Vespa Ride in Paris: Saving the Best for Last

Ready to start our Vespa day in Paris!
Ready to start our Vespa day in Paris!

Since we rode off from our wedding on a Vespa, it was only fitting that we spend our last day in Paris on one.  It was the perfect activity for a Sunday since most of the shops were closed. We spent the day re-visiting the entire city, which by the end of the week, we had already seen by foot and by metro. Now it was time to see it all one more time, and what better way than by renting a scooter?

RM and I found a wonderful company called Paris by Scooter, which rents Vespas out by the day. It’s run by a friendly, entrepreneurial Frenchman named Xavier, who drops the Vespa off at your hotel in the morning and picks it up that evening. An added bonus–it’s even cheaper if you keep the scooter overnight. If we had found the company sooner, we probably would have rented it for the whole week. That’s how cool it was.

We were all over the city in no time. RM has been driving motorcycles for years, so he was completely comfortable zipping in and out of traffic. As we came up on the circle around the Arc de Triomphe, RM dodged the motorcycles cutting in front of us, while I held on tight with one arm and took video with my other. One of the best things about it was the parking options! Free parking, right up front, wherever you want to go. You also don’t have to sit in traffic with all of the cars because you can scoot right past them! Not to mention the cool factor. I mean, did we look cool or what?

Who are those two cool Parisians?
Who are those two cool Parisians?
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What Happens in Paris, Stays in Paris… or Ends Up on My Blog

Fryes at the Sacre Coeur.
Fryes at the Sacre Coeur.

RM and I returned last week from a weeklong honeymoon to the most romantic city in the world—Paris. If you’re familiar with my blog, you already know that I’m obsessed with all things French, despite not actually knowing the language. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can get up to speed here. I haven’t actually followed through on commitment to learn French yet. Don’t judge. RM does speak French, and his mom’s side of the family is even from France. So cool, right?

Anyway, we were looking for somewhere to honeymoon that we wouldn’t feel the pressure of sightseeing every. single. place. for the first time, and since RM and I had both been to Paris before, it seemed like the perfect choice. We had talked about seeing Paris together since we started dating. We were especially excited about seeing the city in a whole new (and relaxing) way. We envisioned ourselves eating fresh baguettes while looking up at the Eiffel Tower, taking long walks on the Seine, admiring the view of the city from the Sacre Coeur—you get the picture.

About to indulge in a "maxi pain au chocolat." Yes, these exist.
About to indulge in a “maxi pain au chocolat.” Yes, these exist.

Before we knew it, there we were: stuffing our faces with an ungodly amount of pastries! (Seriously, you don’t want to know our carb intake for that week.) We rented an apartment through Paris Perfect, a company owned by an American woman and her French husband that rents out apartments all over Paris by the week. It did not disappoint! We stayed in an adorable corner unit just around the corner of the Rue Cler market in the 7th arrondissement. (If you’re a fan of Rick Steves–I’m mildly obsessed–he devotes a whole section to the Rue Cler in his Paris guidebook!) We had a view of the Eiffel Tower from the dining room and bedroom! We spent several nights in, enjoying the light show from our cozy apartment. We also learned that the light show ends at 1:00 AM. How do we know this?  Well, we never actually adjusted to Paris time, which made for lots of late night jambon snacks while we admired the lights. It’s really too bad it didn’t last until 4:00 AM because we were up most nights until then!

View from our bedroom. Lots of good times to be had in there ;)
View from our bedroom. Lots of good times to be had in there 😉

RM and I had such an enjoyable time, and we couldn’t have done it without our family and friends who paid our way! That’s right, I said PAID our way.   RM and I decided to start a Honeyfund to help us go on our dream trip together, and our family and friends really delivered! Honeyfund is a great website that makes it less tacky to ask for money for your wedding. (No, I’m not getting paid to say this, although I wish I were.) It was especially useful to us because RM and I have both been working professionals for several years, so if anything, we’ll need to get RID of things when we combine households. We registered for a few kitchen items at my shower that we knew we needed, but more or less, we knew that what we could really use was help getting to Paris. Honeyfund makes it so easy by connecting to your Paypal, where you can then transfer the money right into your checking account. It also keeps track of your gifts when it comes time for thank you cards!

Okay, I’m done with my free advertising for Honeyfund.

And now for some highlights:

 

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Profiteroles from Cafe Constant. My favorite!
Amazing steak and profiteroles for dessert at Christian Constant's Cafe Constant. Just down the street from our place!
Delicious steak at Christian Constant’s Cafe Constant. Just down the street from our place!
Near the Sacre Coeur where the artists hang out. Can you spot the naked lady?  The kids did. Oops.
Near the Sacre Coeur where the artists hang out. Can you spot the naked lady? The kids did. Oops.
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Bunnies at the Les Invalides!
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Relaxing at Jardin des Tuileries
Finding a place for our lock
Finding a place for our lock
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After we threw the key in the Seine 🙂
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Versailles
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From our rowboat at Versailles
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Selfie at Versailles
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Treats at Laduree

My Kind of Town

Christmas tree at Daley Plaza.
Christmas tree at Daley Plaza.

Last week RM and I took a trip to Chicago to see some old, very dear friends of mine.  Not only was it a wonderful opportunity to see close friends, but it was also RM’s FIRST visit to Chicago!  Can you believe it?  I guess when you grow up in the Pacific Northwest, it’s normal to have never been to Chicago, but when you grow up in the Midwest like I did, Chicago is basically the center of your universe.

RM and I had one full day in the city before we beat feet and headed to Indiana to see my BFF, M and her family.  We leisurely enjoyed our day, in spite of the bitter cold.  We had so much fun wandering around the city, just the two of us.  My absolute favorite part of the day was the German Christmas market at Daley Plaza, called Christkindlemarket Chicago.  You can read all about it here.

We went to a wonderful, Italian restaurant called Quartino that evening with my close friend (of 10 years this past August—woot woot!) E and his partner.  His partner, B made reservations for us, and RM and I were more than pleased with the choice—food, ambiance, and great conversation.  Because I failed at taking a photo in the restaurant, you can check it out on their website.

After our whirlwind in Chicago, emphasis on wind, RM and I drove several hours to Indiana to see my BFF, M.  We were way too busy chatting up a storm and eating delicious food M cooked for me to take any photos!  My friend K even made it over to M’s place from Indy to join us for dinner and a late night Steak n Shake run.  Cheese fries anyone?  *Insert photo of cheese fries that I forgot to take because I was too busy stuffing my face*

Thanks to all of my lovely friends for hosting RM and me!  We had a great time and hope to see you all soon.  Karibuni Seattle!

Here are some more pics of our time in Chi-town.  Enjoy!

Our reflection in the bean, or "cloudgate," as it is officially called.
Our reflection in the bean, or “cloudgate,” as it is officially called.
RM posing with the bean.
RM posing with the bean.
Thrilled to see a creperie at the entrance of the Christmas market.
Thrilled to see a creperie at the entrance of the Christmas market.
My nutella and banana crepe halfway through.  I think I devoured it in less than 3 minutes, easily!
My nutella and banana crepe halfway through. I think I devoured it in less than 3 minutes, easily!
Christmas market
Christmas market
Giant cookies with cute phrases on them?  Sure!
Giant cookies with cute phrases on them? Totes adorbs.
Add a pretzel, make it German.
Add a pretzel and anything looks more German.
RM indulging me by letting me take his photo by the lights, even though we were FREEZING!
RM humoring me by letting me take his photo by the lights, even though we were FREEZING!
My turn!
My turn!
We couldn't leave town without a deep dish pizza!  Alicia, who worked the counter at Hertz, gave us a ride there so that we could be sure to have some before we drove to Indiana.
We couldn’t leave town without a deep dish pizza!  The woman working at the Hertz counter, Alicia, gave us a ride there so that we could be sure to have some before we drove to Indiana.  We were shocked and grateful for her kindness!

Here’s to you, Mr. Columbus!

I realized yesterday that I have a new favorite holiday, and strangely enough, that holiday is Columbus Day.  It’s not for the impressive feat that Mr. Columbus did—or didn’t—accomplish, but rather because it has now become a day in which RM and I spend special time with each other, just the two of us (the kiddies were in school).

We don’t do anything particularly out of the ordinary or flashy on this day; we just spend quality time with each other, preferably outdoors.  Last year, we were in the early passionate days of our relationship, and we spent the day lying on a blanket on Alki Beach.  I still remember cuddling and giggling as the warm sun shone down on us.  There were a few other people on the beach, but to us, it didn’t matter.  We were the only ones who existed.

Here are a few pics from that day last year:

This is love.
This is love
RM loves this one. I think my face is ridiculous. He looks fantastic though :)
RM loves this one. I think my face is ridiculous. He looks fantastic though 🙂
Over the moon.
Over the moon.

This year, we were still in the passionate days of our relationship—we’re convinced those will never end, so don’t try to tell us otherwise!  It was a beautiful fall day, so we decided to take the Vespa all the way to Snoqualmie Falls on back roads.  I’ve been to the Falls quite a few times, but I’ve never ridden there on a scooter, taking in the beautiful fall scenery as the wind and sun hit my face, arms wrapped around my sweetie.

Here are a few pics from this year’s Columbus Day at the Falls:

Super excited for the hot cocoa when we arrived at Snoqualmie Falls. It was a chilly ride!
Super excited for the hot cocoa when we arrived at Snoqualmie Falls. It was a chilly ride!
Dynamic Duo
Dynamic Duo
Enjoying the Falls :)
Enjoying the Falls 🙂

The Sweet Taste of Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry cobbler has always held a special place in my heart because I have a memory of myself as a little girl sitting at the kitchen table at my grandparent’s farmhouse in West Virginia, eating cobbler with milk poured over it next to my grandmother.  She passed away from cancer when I was 12 years old, and unfortunately, as I get older, her memory continues to fade more and more, so I hold onto little moments like this that I remember so vividly.

After more than a decade, I decided to take my first stab at baking my own blackberry cobbler two weeks into my relationship with RM last year.  We had gone out a handful of times, and we were in that exciting stage of a new relationship–you know, when you spend all night talking on the phone, learning as many details about the person as you could possibly squeeze into your head, even the inconsequential ones.  What’s your favorite cereal?  What sports did you play growing up?  What instrument did you play in the school band?  Were you a jock or an outsider in high school?  If we met then, do you think we would have liked each other?

I was excited to have RM over to my apartment that fall evening and quite proud of myself for the way the cobbler turned out.

Here’s a pic:

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Pretty impressive, eh?   Apparently RM thought so too because he finally kissed me for the first time (after a few weeks of dating!)–or as he describes it, “I finally let him kiss me.”  That’s probably more accurate 🙂

I mentioned my amazing blackberry cobbler recently and RM said, “You know, I haven’t seen that blackberry cobbler since that night.”  I had to remedy that situation!  My dad was in town last weekend, so I made cobbler for two special men in my life–my Dad and RM.  It was a hit 🙂

Here’s the recipe for those who want to give it a go.  It’s a pretty easy, Betty Crocker recipe that I grabbed off of http://www.bettycrocker.com last year.  This exact one is no longer there, but thankfully, I saved it in a Word doc.  Crisis averted!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup sugar
2 cups blackberries
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter

Here’s a step by step, complete with photos and all:

First, you take a cup of sugar and coat 2 cups of blackberries.

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After some stirring and a few minutes, it’ll start to look all syrupy, like this.
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Put your syrupy berries aside.

Now, in a separate bowl,  stir together 1 cup flour…
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…and 2 teaspoons of baking powder…
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…And 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
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Pour in 1 cup of milk… I use skim milk, but I suspect it’s probably yummier with some 2 percent 🙂
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Melt 1/2 cup butter, usually one stick like so…
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Stir in the melted butter, and you’ll get this…
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Keep stirring so it’s a little less chunky.

Pour in the crust like so…
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And then you add in your berry mixture.
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Pop that baby in the oven at 375 for 45 minutes.
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And voila!  You have yourself a yummy, blackberry cobbler.
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Served best warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy 🙂
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Day sailing and the MRE that saved me…

Ready to take full advantage of a Saturday with no plans and no responsibilities, RM and I decided to take the sailboat out on Lake Washington yesterday.  It was a bit chilly, but the weather report promised a partly cloudy 80-degree day with 5-10 mph winds, so we decided to give it a go.  We got a late start due to my insistence that the house had to be cleaned before we could do anything, as I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy the day otherwise.  Perfect sense, right?

Thankfully, I have a wonderful man who not only entertained my mood, but also helped with the vacuuming.  –And let me just tell you, readers, he is one heck of a vacuumer.  It seems as though he has had an additional talent he’s been hiding.  Guess we know how we’re divvying up the chores once we’re married, eh?  I digress…

Once the home was tidy, off to Lake Washington we went.  I heard my stomach growl as we hopped in the boat, and I realized that in my cleaning frenzy that morning, I had forgotten to eat lunch.  It was already after 1:00 p.m.—several hours since I had eaten breakfast.

That’s okay.  We’ll just pop over to that Mexican restaurant we love in Madison Park for a late lunch and voila!  I’ll be eating yummy food in no time.

Welp, needless to say, it didn’t quite happen like that.

I don’t have much experience sailing—as in I had never been sailing until about two months ago—and so when I thought we would just “pop over” to Madison Park from Mercer Island, what I didn’t know was that the “pop over” would take more than three hours.  What I also didn’t know was that RM had guzzled down a protein shake, Fiber One bar, and an energy bar before we left the house, assuming that I had a similar pre-lunch snack.

Despite some stellar wind and RM’s smooth sailing that carried us quite far, we were only halfway there.  My energy was low, and I was cold.  Where was the 80-degree weather we were promised?  How much longer until we would be munching on tortilla chips and guac?

RM sensed my desperation and offered me a bag of beef jerky from the survival bag.  I tore into the tough jerky, thinking to myself, I must be really hungry because I would not be eating this otherwise.  Is this even real meat?

 The bits of jerky didn’t seem to be enough to satisfy my hunger pains, and that’s when RM remembered he also had an MRE in the survival bag.  I politely declined his offer, daydreaming instead about the butternut squash enchiladas that I would enjoy sooner or later once we arrived in Madison Park.  There was no way I was settling for a stinkin’ MRE—especially after I had made it this far.  My mother’s words from my childhood echoed in my head, “Well then, you must not be that hungry.”

RM sensed both my stubbornness and that I was becoming increasingly hangry (hangry= hungry + angry) and less pleasant to be around.  Because he is smooth, he said it was just fine that I didn’t want the MRE, but he was hungry, so he was going to bust into it for himself.  Part of me knew it was a ploy just to get me to eat it, but I didn’t care.  I was grateful that he knew me well enough to know what I needed, when I wasn’t willing to swallow my stubborn pride and give in.

Soon after, I was scarfing down crackers with strawberry jam, Mexican corn, chili, and one delicioso strawberry milkshake.

Okay, so it wasn’t butternut squash enchiladas, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so thankful for Mexican corn in my life.  Oh, and the sailing was good too.  🙂

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Captain RM

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First Mate

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yummy Mexican corn and chili

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Happily enjoying my MRE!

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Busting out the milkshake powder

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We were a little skeptical…

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… the verdict’s in, folks.  Tastes just like astronaut ice cream–yum!

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Oh, yes, and there was also a bag of Wild Berry Skittles in the MRE.  Can you believe it?!

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RM beaching the sailboat

The Big Gesture

Ever since seeing the movie Chasing Liberty back in 2004 (okay, I also own it and have seen it several times since then and may or may not have cut my hair to look like Mandy Moore’s after seeing it the first time—big mistake!), I have longed for what she calls, “the big gesture.”  What is “the big gesture?” you ask.  Well, it is just what it sounds like it is.  Someone giving something up for you, showing you how much he appreciates you—how much he loves you.  I made the comment to my BFF that after the whole lice extravaganza and the cancellation of our weekend getaway sans kiddies to celebrate our anniversary, I was feeling in need of a “big gesture” from my sweetie.  I was burnt out.  I wasn’t hoping he would quit his job or anything crazy (like in the movie), but just some sort of thoughtful evening to show that he recognized how hard I had worked to make the kiddies lice-free.  A mini “big gesture,” perhaps.  Honestly, at the point I was in, I was just looking forward to RM and I having a quiet night alone, cuddling on the couch.  I think that would have done it!

RM surprised with me with much more than that.  I was waiting for him to get back into town last week, and he let me know that he was going to be arriving late that night and that he would need my help carrying items in from his car.  He called and said he was down the street so to go ahead and come out to meet him in the driveway.  I peeped my head out the front door and didn’t see him, so I continued to wait inside until I saw him pull in.  Afterall, it was midnight.

Minutes went by and he still hadn’t pulled into the driveway.  Then I saw someone cruise by on a Vespa.  It was dark, so I could hear it more than I could see it.  I thought to myself, I’ll have to tell RM that someone in the neighborhood has a Vespa.  Now, what you don’t know, dear readers, is that I have wanted a Vespa for as long as I can remember.  I think it stems from my punk rocker days and the MxPx song that says, “Take a ride on my Vespa… I’ll take you home… letting you know that you’re the bomb… and you blew up on me.”  Several months ago, I saw the most adorable red one at Pike’s Place market, and I haven’t stopped talking about it since.  That is until, RM showed up on my doorstep with this:

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As BFF said, now THAT is a big gesture.  Apparently, RM was tallying how many times I mentioned Vespa a week (I swear I wasn’t dropping hints!  I didn’t dream he would ever do something like this. No, really!), and he started a “Vespa fund” for me.  He happened to come across a great deal, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  Thanks, RM for the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received!

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