Lately

Lately

I’ve been quiet as of late, but I’m going to try and be around a lot more. There have been a lot of exciting happenings in our household and I’m going to be sharing them with all of you in upcoming posts. Here is a little sneak peek at what has been going on in our lives:

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Our furniture line, Marcali, has new representation in Los Angeles at the Egg & Dart showroom on La Cienega. We have been represented at their Denver showroom for a while and when we met with everyone at the LA showroom we could tell right away that it was a great fit. Everything was officially announced at the big Legends of La Cienega event which is held in the La Cienega Design Quarter each year.   The above pictures were taken at the event and in the top picture you can see me sitting in the Livia chair from our collection (it is also upholstered in the Pipeline pattern from our Marcali Luxury Textiles).

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David also had family visiting from Hungary the last couple of weeks so we had some fun weekend trips. Our first one took us to Las Vegas. You know the old adage “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” Well, when you take your kids along with you nothing that happens will stay in Vegas and they will tell everyone with ears all about their adventure.

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Our next adventure took us to the always beautiful San Diego where a bunch of us went together and rented a beach house for the weekend. The weather was a bit cool but we all had an absolute blast and can’t wait to do it again!

2015-05-20-lately04And in other work news, the Marcali website is getting a face lift. If you’ve been by in the last few days you’ve probably seen something that looks like the above picture. In the next few weeks, the new site will go live and it is going to be great! It is a huge improvement over the old site and will now be compatible with mobile devices. I can’t wait!

More soon! Hope you’re having a wonderful Wednesday!

 

 

Things I Love: May

Things I Love: May

2015-05-Jennifers May Picks

  1. Island Style by India Hicks: India Hicks, who is probably best known for being a former fashion model and who is 687th in the line of succession to the British throne has put together one of my favorite design books of late. Her father was the famous interior decorator David Hicks, whose influence is still prominent in the design world today, and her mother is British aristocrat, Lady Pamela Hicks (née Mountbatten – a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the daughter of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma). Oh and India was also one of Princess Diana’s bridesmaids (and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is her godfather). This book, however, isn’t about India’s aristocratic pedigree but rather an ode to her island life in the Bahamas and her home, Hibiscus Hill on Harbour Island. Filled with extraordinary photographs of her home, her family and the surrounding island, Island Style gives us an inside look at India’s charming island life. A lot of design books can be beautiful to look at but a bit lackluster to read, but this one is both beautiful and entertaining. I would have loved the book even without all of the gorgeous pictures.
  2. Sam Edelman Gigi Sandals: It’s nearly summer so it is finally time for sandals and sundresses! I am a total shoe girl but these are hands down my favorite sandals of all time. They are extremely comfortable, they come in a wide variety of colors and they go with absolutely everything. Dressier than simple flip flops and forever classic, the Gigi Sandals are a staple in my wardrobe.
  3. bareMinerals California Bronze: Using bronzer without looking like you’ve used bronzer can be tricky, but this ingenious trio makes it a snap and gives you the perfect natural looking multidimensional bronzed look. I am completely obsessed.
  4. Pura d’Or Argan Oil: Argan oil is all the rage right now and popping up in products from shampoo to moisturizer but I tend to prefer it in its original form. Imported from southern Morocco, this argan oil is natural, organic and cold pressed (qualities that you want to see in a good argan oil). I use it on my face, my body and in my hair. It is an awesome moisturizer and is fabulous for taming frizz.
  5. KOH Coconut Water: There is nothing I like better after a workout than ice cold coconut water – it is known as nature’s sports drink after all. I’ve tried many different kinds but this one is my favorite because I personally think it has the best taste. It is also great in smoothies and even little kids love it.
  6. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Tropical Passion Tea: I drink passion fruit iced tea year round (unsweetened, of course) and it always makes me think of long summer days and trips to the beach. My go-to iced tea is always the Tropical Passion from Coffee Bean. I often order it in store but I make it at home as well and always have it on hand for parties. The Coffee Bean has a wonderful assortment of teas that are great either hot or cold (my favorites for iced tea are Tropical Passion, Apricot Ceylon and Spring Peach Oolong and for hot I like Vanilla Ceylon, Scottish Breakfast and Moroccan Mint).
Europe Trip: Széchenyi lánchíd

Europe Trip: Széchenyi lánchíd

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Budapest is split into two sides. There is the Buda side and the Pest side. Actually they were two separate cities until 1873 when they merged, along with Óbuda (or Old Buda), which was also its own separate city. Speaking of Óbuda, today there is actually an Óbuda Island where the annual Sziget Festival is held every August. I have never actually been to Sziget Festival but it is one of the top ranked music festivals in all of Europe and friends who have been rave about it.

Anyway, back to Buda and Pest.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge with views of Castle Hill

Széchenyi Chain Bridge with views of Castle Hill

So, Buda and Pest were their own cities that were separated by the Danube (or Duna in Hungarian) until the Széchenyi lánchíd (Széchenyi Chain Bridge) was opened in 1849, becoming the first permanent bridge in the capital city. Prior to the bridge’s building, the only way that you could get from one side to the other was to take a ferry. The bridge was designed by English civil engineer William Tierney Clark, who also designed the first Hammersmith Bridge, the first suspension bridge to span the river Thames in London (it has since been replaced), and the Marlow Bridge over the river Thames in Marlow, England. The Marlow Bridge is the bridge on which the design for the Széchenyi lánchíd is based. There is a plaque on the Pest side of the river that reads: “To commemorate the only two surviving bridges designed by William Tierney Clark: The Széchenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow, England.” While the bridge was designed by William Tierney Clark, it was built by Scotsman Adam Clark (no relation) from 1839-1849. The bridge was actually designed in sections in the United Kingdom and then shipped to Hungary for final installation.

Me and David posing with the bridge

Me and David posing with the bridge

All of the guys in front of the bridge

All of the guys in front of the bridge

The Chain Bridge is most famous for its guardian lions which were sculpted by Hungarian sculptor János Marschalkó. There is a legend that when a young boy pointed out that Marschalkó forgot to include the lions’ tongues, the sculptor became so distraught that he threw himself into the river. Another account claims that Marschalkó was so proud of his creation that he boasted that if anyone could find fault in the accuracy of his lions that he would throw himself off the bridge. After the boy pointed out that you could not see their tongues, Marschalkó spent months studying the lions at the local zoo and finally came to the conclusion that when lions have their mouths open in that position, you cannot see their tongues so he felt confident that his statues were perfect. I don’t know if either are true, but they both make for a good story.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge Guardian Lions

Széchenyi Chain Bridge Guardian Lions

A trip to Budapest is never complete without a visit to the Marschalkó lions. I especially like to take a walk down the Dunakorzó (the Danube Promenade) which extends between Elizabeth Bridge and Chain Bridge in Pest along the banks of the Danube and look at the lions on the Pest side of the river at Széchenyi Square. While the lions are cool on either side of the river, those on the Pest side are my favorite (and the most photographed) because of the spectacular view of Castle Hill behind them (you can see my posts on Castle Hill by clicking Part I or Part II). The bridge is also gorgeous at night because it is illuminated by hundreds of lights that are reflected by the waters of the Danube.

Bronze statue along the Dunakorzó

Bronze statue along the Dunakorzó

David and the boys with the gorgeous flowers at the end of the promenade just across the street from the bridge.

David and the boys with the gorgeous flowers at the end of the promenade just across the street from the bridge.

a couple more with the flowers

a couple more with the flowers

Europe Trip: Castle Hill Part 2 – Mátyás-templom

Continuing on our tour of Castle Hill, we made our way to the Mátyás-templom. The church, which in English is called Matthias Church, holds historical significance, because according to church history, it sits atop the site of the church originally founded by Hungary’s first king, Stephen I, although no remains of the original church can be found today. Originally holding names such as “The Church of Mary” and “The Church of Our Lady” it was given its current moniker in the 19th century, being named after Matthias Corvinus, King Matthias I who reigned as King of Hungary and Croatia from 1458-1490.  During his reign, Matthias not only ordered the transformation of the original Southern Tower, but he also had two weddings on the site; the first wedding was to his second wife, Catherine of Poděbrady and, after her death, the second wedding was to his third wife, Beatrice of Naples. The exterior of the church was restored by Frigyes Schulek in the late 1800s in honor of Hungary’s 1000th anniversary. Schulek adhered to the original plans for the church, which dated back to the thirteenth century, restoring the church to its original intended splendor.

Mátyás-templom

Mátyás-templom

Exterior views of the Mátyás-templom the smaller colorfully tiled tower is the Béla torony the taller tower is the Mátyás torony

Exterior views of the Mátyás-templom the smaller colorfully tiled tower is the Béla torony the taller tower is the Mátyás torony

The Béla torony, which is the church’s smallest tower, is named for Hungary’s King Béla IV, during whose reign the church was originally constructed. The tallest tower, Mátyás torony, is named for the church’s namesake King Matthias Corvinus. The church was not only noted for royal weddings, but also for royal coronations. Two kings of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy were crowned there: Franz Joseph in 1867 (for which Franz Liszt – in Hungarian its Liszt Ferenc – composed and performed his Coronation Mass) and Charles V in 1916.

Mátyás-templom

Mátyás-templom

Exterior church architecture

Exterior church architecture

A closer look at the carving

A closer look at the carving

The interior of the church is absolutely spectacular with gorgeous colorful hand painted patterns and motifs covering most of the columns and walls that were modeled after designs found on stone fragments of the original church. The frescoes on the church’s interiors were painted by Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz who were two of the most notable painters in the country at the time of the church’s restoration. The pair were also in charge of the church’s stunning stained glass windows. Your admission ticket also gets you into the Museum of Ecclesiastical Art which is housed in an upstairs gallery with lovely views of the sanctuary below. While the entire church is filled with spectacular views, the one from the King’s Oratory, which is where you will also find the Matthias Chalice and a replica of the Hungarian Royal Crown, is the best of all. When we were coming down the staircase from the Museum into the Maltese Knight Chamber, both boys were excited to find the statue of the bust of Empress Elisabeth in her Hungarian Coronation costume, whom they both recognized from our visit to the Hofburg in Vienna. We ended our Church tour with the St. Steven Chapel, which is my favorite part of the whole church. The chapel walls have seven frescoes of St. Steven and twelve stained glass windows depicting several Hungarian saints.

The stained glass windows

The stained glass windows

Looking up toward the museum gallery from the sanctuary

Looking up toward the museum gallery from the sanctuary

David helps Big Guy light a candle

David helps Big Guy light a candle

Big Guy tries it himself

Big Guy tries it himself

One last candle

One last candle

The ceilings

The ceilings

The boys in the sanctuary

The boys in the sanctuary

Posing in front of the portals

Posing in front of the portals

My guys in front of one of the portals

My guys in front of one of the portals

The tomb of King Béla III and Anna (Chatîllon) of Antiochia and a view of the sanctuary from an upstairs gallery

The tomb of King Béla III and Anna (Chatîllon) of Antiochia and a view of the sanctuary from an upstairs gallery

Sanctuary views

Sanctuary views

They guys in the Museum of Ecclesiastical Art

They guys in the Museum of Ecclesiastical Art

The boys posing with the bust of Empress Elisabeth and me and the little guys in the King's Oratory

The boys posing with the bust of Empress Elisabeth and me and the little guys in the King’s Oratory

Little man rests and  Big Guy poses with the crown replica in the King's Oratory

Little man rests and Big Guy poses with the crown replica in the King’s Oratory

David and Mat in the King's Oratory

David and Mat in the King’s Oratory

Standing on the King's Oratory balcony looking back toward the organ and the view directly in front of the Oratory

Standing on the King’s Oratory balcony looking back toward the organ and the view directly in front of the Oratory

King's Oratory Balcony looking toward the main altar.

King’s Oratory Balcony looking toward the main altar.

The royal staircase

The royal staircase

St. Stephen Chapel

St. Stephen Chapel ceiling

St Stephen chapel stained glass and frescoes

St. Stephen chapel stained glass and frescoes

Saint Stephen Chapel frescoes

Saint Stephen Chapel frescoes

Leaving the church and taking the long back staircase as we leave Chapel Hill

Leaving the church and taking the long back staircase as we leave Castle Hill

Europe Trip: Budapest’s Castle Hill Part 1 –  Halászbástya

Europe Trip: Budapest’s Castle Hill Part 1 – Halászbástya

Budapest’s famed Castle Hill District rests on the Buda side of the Danube and boasts views of the many of the city’s top attractions. It is most noted for the Halászbástya, Mátyás-templom, Buda Castle/Royal Palace, The Budapest History Museum, The Hungarian National Gallery and The National Széchényi Library, the national library of Hungary. On our last full day in Budapest we took our time exploring Castle Hill focusing primarily on the Halászbástya and Mátyás-templom. Narrowing down pictures was a bit difficult so today’s post will focus mainly on the Halászbástya.

The Grand Staircase leading up to Castle Hill

The Grand Front Staircase leading up to Castle Hill 

Castle Hill looking toward the Fisherman's Bastion

Castle Hill looking toward the Fisherman’s Bastion

Part of the Halászbástya (left) and The Trinity Statue and  Mátyás-templom (right)

Part of the Halászbástya (left) and The Trinity Statue and Mátyás-templom tower (right)

Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion

More of the Fisherman’s Bastion

More of the Fisherman’s Bastion

Climbing the stairs or the Fisherman’s Bastion

Climbing the stairs or the Fisherman’s Bastion

As you approach Halászbástya, or Fisherman’s Bastion, you can’t help but feel like you are stepping into a Disney fairy tale. Although it was built from 1895-1902, the bastion looks and feels much older. The architecture has a certain medieval feel and has been described as both Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque. The structure was built in celebration of Hungary’s 1000th anniversary and the seven towers are representative of the seven tribes of Hungary.  The Architect, Frigyes Schulek, also restored Mátyás-templom, or Matthias Church, which sits in front of the Halászbástya. The building of the Halászbástya was actually intertwined with the restoration of the church, so today they flow together seamlessly. The Halászbástya was designed to be both a panoramic view terrace as well as a grand entrance which served to enhance the beauty of the Mátyás-templom. From the Halászbástya you can see stunning views all along the Danube, including Budapest’s best view of the Parliament Building.

Little Man poses with a gargoyle and Big Guy with a view of Matthias Church in the background.

Little Man poses with a dragon on the Fisherman’s Bastion and Big Guy with a view of Matthias Church in the background.

View of the Parliament building from the Fisherman’s Bastion

View of the Parliament building from the Fisherman’s Bastion

David poses with the boys in front of the Parliament Building

David poses with the boys in front of the Parliament Building

Me and David with part of the Fisherman's Bastion, the Danube and the Royal Palace in the background

Me and David with part of the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Danube and the Royal Palace in the background

Mat with the same view

Mat with the same view

Me and Little Man with views of the Danube

Me and Little Man with views of the Danube

Another view of the Parliament building through the arches

Another view of the Parliament building through the arches

Posing in the Fisherman's Bastion arches

Posing in the Fisherman’s Bastion arches

Clowning around the Fisherman's Bastion

Clowning around the Fisherman’s Bastion

The boys found a quiet place to rest

The boys found a quiet place to rest

The hawk and the St. Stephen Statue on Castle Hill

A giant hawk (or falcon maybe) and the St. Stephen Statue on Castle Hill

The boys in front of the base of the Saint Stephen Statue

The boys in front of the base of the Saint Stephen Statue

Statue of Andras Hadik on Castle Hill

Statue of Andras Hadik on Castle Hill

The boys stopped to rest outside this doorway on Castle Hill.

The boys stopped to rest outside this doorway on Castle Hill.

Things I Love: April Picks

Things I Love: April Picks

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It is half way through April, so it is about time I did my picks for this month. Yesterday’s book review has left me suffering from a mad case of Anglophilia, so all of today’s picks fit into my British inspired theme. I hope that you’ll like these products as much as I do!

  1. The Royal We: Yesterday I did a review of The Royal We by Go Fug Yourself  creators, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (read it here) but I had to include it in my April picks because I thought it was that much fun (plus it fits the theme). It is a light, quick read that will be enjoyed by both Anglophiles and royal watchers alike.
  2. Ann Carrington Art: I was first introduced to Carrington’s works when she was featured on Robert and Cortney Novogratz’s show 9 By Design (which is unfortunately no longer on the air). It was love at first sight! Carrington is an extremely talented artist and while I love all of her work, I am especially obsessed with her Pearly Queens. Absolutely stunning. I dream of one day owning a Carrington piece of my very own!
  3. Better With Age Limited Edition Print by Kristen Smith: I go back and forth all the time on my favorite Austen work but have narrowed it down to my top three: Emma, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. When I first read Pride and Prejudice I fell in love and almost didn’t want to read any of her other works because I didn’t think that any of her other works would measure up. Then I was persuaded to read Emma because it was the inspiration for one of my favorite movies, Clueless, and I fell just as hard for it as I had Pride and Prejudice. So then I read more of her work and Persuasion quickly became a favorite. It wasn’t as whimsical as Emma and it wasn’t as clever as Pride and Prejudice but the story somehow seemed to resonate with me in a way that the others hadn’t. My absolute favorite quote from the book is featured on this gorgeous print by graphic designer Kristen Smith that I found on Minted . I just ordered it yesterday, by the way, and I am seriously in love! I can’t wait for it to arrive. Be sure to check out some of Kristen Smith’s other work as well (I think she might just be my new favorite Minted designer – she’s a serious talent).
  4. Kate Middle-Toe Socks: Have you heard of Chattyfeet? I hadn’t either until I saw them featured a while back on the Huffington Post but this UK company seriously has the cutest socks I have seen in a long time. I haven’t ordered from them (yet) but I am currently obsessed with all of their quirky designs (the Kate Middle-Toe is my favorite but the Don Cottone design is pretty rockin’ too). If anyone is looking to get me a late birthday gift, then look no further. So cute!
  5. Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots: These Wellingtons (“Wellies”) are an iconic wardrobe staple, but David gave me a hard time when I bought myself a pair because it so rarely rains in California. My money was well spent though because I wear these babies every time it rains and they keep my feet dry and happy. Made of waterproof natural rubber with a quick dry nylon lining and a sturdy textured sole for grip, these are the perfect boot for a rainy day or for walking through mud. Plus, they’re totally cute and they have been spotted on everyone from British Royalty (Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana) to Hollywood Royalty (Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon and Kate Moss just to name a few). They come in a wide variety of colors but my personal favorite is Olive Green because it goes with absolutely everything.
  6. Dr. Who Yahtzee: My kids go absolutely bonkers for anything Doctor Who related (we watch a lot of science fiction in our house). On any given day you can find yourself tripping over Sonic Screwdrivers, Dr. Who Potato Heads and even Custom Dr. Who Lego men (you can find great custom Legos on Etsy). My oldest got this Yahtzee set for Christmas last year and it is just a fun update to a classic game and something that the whole family can enjoy together.
  7. McVitie’s Digestives: When my dad was living in London he used to bring us loads of McVitie’s goodies every time he came home. David’s favorite are the Hobnobs but I am partial to the Digestives. According to the McVitie’s website, the first digestive was made by Sir Alexander Grant in 1892 at the McVitie’s factory in Edinburgh, Scotland. I like all of the flavors but if I have my choice, I almost always pick the Milk Chocolate (first sold in 1925). After my parents moved away from London, I went through some pretty serious McVitie’s withdrawals but now you can buy them everywhere from select super markets to Cost Plus World Market and even Amazon. Trust me, one bit and you’ll be hooked.
What I’m Reading – The Royal We

What I’m Reading – The Royal We

Heather-Cocks-Jessica-Morgan-TheRoyalWe-smlfeat image holder

Judging by the cover art, one might assume that this is simply a piece of William and Kate fan fiction, which would have been enough for me to pick it up, but after reading only a few pages into the book you can see that it is so much more than that. Written by the dynamic duo behind the hugely popular blog Go Fug Yourself, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan,  The Royal We follows the love story between American student Rebecca “Bex” Porter and Britain’s future king, Prince Nicholas from their meeting in Oxford and through the trials and tribulations leading up to their impending wedding. It is a wonderfully satirical romp and a touching romance all rolled into one.

The Royal We opens the day before the couple’s royal wedding, but something is amiss and we are left with the troubling proposition that an event so terrible has occurred that it may cause the wedding to be called off entirely. We are then taken back to the beginning to witness how Bex Porter went from being an American exchange student to the possible future Queen of England.  Along the way we meet a fascinating cast of extremely well-developed characters such Rebecca’s much more outgoing twin sister, Lacey (hello, Pippa), Nick’s fun-loving, rakish younger brother, Freddie (Harry), and a group of friends so believable that you’ll be ready to grab a pint with them at a local pub. Part of the fun in reading The Royal We is deciphering exactly who certain characters are based on and just how close to the truth those portrayals might actually be. Some, like Lacey and Freddie are fairly obvious, but there are others that only the most dedicated royal watchers will catch. The book is also peppered with inside jokes and references that daily readers of Go Fug Yourself will surely be able to pick up on.

Cocks and Morgan are quick to pull back the opulent curtain of royal life, exposing the dark reality that can sometimes accompany and overshadow the glamour and privilege that royal life entails. In order for Bex and Nick to be together, they must make sacrifices that take them so far away from who they once were that it leaves us, and them, questioning whether their love is worth all of the sacrifice. Questions turn from whether they want be together to should they or can they be together. It also looks at how when a person falls in love with the heir to the throne, they aren’t just marrying the man, they are marrying the institution.

Although it is a breezy novel at heart, The Royal We has its fair share of hard hitting questions which at times causes you to question whether the end result will be that of a fairy tale or a cautionary tale. It is reminiscent of Bridget Jones’ Diary with its charming characters, witty dialogue, and clever plot line that leaves you guessing right up to the end. My only complaint is the ending. The book ends rather abruptly and I felt like it would have been nice to have a bit more. I can’t really explain exactly what I mean without giving away the ending other than to say that I was a bit disappointed that the story didn’t continue for at least a couple more chapters because I would have liked to have seen how the dust settled after the final decisions were made. The way that things ended, however, may have just left open enough room for an eventual sequel (fingers crossed).

Easter 2015

Easter 2015

I hope that Everyone had a lovely Easter. The boys had spring break all last week so I took the week off from work to just hang back and chill with them. When I asked them what they wanted to do for Spring Break, their answer was “Nothing.” They didn’t want to go anywhere or see anything. They just wanted to relax and unwind. I could totally deal with that! We did get out to see a movie (Cinderella – it was awesome) and the boys had a couple of play dates, but for the most part, we just chilled. I did not turn on my computer once for the entire week and all of the extra morning cuddles and lazy afternoon naps were well worth the extra work I’ll have to make up this week.

My little family on Easter Sunday

My little family on Easter Sunday

Posing with David's parents

Posing with David’s parents

With my parents

With my parents

The boys with our family from Seattle and with Papa

The boys with our family from Seattle and with Papa

Easter this year was a big family affair at my parents’ house. My mom’s aunt, uncle and cousin arrived from Seattle Saturday night on their way to their own Spring Break destination. We had such a lovely time catching up with them (we don’t get to see them nearly enough) and they joined us for a Saturday evening barbeque, dying Easter eggs and they stayed yesterday for our egg hunt, Easter brunch and our late lunch before heading out on their own adventure. We were also joined by my brother, sister-in-law and niece as well as David’s parents, his uncle, cousins, godbrother and our good friend. And of course my grandpa, or “Papa” as the boys call him, was on hand for the festivities as well.

The Easter Bunny came!

The Easter Bunny came!

The Easter Bunny was crafty this year and the boys had to climb trees to get some of the eggs.

The Easter Bunny was crafty this year and the boys had to climb trees to get some of the eggs.

Little Man stayed out hunting eggs the longest.

Little Man stayed out hunting eggs the longest.

David manned the camera so there was more than just one picture of me, of course in most of them I'm doing something random like taking pictures of the rose garden with my phone.

David manned the camera so there was more than just one picture of me, of course in most of them I’m doing something random like taking pictures of the rose garden with my phone.

We had a wonderful pool party and we ate so much food that I felt like I was going to explode. It was a wonderful day and I was sorry to see it end. Here are a few more shots from my and David’s instagrams:

The boys scoping out the hunt.

The boys scoping out the hunt.

We dyed brown eggs this year and they turned the most beautiful dark shades.

We dyed brown eggs this year and they turned the most beautiful dark shades.

Me and David doing our traditional "selfie"

Me and David doing our traditional “selfie”

Big Guy modeling his Easter look (which he put together all on his own)

Big Guy modeling his Easter look (which he put together all on his own)

And of course, our American Easter Bunny hid a Hungarian flag Easter egg.

And of course, our American Easter Bunny hid a Hungarian flag Easter egg.

Unfortunately, after the egg hunt the camera seems to have disappeared and we were having such a good time that we didn’t take any more pictures. Oh well, I guess the memories of the day will just have to sustain us! Happy belated Easter!

18 Years

18 Years

Jennifer Dolak, David Dolak

I have been with this man for 18 years. We met at a friend’s birthday party. Our friend Todd had actually been trying to set us up for months but he told David that I had an “awesome personality” and he told me that David was “the nicest guy ever.” As I’m sure you can imagine, we assumed that “awesome personality” and “nicest guy” translated into “not so great to look at.” If we had only listened to Todd, we could have had several extra months together but there is no sense dwelling in the past. After the party we were inseparable and we started dating soon after. All I know is that I wouldn’t trade these last 18 years for the world and I am so looking forward to spending the rest of my life with this wonderful man!

 

Europe Trip: És Bisztró Review

Europe Trip: És Bisztró Review

As I have been sorting through the remainder of the pictures from our summer trip in Europe, I’ve had a hard time trying to decide what to include here on the blog. I honestly hope that I haven’t bored you to death reading about our travels and I also want to include things that I think are interesting or that you might enjoy. It can be hard finding the right balance, but I hope that I’ve been doing an okay job. Anyway, I’m putting together a final look at Budapest and everything was coming together nicely except I wanted to write about this restaurant that we visited but it wasn’t really fitting in with the rest of the post so I have decided to write about it separately.

Image via the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus website

Image via the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus website

The restaurant is called És Bisztró and according to its website it is a “wine bar, beer pub, terrace, bistro, restaurant, brasserie.” Located in the heart of the pedestrian zone in Budapest inside the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus (the hotel also houses Nobu), És Bisztró has everything that you would expect from a trendy restaurant, but it also has a traditional twist that sets it apart from the other cool kids in the restaurant business. This is no small feat considering that És is just one of many hip restaurants in Downtown Budapest’s Gastronomic Quarter.

The embroidered napkins add to the overall atmosphere

The embroidered napkins add to the overall atmosphere  

I would love to say that we had done a lot of research that led us to dining at És, but the honest truth is that the boys were tired and hungry and Little Man saw one of the plates being presented to a customer and he insisted, “I want to eat there, right now!” It was a beautiful day so we opted to eat on the patio. The wait staff was warm, welcoming and conversed just as easily with Mat in English as they did with David in Hungarian. The thing that won me over with the staff was how they treated my children. The boys are extremely well behaved in restaurant situations but often times when you walk into a restaurant with little kids (especially a fashionable or popular restaurant), they not only give you dirty looks, but they relegate you to the furthest corners of the restaurant where you are often forgotten or at the very least treated insufficiently. This was not the case with the staff at És. After the warm welcome we were shown to a prime table at the center of the patio and our waitress made a point of addressing the boys as if they were actual people instead of talking over their heads. This is a rarity not only in trendy upscale restaurants, but in restaurants in general.

Traditional Hungarian food is the best!

Traditional Hungarian food is the best!

As their website notes, És serves “typical dishes of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy” but with a modern flair. És actually means “and” in Hungarian and the name is representative of the fact that fine dining does not have to be an either/or experience but can be all-inclusive. You can have traditional dishes AND modern interpretations; you can have a fine dining experience AND a relaxing meal with friends. You can be warm and welcoming to adults AND small children. As their website asks, “Why have ‘either-or’ when you can also have ‘ÉS’?” There are a lot of great restaurants in Budapest but it is hard (and before finding this one I thought impossible) to find one that is both trendy AND traditional.

Even the presentation is beautiful!

Even the presentation is beautiful!

Traditional with a modern flair doesn’t even do the food at ÉS justice. The chefs at the restaurant take everything that I love about Hungarian comfort foods and, through culinary innovation and ingenuity, they take it to a whole other level. Everything was cooked perfectly, the flavors melded together seamlessly and everything flowed together harmoniously. Whatever you do, don’t pass up the bread. They bring it out piping hot in terracotta pots and serve it with delicious butter sprinkled with black salt. Divine! It has definitely been added to the list of places that we must visit the next time we are in Hungary.

The bread was amazing!

The bread was amazing!