Japan in Boston, Review, Sightseeing, Travel

Finding Japan in Boston: Japanese Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts

We’ve visited several places in Boston inspired by France, Italy, and Venice, but today we’re going to find inspiration from a country in a completely different continent – Japan!

While it’s easy to find European-inspiration in Boston, it’s more difficult to locate places that have the unique architecture and serene and peaceful surroundings that Japan is known for.

However, I found a place where visitors to Boston can escape to when they want a reprieve from the hurried nature of the city.

Japanese Garden at Museum of Fine Arts

Best of all, no admission ticket is needed, so it’s free! That’s right, you can potentially visit every day that it’s open if you want. However, it does close at the beginning of fall and reopens in the spring.

Luckily, we’re here when it’s open. Let’s go see it!

Continue reading “Finding Japan in Boston: Japanese Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts”

Restaurants, Review, Travel

Review: Best places to get lobster in Boston

One of my favorite foods is lobster, and living in New England luckily means lobster is available pretty much year-round. However, all lobster places are not created equal. Since lobster is ubiquitous in Boston, there are numerous places to choose from, but where’s the best place in Boston to get lobster? I’m here to help!

To me, there are two options for eating lobster at restaurants: the “fast food” option and the sit-down restaurant option. Here’s my opinion on the best lobster for both! For standardization, I’m basing my opinions on their lobster rolls since they are quintessentially Boston.

Barking Crab Lobster Boston

Continue reading “Review: Best places to get lobster in Boston”

Restaurants, Review, Travel

Best happy hour oysters deal in Boston

Just like lobster, oysters in Boston seem ubiquitous. When you can find them at many seafood restaurants and steakhouses, it’s difficult to know where to start when you want some delicious, fresh oysters, especially when you have a budget.

The best place to start looking? Boston’s Happy Hour specials. Walking around Boston after 5:00pm on a weekday is the ideal place to spot excellent Happy Hour Deals.

It just so happened that when my friend and I met up for dinner at Liquid Art House, there was a sign advertising $1 oysters at Smith & Wollensky, which was right across the street. It sounded too good to pass up so we decided to start off dinner with this fantastic oyster deal!

Smith & Wollensky Best Oysters Deal Boston

Smith & Wollensky in Back Bay is hard to miss, as to me it looks like it’s a castle straight out of the UK (well, a mini castle). As someone who loves the UK, the architecture immediately spoke to me.

I’ve had steak here during Restaurant Week a few years ago, and I still think nothing beats Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for steaks. However, after our $1 oyster deal here, I have to say that nothing beats them for their Happy Hour oyster deal!

Smith & Wollensky Best Oysters Deal Boston
Image from Smith & Wollensky

Continue reading “Best happy hour oysters deal in Boston”

Moving to Another Country, Review

Review: Top 10 books about moving to Paris

One of my guilty pleasures is reading travelogues about the adventures of people who have moved to Paris or moved to another country and bought an old house that they’ve renovated and now live happily as an ex-pat. Really, this is my dream!

pexels-photo-850453.jpeg

Of course, the most famous memoir about moving to Paris is Julia Child’s My Life in France which is such a vivid book. I suppose she was one of the first to document her acclimation to Paris, and it’s definitely one of the best. The delightful movie Julie & Julia adapted Julia Child’s book and they did such a lovely job.

Since her book, there has been an influx of people who have written about their move to Paris and all the struggles and adjustments that go along with it. I have no plans to move to Paris or France (yet!), so reading these books lets me live vicariously through the authors and gives me some tips on what to do and what not to do if I even get the opportunity to live in Paris.

Here are my Top 10 autobiographies about moving to Paris, starting with my favorite book about moving to Paris!

Caution: make sure you read these books on a full stomach or with plans to eat a delicious meal afterwards, as many of them describe the food in Paris in great detail and even include recipes!

1.) Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas

Paris My Sweet Best Book Moving to Paris

This book is my favorite autobiography about moving to Paris because it makes moving to Paris seem like a fairy-tale. It incorporates Paris and finding the best places for chocolate, pastries, and other delicious delicacies. It’s basically a very immersive Parisian patisserie tour, and it’s perfect!

The author was offered an opportunity to work at her job’s Paris office for over a year (writing copy for Louis Vuitton!!) and she of course jumped at this chance. While living in New York, she enjoyed finding the best places for cupcakes and other sweets. When she moved to Paris, she continued her love of sweets and strove to find the best bonbons, cakes, hot cocoa,  cookies, and other yummy treats. The reader goes along with her for the ride, but make sure you have plenty of French macarons and chocolate mousse nearby or you’ll be salivating while reading this book!

2) Tout Sweet Series by Karen Wheeler

Tout Suite Best Book Moving to Paris

This series technically isn’t about moving to Paris, but rural central western France; however, it’s one of my favorite series so I had to include it. It’s also written by a writer who works in fashion, but the author moves to France from London. She buys a house on her own in a small village after wanting a change in her life and she chronicles her renovation of an old house. Her books are very funny and her stories about her village and her neighbors really made me feel like I was right there.

3) Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating Best Book Moving to Paris

This is the book that made me think I should marry a diplomat so that I might have a chance to live in Paris as well! The author moves to Paris because of her husband’s job and is often on her own in one of the best cities in the world. Her circumstances are similar to Julia Child’s, and just like Julia the author finds comfort in the joy of French food. Therefore, the title of her book is no coincidence, as it’s similar to Julia Child’s famous book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Like Julia, the author aims to teach the reader a bit about French food and its origins, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

4) The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz

Sweet Life in Paris Best Book Moving to Paris

David Lebovitz has written multiple books about his life in Paris, but this one is my favorite. How can it not be, when the author is a pastry chef and this book combines his love of pastries and witty musings on daily life in Paris!

Of the other books on this list, this is the one book that’s written by someone who lived in Paris for years, so he provides a really detailed account of not only what it’s really like to live in Paris, but also rules in Paris that confound him. It’s a nice change to read about how things are different there, and sometimes not for the better, from someone who takes it all in with good humor.

5) Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love, and Recipes by Kristen Beddard

Bonjour Kale Best Book Moving to Paris

This is a more recent book, published in 2016. The author moves to Paris with her new husband and finds that Paris is lacking one of her favorite foods – kale! In fact, most Parisians do not know what she is talking about when she tried to find it in Paris. From then on, she finds a purpose and makes it her goal to bring kale to Paris. As someone who loves research and Paris, it’s a fascinating read to discover the process of what it takes to bring an elusive food into Paris.

6) Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod

Paris Letters Best Book Moving to Paris

I loved this book because the author writes about deciding to quit her job and actually planning out how to logically make it happen! She lists the steps she took to save enough money over two years to quit her job and live in Paris. In Paris, she discovers she can earn money using her love and talent for art and painting. This is a really uplifting memoir that encourages us to follow our dreams, and when we do, sometimes things will fall into place.

7) My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home by Lisa Anselmo

My (Part-Time) Paris Life Best Book Moving to Paris

This is another book where the author quit her job to follow her dreams, but she now splits her time living in New York and Paris. Although her reasons for moving to Paris are sad, her journey of figuring out how to find a sense of self in Paris was very moving. Before living to Paris, she had traveled there frequently over ten years, so she provides excellent insight on the differences between being a tourist in Paris and being an expat. It’s also interesting to read about someone who lives part-time in two different countries!

8) Inspired by Paris: Why Borrowing from the French Is Better Than Being French by Jordan Phillips

Inspired by Paris: Why Borrowing from the French Is Better Than Being French Best Book Moving to Paris

This book is a collection of essays based upon the author’s life and experiences in Paris. She moved to Paris from California with her husband, and in this book she provides insights into everyday life in Paris, how it compares to other countries, debunks myths, and incorporates a lot of history about the French mentality. If you want to learn more about the difference between the way Americans and Parisians think, this book is a must!

9) Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France Best Book Moving to Paris

This book is so informative, especially if you’re thinking about working or opening a business in Paris. The author discusses all the red tape he had to go through to open an American diner in Paris, and what it’s like opening a business from scratch with no background in business or management at all. Who knew that it is virtually impossible for managers to fire employees in Paris (and most likely France)? Frankly, it sounds so complicated and frustrating that it’s amazing that he persevered! I want to check out his restaurant the next time I’m in Paris!

10) Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

ParisToTheMoon

This book is the least recent of my Top 10, but it’s probably one of the most popular. I was reading this on the train a few years ago and looked up to see someone else reading the exact same book! It really was so random since this book was published in 2001.

It’s no surprise that this book is well-written as the author is a writer for the New Yorker. One main difference between this book and the others on this Top 10 list is that he discusses what it’s like to raise a young child in Paris. It’s charmingly written and offers lots of details into being an expat in Paris.

I hope you found this list helpful in finding your next book to read about Paris! I enjoyed going through my Kindle and choosing my favorite books about moving to Paris. Hey, maybe in the future I’ll write one of my own!

Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on this list or if I left out a book that you loved! Happy reading!

Here’s the complete Top 10 list:

1.) Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas

2) Tout Sweet Series by Karen Wheeler

3) Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love by Ann Mah

4) The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz

5) Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love, and Recipes by Kristen Beddard

6) Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod

7) My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home by Lisa Anselmo

8) Inspired by Paris: Why Borrowing from the French Is Better Than Being French by Jordan Phillips

9) Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson

10) Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

*This post contains affiliate links

Review, Style

M. Gemi The Felize Shoes Unboxing & Review

I’ve been stalking the M. Gemi Felize loafers for awhile now, and when I saw that they offered them in a beautiful color called “Taupe Shimmer”, I finally decided to go for it. Their everyday policy of free shipping and free returns didn’t hurt either!

M. Gemi The Felize Review
The Felize

M. Gemi The Felize Review

First, a little background: I’ve always wanted a pair of Tod’s driving shoes. They just remind me of walking around the charming streets of Rome or Florence, eating gelato and visiting museums. Plus, they are super chic and comfortable, a fabulous combination in shoes!

However, I can’t justify paying hundreds of dollars for a pair of shoes. I know that the price reflects the materials and quality, but still, $425 for a pair of shoes is pretty steep for me. Enter M. Gemi’s The Felize, which in my opinion is an even better driving shoe than Tod’s Gommino loafers!

How do they compare to Tod’s loafers? Not only do they both have the iconic pebble sole, they are both hand-made in Italy using luxurious and soft leather and suede. While Tod’s is offered in different materials, only M. Gemi’s Felize is available in tons of colors! I’m also partial to the Felize in the color Forest, which is a dark green.

While the shoes themselves are luxurious and they have a generous free shipping and free returns policy, unboxing the shoes elevated my whole experience with the M. Gemi company.

First, their shoes are very thoughtfully packaged in a beautiful box with copper (or rose gold!) accents. They even included a pre-paid return label in the envelope below.

IMG_2426

The shoes are carefully wrapped in layers of tissue paper, ensuring that the suede doesn’t get scratched. Even though the Taupe Shimmer color looked beautiful on the computer screen, seeing it in person was another story. It is truly a unique and gorgeous color for a loafer, giving a classic shoe shape a modern twist.

M. Gemi Felize taupe shimmer shoes

Second, the shoes come with a pretty shoe bag! I’m also partial to this logo because my name starts with a “G” 😉

M. Gemi Felize taupe shimmer shoes

Next, the inside cover of the shoe box is personalized with my name handwritten on a card. It was a small gesture that added to the specialness of receiving an order from M. Gemi.

M. Gemi Felize taupe shimmer shoes

It’s difficult to see in this picture, but the color is so stunning in person! It closely matches what the color looked like on my computer, which is always a good thing.

M. Gemi Felize taupe shimmer shoes

While my favorite part about these shoes is the color, my second favorite thing are these rubber pegs in the sole! Walking on them is so comfortable, like I have clouds on my feet.

M. Gemi Felize taupe shimmer shoes

I ordered them in a size 37, which is my usual size (size 7 in the US), and they fit perfectly. Usually shoes need some breaking in, but these I wore straight out of the box. The leather was very soft and the shoes really did mold to my feet. It really was like these were bespoke shoes made especially for me!

Plus, it’s like wearing jewelry for your feet that’s also extremely comfortable!

M. Gemi Felize taupe shimmer shoes

The light color means they will probably get dirty easily, but I’ll make sure to treat them carefully. It’s also probably why I should get another pair in the gorgeous Forest color since it’s much darker than the Taupe Shimmer! We’ll see…

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 9.24.39 PM

 

Another pair I’ve been loving is The Lustro in the color Chianti and Copper. This is a stunning but subtle ombre shade that’s so unique! It has a 3.5″ block heel that the website states is “completely walkable”. I’m seriously thinking of buying them! Should I??

M. Gemi The Lustro Review

The Felize comes in so many colors and leather finishes there’s ANOTHER color I love: this rich purplish-blue color called Royal in their tumbled leather:

M. Gemi The Felize Review

If you’ve been thinking about buying a pair, now is the time! Here’s a link for $50 off any M. Gemi order! That makes The Felize under $150! Happy shopping!

*This post contains affiliate links

Restaurants, Review

Review: The best hand-pulled noodles in Boston

I am a huge fan of Asian food, so it’s no surprise that I’ve spent a lot of time in Boston’s Chinatown. When I worked close by, I frequently ate at many of Chinatown’s restaurants, but they’ve never had a place that was known for its hand-pulled noodles – until now!

Located a bit further from Chinatown, along an ordinary street, is this hole in the wall eatery.

It might not look like much from the outside (or inside), but the food is phenomenal! I mean, take a look at their hand-pulled noodle dish!

Handpulled Noodles Boston

Continue reading “Review: The best hand-pulled noodles in Boston”

Create

Learning how to do Turkish water marbling

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to take a Turkish water marbling class, and it was amazing!

Turkish water marbling class

I had no idea what it was when I signed up for it, so I did some research before my class. I watched some videos on YouTube and it looked like a combination of art and magic, so I was even more excited to learn more about Turkish water marbling.

Here is some background on Turkish water marbling, or Ebru art, as it’s known in Turkey.

Turkish water marbling class

This process was even more complicated than I thought it would be. For instance, the paints used had to be balanced so that they didn’t sink to the bottom of the water.

Plus, one of the items used in the paints is cow stomach water!

IMG_2402

Our instructor is self-taught and only started learning how to do Turkish water marbling three years ago – how amazing!

She was really informative and an excellent presenter, plus, her favorite color is purple so I liked all the water marbling examples she did!

Here she is creating a pattern in the water with the first layer of paint:

Turkish water marbling class

Once she created a design, she used a sharp tool to create another pattern in the water:

IMG_2405

Using another color, she added another layer of paint using the brush technique of “splattering” paint (my term):

IMG_2406

Even using similar colors, the pattern looks really cool!

IMG_2408

She had paper that fit exactly into the metal bin. She also stressed how important it was not to have any bubbles after laying the paper in the water, as it would create white spaces in the pattern.

IMG_2409

After dragging the paper out of the water and scraping it against the edge of the metal bin, all the paint in the water is gone! Continue reading “Learning how to do Turkish water marbling”

Sightseeing, Travel

Marseille to Aix-en-Provence, France

You can’t go to Marseille without also visiting Aix-en-Provence! Contrary to the previous cities I mentioned, Le Havre in France and Vigo, Spain, I had definitely heard of Aix-en-Provence. Therefore, I had very high expectations! Did Aix-en-Provence meet my expectations? Let’s find out!

Aix-en-Provence France
A beautiful area in Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence was our second stop on my Grand European Cruise. Well, it was technically the third stop of the tour, starting with Milan, but this was the second stop after boarding the ship.

After Milan, and then Marseille, I think this tour could have been renamed “the most beautiful cities in Europe tour”. Every stop so far seemed like I jumped right into a fairy-tale village.

I love these signs telling more about the history of the city. I couldn’t read them, but I liked that they looked very detailed!

Aix-en-Provence France

Luckily I could read the dates, so the signs gave me some idea of just how historic Aix-en-Provence is.

Aix-en-Provence France

After wandering around we stumbled upon this very beautiful and charming area. The fountain seemed to dominate the whole area – it was definitely a focal point!

Aix-en-Provence France

I’ve seem many gorgeous fountains in Paris, but this one was just uniquely photogenic. It seemed to always be in motion (probably because it was pretty windy this day)! Continue reading “Marseille to Aix-en-Provence, France”

Restaurants, Review

Review: Restaurant & art gallery – Liquid Art House

In searching for new Boston restaurants to try, I did a search for the most beautiful restaurants in Boston. On the list? Liquid Art House. The description in the article was intriguing, as it seemed like it was both a restaurant and art gallery. Their tagline on their website is “Gallery meets Gastronomy.

As a huge fan of art and museums, not to mention good food, I had to see this for myself!

Liquid Art House Boston chandelier

Liquid Art House is located in Back Bay, but it’s also a short walk from Chinatown and Downtown Crossing. Its exterior doesn’t really let passersby know that there’s actually a beautiful restaurant and art gallery inside.

Liquid Art House Boston

Liquid Art House Boston

Even the restaurant’s sign is a bit discreet.

Liquid Art House Boston

However, that all changes once we stepped inside the restaurant. Wow, the first thing we saw was this gorgeous purple chandelier! Continue reading “Review: Restaurant & art gallery – Liquid Art House”

Sightseeing, Travel

Discovering Marseille, France

One of the first stops on our Grand European Cruise was the beautiful city of Marseille.

What do I think of when I hear the word Marseille? Well, this photo kind of encapsulates everything I imagined it would be! It also turned out to be much more!

Marseille France

Leaving the port, we’re greeted by the French flag almost immediately. We actually had to postpone docking here by a day since the weather was terrible and the waters were too rough to dock.

It’s hard to imagine that now when the sky is a clear, brilliant blue and the waters are so calm there are barely any waves.

Marseille France

Marseille France

The streets were pretty and clean, and of course there’s an opera house at the end of this random street!

Marseille France

Our main goal was seeing the basilica called Notre-Dame de la Garde at the city’s highest point. Continue reading “Discovering Marseille, France”