagine, supporting this local independently-owned business is a delicious pleasure!
[photo by Sean Patrick McArdle]
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Do you ever daydream of being on a deserted island?
Imagine the solitude.
This is where my mind is leading me today.
My list of a few essential things I would take with me is being featured on
[photo of Punta Sayulita by Sean Patrick McArdle]
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit organization that rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured, sick and orphaned marine mammals (seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, whales and sea otters) along a 600 mile stretch of California coastline. There were 110 'patients' there today. My heart breaks to see the reasons why most are there - negligence and ignorance of the human race - from fish hooks, plastic bags, fishing nets, water bottles, etc. Environmental and other causes such as abandoned pups were also high on the list. Luckily, these sweet little loves are given the greatest care, by an amazing staff of veterinarians, scientists and volunteers, with the highest hopes of being released back into nature once they are 100% healed and recovered.
This is an incredible facility, not only for the TLC that is given to each mammal that arrives, but also for its environmental-friendly design (recycled and sustainable building materials, solar panels, use of reclaimed water, efficient fixtures and lighting and more). With over 800 volunteers, one can easily see that people are very passionate about making a difference. We are all connected on this great planet and being considerate of every living species is a vital commitment we all need to make.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progresscan be judged by the way its animals are treated."~Mahatma Ghandi
[photograph by Simply Mel]
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
10 things that make me terribly happy:
1. fresh strawberries on top of heart-shaped waffles
2. kissing the man of my dreams along the banks of the Seine (or kissing him anytime for that matter!)
3. the sound of champagne being opened
4. the belly-laugh giggles from my adorable baby girl
5. fresh cut grass underneath my bare feet
6. sound of rain drops on a tin roof
7. receiving a hand-written letter from a friend
8. my pug's sweet little gurgling/snoring sounds through the night
9. cafes in European squares
10. crickets and fireflies on a hot summer night
[photo of "two terribly happy people" in Paris taken by us]