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Random Raves

Random Raves

Random Raves: Edinburgh and Dublin

Rosslyn Chapel

We’re back from a busy week of travel to Edinburgh and Dublin where we took in the sites, visited some colleges and indulged in the local cuisine.  Here are some of the things we’re still raving about now that we’re home.  A couple of days in Edinburgh gave us the chance to travel down to Hadrian’s Wall by way of Rosslyn Chapel, made famous by Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.  Built in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, the chapel had fallen into disrepair, largely ignored by tourists until the book and movie brought it fame in 2003.  Now, over 150,000 people visit this beautiful example of Gothic craftsmanship annually after major conservation work was completed in 2007.

Angels with Bagpipes

Not only is Edinburgh perfect for history buffs, it’s also a great place for foodies.  Locally sourced ingredients abound and the meals we had at Angels with Bagpipes and The Outsider were beyond delicious.  Both restaurants are located in the Old Town and well worth the visit.

Windows on the World

A trip to Edinburgh would not be complete without spending some time in the National Museum of Scotland.  Even after three days of intensive sightseeing, we couldn’t pass up the chance to view the collections that trace the history of Scotland – its land, its people and their achievements.  We could have spent an entire day there, but for our tired legs and lack of time.

A Rainbow in Malahide

Dublin is an entirely different kind of city than Edinburgh, with a faster pace and a decidedly more modern feel.  Instead of staying in town, we picked an elegant apartment up the coast in Malahide, once a sleepy fishing village, now an upscale town that is an easy 20 minute commute by train (stay tuned for more on the apartment!)

Guinness Storehouse

When in Dublin, do as the natives do…  Drink Guinness and spend a morning at the Storehouse, an interactive museum that will teach you anything and everything you wanted to learn about Ireland’s top brew.

The Book of Kells

And finally, one of our most favorite tours was a private viewing of a national treasure and some say, miracle – The Book of Kells – which is on exhibit in the library at Trinity College.  This 1,200 year old illustrated manuscript has survived Viking raids, the English Reformation, and two months in a ditch and it’s still breathtakingly beautiful.  The visit is well worth the extra expense of booking an early access tour to beat the crowds (over 600,000 visitors yearly) and learn about this magnificent work of art!

P.S.  If any of you are planning to visit these cities, please do send us an email; we have so much more to share.

chapel / restaurant / museum / marina / storehouse / manuscript

Random Raves

Random Raves: La Jolla and Del Mar Edition

Bayside Walk - Mission Bay

Bayside Walk – Mission Bay

How to pick a handful of things to randomly rave about the San Diego area when there are so many to choose from?  Here are some of our favorite moments, though we could go on and on about others…  It’s a good thing that one of our son’s chose to go to college out here since we’ll definitely be visiting again!

Decorative Door

Decorative Door

There’s no better way to start your morning than a walk around Mission Bay and if you trek the whole 5 miles you’ll see some incredible properties.  This door caught our attention since it leads to a beautiful courtyard with fountain and a private hot tub!

L'Auberge Del Mar

L’Auberge Del Mar

You don’t have to book a suite at L’Auberge Del Mar (where the beautiful people play) to enjoy its setting – just stop by for a meal on the patio or in the poolside cabanas and admire the views.

Fountain of Succulents

Fountain of Succulents

The five acre landscaped grounds make the most of the drought in California with native plants and grasses and even the fountain is filled with succulents!

Delicious Drinks

Delicious Drinks

After all that strolling, you can afford to indulge in a drink (or two) at George’s Ocean Terrace which is consistently voted best restaurant in the area and it’s no surprise – this rooftop gem overlooks La Jolla Cove and the sunsets are ahhhh-mazing.

Chocolate Haupia

Chocolate Haupia

And if you need dessert to cap off a perfect day, look no further than Karen Krasne’s Extraordinary Desserts, where the cakes and pastries are, well… extraordinary.  Each beautifully topped with an edible flower, we dare you to pick just one.

photos 1 – 4 by yours truly, drinks, cake

Random Raves

Random Raves: Carmel Edition

Cantera Court

Cantera Court

Carmel, California, is one of our favorite places in the world and each time we visit, we come home with a list of new raves.  We flew out west to celebrate a best friend’s birthday so instead of staying at one of the fabulous resorts lining the coast, we rented a house in the hills of Pebble Beach through Elite Carmel.  When they say they are the “vacation home experts”, they’re not kidding!  When you rent through Elite, you get concierge service, an app with all the information about the home and surrounding area and a luxurious home filled with every possible amenity.

Oh, Danny Boy

Oh, Danny Boy

Our first evening was spent toasting the birthday boy on the terrace at the Inn at Spanish Bay.  If you go at sunset, make sure to grab seats around one of the lively fire pits and get serenaded by the lone bagpiper who magically appears through the mist.

Dinner with a View

Dinner with a View

Even though our house came with an amazing chef’s kitchen, we took advantage of the fine dining available in the Carmel area and enjoyed some classic California cuisine.  A dinner at the restaurant at Mission Ranch is always a treat, made even more memorable by a large wedding party who decided that singing songs with the piano player at the bar was a fun way to end the night.  This 1800’s ranch was preserved and restored by none other than former Carmel mayor, Clint Eastwood.  He also owns the Hog’s Breath Inn in town if you’re up for a late night drink.

Botanical Abundance

Botanical Abundance

Retail Therapy

Retail Therapy

Shopping on Ocean Avenue is a must and once you stop oohing and ahhing over the beautifully planted window boxes, pop into Paloosh, a store filled with chic European and American fashion brands (Joie, Equipment, DVF and the like) all displayed by color.

Ahoy, Matey!

Ahoy, Matey!

Finally, a trip to the California coast would be missing something if you didn’t hop on a sail boat and cruise the waters looking for whales and dolphins.  We didn’t see any on our trip on the Bella on the Bay though our super friendly captain did steam up a bucket of fresh crab which made our day.

We hope you enjoyed this little tour of Carmel and if you need more travel tips, you know who to call!

Photos: house, bagpiper, restaurant, flowers, store, and ship

Random Raves

Random Raves: Knoxville Edition

Melton Lake Park

Melton Lake Park

A recent rowing competition took one of us to Oak Ridge, TN, a city nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains built in secrecy during World War II as part of the “Manhattan Project.”  Since there wasn’t much to do or see in Oak Ridge besides the races and the American Museum of Science & Energy, we decided to stay in Knoxville just steps away from Market Square where we could shop and dine to our hearts’ content.  And boy, did we ever!  Here are some of our favorite spots in case you have a chance to visit.

Fresh Market Flowers

Fresh Market Flowers

Market Square Farmers’ Market: Every Wednesday and Saturday, Market Square fills up with vendors selling products made or grown in the East Tennessee region.  Every booth had something wonderful to offer, from seasonal produce to baked good and artisan crafts including the most beautiful mouth blown glass.  And of course, bunches of fresh flowers for less than $10!

Sheer Bliss

Sheer Bliss

Bliss Home: Voted “Best Store in Knoxville”, this little gem of a store is true bliss (makes sense, doesn’t it?)  As the website says, “Some describe it as glee, and some as joy, wonder, or delight. Whatever you call it, if you have not experienced this breath of fresh air known as Bliss” then you need to add this to your travel plans.

Mixed Grill

Mixed Grill

Chesapeake’s: When you think of the Southern food, you think of BBQ and perhaps cheese grits (which we had plenty of on our trip) yet we had one of our favorite dinners at Chesapeake’s where the food was amazing and the decor reminiscent of a traditional Chesapeake Bay seafood restaurant (replete with hanging nets and colorful fish filled aquariums.)

Chocolate Caramel Cupcake

Chocolate Caramel Cupcake

Cafe 4 cupcakes:  It’s no secret we have a sweet tooth so a stop at Cafe 4 on Market Square is a great way to end the evening (unless you need a nightcap – see below!)  Made fresh daily with only the finest ingredients, these delicacies include cupcakes with a twist and marvelous macarons.

Mix Master

Mix Master

Peter Kern Library: Just in case you thought we had adventures of the intellectual kind, this place is no ordinary library.  In fact, it’s a speakeasy which you enter through a secret door on an alley.  Yes, there are books lining the shelves along with other interesting oddities (we think we saw a stuffed fox!) but the ones scattered on the coffee tables hold three pages of custom cocktails named after famous literary characters.  We indulged in an Atticus Finch (gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, cucumber, ginger and mint) and a Matilda (some kind of Old Fashioned with muddled blueberries.)   Needless to say, it was a Saturday night and by 10 pm the bar filled up a younger crowd (the characters of Bravo’s Southern Charm would feel very much at home) and the music got very loud so our advice for the over 40 crowd is to go early on a weeknight.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little tour of Knoxville’s finest and let us know if you have plans to visit…  We have lots more to share.  Have a great weekend, y’all!

Photos: Melton Lake, flowers, table, mixed grill, cupcake and mix master

Random Raves

Random Raves: Fall Edition

Fallin' for Fall

Fallin’ for Fall

How do we love fall?  Let us count the ways…  It’s not just the cooler days (sweater weather!) and the maples on our drive home turning a fiery orange that puts smiles on our faces.  We also love fall colors like persimmon and bittersweet and apricot

Comfy and Cozy

Comfy and Cozy

and gourds galore.

A Gala of Gourds

A Gala of Gourds

Not to mention fall foods like anything made of apples (cider, pie, crumble, and crisp)

Yummy Apple Butter

Yummy Apple Butter

and pumpkin (bread, lattes, ravioli, gnocchi, and pie – we really do love pie!)

Pumpkin Gnocchi from House of Brinson

Pumpkin Gnocchi from House of Brinson

And the best way to spend an autumn day – getting lost in Lyman Orchards’ 4-acre corn maze.  We’ll need that 2 1/2 mile walk to work off all the pie!

Crazy Corn Maze

Crazy Corn Maze

P.S.  If you love fall flowers, you’ll fall for our new designs on Diane James Home!

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Random Raves

Random Raves: Sausalito Edition

Yes, yet another post about our trip out West but we promise it’s the last…  We just wanted to make sure we shared some of our favorite finds for those of you who might make it to the Bay Area this summer (or are lucky enough to live there full time!)

Cavallo Point Lodge at Fort Baker

If you have a night to kill, spend it at the historic Cavallo Point Lodge, nestled in one of America’s most popular national parks at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fried Squash Blossom

While you’re there, take a class at the Cavallo Point Cooking School where the likes of Viola Buitoni (if her last name sounds familiar, it’s no coincidence!) will teach you all about squash blossoms and zabaglione… and the best part is you get to eat what you make.

Kirby Cove

After all the wonderful food and wine, you may want to hike the various trails around the Lodge that lead up into the hills above Fort Baker and down into secluded coves.

Pride of Madeira

You won’t miss the stately spikes of purple flowers (straight out of The Lorax!) which dot the landscape and are called Pride of Madeira.  Some plants can grow taller than seven feet and they sway in the wind as if they were dancing…

Linda Fahey - Petite Blue Flora Pitcher

With all the eating, drinking and hiking, we didn’t have much of a chance to shop but we did pop into the Lodge’s store and discovered Linda Fahey, a local artist who creates whimsical pieces that evoke her life by the sea.  We can’t say we uncovered everything that Sausalito has to offer but we certainly tried our best!  After all, we were travelling on business…

Diane James Orchid at Neiman Marcus

P.S.  Still can’t get over meeting Joanne Weir in person – don’t forget to enter our giveaway of her new book here!

Photos via Cavallo Point Lodge, Fresa y Pimienta, yours truly and Linda Fahey

Random Raves

Random Raves: Laguna Beach Edition

and Much, Much More!

While we’re planning a trip to California for early June, Annie from the beautiful blog Lovely Things will be planning her move back to the Northeast.  Needless to say, we can’t wait to have her in our neck of the woods though we know she will miss Laguna Beach.  And given her submission for our “Random Raves” series, we can see why…  Welcome, Annie, to The Buzz and to Connecticut (and don’t worry, we’ll help you find the perfect cappuccino and home decor store!)

Chips and a Sunset

Best View – Las Brisas in Laguna Beach.  This was taken last month on another stunning evening.  We planned our day around  making it to Las Brisas for the sunset.  As you sit at one of their outdoor tables or bars, you look left (south) and you see Main Beach catching the warm glow.   To the north toward Newport you can watch the sun setting over Catalina.  The guacamole is something to rave about, too!

Coffee Break

Best Cappuccino – Zinc Cafe and Market in Laguna Beach has the most wonderful cappuccino.  The cafe has a very relaxed feel.  They have two doors, one for take out, sweets and coffee and then the other side they have a full menu with lots of delicious sandwiches, pizza,  salads, soup and of course a burrito of some sort.  It is Southern California after all. 

Fantastic Finds

Best Flea Market – The Groves Antique Market at the Great Park in Irvine, CA just off the 5 Freeway on the first Sunday of the month. 

Sensational Shop

Juxtaposition is the home interior store I visit most often.  They are always changing their vignettes, adding to their well edited selection of books, one of a kind pieces, fabrics and clothing items… it’s always worth a visit even if just for a little inspiration.

Surf's Up!

Hobie Surf Shop – Way more than boards… you could outfit your entire family at this one surf shop for the perfect Southern California look.  They have everything from swim suits, clothing, bags, hats, shoes, jewelry… it’s almost like a “Surf” department store.  Hobie (Hobie Alter) has a surf board as part of the permanent collection at MoMA and we recently saw one at LACMA as part of their California Design, 1930-1965:  “Living in a Modern Way” exhibit through June 3rd.

Gardening Greatness

People always rave about Rogers Gardens in Newport Beach.   It’s way more than a nursery… especially at the holidays, but anytime of year it is a wonderful way to spend a few minutes taking a walk around their gardens or through their shops.

Photos via Lovely Things
Guest Post, Random Raves

Random Raves: London Edition

A Daily Read

Is it just us, or is London really in the spotlight these days?  We couldn’t let this week go by without getting in on the action so we asked the adorable London-based blogger, Meghan, from Wishful Thinking to share some of her favorite things.

“Since I’m South African, I wondered whether I should share some authentic African random raves with you, but given the Queen’s Jubilee this year and the upcoming Olympics, London is definitely the place to be!  There is so much to rave about that I had a hard time whittling it down to just 5!  So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is what I am raving about right now:

Boris Bikes

With spring nearly upon us and the rising cost of tube/train fares, everyone is talking about the mighty Boris Bike!  There are thousands of these (rather retro-looking) bikes scattered around the city, which you can hire for next to nothing!  It still amuses me to see city workers in full suit and tie or 9″ heels and pencil skirts biking to meetings or lunch dates!

Jamie Oliver Cooking Classes

A friend and I recently went to two Jamie Oliver Cooking Classes in Clapham – we did Thai Chicken Curry (delish) and Pasta Making (semi-soul destroying but fun.)  The class is really well organised and it’s a great night out with a friend.  If that doesn’t tempt you, there’s free wine, too!

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

OK, so this is nothing new to Londoners but it is rare to find a restaurant that gets it right every time!  I recently visited the city GBK and enjoyed an out-of-this-world avo and bacon burger with a massive milkshake, all under the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral (and all under £13!)

Free London Walks

I have lived here for 7 years and have only just discovered that you can download maps and  maps and guides for walking tours around London!  My fiancé and I recently did the Legal Walk which was fascinating and fun…  next up is the Jack the Ripper tour!

The Faberge Big Egg Hunt

This Easter, there are over 200 giant Easter eggs (each created by leading artists, designers, architects and jewellers) scattered all around London.  I have only managed to find about 20 so far but the quest continues (yes, this has brought out the big child in me!)

So if you’re in the city or planning to come to London, try these out!  Thanks so much for having me, Carolyn – it’s been fun sharing my little slice of London!”

Don’t you just love Meghan’s picks and that she went out and took all the pictures to create these great collages (making our ability to post soooo much easier?!)  Those giant eggs are amazing and we wonder if Jamie Oliver would consider cooking painting one…  Thank you, Meghan, for your terrific post and I can’t wait to come to London and enjoy a burger with you!

P.S.  Meghan should have included her own blog in her list of raves since it’s one of our favorites!  Click here to read more…

Photos via Wishful Thinking

Random Raves

Random Raves: Atlanta Edition

Southern Charm - Phoebe and James Howard

Don’t you just love “word of mouth?”  Whenever we speak with new customers and ask them how they found out about us, nine times out of ten they say “someone told me about you!”  We thought we’d join the crowd and start spreading the word…  Our new series begins with Atlanta!

The Corner Bakery‘s Swiss Oatmeal – every day for breakfast…

Worth Every Yummy Calorie

Seda France‘s Pagoda Collection – their new Viennese Blooms scent is to die for…

And Our New Winter Scent is in Production

Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden – a great airplane read…

A Real Page-Turner

Starbucks Blonde Coffee – now these tall blondes can finally order “tall blondes”…

An Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

The Rock Flower Paper collection which may just make an appearance on our site this spring!

So Fresh and Fun

So… what are you raving about these days?

Photos via Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle, FauxMartha, Seda France, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks and Rock Flower Paper