The Simply Luxurious Life®: August 2012  

August 31, 2012

The Weekend . . .

The last few leisurely moments of summer are upon us, and for many of you a long weekend is in the works. Regardless of the length of your weekend, it is certainly a time to scamper to the farmers’ market and pick up a few fresh berries to make your favorite dessert (the one above has certainly tickled my taste buds) or soak up the sun’s warm rays before they lessen.(And for my Aussie readers, what wonderful summer delights to begin indulging in!) 

This week on the blog was a treat, as many of you wrote and conversed with me regarding a few of the posts on the blog. I want to thank you for stopping by and for those who commented and emailed. Your kindness touched me more than you know. I mentioned this thought in this week’s newsletter, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it again.  I truly believe and continued to be reassured that when we find the courage to take on a challenging path, the world pleasantly surprises us with the tools to make it happen and the support to carry us through.  These words from you, my readers, are a testament to a universal truth I believe in even more after this week. So if you too find yourself on a journey, making a tough decision, but knowing its the right one, find peace in knowing that you can make it happen, trust yourself and refuse to believe any tiny doubts that may pop up.

And don’t forget to enter the luxurious giveaway! Eberjey is giving away a Gisele robe to a lucky winner. (The same robe Meryl Streep wore in her recent film Hope Springs!) Enter by Wednesday, September 5th.

On the blog this week:

~Style Inspiration: The Last Days of Summer

~Foodie Alert! A Bit of Exposure & Comfort Food . . . Midnight Pasta

~This & That: No. 22 . . . a book I thoroughly enjoyed, a surprise sale and other stylish finds

~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Deux

~The most popular post of the week . . . Accepting Unexpected Change

~Mid-Week Motivation shared on JENESEQUA5 Ways to Update Your Daily Routine

This week’s newsletter – issue #114 – click here to read.

And the annual Shopping the Fall Collections 2012 was just released – discover what trends to splurge on and which to save on, and so much more. Click here to read.

Whether you are gearing up for a new school year, taking advantage of the long weekend by getting out of town or simply enjoying some time off from work this weekend, I hope it is exactly what you need. Until Monday, bonjour.


Images: (1) llunare (2) pinterest

August 30, 2012

Style Inspiration: The Last Days of Summer

With Labor Day weekend about upon us here in the states, and the signifying of the unofficial end to summer, do keep in mind that summer isn’t over yet. Pull off the hanger that summer dress you love to wear, those sandals that display your magnificent pedicure and indulge in oodles of summer white. Here’s a bit of inspiration . . .

Read more »


August 29, 2012

Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Deux

As mentioned last week in part one of the series, traveling internationally can be an amazing, life altering experience, but in order to set your mind free to experience all that it will see and discover, you must be well-prepared so that you can feel confident and relaxed about how you are dressed and what you have at your accommodations to make your nights and mornings more comfortable.

Last week, we discussed preparing for the logistics of your trip – money, electricity, passport, etc, so today we’re focusing on what to pack, how to pack well and stocking your travel tote in such a way that makes your time in the air or on the train most comfortable and leisurely.

1. To Carry On or Not
If you are traveling for a week or less, make the effort to simply pack a carry-on and carry a travel tote; however, if you are flying internationally, regardless of how long, most flights allow you to check one bag for free. Either way, go online to your airline’s homepage, and they will list exactly what their guidelines for baggage are.

The headache of potential loss of luggage is a nice stress to eliminate by choosing only to pack a carry-on suitcase, and it allows you to move more easily as you make your way to and from your accommodations.

2. Make a Packing List . . . and then Edit
A few weeks prior to your departure, make a list of each day and the outfits (and accessories/beauty supplies) you will need. If you will have access to a washer/dryer, keep this in mind as you can repeat certain outfits, pack fewer socks/underwear/etc and mix and match different clothing items. After creating the original list, go back through with a discerning eye – do you really need those third pair of heels?

3. Dry Cleaning
Once you have decided on your wardrobe, take anything that needs to be cleaned to the dry cleaners well in advance. Upon picking up your clothes, keep the plastic bags, as you can use them to pack to prevent wrinkles (lay between each item and then either roll or fold – voilà, no wrinkles!).

4. Travel Tote
Regardless of whether you have carry-on luggage or not, you will always want a well-stocked travel tote. Having traveled numerous times in the past without a quality travel tote, when you have one that suits your needs and doesn’t require you to bring other bags, it makes the entire traveling process much easier.

Things to consider before purchasing a quality travel tote:
  • Make it an investment that will last. Yes, it will cost money, but it will be worth it and you most likely will have it for quite some time.
  • What are my needs? Do you travel with a laptop, tablet, legal documents, children, pets, etc.
  • What best keeps me occupied while flying?
  • What will ease my mind and keep me comfortable?
Now keep in mind, the security items (extra change of clothes, contact lenses, etc) can be placed in your carry-on if you are bringing one. If you’re not, place a few of these emergency items in your travel tote.

The list I’m going to share today is assuming you have a carry-on piece of luggage and your travel tote is your second item that you can place on the floor in front of you while you fly.

Choose a bag that can hold the following:
  • laptop
  • tablet (ipad, kindle, nook, etc)
  • journal
  • make-up for touch-ups (chapstick, lipstick, mascara, concealer, etc)
  • 1-2 tea sachets (I always pack my favorite tea sachets and ask for hot water – a simple luxury while flying)
  • books/magazines/newspapers – if not already downloaded on your tablet
  • reading glasses
  • wallet
  • planner (if not on one of your electronic devices)
  • cell phone
  • ear buds (for listening to movies/shows/music on the plane)
  • small hairbrush
  • anything to help you sleep (sleep mask, Tylenol PM, scarf, etc)
  • regular tote necessities – hand lotion, breath mints, tide-to-go, bobby pins, rubberband, nail file
Options to Keep in Mind When Buying a Tote:
  • What is the handle drop? - make sure you can put it on your shoulder comfortably. Seven to eight inches is minimal, but try it out to see what feels the best.
  • Choose real leather – it will handle more weight successfully without stretching or ruining the bag.
  • A color that is versatile (brown, black or a classic print)
  • Do you want compartments or not?
  • Width (can it hold your laptop?)
  • Will it be easy to remove items from for security checks? Remember you always have to remove your laptop/tablets.
  • Do you like it?
A Bit of Shopping Options for You:

A. Michael Kors Jet Set Macbook Travel Tote - $299.95
I just purchased this tote for my trip to NYFW and am thrilled with my purchase. For someone like myself who needs to travel with their laptop and needs extra space as well, this is quite the 2 in 1. With compartments for everything beyond the laptop – iPad, iPhone and more, if you like to be organized and despise digging around in your totes for something, this is a great bag to have.
B. Heirloom Tote from Rib & Hull - $285
If you prefer not to have compartments, but an open bag that accommodates any situation or need that may arise, the Heirloom Tote is the one for you.
C. Pauric Sweeny contrast trim leather tote - $468
With a resemblance to a duffel bag, this leather tan tote presents a different option for a more relaxed look but doesn’t skimp on quality or ample space.
D. Michael Kors large Hamilton tote (multiple colors - $398)
For a long time I had my eye on this tote. With a reasonable price and roomy interior, it was exactly what I wanted, until I realized I wanted a compartment for my laptop. Aside from that, it has two different shoulder straps, a roomy interior and a long list of colors and styles to choose from.
E. J.Crew Biennial satchel (multiple colors) - $348 (red $298)
If you are in the market for a travel tote that just needs enough room for your iPad and small necessities (no laptop necessary), J.Crew’s satchel is a wonderful leather tote to consider. 16” width, 6” handle drop
F. 3.1 Phillip Lim ‘31 Hour’ Leather Tote (available in black as well) $750
If money is no object, this extra large tote provides very easy access to pack and unpack items. With spacious interior, you will be able to bring more reading material, scarves, sweaters, etc than you most likely will need.
G. Cole Haan ‘Crosby’ Shopper - $348
With an extra long strap for over-the-shoulder traveling as well as a 7” handle drop, this magnet closure leather tote is simple, but quite functional. With only one small zipper compartment inside, it is wide open for any item you want to pack.
5. What to pack
Everything you pack will depend upon where, when and for how long, but here are some basics to include:
  • sleepwear (chemise or pjs, travel robe)
  • underthings
  • keep a simple, neutral wardrobe so you can mix and match, and add color with scarves, shoes, jewelry
      • 1 or 2 dresses
      • pants or jeans
      • 1-2 blouses
      • cashmere sweater(s)
      • jacket, blazer, and/or coat (weather permitting)
      • ballet flats
      • 1-2 scarves
      • necessary belts
      • silver and/or gold hoops/earrings
      • heels (if necessary)
      • optional - boots
      • optional – trainers, workout clothes for exercise
  • travel blow-dryer (under 1800 wattage)
  • converter and/or adapter
  • toiletries (view my list here)
  • phone charger (and other necessary chargers)
  • beauty utensils (curling iron, straightner, etc)
  • dry shampoo
  • watch
  • laundry bag (small, plastic)
  • sunscreen
Here are a few more posts on packing:
6. TSA Regulations
Be aware that any items that are liquid or lotions must be in a container no larger than three ounces. If you are flying with a carry-on, you will need to remove these items and run them through separately, so keep them in one or two separate bags (plastic is ideal, but I use these), as they are easy to remove and keep things organized and somewhat private. Click here for the complete TSA guidelines for packing.

7. Reading Material
If you have access to a tablet, I highly recommend you use it for travel. While I will always prefer holding a book in my hands, what I realized while flying this summer is that so much space is saved by buying kindle versions (iPad has a Kindle app – and it’s free!) of books I wanted to read. I also have my magazine subscriptions on my iPad and made sure to download the most recent issues for reading before stepping on the plane. Also, make sure to download the day’s current paper, so you can stay up on the news while in the air.

8. Drink Lots of Water While Flying
Flying on Air Canada was a treat, as they periodically would just walk down the aisles with a pitcher of water (not the entire cart). I’m sure other airlines do this as well, so be sure to take them up on this simple gesture. Especially for long trips, you will want to stay hydrated as it will help lessen the effects of jet lag and keep your skin from getting too dry. While you will have to get up and use the facilities more often, this is actually a good thing as you should be moving around more often anyways so that your body doesn’t become too stiff.

9. Jet Lag Remedies
  • Try to schedule your flight so that you arrive in the evening.
  • If at all possible, attempt to plan your travel plans departing eastbound and returning westbound. It is more difficult to adjust to jetlag flying eastbound.
  • Adjusting your watch according to your destination’s time clock and attempt to adhere to your arrival schedule – the sooner, the better
  • Limit alcohol intake or none at all
  • Take a Tylenol PM to aid sleep
  • Expect 2-3 days for your body clock to fully adjust. Be patient.
Beauty Preparation
Before you scheduled departure, make sure you tend to your beauty regimen which may mean planning months in advance for appointments. After all, you want to feel beautiful as well as properly packed. Here are a few preparations to consider:
  • pedicure and manicure
  • hair cut and color
  • spray tan
  • necessary waxing (brows, lip, bikini)
So much to keep in mind, but when you become accustomed to checking all of these items off your list, I can assure you, your trip will be far more enjoyable.

Click here for the final post in the series which focuses on enjoying your international trip and returning home.
Images: (1) (2)

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August 28, 2012

A Bit of Exposure and Comfort Food

After posting this Monday’s motivational post, many of you responded appreciatively and supportively; however, one email caused me to ponder whether I should reveal more of the motivation behind such posts. Needless to say, staying true to how I feel a modern simply luxurious woman should live, I believe in keeping some things private. I believe if not simply to maintain a little mystery, then for self-preservation and sanity.

With that being said, my heart was a bit (okay, more than a bit) broken this late spring and summer, but at the same time infused with amazing inspiration, hope and auspicious confidence that if I’m willing to put in the effort, lovely things await. But that’s all I’m going to share, please understand. While The Simply Luxurious Life is a very personal endeavor, it is still a place where I try to maintain a sense of professionalism.  Maybe this will change, but for now, it is what I’m most comfortable with. Thank you in advance for understanding.

So why am I including such thoughts in a food post? Well, upon returning home after being gone for three weeks, I needed some comfort as I missed Paris and London tremendously, but thoroughly loved finally having my dogs near me. I craved something to ease me back into my regular routine (although a bit tweaked for the better), and over the weekend I watched Barefoot Contessa’s most recent episode where she shared her recipe for Midnight Pasta or Spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil). I knew I had found my new favorite comfort food recipe.

So simple, with such great flavor (don’t skimp on the garlic – 8 cloves is a must!), pair with a glass of white wine, mix in some roasted vegetables if you’d like and enjoy!

Spaghetti aglio e olio


  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti, like DeCecco
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta, such as a 12-inch sauté pan or a large, shallow pot. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it JUST begins to turn golden on the edges-don’t overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.

3. Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce for the sauce to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side.

Images: Simply Luxurious

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This & That: No. 22

Fall shopping, an insightful book and a way to bring a bit more French language into your daily routine . . .


~Heirloom Tote – Rib & Hull - $285

Many of you have been asking about an ideal travel tote, and while I promise to discuss what to look for in more detail tomorrow (in part two of Why Not . . . Travel Internationally?), I came across this lovely leather tote last week from Rib & Hull that I couldn’t wait to share. The only drawback for travelers who like compartments and strict organization is that the Heirloom Tote has none, but it certainly is a fantastic bag for large items, papers and travel. Without question an investment that will last, and complement any stylish ensemble.

~Surprise Sale at DVF!

I was thrilled to discover this surprise sale on many of Diane von Furstenberg’s Fall collection pieces as I was adding a few finishing touches to my NYFW wardrobe. Simply enter SURPRISE as the promo code on labeled items and receive 30% the regular price! (sale ends September 3rd)

~The OutNet

If you haven’t shopped at The OutNet (which was created by Natalie Massanet and her team that created Net-a-Porter), you will find impressively reduced designer clothing and accessories.

So now that I am in love with scarves, I am on the hunt, and while perusing the internet doing some fall shopping, I found at The OutNet these fantastic Valentino scarves at a great price reduction.

~Blog to Follow

~Suburbly Chic tumblr

If you enjoy looking for endless style inspiration online, you will thoroughly enjoy Suburbly Chic’s tumblr blog. Defined as the upscale casual look, Suburbly Chic regularly shares ideas for creating outfits that have a touch of femininity with a stylishly chic edge. Have a look.


~News in Slow French

As second language learners know, the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the culture, and while living in France would be a dream, it isn’t plausible for many of us unless we spend our vacations there. So . . . why not choose to tweak one of your daily routine activities so that you are listening and absorbing it in the language you are trying to learn? News in Slow French (other languages are available as well) not only reads the news aloud slowly, but you can read along on the page. For a small price, you can regularly receive news updates and other language lessons.


~Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert

Finally, after receiving positive reviews from many fellow bloggers and readers, I have read the follow-up book to Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Committed is Gilbert’s quest to understand and find peace with the institution of marriage as she and her loyal boyfriend Felipe are essentially forced to marry in order to live in the states together. Her research reveals intriguing histories of marriage and how it was dealt with, accepted and has evolved over time. While her clear intent is to find a way to accept it, what she also shares with the reader are many ways to strengthen the intimate bond with our significant others to help create a stronger relationship made when two loving, yet whole people come together. It was a lovely and thought-provoking read that I highly recommend.

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August 27, 2012

Luxurious Eberjey Giveaway

A simple luxury that I feel all women should allow themselves to indulge in, as previously discussed on the blog, is to adorn yourself in beautiful lingerie and lounge wear. What lays directly upon our skin should be soft, luxurious and comfortable. So when Eberjey intimates and swimwear reached out to The Simply Luxurious Life, and after investigating their business premise and products, I began getting excited to offer you, the readers, a giveaway to win one of their lingerie items.

Founded by Ali Mejia and Mariela Rovito, Eberjey speaks to their desire to “create pretty underthings that flattered real bodies and feel good too.”

Before offering the giveaway to my readers, Eberjey kindly allowed me to sample a product of my choosing, the exact product that I am now excited to introduce as the giveaway – the Gisele robe. Hitting just above the knee, this jersey/modal blend feels delicious against the skin and is ideal for traveling as it takes up minimal space in your luggage. Available in five different colors (white, black, navy, sorbet pink, ivory, pebble), with a detailed lace trimmed neckline, and belt attached, for one lucky winner, this Gisele robe will be yours (a $101 value).

I received this item in time to place in my suitcase for my trip to London and Paris, and it proved to be exquisite for summer weather and travel accommodations regarding size. Lightweight, but with full coverage, the Gisele robe is perfect for slipping over the chemise you wear to bed or wearing as you apply your make-up and do your hair before heading out the door.

While the winner will be receiving a Gisele robe (color and size of your choice), in order to enter (you can enter up to three times), Eberjey requests that you stop by their website and pick out your favorite item. The giveaway will run through next Wednesday (September 5th), and the winner will be announced in Friday, September 7th’s weekly newsletter, as well as on The Weekend . . . post.

Here’s how to enter:

  • Now that you've seen my favorite item from the Eberjey collection (the Gisele robe), it's time to find your must have item!  Visit, select your favorite piece in the intimates or swimwear collection, and leave a comment here on the blog sharing what you love about it.
  • For another chance to win follow @Eberjey on Twitter, and leave an additional comment on the blog saying you are a Twitter follower.
  • For a final chance to win follow Eberjey on Facebook, and then leave an additional comment on the blog saying you are a Facebook fan.

The winner will be chosen using If you have further questions, email me at

Good luck!

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Accepting Unexpected Change

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis

Change can be absolutely exhilarating when we’ve initiated the process – applied for a new job and been accepted, said yes to a wedding proposal or simply decided to change our hairstyle or color. On the other hand, when change is thrust upon us unexpectedly and uninvited, it is easy to become frozen by fear and anxiety uncertain of what to do next, even when we know we should do something. However, in such situations, what we want to do initially is return to the way things were when we were content and no disruption had taken place, even when we know that isn’t an option, unfortunately.

At some point in our lives, change will seek us without asking if we’d like to have it as our guest.  On the face of it in such instances, change is the most horrid houseguest who is disrespectful, rude and seems to have no clue how to fit into our lives. In fact, at the time, it seems as though it is making our lives worse instead of better.

While there are situations when change is indeed for the worse, I would argue that the majority of the time, change is an opportunity, even when we don’t see it that way to begin with. What determines the beauty of the change that is thrust upon us is how we deal with it.

I have written numerous posts on change (here, here, here and here, to name a few), but most have focused on change that is initiated and chosen by the individual. When change is thrust upon us uninvited, and it will, there are ways to make the most of it and come out ahead and even more fulfilled, exuding more strength and in the end, thankful for the opportunity. Yes, you read that correctly – thankful that it occurred.

Why am I writing this, you may be wondering? While I will keep the most private details to myself, sufficed to say, what I wanted and what life had in store for me were two different things, and while I was initially frustrated with the powers that be (Universe, God, whatever/whomever you want to address), I have enough experience to know that beautiful days lay ahead, but only if I pick myself up, resolve to be genuinely thankful for what brought me to this moment and move forward with faith, determination and hope.

What I’d like to share with you today, are steps on how to navigate what can be an emotional, uncertain, yet rewarding journey if handled properly:

1. Understand What is Ahead

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra

Begin the journey understanding that the change that has occurred happened for a reason. As you move forward and make the journey from “here” to “there”, understand that in order for change to happen, there will be moments of emotional anguish, obstacles that seem initially insurmountable (but always keep in mind, the assumed impossibility is a mirage – any obstacle is indeed possible to overcome), and moments of fear. When you accept this fact, you are well on your way to success.

2. Feed Your Faith, Not Your Fears

“Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.”

I discovered a fantastic quote from Positive Provocation about remaining optimistic and motivated. While it is easy to become frustrated when obstacles jump in our path along our way to where we want to go and the life we want to create, choose to feed your faith that you will overcome it, instead of feeding your fear by engaging in negative self-talk. When you accept that in order to change, there will be difficulties, you can also choose to address such fears with faith, instead of feeding the fear monger that will only keep you frozen. Choosing to feed faith propels you forward.

3. Take Action

“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” –Walter Anderson

Some of the most difficult days in my life have been the days immediately following an abrupt and unexpected change. For some this may come by way of job loss, a relationship ending, an accident or loss of someone you love. While it is healthy to grieve, we must not lose ourselves in grief. Yes, allow yourself time to mourn the death of the life you thought would continue on for some time, but then, take action. Get busy pursuing a goal that you’ve had in place but maybe placed on the shelf. Get busy doing your best work and chasing dreams that you now can put into action. Whatever you do, get busy. Take action. This will keep your mind busy and will put it to constructive use, so that by the time you’ve given your heart some time to heal, you will have produced something you are proud of.

4. Allow Yourself to Get Excited

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn

The life you thought you were going to live may not occur exactly as you predicted, but guess what, I’m confident it will be better than you expected if you commit yourself to the change that must occur. Take the reins of your life, take a few more risks, show the world who you really are, and brush aside nay-sayers. After all, at least you have the gumption to live this once in a lifetime experience called a life in a way that sits well with your soul and is tailored to your gifts and passions. Living authentically is the right path if handled with tact and compassion toward others.

5. Find a Hug

"It doesn't matter who, when, or where... you can always use a hug."Hope Floats movie

By choosing to embrace this change that has been thrown into your lap, you are choosing growth. With this acceptance, you are opening your heart, trusting that wonderful things will find you again and bravely moving forward even when you aren’t sure exactly how it will work out. If you have chosen this path, you are already becoming a better version of yourself, but as mentioned previously, it will be difficult at times. In these times, as well as others, find a hug. Find someone who loves you and cares about you and seek out a hug, a good hug, from them (I do love hugs from those I love, they mean the world!) You will need support as you progress through the change you are embarking on, but the gift of who you are becoming is worth the journey.

“What I like most about change, is that it is a synonym for ‘hope’. If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is ‘I believe in tomorrow, and I will be a part of it’.” –Linda Ellerbee

Know that I am on this journey with you, and if I can do it, so can you.

Images: (1) (2) (3)  (4)

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August 24, 2012

The Weekend . . .

Having had my first week back from traveling, I am finding the need to rest, get my body clock readjusted and catch my breath.  The two weeks of cheery London and dazzling Paris have changed me. Changed me in ways I am thankful for even though I can’t explain just yet exactly what those changes will be as I am just making sense of it as I contemplate all that the trip revealed to me.

So before my schedule picks up again, I have been leisurely enjoying a getaway to the country with regular mornings of blogging in a beautiful sun room each day, trips to indulge in a bite or two of chocolate and time with inspiring people who are oh so genuine and lovely.

It has been a very welcome return to the blog and newsletter this week, and I want to thank you for your lovely comments, tweets and emails. Many of this week’s posts were sparked from my travels, so thank you in advance for indulging me. Here is a look back on this past week on The Simply Luxurious Life:

~Style Inspiration: Black, White & Handbags

~This & That: No. 21 . . . books, an app and my new favorite tea . . .

~Vogue US – September 2012 . . . my favorite articles discovered inside . . .

~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Une . . . the beginning of a three part series . . .

~The most popular post of the week - 34 Lessons Learned in London & Paris

And finally, the return of the weekly newsletter – issue #113 – extra large to catch up on all of August’s posts including one’s shared while traveling in London and Paris. Click here to read.

As we begin the last week of August, I do wish you a grand and leisurely weekend. Until Monday, bonjour.

Images: (1) pinterest (2) pinterest

August 23, 2012

Style Inspiration: Black, White & Handbags

Summer is still here for a few more weeks, so don’t abandon wearing white just yet. Paired with a black handbag or black sandals, it can create a simple, yet strong statement. Also, every woman needs a signature handbag - an investment piece that speaks to her style, way of living and passions. I’ve had my eye on this bag, but so many other lovely choices make it hard to be sure. With fabulous shoes and a quality tote, your style is raised to the next level.

Finally, temperatures are gradually beginning to cool down which means thoughts of layers, fall and New York Fashion Week are just ahead, and oh how I am excited. As I will be attending NYFW for the first time this September, I am eagerly planning my wardrobe and looking for inspiration everywhere. In today’s Style Inspiration I’ve included pops of color, the trend of smoking slippers and polka dots, as well as classic touches of leopard. Have a look . . .
Read more »

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August 22, 2012

Vogue US September 2012

One of my most favorite things about summer coming to an end is the enormous bookstop-esque September fashion issues arriving from the mailperson. Anna Wintour’s September Vogue issue arrived digitally a week ago, but I still thoroughly looked forward to sitting down with a cup (or glass – depending upon the time of day) of something decadent and taking my time reading the articles that catch my interest.

In this particular issue there were four articles that I thoroughly enjoyed for differing reasons:

  • “Waiting in the Wings” (p828) Jonathan Van Meter’s interview with Chelsea Clinton – an intriguing insight into a young woman (32) who defies exhaustion and is resolute to uphold the Clinton legacy, at the same time making it her own.
  • “The Sense of an Ending” (p440) Ann Pachett’s touching piece about the loss of her 16 year old dog Rosie. Dog-lovers, as hard it as it will initially be to read this article (I teared up within the first two paragraphs), it is a lovely dedication to the special, irreplaceable spot our four-legged loyal companions hold in our lives.
  • “All that Jazz” (p648) Vogue officially confirmed that Miuccia Prada is the fashion extraordinaire behind the wardrobe of the upcoming film The Great Gatsby starring Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire which opens on Christmas Day at the end of the year.
  • “French Open” (p860) Plum Sykes takes a grand peek into Lauren Santo Domingo’s new Paris apartment located in the heart of Saint Germain. If you are both a Francophile and a decor aficionado, you will fawn over the story and the beauty of this lovely pied a terre. As co-founder of the online trunkshow website Moda Operandi, Santo Domingo is a devoted lover of Paris, and with the help of interior designer Francois Catrous restored their apartment into one that combines both bohemian and grandeur. Below are a few images found in the September issue of Vogue:

~My favorite room is the outdoor terrace overlooking Paris~

~The library. Table by India Mahdavi and painting L’Offrande (1950) by Wifredo Lam~

~Living space – Herve Van der Straeten chandelier, Michel Boyer coffee tables~

~Lauren Santo Domingo wearing Oscar de la Renta in her Paris appartement~

But now to the cover, as that is always the curious question readers ask before the September issue is revealed.

Lady Gaga wears a custom gown by Marc Jacobs (chosen from one of two that he made exclusively for her cover shoot) and was styled by Grace Coddington. In promotion for her perfume Fame, Gaga is depicted edgy, yet originally glamorously grungy, yet at the same time regal with the inclusion of the adorning hats. Read Jonathan Van Meter’s entire interview here. (photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot)

~Wearing Alexander McQueen~

~Wearing Marc Jacobs red hand-knit wool cardigan, tinsel-striped skirt, and orange-and-black goat-and-fox-fur hat~

~Wearing Marc Jacobs black fox Edwardian hat and crocheted-wool scarf~

~Wearing a Stephen Jones Millinery fuchsia ostrich-and-marabou hat~

Images: Lady Gaga via Vogue online, Lauren Santo Domingo via Simply Luxurious captured from the pages of Vogue.

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Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Une

Traveling abroad can be one of the most amazing experiences to add to your life’s resume, but in order to make the most out of what can be a most life-changing experience, attention to details and pre-planning must take place.

Today I’d like to begin a mini three week series that is dedicated to traveling internationally. Having just returned from London and Paris, I am going to share what I have learned. And while each country and continent offers different necessary approaches, there are many that overlap no matter where you are traveling from or to.

With that said, a disclaimer that this advice coming from someone who loves fashion which means I approached the packing of my suitcase with the mindset of looking stylish first, but keeping versatility/functionality a close second.

With that said, before even hopping on the plane or train, let’s take a look at all that needs to be tended to before you walk out the door (packing and wardrobe choices will be covered in detail next Wednesday in Part Deux):

Before You Leave

1. Valid Passport – make sure your passport is current (US passports typically expire every 10 years – renewal currently is $115) or if you don’t have a passport make sure to apply for one six months in advance (often turn around is 2-3 months, but don’t take the risk). Also, if you're passport is set to expire in six months, be sure to have it renewed before traveling as some countries will not allow you to board if this is the case.

2. Contact Your Bank & Credit Card Company
  • based on which cards you will be using, call that institution and let them know you will be traveling (when and where) so that they don’t report your card stolen when a purchase pops up for tickets to see a play in the theater district in London for example.
  • Ask about all possible fees (ATM, general card use, etc) so that you can calculate that into your budget and plan how many withdrawals you will want to make. Currently to use a debit card, the fee is slightly less than using a credit card; however, if your debit card is stolen it often has less protection. Choose what works best for you.
  • Ask about which ATM withdrawal limits for both online and offline ATMS. While your bank can inform you of the banks that are in their system (online), often you won’t be able to easily tell, so make sure the limit for both options is where you would like it to be. Petitioning for it to be raised is easy, but it does take a few days, so plan ahead.
3. Itinerary (plan ahead, but be flexible) – The internet provides easy access to planning and making reservations as we create the trip of our dreams. I highly recommend planning out what you want to see, purchasing tickets for certain events in advance and mapping out your day-to-day excursions as some events only happen on certain days (for example: Le Marche aux Puces in Paris is only open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and the Musée du Louvre is closed on Tuesdays); however, with that said, upon arrival, be flexible and open to what opportunities present themselves. By having a plan, you have a foundation from which to spring from, as opposed to arriving and not knowing what to do.

Last month I shared with you a travel app to help organize your travel itineraries named Tripit. It is a wonderful way to sync your travel with travel partners or share your itinerary with family and friends back home who you want to share the details/specifics of your trip in case of an emergency.

4. Electricity (voltage - adapters, converters) – Finally I have figured out a necessary component of international travel! And as difficult as it initially seemed, it is actually quite simple. For someone like me who needs to charge her iPad, iPhone, laptop and also use beauty utensils – one of which is a blow-dryer I first thought I needed to buy an adapter as well as a converter. This is partially true, but typically when you buy a converter you automatically have an adapter (2 in 1). Below are the specifics of how to convert to the proper wattage without ruining your equipment:
  • I purchased the Walkabout Hi-Lo Combination Converter ($34) which can handle up to 1800watts of electricity. It also comes with multiple adapters for any country you could imagine (except South Africa and India).
  • If you won’t be needing to travel with a blow-dryer, you can probably get away with just using an adapter; however, simply check your devices as it tells you their wattage on the cord. 
  • Most laptops don’t need a converter as they automatically convert to the proper wattage (again, double check, and when in doubt, use a converter, it’s not going to hurt)
  • Blow-dryer wattage – My blow-dryer at home used more than 1800 wattage, so I purchased an ionic ceramic travel blow-dryer for less than $30 that only uses 1000watts, and I couldn’t be happier. It takes up very little space (foldable) and does the same job I expect when doing my hair at home.
  • If your laptop’s charge cord has three prongs, make sure to have a converter from three to two prongs for the converter.
5. Copies – Make sure to make a copy of your passport and any other documents/cards that you are taking with you (debit card, credit card, birth certificate, etc) just incase they get lost or stolen. Also copy your itinerary and any other tickets or necessary information you are taking with you. If you are traveling with someone else, make sure you both have a copy, just in case one should get lost.

6. Ditch the Hotel Reservation – While traveling in Paris twelve years ago, I could only afford to stay at a hostel (one that was quite nice however), but I vowed that I would return able to afford a more luxurious accommodations. Initially, reservation a hotel room may sound like a great idea, but before you do that I suggest you look into renting an apartment.

I found the apartment I stayed in Paris through HomeAway, and the actually rental was through Well Done Properties (which is a rental/real estate company located in France). It’s best to read the read the reviews for your apartment, and since the one chosen for my trip received very positive reviews and the communications with the proprietor where prompt, efficient and with full contracts, etc, I decided to opt for the apartment.  It was a lovely stay, well managed and very clean. I also highly recommend booking an apartment with Haven in Paris and Cobblestay.

By choosing to live in apartment you are allowing yourself to see life in the neighborhoods without as much tourism. You also have a more home-like atmosphere to come home to at the end of the day and, if you’re feeling ambitious, the option to cook a few meals at the apartment to save money.

7. Words to Know – while I loved the excuse to brush up on my French, even if you don’t want to learn the language of the country you are traveling to, make sure you learn a few necessary phrases for a more pleasurable experience. Such as:
  1. Hello
  2. Goodbye
  3. Thank you
  4. Please
  5. My name is…
  6. Do you speak English?
  7. Where is the bathroom?
  8. Where is the train station?
  9. How much?
  10. The numbers 1 – 20.
  11. I would like to order/buy . . .
8. Prescriptions/Contact Lenses/Extra Necessities – Make sure to refill all necessary prescriptions that you will need on your trip. Also, if you wear glasses or contacts, make sure you have a back-up should you lose your contacts or break your glasses. I also make sure to pack an extra pair of lenses.

9. Investigate the Culture – Depending upon where you are traveling to, each culture will have its own customs and expectations. Take time to read up to reduce any faux pas or dirty looks.

10. Leave Your Home & Bills in Order – As much as we all look forward to getting away and escaping on a vacation, often we come back exhausted. So in order to establish a welcoming home for your return, tend to the following matters before you leave:
    • Remove all household trash and place in outdoor garbage canister
    • As a neighbor to place garbage on the curb and return it while you are gone. You would do the same for them.
    • Empty the refrigerator of anything that won’t last while you are away.
    • Clean the house
    • Attend to the laundry as you will have enough when you return
    • Place a hold on your mail, and if you can, have it all delivered to your doorstep on the first day back to eliminate a trip to the post office
    • Schedule a house sitter, or someone to care for your yard while away to keep an eye on the house.
    • Tell one or two neighbors you trust that you will be gone so they can keep an eye on the house. Be sure to give them a number where you can be reached should anything out of the ordinary occur.
    • Arrange pet sitting
    • Pay your monthly bills – Regardless of how long you will be away, by having online bill pay, you are able to schedule bills to be paid so that you aren’t late.  By taking care of your budget before you leave, you are able to make sure all necessary bills are paid and you’re clear about how much money can be spent on the trip.
    • Heat/Air – turn down the thermostat to a level that will make sure the pipes don’t freeze in the winter, but isn’t as high to warm people if they were in the home so you can save money. During the summer, you can probably leave the air off depending upon where you live.
11. Flight and/or Trip Insurance – When purchasing your ticket, it is a wise idea to purchase flight insurance. Quite minimal ($20 -$50), you leave yourself some breathing room and save money if you find you have to edit your trip. Trip insurance on items you are traveling with is also an option. While I have never chosen this option, you might want to look into it.

12. Cell Phone Coverage – Nearly everyone has a cell phone and while often vacations are a way to get away from your cell phone, some still have to have a way to communicate for family or business purposes. If that is the case, call up your provider and determine if your phone can be used abroad, and if so, how much each call and text will cost. If your phone can’t be used, there is always the phone card option or email as wireless internet is usually widely available (even in airports).

16. Check the Currency Rate – As you begin to make the budget for your trip, determine what the currency exchange rates are for the country you will be traveling to. You don’t want to be at the ATM withdrawing 500 pounds when you think you’re also withdrawing 500 dollars, only to find out you’ve taken out an extra $200. (I will be covering how to handle money and currency exchanges while traveling in part three of the series.)

Don’t worry, we’ve only just begun to prepare for a wonderful trip abroad. Once you take care of these 16 items (the have-tos), click here to view part two of the series where we’ll focus on the more pleasurable part of preparing . . . packing – style, wardrobe, and travel tote – so stay tuned. And to view part three for advice on making the destination and the return home even more pleasurable, click here.

As I know many of you are lovers of travel, what pre-planning musts would you add to the list? Please, do share.
Images: (1) pinterest

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August 21, 2012

This & That: No. 21

A book to put on your wish list, an app to use and love, my new favorite tea and a few classic clothing items to add to your wardrobe . . .


~Clutter, Storage and Happiness by Gretchen Rubin in The New York Times

As a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s blog The Happiness Project and first book of the same name, I am looking forward to reading her second which will be released Tuesday, September 4th – Happier at Home. In preparation for the release, her recent article “Clutter, Storage and Happiness” found in The New York Times shares a glimpse of what will be found in her upcoming new book.


~Pinterest App

Finally, I have the new Pinterest app on my iPad, and oh, how I love it. For free, this app is available and shares a screen of three columns-full of the pins you follow, easy transitions from tab to tab and beautiful high pixel images. Simple and fine-tuned for easy pinning while on the go.


~Stuff Parisians Like: Discovering the Quoi in the Je Ne Sais Quoi by Olivier Magny

Francophiles will enjoy Stuff Parisians Like as it offers a glimpse into the behaviors, preferences and eccentricities of the culture that so piques our interest. While it has been available since 2011, if you don’t already have it, I suggest you add it to your French library. Learn about why the French woman brings Laduree macaroons to nearly every occasion as a gift, how they really feel about tourists and why, which city in the US they most desire to live in and so much more. Organized in simple 2-3 page chapters, you’ll be entertained, intrigued and even more curious to visit.


~Lanvin leather ballet flats - $495

Lanvin leather ballet flats have always been on my fashion wish list, but I have yet to purchase a pair as they are quite the luxury. Thankfully though, I realized that when I do have the funds to purchase my first pair that they run a bit small. With my size being 10 (40 UK), I learned that 41 was more to my fitting. Good to know because one of the most sigh-releasing moments is when the items you order online fit exactly as you expect them to. Soon a pair will be mine!

~Vince Shirt – silk shirred neckline half placket - $275

A simple white silk blouse is a wonderful staple to include in your capsule wardrobe. Easy to transition from work (tucked into a pencil skirt) or left untucked for evening over a pair of skinny jeans with flats or heels, it is comfortable, chic and will forever be in style.


~Mariage Frères tea

While I didn’t come home from Europe with oodles of souvenirs, what I did come home with was an abundance of tea. As gifts and personal luxuries, I thoroughly enjoyed choosing from the list of Mariage Frères loose leaf and sachet teas. With their black signature tin (they also have white and green as well), it is a lovely gift for your tea-loving hostess or friend, as it not only will be a scrumptious treat to savor, but will also look delightful on the shelf.

If you’re not sure you want to purchase their tea, but would quickly label yourself a tea lover, have a look at their tips on how to make the perfect cup of tea. The three flavors I brought home and am slowing beginning to enjoy are Earl Grey Provence, Darjeeling Princeton, and Earl Grey Imperial. And to translate, while it initially appears the business name means “brother’s wedding”, it is simply in homage to the brothers and the family who created the business and includes their family name – Mariage. Click here to learn more about the company’s history.


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August 20, 2012

34 Lessons Learned in London & Paris

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

The adventure that I had so longed for has now come to an end, and oh, what a beautiful, intoxicatingly, lovely adventure it was. As someone who can comfortably label herself a home-body, this particular two weeks of travel left me at the end of it with a much different feeling as I surprisingly was not anxious to return. A feeling that I had discovered so many ways of doing, thinking, living and experiencing that seemed to fit me like a well-worn glove that I wanted to remain.

I couldn’t help but wonder, what does it mean when the adventure begs to continue and the traveler longs to obey, but due to obligation and responsibility, can’t heed the calling?

After much contemplation, I think regardless of how one’s travels unfold, we all return with new eyes and an opportunity to begin living differently . . . to begin living more in tune with who we want to be and how we want our lives to proceed each and every day. The gift of travel is that it truly does offer us an opportunity to find our true selves that are waiting to be unearthed if only we find time to silence the world around us upon returning for a moment or two and listen to what our journey is trying to tell us.

“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
Heath L. Buckmaster, Box of Hair: A Fairy Tale

With that said, I’ve tried to quiet my world the last few days, and in between sleeping during odd hours as my body clock readjusts, I have made a list of lessons that revealed themselves while I traveled in London and Paris the past two weeks. Each of these aha revelations are ideas that now I am going to try to incorporate in some way into my daily routine and life here in the states.

Do have a look, and then consider a similar task after your next journey to see how you can fine tune your life and make even more tailored to what complements your passions and values.

1. Wear dresses with abandon.

2. As mentioned by Aisling of Tresor Parisien, your wardrobe is your armor to the world. Always look your best.

3. Begin building a collection of quality scarves and favor a beautiful scarf rather than excess jewelry.

4. Continue the desire to learn your entire life (read, visit galleries, visit museums, spend time outside appreciating nature, go to the theater)

5. Tailor your life to your gifts, passions and values. Don’t follow blindly.

6. Choose quality ballet flats over heels in order to look chic while walking and working.

7. Limit the use of jeans.

8. Less driving, more walking.

9. Embrace your unique beauty. Imperfect is more than okay because perfect only appears in magazines.

10. Exude self-confidence with the way you walk, what you choose to wear and how you carry yourself (stand up straight, look forward, not down).

11. A fresh baguette, strawberry jam and tea (or espresso or coffee) is a lovely simple breakfast (I would add a bit of protein as well – such as an egg).

13. Be willing to splurge on a taxi from the train station or airport to your living quarters. It will reduce stress, save time and save your back.

14. Continue to learn the language. I found it amazing that I still had the French language dancing around in my head as I returned to the states. Simply residing in the country allows you to learn how to communicate better in a shorter amount of time, so don’t stop learning.

15. Worry less about what others think (they will always have an opinion, but you have a choice to let it affect you) and instead just be who you want to be, doing what feels most comfortable and in tune with who you are.

16. Go to large museums for only an hour at a time and see a small amount. Absorb what you are viewing. Allow yourself time to take it in, mulling it around in your mind. Pay attention to what it sparks in your thoughts/creativity/etc.

17. The Metro in Paris and the Tube in London are your friend. Be patient, determine how the lines run, and it will enable you to enjoy the city far better than only being able to walk from place to place.

18. Not checking email incessantly is a relief. Set designated times during your day to check all of your necessary accounts. Remain consistent so that those you work with will come to respect your system.

19. Allow meals to linger, conversation to meander and time to wait for you. Don’t rush meals. What I appreciated immensely in London and Paris is that in most instances you had to ask for your check, rather than the waiter placing it immediately on the table after your last delivered dish in their subliminal way of trying to turn tables quicker. What a pleasant difference.

20. When traveling with a friend or significant other on a lengthy vacation, allow each other a day to go and do their own thing separately. This allows for each person to plan things their traveling partner may not enjoy, but also creates wonderful dinner conversation that evening as you share what you experienced during your solitary excursion.

21. Wear less accessories, and instead opt for accessories of quality (shoes, handbag, scarves, jewelry, hat, etc).

22. A large travel tote of high quality not only increases your travel chic style, but also makes traveling more efficient instead of having to carry multiple small bags.

23. An iPad (or other similar device) is ideal for travel – download books, receive subscription magazine issues, etc prior to leaving. Saves space and offers more choices.

24. Fabulous shoes and quality handbag speak volumes about a woman’s style even if her wardrobe consists of jeans and a simple tee.

25. Practice patience and shop vintage.

26. Rent an apartment instead of checking into a hotel when traveling.

27. Allow yourself to eat good food but less of it.

28. One doesn’t need to live in a large house to live well.

29. Treat yourself to sparkling water with a meal every once in awhile.

30. Enjoying a cash vacation makes the return flight and transition back into your regular schedule much more tranquil.

31. With simple changes, even amateurs can take better pictures. Allow your subjects (people) to be candid and don’t insist they always look at the camera and smile. Capture them when they aren’t expecting it or give them time to just be their natural self.

32. When traveling, some of the best spots to visit are where the tourists aren’t congregating. Leave the crowds and peek down small streets and neighborhood corners. You never know what treasures you will find.

34. The best souvenirs are not things but memories. Allow yourself to be open to experience and try whatever is offered. Take photos, keep a journal. These two things alone will provide lasting keepsakes that will be priceless.

Images:  (1) 

August 17, 2012

While in Paris . . .

 ~Wednesday evening we hopped off our Seine river boat tour and found le Tour de Eifel all aglow. ~

As you read this post, I am en route across the pond returning to the states. Paris has been quite kind, and in the five days here has revealed many well-known beautiful sites as well as hidden treasures.

I must say the must-see sites during my second visit wore my legs out (and my feet as I was resolute in wearing flats instead of trainers), and I discovered, and was reassured, that the simple things truly are the greatest of luxuries. For example: beginning the morning with a quick walk to the neighborhood boulangerie to pick up a fresh baguette for breakfast to be enjoyed with strawberry jam, tea and espresso, sipping a glass of rosé wine mid afternoon, and losing track of time in conversation at outdoor cafes either over a lovely dinner or simply a cup of espresso or tea.

As I gather my thoughts about the trip and lessons learned during the flight home, do stop by early next week when I will share with you what Paris and London have taught me about living a most simply luxurious life.

Here is a look back on this past week on the blog, and please note that the weekly Friday newsletter will return next Friday (August 24th) and will include a subscribers’ first-to-know about an upcoming giveaway.

~London’s Closing Ceremony & British Models . . . fashion was invited to the Olympics and it was golden . . .

~Style Inspiration: Flats, Scarves & Classic Chic . . . Parisian inspired . . .

~This & That: No. 20 . . . stylish athletic clothing, Vogue Paris, a delicious English dessert and more

~A fantastic guest post from Frances Schultz, a contributing editor to House Beautiful . . . Why Not . . . Welcome Houseguests with Style? 

~A lovely visit and worth the search . . . Manolo Blahnik – Worth the Investment

~The most popular post of the week . . . The Art of Subtleties . . .

Below, enjoy a few photos captured while strolling and soaking in the beauty that is Paris.

 ~A warm day in Paris, strolling through the Tulierie Gardens with Le Tour de Eifel in the background. ~

 ~The famed Angelina Tearoom, lauded for its chocolat chaud and mont blanc was once frequented by Coco Chanel and Proust. We stopped in after lunch on Thursday for a decadent taste (notice how the hot chocolate is served – pitcher and small cup of whipped cream) of the talked about signature drink. Absolutely worth the extra calories.~

 ~Just passed Pont Alexander III while floating down the Seine, dusk settles on Paris and le Tour de Eifel emerges.~

 ~I must admit, all the talk about Laduree macaroons made me curious but at the same time skeptical. How good could a sweet treat possibly be to garner the mad attention it has found? Needless to say, after stopping into one of the three Laduree locations in Paris and trying the vanilla macaroon, I now know why they are raved about. AMAZING. Truly. Even though the other macaroons I had at Angelina’s were delicious, Laduree’s far surpassed them. And since there’s a Laduree’s in the Charles de Gaulle airport, I think I’ll be sure to enjoy a few on the flight home as well. Do make sure you try them. (New York and London also now have a Laduree.) ~ (online photo)

 ~For our last evening in Paris, we savored a celebratory dinner at Le Grand Colbert (if you loved the Diane Keaton film Something’s Gotta Give as much as I do, you’ll know this restaurant). ~

 ~On the walk home from Le Grand Colbert, the nearby Lourve pyramid was illuminated and the crowds were much quieter. Deliciously beautiful and a perfect last night in Paris. ~

 ~One last collage from London. As I shared last week, the Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville were positioned throughout the city of London, and depending up on where they were situated, they each were painted to emulate the area they were placed. Many that we found were in Regent’s Park and the others were along the South Bank across the Thames from Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. Tourists, as you can imagine, were continually snapping photos of them, so we played right along and had a “jolly” good time. ~

Images: All images, unless otherwise designated, captured by Simply Luxurious. ~