Paris: Spring in the City of Light

Hotel Sully Paris by Katie Kukulka

It really is true what they say about Paris in the spring, it’s unbelievably picturesque. Flowers are in bloom, fluffy clouds are overhead, and a sprinkling of rain feels refreshing between warm days. During my week long stay I lived like a local, took over 4,000 photos and made some incredible discoveries.

I truly enjoyed every moment I spent in the City of Light. I climbed to the top of Notre Dame to visit the gargoyles. Scoured the puces for antique treasure. Experienced the city from the top of the Eiffel tower at midnight and viewed iconic works of my favorite impressionists.

Paris_20Katie Kukulka in Paris  Paris by Katie KukulkaParis by Katie KukulkaNew_Paris_5  Parisian CatParis by Katie KukulkaEiffel Tower by Katie Kukulka  Paris by Katie KukulkaParis by Katie Kukulka

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The courtyard of the Sully Hôtel. Looking out the window of the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. Me in my JCrew Metro coat, FRYE Veronica slouch boots and ONA Chelsea camera bag. The view from “my apartment” for the week. The floor of the Musée Carnavalet. A streetlight outside of the Place des Vosges. My feline neighbor. Detail of a historic door in the 7th. The Eiffel Tower from the corner of Avenue de Suffren and Rue de Buenos Ayres. The interior of Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church. The courtyard of the private club next to the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature.

I have many more photos and details to share in upcoming posts, for now here are a few Paris travel tips.

LIVE LIKE A LOCAL
Living like a local in Paris is made possible thanks to sites like airbnb. You can rent an apartment in your favorite part of the city and truly immerse yourself in the culture. This visit I stayed in a beautiful one bedroom Parisian apartment for less than the cost of a hotel. I truly felt at home. (Sign up for airbnb with this link and receive $25 off your first booking.)

LEARN A LITTLE FRENCH
I spent the weeks leading up to my trip learning French with the Pimsleur method. The program is incredibly effective, I went from knowing absolutely no French to a very basic conversational level in under a month.

Each lesson is about 30 minutes in length and consists of audio lessons with native French speakers. I found listening to them in the car the perfect scenario. I could turn it up loud, listen for nuances and repeat. I have been recommending the program to everyone. If you are interested in giving the Pimsleur method a try, save 25% by using the code SAVENOW at checkout. You can also try a demo for yourself before committing to the program.

BUY AUTHENTICALLY FRENCH SOUVENIRS 
Early saturday morning (8:00AM will do but earlier is better) head to the Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves. Which is, in my opinion, the best flea market in Paris. It’s small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality and price. Just take metro Line 13 to the Porte de Vanves stop to get there.

You can pick up some really amazing and truly authentic french souvenirs, like antique papier-mâché pencil boxes, beveled glass picture frames and teacups made in France a century ago.

P.S. Be sure to click to read the image details above if you are looking for more great places to visit, and take photos of while in Paris. There are some suggestions hidden in the captions.

A Floral Season

For me arranging flowers is a therapeutic exercise, a sensory and tactile treat. I discovered this last summer after taking my first floral design class. I spent the rest of the season learning the art from the industry’s best.

MAY – A STUDY OF HEIRLOOM ROSES
My very first floral design class was A Study of Heirloom Roses, with the talented Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua and Nicolette Owen of Nicolette Camille Floral, collectively Little Flower School. Students gathered for the lesson at Garden Valley Ranch in Petaluma, California, where we spent the day cutting heirloom roses from the garden and learning to create arrangements with a wild and elegant aesthetic – their specialty.

A Study of Heirloom Roses with Little Flower School by Katie Kukulka
A Study of Heirloom Roses with Little Flower School by Katie Kukulka  A Study of Heirloom Roses with Little Flower School by Katie KukulkaA Study of Heirloom Roses with Little Flower School by Katie Kukulka  A Study of Heirloom Roses with Little Flower School by Katie KukulkaA Study of Heirloom Roses with Little Flower School by Katie Kukulka
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My finished floral arrangement, working away, Nicolette transforming a tulip by gently bending it’s petals back – creating an entirely new shape to work with, Sarah showing off a selection of poppies, Sarah and Nicolette simultaneously building the foundation of an arrangement, our work space at Garden Valley Ranch and a  stunning demonstration arrangement.

EARLY JULY – FLORAL ARRANGING 101
Shortly after my introduction to floral design, I enrolled in Floral Arranging 101 with Chelsea Fuss of Frolic! via Nicole’s Classes. The four week course consisted of step-by-step instructional videos and one-on-one feedback. Students were tasked with creating an arrangement once a week and sharing the photos with Chelsea for critique. We made range of compositions from bouquets to boutineers.

Floral Arranging 101 Hand Tied Bouquet by Katie Kukulka
Floral Arranging 101 Wedding Bouquet by Katie Kukulka  Floral Arranging 101 Flower Crown by Katie Kukulka  Floral Arranging 101 Wild English Arrangement by Katie Kukulka
Floral Arranging 101 | Flower Crown | by Katie Kukulka  flowers101
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My hand tied bouquet, wedding bouquet, flower crown, wild English arrangement. (See my arrangements featured on Frolic!, and Nicole’s Classes blog here and here.)

LATE JULY – CREATIVE DIRECTION + STYLING
In early July I spent three inspiring days in Atlanta with Joy Thigpen, and talented aspiring wedding stylists, at her Creative Direction + Styling Workshop. As a small part of our education in aesthetics and styling we designed small lush floral arrangements using sustainably foraged foliage from the grounds of the Inn at Serenbe, along with a shipment of buds from Mayesh.

Flower Arrangement by Katie Kukulka (iPhone)
Joy Styling (iPhone)  Mayesh Delivery
The Inn at Serenbe (iPhone)
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My arrangement, a special floral delivery, Joy styling a paper suite and the grounds of the Inn at Serenbe. (iPhone Images)

AUGUST – ARRANGED COLLECTIONS
Before the summer was through I enrolled in a one day floral design intensive with Jill Rizzo and Alethia Harampolis of Studio Choo and authors of The Flower Recipe Book. The theme was Arranged Collections and students learned to make multiple arrangements that together created a cohesive multi-container composition. These woman have such creative ideas, like adding mushrooms, potted plants and wood slices to arrangements.

Arranged Collections Jill Packing my Arrangements (iPhone)  Arranged CollectionsFlower Table
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My final arranged collection – slightly worse for wear after the ride home, Jill packing up my arrangements, a table of flowers to choose from. (iPhone Images)

All of these woman are masters of their craft and I highly recommend each of the classes I attended. I certainly wouldn’t mind taking them all over again just for fun.

Have you ever taken a floral design class? Ever wanted to?

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Citrine

Citrine’s warm golden hue is the embodiment of sunshine. It’s richness is intoxicating and I can’t resist it. Luckily 18th and 19th century jewelers were also attracted to the stone. I’ve been fortunate to add a number of antique citrine pieces to my collection and they are some of my favorites.

Victorian Citrine and Pearl Ring by Katie Kukulka
Georgian Citrine Earrings by Katie Kukulka  Foil Backed Georgian Citrine Ring by Katie KukulkaAntique German Silver and Citrine Bracelet by Katie Kukulka

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Victorian citrine and pearl ring, Georgian citrine and rose gold earrings (on a vintage Swedish downhill skiing trophy), Georgian foil backed citrine ring, antique German silver and citrine bracelet.

 
Like all gemstones, citrine is said to have properties that transcend physical form. The stone is thought to be warming, energizing and able to activate creativity. It is also said to enhance concentration, raise self confidence and help to release negative fears. Citrine’s metaphysical traits are nearly as beautiful as the stone itself.

RESOURCES
If you are interested in adding antique citrine to your jewelry collection, Bell and Bird has a beautiful selection to choose from. Also, if you would like to learn more about the properties of gemstones and minerals I recommend The Crystal Bible.

Introduction

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Paris in June | by Katie KukulkaVictorian Embroidery Scissors | by Katie Kukulka  Beatrix | by Katie KukulkaLong Waves | by Katie Kukulka

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Paris in June, Victorian embroidery scissors, my dachshund Beatrix, my hair at it’s longest.