4.29.2013

Deep Thoughts With Beth


Hello.

This post is being written on the assumption that some of you are still out there and haven't completely given up hope on me. :)

I know this blog has gradually become less and less frequent over the past several months and, to be honest, it's been a source of frustration for me. I started writing it years ago as something to supplement my Etsy store, but I quickly found that I wanted it to be more than that; to be, in essence, what blogs were originally intended to be: an outlet for sharing tidbits of my life (in particular my love of vintage) with anyone who might want to read about it.

It sounds so simple, right? Just a natural outpouring of things you love, writing about them like you're sharing them with your best friends. But in the past year or so, I have to say I've become a bit disenchanted with the world of blogging, and I've wanted to write this post so many times, but have struggled with how to word it. So here goes...

I used to have a long list of blogs I read on a daily basis because I found inspiration from them. It was fun being exposed to new images, creative DIY projects and the curated collections of other thrifters. Then I started noticing a pattern: posts about sponsorships, product reviews, media kits...and it felt like I was back in the world of publishing! And I guess blogs have become the new source of information (essentially living e-zines), so it makes sense that companies have zeroed in on this as an advertising platform.

But because some blogs have "made it big," have partnerships with coveted companies and are able to make a living from blogging, it's created this culture where it seems that's the reason people most people are starting to write them now. And it just makes me sad, especially after having conversations with people who either write or read blogs and say (and I quote) "I feel bad about myself after reading them," either because they feel they're not stylish enough, creative enough or whatever ways they compare themselves to these online personas who seem to have it all.

And that just makes me go from sad to kind of mad, you know? Mostly because I've been there. I've had my moments of wishing my blog would become known around the world; of coveting the seemingly seamless lives of other bloggers; of wishing I could just get the attention of that trendy company and show them I could be a valuable contributor; and on and on and on.

And that's when I started taking a step back.

For the past several months I've taken some time to rethink why I was keeping a blog, and how I could just strip it down to what I wanted it to be. No planning posts a week (or more) in advance; no feeling like I have to write a post every single day and sacrifice quality for quantity. Just back to the basics: Sharing things from my life as they happen, what's happening on the online and mobile Parsimonia business fronts, recipes the hubs and I are scarfing down, and other bits of randomness as they come up.

So, from here on out, that's what you can expect from me — and I'm really excited about it! I hope that we've connected enough to keep you coming around, even if it's not every day, but if not, that I appreciate the time you have spent reading these posts. :)


To start things off in this new chapter, I thought I'd let you know that I'm going to be fairly absent in the next 11 days (ha!). Some of you might remember I'm organizing an event called Spring Fling in the City on May 11, showcasing local vintage sellers and some handmade sellers that use vintage materials in their creations.

And since this is my first time taking on such an endeavor, I am throwing all of my time in that direction. So if you're local to St. Louis (or nearby) and aren't doing anything that weekend, I would love to meet you and see your smiling faces! If you're busy but know people in the area, please do invite them via the Facebook event page to help spread the word!

And if you've read this whole post, pretend I've just put a smiley face sticker on your shirt. ;-)

4.12.2013

Overseas Adventure: April 9-11

We arrived back in London late afternoon yesterday, a day later than we were suppose to because we loved Bath (and especially the B&B in which we stayed) so much we decided to stay an extra night. It was such a nice reprieve from the big cities we've been visiting, and everyone was so friendly, that I'd love to come back to the UK and just spend a good chunk of time in that part of the country.

But before I get started on Bath, let's back up a bit to our morning in Portsmouth before we headed north. That day before, when we got a grand walking tour of the seaside town, we ended up not making it to the dockyards in time to see the warships, so we decided we'd do it first thing before we left town. We started in a building that had a free interactive museum that taught you the history of the dockyards and the ship-building trade that flourished there, everything from showing you how those thick ropes are made, to how steam engines work to a detailed description of the tasks each tradesperson was responsible for. And then near the cafe was a section of really old...games...for lack of a better word (or knowing what they're actually called), where you put 2p in and it puts on a show of sorts. We watched one called "Death to a Traitor" in which a British man who supported the American Revolution was hanged...yikes. I wanted to watch what happened in "The Drunkard's Dream," but we were out of 2p...oh well. :)

H.M.S. Victory in Portsmouth; "Drunkard's Dream" game in the museum; Trimnells House B&B; B&B breakfast

After we saw the sights, we got in the car and made the journey to Bath, where we ate at Bea's Vintage Tea Room (thank you Ali from Sweet for the recommendation!), this amazingly cute cafe that served proper tea and really delicious lunch. It was decorated like a tea room from the 1940s, and I fell in love with every little bit of it! I ordered the carrot and white bean soup, and then the macaroni and cheese, which the waitress said was Bea's grandmother's recipe. It had chunks of tomatoes and I think some chili powder in it...so good! I also ordered a pot of tea, which came in a vintage teapot, with a vintage teacup and saucer and a vintage strainer to pour the tea through since it was loose leaf....and of course I loved it all!

Bea's Vintage Tea Room in Bath

Once we had our fill, we walked around town a bit and popped into a couple shops before deciding to head to our B&B, which was 15 minutes north of Bath in Colerne. It was called Trimnells House, and if you're ever in the area and looking for a place to stay, stay here. The rooms were really nice, the beds really comfortable, and the breakfasts were outstanding! We walked to one of the local pubs that night for dinner, The Fox & Hounds, and when we got back, we forgot to put our breakfast choices on the table outside our room, so we figured we'd have to miss out on breakfast the next morning. As we were going out the door, the woman who owns the B&B said, "I'm not going to let you starve!" So she very kindly made us food, which included veggie sausage and bacon options since both her daughters are vegetarians (yay!). The sausage was better than any I've had in the States, so I asked her what the brand was; she said it was Linda McCartney's. Anyone know if that's carried anywhere in the U.S.?

Bath Abbey

That day in Bath we toured Bath Abbey, which included going up in the towers to see the bells and look out over the town (a gorgeous site!). Then we toured the Roman Baths, which were really interesting; I especially loved the pieces they were able to recover that were part of the temple of Minerva, as well as the head of a statue of the goddess, which was decorated in gold.

Claire and I visited some some charity shops and vintage stores after that, but didn't find anything we couldn't live without. Then we took a drive through the country to work up an appetite for dinner, which we ate at Martini, an Italian restaurant in town. Then it was back to the B&B for a rousing game of Phase 10, and then I just couldn't stay awake anymore, so I called it a night.

Tasty treats at the pub.

The next day we ate another delish breakfast and dropped Claire back in Portsmouth. Then we went on to London, returned the car, rode the Underground back to the hotel, and hung out at The Prince Edward pub down the street until we were ready for bed.

Today we're going to see the Tower of London and probably something else, but we'll have to wait and see what that will be! :) Hope you all have a great weekend!

4.09.2013

Photo a Day Overseas Adventure: April 6-8

Hello from the UK! The hubs departed Paris on Sunday morning after taking the high-speed train from Paris, under the English Channel and into jolly ol' London! But before I get into our adventures here thus far, let me quickly tell you about our last day in Paris (a very food-filled day)...

Marche d'Aligre; breakfast croissants; tons of artisanal cheeses.

It started out with a train trip over to the Bastille area, where we ate the best croissants out of a wax paper bag as we walked over to the Canal St. Martin. Then we hopped another train to what I heard was one of the best outdoor produce markets, Marche d'Aligre, and picked up our lunch for the day: a fresh baguette, some grapes and tomatoes and three artisanal cheeses (and some carpaccio for the hubs).

Our lunch from the outdoor market.

Then we stopped at a cafe to use the wifi because we forgot to write down the number of a place I wanted to visit, so while we were there, we felt like heels not ordering anything, so we got some bruschetta. After that, we walked to La Chocolaterie de Jacques Genin for some handmade caramels and chocolates (the caramels are unlike any I've every tasted), then took the train up to Montmartre for a little shopping, including the cutest kids' book store I've ever seen and a vintage store called By Flowers, where I found a really beautiful '50s dress.

We were fairly tired after all this walking around, so we finally called it a day and went back to the hotel, then grabbed a quick dinner at Maoz, a falafel chain that's in the U.S. and some places over here, but it was very, very good...and it introduced me to the wonders of dipping your fries in ketchup and mayo at the same time...yum.

Gare du Nord in Paris as we wait in line at border patrol; me finally wearing my Hunter boots!

Sunday was just a traveling day, hopping the Eurostar over to London, checking in at our really cute hotel in Islington, and then eating some really simple and authentic Italian food at a local pub while the hubs got to finally watch a soccer match on TV.

And then yesterday we rented a car and drove down to Portsmouth, where our good friend Claire lives. She's been here for 7 months so far doing grad school, and was kind enough to show us around town all day yesterday, starting with lunch at Pie & Vinyl, which has probably been my favorite food I've had on the trip thus far (sorry, Paris). The cafe itself is decorated with a really eclectic but homey vibe, and in the back are cases of records from which you can shop. Claire said they sometimes even have live performances there.

The "Big Cheese" pie with peas and mash at Pie & Vinyl.

Then we walked around a while, peeking into some local shops, antique stores, a bookstore and a charity shop (as they call thrift stores here). After that we ducked into this super cute cafe (the name of which I can't remember!) that was decorated with the most amazing vintage and antique furniture. In the middle was a case of mouth-watering desserts that we happily dined upon; I got the chocolate hazelnut cake with passionfruit, which was divine.

Pie & Vinyl (left column), tea at that cute cafe, and a row of Pantone house fronts!

Once we were properly pumped full of sweets, we went on a long walk all around town and saw some beautiful seaside views atop old towers, as well as the area where Charles Dickens was born, an amazing church that was built in 1212 and just loads of historical things.

Today we're headed back to the docks to take a look at the warships before we jet off to Bath, so I'll be suer and snap some more shots of all that! Until then!

4.05.2013

Photo a Day Overseas Adventure: April 4 & 5

(Vintage store by the kilo; lunch at Fish la Boissonnerie; coming out of The Louvre and its glass pyramids)

Hello again from Paris! Can't believe that tomorrow is already our last full day here. I feel like we're just getting to know this beautiful city, and I'm finally speaking my bonjours, bonsoirs and mercis a little less timidly. :)

Yesterday and today have been pretty busy days. Thursday started out with lunch at Fish la Boissonnerie, where I ordered a delicious homemade pita with hummus, shredded apple, beans, some veggies and a beet-root ketchup that was really stunning. The hubs, who loves all kinds of seafood, went with the octopus over black rice in a red-wine reduction, and stated it was his favorite thing he's eaten so far on the trip. Tantalizing tentacles, you say? Hmmm...I don't think so.

Oh, but on the way to lunch, we just happened to get off the Metro by a vintage store, where you pay by the kilo! It was like the perfect marriage of Goodwill Outlets and your favorite vintage shop. Needless to say I dove right in and, overall, things there seemed to run more toward the '80s and '90s, but came out with four dresses that I can't wait to share pictures of when I get back. And they even had one section where all the clothing that had polka dots was set aside. For me, that was pure heaven.

But back to after lunch...once we had our fill, we went to The Louvre, which was absolute madness! I never thought it would be that busy on a Thursday during the day, but it was...and to the point of not really being able to enjoy our time there as much as I think we would have otherwise. We did see some beautiful Renaissance art, including the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which was my favorite. Such beautiful lines and evoking such power!

(String ensemble playing in the subway; dessert at Ciel de Paris; our view during dinner)

After that we went back to the hotel to rest, and in between lines we stopped and listened to a 12-piece string ensemble that was playing in the passageway. How often do you see that? And they were really good, too. Although, I think I still love best the guy who hopped on one of our trains playing classic French tunes on the accordion. Cheesy, yes, but it was like having a soundtrack on this Parisian adventure!

Dinner last night was at Ciel de Paris, on the 56th floor of a business building. Our reservation was for 10 p.m. (I actually kind of love eating dinner that late...), and we were seated at one of the tables at the window, which also happened to be right in front of the Eiffel Tower. One of the few times I think the ambiance outweighed the food (at least for me), especially since the tower sparkled for five minutes every hour. And the dessert...oh my! I don't know what I ordered, but I saw chocolate on there a couple times in the description, so I knew that was the one for me. When it came, it was like a little work of art: a molded chocolate sphere that you cracked open to find pieces of pear drowning in a sea of rich chocolate mousse. And the sphere was served on a little round of cake. Needless to say, there was nothing left of that dish by the time we left. :)

(Banana-Nutella crepe at Creperie Josselin; sculpture at Rodin Garden; Musee d'Orsay; Notre Dame)

Okay, I know I've been rambling for a while now...so I'll make today's journey short and sweet: best crepes ever at Creperie Josselin (and can I say how much I love that in Paris you have dessert with lunch, too, not just dinner?); a wonderful walk through the Musee Rodin garden, where we saw The Thinker and many other beautiful sculptures; lots and lots of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Renoir and more impressionists and post-impressionists at the Musee d'Orsay (which used to be a train station, and now you can walk up to the old clock faces and look through them and see the city); and then a visit to Notre Dame, which is celebrating its 850th year! It was so very beautiful, and while we were in there the choir was practicing, which made it really ethereal and wonderful. For dinner, we just got back from Tricotin, named one of the best Chinese restaurants in town; and it was very, very good (and also crammed with locals, which I feel is always a good sign!).

Tomorrow we have a trip planned to Montmarte; an outdoor food market for bread, cheese and fruit; some shopping for sweets; more vintage store adventures; and hopefully some live jazz and drinks. So excited!

4.03.2013

Photo a Day Overseas Adventure: April 3


Today was a beautiful day in Paris...mostly sunny, full of delicious food, and some really amazing sights. We let ourselves sleep in a bit this morning due to some residual jet lag, and then grabbed a chocolate croissant on our way to the Metro station. I felt like we sort of fit in as we joined the lunch-rush crowd, nibbling on pastries out of paper bags and walking briskly from station to station.

Our first stop of the day was the Eiffel Tower, which is truly beautiful. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment when we walked around the corner and there it was, in all this architecturally astonishing glory. Both of us were content to just stand at the base and marvel at it instead of joining the long line of tourists waiting to go up to the top. I brought one of my old film cameras (the kind that produces square-format photos) and used half the roll on the tower...I can't wait to see how they turned out!

Afterward, we walked to Le Petit Cler for lunch and it was SO delicious. The hubs got flank steak and a baked potato; I opted for the poached egg salad, which had spinach, tomatoes, green lentils and haricots verts with a garlicky dressing and a poached egg on top.

The street on which the restaurant was located was lined with cute little shops, flower stalls and produce markets, and on our way to L'hotel des Invalides we stopped at a Francois Pralus chocolatier shop for some macaroons we spotted in the window.

Les Invalides houses the Musee de l'Armee, which the hubs was keen on seeing. It had room after room of medieval armor on the first floor, and then two more floors of uniforms and artifacts from World War I and World War II, which was very interesting...especially the propaganda posters. It also had a gorgeous old printing press and printer's desk that was used by the underground French resistance during World War II...and all I could think was, "Wow, wouldn't I love to have that desk in my craft room!" (Bad, I know...) Also on that property is the Dome des Invalides, which houses Napoleon's tomb. We were exhausted by the time we got there, so we did a quick in and out to snap a couple photos and say we saw it. :)

After that it was back to the hotel for a catnap, and then we wandered over to Pizza Chic for dinner. For appetizers we had papa al pomodoro smeared on bread, and some little grilled artichokes served with the creamiest buffalo mozzarella I've ever tased. Drizzled with some balsamic and it was divine! For the main course I had a four-cheese pizza that had the best pizza crust I've eaten. Overall, it's definitely worth going if you find yourself craving some Italian food while in Paris.

The little collage above has a snapshot of one of the flower stalls we saw after lunch, the Dome des Invalides and those delish macarons that didn't last very long at all. And then I think you can guess what the photo on the left is... :)

Until tomorrow!


4.02.2013

Photo a Day Overseas Adventure: April 1 & 2


Bonjour, my friends! After three planes, a train and a bus, we finally made it to Paris around noon today (or about 3 a.m. your time!), and promptly took a five-hour nap in our hotel after being up for approximately 22 hours (eek!). Then we showered, strolled down to a local restaurant for dinner, sipped some wine and finished the night with coffee and a ridiculously delicious chocolate mousse with orange zest, followed by a nighttime stroll around Montparnasse. Now we're feeling right on track!

And, apparently, some of the best creperies in the city are in this district near the Gare de Montparnasse, so the only things we have planned for tomorrow (so far) are patronizing one of those, then taking some advice from Funny Face, one of my favorite Hepburn movies, and going to see the Eiffel Tower first thing.

Above is a little collage of snapshots from our first day (although technically two, I guess): the top from New York and our lunch at Pastis, and the bottom two from our hotel room (don't you love the wallpaper?).

Au revoir! :)
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