Versailles


Despite two previous trips to Paris, I’d never been to Versailles. The truth is that I’ve been to Peterhof, which was modeled off of Versailles, numerous times, and I figured if I’ve seen one disgustingly ornate palace I’ve seen them all. I did try to go while I was in Paris the previous summer, but was informed that there were approximately 20,000 people already lined up/inside, and just the thought of that gave me hives.


However, it was one of the Must-Sees for my boyfriend, so off we went. I have to say, it was fairly magical.


Since we went in January, there were no lines at all. We were able to just stroll right in, and then walk around the palace without the crush of people. It was perfect.

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Angelina’s (No, Not Her Leg)


As I’ve stated before, I’m not a coffee person. I love the taste of it, but most of the time I cannot handle the caffeine. I’ve been trying to become a coffee drinker since I just got a brand new Keurig machine and caffeine is the lifeblood of graduate students. However, just yesterday I got a mocha latte from Starbucks, and it was so caffeinated that I wanted to stand on my porch and just scream for like 40 minutes.

My drinks of choice then are tea and hot chocolate. One of my favorite places in the world for hot chocolate is La Maison Angelina. Their African Hot Chocolate is almost sinful. The servers bring you a cup of thick melted chocolate and then a small pitcher of cream to stir into the chocolate. It’s almost too much.

Next week, I’ll head to New York for my birthday and I’ll stop by Laduree for my favorite Parisian treat, but I’ll still be dreaming of my favorite Parisian hot chocolate that I wish I could get stateside.

Where I’m Writing


My third article, “Must Have dSLR Accessories for Travelers” for Lost Girls World is up on their blog. I love any website that promotes women traveling, and they’ve been wonderfully fun to write for.

My latest travel guide to Philadelphia is up on Unanchor as my loving tribute to one of my favorite cities.

Finally, my latest venture into writing has been for Cville Niche, a local blog that promotes events happening in and around Charlottesville. I’ve written two pieces for them, and it’s been a really great experience so far. It’s completely different than writing from the other two so I’ve been enjoying the challenge of it. Plus, there’s so much more going on in Charlottesville than I’ve ever realized, it makes me love this town even more.

Black and White


Even though it’s bright and sunny today in Charlottesville, I woke up this morning in the mood for some black and white photos.


My summer plans are still so up in the air at this point, that I’m starting to get anxious. Charlottesville or Russia? A trip somewhere else?

This would be the first summer in 5 years that I don’t travel over to Europe. Part of me wants to see my beautiful town in the summer for once, but the other part of me hates the idea of not traveling. It’s addicting.


I know whatever happens, it’ll be for the best, but it’s the anticipation that kills me every time.

A Little Bit of Magic


One of my new favorite artists is Sophie Blackall. I discovered her via a friend, and instantly fell in love with her Missed Connections. The idea of during missed connections from Craigslist (a guilty pleasure of mine) into art was something I could get behind. Almost without thinking, I purchased one of my favorites–Ice Skating in Central Park.

Imagine my delight when my friend, Kat, emailed me over the weekend to point out a particular Charlottesville Missed Connection which reads:

we took a class on dostoevsky together last spring and walk past each other on grounds sometimes. you sometimes smile at me, but yesterday in clemons we passed each other and smiled for a long time. for some reason i feel like you read this stuff, and you’re beautiful and interesting and i’d like to get to know you better, if only as a friend.

would love to hear back

That’s the course I taught last year. A little missed connection in my class–how utterly fantastic is that? I love the idea of a little romance springing up from Russian literature (although I’d like for it to end happier than–well pretty much any piece of Russian literature).

Macarons


One of my favorite indulgences while in Paris is macarons. They’re the perfect size dessert, and I love sampling all of the different flavors–especially the exotic ones.

My goal for this trip to Paris was to try as many different types as possible so we started with a visit to the famed Laduree to pick up some of their completely decadent macaroons.

Despite being a die-hard chocoholic, I fell in love with their violet cassis ones.

While we were in Zurich, we tried the Swiss version of macarons which had a bit more filling than the French ones. One of my favorite were the gold ones which were filled with a champagne filling.

Needless to say, most of our nights in Europe ended with a small box of macarons and some wine.

A Little House Love

Although my valentine and I already had a little celebration together this weekend, I still found flowers at my house today. Even though it’s been freezing lately, these flowers add the perfect amount of Spring to the house.

One of my favorite gifts that my guy got me were the cloth letters from Anthropologie since I am obsessed with both Anthropologie and my own monogram.

For right now the letters are resting on the bookshelves I installed in my living room last year. Being a graduate student and a card carrying book nerd, I’m continually running out of space for my books so I had to put these shelves up last year. I kind of like how they add a little more funkiness to the shelf which already contains a collection of weird things (a painting of Frida Kahlo, a twinflex camera and a purple globe).

A few weeks ago I finally installed the monogram letter hooks that are acting as my coat rack. Although I love my townhouse, the lack of storage space is a serious issue. I don’t have a coat closet, so for years my armchair has been acting like a storage space for winter coats, gloves, hats and whatever else I toss there. It drove me crazy. My Mom got me these hooks as a Christmas present, and they are perfect. I’m already dreaming of a large straw tote to use at the Cville market in the Spring that I can hang there.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard on making my home my own. I’ve been trying to get rid of things that don’t have a lot of meaning–things that were purchased quickly or without thought. I’ve been working on finding things that are my personality, unique and have meaning. I have so many home improvement projects coming up, I’m excited to begin Spring Cleaning and redecorating.

Retirement


Today is a big day for my family. After 27 years with the Philadelphia Fire Department, my stepdad, Captain Mike Daly, has retired.

When Mike first announced his drop time from the Fire Department four years ago it seemed so far away. It didn’t even seem possible that this day would come. After his surgery for Stage 3 Prostate Cancer last year, we all couldn’t wait for this day to come.

I know both my Mom and Mike have mixed feelings about retiring–those feelings of “What now?” but I’m so excited for them. There are lots of big changes happening, and I’m excited to see where it takes them.

Book Worm


There are quite a few books coming out by my favorite bloggers this year. I really only started reading blogs about two years ago, but there are a few that I look forward to reading every day. I’ve already pre-ordered each of these books.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

This one comes out in April, and will probably be the book I that I read through the night rather than sleeping and being responsible (I think the author would probably approve). The Bloggess is one of my go-to blogs when I’m sad or in a bad mood. Her sense of humor cracks me up, and her ability to motivate people to help others is inspiring.

Bloom by Kelle Hampton

I am so excited for this book to come out in April. I love Kelle’s blog. It was the first blog I really read on a regular basis, and I’m amazed at her ability to see the good in the every day. Russian literature is depressing, and Kelle’s blog balances out the doom and gloom for me.

Cupcakes and Cashmere by Emily Schuman

This one is slated for later in the year. It’s hard not to be envious of Emily’s life on Cupcakes & Cashmere. She’s pretty, extraordinarily well dressed, crafty and turns out fantastic recipes. I think she’s going to be the Martha Stewart of my generation. I’ve tried quite a few of her recipes on her blog, and they’ve all turned out so well so I can’t wait to try more of them from this book.

Favorite Things


One of the things that we did while in Paris was seek out our favorite things; violet & cassis macarons, fresh oysters and rich hot chocolate. That’s one of the joys of vacations (especially vacations to Paris), right?


One of my boyfriend’s favorite things is wine. The wine at his house is always killer, and he gets all dreamy eyed when a store by his house has a particularly fantastic bottle. When I was in Paris last summer, I wandered past this little wine shop, and I knew it was a place that he’d have to visit in January. It was hard not to be impressed there.

My indulgence that day was tea. As on each prior to trip to Paris, I had to visit Mariage Freres. Even though I know the lines and general mania will be less at the other locations, I can’t help but love the original one on Rue Bourg Tibourg.

While there I picked up some violet tea and a tea canister with Russian writing on it. It was the perfect souvenir of the trip.