Friday, August 31, 2007

J'Adore Paris

The new fall edition of the J. Crew catalogue has arrived. I can't stop staring at the pages, leafing through it again and again. It's not the clothes I'm crazy about per se (although there is one pair of boots I'm lusting after and an adorable pair of cords for my daughter). C'est tres facile. The models are all in Paris juxtapositioned in front of several Paris icons. Okay, I'll take the Eiffel Tower any day. But it is the bridges and old booksellers' stands along the Seine that make me truly long for another long weekend in Paris. J'arrive bientot!

Photo courtesy of J. Crew catalogue

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bali Lust

Well, she did it. She succeeded in causing extreme lust. Not the kind focused on a food. Or a man. Or a vice. The kind focused on a place -- a wonderful, mystical paradise otherwise known as Bali. I'm referring to Elizabeth Gilbert, the witty author of Eat, Pray, Love and her love affair with the small island nation. So, now I can't get Bali out of my mind. The rice paddies I overlooked the time I stayed at the Chedi in Ubud. The beach lounge chairs at Ku De Ta in Seminyak. Even the music that lilts through the tiny airport as you arrive.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Want to Go Here

I love the Travel and Leisure "It List" -- it inspires me to find some of the best places in the world to I'm always in search of "that place." Check these out...ahhhhh..need I say more?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Scarlett O'Hara's Mantra for Fire Island

It was a long, arduous journey. First, there was the treacherous ferry crossing off the island. Then, I was whisked by taxi to the airport for the flight. Then, in a sudden last minute decision, I hopped on public transportation (a bus), feeling proud of myself for helping cut greenhouse gas emissions and not spending the money for a taxi! I wasn't feeling so proud when the bus broke down on the side of the road -- then I was only thinking of how to flag a taxi on a major highway. Finally, after a 45 minute wait, I made it to the Metro....and landed in my office 30 minutes later. I knew I never should have left Fire Island, sniff, sniff. I'm back in the nation's capitol.....and it's rainy and dreary here.

As God as my witness, I will go back!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Own Eat, Pray, Love Odyssey

Okay, I know Elizabeth Gilbert's book has probably been overexposed -- Eat, Pray, Love. But it's my beach read for this last "official" week of vacation. I find some odd personal parallels between our lives and search for "something," granted my personal travel odyssey after I left Croatia was Paris, East Timor and Vietnam. Not exactly Italy, India, Indonesia but I was definitely in search of some peace of mind, not too mention fine French food and an effort to master the French language once and for all. I also didn't do much meditating during my 6-week solo adventure through Vietnam by boat, bus, plane and train...but I did do lots of thinking, sometimes too much, about what was awaiting me after 5 years of living abroad and returning to Washington, D.C. She's a witty, sometimes quirky writer....and now I'm off to explore Indonesia with her today.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Friend Jo...Malone

I have a new best friend forever (BFF), Jo. Jo Malone to be exact....okay, so she comes in a bottle with a pump. But I can't get enough of her scents. I love the grapefruit body oil -- it's perfect after a long shower just off the beach. I had some scent, oops, I mean sent up here last week from Saks....gotta love good ol' UPS when you are here on Fire Island, without access to such luxurious products. That's unless you consider Aloe Vera gel and Avon Skin So Soft to be luxurious, of course. I figure since I'm officially on vacation, I can indulge a bit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fire Island Cocktails

Well, it's been over two weeks here - glorious sun, blue skies, emerald green waves and lazy afternoons. I'm convinced that all Americans should be required to take at least 2 weeks of vacation -- sort of the like the French. Oh, that's right -- they have a minimum of five weeks paid leave. But, I digress. Every day here has been magical, surrounded by family and friends, some of whom have never visited before. They are amazed by the easy pace, lack of cars, lack of hustle and bustle...and the wonders of sleep induced by the ocean breeze at night.

This week, I have perfected my signature "island cocktail," subjecting my husband and a guest to my experimental 2nd batch! Grapefruit vodka, topped off with grapefruit juice and sugar, shaken in a martini shaker and poured over ice and mint. I top it off with a fresh lemon.

Cocktail hour is overdue. Gotta run.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Simpler Things in Life

Last week, I bought these beautiful, colorful tomatoes at the market. Don't they just remind you of everything that's good about summer? Fresh tomatoes with pepper? Vanilla ice cream just before bed? The slight sting of too much sun?Corn on the cob dripping with butter? A cold beer after coming off the beach? Burgers off the grill? Sand between your toes? Salty skin after a day at the beach, riding waves?
That too tired feeling that comes at night after a long day of doing nothing at the beach?
Life here for the past few weeks has been that simple -- no deadlines, no watches, no alarms and practically no e-mail. There have been days when I don't check my voicemail 'til right before bed and instead try to focus on the here and now.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

How Do Those French Women Do It?

I've been thinking a lot these past 2 weeks of vacation about French women. You know, the kind that are always dressed perfectly, entertain perfectly, and eat perfectly. They don't seem to have weight problems the same way that American women do. And so, I've been wondering...if I eat the homemade ice cream I've just made, gorge myself on blueberry jam, continue drinking red wine each night at sundown and generally, engage in vacation eating habits...can I possibly look like a French woman? The bestseller, French Women Don't Get Fat, chronicled some of these mysteries -- it's sitting on my living room table at home. I think that will be my next beach read now that I'm halfway done with Eat, Pray, Love and the The Perfect Stranger. In the meantime, I'm going to indulge in a nice French Pan Bagnat for lunch.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Croatian Dreaming

A few months ago, you may recall that I posted about my good friends who have been delaying their wedding for months -- well, in fact, years. He is an American living in Zagreb and she is a lovely woman born and raised there. They've been together many years but a series of events, including the formation of their own business, has delayed the wedding time and time again. They attended our wedding in Italy a few years back and I've been friends with them both since the days when I lived in Croatia. There have been rumors of weddings taking place before but this time they have finally decided on a location, the date, the food menu and even "hired" her assistant to help with the planning. So, they will be married on September 22nd in a beautiful town near Pula and I'm already longing to go. Problem is that the flights are outrageously expensive now.

But I am already dreaming of where we will stay -- Villa Astra along the coast in Lovran. It's a lovely villa that I visited in May. My husband, daughter and I sat outside near the pool, with a warm ocean breeze and got to know the owner over a glass of wine. He struggled mightily with the bureaucracy and Communists to buy the 7-room facility, which is now amazingly situated in a flowering garden with views of the Adriatic. It was once the summer home to Austrian-Hapsburg royalty and you can almost hear the sounds of violins and piano melodies when you walk through its high-ceilinged salons.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pass the Jam, Please

Pass the jam, please. The homemade blueberry jam, that is. Yes, I've elevated myself to the likes of Martha Stewart here on Fire Island (well, if you can imagine Martha Stewart in a polka dot bikini, that is) -- picking bowls and bowls of blueberries from the wild bushes that grow in our yard and whipping up a batch of blueberry jam yesterday. This morning, I opened the container in anticipation. Toasted my bread. Spread it with butter. Spooned on the jam. And alas, it was yummy. Very yummy. Life slows down here so much that I have time to read recipes, think about what's for dinner, run to the corner market several times and try out all sorts of new delicacies.
* Photo courtesy of

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Fire Island Decorating 101

We've been in this house for five years on Fire Island -- a true work in progress. It's customary to pass houses down from generation to generation, and all the contents in them. So when we bought this house, we also got the furniture (including a great wrought iron bed I found in the attic), the linens, the china, the lamps and the rugs. It's taken me a long time to weed out the good from the bad, put a fresh coat of Antique White paint on the furniture and fill it with our family treasures -- photos, shells found on the beach, books and music. I've also recently splurged on a love seat, having fallen in love with the hot pink Robert Allen fabric on a trip to Massachusetts last summer. These photos are some of my inspirations.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Summer Breeze Makes me Feel Fine

It just take a few hours around here and suddenly one doesn't need much...a swimsuit...a little sunscreen...and a cold drink. Ah, life is good. Throw in a lounge chair, a few pillows and a cushy towel and life is even better. While we usually lounge at the beach, our deck has been shaping up the last few seasons here on Fire Island with great loungers, a few lanterns for evening and some new cushy beach towels....

Beautiful Beach...

I'm finally here..D.C. National to a waiting the ferry (one minute to spare)! But it was worth it all as hot weather, warm ocean breezes and a beautiful blue ocean awaited. I cherish these days on the island, sand under my toes, fresh blueberries off of the bushes that grow wild in our yard and no schedule, other than the tide. Happy hour usually begins after a long day at the beach...a cosmopolitan prepared by my husband's aunt. And then we relax some more. There's no fuss to Fire Island, often referred to as the anti-Hamptons so I wouldn't likely wear these wonderful Trina Turk numbers...but then again, they certainly are tempting.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hot, so Hot, Summer in Hvar

It's 95 and humid here today. It's hooooooooooooot. Reminds me of that summer. That summer on Hvar, the beautiful, tiny island off the coast of Croatia which is dotted with pine trees, lavender plants, beautiful beaches and beautiful people. The local legend is that it never rains there -- and one hotel advertises that they will reimburse you for the cost of your room if it does (knowing the Croatians as I do, I highly doubt it but the thought is nice). We had arrived by sailboat, sailing with two of my good friends from the States for over a week. We stayed in a small pension overlooking the city -- no air-conditioning, of course, but amazing views of the city harbor. And then due to the scorching heat, the water got diverted to a forest fire. So that night we "showered" with bottled water, headed into town for cocktails and sweated along with all of the beautiful Italians on holiday. Ah, summer on Hvar.