Friday, April 30, 2010

London is my city-fashion-soulmate.

I am convinced that London is my fashion soul-mate and the best city in the world (that I have visited) to find affordable and unique clothing. The keywords are affordable and unique, because you can always go to an H&M or Topshop or TJMaxx, but London offers boutiques supporting local, independent designers.  Plus, there are endless amazing vintage shops. Also, on the streets of London, you find endless inspiration, as one can see on the street style websites like FaceHunter (photos above).

Here is a list of the shops that I heart that I stumbled upon my week in London.
1) The Laden Showroom: 03 Brick Lane, London E1 6SE:
This place is amazing. 'Nuf said. It's supports and promotes multiple young, independent fashion designers, and it's affordable!

2) THE LAZY ONES, 102, Sclater st. E& 6HR London
This was my other favorite local designer shop that is so cheap for what you get. The label is called Des Moines, and it is very close to The Laden Showroom.

3) Luna & Curious: 198 Brick Lane E1
This shop is also very close to the two listed above. It is perfect to find unique jewelry and tea pots. They had wishbone necklaces, earrings made from beetle wings and paper eyelashes as you can see below.

4) Jessie and Buddug: 146 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
Now this one is difficult to find, because it is upstairs, above Marcus and Trump. and it is only opened on weekends. 
Otherwise, you must schedule an appointment, but it is defintiely worth it!!! It is the most adorable, whimsical shop I have seen. Go there on Sunday so you get the flower market and delcious hummus bagels as well on Columbia Rd.
I was on a mission to find the tea cup necklaces, because tea is my drug and these are too cute for words.
5) Paper Dress Vintage:114-116 Curtain Road London EC2A 3AH
Great vintage store with a little tea room and good cakes.
So, now you see why London is my fashion soulmate? I have many more, but I really must go pack my bags to head back to the USA! Toodle-loo!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Paris in the Springtime

Anna had never been to Paris before, and we only had one day to do everything. Therefore, I was "obliged" to give her un grand tour de Paris, if you will. Although I had been to these touristic spots before, nothing was the same. There was something brilliant to find in every corner. Paris never lets you down.
Among my favorite was this French couple in Montmartre, getting their portrait done for their 60th (ish) anniversary. It was ADORABLE. I couldn't have been happier at that moment, watching them.
Then we walked a little further and caught this beautiful Opera singer. Although snobby to admit, I haven't been impressed by many of the street preformers before in Paris, because I am spoiled living in Nashville. Yet this girl brought tears to my eyes.
And her friend had the most kick-ass shoes! She designed them herself on Nike's website (yes, I had to ask). They say right and left. Added to my Wishlisht!

In Montmartre, we climbed down the hill to find some grub and immediately came across Chicken Family. We bought a whole chicken (way too much) and some sides, walked to a neighborhood park and awkwardly chowed down like cavemen at a Southern Church picnic, while mothers watched their kids on the playground. Later, Anna found chicken skin in her new, fabulous ring from Esprit de Femme. DISGUSTING. My father responded to this news, "Yummy...chicken finger."

The picture below is from the park. Notice the building. It embodies the melange of old and new that Paris is all about.

My other favorite part of Paris was finally going to Laduree.It's a Parisian specialty where they have the best Macaroons. Mmmm, mmmm where they delicious, and gluten-free Anna was finally able to eat a delcious dessert from Paris!

"Make new friends/ But keep the old/ One is Silver/ The other gold"

When I was in Paris two weeks ago, I couldn't help but thinking about the song "Make New Friend (But Keep the Old)" that I learned in Girl Scouts, because I've been to Paris with both new and old friends within the last year.

Paris was my third destination on my trip with Anna (after Marseilles and Nice). Anna is the third "old" friend with whom I have experienced Paris since I have lived in France this year.

 (picture on the right taken in Le Louvre from Godard's La Bande a Part).

Anna and I have known each other since middle school, but we became good friends on Spring Break Senior year, when we shared a room in Destin, Florida at a house on the beach. The tan faded, but the friendship didn't. The picture below is of Anna in Paris at the Jardin des Tuileries.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The French Disconnection

I went to London for one week, and I suddenly feel like I've lost 2 months worth of progress in French. I don't even wanna know what it's gonna be like when I return to the USA.

Why can't I remember anything? Everything goes in one ear, out the other. Yesterday, I got a headache trying to speak to professors at the high school. It was just a week and half ago that I was in Nice, speaking quite often in French, albeit with many faults, but still speaking.

Learning a new language is so hard; you work and work, but it seems like you are back-peddling. Moreover, it can be lost so quickly if not immersed. I mean, I am learning French for goodness sake; it's not like it's Chinese!

I also feel like a hypocrite, teaching these kids English and trying to tell them to be relaxed, but if the tables turned on me, I would be panicking. I dodge and try to escape the situations ASAP when students ask me to speak French.
It's so frustrating!!!!
It makes me wanna howl at the moon....
Everybody keeps telling me:
(someday fluency will happen, that is)...and to chill. I do chill. I probably chill a little to much. The problem is, time is running out. I hope to come back next year!
I guess, if anything, my struggles in French have made me a lot more empathetic and patient with my students struggles in English. You've always gotta look on the bright side of life.

Nice and "Le Petit Prince"

 While in Nice, Anna and I stayed at a hostel (above) called Villa St. Exupery. Before I go any further, I must fawn over the hostel a little bit, because it was a so great, especially because of the friendly and helpful staff. Stay there if you ever go to Nice, France. The hostel is also named after this guy:
who wrote this book below (Le Petit Prince).
Coincidentally, I had just finished reading this book for the first time before I arrived. For about six years now, people have been recommending Le Petit Prince, but I always blew it off, thinking it as book for little ones. To the contrary, it was, in fact, intended for adults, but it pleases both big people and small people. The book was so profound that I think I have to read it a few more times to really let the ideas sink in.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."

"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, 'What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?' Instead, they demand: 'How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?' Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him."
In the French version, St. Exupery calls grown-ups "les grandes personnes." Here are ways that I did not act like une grand personne on my trip to Nice and Monaco.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Watching the ships roll in/ Then I watch 'em roll away again"

So, the next stop on my vacation with Anna was Nice, France and a little bit of Monaco.  Before I visited, I heard from many a friend that Nice was paradise. Do I agree after my short visit? Hmmm...let's just say I applied for a job there.

When we arrived on the pebble beach in Nice to soak up the sun, Anna said something to the effect of "What is it about the beach that makes everything in life seem four times better?" She also said something like, "If I am on, near or by the water, I am happy." I must say, I agree. Oh, boy do I agree, and technically, we were by the water our whole vacation: the Mediterranean, the Seine (although not swimming water) and the Thames river. There is something about the water that brings complete tranquility. I could go into the whole archetype-of-water argument or its symbolic, baptismal nature, but instead, I will just leave you will some collected photographs: a few from my time on the French Rivera and most from random swimming/ beach shots. Dive in with a Splish Splash.

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