I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, filled with family and friends, fuzzy sweaters and pjs, hot chocolate and pie. Our family celebrated in Houston this year and now, I get to finish up this post I started a couple of weeks ago…

When I travel somewhere, I make it my private mission to blend into the look and feel of the local culture. I like to find out the not-so-publicized cafes and streets to wander. The unspoken rules and faux pas. The fashion, foods, and habits.

This is what makes Paris so incredibly interesting.

So pedestrian and so particular, the Parisians are fascinating to study. And as long as you know a few key things and phrases, you could play the game too. Here are some of the most important lessons I learned, read (and plan to bring back with me) from our trip to Paris:

Paris Lessons Collage


1. Red lipstick is awesome. If you know me at all, you know that I don’t wear a lot of make up. Like, for my whole 28 years of life, I’ve never truly owned lipstick I used more than once. But while on this trip, I started noticing something. Even if tired and rushed, dressed up or dressed down, a lot of these women wore red lipstick. So I decided to give it a try — I dropped into a pharmacie, butchered my way through “je voudrais…holds up lipstick,” and gave it a shot. I liked.

2. Let’s wear all black. This is similar to fashion in New York and personally, I prefer it. Layered textures and fabrics, loose and tight, the Parisians wear a lot of black. And then, accessories with a splash of color. Or a stunning gold statement piece.

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It turns out that the French don’t like turkey that much.

In fact, while we were in Paris over Thanksgiving, we ate pig intestine, duck, and fish instead. (The intestine was a result of not speaking French). And because of how tickets and timing worked out, I was able to explore Amsterdam a little too.

Y’all, Amsterdam is one of the most well-designed places I’ve ever visited. Sans serif everywhere, with bright and modern colors. Kind of like an Ikea. And the pedestrian-heavy streets are covered with bike riders. So many bike riders. I arrived early Monday morning, so people were just starting their week and peddling through town. It was amazing to just wander about, taking it all in.



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The past few weeks have flown by with an exciting pace! So much has happened — I became a deacon(ess) of communication, school ended, and we got a puppy — but I don’t know where to begin. I’ll just let my mind wander and spit it out online for you to read…

Daniel and I talked early on about our finances. He is a practicing lawyer here in Fort Worth and a graduate from UT Law, and of course, this comes with school loans and patience. However, we both really like to travel and explore new places, new restaurants, new people.

So, with a hobby-like passion, Dan has started learning about credit card points and benefits. In fact, he learned enough to take us on a spontaneous trip to Portland, OR over Labor Day weekend. Like literally, he called me up at school on Friday around 2:30p (during which my 13-year old girls squealed…“Oooo, It’s Daniel!”) and asked if I wanted to fly to Portland the next morning. Instead of going to see X-Men. Ummm, yes.

The trip was exciting and tiring. Beautiful and unexpected. We spent time walking around the Pearl District, checking out different specialty bars and eating our way through the city, one small plate at a time. We also drove through a flower nursery and winded our way up a dark green mountain, peppered with little yellow flowers, to spend an afternoon at the David Hill Vineyard. And we got to catch up with an old high school friend currently figuring out life in the quaint, artsy town.

The trip was a joy, and I was so happy to be whisked away. (By the way, Daniel got these tickets for $10 a piece, thanks to our credit card points. Ask him questions — he knows a lot and can hook you up!) It was also a slightly early anniversary trip for us — we celebrated our one year together this past Saturday, June 08. We’ve had a lot of changes and adjustments this year, but it’s been wonderful. A new career, a new puppy, grad school and then not. I’m so thankful for our families and our community of friends. And I’m so excited for what’s to come!

In case I’ve never said it before, thank you to everyone who’s invested in our lives — as a married couple, and as individuals. Your love means a lot, a lot to us.

“When you come visit me in five years, this whole neighborhood will be different,” said my friend Lucy, as she zipped Daniel and me around downtown Denver in her light blue convertible.

Union Station Denver

Lucy was referring to Denver’s historic Union Station at 17th and Wynkoop in the city’s “LoDo district.” Built in 1881, the station served as a solution and hub to the four train lines that ran through the city.

But after a fire, a few moments of demolishing and years of various trains and railways, the building has sat still, waiting. However, it will soon be the focal point of a public/private partnership.

Our vision for this exciting new neighborhood will transform the 14 city blocks between Wynkoop and Riverfront Park—previously a no-man’s land of abandoned railyards—into a progressive urban center buzzing with offices, restaurants, stores, condos, hotels and entertainment. – Union Station Neighborhood

Watch the fly over sketch. It’s pretty impressive.

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To my surprise, the food of Puerto Rico was both exotic and familiar — simple at times but infused with flavor and Caribbean charm. Plantains dominated the menu, showing up on our plates mashed, fried, salted or all of the above. (Yes, I miss amarillos). Chicken marinated in rich garlic sauce was a staple on most menus and seafood was always highlighted. Creole and Haitian flavors strongly influenced the menu too, with sofrito  topping many of our dishes and adding a unique set of Latin American spices.

Old San Juan is the perfect vacation spot for someone who enjoys culinary travel. Walking up and down the cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood, you are surrounded by colorful doors, artful design and exotic smells. You work up an appetite and the city does not disappoint.

Garlic chicken and mixed monfogo @ El Jibarito

Our first meal in OSJ was at El Jibarito, a small neighborhood cafe that seemed to attract tourist and

local alike. The food was simple and tasty, with a nice balance of protein to starches to vegetables.It didn’t matter where we ended up going that night, because I knew I was going to try the mofongo, a classic fried plantain-based dish made in Puerto Rico. Typically, mofongo is made by mashing together fried green plantains in a pilón (aka a mortar) and served as a side or main dish. The mixed mongo at El Jibarito was good, but I really liked the version we had later in the week at Punto De Vista. I do recommend the chicken with garlic sauce though. And their sangria.

At night, the streets of OSJ seemed to be keeping a secret. From random stray cats (a pack of at least five), to couples walking with hands clasped tight and a crowd of guys seeking their next bar stop, the streets were always quietly busy. We discovered this on our first night, when we left El Jibarito, turned the corner and found a plaza filled with salsa music. That night, we swayed to a trumpet and bongo drums.

Live music in Hotel Plaza De Armas

Live music in Hotel Plaza De Armas