a simple elegance

July 02, 2015

TRAVEL DIARIES // GENEVA


of all of the cities we went to on our little adventure this past spring, geneva was probably the shortest stop, which is a shame because it is an absolutely gorgeous place. we arrived at about 9 o'clock in the morning feeling like it should have been 3 am. I thought it was always just something people talked about in movies before I moved to the caribbean, but jet lag is a very real thing. so please pardon our vacant facial expressions and squinty eyes throughout this camera roll. and just another little disclaimer, we are wearing the same clothes we wore in new york. it's gross, but we didn't get to our hotel until that afternoon when we arrived in lucerne. so for this post, we are outfit repeaters. okay, let's talk geneva.

our first observation was that everyone we saw in geneva was so smartly dressed. the beautiful girls in trench coats and ballet flats and button-down shirts with impeccable topknots. the men in trench coats and loafers and well-fitting suits. it stunned us at first and then we realized that we had been living on a caribbean island for the last 16 months and there, we consider donning shorts and a tee shirt being ready for the day. there is seriously so much to be learned from the swiss. their outfit choices are just the beginning. have I mentioned how excited I am to get home and do some shopping?

^^ on the train from the airport to old town geneva. see what I mean about vacant and squinty? ^^





not that we needed it after eating for four straight hours on the plane (and then they get another quick meal in before you land), but we stopped in for some sustenance by way of macarons. I'm a sucker for a macaron and how could we not stop for some in a city so inherently french. then we stopped in at the cutest, most amazing, most entrancing, more adorable (you get the point) bookstore ever and I didn't take any pictures because I was already kind of feeling like the underdressed dirty american that only speaks english, and didn't want to draw anymore attention to myself. but they had the most charming, yet still educational, toys for children and I pretty much already furnished my far distant future nursery. looks like I'll just have to head back to geneva when the time comes to pick it all up.




we made our way through old town geneva, not really knowing where we were going but enjoying the clean morning air and the long-since-needed time together. mitch was operating the dslr for most of this little jaunt and because we were as tired as I said we were, most of the pictures turned out blue. he is, by far and away, a much better photographer than I am in all honesty and I suppose I could have changed the color cast, but I feel like the blueish hue sort of denotes how crisp and cool the air was that morning. and then, as the sun got higher in the sky, the colors sort of evened out.








during our morning meander, we happened upon this beautiful old cathedral. mitch has lived in europe before and so he (as well as all of you other euro-dwellers) has stumbled upon these as part of everyday life. but for a girl who has never been to a real honest-to-goodness european cathedral, it was one of those take-your-breath away experiences. amidst all of the hustle and bustle of people getting to work, this space was quiet. there were still people perched against the pillars of the buildings or relaxing on park benches just enjoying that dim early morning sunlight and whatever they were reading, but it was one of those moments that you sort of look around and think maybe you're doing life all wrong? maybe you need to take moments like these to sit and relax and enjoy without worrying about what may come next. we spent a fair amount of time here and then moved on to get lost in another little neighborhood. 






 ^^ that's the dream, isn't it? ^^




  


admittedly, there's a lot I don't remember about geneva. I remember I loved it and I remember talking to mitch about how we wished our everyday life could be like that all the time. I remember looking out over those charming little townhouses above and picking one out that would be ours and mitch and I sort of dreamed up this alternate little life where we were swiss and had jobs and went to little cafes in the mornings before work. and I remember being sleepy despite sleeping so very comfortably on the plane ride over. and I remember boarding, and almost being late for, our train to lucerne. and then the sweet husband that I have let me pass out in his lap for almost the entire ride only waking me periodically for views and vistas of farms and cows and cottages that he knew I would not want to miss. and when I officially woke, we were in lucerne.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful week. it's fourth of july week in the states right now and that is always something I hate to miss. it's always a shame to forego a night of bonfires and hot dogs and sparklers and pie. thankfully, this is probably the last year I'll have to miss out. for a while anyway. have a wonderful day and thanks for reading!

love, arielle


June 29, 2015

A NETFLIX-FREE WEEKEND


it was the middle of last week when I realized I was watching way too many hours of netflix. it didn't quite hit me until I realized that I was maneuvering from room to room, cleaning the house, hauling my laptop along with me, never breaking pace. as if it was a fifth appendage or something. after this realization, I went through the five stages of acceptance like any normal person and finally came to the conclusion that I needed (at least) a couple of days away from netflix, hulu, movies, and the like. not only did I get all of that life laundry (and actual laundry) in order, I was able to spend an entire day out of the apartment--walking amongst the herbs and the blooms at probably the biggest garden center on the island; perusing dutch cheeses with friends (and putting a smallish dent in my pocketbook because I couldn't leave all that cheese there, now could I?); lunching outdoors with a beautiful apple and turkey salad; and painting some high- and low-lights into the hair of my latest painting. there were a few more humdrum moments this weekend, too. moments like finding a new cd I can't live without and writing a few blogposts for later this week and reading a chunk of the book I've been reading. all in all, it was a very successful, netflix-free weekend.

^^ grass shoes. totally en vogue. ^^

something I've missed since being on this island is the feel of farm-fresh wide open spaces. that feeling of being outside and watching things grow instills this sense of awe and wonder in me and I've missed that because there isn't a ton of that here. however, during this past weekend, a couple of friends and I headed way down to the other side of the island to get some fresh air and to maybe stock up on a few herbs that our own balcony gardens had been missing. in the end, I actually refrained from buying anything after realizing I wouldn't be here long enough to see them meet their full potential. crazy, isn't it? I wish I had found this place a little sooner seeing as my parsley is being stubborn and they have pregrown parsley plants. 

^^ the cheese tasting guy was very kind to us and we left with a bit of a cheese buzz, if that's possible. ^^

I didn't know how much I loved cheese until we left the garden center and headed to this specialty cheese store nearby. I never much cared for soft cheeses like brie and camembert, which I realize makes me enemy number one to most of you, so it's a good thing this particular cheese store specializes in gouda. so much gouda. gouda with red peppers in it. truffle gouda. gouda with black pepper, which was my absolute favorite (the manchego, which is not gouda coming in at a very close second). I don't think I've ever spent that much on cheese all by itself, but I also don't know how I'll ever be able to go back to the prepackaged cheese you buy at the grocery store, either. I think that's one of those growing-up-taste-buds-maturing things that are never good for your bank account.


and then all of that cheese tasting made us hungry. and because we'd just eaten about a pound of cheese (I'm exaggerating for effect here) and because I had those fancy donuts that I talked on and on about for breakfast, we headed to our favorite salad place because vegetables are important if cheese is going to be the main staple of your diet. 

^^ just a random, pretty staircase I loved. ^^

the rest of my weekend consisted of getting nine-tenths of the way done on my latest painting, as well as making a heaping batch of buns that I had forgotten to half the recipe until I was most of the way through.  and even though there were those definitive moments where I thought a rerun of gilmore girls would go nicely for background noise, this netflix-free weekend was so productive and, dare I say, fun that I didn't really miss it that much. that's not to say I won't be watching the bachelorette this week, though. that girl has certainly been making a mess of things, hasn't she?

love, arielle


June 26, 2015

TEN SIMPLE THINGS || AU REVOIR PETITE BLEU


I can hardly believe how fast the days till we leave the island are ticking by. I mean, yes, I have a countdown on my phone and I'm excited to be that much closer to family, but I'm starting to get graduation goggles. this week I realized how much my life and my expectation of life has changed since I've lived here on this little caribbean island. I eat different. I shop different. I drive different. and speaking of driving, we sold our trusty little blue this week to a very nice french couple on the other side of the island. it was a bittersweet goodbye and I was surprised I didn't break down into a fit of tears right there in the middle of the crowded parking lot. I think mitch was a little surprised at how emotional I was, and that's when I realized it was my own fault. see, I sort of turned my car into a puppy. I would always say things to him, like, 'little blue, you're hungry. let's go fill you up.' and 'good job, little blue!' after he hauled us up a hilly road. or 'we're just taking you to a doctor to get your oil changed. you'll be out in a jiff.' and I realize that all of this makes me certifiably insane, but you see what I mean when I said I turned my car into a puppy. I treated him like a member of the family and it made it all the more difficult to say goodbye to him. now, on to the more happy making parts of this week.

one :: the relief of selling little blue. we were both a little worried that we'd leave here before selling him and it was stressing us both out quite a bit. and it didn't really seem possible to ship him home what with winter just around the corner. he's just a little island car, after all.

two :: finishing some of the books that I've started and never finished. mind you, I still have a ways to go, but I call it progress nonetheless and I am very excited to start something new.

three :: planning a trip to utah to see those darling little nieces and nephew of mine. I wasn't planning on making another trip to the states before our final departure in august, but my sister made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

four :: picking up french again. there was a moment the other day when it seemed everyone else in the room knew french apart from myself. I was a little disappointed in myself seeing as I was trying to pick up french a year ago, but got so far as making things plural and backed out. so this week, I spent a solid couple of hours one day relearning all of the really easy things I had already learned. seriously such a humbling experience.

five :: the little green bean plant that could. about two weeks ago, I planted him in a pot that is way too small for him (retrospectively speaking) and he just kind of shot out of nowhere. my parsley on the hand...tisk tisk.

six :: a salad so appropriate for summer you'd think it was a fourth of july delicacy all it's own. take a bed of romaine and spinach, top it with nectarines, prosciutto, a soft boiled egg, and a little red wine vinaigrette and you've got yourself one filling summery salad. even mitch said he was full.

seven :: the feeling of clean carpets. our vacuum had decided to go on strike this past couple weeks and it finally occurred to me to borrow a friend's. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to see those perfect zigzags engraved into the carpeting. my ocd was very pleased.

eight :: actually sticking to my running schedule. when I work during the week, I typically come up with other things to do with my mornings other than run (like sleep), which is not so good since I'll be running my first marathon is just under 12 weeks. but this week, I actually pulled myself out of bed and walked myself all the way down to the gym for numerous miles of running.

nine :: working as much as I am. during the busier weeks, I forget that working is a privilege. and boy, am I grateful for it. it has made our lives so much easier, less stressful, and on top of all of that, it has given me something to do.

ten :: just about the best french bakery you've ever tasted whilst not actually being in france. my friend, joanna, and I sort of found it by accident after discovering our new favorite grocery store over on the french side of our island, and they happen to make the best donuts! these donuts have been haunting my dreams ever since and I don't know how any other donut will ever compare. how am I going to leave this island if it means leaving these donuts behind? I'll have to work something out where they express me the donuts once a week or something. I'd pay extra for that. they're worth it.

this weekend will most likely consist of more running, more planting, and more painting. and mitch will do a whole lot more studying seeing as one of his biggest tests ever is on monday. keep your fingers crossed for us. or I might be too depressed to write next week's 'ten simple things.' au revoir!

love, arielle

June 19, 2015

TEN SIMPLE THINGS || EARLY MORNINGS


this past two weeks have gone by so fast! I can't believe we're already looking at the backend of this week. it's been full of beach mongering and interesting kitchen experiments and getting baking cacao all over the floor and then stepping in it and then tracking it throughout the entire downstairs and then having to mop it all up whilst getting dinner ready. yep, we keep it real in this house. in other news, mitch has been studying nonstop and I've woken up at six every day this week for work, which feels very productive but kind of alien since I usually don't roll out of bed until at least 7:30. thankfully, the sun has been waking up earlier and earlier, so it doesn't feel quite so ungodly and I can finally understand some people's fixation on beginning their day so early in the morning. it's quite a peaceful feeling to look out over our lagoon and see a perfect reflection of the mountains behind it because no one is awake to mess it up yet. the one downside is that I'm all ready for bed around 8 in the evening and am, therefore, writing this week's 'grateful' list with bleary eyes. let's have a look, shall we?

one :: cooking with fresh basil from my basil plant I've been nurturing for the last three weeks or so (the one before died during our europe trip). and I have to say, I am never buying dried herbs again! it even smells amazing. I want to wear it as a perfume. eau de basilica. 

two :: dirty diet cokes--a mixture of diet coke, coconut syrup, and a couple limes. it's perfect for cooling down these crazy humid and tropical afternoons.

three :: shops that do a one-for-one exchange from dollars to euros. it makes shopping easier and not so mathematical.

four :: receiving our utility bill to find that we came in under budget despite the fact we "accidentally" left the air cool on all night multiple nights this month.

five :: the lack of traffic on the island since all the tourists left for the summer. it used to take me a whole day to complete all of my errands, but not this week. no traffic, no lines. it felt so vip.

six :: that freshly washed hair feeling. there's just something about clean hair that makes me feel so incredibly feminine even though I get that it's one of those basic hygiene things. 

seven :: eating brownies for dinner. I feel like that's the best part of being an adult--that I can eat whatever I want and there's no one to stop me. so thursday night's dinner consisted of brownie batter followed by cooked brownies followed by a wee bit of the gristliest chicken I've ever eaten in my life.

eight :: writing on this little space again. as I've been writing this week, it makes me think of all the things I should have written about when they happened just so that I could have had it for my own memories. for instance, I changed grocery stores while I was away and I wish I could remember exactly how I felt about that at the time, you know?

nine :: a balanced budget. I was terribly behind with that nuisance and so it took much longer than it should have, but it was so relieving to look at that pile of receipts and think, 'I don't really need those anymore...'

ten :: beginning to make plans for the future. mitch and I are at that point now (less than 60 days!) that we can see the light at the end of the palm tree lined tunnel and it's been fun to make a few plans here and there to remind us that life goes on.

this weekend, mitch will continue his everlasting bout of studying and I'm thinking I'll take a painting class. I took one a week or so ago and even though I'm terrible and my creation looked nothing like the sample, it was weirdly therapeutic. what about you guys? up to anything exciting this weekend?

love, arielle

June 16, 2015

TRAVEL DIARIES // WELCOME TO NEW YORK


I don't know what it is with me and the top-40 song titles this week. first kelly clarkson, now t. swift. but in today's case, welcome to new york actually was one of the inspirations behind mitch and I visiting new york this past month. that and the fact we had a 25-hour layover there. okay, so it was more the latter than the former, but it was the former that got me pumped and it was all mitch could do to keep me from belting the chorus and pumping my fists in the air as we were scoping the city from our window. it really does look like it's been waiting for us, doesn't it?

first thing after arriving in the city was food, which led us to our clandestine meet up with shake shack. there wasn't even a line (the first time)! and all of you burger die-hards aren't going to want to believe this, but it really does one-up five guys any day. I think it's the whole crazy-milkshake-flavor thing because they really will put anything in a vat of milk and sugar, that's for sure. but we tried oatmeal creme pie and it was surprisingly delightful. we don't even like oatmeal creme pies. so why are there no pictures, you ask? because after I fly, I suffer from food deficit disorder and would probably have eaten iphone if I'd pulled it out of my pocket at that moment. but seriously.

and sorry. one more thing before we move on. our hotel. all the pictures of our hotel were on mitch's iphone and he's studying so there's no bothering him today, but it was probably the saddest, best bang-for-your-buck you ever saw. we stayed in union square since that was a stone's throw away from the train station. and although it was totally within our price range for rooms that had their own bathroom, it was really more rent than gossip girl, if you know what I mean. but we were in luck because we came out of it bedbug free. hashtag, win. moving right along.


I don't know what we were thinking but we spent a stupid amount of time in times square. maybe it's because we were still so high after shake shack, but an hour max is all we should have needed. and the worst part about times square is that there's no pretending that you're a local because no locals would be caught dead in times square. trust me, I asked my friend from queens. she endorses this statement.

but with the help of google maps, a second wind, and a surge of adventurous spirit, we headed east (I'm seriously just guessing here?) and ended up at rockefeller center. mitch and I didn't know the importance of rockefeller center but I knew that was where the ice skating was and mitch knew that was where the legos were. to his dismay, we showed up and they had already closed up shop. it was like, why did we even leave the house this morning?! you know? we didn't skate, but we did window shop and I came to realize that our kids are going to have a lot of legos, and then we took pretty, ethereal looking pictures and came across a bunch of rubber duckies and if a new yorker wouldn't mind enlightening me, what are those about anyway? I dared mitch to touch one because we're five and unsupervised and he did and then I made him sanitize his hands before reholding mine because, I mean, germs!


total fangirl moment right here. is it terribly pathetic that when I walked in grand central I didn't take in the gorgeous architecture, but I was all 'serena van der woodsen was like, right there.' I'm pretty sure I drove mitch nuts with all my gossip girl and how I met your mother fun facts, but I think it added a little something extra to his new york experience, agreed?


and then we paid way more than I care to admit (think upwards of $50) to visit the top of the empire state building. I'm pretty sure anyone who's seen sleepless in seattle would agree that a kiss at the top of that iconic building is probably somewhere on their bucket list. except the sad part is, it wasn't even really the top! to get to the very top would have cost us like over $100 and I decided this counted. and it totally did. my ever-frugal husband even said it was worth it. the panoramic view of the city from that height is the only way to see new york. no crowds. and even though it was dark and windy as all get out, we still got a picture. because 'if you didn't get a picture than it didn't happen.' bucket list rules.


my poor husband. to make the most of our 25-hour layover and our 22 hours in the city, I may have woken him up kind of early thinking we'd get a head start on our day. and before we go on, I'd just like to mention that if it hadn't been for the the guy puking in the alley outside our window (like I said, we stayed in a real classy part of town), I probably would have snoozed through the alarm, as well. thanks, puker. to whoever and wherever you are, your assumed but undoubted debauchery really saved our trip.

anyway, back to business. we got up all early and stuff and I even skipped on doing my hair because I was so excited to get out and about just to discover that new yorkers don't seem to get up any earlier than anyone else. unless, of course, they're walking their dog or going for their morning run. so we bought our subway tickets and moved on up to central park. and even though I was feeling a little out of sorts about everything being closed and the bagel shop I  had wanted to go being too far out of the way (it was listed on buzzfeed among the best in the city), central park in the early morning could not have been more perfect. all the cherry blossoms were blossoming and the sun was shining without being too hot and there were perfectly good bagels at all the random street vendors we passed on the way there. but as I had bagel crumbs falling in my lap, I had to reassess my way of life because everyone else in the park was so active. walking dogs, running, riding bikes in their individual pelotons. and so we went and rented bikes. 'cause I was feeling like a fatty.

^^ balto. mitch's childhood hero. we had to make sure we found this statue. ^^

so this is going to seem really off-subject, but I promise to segue back to our new york adventure afterward. last summer I had a really unfortunate mountain biking experience. if you're really good at mountain biking, I envy you. but I also gawk at you because it's lost on me how bumping along every little rock whilst riding down a mountain can be fun. I tried it. I even got pictures for bucket list posterity. but it really set me off the bicycle. however, I'm happy to report that riding a bike in central park is nothing like flinging yourself off a rocky cliff at twenty mph and scraping your hands and knees and any other exposed skin in the process (though, I don't think I ever got my speed up that high). in fact, a bicycle is the only way I recommend seeing central park if you're pushing it for time. we probably made it halfway through the park before it was time to turn around and we would have made it further, too, if it hadn't been for the necessity to stop and take pictures. which is mostly my fault because I couldn't get enough of the cherry blossoms. I think I had fifty photos starring the cherry blossom littering my camera roll.


^^ look what we ran into as we were pioneering up to a glorified hot dog stand! ^^

and with this charming little map that my friend, joanna, drew me, we navigated our way up to 70th-something street for our first experience at gray's papaya where we feasted for $10. it wasn't anything fancy and there's nowhere to sit (a seat was something we were in desperate need of after that walk) but those hot dogs tasted like more than just hot dogs. perhaps that's why they placed it so far out of the way. so that people were extra hungry once they finally got there. or perhaps they're just surprisingly good hunks of meat wedged between a plain ol' bun. 

 

and then, because I'd hit my daily hot dog allowance, I had to counteract it with some mango. we stopped at a trader joe's along the way and then hunkered down in the grass at sheep's meadow to go through pictures and relax. silly how we reminisce before the experience is even over, isn't it? and then that warm-but-not-too-warm sunny day dissipated into an ominous gloom and we half-hurried, half-moseyed to the nearest subway terminal where we accidentally became bronx-bound and had to turn around a board another train that took us back to the airport to catch our ride to geneva.

^^ our in-flight menu. ^^

if you saw that we rode global first to geneva on instagram, then I'm sure it all crossed your minds how we could afford that on a medical student's salary (which is negative dollars, in case you were wondering). a fair question. and the answer is... we didn't. because we couldn't. we just got really lucky in that my dad has some sweet airline connections. all in all, airfare was the cheapest part of our trip because it was free. but it was also a super cool experience. it's suppose to be like how it was when flying was a five-star experience rather than the dread-and-anxiety-producing experience that it is today. you're in these private little pods and I forget how many courses we ate, but there were a lot of them and the flight attendants just keep bringing you food until you tell them to stop. the chairs fold down into beds and the flight attendants come and turn them down for you to make them all comfy and sleep-worthy. and as comical as it is, my favorite part was getting up to go pee whenever I wanted without disturbing the person sitting in the aisle seat. and I never had to wait for the bathroom because you only share it with two other people. strange, but it's the little things. needless to say, first class gets a huge stamp of approval in my book.

whoa that was a winded post! I apologize. even my fingers are exhausted. how are your eyes? admittedly, I need to work on being more concise, but that means thinking more concisely and that is just not going to happen. hopefully, it wasn't a total bore. keep checking back for (undoubtedly) more winded posts regarding the rest of our trip. next stop, geneva. have a great day and thanks for reading!

love, arielle