Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 163

The weekly(ish) roundup of internet awesome:

  1. God she is fabulous, and this is WONDERFUL: Adele Impersonated an Adele Impersonator, and It Worked. Also, are we all listening to When We Were Young on repeat yet? Yes, yes, that’s what I thought. Literally cannot stop.
  2. Would you believe that with all my Instagramming, I have never photographed any of these spots (save the Empire State Building popping up in the background of my NYC pics)?: The Most Instagrammed Location in Every State.
  3. As my friends and I would say (and did say after reading this article), this is far, far too real: The Five Stages of Ghosting Grief.
  4. He he he: Now You Can Enjoy Gluten Free Versions of Famous Art.
  5. This is fantastic. Jane Seymour, you stealth genius you: Unsolicited Advice for the Six Wives of Henry VII, Working Within Their Social Parameters and Not Suggesting They Just Invent Feminism Because That’s Anachronistic.
  6. Look at him go!: Skateboarding Bulldog Breaks Guinness World Record.
  7. We all think Fitz should win, no?: The Actual Worst: A Bracket to Find the Most Terrible Character in Television.
  8. YES: Alanis Morissette Updated the “Ironic” Lyrics with Modern Struggles and It’s Hilarious.
  9. I mean: Drunk Girls Get Surprised with Puppies.
  10. I cannot even express how wonderful Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in this: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Dressed Up as Janet Jackson to Perform Rhythm Nation on Lip Sync Battle.

(Image via)

Paris: An Autumn Stroll Through the Gardens at Versailles

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I have a love/hate relationship with Versailles. Love because, well, it’s Versailles: grand and gilded rooms, beautiful and vast gardens, the works. And hate because, well, tourists. And lots of them.

Even when planned well, Versailles can still be a bit soul-crushing, and I questioned whether I wanted to subject myself to that gauntlet this time around. I was leaning toward “no,” when a thought occurred to me: the gardens, in autumn. Wouldn’t they be spectacular? And while Paris is a place I hope to return to often throughout my life, who knows the next time I’ll be here in the fall?

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And so, was the visit worth it? The answer was, yes, yes, a thousand times yes – the gardens were absolutely spectacular. The leaves were fully in the process of turning during my visit, and the colors were just gorgeous. I especially loved all the little groves and side gardens: walking down what felt like a secret pathway, and finding myself surrounded by rows and rows of perfectly manicured trees, all in the vividest shades of yellow, orange, and red.

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Sometimes I fear I overuse this word, but Versailles in autumn was truly magical. While the tourist crush was as present as ever, wandering around in the gardens, surrounded by gorgeous colors, I hardly minded it. I’m very glad I made the trip.

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London: Fashionista Tea at The Berkeley

I love a good afternoon tea, but the truth is, most of them follow a fairly predictable – yet still delightful! – formula. Some teas, however, are just special – and The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea is just such a one.

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What sets Prêt-à-Portea apart is dedication to a theme; in this case, high fashion. Every six months, the afternoon tea menu at The Berkeley changes, and a new crop of pastries inspired by that season’s couture looks arrives. When I visited in early October, I dined from the Spring/Summer Collection; looking at The Berkeley’s website now, I see they have switched to Autumn/Winter – and it makes me want to catch the next Eurostar to London and try it all again!

The Berkeley nails all the details, chief among them the china: I loved the pink, green, and yellow patterned cups and plates. As for what was poured into the cups, I chose Phoenix Honey Orchid tea to go with my savories and the Caramel Indulgence Infusion to go with my sweets. Both were lovely, but I have to give an edge to the Caramel Indulgence because…I really, really love caramel in all its forms. I also splurged on a glass of champagne to go with my tea.

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^^ This is the caramel infusion, which looks a bit questionable but was, most assuredly, actually quite delicious!

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While you won’t find scones included in The Berkeley’s afternoon tea – a fact that did disappoint me a bit – they make up for it with an abundance of savories. There were five tea sandwiches: traditional egg salad on a brioche bun, chicken with coriander and celery on white bread, Scottish smoked salmon on dill bread, angus beef with arugula on wheat bread, and pickled beetroot and cheddar on beet bread.

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The Berkeley also serves a plateful of more experimental amuse-bouches, something I hadn’t seen at an afternoon tea before. A few of these bites were a bit too daring for my palate (hello, beet gazpacho!), but they were all quite interesting. These included the aforementioned beetroot gazpacho, a bite-sized piece of tuna, crab and watermelon, smoked duck and goat cheese, and mixed vegetables with tomato mousse.

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Then, it was time for the real stars of the show: the nine (!!!) pastries, each modeled off a high fashion look. The Berkeley gives you a little card showing the actual fashions themselves, and it was fun to see just how well the pastries captured the spirit of the designs!

First up, the Giambattissta Valli mini tower of light pink joconde sponge ruffled with raspberry cream, topped with pink spun sugar:

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Second was the Oscar de la Renta princess gown of coconut and lime mousse set atop a sablé Breton with green leaf icing. This was one of my absolute favorites, as it was both a gorgeous shade of green and truly delicious.

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Third came the Jean Paul Gaultier crème de menthe cremeux with dark chocolate ribbon and mint jelly, topped with a white orchid meringue, rhubarb crisp, and edible purple petal. This was another favorite of mine, though if you aren’t a fan of mint, it might not be for you, as it was quite minty.

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Fourth was the Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen butterfly hat with chocolate-glazed gianduja mousse:

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Fifth up was Emilio Pucci’s summer coat of light cheesecake and apricot Emanuel sponge, topped with bold dark chocolate buttons. This was another favorite, as the cheesecake was quite tasty:

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Sixth was Elie Saab’s red degrade silk georgette dress duo of blended strawberry and mango bavarois with mango compote, topped with a flame-like sugar frill. This was the only dessert I didn’t truly enjoy, as mango compote just ain’t my thang. Still, it was undeniably beautiful:

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Seventh was Alexander McQueen’s “Armadillo” vanilla shortbread shoe with cream icing and edible sparkles. Isn’t this adorable?

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Eighth up was Anya Hindmarch’s “Big Eye” collection handbag of blueberry victoria sponge cake wrapped in light blue chocolate with candied cartoon eyes. This was another treat that was almost too cute to eat. Almost.

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And ninth came Lisa Marie Fernandez’s chocolate shortbread “Alexa” bikini with green icing and cream ribbon. Cheeky!

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As if that were not enough, my waitress brought over a cute little to-go “purse” filled with a few extra sweets (and room for all the leftovers from the sweets I simply couldn’t finish):

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I seek out afternoon teas most everywhere I go, but The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea is one that truly stands apart from the rest. Packed full of edible works of art, I won’t soon forget this elegant and oh-so-fashionable afternoon tea extravaganza.

Quebec City: Awed by Nature at Montmorency Falls

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In truth, I am and always have been a city girl: camping is never going to be my default vacation choice, and having a certain base level of creature comforts is a priority. And so, when traveling, my sightseeing choices tend to be city-oriented, too. Museums packed with works of art, restaurants where you can get a memorable meal, and skyscrapers with breathtaking views? Yes, yes, and yes.

Sometimes, however, even I can appreciate nature. And Montmorency Falls, just fifteen minutes or so from downtown Quebec City (assuming you don’t get lost) (not that we did) (ahem), is the perfect place to do just that.

While you can hike up to the top of the falls – along what seemed to me to be a fairly rickety and slippery staircase – we opted to take the sky tram, which zips you up to the top and offers some stunning views of the falls along the way.

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Once up top, we stopped at several different lookout points from which we could view the falls, snap a few photographs (but of course!), and listen to the roar of the rushing water below.

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After we had our fill of viewing them from afar, we climbed up to the bridge that spans the falls. Here, we had our most dramatic views of the falls, looking directly below us at the water pounding down onto the rocks. And while the bridge, swaying ever so slightly in the wind, gave me a bit of pause for a moment, it was breathtaking from up there and well worth making the crossing.

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Once we finished exploring up top, we hopped on the tram back down and decided to go walk near the base of the falls. As we got closer and closer, we felt the wind gust – and with it, plenty of water from the falls came our way. I didn’t dare approach too close for fear of getting drenched, but it was cool to see the power of the falls that close up.

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At the end of the day, yes, I am still a city girl at heart – but spots like Montmorency Falls remind me of just how much beauty life outside the concrete jungle can offer. I highly recommend even a quick trip to the Falls if you find yourself visiting Quebec City.

Paris: Autumn Scenes to Savor

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Getting word that I was shipping out to Paris for a work assignment this fall was a dream come true, but I won’t lie: I felt a little twinge when I realized it would mean missing autumn in New York, my very favorite season of all in the city. Predictably, I need not have worried, as autumn in Paris is pretty damn spectacular too.

One of my favorite spots to wonder is Palais-Royal, which just so happens to be the perfect distance away from my office for taking a leisurely afternoon coffee break. I had peeked into Palais-Royal on previous Paris trips to check out the iconic black and white columns in the courtyard, but what I did not realize at the time was just how vast the complex is: walk beyond the columns and you find yourself in a pretty spectacular garden. So lovely.





I found myself in Saint-Germain on a very sunny Sunday in October and made a beeline for Luxembourg Gardens. I was in awe of how glorious the park was, its trees glowing golden in the afternoon light. I also loved how much activity fills the park on the weekend: people playing tennis, people practicing martial arts amongst the trees, and people soaking up the sun.

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Le Marais is one of the neighborhoods I (and everyone else, it would seem) just gravitate to in Paris. I love the food scene and I love the vibe; it is quite simply a pleasant place to wander. One thing I didn’t realize, however, was how many delightful courtyards and green spaces were tucked within this arrondissement – spots that are, of course, perfection in fall.

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Le Marais

I don’t often make it over to the old heart of the city – Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité – but I do love walking around both of those islands. I got up early one morning to grab breakfast on Île Saint-Louis, then walked over to Île de la Cité to peek at Notre Dame through the trees whose leaves had turned to autumn perfection. A good reminder to try to get up early more often!

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I had made the pilgrimage to Montmartre many times to see Sacré Coeur, but one thing I recently realized was that I had been neglecting the rest of the neighborhood, an oversight I was keen to rectify. Two things stick out about Montmartre: it requires a lot of hiking up hills and it’s very, very charming. I loved all the ivy-covered buildings in particular.




Whenever I find myself near Canal Saint-Martin, it’s usually because of food: there are several wonderful places in the area. But during the fall, there’s another reason to go, and that’s obviously because the canal looks really, really charming as the leaves turn.

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If I had to vote for my very favorite building in Paris, it just might be this one: the Oasis of Aboukir. Located near Rue Montorgueil, this facade is covered top to bottom in plant life. Every time I pass by, it makes me smile.

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While not strictly “on my way” to work, the Tuileries are close enough that I can meander through them on mornings when I have extra time. I love the rows of perfectly manicured trees – always gorgeous, but particularly striking in fall.





Despite the occasional feeling of homesickness for New York, I am pretty confident that Paris was exactly where I was meant to be this fall. And, I’m getting excited about what’s to come next: Christmas season in Paris (and beyond)! Christmas markets, here I come.

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 162

The weekly roundup of internet awesome:

  1. We are entering Love Actually season, and while I was prepared to disagree with this article, I actually think these rankings are pretty accurate: A Definitive Ranking of the Relationships in Love Actually.
  2. These Kate Spade ads are so fun! Anna Kendrick is the best.
  3. Some real gems here: Photo Booth for Dogs.
  4. Love this: If You Steal from Serena Williams She Will Hunt You Down.
  5. Twenty years! I cannot: See the Cast of the Baby-Sitters Club Together Again, 20 Years Later.
  6. Yes: All Hail: How Adele’s Rolling Stone Cover Destroys the Male Gaze.
  7. Floordrobe is very real for me: Made-Up Words That Perfectly Describe Your Everyday Life.
  8. “I’m eating a Tootsie Roll” was what initially sold me on this compilation, but then it just kept getting better: People Are Tweeting Their Most Awkward Moments and It Is Cringingly Hilarious.
  9. Love: President Obama Couldn’t Handle This Kid’s Adorable Pope Halloween Costume.
  10. This is everything: Aladdin Magic Carpet Prank.

(Image via)

Pompeii: Walking Among History


I always call myself a “history nerd,” and I guess what I mean by that is that, when traveling, one of my greatest thrills is coming across a historical place that I have learned about and getting to walk in the very spot where important historical figures once did. In other words, standing in the footprints of history is a major thrill.

One of the first places I can recall having one of these major history nerd moments was during my first trip to Rome, and specifically making that first visit to the Colosseum. Climbing up those crumbling steps and then finding a vantage point where I could take in the entirety of the arena – chills, even now, just typing it up. To think of the history there – the gladiators and emperors and everyday Romans – was overwhelming.

Pompeii was a lot like that.









A short train ride from my home base in Sorrento, even non-history nerds likely know Pompeii as the place frozen in time after Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and buried the city under ash. What I adored about Pompeii was how easy it was to imagine the city as it once had been: you can still see the entire layout of town, from its streets to its forum (the center of commercial and political life) to its theater. It’s all there, and it’s all relatively well-preserved.

My imagination was in overdrive in Pompeii, thinking of these streets filled with life two thousand years ago. It’s amazing to see the little reminders that real people lived and worked here: the baths where people cleaned themselves, the aqueducts that delivered water throughout the city, the swanky private courtyards where richer residents might have relaxed.









Pompeii’s history unfolded so long ago, yet as I walked its ancient streets, it felt closer than I might have expected. And experiencing that kind of feeling, my friends, is why it is super cool to be a history nerd.