Welcome to the blog...
This space is all about seeking
EXCITED CHILLS and creating a
simple, authentic, beautiful life.
I do hope you'll stay a while!
Today's post includes two videos. The first one is Q&A Episode 1.5 and the second is just a quick update to keep you informed about some personal news. I created Episode 1.5 in response to a few non-style related questions that I missed the first time around.
If you're wondering..."Hey, Kristen, what about my style questions?"
Don't worry, in the next episode I promise to focus on style! I'll try to cover all of the style questions in one video. If it becomes too long and overwhelming, I'll break it up into separate categories.
Thanks for being patient as I work through the other questions first. There are lots of style questions and I want to be sure I give each one a thoughtful, helpful response!
Okay, so I tossed out a lot of information about visiting France. I find it hard to hold back when talking about this amazing destination:-)
Here are the links to the places I mentioned.
Each one is a place I truly love!
Hotel de Fleurie
Hotel Saint Gregoire
VRBO or HomeAway
Le Repaire de Cartouche
Cafe du Flore
Monoprix- lots of locations
Galleries Lafayette- 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France
Printemps- just across from Galleries Lafayette
Bon Marche- 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, France
Anthopologie- I haven't been yet, but can't wait to see it!
South of France
Louis XV – Hotel de Paris
If you are planning a trip to France, I'm envious...
but Bon Voyage!
Now, I'd like to share what's happening at my house. I'm hoping you'll understand why my posting schedule might be a little interrupted for the next month...
Weekly updates are the best way to stay informed!
They're free and fun and available right here.
Have any great tips for me regarding the second video? Please share! It's crunch time:-)
I know there are lots of links in this post. If you have trouble with any of them, please let me know and I'll forward the info to you another way.
Thanks so much for being here.
The Spanish have a brilliant way of eating. Tapas are genius. They offer the option of a little or a lot. By eating tapas, it becomes possible to taste lots of dishes in the same meal. Ordering seconds of things that disappear quickly the first time around. I love eating in Spain.
Here's a quick recap my three favorite spots to stop for food or drink when in Madrid.
1. Casa Labra. This is a favorite destination for my family. Just the thought of it makes us smile.
This gem is a two minute walk from Puerta del Sol. It is easy to find...sits just across from a large
El Corte Inglés (department store). It is open every day of the year except for New Year's Day.
It is not to be missed!
Most likely you will stand in line with lots of locals. That's how you know it's a good spot.
When it's your turn at the counter, place your croquetas order and move on to the bar to get a beer. The beer is served in small glasses, ice cold! Such a treat after a day of sigh- seeing or shopping...and it won't ruin your dinner.
2. Casa Lucio. Casa Lucio opened in 1974. Méson El Segoviano restaurant operated in the same spot for 100 years. Casa Lucio's owner, Lucio Blazquez began working at Méson El Segoviano when he was just 12 years old. Cool.
I love this Tripadvisor review from Marcos Simpson, Dublin, Ireland. He sums it up brilliantly....
"brilliant - anyone who says different just doesn't get it” Reviewed October 17, 2014
If you have friends - go
if you love spanish food - go
if you have a mischievous side - go
if you love healthy irreverence - go
if you get the idea of going to one of the best restaurants in the world to have egg and chips - go
don't go if you are cynical, are going with a view to find fault, are expecting waiters to speak english, french, german or japanese, have never read Hemingway or don;t understand the importance of food in spanish culture." Visited October 2014
Casa Lucio is old school and old world. It is filled with locals. The main family meal of the week happens on Sunday afternoon. Casa Lucio is bustling and full of Madrilenos. Dining here on Sunday is a treat.
My family was in Madrid for Thanksgiving a few years ago. We chose Casa Lucio for our Thanksgiving dinner. While we didn't dine on turkey and traditional American fare...it was an experience that none of us will ever forget. Incredible!
Note: The first time my husband and I dined at Casa Lucio, we messed up. We didn't order the eggs and chips (french fries). Every other plate that the seasoned waitstaff carried past our table was piled with broken fried eggs and french fries. We knew we had missed the best of Casa Lucio.
Rest assured...we haven't made that mistake again.
Order the eggs. Lucio's Scrambled Eggs... aka Huevos Estrellados de Lucio.
3. Bar Cock. This awesome bar is easy to walk past and miss completely. Don't. Find it. Go in and order your favorite cocktail. It will be delicious. I can speak with authority on their Negroni. It's perfect.... and gets better with the free house snacks of the best-potato-chips-ever and Spanish olives. You will want to snuggle into a leather sofa and stay all evening.
Located off the beaten track...down a quiet street... Calle de la Reina, 16, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Bar Cock is worth finding.
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow...
Every June, my husband's family spends one week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
2014 was the seventh year for this family reunion. It is quite a vacation.
The numbers vary, but usually there are about 22 people who attend. Six individual families coming together under one roof. All 22 people stay in a spacious rental home. We have stayed in several different houses over the years. Each house has lots of master bedroom suites (between 9 and 10) for all of the adults. There are also bunk rooms for the kids.
SO many people in one house for seven days could be a nightmare. Complete chaos.
Enter a very organized sister-in-law and mother-in-law. Since the very first year, one of my husband's sisters has made the vacation much easier on everyone by producing a packet.
"The Packet" is the first step in making a large family vacation work.
The concept is simple...
The packet contains the basic information needed to make the house run smoothly...
'Who brings what' instructions
Captain of the Day details
House address and check-in time
Any miscellaneous bits that might be helpful
The most interesting and helpful idea is this...
Each adult couple takes on the role of 'Captain of the Day'. This title means that on your day- you are responsible for breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone in the house. At first it might seem a bit rigid, but it is a fantastic way to keep the mealtimes from becoming an overwhelming, messy, disorganized disaster.
The couples plan their menus and head to the grocery store...some choose to pack their car at home and transports items/ingredients with them on the road trip to OBX.
We stay near Corolla and there are two large, well-stocked grocery stores. In addition to food, they sell wine and beer and beach supplies. Harris Teeter and Food Lion. They are both great stores.
If you'd like to check out a copy of our packet... just say so in the comments. I will be happy to send it along. It is a huge help in making sure that everyone knows exactly what's expected of them.
The pre-vacation organization means that once we arrive, the entire family can enjoy an awesome week together. When it's not your day to be captain, you can relax and know that all the meals are handled. Great plan!
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow...
In 2008, our family decided to do something we had never done before...
We decided to go on vacation for Christmas. As in, really be away for the entire holiday. We chose Vieques. A small, sister island off the coast of Puerto Rico. My husband had taken me to this amazing island for my birthday. We wanted our kids to experience this incredible place. We asked my mom to go along...she often spends the holiday with our family. She was game.
At the time our children were 9,7, and 5. We weren't sure how they would take it. Like most children, they loved the excitement of Christmas eve at home. They were up at dawn on Christmas morning waiting to be given the 'green light' to come downstairs.
Would they like being away for the holiday? We were about to find out.
We rented a house through HomeAway. We rented two Jeeps for getting around the island and especially to the beaches. We left on December 22 and returned home on December 29.
It was wonderful!
I mailed a box of little wrapped gifts ahead of time. I included a mini artificial tree with lights. Our first day at the beach we collected seashells and other beach treasures. Together we decorated our tree with the found objects. It was beautiful! And so special!
Christmas morning the kids had gifts to open. We went to the beach...the empty beach! It was like being on a deserted island. Wow!
We went out for a special Christmas dinner. It was different, but everyone had great trip.
Our kids said they would do it again, but they did miss waking up in our house on Christmas day. We haven't been away for Christmas since that adventure...I'd say we are due. Mexico is close....
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow...
Paris Week is over...but I'm sure there will be more to share about Paris before the end of this writing challenge.
Leaves are beginning to fall and I realize that winter is not far behind. Cold weather always makes me yearn for a tropical get-away.
An ideal location for such a get-away...
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Vieques is a small island that sits six miles off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. I was lucky enough to be whisked away to this special island by my husband for my 40th birthday.
What a spot!
5 reasons Vieques is a super destination!
1. The island is home to herds of wild horses. This is not a tourist gimmick. The horses are impossible to miss. They roam free throughout the island. The are beautiful in this incredible environment.
Another blogger's experience with the wild horses of Vieques.
2. You must rent a Jeep to get to the beaches. For the Indiana Jones in everyone...the best beaches can only be accessed by dirt roads in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It is awesome! Note: some of the larger hotels have private beaches for their guests...but these beaches DO NOT compare to what you will see with a Jeep. Rent the Jeep. Drive through the brush and the puddles. It's not to be missed.
3. There are amazing small inns and hotels...and incredible rental properties. I have done Vieques in both hotels and rental homes. My family usually opts for a rental because there are five of us and we like to have a full kitchen. Either way, there are many cool options for lodging.
For my birthday trip we stayed at Bravo Beach Hotel. Beyond fabulous!
Here is their Tripadvisor link.
If a rental home is more your style...HomeAway and VRBO both have lots of properties.
4. Vieques is part of the United States. This means...US voltage, a US post office, most locals speak English in addition to Spanish, and the US dollar is the currency. All of these things make a vacation in Vieques a bit easier than a trip out of the country...yet you are out of the country...as evidenced by the culture and the views!
5. The beaches rock! Truly the most pristine, breathtaking, beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The island is unspoiled and sleepy compared to some of it's Caribbean neighbors.
And...Vieques is still unknown enough that their are no crowds. We were on several beaches...alone! No other people in sight. A little slice of paradise.
Ahhh... I need a little beach.
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow.
Welcome to Excited Chills!
In a very bold move, I've decided to take on the challenge of writing a post a day for
31 days...in a row. Consecutively.
The challenge is to write on one topic every day during the month of October.
I chose to focus on Excited Chills through travel. It all begins on October 1st. New
posts will appear here daily. The common thread will be travel, but with a wide reach.
I'll include tips and tricks, favorite places, great meals, and more.
I welcome you on my journey. Thanks for your patience as I test the waters and my wings.
Day 1 - Three days max...but you should go to Las Vegas
Day 2 - Carry-on only
Day 3 - Wheels Up- Alone
Day 4 - Boulder, Colorado
Day 5 - Learn from the Unworn
Day 6 - Up in the Air
Day 7 - Paris Perfect
Day 8 - Pont des Arts - Love Locks Bridge
Day 9 - A 'must' in Paris
Day 10 - My 3 favorite things to bring home from Paris
Day 11 - Better than nothing - Combo Washer/Dryer
Day 12 - Free'p'star - Thrifting in Paris
Day 13 - Be still my heart- Anthropologie in Paris
Day 14 - Thanksgiving in Paris - Le Villaret
Day 15 - The Ides of October slipped past me
Day 16 - Vieques - tropical paradise!
Day 17 - A Tropical Christmas
Day 18 - The trick to a great 22 person family vacation - OBX
Day 19 - Surprise Vacations - Yes or No?
Day 20 - Wanderlust - the trip that started it all
Day 21- Finally, Spain... Two cool hotels in Madrid
Day 22 - El Rastro - Be in Madrid on a Sunday
Day 23 - Madrid - My three favorite spots for food and drink
Day 24 - Spanish sensory overload!
Day 25 & Day 26 - Finding the fun! - Soccer abroad
Day 27 - Simplicity in Siena
Day 28 - Zijuatanejo- A hotel with five rooms
Day 29 - A toast to you, Theresa. Happy Birthday!
Day 30 - Tips for a top flight
Day 31 - "How is this even possible?"
What the full story on this cool challenge?...