Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back in Londy!

Hi friends! I've safely made it to London and i must say, if you can pay the extra bucks to do so, go first class on the Eurostar. It's much quieter (i.e. emptier), you get served a pretty yummy meal, free booze, free newspapers, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. We arrived in London mid-afternoon, and the weather could not have been better. We quickly made our way (God bless the tube) to our darling boutique hotel on Queens Gate and proceeded to take a stroll through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Could not get over how beautiful the weather was, and apparently neither could Londonites. Everyone was strewn about the grass, stripped down, and soaking in the rare sunlight. After the park we made our way to Whole Foods on High Street Kensington, had some lunch (my body's been craving organic greens!!), shopped around, and then walked back to the hotel. That night we trekked to Brick Lane for some authentic Indian cuisine and found ourselves stuck in a tiny restaurant (but the best on Brick Lane!!) with a HUGE party of very drunk, VERY loud Brits. Oh my. Our food was delicious but our meal short - i could not stand the noise. Apparently at 25, i'm way too old for that stuff. (Note: the people at the table were at least my age or older.) After a very very long tube ride home, we finally collapsed into our Egyptian cotton sheets and went to bed. It's now Sunday, a rainy Sunday here in London (of course, the good weather couldn't possibly last for long in this city), and we had a small "continental" breakfast downstairs. Plans for the day include getting lost in Harrods and of course, afternoon tea at the Georgian restaurant in Harrods. Can't wait! Oh clotted cream, how i've missed thee.

Oh - did i mention that we had our little Ratatouille in our apartment in Paris? Uh huh... yup. Last night in Paris, i'm about 30 minutes into sleep when i hear M get up, turn on the light, and proclaim that a small trash can has been making some very mysterious noises. She picked it up, peered inside, then set it back down. Suddenly it started shaking all on its own. Sheer. Terror. Yup you guessed it! A mouse. I absolutely refused to look. Luckily M is much braver than i am and managed to throw the contents of the trash can (i.e. the mouse) out the window. Don't worry - it survived somehow. At first it just laid there on the concrete, but when we looked again, it was gone. Ew. EW EW EW. Needless to say, it took me a LONG time to go back to sleep after that little episode.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Au Revoir, Paris

This is my last night in Paris, and as always, it's bittersweet. On the one hand i can't wait to get to London. I never thought i'd utter such words, but the reality is, i adored living in London, and revisiting a place you once lived is totally different than just vacationing there. So i'm tres excited for a proper afternoon tea, for getting lost in Harrods again and again, for crazed shopping trips to TopShop, and for the smug satisfaction of knowing that no matter what happens in London, it'll be okay. Because i LIVED there, yo. So it's like, a home away from home. (Oh and um.. they speak English.) On the other hand, it's sad to leave my beloved Paris because i love it and i don't know when i'll be returning. This trip has been tres laid back - lots of walking around, popping into random shops, dining out at a bistro or just picking up Moroccan food from the market and enjoying it later, with a bottle of wine, in our apartment. Today was the ultimate indulgence - an afternoon at Laduree. We decided to visit the newest Saint German location and happily found ourselves a cozy corner banquette table. And there we sat for the next three hours... ordered salad and sandwiches, a fabulous puff pastry cream filled, strawberry glazed, pistachio delight of a dessert, and sipped tea (she got the Laduree Melange, i got the Marie Antoinette). We watched as diners next to us came and went. We got excellent service, which was a nice change from our terrible first night experience in Nice. It was lovely. When we finally pulled ourselves away we bought some tea to go and then slowly made our way back home.

Now we're in the park, M's reading, and i'm happy to be connected once again. Ping pongers are going at it in front of us, and there are even a few practicing Tai Chi on the grassy patch behind. It's a cool evening, and pretty sure M and i will probably be too cold to be sitting out here in our short sundresses. We've had a lovely visit here in Paris. And just so you don't think we were completely worthless, yesterday we visited the Musee d'Arts Decoratifs (museum of decorative objects, aka interior design of sorts), and it was wonderful.

Tomorrow we take the chunnel to London! There are a couple of rainy days in the forecast (shocker), but i'm keeping my fingers crossed for good weather all around. Bonsoir!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bienvenue a Paris!

Hello dear friends, i've safely made it to my favorite city in the world - Paris! (P.S. M says hi... she's sitting next to me and asked, "Are you BLOGGING?? Tell them i say hi!") We had quite a morning/afternoon, which included forgetting train tickets at the hotel in Nice (when we were already in the cab on the way to the Gare) and leaving a wallet in the cab in Paris. And by "we" i mean M, hahaha. But it's all good now, as we've made it to Paris, have found our way to the petit apartment in the Marais in which we are staying, and have backup means of payment. Right now we are taking advantage of the free Paris wifi in the park across the street from our apartment (don't get the wifi IN the apt - damn!) and just made reservations for dinner tonight at a bistro in the 11th recommended by Clotilde Desoulier. I'm not one for Parisien food, but here's to hoping. ;-)

Hope to blog more, but you know how Paris is... We spent three nights here and then are off to London on Saturday. Whee!!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Bonsoir, mes amies!! Yes i am in France and loving it, of course. We arrived in Nice early on Wednesday and after getting settled into our DARLING hotel (only 6 rooms and ours has a private veranda!), we hit the beach which was only a 5 minute walk away. The way the beach is set up in Nice is essentially a long strip that is divided between small areas of public beach (aka free) and small section of private beach, each with a different name/theme/restaurant (Hi Beach, Florida Beach, Le Voiler Plage, Blue Beach, etc.). Both Wednesday and Thursday morning were spent at the beach, soaking up the rays, and occasionally dipping into the ocean. Thursday we also took a day trip to Monaco/Monte Carlo to check out the casino and all that fuss. It's fairly overrated, if you ask us, and considering we weren't about to pay to get into the casino, we mostly just walked around and looked. That evening we were invited to a party on the beach by S. (Background: S is M's boyfriend's friend from college whose family has a house in Cap D'Antibes and who graciously invited us to stay for a few nights while we're in the South.) A party on the beach in the south of France? Sure! His parents were throwing it and it was mostly 100+ family and friends. Tons of delicious food, beaucoup du vin, and a LOT of dancing.. not to mention a ton of beautiful Lebanese women in some serious couture. It was all a bit out of my league (to say the least.. i mean how many families do you know with houses in the south of France?), but was definitely a good time. We crashed at S's that night and returned to Nice the following morning to check out of our hotel and enjoy our last meal before returning to Antibes.

We stayed in Antibes the next three nights and days were filled with lounging by S's oh-so-fabulous pool, getting served (uh huh..served) breakfast on the balcony, overlooking the Mediterranean, and making day trips to Juan les Pins and Cannes. Luckily we had access to a SMART car, which made our road trip to Cannes tres fun. Imagine 2 American gals in a smart convertible, windows and top down, blasting Madonna, singing, dancing, and oh yes enjoying the gorgeous ocean view! Loads of fun. Dinners involved copious amounts of wine, bread of course, and lots of seafood. I really dig the fresh cuisine of the South, so different from the heavy creams/sauces in Paris.

This morning we woke up early and caught our train from Cannes to Lyon. 4 hours of blissful train sleeping later, we arrived in Lyon. Lyon was kind of a last minute addition to the trip, in an effort to save money (staying in Saint Tropez is just so ridiculous) and out of curiosity as neither of us have been here. Suffice to say i know nothing of Lyon.. nothing. I imagined it as a less glam version of Paris, and that's fairly accurate. Today we just walked around, luckily our hotel is in a great location and close to a lot of the shops/cafes/etc. I don't think i'm a huge fan of Lyonnais food.. lots of weird meats like veal's head and tripe and blood sausage.. not my cup of tea. But tomorrow is essentially our last day, and we're going to try to hit up a few of the museums and enjoy a meal. Wednesday we are off to Paris!!

I've had a lovely trip so far and a pretty serious tan to prove it. During our time in the south i couldn't help but feel guilty for having the opportunity to enjoy such a lush and luxurious vacation while my parents are home working away. Being around the extremely wealthy is also interesting and i'll muse a bit on that later. But it's been a great time of reflection, and i'm happy to report that i've been journaling daily. I've finished a couple of books and am now reading "Marley and Me" which of course makes me miss my Lola Collette even more. Not even halfway through this trip and i'm already starting to miss my day-to-day in Austin. Funny how that works huh? I guess there's only so much playing one can do before tiring of it, haha. Paris and London should be fun though, as they are both cities i adore and cities FULL of an endless list of things to do. Hope to blog there later! Bonsoir, friends!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bon Voyage!

Holy crap.. i'm leaving for France tomorrow!!!!!!! As you can tell, i'm tres excited and just can't believe this magical moment is finally here. Today was spent running last minute errands, having lunch w/ dear Abby, and of course, running into M (my travel partner-in-crime) in the dressing rooms at Anthropologie. Ha! It was the funniest thing ever and took me a few seconds to figure out who it was approaching me and squealing! The salespeople at Anthro prob thought we were crazy b/c we kept saying, "We're going to France tomorrow!! TO FRANCE!" In other good news, actually FABULOUS news, M's boyfriend's friend has graciously invited us to stay at his family compound in Saint Tropez for 3 nights during our stay. Um... excuse moi? Yep, you heard it right! Three nights in a gorgeous family home in one of the most gorgeous places on earth? And for.. FREE? Be still, my heart! I canceled our Cannes hotel reservation immediately and secretly calculated the extra shopping $$ into my budget (teehee). Hooray for generous friends of friends!!

Now i'm snuggled into bed, just a few pages away from finishing Such A Pretty Fat (totally L-O-V-E-D it btw and want to read her other two memoirs immediately!), and will hopefully sleep better tonight. Took me forever to fall asleep last night b/c my darn lower back pain. I've somewhat remedied the situation tonight by slapping an icy hot patch on it. Love these suckers. (Yea i realize theyre prob not all that great for me...)

I fear i may have overpacked... shocking, i know. But i really was determined to travel light! As long as my lovely leopard print suitcase isn't overweight tomorrow, i'm gooood.

Ate really healthily today (for me, anyway) and am feeling good. It's amazing how much better you feel when you don't eat yourself into discomfort on a daily basis. Still the challenge of vacationing is scary. Particularly the "workout on your vacay" part. "Excuse me M while i do jump squats and weird plank balancing poses because if i don't, my trainer will hurt me AND i'll have made zero progress this week?" Hmm. Maybe M will do them w/ me? That might be fun...ny. Ah well, i've got my sneakers, running shorts, sports bras, and resistance bands packed so it's gonna happen damn it!

Still waiting for the lovely numbness of this icyhot patch to kick in... In the meantime i suppose i'll read and then drift into a delightful slumber full of beautiful, French dreams. Goodnight, friends.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Spiritual Cowgirl?

Bonjour from Rowlett, TX, home to my lovely parents and currently my 2 felines, Puffin and Muffin (soon to be only 1.. sniff). My drive from Austin to Dallas was surprisingly pleasant, and i caught up with an old hs/college friend on the phone. I also listened to an HTC podcast about being a "spiritual cowgirl". It was an interview with Sera Beak about her book - The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spirit. It's all about deep, bare, honest self-reflection and soul-searching and sounds absolutely fabulous. Of course it's too late for me to order it from amazon for my trip, and of COURSE the local Barnes & Noble doesn't carry it. But i can't wait to order it when i get back and dig in. You know, cause j'adore self-study. ;-)

Have been having a lovely chat w/ my mom about life and Ma Soeur's life. Told her all is well with the Park Sistas, albeit all of our Park women are just a little bit crazy, haha. We just made a trip to the Super Tarjay in the 'hood and got some essentials for my trip. Also picked up some reading material - Such A Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big by Jen Lancaster. I've always wanted to read her memoir Bitter is the New Black so I'm interested to check this one out. Will report later. The truth is i might actually finish the book before i leave...

Anyway all these books and all this talk about books and self-study motivates me to pursue my writing. I've always wanted to write a book, just wasn't sure about what, but i think i'm starting to get a picture. I used to want to write chick lit, as i am an avid fan, but i'm thinking more along the nonfiction route. Sark's new book Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper is all about writing, and i'm eager to pick that one up as well. I just love love Sark! And i just love HTC podcasts and all these fabulous women out there making it happen. It's so inspiring and refreshing, and I'm feeling energized and ready to tackle my next project(s) w/ gusto! Also perhaps while laying on a beautiful beach in Cannes? Mais bien sur!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Craft o Rama!!

Bonjour again, mes amies. I'm currently sitting at a fab little coffeeshop on south 1st called Summer Moon. I was introduced to this lil joint by my dear friend Judd (who has since left me for a kickass clerkship in D.C. - h8er!). I've had a lovely, Austin day, my favorite type.

Darling M woke me up with a phone call with some potentially great news. Turns out her boyfriend's friend from college, whose family is ridiculously wealthy, might let us crash at his oh so fab Saint Tropez family compound during our stay! This would cancel our hotel stay in Cannes, and i'd be um, perfectly fine with that. So keep your fingers crossed!

After that bit of good news and a "i can't believe we're going to France soon!!" phone call w/ M, i hung up and got dressed in my yoga togs for a noon power flow class at Breath and Body. What a great class! I forgot just how much i swear in a heated flow class, and even though it was only an hour, oh Lord, i was feeling quite nauseous by the end of it. Note to self: drink more H20. She ended the class by laying an icy colf, lavender-infused washcloth on my eyes/forehead while i was in savasana, and it couldn't have been more heavenly. I really love yoga studios who add that extra touch. Kimberly Wilson, for example, always ends her classes with some lavender aromatherapy spray (also while in savasana), and i just love it. After yoga i got showered and dressed and ready to spend my afternoon on an "artist date". There's a store on South Congress called Craft o Rama that i've driven past and been meaning to stop in. After some googling i discovered that it's a fabric/sewing/knitting shop. AND they carry Amy Butler! PARFAIT! Sadly their Amy Butler stock was limited but the place was just darling, and i'm definitely planning on taking a Sewing 101 class in September and a knitting class in the fall. I've been wanting to learn how to sew and knit for so long, and it seems like the perfect environment in which to try! I may be a domestic goddess in other aspects (cooking, cleaning, etc) but i have a feeling sewing/knitting might be a bit trickier pour moi. Still what a fun new skill to acquire, n'est-ce pas?

After hitting a couple more shops on South Congress (and scoring a FAB maxi dress at a fun new shop on SoCo, perfect for lounging in fabulous Cannes or Saint Tropez), i decided it was time for an iced soy latte and some computer/journal time. Happy day, eh? It's times like these that i wish i lived in South Austin. The vibe is just so cool and laid back and so... Austin. How great would it be to just wake up, walk down the street to Jo's and grab coffee and a croissant? Or brunch at SoCo Cafe? I love the Triangle and all its amenities, but they really should've done a better job at their restaurant selections. Love Flipnotics, my local (ok - more like 10 steps away from my patio!) coffeeshop and i love the breakfast migas at Galaxy Cafe, but the rest of the food is mediocre at best. Which Wich? Fish City Grill? (ICK) I want more Austin favor, independent mom and pop sandwich shops and such. I can't help but think that i live in one of the most Dallas-y residential neighborhoods of Austin, and didn't i want to get away from everything Dallas? I digress, but you get my drift. I'm definitely going to be considering another 'hood for my future home.

Tonight i am dining with a dear old friend from college who also just graduated from law school (U-Penn) and who i'm also visiting in DC in September. We're going to one of my Austin faves - El Chile Cantina - in east Austin (another potential future neighborhood..?). YuM! Until then i plan to chill out here and maybe make a pit stop at Whole Foods to buy some nontoxic sunblock for my trip. YAY FRANCE HERE I COME!! (Too bad my French has gone completely out the window... stupid bar exam!)

Bon weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

La Dolce Vita

Bonjour, friends! Here are some pics from my recent getaway to the beautiful Bay area. Isn't my Lola bear so big?? She was so well-behaved in the city i couldn't believe it. Those are some pics in our hotel room at the Westin. She's quite good at "high five" (actually ten but whatever) and "shake". The pic of the two of us was at a lovely bistro at which we dined in the city that unfortunately had a rather unfriendly restaurant dog. She attacked my poor Lola, and it was the second time i've ever heard her squeal out of sheer terror. :-( Luckily she recovered quickly and spent the rest of the evening at my side on the lovely garden patio. :-)

I had an INCREDIBLE time with my sister and the dogs in California. In fact, it's the first trip i can remember that we didn't have a single fight.. unbelievable! I don't even think we got annoyed at each other, minus my occasional crankiness from low blood sugar (my sister doesn't seem to understand that i really DO need to eat every 3-4 hours!!). We spent most of Saturday and Sunday in the city and visited a number of darling shops and eateries. The picture of my sister in front of the storefront is The Bell Jar, a darling (slightly overpriced) shop in the Mission District where i got a cute French cahier notebook and vintage cent stamp that i've decided is going to be a "C". The weather was gorgeous, as evidenced by the park picture where Lola did a little romping, and we enjoyed our "heavenly" bed at the Westin. We did oodles of goal-setting (physical, professional, and spiritual), and i introduced her to morning pages. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.

On Monday, my actual birthday (yay 25!!), i had a petit incident in which i managed to lock myself out of the house after working out on their elliptical machine in the garage. Sooo my sister had to come let me back in (she had to work that day). I took a long afternoon siesta with the dogs, and then Jenn actually got off work early and we hit up Santana Row - a gorgeous, upscale outdoor shopping mall in San Jose. We went to Paper Source, my absolute FAVORITE paper store (rumor has it there's now one in Dallas's Northpark mall!), and she bought me a lovely Cavallini & Co. alphabet stamp set. I was inspired by a little store called Stumasa in the city. All of the shop's price tags and even their eco-friendly business card (cardboard!) were made with simple brown paper and vintage stamping. The stamps weren't cheap, but Ma Soeur is QUITE generous. ;-) I also got a fun little stamp that says "Shit", which i intend to use for sympathy cards, haha. I forgot how much i love stamps and the creative uses for them. Nothing like a fabulous paper store to inspire me! After another shop stop at H&M, we picked up my brother-in-law and then went to dinner at Los Altos Grill, formerly known as Bandera, which has THE BEST skillet cornbread you'll ever taste. We had a fun birthday dinner and finished it off with asian-style frozen yogurt w/ mochi for dessert. What a perfect birthday celebration!

I'm back in Austin now and have been busy with hotel reservations and train tickets and this and that for THE Bar Trip. I'm happy to say that all of our lodging reservations have been made, we have train tickets to/from our cities (Nice, Cannes, Lyon, Paris, and London), and i am SO ready to go. I felt like this day would never come!! I'm heading to Dallas on Sunday and then depart from DFW on Tuesday for a LONG day and night of travel. But it's all worth it for beautiful, gorgeous France and of course, our beloved Londy.

I always suffer a little post-sister depression after every visit to California, and this time was certainly no exception. But the trip definitely inspired me to make the most of this petit break between the bar and work, and i'm savoring every moment. Lots of sleeping, journaling, cleaning, organizing, packing, letter-writing, and of course, blogging! I'm debating whether or not to bring my laptop to France, and so far i'm thinking no... but I would like to keep up with blogging so maybe i'll just have to frequent les internet cafes while i'm there. In the meantime i hope you enjoy the pix and are having a lovely, albeit hot, summer!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

California, Here We Come

Wheee!!! Lola and i leave in just a few hours for beautiful, 75-degree Northern California!! The weather is San Fran is just ridic... highs in the 60s?? Oh be still, my heart! I'm just finishing my packing (excessive, as always) and trying to figure out what to eat for lunch. Thanks SO much to all the supportive comments on the previous post. I think it's incredible the kind of support i receive from my "blog friends" and reading them just made my day. So thanks again, loves. :-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Life Post-Bar

Hello, dear friends. I've been super lazy getting back on the blog train, as you can see, but i just wanted to say that life post-bar is just as sweet as it sounds. Unfortunately for me, life's challenges never cease. The morning after the last day of the Bar, i slept in, reveled in that glowing feeling that i'm only waking up b/c i WANT to, not b/c i HAVE to, and then strolled into the living room to turn on my macbook and start planning my Bar Trip. Huh. My screen was frozen when i got to it... weird. I just rebooted. Oh. And then. It refused to reboot, simply defaulted to a blank screen with a flashing file folder in the center, with a big question mark in the middle. NEVER a good sign. Don't panic, just reboot once more. No dice. So i proceeded to make an appt with the Apple store (of course nothing was available that day) and then pulled out my "ancient" Dell laptop. Ugh PC's... i abhor them, although my hard drive never crashed when i had a PC. Did some online research to discover that flashing file folder with question mark is a bad sign. Great. Talked to Jenny who experienced a hard drive failure some months ago, and she confirmed. Still i remained optimistic. Took my laptop to Apple the next day and sure enough, the moment i said the words "flashing file folder" and saw the look on her face, i knew it was all over. Sigh. Well what are my options? I was three weeks out of warranty but lucky for me, Apple does have some semblance of customer service (unlike Dell) and she said they'd cover a new hard drive. BUT if i wanted to recover any of my data (umm... thousands and thousands of songs and pictures documenting the last 7 years of my life? yes please!) i'd have to take it to a third party before delivering it to Apple. Because they keep the bad hard drive. Of course, let's make this as drawn out as possible. Worse yet, it was Saturday which meant that i couldn't even contact this third party data recovery specialist until Monday. UGH. By the time Monday morning arrived, i was feeling optimistic. Sure i'd have to pay about $400 to recover my hard drive, but it's worth it, and i guess this is how people learn that you really must BACK UP. Have i learned nothing from Sex and the City? So I breathed, rebooted, and presented my macbook to the guy with a smile that asked, "please please good sir, fix this so i can get on with my post-bar festivities". A few hours later he called. Bad news.... can't recover... did everything we could... just can't. I felt like someone died, and then i realized someone DID die. My music? My pictures? That's my life! Sad to say that the music is the part that really killed me, more so than the pictures. After hanging up, I proceeded to curl myself into a ball on the couch and cry. I mourned for most the afternoon. It was not pretty. Pas amusant.

So here i am, typing on a practically new macbook (macbook 1.2), still mourning the loss of my first (macbook 1.1). I know this was the best possible time for such a disaster to occur, and i am thankful that it didn't happen in the midst of finals or pre-bar exam. I don't think i was emotionally stable enough to handle any sort of disaster. But it still sucks. So i've been busy dealing with that whole situation and getting ready for my birthday trip to California. I leave tomorrow!! I'm very much looking forward to a weekend in San Francisco with my dearest sister and our two pups. I hope to accomplish a lot of journal writing, book reading, self-reflecting and goal setting during this trip. Did i mention that my 25th birthday is on Monday? TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD!!! I know it's still so young, it's just hard to believe. Dear Quarter Life Crisis, i'm so not ready for you.

Oh and um, did i mention that i'm totally depressed b/c i'm fat, and i completely blame law school for that unfortunate state of being? Yeah. Now that the Bar is over and school is over, i am finally facing the music. And it ain't good. I worked out with Deb for the first time in a month on Monday and got a brutal wake up call. No matter how much i work out and get in shape physically, nothing's going to happen to my body until i change my diet. Yuck. DIET. I hate that word and the leading role it used to play in my life. So the reality is... i can either choose to eat for pleasure and experiment and enjoy this and that and be fat b/c that's just how my body enjoys being OR i can eat for fuel, make some sacrifices and set some limits and hopefully shed some of this grossness. This is not an easy choice, but how i've been feeling these days leaves me no option. i'm not ready to give up on my body so i guess eating for pleasure is part of the past. That's not to say that i'm going to count calories and eat nothing but kale and bland grilled chicken. But my body refuses to become smaller, even if i'm eating what's considered "normal" to a lay person. Blah i am so not looking forward to this, and my bitterness at those who can still eat macaroni and cheese and ice cream and stay slim is rearing its ugly head. You mean i have to kick my ass in the gym AND eat a lettuce-based diet in order to achieve my former figure? Shit.