Tag Archives: paris

travel: the city of lights…finally

1 Jan

it took me more than 19 years to get to paris. the dream started here, if you remember.


if you also remember, it was my goal to drop some poundage before i went.  and that didn’t go quite as planned, but i’m not beating myself up.  after all, i went to paris and nothing was going to get me down.

this trip for me, was one of my dreams come true.  and it didn’t disappoint.

to start with, i really wanted to go to paris with someone i loved and who loved me.  my dad wanted to take me at once point in my life which was nice.  it would have been a blast.  but for some reason – because this wasn’t an ordinary trip – i wanted the dream to include this aspect.  a man.  my man.  in fact, ROF didn’t want to go to paris at all.  not even a smidge.  but i think he had fun.


i wanted to do a day by day breakdown of my trip, but i don’t have it in me.  it was a lot.  we used a fantastic travel agent whom i would vouch for 100%.  when you hear people talk about paris – it all sounds kind of fluffy, doesn’t it?  oh…. the wine.  oh….the food.   oh the sites….  i was a bit worried that perhaps i’ve built it up too much over the past 19 years! but the minute we got out of our car in front of our hotel, i knew that paris would not disappoint.  it was real.  i was here.  the twinkly lights, the beautiful people, the buildings and streets and different culture swirled around us.

some of the best advice came from rick steves.  he’s hands down the very best travel writer.  he said that the goal when visiting paris is to try live like a parisian.  not as an american visiting paris.  go with that attitude.  what that means is just fold yourself into the city.  don’t complain because your water doesn’t have ice in it.  or that service is slow and things aren’t rush rush rush.  paris is a huge city but it is not rush rush rush.  unless you are in an uber car like we were a couple times.  then you could die. driving there is unlike anything i’ve ever seen.  but we walked around most places anyway.

another piece of good advice came from our friend demain. and that was to just get out and explore.  we planned activities, but we also just hit the streets and we came upon so many sweet experiences.  here are some we had and some pictures.

1. the lovely, older lady in le bon marche who didn’t speak any english who helped me buy two scarves.  i spoke limited french but could understand what she was trying to say to me.  i could say “noir et blanc” and point at the black and white scarf and she would wrap it around me and suggest another scarf that went better with my “cheveux” or hair.  she taught me a couple of different ways to tie one too.  this whole experience was one i was actively seeking.  looks like i just needed to be brave enough to walk into a very high scale french department store and shop.  <read = shopping is the universal language!>

2. exploring the oldest flea markets in the world with a 23 year old tour guide all to ourselves!  i got some heavy, silver, vintage soup spoons that i regret not getting 6 or 8 instead of 4!

3. the cheese and wine tasting we did here was OUT OF THIS WORLD.  best ever.  nothing like 2 tons of cheese and wine for an afternoon lunch.  yum-o.  oh, and we learned a lot.  like how to read a french wine bottle.  why it is hard to try a wine and find it later in a store.  the five things that a sommelier would use to describe a wine and much much more.

4. that the musee d’orsay is way more fun than the louvre.  <hush your mouth! did you just say that?>  if you’re one who likes to look slowly at art while being trampled by a million kindergarteners and foreigners, then this is your place.  but it would take you 25 days and 25 nights to view each piece for 60 seconds each.  we had to go and the building was enough!  unbelievable!  beautiful.  but then we walked across the bridge to the d’orsay and had a blast in this old train station turned art museum.  ROF particularly liked <read: hated> the exhibit that was there.  we walked <read: ran> through this exhibit that was, how do you say, very forthcoming.

5. ate at a proper french restaurant with a michelin star: pur.  i have never in my life seen service like this.  it was like a magnificent show!  lucky ROF got to stare at the wall and me while dining, but i got to watch 9 or so waiters help us and do so seamlessly and without talking to each other.  the bread woman, the wine man, the main waiter, the table cleaner, the first course deliverer, the second course deliverer.  omg as the kids say…omg.  check out this beautiful, intimate restaurant here!

6. experienced the beautiful and entrancing rue montorgueil.  a must see if you’re in paris.

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work & life balance. constant journey. found yours?

4 Aug

suddenly i’ve hit an age where i feel somewhat wise.

not in a smart, know-it-all kind of way. it’s just a result of age. i feel wise because, for me, i’ve may have figured it out. priorities. you know when you are in your 20s and 30s (at least 4 me) i kind of – how do you say – worked my ass off. i was single focused on:

finding out what the expectations are and exceeding them. from my boss, from my clients even from my friends. some call that being a people-pleaser and i wouldn’t disagree but i’d add to that definition. i would call it being driven.

and that changed as i grew up. in my 20s, when i started to wonder about the bigger things in life like “where do you go when you die?” and “is this all for nothing” and “is this world really all about… just us?” i dug into all kinds of spiritual things and spun out in a place of faith where i know is the right place to be. but the point here isn’t that – it’s that what i started to be driven towards changed and grew.

but now, in my 40s i’ve started to question the engine that is driving me. i go back to the place i’ll call my eye opening moment. my dad’s funeral. you can read about that here. it was when all the work folks poured in and dealers from all over the country filled the room and i thought to myself THIS IS WHERE YOU END UP! all your stress and your voicemails and emails and strategy – you end up here.

so i came up with my own priorities that i thought about and spelled out and think about now – at least for the past week since I made them up. i am going to run everything through this and it will tell me how worried to get about something or stressed or even happy for that matter.

here it is, in this order, with the background of photos i took in northern michigan last week:

this is my new driver. first God. not my version of God. to each their own, but i know my God. it is the God of the bible and the one you only can know through Jesus. that is most important to me because it puts me on track and is more than just this life.

second is a combo meal. it is health and love. health has never ever been on my radar. i would say my priorities for the most part of my life have been more in this order: 1. work 2. love & feel good. not anymore. i’ve got a functional medicine nutritionist and i’m working the simple plan. striving for a life change and for paris!

love is ROF and my friends and family. if i don’t have my health, i won’t have them and they won’t have me. like peas in a pod. and they mean the world to me. more than work and feeling good and anything else.

third is work. and this is key. this is what i run the most through my stress gauge now. does it affect my relationship with God? am i putting work before God and health and love? yes? then something is off.

we’ll see how this works out but right now, i’m feeling great. now off for a beautiful sunday with ROF driving in JWK (old car) to a car show.

this is JWK:


what is your priority filter? i’d love to know – please share!

paris: the new workout

29 May

we’re planning on going to paris in december.

 i’ve been wanting to go to paris for over 25 years.  i just really wanted to go with someone i loved.  like romantically (sorry mom.)

Amy Robert

so now, ROF is using his one week of vacation to take me there!  december may seem like an odd time to go, don’t you think?  not the spring when the buds on the trees are budding and the lovers are strolling down the Seine.  sidetracked <i hate that word ‘lovers’ by the way.  love-er.  almost hate that as much as the M word.>  

but there is a reason i picked december.  

it is the last month in the year and i’d like to lose 40 lbs before going to paris.  i better start.  that’s a lot of weight in not a lot of time.  the problem is, i don’t really want to change anything.  it’s no secret that ROF and i like the good life.  and that is what it is.  indulgence.  we like good friends, good wine, good food, good everything!  and i love living that kind of life with ROF.  but i’m going to have to tap the brakes, as they say, before paris.

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because this is my DREAM TRIP and i can’t settle for anything less than feeling great while i’m there.

so if you have some diet pointers (other than stop opening your mouth and eating good things) – send them my way.  use the code word “PARIS”.  I’ll know what you’re talking about.

this week: vegas, paris, chicago & cinci!

14 Sep

this has been a crazy week. glad to be unwinding with a little cab franc and this 60 degree weather in dallas.

so this week was interesting in the way of travel and photos. kinda cool to get the photos i got messaged to me. oh, i love technology!

i was in vegas for a chevy meeting, ROF was in columbus, ohio and naperville, il (hello? i grew up here!) and my sister katie was in cincinnati where my grandma lived and my mom grew up. very very near and dear to my heart. lastly, d, a great friend of ours, is in paris (my ultimate dream location which i’ve never been) and he has been sending me snaps all week.

so, these were the photos i got and took this week.

while i was waiting wednesday morning for a friend to go to a meeting with, i saw this. a dude in his robe and baseball cap holding an elevator and hanging out. what happens in vegas … goes on a blog, dude.

this was our house in naperville. i got this from ROF who was there for a couple of days. i lived in this house from the summer before my sophomore year in high school until i moved downtown chicago when i was 23 years old. my family then moved on to dallas when i was 25. so this house brings back so-many-memories. i can tear up thinking of them. thanks, ROF.

this snap was sent by my sister, katie. she was in cincinnati and this was my grandparents condo on erie avenue in hyde park right across from the hyde park country club where they were founding members. this also brings back so many many memories. i can remember what the condo smelled like – leather and just baked mini bran muffins (my grandma was a stickler about maintaining her weight) i remember the bottom drawer of her dresser in her bedroom (2 twin beds – one for her, one for grandpa) that held plastic bangles of all shapes, sizes and colors. i used to put those on up to my elbow. the other thing i used to do – which is really funny – is when i got a little older, like that awkward middle school age, was read the dirty parts of her “romance” novels. note, they weren’t today’s standard of “dirty” they were super tame but…hello…granny!!

lastly, d really came through for me on texting pictures of paris.

i hope i get to experience this city. i may have it all built up in my head but i’m a very passionate person – about life, love, work, family, art etc… and this (TO ME) is the city that personifies that to me. everything about it is passionate – right down to the food, the sidewalk cafes – everything. thanks d for letting me live vicariously through you for the week!

that’s it for now folks. have a great weekend!

7am saturday sweet brew

10 Mar

the best day and time of the week is 7am on saturday morning.  now that i’m old, i am actually awake to hear the first bird churp the morning song.  it means it’s time soon to stream – via apple tv – chicago’s 93xrt radio station and listen to saturday morning flashback (ROF is uncanningly good at guessing the year before they say it)

this morning i thought about

my love affair with coffee.  it started when i was attending columbia college on michigan avenue in chicago.  my neighbor in naperville actually opened a coffee store on michigan avenue (in chicago place) and i worked there during my sophomore year.  it was quite a venture for her as a non-entrepreneur – opening a coffee shop on arguably one of the best well-known shopping streets in the country. hell0… cha ching…i’m just sayin’.

i didn’t necessarily like to drink coffee – i did – but that’s not why i liked it.  i romanticized it all out of proportion (i stole that line from woody allen’s opening monologue in manhattan.)  i love all the words that go along with coffee like brew, vanilla, steep, chicory, espresso, dark roast, latte, mug, cinnamon, morning, pick-me-up, clutch, auto-timer (ok, i like more what that does vs. the word)

i just liked the idea of it.  of course, i was smoking at the start of my love affair with coffee.  many of you would say ewww gross but truly…sigh… being 23 going to school in downtown chicago, drinking coffee at an outside cafe’ and smoking a marlboro light was just the breakfast of champions (and oh so french).  i could do that because at that age, i was for sure invincible.  going to school and being facinated with advertising and marketing and life.  it was all real good.

back then i was obsessed with paris too. 

so welcome saturday morning.  let’s all brew a great cup of joe and look forward to a great day ahead.

these photos, their credits and more breakfast goodies can be found on my pinterest board here.

j’aime paris

8 Aug

first of all,

i’d like to let you know how much fun i’m having writing this blog.  it has become a hobby, a past-time, a creative outlet.  i am filled with so much passion for so many things, it’s nice to release it somehow, if only to myself.  so what may seem random to you, is not so much to me.  that brings us to today, monday and some random musings on paris.

i’ve never been to paris…

but i’ve always wanted to go.  i blame the urge on my first boss (actually president of the ad agency) who introduced me to the book “a moveable feast” by ernest hemingway.  are you a fan?  it was actually published 2 or 3 years after hemingway died.  it was started by him then compiled by his 4th wife and widow from trunkfuls of his writing when he was in paris.  i heard somewhere that if you read the book aloud to a blind person, they would be able to clearly visualize what paris was like.  i imagine that would be the same for someone who had never been to paris, like moi.  the name from the book came from a friend of his who played a part in the editing.  hemingway told him this about paris:

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man,

then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you,

for Paris is a moveable feast.

“All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the high white houses as you walked but only the wet blackness of the street and the closed doors of the small shops, the herb sellers, the stationery and the newspaper shops, the midwife – second class – and the hotel where Verlaine and died where I had a room on the top floor where I worked.”  -Ernest Hemingway, “A Good Cafe on the Place St.-Michel,” A Moveable Feast

“But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.”
-Ernest Hemingway, “People of the Seine,” A Moveable Feast

“But for a long time it was enough just to be back in our part of Paris and away from the track and to bet on your own life and work, and on the painters that you knew and not try to make your living gambling and call it by some other name.
-Ernest Hemingway, “The End of an Avocation,” A Moveable Feast

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” -Ernest Hemingway

When I woke with the windows open and the moonlight on the roofs of the tall houses, it was there. I put my face away from the moonlight into the shadow but I could not sleep and lay awake thinking about it. We had both wakened twice in the night and my wife slept sweetly now with the moonlight on her face. I had to try to think it out and I was too stupid. Life had seemed so simple that morning when I had wakened and found the false spring…But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight  – Ernest Hemingway, a moveable feast

i guess you could say that this is imaginary appreciation of paris.  at least until i get a chance to go.

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