Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hope, in a Royal Way

If perhaps you were living under a cold, damp, isolated rock you may have missed the historical events of April 29, 2011. If you don't know why this day is special, allow me to enlighten you. On this great day a modern, well educated, astute and "normal" girl made a Prince (and future King) one of the happiest men alive!

The royal wedding of Catherine Elizabeth Middleton to Prince William did not disappoint. As was expected, and still inspired, Catherine, or Kate as most call her, was subtly beautiful and at the same time radiant. Poised and composed, yet uncannily gentle. There was an ease and softness about her that made strangers from around the world smile with delight as we all celebrated the bond of love. From the moment they exchanged treasured rings we felt the world shift a little, the monarchy's austere gloom start to break. Dare I say, hope crept into each of our souls.
Now after celebrating with over TWO BILLION guests worldwide the newlyweds must be in desperate search for some alone time! Do you think they will watch their own wedding on television? Maybe catch one of the BBC replays today? I wonder what images of their special day most sticks out in their minds! Was it the fragrant smell of lilly of the valley tucked away under the beautiful maples in the Abbey or their abundance in her bouquet? Kate even had lilly of the valley embedded in their wedding cake!


Or was it when William whispered to Kate and her father that this event was just a "small family affair" as he chuckled! So witty. :)  Well lets be honest, to me the most important thing is where they will head off to for their honeymoon! Some place remote for sure, hot perhaps so they can maybe dive and soak in the sun (ps...thankfully the London sun did come out for the important moments) or maybe the young couple will head back to where serendipity took shape and revisit where both were lured to volunteer in Chile? Great time to ski in Patagonia right now..... as they set off to stay closer to home for now (in her super cute wedges!) lets dream up all the fun places they could possibly honeymoon in the upcoming months...

                        HONEYMOON POTENTIALS:

Sipadan Water Village, Mabul
Mabul Water Bungalow is a floating dive-resort in Mabul Island.

Qualia, Hamilton Island, Australia. August marks Australia’s largest yachting regatta. They can also dive the GBR!  
William can share his "heart" with Kate over the Great Barrier Reef.
They can be very exclusive and have their own private retreat in the Maldives.

Or they may stay closer to home and hit the famed Corsica beaches!
Then again, they have been talking about visiting Canada in the near future and may be lured to  Canada's famed locations....
Explore the tranquility of Twillingate, Newfoundland.
Take a summer dip in Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.

St. John's may remind them of home.
  Or perhaps they will opt for visiting Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and doing a royal visit to the Falkland Islands.

The Falklands are a UK archipelago of over 700 islands only 300 miles from South America.
Rent a private oasis in Punta del Este, Uruguay? This is the Spanish Riviera!

Take a boat to explore the icebergs in Lake Grey and Mountains of the Macizo Paine Massif, Patagonia, Chile.
Or they can totally let their guard down in the remote area of San Martin de los Andes in Argentina.

Wow, all these places would be so much fun. I can't wait to hear where the royal couple ends up! I hope they have a wonderful, peaceful honeymoon and may it be everything THEY want it to be!

As for me, I realised that EVERYTHING I have posted today has some body of water. Can we say "READY for the BEACH?" I think I can! Just a couple more days before Chris and I head out to our private little get-a-way island hopping the British Virgin Islands.... hhmmm, maybe we'll bump into the royal couple there. Ha!


All royal photos on this post are courtesy of Getty Images and found at CNN's website.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Planet Earth School

Fifteen “Rules of Life: The Planet Earth School.” by: Dr. Robert M. Nerem

Unmistakable beauty in Cafe Salotto 42 in Rome, Italy
1.  There are no such things as mistakes, only lessons; growth is through a series of such experiences, a process that involves both successful and unsuccessful experiments.

2.  An unsuccessful experiment does not represent failure, just a learning experience,
and one often learns more from these than from successes. 
3.  Always be open in the widest possible way to encountering a new person or a new opportunity, as these represent new teachers, new learning experiences.  “Leave the screen door unlatched,” because you never know who or what will walk in.

Another view of Saint Mark's Basilica from Palazzo Ducale in Venice, Italy
4.  Let the “rock” in your path be a “stepping stone.” If you encounter a closed door, simply look for another door that might be open.  Life is filled with a lot of paths and doors to walk through,
so don’t waste time on a door that is closed. 

5.  Your life is up to you.  At birth you were provided a “canvas” onto which you have the opportunity to “paint your life.”  Take charge of your life and the “painting of this picture.” 
 If you don’t, someone or something else will.

6.  People will remember not what you said, but only how you made them feel, so strive to make a difference in the lives of others.

7.  Be willing to let go of the life you had planned so as to have the life that awaits you.

Heading towards Siguenza, Spain

8.  Remember that the cup is always half full, never half empty, but also remember that the only cards you can play are the ones you are dealt.

In a recent interview Michael J. Fox, the actor and Parkinson’s activist, was asked “how do you keep your optimism in the face of difficult circumstances?”  Do you ever ask “why me?” He answered that “I have no choice about whether or not I have Parkinson’s”, I have nothing but choices about how I react to it.  In those choices there’s freedom to do a lot of things.”

Again, you can only play the cards that you are dealt, so be willing to let go of the
life you have planned so as to have the life that awaits you.

9.  Look for the good in people, and try to imagine the world as it seems to the other person.

A community kayak on the beach in Provinciales, Turks & Caicos

 10. Never, never worry about something over which you have no control.

11. Whatever happens, place the least dramatic interpretation on the event, the incident,
and/or whatever is said.

12. Welcome each and every new day, for “each dawn is a new beginning.” 
 Each day presents new opportunities.

Blossoming magnolia flower in Atlanta, GA

13. Listen to your heart.  If you can’t hear what it is saying in this noisy world, make time for yourself, make peace with who you are and where you are at this moment in time.

14.  Don’t let your preoccupation with reality stifle your imagination.  If someday, why not now, even though the impossible may take a while.
15. Life’s journey isn’t to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, worn out, shouting—holy cow, what a ride!

"The Ride" in Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida

All pictures taken by Gisymar. Speech given at the Georgia Institute of Technology graduate commencement ceremony August 2009.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Legendeary colonial city: Antigua, Guatemala

Yesterday's post about Casa Santo Domingo reminded me of the pleasures of visiting the small UNESCO World Heritage site in a little town 45 minutes outside of Guatemala City called Antigua (meaning old or antique in Spanish). Antigua is now home to one of my dearest friends, Maritza (we call her Titi Mari out of love). She wistfully left the corporate grind just last July to explore what life could really be like if you lived it by your own rules, took some unpaved roads and explored what living a "lifestyle" really could be. Now, I am not an envious person (really I am not!) but it still takes my breath away to think about her journey, not just the destination, but her inner journey upon which she is now content to listen to what had been screaming from within for quite some time. She reminds me to never squelch my desires of waking up in a little Spanish village or the smoldering night lights of Madrid...  One day it will happen, it is in my five year plan. Yes, I am the "bohemian planner". LOL!

In the meantime, here are some pictures I took of my trip to Antigua last year as I, along with our dear friend Juliana, dropped off Maritza at the door steps of her new life. It felt more like dropping off our daughter at college and traveling back home to an empty nest. That part was sad.
Thankfully, we have skype and regular visits.

The Antigua "welcome": the Santa Catalina Arch built in the 17th century. The arch was originally intended to connect the Santa Catalina convent to a school, allowing the cloistered nuns to pass from one building to the other without going out on the street - where they could not be seen as women.

El Volcan de Fuego, the "Fire Volcano"

La facade of the old El Carmen church, which spontaneously erupted
into a wonderful mid-afternoon market.

Our hotel during our stay the Palacio de Dona Leonor. This is the courtyard area.
It was amazing to wake up to every morning.

The many rooftops of this ancient city are remarkable. The colors are so vibrant, like no other.  

During our visit we took a day trip to the famous Lago Atitlan. Unfortunately, it was a little foggy when we visited but still wonderful. The town of Panajachel was delightful to explore.

A little sip of cafe from the Filidelphia coffee plantation came with lots of love.

It was market day at the Chichi market.

The many doors of Antigua's colonial past beckoned to take in the centuries old stories. Who lives here? What lies behind these doors? How many families have called this home? Wish I would have knocked and asked... next time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weekend at Scott's!

For those of you not familiar with the weekend thrills of the Scott Antique Markets in south Atlanta, I must forewarn you that I believe it to be reason enough to venture to Jonesboro Rd! While not in the most glamorous side of town, the treasures that lie within the 366,000 square feet of the Atlanta Exposition Center elicit eclectic vendors from Kentucky to Paris! Ok, well maybe French enthusiast that call Birmingham, AL home. For example I found these great pans and rustic pots at the
Maison de France Antiques booth.
Aren't they fun? I loved the aged patina of these rustic pans. Of course in my mind I was thinking... can we make paella in these? HA! Then I was reminded of the beautiful bowls filled with rose petals that we found lusciously floating in antique stone pots in a wonderful little oasis called  Casa Santo Domingo hotel in Antigua, Guatemala. This is a place that knows how to make everything look like mother nature came down to personally kiss it and wrap you in magic!

This is a picture I took while visiting Casa Santo Domingo hotel in Antigua, Guatemala. 

Back to Scott's Antique Market.... here I found a little corner in the South end that had a slew of lighting pieces. So fun to rummage through!

This was such a cool and different piece that I wanted to purchase for our guest bedroom, but alas the price tag was too much for Chris to bear. In classic "Martinism" fashion he said: "Isn't that a little pricey for an old rickety dresser that has been painted that crazy color and the handles don't even match". Yep folks, that is who I married. Nothing more to say. Still love him.

On to my dinning room chair obsession. Here we found 200+ year old French provincial chairs. They were beautiful and had such an incredible taupe, grey classic color. The chairs were solid, until my 6.2' husband sat on them and felt "there is no way this is going to hold me!" Hence, the saga for the chair search continued.

Then I stumbled upon this scenic beauty. Seriously, as I browsed through Ann Miller Hopkin's Antiques on Holiday booth I fell in love with her pieces which were so put together and gorgeous (look at that oyster like lamp!) and then look at her! This woman looked like she was a piece of art in her own booth! Effortless beauty... does everyone look like that at the beach?

After walking indoors for about two hours it was time to venture OUTside - yes, Scott's has outdoor booths too. There was anything from patio furniture, to wine barrels, to boxwoods to great cast iron pieces. I tought this was great too - a mascot (not for sale) and TOP SOIL. This place has it all! This sweet little puppy made me think of my precious dear Sydney (below). We miss her so much.

Focus, Focus! Oooohhhh.... what about these chairs? They are french inspired, yet made of indestructible Brazilian oak. BINGO! I think these chairs are it for me. Dear Pascal of Pascal's of Bogart, GA (near Athens) was a super fun artist that in the process of purchasing our chairs gave us great tips for our future travels to his homeland, France. We both agreed that the undiscovered southwest area of France is a hidden destination that lends itself to blissful discoveries.
When can I pack my bags?

More fun things... like all the silver salt and pepper shakers you can ever dream of!
Well, that was some of my fun moments at Scott's last weekend. Needless to say,this is a great way to spend the second weekend of every month!! See you there next time. Till then...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

La Cocina de Martin!

Alas, the kitchen renovation is complete! Well, technically Pride Residential Services (our contractors who were awesome!) completed the renovation in late February but I have have been delayed in posting pictures of the project. Life gets in the way sometimes. I hope you will forgive me and enjoy the progress shown in the pictures below!

Our "charming" old kitchen. This picture doesn't even capture the dead space next to the fridge, the oversized pantry that was always awkward and the sheer exhaustion of the kitchen just being stretched to thin. Poor thing was tired....we had to save it! 

Our inspiration for the kitchen design was "Sally Wheat's" kitchen which was posted on Cote de Texas blog site.That grey-blue color (Benjamin Moore's Fieldstone) was so soothing. The marble made my heart race a little faster and the open shelving made the space feel approachable. I fell in instant love with this kitchen. It was the first one I saw myself in...  

So I had to find a way to take Sally Wheat's kicthen and translate it into our space and BUDGET! This is it... OUR kitchen AFTER the renovation! Oooh, that farm house sink still makes my heart skip a beat! We didn't do marble, Chris got scared of the budget and the "patina" unknowns so we went with Ceasar Stone's Misty Carrera instead. While we didn't use BM's Fieldstone, our cabinet maker, Scott of Jackson Cabinetry matched the Fieldstone color and Thomasville's Baltic Bay color to make our own special color for the cabinetry. We were VERY happy with the final result.

I have cooked some fantastic dishes on this stove and do you not love this hood? I looked through so many magazines and finally designed my own for the space. I am so happy with it! I can't believe we didn't have a vent in the kitchen for years! ohhh the progress!

I fell in lust with the floating shelves. They are so European and so practical too.
AND yes, there is a dishwasher on this wall... can you find it?

All my everyday dishes. So easy to access now!

Is it wrong to lust a faucet?

Our first meal in the house required a smooth drink and this beautiful French sauvingon blanc made it all worthwhile!

I even made a yummy lemon cake from Francis Mayes book Under the Tuscan Sun.
This was a big hit! I added a little sour cream to her recipe and I think it made all the difference.

Chris wanted to inaugurate the kitchen with fish (guess he wanted to really use the new vent hood!).
So I made a crab encrusted grouper. It was to die for!

My friend Ann shared her recipe for Swiss Chard, which her 4 year old said was "the best greens ever!"
I had to make the recipe after this endorsement!

Finally, here is a glance at the fridge, pantry (to right) and the wine rack (which I think is my favorite!)
Hope you enjoyed touring my new kitchen. We love it! Every time I walk into my house now I can hardly believe it is ours! After five years of talking about it, dreaming about it, cutting out tons of pictures in magazines I am finally at peace with my kitchen. Let the good FOOD reign queen!