Eating Our Way Through Paris in 2 Days

Honeymoon Part 4

Our final stop after the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, and Western Switzerland was Paris, the city of love…and foodgasms. Leaving miles and miles of walking for last day may have been a little crazy since we were totally pooped after 14 days gallivanting all over Europe, but it was worth every last second bite.

Overall, Paris was surprisingly cheap. At least compared to where we had already been. They even have free water (woahhhhh crazyyyy). After two weeks of purchasing it everywhere, this was pretty exciting.

Okay, back to the trip…after a lot of research, I was torn between which area to stay in. I finally chose St. Germain, which turned out to be an up-and-coming neighborhood in walking distance to pretty much everything. Our 2-CV local tour guide even said we picked quite a cool place.

While in Paris, we basically just bar and appetizer-hopped our way around the city for two days and had a spectacular time doing so.

Foodie Favs

  • Breizh Cafe. The crepes here are so so so good. Salmon and goat cheese is to die for.
  • Eggs & Co. Matt found this place on Yelp and I would venture to say it’s pretty hipster, with the hole-in-the-wall type of look. Yet, it’s decorated tres cute and the food is great. I had the benedict and au plait eggs with bacon, chives, and parmesan plus they give you salad and yummy mini potatoes.
  • Odette. Definitely stopped here because 1. it looked cute and 2. because it rhymes with my name. Turns out they have yummy cream puffs and I don’t even like cream puffs!
  • Les PhilosophesTwo words. Foie gras. I didn’t know what exactly I was eating until I had finished, but holy s*** it was good. Who knew duck liver + jam on toast could be so tasty? We also had the french onion soup, because well, France.
  • Paul. I think this must be a chain since I saw two of them, but they’ve got some great pastries.
  • Escargot. Turns out, not a fan. We ordered half a dozen, tried to thoroughly chew 2 and were unsuccessful. Also had to awkwardly ask the waiter how to get those suckers out of the shell with the clamp. Everyone in the restaurant had a good laugh.

Favorite Hoods & Must Dos

  • Le Marais. A cute historical neighborhood in the 3rd Arrondissement with plenty of shops and food, notably Les Philosophes.
  • Rue de Boci. Another super cute neighborhood with outdoor cafes, live music in the street, and great people watching.
  • 2 CV Tour. Matt’s dad said we HAD to check out this 2-hour night-time tour and he was totally right. Riding around Paris in a lavender-colored, French version of the VW bug with no roof was seriously the coolest thing ever. Our tour guide was a local French woman who was a bit crazy behind the wheel but very entertaining and knowledgeable. Not only did we get to see all of the big features in Paris lit up, but we got a great lay of the land on night one.

We will definitely be back and I can’t wait to continue exploring and EATING!

Cheers Claudette 2

How to Preserve Your Wedding Bouquet

DIY Dried Flower Frame

After months of planning your dream wedding, suddenly it’s over. All of the details you pined over for the past year waiting to be boxed up, thrown away or donated. Luckily for us DIY-ers, there are plenty of ways to reuse wedding décor, add a very personal touch to your home, AND get a daily reminder of your special day.

I’m all about memorabilia, and my bridal bouquet was something I definitely wanted to remember. I decided to try a couple different DIY projects to preserve the flowers: hanging a bridesmaid bouquet to dry and pressing my bridal bouquet flowers to create a DIY piece of art for our home. I am obsessed with how the framed flowers turned out and get to walk past it every day in my hallway!

What You’ll Need:
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Books
  • Paper
  • Large floating frame (The biggest I could find was 20×24)
  • Hot glue gun (I used a flower detail glue gun and it worked great)
  • Optional: vows printed on paper
  • Optional: ribbon from bouquet

Florals by Ahnalise Draper @gingerroots_ca

Disassemble Your Flowers

The day we got home from the wedding, I set to work on cutting flowers from my bouquet off each stem. I cut most of them to ensure I had plenty for the frame. In retrospect, I would have let them dry out a for a couple more days.

Thicker flowers like roses can be cut in half or you can pull out as much of the center green part as you can to spread it out in a circle. I ended up liking the round ones best after they dried.

Dry Your Favorites

Place flowers between two sheets of parchment paper and squash down inside a book. After you’ve gotten all of your flowers inside of books, pile them in stacks in a closet or other dark space. Add some heavy books on top to weigh them down more. After at least two weeks of drying, you can gently take out your flowers.

  • Blue thistle surprisingly dried perfectly in its full form, although I did try cutting them in half as well.
  • Carnations ended up not looking so pretty, so I used them underneath other flowers to add texture.
  • Peonies kept the most color, especially the pink one in my bouquet, which turned out to be a pale shade of purple when dried.
  • Snapdragons turned out great and I wish I had dried more!
  • Greenery and wax flowers made for nice borders around the vows sheets and other flowers.

NOTE: Make sure to let them dry out for a couple days before pressing them. I pressed them right away when they still had water in them so some of the larger flowers, like the roses, ended up ruining pages in my books and molded a bit during their time in the closet.

Arrange & Glue

Now comes the fun part and probably the toughest, since your flowers will be fully preserved (AKA not moving) once you glue everything down. I printed our vows on paper that looked like wood to go along with our rustic wedding theme and placed the flowers around them. You can also incorporate other flat items, such as the ribbon from your bouquet.

Cheers Claudette 2

Tips for Wedding Planning on a Budget

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Last September, Matt & I got married in Sacramento in my mom’s backyard and celebrated with 125 of our closest friends and family. I originally thought we’d be able to coordinate our wedding for $10K…psych! Even having it in my parent’s yard came with its own additional costs: table rentals, linens, lighting, etc. We had to figure out absolutely everything since nothing was included with the venue. While we were able to get our budget down to under $20K, I was shocked by how fast everything adds up.

Still, we were able to come in almost $2,000 under our budget and I was quite happy about that! After months of planning, research and very meticulous attention to my budgeting sheet (I love Excel), I came up with a few tips to help my fellow brides out:

Make a budget spreadsheet. I hear a lot of people say they have no idea what they spent on their wedding. Of course, the goal should be to spend less than your max budget and the only way to know if you’ve accomplished this is to log ALL wedding-related expenses on your spreadsheet throughout the planning process.

Our budget consisted of columns for “budgeted”, “projected” and “actual” costs. “Budgeted” should have very rough estimates and the max you will spend on specific line items in order to fit within your max budget. “Projected” should have more specific estimates and the “actual” column will have the final amount spent. If you are having a DIY wedding, you likely won’t be able to fill out a portion of these until after the wedding, but at least you’ll have an idea beforehand.

Get multiple quotes and rough estimates before setting your budget. I had no idea what certain things would cost, so I collected basic info about various costs and vendors in order to create my “budgeted” column. This gave me a better understanding on what things would cost and where I would need to cut back.

List out what’s most important to least important to you. Determine a few things that are crucial and that’ll be where you splurge or focus more of your budget on. While hand carved nameplates on quartz slabs might be amazing to have at your wedding, it might not be a crucial item, which means it may need to be cut from the decor plan. For me, awesome photos, a huge cheeseboard and good music were most important, and therefore things I didn’t want to skimp on.

Find a venue that allows BYO. Many vendors require you to use their caterer or preferred partners. If you’re lucky, you can find the perfect spot that will let you bring in your own booze and/or your own food. That way, you can get quotes from various catering services and ultimately find something more affordable. To see my list of Orange County venues, what they cost and include, click here. Having more control over your wedding takes more planning, but also saves you money.

Easily find vendors within your budget. Use www.thumbtack.com to set your budget for a specific need and you’ll get quotes back from a few vendors within 24 hours.

Avoid telling vendors it’s for a wedding. A lot of vendors upcharge for weddings. Sometimes you can’t get away with NOT sharing this *tiny* detail, but do your best. “Oh I’m just having a big party…for like 150 people”.

Utilize your resources! A lot of times, your friends or family will be someone or know someone who can help and will do an amazing job. If you’re willing to work with a vendor who doesn’t necessarily do their trade full-time, it’s likely to be a lot more affordable (or free!). My aunt worked on calligraphy, my coworker created our table numbers & printed graphics, my friend’s friend made our bouquets last minute, and a family friend who DJ’s for a lot of charity events became our awesome DJ!

Huge thanks to all of our amazing vendors!

Photographer: Rachelle Photography
Pizza: Paul’s Rustic Oven
Day-of Coordination: Events by Christina
Hair: Meghen Lord
Makeup: Kelli Renault
DJ: Greg Andrews
Florist: Ahnalise Draper
Calligrapher: The Lovely Hue
Graphic Designer: Joy Shows
Videography: My grandad
Dress: Isolde by Anais Anette
Dress Shop & Alterations: Love & Lace Bridal Boutique
Shoes: Betsey Johnson
Jewelry: Kendra Scott

 

ClaudettesCorner

4 Days in Tuscany: Wine Country Itinerary

Honeymoon Part 2

Let me first just say that we still can’t decide where we liked best in Italy. Amalfi vs. Tuscany? Can you really even compare them?

After making our way from Positano to the Napoli train station, we cruised up to Florence where we rented a car and had a hellofa time navigating the roundabouts and making it out to the highway. While in the southern region, we stayed in Chuisi for three nights and took day trips to Montalcino, Pienza, and Montepulciano, all of which I would highly recommend visiting. On our last night, we stayed in Florence, so we stopped in Siena on the way back up north. I wish had more time there, but we overslept and had to rush back to return our car on time. Guess we just have to go back!

Before I get to the highlights of our trip around Tuscan wine country, here are a few things to note:

  • A little PSA about the Autostrade. This is a toll road where you take a ticket on your way on to the highway and insert that ticket into the machine when you get off on an exit and then pay a fee based on the distance you went. Make sure not to go through the express lane and also follow signs for change versus card since they are two different lines.
  • If you like history, many historical places don’t have much information about them. Thank goodness for Matt’s international plan or he wouldn’t have known what year the church of Pienza was built in!
  • While driving on the straight roads in Chiusi, we oddly felt like we were in Lodi, CA.
  • Brunello comes from Montalcino. Sangiovese from Montepulcino. More on that later.

Chiusi

We spent three nights at Poggio Piglia in Chiusi, which was such a treat. First of all, the property is absolutely amazing. Grape vines and olive trees galore, a large vegetable garden, tons of lavender, sage and rosemary, and plenty of space for morning and evening walks. The service is incredible, the breakfast display was almost too pretty to dig in (but we did of course), and while it’s pretty far south, it forces you to drive all around the region which I would say is a great thing. Poggio Piglia was also the only hotel we stayed at that didn’t nickel and dime us for small extras like a poached egg in the morning, tea at night.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is essentially the wine capital of Tuscany. Italian wineries must follow strict rules based on their region. Here, they produce wines with at least 75% Sangiovese. Wines labelled DOC have an even higher Sangiovese content and DOCG is the highest at 100%. Most importantly, we learned that because of this high quality stuff, it was literally impossibly to get a wine hangover. In the US, winemakers don’t have to follow rules like this, so it’s no wonder that after 3 glasses, you might end up with a pounding headache.

Another thing to note about wine tasting in Tuscany…you might think this would be incredibly easy and you can just show up and be welcomed with wine and charcuterie platters. However, it’s quite the opposite. A lot of wineries have certain tasting hours and only take reservations. We were turned down by multiple during their open hours because they already had a few people there. Being used to America where restaurants and bars are all about packing the house, Italy was all about quality of service and never overcrowding their spaces.

This is nice and all, but where can a girl get a glass of vino?! Luckily, after about an hour and a half of driving around, we ended up finding three wineries right in a row that were not only open, but also open to having us there.

Needless to say, Google isn’t always right. It isn’t always open a the time it says it is, there isn’t always food. Just play it safe and call ahead. Also, most wine tasting rooms don’t have snacks and they also have you tour the cellar before you taste…without a glass of wine.

  • Cantina Tombesi. 5 euros for a glass of nobile and 9 euros a cheese and meat platter while you sit and chat in a cute little cellar/market.
  • Veduta Panoramica. While wondering the streets of downtown Montepulicano, we saw a sign that said Panoramica. I don’t speak Italian very well, but I definitely know what that means. Picture time!
  • Talosa Tasting Room. Great wine and a huge cellar that seems to never end, complete with an old tomb.
  • Avignonesi. I would say we have pretty high standards for cheese and charcuterie platters. Avignonesi’s light lunch chef’s platter blew every pleasant thought about any other board out of the water. I’m talking about mmmm’s and oh my god’s in between each bite. We topped that off with their delicious Avanti Sangiovese/Merlot plus a wasp sting on the side. Sorry Matt!
  • Poliziano. Wine so good, we just had to ship ourselves some. Still hoping we weren’t just drunk and thought it was better than it really was.
  • La Grotta. My coworker recommended this restaurant as the best meal he had in Italy. We were running a bit low on energy by the time we had dinner here so we took most of our meal to go but it was quite good.
  • Vino Mobile. Next door to La Grotta, this cute little shop is run by the sweetest woman ever. Turns out her husband is from Brea, CA so we sure had a lot to talk about! Takeaways include cured meats, pasta seasoning mixes, spicy chocolate, and a bunch of other delicious items.

Other Tuscan Favorites

Bagno de Vignini. Okay, this was so cool. Bagno de Vignini is one of the many Tuscan hot springs and happened to be located on our way to Montalicino. Matt was very skeptical about the coolness of said hot spring, but I was determined to find it. It didn’t help that Google Maps had us take a very sketchy back road to get there (second dirt road after you turn off the main highway) and we weren’t sure if our tiny smart car would make it back up the way we came. Turns out there’s a paid parking lot above, where you can overlook the hot spring, but we thought it was pretty awesome to be able to cruise around below, even though portions of the walkway were flooded.

Pienza. Pienza is a small town with an incredible long walkway overlooking the hills of Tuscany below. It’s definitely worth a stop for some gelato or a quick snack!

La Fortezza in Montalcino. This old fortress charges 2 euros to take in some breathtaking views. It’s quite the maze inside, with various rooms connected by tunnels…so cool!! There’s also a wine tasting room inside.

Cafe Corsini in Montalcino. Located somewhere in a small park with some weird dolls in Montalcino, this cafe was cheap, had GREAT food and there were a lot of locals eating there. Yes, the dolls sound weird and they were, but the outdoor cafe is really quite lovely. I got the tartufina (panini with prosciutto, truffle cream, and argula) and braesaola salad (thinly sliced raw beef, salad, pine nuts, tomatoes, and balsamic cream sauce) and was in heaven. Are you drooling yet? Oh and the brunello. Don’t forget the brunello.

Florence

We arrived in Florence at about 2:30 pm on a Friday and had to take the 9:00 am train to Milan so we didn’t get much time there. In our short time there, we walked all over the north side of the river. It’s truly an amazing city full of breathtaking architecture. I already can’t wait to go back and see more of it.

Sesto Rooftop Bar at Westin Excelsior. I know, I know…the Westin is not a legit Florence bar, but hey, we’re all about rooftop drinks. With views of the river, duomo and city, we couldn’t ask for more. Ask for the cookies with your drinks. Yum!

Uffizi. A couple we met in Positano said we had to go here and luckily, we were able to buy tickets at the door and cruise around. Although we didn’t realize the entire museum showcases heads and statues made of marble, it was amazing! But let’s be honest…there’s really only so much time you can spend looking at various people from the shoulders up before you start going dizzy.

Palazzo Gamba. I didn’t realize this when I booked, but this apartment looks directly at the Duomo. There’s nothing in between you and the Duomo except the street below. Needless to say, we thought this place was pretty rad. Since it’s located right in the middle of Florence, it’s a bit loud, but totally worth it for being central. Did I mention you can stare at all the intricate details of the Duomo from your bedroom and living room windows?!

Until next time, Italia!

P.S. You can read my Amalfi Coast recs for Positano, Sorrento, and Capri here.

ClaudettesCorner

12 More Binge Worthy TV Shows

It’s been about a year since my last post on my favorite shows to watch, which means I’ve obviously watched a bunch more since then. Matt and I have concluded that while there are rarely any good movies coming out these days, TV shows have really upped their game. Hence, we stick to those for the most part, especially shows about murder, true stories and history, or just plain old juicy drama.

In 2017, we discovered many more fantastic seasons to keep us entertained:

Tin Star: 1 Season on Netflix

Talk about a crazy show. You have a drunk sheriff on the hunt for vengeance in a beautiful small town in Canada. Each episode flips back and forth from the end of the episode to what happened earlier that day and how everything transpired.

The Tunnel: 2 Seasons on Netflix

Murder, twists & turns and an overall psychological thriller. We were hooked to our seats the entire time.

The Fall: 2 Seasons on Amazon Prime

All about your classic charming family man / serial killer and trying to catch him. Creepy, thrilling and the perfect show for all of us crime show lovers.

Ozark: 1 Season on Netflix

First of all, Jason Bateman is the lead character, so that’s awesome. While he’s not his typically funny self, he plays a great dad turned money launderer in Ozark, Missouri. Totally want to have a lake day here, just without all threats and drug lords.

Goliath: 1 Season on Amazon Prime

Billy Bob Thornton plays a drunken lawyer up on a case against the law firm he originally founded.

Animal Kingdom: 2 Seasons on Amazon Prime

A story about a far-too-close family of four men, their mom and their nephew, all living under one roof and doing crazy things like robbing Camp Pendleton.

Z: 1 Season on Amazon Prime

Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald ripped off his wife in a lot of his writing? All of the drama and their volatile relationship unfolds in this show, set in the 1920s with Christina Ricci (Zelda) at the forefront.

The Crown: 2 Seasons on Netflix

The true story of Queen Elizabeth II as a young queen with plenty of royal drama to keep you intrigued. I completely forgot about this show until I saw a billboard on our Thanksgiving road trip. Season two comes out December 8!

American Playboy: Hugh Hefner Story: 1 Season on Amazon Prime

If you want to learn the history of Playboy, or just get a new view of the 1950s on, this one’s very interesting. After watching this on a flight to and from Puerto Vallarta, I have so much respect for his story, how he helped start the sexual revolution and his overall badassness.

Don’t Trust the B**** From Apartment 23: 1 Season on Netflix

If you need something on in the background or a few laughs at the end of a long day, this show is perfect.

Girl Boss: 1 Season on Netflix

The Founder of Nasty Gal is featured, chronicling how she started her business by buying unique threads from thrift stores and selling them for 3x the price on Ebay.

90 Day Fiance: Too Many Seasons to Count

When we first put this show on, I thought it was going to be about couples who had recently met and got married really quickly. Nope. It’s about Americans bringing their fiances over to the US on K1 VISAs. And they have 90 days to get married or their counterpart will be back on the plane. SO MUCH DRAMA.

Got some other binge-worthy shows? Send them my way!

ClaudettesCorner