#VRestaurantTours

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Ledlow, found in DTLA, has become a favorite restaurant for my family. You know it's a favorite when you start to crave certain dishes at a particular restaurant, right??? Well, I crave something they make here, very often... I'll tell you what dish that is further on!

When we first moved to LA, we past Ledlow quite a few times and was determined to visit. We eventually did try to make a visit only to learn that mid-day they close down to prepare for their dinner menu. (Just like you'd see with any European restaurants)

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Nevertheless, we made it eventually... once we got the times right... And we fell. In. Love. Believe me, you would too. 

Not only is this place aesthetically hip and trendy, the food also matches it's look and feel. I love the black and white color scheme and gold accents. I'm such a fan of those color schemes, that almost any place that has that scheme I almost automatically love. I also love that they have a pastry and coffee bar as part of their restaurant. You can literally come just to order at the bar to-go. It's really perfect.

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The Burger above is my favorite... it is PERFECT! The best I've had it LA so far. 

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I also love that it has not become one of those restaurants all over social media (at least, just yet)... it hasn't become the scene... You know, one of those places you're sure to see someone at. Yeah, Ledlow is definitely more chill in that regard and I like it that way.

Definitely a MUST try if you live in LA, or are planning on visiting!

Xo

top 5 Parisian cafés I'm dying to visit

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I love to travel. Seeing new things and new places, different cultures and hearing different perspectives is so refreshing for me. I love seeing how other people live and think, sometimes for the better or worse. It prompts this desire to learn, change and evolve into my best version. It broadens my perspective in life, reminding me that life is so, so much greater than my small world. Too often I can have tunnel vision, I forget there is a much greater world beyond the corridors of my ten mile radius, or even the corridors of my own thoughts. I think sometimes traveling can prompt a new frame of mind, just being in a different location that the eye has not become so used to seeing.

It's amazing what a pair of fresh eyes can see.

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Well, because I love to travel I'm always thinking about trips to plan, both near and far. I'm planning what we'll do and where we'll eat.

So, I'm taking my liberities planning our next trip oversees...

Here's a few of my MUSTS, my top 5 Parisian cafes I'm dying to visit!

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1. L'Oiseau Blanc at the Peninsula Hotel :

The main reason I'm dying to eat here is because the views this restaurant has is just over the top. L'Oiseau Blanc has the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. I certainly can picture myself siping on coffee, wasting my morning for a few hours, enjoying the view, enjoying conversations or simply having a good read. 

http://m.paris.peninsula.com/en/fine-dining/loiseau-blanc-rooftop-restaurant

2. Chez Ralph's at Ralph Lauren:

Ralph Lauren's very own restaurant located in Saint German. I mean, it's Ralph Lauren... I know I'm not into the Ralph Lauren label at the moment, but he is an icon when it comes to fashion and is certainly respected. I certainly respect him, after all, he had been greatly successful and has managed to continue a label throughout the decades... That's a feat. The restaurant reflects his taste, style and grace. It's a must! 

http://ralphlaurenstgermain.com/en/#/lerestaurant

3. Café de Flore

One of the oldest hot spots in Paris, dating back to the 1880's. You could find people like Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso getting their coffee fix here. Although I've been here before, and interestingly enough took Nicole Richie's table as she and friends were leaving, its definitely still a hot spot I want to visit again. It's trendy and it's everything Paris-chic you could imagine. On top of that, the food is great and the atmosphere is very energetic.

4. Merci

You might have seen this place on social media as it's gained popularity over the last year. You'd recognize it with a photo of a red mini car against a beautiful ivy wall. The restaurant itself just looks dreamy. They also have a library were you can peruse through and read any book available while enjoying lunch. At certain times they also have a cinema cafe where you can eat and watch a movie playing through a projector against a wall. Perfection!

merci-merci.com

5. Angelina:

Hot chocolate is a thing in Paris, and almost everywhere you go you can find some. BUT Angelina has one of the best reviews for hot chocolate. Not only does the restaurant itself look amazing, but so does the food. This is definitely one of my top 5's.

http://www.angelina-paris.fr/en/

 You think that's all? Well, ahem, you're wrong... I certainly have more places up my sleeves, but for now, this will do. (Wink)

If you know someone who's taking trip to the city of love, send a link of this site! Thanks for reading. Mwah.

Xo

#VRestaurantTours

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Have I mentioned I love living in Los Angeles? I'm sure you've gotten that message by now (if you follow me on IG or have read other posts, that is).

But I do. There are many reasons why I love it here, despite the cons. One of those reasons is because I love the energy, the creativity, and the enguiniety that is welcomed and felt in this city. In fact, that is what the city's economy is built on... People's creativity and ideas. I love it. It inspires me to push the envelope with my own creativity and ideas.

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The restaurants in LA certainly match that caliber of all LA-creatives, and visiting these places, once again inspires me. I see what they've built, the presentation of their food, the atmosphere, the design... from the plates they've chosen to what the staff wear... I appreciate it all and in some ways learn from it.

The Rèpublique is certainly one of those places for me. 

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What I love about The République is that it has a very unique feel. It's not quite LA chic glam, certainly not trying to act like another restaurant around. Instead it has its unique style and character... An old-world feel with common seating style, rustic tables, lots and lots brick. I love the colors of the fresh fruit/veggies, and the display of it all, including the meats, gives a farm to table feel.

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I always the love the mix between old and modern design. The picture above describes that perfectly. The brick against the modern skylight... such a great contrast. The architecture of the arch ways with the tables and the lighting against the modern chefs kitchen... it's just perfect. Although this building was constructed in the 1920's, not as long ago as European construction, it still has an old-world feel.

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The pasteries and brunch menu is fantastic. The resentation feels warm and not so fancy you don't know how to eat what you've been served. They certainly have their own flair with the menu choice, always adding one element to one-up the normal, like corn in omelletes. 

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I hope you enjoyed this #VRestaurantTour! 

xoxo Vanessa

Hearst Castle

 

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Wes and I love road-tripping. The time in the car to talk, listen to music or to listen to podcasts/books is really refreshing for us. With a kid, traveling can be tricky but naps are a life saver and without them we wouldn't dare go anywhere. We plan all our long drives during Winston's sleeping hours, and then we'll stop somewhere while he's awake for meals or just to let him run around. Sometimes if we have to keep driving we'll resort to the iPad... Which also is a lifesaver. 

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A year and a half ago, Wes and I were on a Netflix kick watching all sorts of documentaries. I'm more of the nerd when it comes to watching documentaries... I love them and often have to convince him to watch with me. I came across a documentary of Hearst castle, and after we watched it, we had to go. Literally, the next morning we packed our car and drove there... No joke. 

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We definitely love to explore and we can be last minute planners, so doing something like this is certainly not unlikely.

Unfortunately, on our way there we ended up having to stop to replace our car battery. Something we hadn't planned for. The end of the story is we made it to Hearst Castle, but was just 30 minutes shy of the last tour. Ha! What a bummer! We had just driven 4 hours to get there. Of course we were disappointed we had missed it, but we were ok. We loved the drive up the coast and it was just fun to feel like we were exploring new territory.

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Since we didn't make it last time, it was something I still really wanted to do. So, this last weekend, we packed our bags and some snacks and made the trek up the coast again. This time my sister joined us and we finally made it! Despite some set backs... navigating through traffic and Winston throwing up in the car, and me blaming Wes for it because of his driving crazy.

What good memories. Winston is fine and so is our marriage. Phew! Ha. Winston had eaten his snack way too fast through winding roads, all while watching the iPad ... Definitely not the best combo. On the flip side, he did sleep more than halfway there, so I say that's a win.

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Hearst castle is magnificent. The tours are a bit pricey for what they actually show per tour, but it's definitely worth it. The work and planning it took to make this castle what it is, is quite astounding. The evidence shows throughout every small detail.

 
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Château de Versailles

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What a beautiful place to visit. No matter what season, Versailles is sure to be spectacular. We came here during the fall, a bit cold but nothing to keep us inside.

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Everything I imagined Château de Versailles to be, went far beyond my expectations. Literally, far beyond! The architecture, interiors, and the gardens were MUCH larger and cleaner than I expected. Versailles is huge! You could literally spend all day here, and there is more to do than just touring the actually grounds. There are restaurants to eat at, bike and boat rentals. I saw people using Versailles as there place to excercise as they ran throughout the gardens. I also saw a lot of people just sitting and reading by the man-made lake.

Although it is a destination for tourist, Versailles is just that amazing locals still go there for their leisurely activitivies despite the constant flow traffic.

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We spent around six hours here, walked around the living quarters, ate lunch, and explored the grounds via golf cart rentals because Versailles is just that big. I could have just pitched a tent and stayed there all week.... I really didn't want to leave.

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The photo above is right outside Petite Trianon, a home built for Madame De Pompadour, the Kings mistress. This was also close to Marie-Antoinnettes home, the Kings wife, a home that was built so she could escape to from the palace.

I did learn that the saying "let them eat cake," which supposedly came from Marie-Antionettes mouth, is just not true. Unfortunately, the people of France did not like her very much and eventually took out the countries frustrations on her.

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Winston was a lot younger, so traveling with him at his age of one was actually perfect. He was just two weeks away from walking on his own, which he ended up taking his first steps in Rome. So we carried him throughout and had a travel stroller, which he loved napping in. We were fortunate to have had a great travel experience with him here.

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What a dream to have gotten to see and experience all its beauty and these pictures do not do its beauty justice, it's even better in person. 

 

 

CLAUSE - Paris

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Do I love a good coffee/pastry shop?  Um, is that even a question?!? YES, I'm from Seattle. Beyond the coffee and pastries, it's a double win if the shop embodies style, personality and character. Sometimes that's hard to find... But these days coffee shops are stepping up their game. When I do find a favorite place, I usually keep it a secret... so I feel like it's just mine, you know? Selfish a bit... Maybe.

BUT... since this location is thousands of miles away I thought it'd be ok to share.

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While in Paris my sister found Claus through Yelp (Thank god for Yelp), and we fell in LOVE, like head over heals. This place exudes character, style and personality. It's charming, quaint, yet sophisticated. Located a block from our rental, I won't tell you how many times we visited here during our two week stay. Let's just say, it was enough to get to know the owner, who I might add is just as sophisticated as his restaurant... with his French accent and slicked back hair. He was there everyday and welcomed his guest with such class and grace. 

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Upstairs there is the restaurant portion of Claus, dedicated for breakfast and lunch, whereas downstairs accommodates walk-ins for pasteries, coffee, and other random goodies. Reservations are required to assure your spot upstairs. And in order to get a spot, you have to request days in advance. Which proves its success amongst the locals. 

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Just take a moment and really look at the picture above.

Can you invision yourself sitting here?

Quiet, serene, pleasant music in the background, French accidents everywhere, so much so you can zone into a state of concentrated thinking. 

Sipping on perfect, creamy, strong coffee. Whilst a book in hang, or an iPad full of reading material, or a fashion/business magazine on the table, or just blank pages to just write and think.  

My goal is to have these images make your soul savor. 

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Is it working yet? 

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Well, now that you feel like you've encounter this coffee shop in Paris, living vicariously through these images... If you really ever find yourself in Paris, be sure to make this place a must see. It is far from the pathways of the typical tourist. You'll feel like a local, exactly how you want to feel while your here. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry and encounter a momentary oasis of delight. 

And then, thank me later. 

Napa - Carneros Inn

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Wherever you find yourself today, hopefully these picture can visually remind you that although life can be crazy, you do not have to stay there. You can escape to a constant place of rest in God... Not in location but in state of mind and spirit. 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭11‬:‭28-30‬ MSG)

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Sometimes we need some visual help to get our mind, emotions and adrenaline to calm down and enter into a state of rest. That state of silence. That state of solitude, away from the noises of life, the voices of discouragement, pressures of life and all temporary demands. No distractions, no interruptions, just pure and genuine space to give to God... all the room in our internal space -- mind, soul, emotions. It's in those moments that the details and demands of life become smaller and smaller, they grow further and further away from occupying the greater portion of our heart, and although we know we have obligations in life, they are not so overwhelming anymore as they are proportionally set next to Gods greatness.

 
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A few weeks ago we visited Carneros Inn. It is a beautiful oasis away from the city, located in Sonoma near Napa. There's nothing like getting away from the hustle and bustle of life to a quiet and awe inspiring place. I have a thing for vineyards... I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that I feel far away in another country... so remote from the expectations and demands of my daily routine. Or maybe that I feel as though I'm walking through a scene from the movie French Kiss in Italy. Whatever the case, it's nice to feel away.

Carneros Inn is a beautiful lodging place, filled with many accommodations, bungalow suites, spa, restaurants, and a gorgeous outdoor pool and entertaining area overlooking their vineyards. And wow, it's gorgeous! 

 

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Down the street from the hotel is Domaine Carneros, a breathtaking looking castle overlooking vineyards for wine tasting. We didn't get a chance to do this, but either way our time was perfect here. 

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It was a great trip in so many ways... Maybe the greatest reason was that it reminded me of the importance of "getting away" with God.  

Xoxo