La Pitchoune

Julia Child's home in Provence (1)

Julia Child’s life and journey have always fascinated me, I’m sure it partly has to do with the fact that we both love food (very, very much!). She didn’t exactly have a rags to riches story, but she was a lost soul for a large portion of her adult life, and that’s something I feel a lot of us can relate to on some level. It wasn’t until the age of forty that she found her true calling and boy did she make an impact on the world of cooking.

Julia Child's home in Provence (2)

La Pitchoune was the summer home Julia and Paul built in 1963 on the homestead of her dear friend and co-author, Simone Beck. I’m sure I’m not the only one that daydreams about living in a countryside cottage in the south of France, but if my daydreams were to be manifested into a physical place it would surely be La Pitchoune. I can just see myself making Julia’s boeuf bourguignon every damn day in this kitchen.

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I’m almost done reading Dearie, a story of Julia Child’s life, and of course my favorite parts are about the time she and her husband, Paul, spent in France. It’s basically a dream of mine to live in France, shop the markets everyday and take cooking classes, all while wearing a striped shirt with a baguette under my arm and a croissant in my mouth. A gal can dream…maybe I will just have to read My Life in France again and stare at these photos of Julia’s former home.

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Photos via here

Leo’s Oyster Bar

Leo's Oyster Bar in San Francisco (4)

I’ve been a bit more of a minimalist lately, whether it be my personal surroundings or wardrobe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a soft spot in my heart for some design to the max. Leo’s Oyster Bar in SF’s Financial District (just two doors down from one of my favorite restaurants Wayfare Tavern) is an amazing mix of midcentury retro glamour design. This gorgeous, tropical oasis is making me crave some oysters (and I don’t even really eat oysters ;p)…

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Images via here

Al Fresco Entertaining

I was recently invited to a spring fete at the home of private chef and owner of Le Picnic, Ariane Aumont. It was a beautiful afternoon, the jasmine tea cocktails were flowing and the food was top notch to say the least. I’m still dreaming about the most delicious banana leaf wrapped coconut rice and pork belly
mushroom parcels (with crispy shallots!).

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The table was dressed in candles, artichokes, dogwood blooms and cabbage.

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A nest detail.

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For dessert, we chanted ‘Hatsuyuki’ while Ariane used her Japanese shaved iced machine for the first time.

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You can see the menu and more photos from this spring celebration here.

The Sweet Life

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You know when you have one of those weekends that you wish would last for just one more day? I had one of those weekends. The weather was amazing, the hubs was out of town, and I got deeply invested into Call the Midwife. I also spent the most beautiful afternoon feasting in the middle of an orchard with the most beautiful women. Life in Ojai ain’t bad.

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Photo Diary: Los Alamos

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I recently took a trip to Los Alamos, a small town just an hour and a half north of Ojai. It had been on my list to make the short trek up to this area for quite some time and I finally blocked out some days to do it. Los Alamos has one main street and there a just a few restaurants and small establishments located on said street, including the Alamo Motel, a cute little lodge belonging to the Shelter Social Club family.

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The fam and I checked in to the Alamo and we got straight to eating. For such a small town, there are some legit places to fill your belly. You know how much I love food, and I’ve missed the SF food scene so much, so this trip was real a treat.

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In this order, I had lunch at Bell Street Farm, a little wine tasting at Casa Dumetz, dinner at Full of Life Flatbread, and breakfast the next day at Bob’s Well Bread Bakery. EVERYTHING was delicious.

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There’s some great antique-ing to be had, but because I’m on the long road of becoming a minimalist, I only went home with an amazing pepper mill and ice pick (yes, surpisingly I’ve been needing one).

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This little town is definitely worth a trip. Word on the street is a few more restaurants are opening soon, so I’ll for sure be planning another eating-fest.

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Yosemite Camp Vibes

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Summer is sadly over but the 90 degrees weather is still lingering. I was able to squeeze in a few camping trips towards the end of summer, including one at Yosemite. It was only my second time at Yosemite and how I grew up in California without coming to this beautiful place every year is beyond me. The waterfalls were either nonexistent or teeny tiny due to the drought but the grandness of Yosemite was still amazing.

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Along with camping in the valley, I climbed Half Dome!  I still can’t believe I made it. Dre and I left our campsite early in the morning when it was still dark and made our way (a very long and strenuous way) to Half Dome. Although healthy and active, I would not describe myself as “in shape” so this was one challenge I wasn’t sure I would make. But I made it to the cables, which required every last bit of strength I had to pull myself up after hiking like 8 miles uphill. I did it, it was glorious and I look forward to my next visit to Yosemite (Half Dome hike not included). Done and done.

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Photo Diary: Tokyo + Phuket

One major personal project I’ve had on my to do list (for forever!) has been to print my travel photos and organize them into journals so that I can actually look at them when the mood calls, or share them with friends and family every now and then. Instead, I’m only reminded of trips when searching for a photo in my iphone and sadly, I’m only sharing photos through instagram or facebook. What has this world come to? I’m glad I finally got around to posting a few photos because I’m immediately reminded of how amazing this trip was.

I recently traveled to Tokyo and Phuket and I pretty much died and went to heaven. For so long, Tokyo has been at the top of my travel list. I’m always mistaken for being Japanese, which is actually totally fine by me, and I love all things Japanese. The food, the culture, the design, the efficiency, all the cute little Japanese-y things that you don’t need…Tokyo is my spirit city.

This trip got off to a bit of a rough start, meaning my husband and I missed our flight. It was one of those early morning flights, but you had to get there the night before, it was a holiday weekend combined with my birthday, basically I messed up. I blamed it on my aging brain. I remember the week before was a crazy work filled week and I was running around like a mad woman so I only got around to typing up the travel itinerary the day that we were supposed to be departing, except that when I started to type in the departure date, I realized we had already missed our flight. I remained calm, told my husband to remain calm, and called the airline. Luckily, we were able to get out the next day without too much hassle. There was some rearranging I had to do with lodging in Tokyo, but thank goodness everything worked out.

One of the highlights of this trip was visiting the Hotel Okura before they started demolition in preparation for the 2020 Olympics. There’s no other way to describe this hotel except that it is completely classy and classic. The detail in the design is amazing and I pretty much wanted to be Richard Gere in Pretty Woman and move in.

There was a lot of walking, sightseeing and shopping done, a little too much of the latter, but I wanted to consume as much as possible. It is such an inspiring city. Every day ended in exhaustion, but I have to say, Tokyo was one of those places I was so sad to leave before I even left, I cannot wait to return.

Next stop was Phuket, Thailand to stay at an amazing villa owned by some very generous friends. This part of the trip was the complete opposite of Tokyo in that all I did was relax. To say that I lived like a queen for a few days is a total understatement. What made this stay even more amazing, was that I was completely present in every moment.

We were spoiled by the amazing house chef and staff. Dinner was had outside every night and I got to try some fantastic Thai dishes.

Every morning, I leapt out of bed to swim a few laps in my personal pool just outside the room. Then, I would go upstairs for some breakfast and jump into the main pool, maybe do some sunbathing or reading, watch a movie in the home theatre…does it sound like I’m bragging? It’s because I am ;p

As this trip was coming to an end, I connected back with technology to check in with work so that I wasn’t in complete shock when I returned home.

I miss watching the amazing sunsets with a glass of wine, but still so grateful for this experience.

Stout & Co.

Luxury bed & breakfast in Amsterdam (1)

During my last trip to Amsterdam, I stayed at an amazing spot, Stout & Co., a luxury bed and breakfast. This is not your traditional b&b. The interior is modern and minimal and the design details are endless. The rooms are more like suites with the latest magazines and Aesop products to get you all fresh and clean. I seriously still dream about the breakfasts I had each morning. Yogurt parfait, fruit, local fresh bread, cheeses and meats were served in courses and the coffee was superb. I love a great European breakfast. Luckily, my room was right next to the breakfast room, so I just rolled myself back to bed. Definitely looking forward to another stay here.

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Images via Stout & Co.

European Vacation

Another amazing trip I took last year was a three week European adventure. This trip, which had been a long time coming, started off in Germany, where we met up with Andreas’ dad. It was part of my mother-in-law’s will that we take a trip back to the homeland and meet all the relatives. I had been to Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, but never to the countryside, so I was very excited to see another part of this country.

I met many of Andreas’ uncles, aunts and cousins (including Uncle Willie’s farm animals). I rode a bike through the countryside and hiked through the Black Forest. I also got to see a small piece of land that Andreas and I will be inheriting one day. It’s functioning as a garden now, but hopefully we’ll be able to build a small cottage on the land one day.

From Germnay, we took a day trip to Strausboug, France, a very charming city. It rained most of the day, but I think it added to the magic of this place.

Next stop was Bilbao, still one of my favorite cities.

From Bilbao, we road tripped it to Picos de Europa, a beautiful range of mountains located about thirteen miles from the northern coast of Spain. It was such a treat to see this natural beauty, all done in some very nonfunctional sneakers. We stayed in the quaint town of Cosgaya, where roosters roamed around our front door.

It had been twelve years since Paris and I met. It’s true, a croissant a day keeps the doctor away.

Last stop was Amsterdam. Yep, it’s still cute as all hell.

Southwest Road Trip

The list of new year’s resolutions is already long, but one of the things on my list is to be better about sharing (in general) and sharing (more specifically) photos. In this digital age, it’s so easy to snap away only to let so many moments get dusty on a memory card. I had the amazing opportunity to hit the road for a few weeks last year, but I never shared my photo journal. Andreas and I took soooo many photos, but I wanted to share this snippet. We loaded up a VW Westfalia Camper, dogs and all, and went out for an adventure through the Southwest. We traveled through the Mojave Desert, Sedona, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, squeezed in a bit of Vegas, Death Valley and Yosemite. There is so much beauty out there, it’s almost hard to believe it is real.