Category Archives: Travel

Sneak Peek: Montmartre Shoot

After 6 weeks of making new friends in the wedding industry, hours and hours of scouting for antiques and fresh ideas, crafting to the point of blistered fingers, an array of restless nights, and a house that continually looks like a bomb of craft supplies exploded inside it, the time is almost here! 4 days to go!

Yep, this Sunday I’m putting my heart and soul into a bridal inspiration shoot. The intention of a “styled shoot” is to showcase the work of the various businesses that contribute their talents and services to the shoot itself. I’ve coordinated an amazing team of women (9 to be exact) and I’m so excited to be jumping feet first into the industry!

I feel incredibly honored to be given the opportunity to design a shoot that is wholeheartedly inspired by my time in Europe and my love for Montmartre. I’m excited to share something that is quirky, colorful, eclectic, whimsical and a spin on the traditional “Parisian” look. Montmartre is hands down one of my favorite places in the world and is the place where I built the confidence to start Bow Tie & Bustle. It only seemed fitting that my first inspiration shoot was all about the land of Montmartre.

Here’s a “sneak peek” of what’s to come (I’m squealing inside!) and of course a pic of my dedicated assistant and sidekick B-Bug Blake.

*JB

My inspiration wall…

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Filed under Bow Tie & Bustle, Bridal, Brights, Business, Buttons, Inspirations, Self Exploration, Styled Shoot, Travel, Weddings

Inspired by Home

Just a few of the things that inspired me during my trip home to Colorado for Christmas…

1st row: gingham | colorado sunrise | nature against architecture | naked tree branches

2nd row: my sister coli | street signs | red brick | chautauqua park in boulder, co

3rd row: vintage clothing | the old with the new | family traditions (donuts every saturday morning for as long as i can remember thanks to my dad) | eclectic architecture


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Filed under Brights, Holiday, Inspirations, Just Because, Self Exploration, Travel

What’s Next?

For the past 3 weeks I have been sitting in my pajamas in front of my iMac, snacking endlessly, avoiding exercise like the plague, tossing Bailie’s “toy of the hour” to her when she asks for it, wrapping presents with the largest ribbons I can find, creating Christmas cards from scratch, having meet-ups with friends I haven’t seen for a while, decorating my house for the holiday, interviewing here and there for various nursing positions, but mostly I’ve been contemplating the future. No matter what I do to fill the time in my day, I can’t stop focusing on the nagging feeling inside me to start something new…to go into that “oh so scary” uncharted territory.

I went on my trip to Europe with the hopes of having some life altering, mind-blowing, soul-searching, “pick you up by your boot straps” kind of experience. I had an expectation that the universe would hand me my next steps on a silver platter…yes, I know, not the most realistic expectation ever expressed, right? BUT, in many ways my trip did just that. It pointed me in the direction of my next steps, by reminding me of that gut response. MY gut response.

I have never been a person that whole heartedly follows their gut. Anytime I made a decision following my gut response I always hid behind it, fearful that this response might, “gasp!” be the wrong one. I always had this aching feeling that although my gut was telling me something, there had to be another, far better, more correct response to whatever I was facing. But fortunately enough for me, over the past several years my gut response has continued to prove itself, time and time again. My gut response was the one that told me to pick up everything and move to Seattle; my gut response was the one that told me to take Adam’s hand on our wedding day; my gut response was the one that told me to leave a job that was making me feel miserable and worthless, for a job that I knew nothing about, but was hopeful would inspire and fulfill me; my gut response was the one that told me that if I took my Europe trip I would find myself; my gut response is the one telling me to write these words into this blog right now; my gut response is the one telling me to leave the past behind, and start fresh.

And so, a fresh start it is. I am following my gut. And as much as my “rational” mind is trying to override my gut, I’m not listening. Nope, no more.

So, where does my gut lead me? What’s next? Well that’s actually seemingly simple. Weddings. Yep, good old-fashioned weddings. BUT, anything but old. I want to create a wedding business that focuses on the modern couple. And when I say modern, I mean many things: I mean a couple that doesn’t necessarily follow traditional roles but creates a relationship that best suits THEIR needs; I mean a couple that isn’t afraid to break free from traditional norms and create a wedding day that is as unique and special as they are; I mean a couple that steers clear of anything but “cookie cutter” in their life and in their wedding details; I mean a couple that isn’t afraid to openly face the emotional, physical and mental challenges of not only planning a wedding, but of sharing their lives with one another.

I’m currently working on immersing myself in the wide world of weddings and in doing so I am attempting to incorporate all of the things that inspire and create passion within me: travel, blogging, writing (who knew?!), photography, antiques, flowers, paper, working 1:1 with couples, creating something new from scratch and by hand, re-using used and bruised items, eclectic colors and designs, nature, shabby chic things, Seattle and the PNW…the list goes on and on. By scrolling and reading as many books, blogs, and inspirational stories of both wedding vendors and local brides and grooms alike, I am trying to expand my knowledge of the industry itself. I am meeting with small business counselors and coaches; I am reaching out to friends and family members for support, advice and guidance; I am attending wedding events and expos in the Seattle area; I am traveling along with a photographer friend of mine (Mo you rock!) to support her in her shoot styling and design; I am taking a mental and emotional break from nursing to focus all of my energy, time, and creative juices into this new business; I am traveling home; I am looking to the great outdoors for inspiration; I am exploring areas of Seattle that I’ve never seen before, but mostly I am doing whatever I can to inspire, motivate, and encourage me to continue on this new and exciting journey.

So long story short, I am launching my own full-fledged wedding & event design and consultation business (name coming soon!). I am hopeful that along with this new business, I can also launch a new wedding blog (title currently in the works!) that will hopefully inspire many brides and grooms in the PNW and beyond! I am seeking out any advice, direction, support and friendship from any and all who are interested. If you know anyone who is about to be married, tell them about me. If you know anyone who is a kick-ass entrepreneur, tell them about me. If you know anyone in graphic or web design who may be able to lend their knowledge, tell them about me. If you know anyone who loves weddings as much as I do or is a vendor in the business, PLEASE tell them about me. I need all the love and support I can get my little hands on, during this exciting and challenging transition in my life. I look forward to keeping everyone updated on my progress, and thanks in advance for all of your love! Toodles for now!

A picture of my own wedding in the background for continued inspiration to do this!

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Filed under Business, Self Exploration, Travel, Weddings

Paris. Day 45.

Alone again I am. After days and days of immense contemplation about whether I should continue my travels…Brussels, Bruges, Berlin, Zurich, Dublin, Barcelona, Milan…the possibilities are endless, and the world my oyster…I have realized only two things: I miss my Adam, and it is time for this American gal to go home.

With plans to surprise my husband with an early arrival home just in time for Thanksgiving, I may have told him only a teeny tiny white lie the night before, explaining to him that I was heading to Brussels, then on to Bruges…hehehe.

And after an incredibly tearful departure from Paris only a few days earlier, I figured it only fitting to end this trip with one last night in the City of Light. I hopped on a train out of Amsterdam, caught a quick glance of Brussels from my train window, and headed back to Paris with no regrets.

The city I love, and then home to the man I love.

Here is one last photo from this fantastically amazing adventure, and a list of a few of the things I learned along the way. Thanks so much to all who have followed me on this journey. JB

25 things I’ve learned in no particular order:

1.  I’m physically, mentally and emotionally stronger than I think I am.

2.  My husband means the world to me.

3.  Time alone is okay and not a selfish request.

4.  I can do anything I put my mind to.

5.  Dreams do come true.

6.  The truth is in the details.

7.  I like croque-monsieurs, French onion soup, frites and croissants…maybe even a little too much!

8.  Self care is a human right.

9. The 5 S’s of Wine tasting: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip and Savor.

10.  Independence doesn’t scare me; it intrigues me.

11.  My mental maps save me many times over.

12.  I love France…especially its expertise in open-air street markets.

13.  Traveling truly feeds my soul.

14.  Life without friendship and family is no life at all.

15.  I like (ok, maybe I love) photography.

16.  Everyone is unique and this is an AWESOME thing.

17.  Something can look completely different in the dark than it does during the daylight.

18.  It is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hard to carry 70+ pounds of luggage strapped to my body.

19.  I am good at taking chances.

20.  No matter what, everything will work out in the end.

21.  Expression through writing is extremely therapeutic.

22.  There is an incredible amount of fantastically pleasing forms of transportation far beyond planes, trains and automobiles.

23.  People are more accepting of differences than we think they are.

24.  Fall is my favorite season.

25.  I honestly and deeply love my life.


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Amsterdam in Numbers

One of the things I loved most about Amsterdam were all of the unique numbers marking store fronts, homes, museums, restaurants and everything else imaginable. Here are some of my favorites…

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Amsterdam. Day 42. 43. 44.

After skillfully maneuvering and strapping my FULLY packed bags to my body, I took one last glance into my little apartment completing an incredibly surreal experience. The only thing preventing me from having a tearful breakdown was Rachel’s encouragement to think “I’ll be back someday,” this is “NOT goodbye forever.” Attempting to take her advice, I didn’t even take a last scan of Rue de Rivoli before plummeting myself, and my excessively heavy belongings, deep into the metro.

As I sit here in Gare du Nord watching the departure board frantically flip numbers and letters, tears fall from my face as I realize that my Paris trip that I’d waited so long for is all done, all over. I loved EVERY second of my time in this city and will hopefully always carry a piece of Paris with me everywhere I go…

After a three hour train ride and nap that was abruptly cut short, we arrived in Amsterdam just as the morning rush began. Now when I say rush I should mention that I am not referring to automobiles. Traffic jams in this city equal up to massive amounts of bikes crowding the sidewalks, the streets, the alleys, and ever other crevice of space occupying this city. There are bikes EVERYWHERE! There are big bikes, little bikes, red bikes, yellow bikes, flower bikes, bikes with seats on the front AND the back, bikes with baskets, bikes with horns, and every other bike you can even imagine!

Along with bikes, one of the things that intrigued me the most about Amsterdam is the canals. Canals weave their way between tall, skinny, anything but “cookie-cutter” appearing little houses, while quaint little bridges run over the tops of the canals to allow passer-bys to cross over. There are also paddles of large white swans that swim up and down the canals, giving the city an even more “fairytale like” appearance. Along with bikes and canals, I also didn’t have the slightest clue before arriving just how big Amsterdam actually is! In the 3 days we were here I feel like we only saw a small glimpse of how amazingly intricate, beautiful and full of character this city actually is.

On our first day in Amsterdam we settled in on our boat hostel. Yes, you heard me correctly…a boat hostel! Cool right?! Rach and I jammed all our belongings and our bodies into a room the size of the queen bed back in Paris. Super tiny!!! Good thing Rach and I are comfortable enough with each other, because it was like a game of Twister trying to maneuver around each other to sort our bags, and rest for a moment before heading out for the day.

After chuckling over our hostel on water, we set out to explore Amsterdam. Despite the hostel guy marking big X’s through the areas of town we should avoid, Rachel and I ended up smack dab in the middle of the Red Light District within about 5 minutes. Clueless, frantic to escape, and in complete shock of what we were witnessing, we did everything in our power to haul ass outta there. It didn’t help matters that every street in this city ends with a gracht or straat, and is at least 20 letters long. So confusing!

After finally escaping the rows of red lights, we landed in a charming coffee shop (a real one) that reminded us of our favorite coffee shops in Seattle. Ignited by our ease in speaking English with the locals, we sat comfortably in the café while flipping through fashion magazines, which were dropped in our laps by the adorable kid behind the counter. We spent the rest of our afternoon snapping photos and aimlessly wandering the streets of Amsterdam before settling into bed at 7:45pm…don’t ask.

Our quarters on water…Vita Nova.

Another view of Vita Nova with Amsterdam in the background.

The life.

Amsterdam in all its beauty.

The entrances in this city were impeccable! So gorgeous!

Reinforced my love for the color yellow…


Adorable.

See the swans! Beautiful!

Red Light District…

Dutch shutters.

One of many pancake houses.

The red bike.

Even tie-dye!

3 seats!

L-O-V-E.

Simple beauty.

Just a stunning place.

No sidewalks!

The last of the leaves clinging to the trees.

On Day 43 we woke for breakfast on the boat complete with cheese, cold deli meats, cucumbers, tomatoes, yogurt, museli, a variety of cereals, various juices, and bread for toast including icing and sprinkles for toppings! We lazily ate our breakfast while planning out our day.

I suggested that we head to Amsterdam Central first to attempt to get our train tickets out of Amsterdam all settled. What was supposed to be a “quick trip” to the train station turned into 3 hours of me trying to obtain a ticket that didn’t cost be 200 buckaroos. Destined to save a few bucks by using the internet to purchase my ticket, I ran from the train station, to the library, back to the train station, to the boat hostel, to the train station, and back to the library in my ballet flats all while juggling my purse and camera bag.

Feeling horrible that I had wasted so much of our morning with my train ticket fiasco, I vowed to Rachel that the rest of the day was all hers. We contemplated taking a bike tour, but instead decided to wander around Amsterdam, including a visit to Dam Square, and the Anne Frank Museum. After an incredibly moving and surreal experience in the hiding place of the Frank and Van Pels families, we settled down for a cozy dinner (mushroom soup, a goat cheese Panini, and pancakes soaked in syrup for dessert) quite stunned by what we had just experienced. Having read The Diary of Anne Frank as a young girl, it was quite unimaginable to see such a monumental and gut wrenching piece of history right in front of my very own eyes…

More fries! But these ones are covered in mayonnaise and you eat them with a little fork. So cool and super yummy!

A “coffeshop”.

What one of those “coffeshops” will do to ya!

For whatever reason I couldn’t escape the protests on this trip. This one on our walk around town…we literally had to run to move out of the way of this one. Here’s Rach just steps ahead.

One of my favorite pics of my time in Amsterdam. This was a quiet little corner that I would have missed if I hadn’t stop to take a breath and take in the moment…

I’m obsessed with doors after this trip!

Outdoor seating area at a little bar on a random street corner…so cute.

Another one of my favorites…just quintessential Amsterdam.

The Anne Frank House.

Nighttime in Holland.

Rach as Santa. It was just a tad cold.

A little pub we found for dinner. So yummy.

Rachel’s beer.

My hot chocolate.

The holiday decorations did not help my homesickness. They were everywhere! So pretty : )

On Thursday, our final day in Amsterdam, we set our sights on a full day’s agenda. We started with a trip to the Bloomenmarket – a floating market full of bulbs for every flower you could ever imagine. We gathered little knickknacks to take home as souvenirs, while soaking in all of the bright colors of the tulips (tulips are ingrained in Netherlands culture). After absorbing all the bright colors of the market, we less than gracefully found our way (I’m not kidding you…it is practically impossible to find your way around this place!) to the Museum of Bags and Purses. Okay. Okay. It may not sound like the most intellectually stimulating place on the planet, but this place was AMAZING! It was incredibly interesting to see how the bag/purse has evolved from the early 16th century to now. It also helped that the glitzy little cupcake bag that Carrie Bradshaw carried in the Sex and the City movie was also on display…too cool!

Being a wee bit exhausted from our busy morning, I decided to chill at a coffee shop and attempt to make contact with Adam, while Rachel headed on to the Rembrandt House. One of the things that I have struggled with most during my time in Amsterdam is the sporadic internet service. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the boat, at the library, or in a wifi-connected coffeshop, I have the worst time getting a good connection (hence, why these posts are being published many days behind). Having ten, 30 second conversations with your hubby is quite frustrating I tell you.

Rachel returned to pick me up, and after a quick bite we set off to explore the Van Gogh Museum before dark. Van Gogh is probably my favorite artist in the whole world. I have knockoffs of his beautiful oil paintings all over our home, and I was all too excited to see more of his works of art in person. I almost fell over when I got the chance to see his real Almond Blossom painting (a bright turquoise, ivory and light pink painting that Van Gogh painted in 1890 as a gift to his nephew). Despite my burning desire to snap a picture of the real thing, I was scowled for attempting to take a picture, and had to settle for a postcard from the gift shop before leaving the building : (

After Van Gogh and in search of our last meal in Amsterdam, we gravitated towards some brightly lit Christmas bulbs hanging above the streets, in what appeared to be a swanky area of town. Rachel, having known that I had eaten Indian food on my last night in London and in Paris, suggested that we eat Indian for our last night in Amsterdam as well. It took us only a few minutes to begin nibbling on some delicious servings of chicken curry and spicy chickpea goodness, after finding a little Indian restaurant tucked under a fantastic old building.

As I guided us home in the dark, I felt a pang of sorrow that we didn’t have more time in Amsterdam. It is such a splendidly gorgeous city, and even with our jam packed days, our trip to Holland felt cut short. Nonetheless, I had a total blast and wickedly wild time with Rachel. We ended the night with Dutch cookies in our room, while packing our bags, and all the while toppling over each other in our tiny quarters.

Trying to navigate our way around Amsterdam.

There were the most amazing window displays for the holidays…this one a little bear village…everything moved! So neat!

Dam Square.

Bloomenmarket. Floating on water.

There were so many bulbs!

Wooden tulips.

Cheese!!! The pesto cheese was AMAZING!

Taking a break.

Museum of Bags and Purses.

Even the bathroom had purses! This one behind the toilet in the stall!


Pretty stained glass in the museum.

Adorable chocolates with purses on them!

More hot chocolate…I should seriously become a “hot chocolate spokesperson!”

Pretty light.

Trolley lane.

How I spent my afternoon. Not too shabby I might add.

Colorful roadblock.

The only pic I could snag in the museum…Van Gogh himself.

Bike bells.

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Paris. Day 38. 39. 40. 41.

On Friday, Day 38, I peeled my eyes open to the blinding light peeking between the window curtains, and watched as my Mom gathered the last of her things before heading off for the airport. Sadly, I wrapped up and bagged all of the used linens in my apartment, took the handle of my Mom’s suitcase, strategically opened the apartment door, and guided her towards her RER B train back to CDG. I teared up after I said “did you get one last look?” and noticed that she’d already been crying even before our entry into the metro. As I lifted her bag onto the train’s platform and encouraged her to sit in the direction of travel, I thanked her for coming to Paris. I was so proud of her for taking the time, the energy, the finances, and the mother-daughter bonding opportunity, to come to a place as special as this. I waved one last good-bye through a glistening, blurry eyed state and turned back towards the city to once again turnover the apartment for my next guest.

Rachel arrived just a few hours later just as she always does: grinning from ear to ear, upbeat, and bubbly. After climbing the stairs to my apartment I suggested she place her suitcase in the bedroom corner stating “Hey Rach, there is a ton of room in the corner on the right.” She responded with an immediate “Oh my gosh Jenn. You’ve clearly been here awhile if you think that’s a lot of space!” I cackled at the top of my lungs like a hyena upon realizing that she was totally right! When did 2 square meters become miles of space? Was I transforming into a full fledged Parisian right before my very own eyes?! Oh I wish! Despite the change in space luxury and awareness, this girl will always be an American girl: fast food guilty pleasures, spicy food addictions, blond highlights, bright colored attire, reality show watching, cupcake lovin’, exercise conscious, and J.Crew wearing gal. 50 weeks in Paris wouldn’t change any of that : )

We caught up for what seemed like hours in the apartment before heading out for French onion soup and frites (one thing this trip has surely taught me is that I am one creature of habit!). I giggled, then rolled my eyes, then shifted in my seat, then let out huge sighs of frustration, and finally griped as our waitress at Rendez-vous des Amis (the waitress who has NEVER been friendly to me, and always corrects my pronunciation) took 45 minutes to bring our hot chocolate and cappuccino – instead reading her email, fighting with the cook, and throwing dishes against the sink. I mouthed to the back of her head that if she didn’t have the best French onion soup in town we’d be outta here!

As I watched Rachel soak up her soup, and I inhaled a plate of frites once again, we reminisced about all the things we loved most about Paris. Rachel has been to Paris 3 times before, so she had no intention of seeing the common sights, but instead stated after our meal “show me around your neighborhood.” My neighborhood?!?! Seriously! I actually have a neighborhood in Paris. My Paris?! Yippee I thought as I skipped, and pointed, and showed Rach all of the little corner boutiques, boulangeries, restaurants, and gelatories that I had frequented during my stay.

After a quick change into something a bit more “glam” we headed off to a little bar midway between the Marais and Republique called Andy Wahloo. Promised to be “a postmodern place with eye-popping, tutti-frutti décor and ear splinting music” with an Andy Warhol twist, we sat on bright red Coco-Cola crates layered with Louis-Vuitton seat cushions (Paris, you do it for me every time!) and watched the dressed to perfection Parisians nibble off appetizers, sip on colorful cocktails, and move with a grace only found in the City of Light.

Eager to have a drink, we ordered Kir Royal (a popular French champagne cocktail) with the assumption that they rang in at a whopping 6 Euro price tag. After a fantastically relaxing, music swaying, people watching, yummy food and cocktail tasting time, we requested “l’addition s’il vous plait.” The waitress abruptly returned, credit card machine in hand (one of the things I most frequently notice as being different in bars and restaurants here vs. the U.S.) and handed us the bill. WHAT?!!? 11 Euros each for our Kir Royals?! My brain refused to process the fact that we had ordered 4 of these excessively expensive bubbly concoctions. I frantically asked the waitress in Frenglish why I was purchasing a Ferrari meal on a Honda budget. With no apologies, she said the colored fruit flavoring added to each glass of champagne ran us another 5 Euros. OMG. 8 dollars for food coloring. Perfect. Half snickering, half stiffened from the shock of our bill, we pranced home in our heels still thrilled by our girls’ night out in Paris.

Pretty home address.

One of the many splendid buildings in “my” neighborhood of the Marais.

Beautiful boutiques are plentiful in Paris!

Le Marais.

Rach is here!

There was this adorable boutique that had a bunch of little chalkboards hanging in the window with French phrases (this one “here and elsewhere”)…I just had to snap a shot.

Gelato!

Again, as a result of the extremely dimly lit apartment we slept in til’ 11am on Day 39. After my daily croissant with jam, Swiss like cheese, and turkey, and Rachel’s chicory coffee, yogurt, and muesli, we headed out for a day of market browsing. Once again the Bastille food market had been overtaken by an art expo, but we took advantage and surveyed the available art displays. Eager to duck inside for a bit and escape the drizzles, we hurried around Place de la Bastille towards the antique fair/market/showcase a.k.a. a little slice of heaven.

And ohhhhh was this antique filled afternoon TOTALLY worth it. After being shooed away only once by a stuffy Parisian after I touched her colored tassels strewn in a bowl, we headed to the outside of the market to find antiques that were a bit more affordable and more of our taste. We spent an hour rummaging through pages and boxes of vintage postcards, old sheet music, and magazines before I set my heart on a classic, gorgeous, lime green, black and crisp white, 1936 piece of sheet music titled “le p’tit chien blanc et la dame in noir” (the petite white dog and the lady in black). The sheet not only listed Paris and the 4th arrondissement clear as day at the bottom (a perfect souvenir for my time in this fantastic part of the city) but the illustration reminded me of all the grumpy waiters I had encountered during my time here (minus Bubba of course), and the woman in black I felt symbolized my time here alone.

Contemplating whether I could actually bring myself to spend another 20 Euros on paper, we continued to stroll along the market snapping photos and picking up material goods dating to gosh only knows how many hundreds of years ago. Even after purchasing a souvenir for my husband, a Napoleon coin dating back to the 1800’s as my new “lucky penny,” and another hot chocolate, I couldn’t get that 1936 print out of my mind. The shopaholic deep inside of me didn’t let the fantastically appropriate purchase pass me by. As I waved goodbye to the vendor pleased with her sell, I was delighted to know that I would forever have a piece of Parisian history framed and on a wall in my home. The perfect memory for a day-trip to heaven.

Before dinner, I hummed to the French/American music video station that I watched daily, as Rach and I chatted over wine, diced bananas, and spoonfuls of Nutella. We joked about Rachel’s recent dating horror stories, with me throwing in a story here or there from my own dating nightmares. I love Rachel for the mere fact that she is a free spirit. She’s not afraid to share her fears, or her aspirations with me, or me with her. Being both nurses there is also this ease of body awareness, where a slipped burp, or an upset tummy only results in a burst of laughter and a friendly diagnosis between the two of us.

After running through the list of possible food options for dinner, we settled on croque-monsieurs (surprise!). Pretty sure that everyone at this particular restaurant would think I was a tour guide with the amount of visitors I had brought through their door, Rach and I sat across from one another sipping on wine, gobbling up our sophisticated ham and cheese, and sitting wide eyed after a dashing French man approached our table and said “bon appétit”. After I jokingly encouraged Rachel to shuffle off after him, we once again listed all the reasons we loved Paris so much.

Being that this was most certainly my last night for croque-monsieurs, I thanked my waiter friend Bubba for his hospitability and suggested he someday visit Seattle. He gave that all too familiar grin and laugh and said in his French accent “yes, next I will come to Seattle and you will show me around.” He then gave us two chocolates each vs. the normal one and said “here girls, this is my gift to you!” Too cute Bubba.

Before heading to bed, we stopped in for one final drink of the night at a bar I’d brushed past for weeks. We were offered a table covered in the previous patrons wears, but with immense comic wit the waiter stated “sit here, but of course I will clean off the table because, humph, we aren’t animals here.” Wondering if he was interpreting my “American-ness” for French despise, or if he was genuinely joking, I told him I enjoyed his sense of humor and we ordered our wine. We finished our night with Rachel showing off her dance moves from Bollywood class, as we swayed to the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack that blared from the speakers of the bar.

Place de la Bastille.

Art Expo in Bastille.

Vintage knobs at the antique fair.

A box of silver goodies.

Spices of one of the vendors.

View of the canal from the market. You can see that the market runs on both sides of the canal as marked by the white tents…it was HUGE!

My new Napoleon coin.

Two cute teddies.

Huge antique mirror.

Beautiful book.

Vintage Louis Vuitton trunk…yum.

My new sheet music circa 1936.

On Sunday, Rach and I woke up with wicked wine headaches and nursed ourselves back to a baseline state with coffee, aspirin, and a croissant for me.  Rach left for an afternoon of museum ogling, while I stayed back to do one last load of laundry, contemplate the continuation of my trip after Amsterdam, and to take a lazy stroll along my favorite paths in Paris. It took everything in me not to breakdown and sob, as I avoided the realization that tomorrow was my last day in Paris. I inhaled as much of the culture, weather, fashion, and food as I could (including my very first chocolate noir Éclair) before heading back to the apartment to meet back up with Rach.

My prayers were answered, when the sun came out to play for my last full day in Paris. I started the morning hoping that my rental deposit would return to me safe and sound, and after I quick sweep of the apartment by the guy from My Paris Visit, my massively large deposit was returned…thank gosh! After completing check out, I headed outside to wander my neighborhood one last time in the light of day. With the sun shining and the presence of speckled blue sky that I hadn’t seen for days, I cheerfully, yet remorsefully, purchased my last baguette and chomped on it as I walked along the cobblestone sidewalks. With my camera as my constant memory sustainer, I captured the last pictures of all the things I had fallen so in love with during my time here: rooftops that outlined the sky, intricately designed door knobs and entrances, store front windows with Parisian treasures, and the seasons changing. Each corner I crossed reminded me of a moment that I spent either alone, or with a family member, or with a friend, and each moment brought a little pang of sadness but also an overall sense of nostalgia for this time in Paris.

I’ve been in Paris long enough to watch all of the leaves disappear from the trees!

Paris is full of random little parks tucked between rows of buildings, and all with perfectly situated benches. This one if particular I was able to enjoy my baguette and absorb some sunlight.

Stacked cafe chairs.

I want one of these elegant doors at my house!

Worn in.

Lime green gate with peach colored rust.

One of the many alleyways intertwining the city.

Gorgeous cherry red.

Shutters, shutters, everywhere!

My love.

Paper boutique.

The Seine in the afternoon

A view of Notre Dame over St. Louise Island.

Books along the Seine.

The backside of Hotel de Ville. Down the street from my apartment.

A view of Rue des Archives, just a few doors down from the apartment.

A view of Notre Dame from the street I go to buy groceries on.

Le Marais.

At 2pm Rach and I met each other back at the apartment so we take our last afternoon to explore Montmartre together. Again, being one of my most favorite areas of Paris, I was all too excited to spend my last evening in the area. We visited Café du Moulin a little café featured in the movie Amelie. It was super cute seeing Rachel so excited about being in the restaurant as Amelie is one of her most favorite movies. We were so fortunate to get a decent photo of the two of us taken by our sweet waiter vs. a half crooked self portrait an arm’s length away.

After another yummy bowl of French onion soup we headed up the hill to grab a tart and do a little shopping. To my utter dismay we realized that one store after another was closed; gate pulled down, lights off, no patrons. Oh no! After asking around we found out that because Montmartre is open on Sundays, they use Monday as their day off…boo!

Despite my disappointment around missing out on another one of those yummy tiny little tarts, and not seeing Montmartre one last time fully alive, we headed towards the Sacre-Coeur even stopping in a few adorable jewelry shops along the way to pick up souvenirs. I once again experienced the thrill of showing off Montmartre…too much fun!!!

After a bit of a shady experience on the metro (a few girls began following us, eyeing our purses and pushing up against us) we headed back towards the center of Paris to spend our last night in the city. Eager to catch one last glimpse of Paris at night, we headed towards the area of St-Germain des Pres to go to a café once frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. It was surreal sitting in the dimly lit ambience of the café while sipping my hot chocolate and imagining the presence of such influential classic figures here so long before my arrival.

We continued on in search of a spot from dinner, but abruptly and quite eagerly bolted across the street, and then over a bridge of the Seine after I suggested we catch one last glimpse of the Louvre. Seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre in one fell swoop from Jardin des Tuileries was the perfect ending to my time in Paris. While waiting for Rachel to snap some shots of the glistening triangle in front of the Louvre, I took a moment to breathe in the crisp night air and take a mental snapshot of the moment.

Not a moment later, I glanced over my shoulder to make sure that Rachel was still safely behind me, and noticed a figure standing next to her. As I quickly trotted towards her I noticed that she was speaking to the male figure.  Completely ignoring the guy, I shoved myself between him and Rach to catch a glimpse of her face to see if she was alarmed, frightened, relieved by my presence, or totally ok. Seeing a half ok expression I allowed him to introduce himself to me with his French accent and a handshake. “Nour” stated that he had been waiting for a friend at the Louvre but had been stood up.

After some small talk about our travels and his mention that he often does home exchange (something Rach and I found super fascinating), we allowed him to convince us to have dinner with him. I actually knew I didn’t mind the guy when we saw a Frenchie sprinting across the front of the Louvre and I asked “what do you call that type of dog?” He replied “Bulldog Francais.” How awesome is that?!??!

Still quite cautious, yet enticed by his ability to speak fluent English, we prodded him with a million questions about Paris and the French, as we followed him into the metro and toward Gare de l’Est. We had agreed to Indian food (completely bizarre as that was also my last meal in London before leaving) and caught the 7 train towards the 5th arrondissement.

Over spicy legumes and naan fromage (YUMMY!), our conversation rambled on for hours; we discussed family backgrounds, friends, current/past relationships, the healthcare and governmental systems of our respective countries, our language levels, and multiple philosophies on life and everything in between. It was a blast to laugh out loud with a full fledged Parisian, and I left our evening with Nour wondering why I couldn’t have met the guy 5 weeks earlier. Could have been fluent in French by now!

Montmartre all shutdown.

Cafe des Deux Moulins. Home to the movie Amelie.

Rach and I.

One of my favorite things to do when exploring Paris is to catch the reflections of the buildings off of windows, mirrors, etc. So beautiful!

Colorful cafe.

Rach capturing a pic of the Eiffel Tower from the hill that is Montmartre.

After weeks of attempting to live up to Mo’s quick photography lesson before my departure, I was able to do something I’ve never done before with these two pics…can you see the difference?! I was pretty proud : )

A massive bubble against the dusk sky.

Montmartre at night.


Back in the city.

The tower from Jardin des Tuileries.

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