Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mirrored Wall at Juicy Couture, NYC

This beautiful wall of mirrors is in the Juicy Couture store in Manhattan.  I'm not really a Juicy fan so I don't know why I even walked into the store.

The rest of the store wasn't too impressive. But that one wall...

I just stood on the second floor and stared at the wall while my niece walked around the store.

This is the view looking out into the street.

If it weren't so dusty here in Manila, I would do this in my house. But I'm so scared of dust that nothing hangs in my stairwell.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Pie Server Collection

I got obsessed with pie servers a few years back and started to collect them from flea markets. Here is my collection. Banged up, scratched, and definitely not-gently-used--but all sterling silver.

The second one from the top is my most favorite of all.  When I have a dinner at home and people bring desserts, I get excited because I get to use another old pie server. I don't even know the names of the patterns and I don't get obsessed with provenance. I just pick up what I like.

I even like them monogrammed. I bought this one above with the intention of giving it as a gift to a friend whose family name starts with S, but then decided against it. While I would love to receive something like this, not many people will appreciate receiving a beat up pie-server.

I brought them out the other day and decided to take pictures of them as a way of keeping an inventory.  

Maybe I should look for more.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais, Le Marais


I found reviews online that lead me to this charming little hotel in the Marais. It looked like something I would appreciate--filled with antiques, chandeliers and Provencal-type furnishings. They also gave me a price break when I inquired about the rates online. This was only a two-night stopover in Paris, so renting an apartment (which is something I prefer, but usually requires a 7-night stay) was not an option.

Too bad Bea wasn't going to be in Paris this weekend. I've gotten used to having a French-speaking cousin beside me all the time that I've become too lazy to learn even a few basic French words (but that's going to change soon!). N'est-ce pas?

 The lobby of Caron de Beaumarchais

The hotel is as quaint as their website and the reviews describe. There were French antiques, daintily-printed wallpaper in the halls, and a beautiful chandelier in our rustic room. The lady at the reception desk was also very  warm and gracious.

The hotel offered free wi-fi unlike some bigger chain hotels that still charge a daily internet fee. B likes alternative-type hotels too, but his taste leans towards modern and retro, while mine is rustic and antique. Watching him connect his laptop in our room though, against flowery drapery and lady-sized furniture, made me think I overdid it this time.

This is a girlie-girl type of hotel--the type I should book when it's a girls' trip, or maybe when I'm with my daughters. Everything was just too...floral and dainty.

The "historic" thing about this hotel is its name; Pierre-Augustine Caron de Beaumarchais is the author of the "Marriage of Figaro" and 'The Barber of Seville". The location of the hotel was also the breeding ground of the revolution. Other than that, the hotel is just a charming theme hotel. Good thing it's in Paris, or it would look contrived.

 Breakfast room
The hotel is located right in the Marais, an area I love exploring. We could be out late into the night and just slip back into the hotel. And even when the rest of Paris shuts down on Sundays, shops in the Marais are open and the streets have lots of action. The closest Metro is only 4 blocks away, either at Hotel de Ville or Saint Paul.

I look forward to another trip to Paris, and yet another discovery. I'm glad B is game for anything, and lets me plan everything as I wish, even if it means ending up in an uber-dainty girlie-girl hotel.

Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais
12, rue Vieille du Temple 
75004 Paris

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gas Station Gourmet Meal

yosemite road trip

On a spontaneous whim, we decided to drive from Las Vegas to San Francisco instead of fly.  B had read that there was still snow in Yosemite and thought it would be nice to surprise the kids with their first snow sighting.  We broke our trip in Mammoth Lakes after 5 and a half hours. The next morning, we continued on to the Bay Area, which was another 5 hours away through Yosemite National Park.

Tioga pass through Yosemite
 Tioga Pass is the road that cuts through Yosemite National Park

When the innkeeper at Mammoth Lakes learned we were continuing on to San Francisco, she said she heard Tioga Pass was closed, and to expect a long drive ahead. Tioga Pass cuts through Yosemite National Park and is the quickest way to get from Las Vegas to the Bay Area. 

If the Pass was closed, we'd have to drive up  north and pass another highway, and if that was also closed, we'd have to go even farther north and go through Lake Tahoe. That route would add 3 hours more to our already long drive.  I'm usually very good at planning trips in detail, but I didn't bother for this particular road trip.  I had general directions in my iPhone anyway, and how complicated could it be to just drive west?

Mobil Gas Station

It turns out Tioga Pass is only passable from May to November each year.  People who plan a drive through the park during this time of the year monitor the weather very closely because sudden storms prompt the park authorities to close the road. Did we even know that? Of course not--we were being spontaneous, remember? This was mid-May, and it seemed like a beautiful clear day. But inside Yosemite National Park, a mini snowstorm was developing.

At a place called Lee Vining, right before turning left into Tioga Pass, a highway sign confirmed that the Pass was closed.  There was nothing else in sight except for a Mobil gas station on the corner, and the picturesque Mono Lake across from it. We decided to stop at the Mobil mini-mart to ask about possible re-routing options.


We walked into a lot of excitement at the mini-mart.  "You guys are sooo lucky--they just opened the Pass five minutes ago," the man at the counter greeted us.

With a sigh of relief we decided to take it easy, look around and maybe grab some lunch before driving on. 

mobil minimart

I checked out the menu--hmm, this was expensive gas station food. We had just had a big breakfast a couple of hours back, maybe a pizza slice or two would be okay.

Just as I was about to order,  B, who had just come from the restroom, said he wanted to order the World Famous Fish Tacos. Huh? Well, okay, he must be hungry. I'll just order something the kids can share too, like the St. Louis Style Baby Back Ribs for $18.95. I wasn't really hungry so I didn't order anything for myself.

Whoa Nellie Deli Menuboard

We walked over to the dining area near the glass windows facing Mono Lake. On the way there, I admired the watercolors of Yosemite on the walls. I particularly liked this one below except that it was a print and not an original watercolor.

Then our food came. Gasp! When did mini-mart food look like this?

World famous fish tacos

This was the "famous fish tacos" dish that came with a side of mango salsa and refried black beans. I was surprised at how delicious this was, the flavors and textures familiar at the same time, unusual.

BBQ Ribs with Potato Salad and Buttered Spaghetti Squash

The kids attacked the ribs, which were meaty and falling-off-the-bone tender. G loved the potato salad and wanted to order another serving. C enjoyed the "stringy stuff" and in between mouthfuls, kept asking me what it was (she eventually went back to the kitchen and found out it was spaghetti squash). We enjoyed every bite and licked both platters clean.


Maybe I'm being too gushy here, but remember we were in a gas station in the middle of a vast expanse of nature with no other establishment in sight.  I really didn't expect this type of food.

goumet magazine

It was only when I kept saying I couldn't believe how good the food was that B casually said, "yes, this place is supposed to be quite famous for the food, that's why I wanted to try it." Whaaaat?! He knew? We should've ordered one dish each, if only to try as many dishes as we could!

A number of framed articles dating back to the early 2000's fill the hallway walls at the back of the store, and B had read them on his way to and from the restroom. People who know about the "Mobil gas station mini-mart", which is really named "Whoa Nellie Deli",  make the effort to drive an hour or two from their "nearby" homes to get here. Others who make the cross-state drive regularly also make it a point to stop here for their gourmet fix, and tourists who do some research will be on the lookout for it.

But for us, discovering it was pure serendipity.

We were all happy after this delightful surprise of a meal and we were ready for the upcoming five-hour drive to the Bay Area.   I don't think we'll ever find ourselves on this route again, so I'm glad that the food gods lead us here. I'm also thankful that B had to use the restroom. 

The Mobil minimart looks over Mono lake

Our luck continued. Tioga Pass was passable and we made our way through Yosemite in the mild snowstorm without a hitch. The park was covered with newly-fallen snow, thrilling the kids to no end.  Our road trip was full of exciting surprises that if I were not one of the two-person non-planning committee, I would've thought that this road trip was planned with much effort and thorough research. or 760-647-1088
P.O. Box 253 or 22 Vista Point Road
Lee Vining, CA. 93541


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