photography

Happy Valentine's Day

Hello friends! Happy Friday and Happy Valentines's to you. I hope you are surrounded by the people you love. Hubby and I are going out for a much needed date night. Can't wait to get all prettied up and sip a fancy cocktail. I did splurge yesterday on a little gift to myself - this book - and I'm so pleased I did. I've already devoured half of it and I'm loving every page. If you were a fan of Eat, Pray, Love then you will LOVE Paris Letters by Janice Macleod. I'm so tickled with the book that I just subscribed to receive one of her magical, illustrated letters from Paris via her Etsy shop. Anyways...had to share this with you!

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 4.23.35 PM

Okay I'm off to get ready for my date....it takes a while these days! ;)

Much love to you all,

Ivy

P.S. I've been doing a ton of art so I promise to share more of it next week! More vintage treasures to show you too!

Little Red

Hello lovely people and Happy Friday! How are you? Our house is filled with the smell of our Christmas tree - I just love that about this time of year! Every morning, I go around the house turning on all the twinkle lights and appreciating their beautiful glow. I do love Christmas!

Wanted to share some pictures of little Claire Bear, that I managed to capture the other day. I'm surprised she kept the hood up, since she tends to dislike anything on her head - stubborn little bear...but so stinkin' cute.

little red 1 edit

Those eyes get me every time...and I think she's starting to figure that out. ;)

little red 2 edit

little red 4 edit

little red 5 edit

Hope you are all enjoying this special time of year! What's your favorite thing about the season?

Have a beautiful weekend.

xo,

Ivy

Face painting...

Okay, I had to share all these beautiful painted faces from Grace's b'day party...they are too cute! Such lovely princesses were in attendance! Of course, the birthday princess decided she didn't want her face painted! Perhaps, she felt it would have detracted from her tiara...who knows? I thought it best not to argue with her. She seemed to just love watching her friends have fun.

Her pre-school set up the most gorgeous tea room for her. Unfortunately, I forgot my bounce flash so the photos turned out terrible. So sad. Instead of looking at my blurry photos (I have SO much to learn!) let's take a peek at this gorgeous princess tea party...wow...

Do you have some birthday parties to throw this Spring and Summer? If so, head over to Kara's Party Idea blog for more of these stunning images!

xo,

Party idea images via here.

Birthday Girl

Hello there! I know...long time no post...sorry. It's been a whirlwind with Grace's birthday and then Easter. Busy but fun with lots of phototaking! I have too many photos to process....but in the meantime I wanted to share a few shots from her little "Princess" party...

more to come...

Hope all is well with you!

xo,

Tea for Two

Last week, I picked Grace up from school at noon so we could go have lunch together. She begged me to take her back to the "magical tea house"...also known as the Lady Di's Tea Room. How could I say no to that? Of course, my camera joined us...

Oh so serious...not for long...

the most lovely sweet potato soup and cheddar and tomato sandwiches...yum! Cheese on toast for Grace...

Sweet primroses blooming outside the window next to our table...

for dessert a plate of the most delicious English shortbread! It went fast...I almost missed a photo op!

Sitting there with her, watching the rain outside and nibbling our sandwiches, I couldn't help but wonder if we were making a memory that would stay with her. I hoped so. My mom used to take me out for lunches like this, just the two of us and I always felt so special. I had her undivided attention and she smiled and listened to all my stories patiently. If I can make Grace feel that same love, that same importance...then perhaps, one day, she will do the same for her child. When I so often feel that I'm not doing enough for her...it felt good to see the happiness in her eyes and hear the excitement in her voice.

A good Mom day.

xo,

Flowering Branches

We've been a having a lot of rain lately and well...honestly... it's getting a little tiresome but I am taking great pleasure in witnessing the slow bloom of all the flowering trees. Dogwoods, cherry blossoms, camellias. I'll take them! Give me some brightness and beauty amidst the gray! This weekend, I plan on going out into the garden and bringing in some of these gorgeous flowering branches. They make the most beautiful display. Inexpensive, dramatic and inspiring you can't help but want them in your home. Check out these gorgeous images via Style and Home.com...

Don't you love the deep shades of navy, teal and amethyst and how they contrast against the lightness of the blooms? So lovely!

What spring blossoms are you enjoying where you are?

xo,

I heart this space.

Happy Thursday...Friday is almost here. I couldn't wait to post pics of this simply stunning living and dining room! This masterpiece was created by The Brooklyn Home Company. They have some serious talent. Enjoy this little peek inside one of their projects but to see more check out their portfolio.

If a gorgeous French woman married a famous explorer this is what their house would look like...

To me, it's such a unique and lovely blend. Rustic and elegant. Refined but yet, natural. It's rare I see a room where I love every element! I love the dark leather chair paired with the light linen couch. I love the naturalist prints and wildlife elements. I love the cream moldings and those mirrors. Oh man, those mirrors make me crazy. I love the way the glass and brass tables add a touch of sparkle and light. I could go on and on...and I do...

I seriously love this place, I mean how perfect is that gorgeous French chair next to the rustic stump table?  And all the crystal decanters, they add such glamor...don't even get me started on the wide plank, mocha wood floors...

The dining is also so lovely. The artwork is playful without being over the top and I want those chairs and the bench and the table.

You know what, why don't I just move in?

Excuse the rambling...I am just so struck by this place.

Okay, deep breath...

What are your favorite design styles?

xo,

Friday Escape: Ravello, Italy

Hello Friends! Happy Friday! Sorry for the late post, internet troubles this morning. ugh. Okay, are you ready for your escape?

Look, I know we have already been to Italy on one of our Vicarious Vacations...but who can get enough of Italy? I mean, really. I know I can't, especially since I've never actually been there.

Sad.

So, yeah you bet I'm going to go there vicariously as much as I can! Besides, this place is a completely different feel to our last trip. I think you will love it!

Enough chit chat. Today, we are going to Ravello, Italy, along the Amalfi Coast. Map here.

Breathtaking isn't it?

I've got us booked into the Hotel Palazzo Sasso.  It was ranked #8 in the World's Best Hotels for 2010 by Travel + Leisure...so I think it will fit our extremely high standards! Let's go check it out.

The Hotel, which is actually a 12th century villa, is perched 1000 ft above the glimmering Mediterranean sea. Drop dead gorgeous views are a given!

Let's go see our suite! When you travel vicariously, you should always stay in the most extravagant room, don't you think?

Please, go out onto our private terrace...the view is simply superb...

I know...amazing. I have a feeling we will back here later with a glass of something fabulous to watch the sunset!

So, since we got here so early, let's have breakfast out on the main dining terrace.

Shouldn't everyday start like this?

After we enjoy our lovely breakfast I thought we'd go on a bit of a boat ride. Gotta get some one on one time with the Amalfi coastline...

Come with me down to the lower terrace...my gorgeous friend Marco is picking us up. (Yes, Marco is imaginary...but just go with me on this one...)

Here he is now...perfect timing...meet imaginary Marco...( cue - giggle and toss hair)

Ciao!

Off we go!

Ooh...look it's the beautiful city of Positano up ahead!

So pretty! We may have to come back here sometime.

Well, I'm starving and although, Marco provides eye candy, he doesn't do much for my rumbling tummy so let's head back, eat a huge lunch and go into a food coma next to the pool. Plan?

Sit back, enjoy the Mediterranean sun and relax. I told Marco to go whip up some cocktails for us...he should be serving them any minute! ;)

I hope you enjoyed our little getaway! Thanks for coming along!

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo,

Images via HotelPalazzoSasso

Back from New Mexico

Hello Friends, Hope you are well! Our trip to Las Cruces, New Mexico was lovely. It was warm and sunny everyday - EXCEPT the day we had to leave! It snowed all night and day! Getting to airport a hazardous blend of ice skating, bumper cars and obstacle course - adventurous to say the least. Finally, we made it.

I've never really spent much time in a desert landscape...it's pretty much the opposite of Portland's. Made up of the subtle shades of sand, clay, rock and dust, contrasted by the brilliant blue sky that seems to go on forever.

Here are some photos from the trip...

The first day we wandered the old part of town, called Mesilla....

Little bits of the ole' west still remain in Mesilla...this historical building housed everything from Billy the Kid t-shirts, a coffee bar and every touristy trinket you can think of...

Here is the San Albino Church, built in 1906. We had lunch at this charming old restaurant called, Josefina's Cafe.

We had to check out the local market on Saturday morning!

One of the highlights of the trip was our journey into The White Sands National Park! Miles and miles of pure, white gypsum sand dunes.  Some of the scenes from Starwars were filmed here! I can see why...it felt like being on a different planet!

The best part of the dunes was sliding down them! So much fun!!  The climb back up...not so much fun...

All in all it was a great trip. The desert was a new and beautiful experience. Seeing my family was a wonderful bonus too!

Next week, Grace and Ivy will be back in full swing! So check back Monday for some loveliness. Also check out my rather new blog, Curate and Love - featuring art and photography to adore!

Have a fantastic weekend!

xo,

Off to New Mexico

Hello Friends! Hope your Monday has been bearable. Mine has consisted of running errands, doing laundry and packing but I can't complain because we are preparing to leave for New Mexico tomorrow morning.

Grace is very excited! We will be visiting my Grandmother, Aunt and Uncle who I haven't seen in forever! We are hoping to explore many of the artistic communities there, as well as the Gila National Park. I have my camera packed so I'm hoping to capture some lovely shots to share. In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with some beautiful images from New Mexico!

I will try and pop in and do some posting but I'm not sure of the internet connection...so we'll see! We will be back the first week of February!

Have a wonderful week!!

xo,

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

Escape to : Provence

As promised, I've got a little Friday escape for us. Ready? So, I've always wanted to go to the south of France...I mean, who doesn't?  Rolling fields of lavender, fabulous French cuisine, fantastic wine and the warm, golden light of the countryside. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

So today, that's where we are headed. I found us a tranquil estate just outside the little town of Cucuron.

Welcome to  the Le Pavillon de Galon -  a beautifully restored 18th century hunting pavilion, turned B & B, surrounded by vines, orchards, cherry and olive trees. Ahhh...do you smell all that lavender?

The gardens are simply superb...look at this field of irises!

Let's head inside and check out our room...there are only two guest rooms on the property so you feel like you own the place!

Lovely...let's go check out the kitchen!

You know very, very good things come out of a kitchen like this! The owners have regular cooking and wine tasting classes held here. Let's grab some fresh, warm bread, a platter of cheese and a bottle of wine and dine al fresco...

Ahh...the perfect spot. Let's picnic under these beautiful trees and enjoy the fragrant breeze. Oh. That rhymes...hee hee.

After our tummies are full we can take a little stroll into Cucuron to explore.... (click on photos for their links)

Cucuron © Valérie Loubet Cucuron, la Place et la Grande Fontaine, August 2010 Coin de Cucuron Cucuron street Cat in CucuronHow charming is this blue door? So pretty!

Cucuron MarketIn the center of town there is this pond (Bassin de l'etang) that dates back to the 14th century. It was used to supply water to a mill but now is the backdrop for many of the villages' events including a regular Market held every Tuesday morning.

Okay, well...we better head back for some R & R before dinner...I think a nap by the pool would do nicely. Yes, there's even an infinity pool at this place.

That concludes our little Friday escape to Provence. Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for coming along.

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo,

Monday Mood Board : Pink & Gray

If you haven't already enjoyed the beautiful mood boards created by Lovely Clusters and Creature Comforts, you've been missing out and I encourage you to go take a peek. I find them so inspiring, I thought I'd try my own. While I adore gray by itself, you can't help but love it even more when it is paired with soft pink.

What color combos make you swoon?

Have a beautiful Monday.

xo,

Images via 1. 2. 3. 4.

Dreamy Whites - a new blog to love

Hello there. I hope your Sunday has been relaxing. I just discovered a new blog - Dreamy Whites - via Houzz (an online interior design source), that I'm completely in love with. Maria is the author of this delightful blog and is one talented lady!  She magically finds time to juggle five kids, a husband and a beautiful ranch home while expressing herself creatively through interior design, photography and graphic design! Can you say Super Woman?

Oh, and her home is being featured in this book, by Fifi O'Neill (who also has an amazing blog) ! Just added it to my wishlist!

Her style, photography and writing resonated with me...so I had to share! Check out these pics of her lovely home...

Gorgeous right!? Her rooms feel so dreamy and romantic. One day I hope my home can be this enchanting!

xo,

All images via Dreamy Whites

A New Member of the Family

After losing our dear cat, Sydney in early December we sorely missed the presence of a furball in our home...so...I trotted down to CAT (The Cat Adopotion Team) and adopted a sweet kitten, originally named Hickory. I thought I would share the story of our meeting... Upon walking into the Kitten Room of the shelter, one could NOT miss the tiny white and black kitty desperately scaling the walls of his cage, while meowing with all his might!

"Oh boy"  I thought, "That one looks like trouble!"

I gave him a finger pat on the head and moved on to the sleepy, quiet kittens.

"Meeeooooooow!!! Meeeeeooooow!!!!"

Hickory was hard to ignore. I couldn't help but feel bad for the little guy. I put my finger between the bars and he grabbed on with both tiny paws, bringing it to his face. A loud purr began. Cute. Very cute.

But..... I withdrew my hand and went back to looking at the more mellow cats.

CLANG! BANG!

Hickory had once again climbed the sides of the cage, but this time he had knocked over his metal water bowl.

"MEEEEEOOOOOWWWW!!!!" he yelled at me, like it was my fault.

Okay! Okay! I told the adoption consultant that I would visit one on one with Hickory in the "meeting" room. Once in my arms he scrambled up to my neck , gave me a few head butts and curled up under my chin. He sounded like a little engine with that purr!

Smiling like a fool, I carried him into the room and sat cross-legged on the floor. He unfurled himself, jumped from my arms, pounced on an invisible speck on the ground, ran circles around the room, leaped over a chair and then hopped back into my lap...head butted me again...and then off he went on his circuit of adventure around the room. Every few seconds he would check back in with me, head butt, purr and then back to his kitten antics. He put on quite a show. I found myself laughing out loud. I liked this little guy. Trouble...yeah maybe, but he looked confident and playful, perfect for dealing with a four-year old. Dear old Syd, had been terrified of Grace and we rarely saw her during the day.

For good measure, I visited with three or four other kittens but while they were all adorable, they didn't have the personality that Hickory did.

Half an hour later, I was driving home with him. His eyes closed, purring with contentment. He had gotten his way.

Hickory, now renamed Toby, has made an amazing addition to the family. He is so sweet and loving. Playful and patient with Grace (and all the neighborhood kids who visited him). We couldn't be happier with our new little fur baby.  He had a blast with everyone over Christmas! Thought I would share some of the photos...

He loves to "help" Grace color...

He surely wasn't going to miss Christmas dinner...

and unwrapping presents was a highlight...as was scaling the Christmas tree...TOBY!!!!

The best part of having Toby in our life - Grace has a new best friend...

xo,

Hello my beautiful tree.

After a teary eyed day, picking up all Sydney's toys and cleaning out her food bowl...I needed something pretty to work on...something to cheer me up. On Saturday, Chris brought home the most beautiful tree for us. It's our first real tree! I haven't had one since I was a kid. The whole house smells amazing!

I set to work decorating it...

I kept it super simple using only silver and white ornaments and paper snowflakes. Instead of a star I crowned the tree with sparkling branches.  It was an honor to adorn such a grand tree and I often just sit in the living room and smile up at it. I'm still missing my kitty but this gorgeous house guest brightened my day. Thank you tree.

Have you decorated your tree yet? How did you do it?

xo,

Christmas around the world: Paris

I miss our Vicarious Vacations. Do you? I do love to research new places and although it was hours of work, I miss that feeling of discovery. So...I thought I would start a new little series celebrating the holidays. These journeys won't be as thorough as the VV's, but I couldn't resist hunting down beautiful images of places around the world and how they look at this special time of the year. I asked Grace which city I should begin with and of course she said, "Paris!" Together we perused Flickr, finding the prettiest pictures of Paris during Christmas.

Here's what we found...

The City of Lights certainly doesn't disappoint. It would be truly magical to stroll the Parisian street during Christmas. Maybe one day we will...

Want more? Check out this video tour...featuring some of the elaborate window displays on show this season...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLU_qjTSYbU&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

What is your favorite city at during the holidays?

Hope you have a lovely Monday.

xo,

Photos via Flickr 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Cabin Couture

I've always been a sucker for a cozy cabin in the winter...but this home takes it to a whole new level and I'm all for it! Check out this sumptuous space - a lovely balance between rustic and elegant.

Don't you love those shots of royal purple? I do.

Bundle me up...I don't care how cold it is, I'm going to sit out here and drink wine!

I want that bed and that chaise...

Pure brilliance here - these bunk beds are perfect for the kids.

And of course after being a snow bunny all day, you'll need to defrost in this stunning tub.

Don't you wish you could spend your winter days in this space? Yum.

Okay...well, I have a sick husband and a hungry daughter so I best get back to my day job. Hope you enjoyed this beautiful home.

xo,

All images by Miguel Flores-Vianna via Elle Decor

Inspired by Sibella Court

Hi Friends! Hope you had a decent Monday. Ours was very rainy but a trip to the antique stores with a dear friend made it a perfect day! You may have seen on my other blog, that I posted a curated collection of images by Sibella Court. Well, her book - Etcetera: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the things you love - arrived and I couldn't help but take pictures of it. It's so beautiful!!

{click on images to view larger}

Really, you must have this book. It's a treasure trove of inspiration. I promise.

Have a lovely Tuesday!

xo,

 

Vicarious Vacations # 4: Luxembourg

Hello friends and Happy Friday! Welcome to our last Vicarious Vacation. I know the previous destinations have been off the beaten path but I couldn't resist taking you here. Like many girls, I have a soft place in my heart for fairytale castles. So far...the only one I've ever seen, is the one in Disney World and frankly, I don't think that counts. So, I decided to take you to the a land where fairytales castles were born - we are headed to gorgeous Luxembourg.

Image 1.

When you are surrounded by three of Europe's most beautiful countries - Germany, France and Belgium - it's hard not to be amazing! Map - here. The history of Luxembourg dates back to the year 963. Over the centuries, its territory may have diminished but it still stands as the richest country in the world and is often referred to as the "Green heart" of Europe. Beyond material wealth and banking success, Luxembourg offers a culturally diverse population, fantastic food and wine, breathtaking landscapes and an impressive art and theater scene. Oh, and then there are the castles...did I mention that already? Yes...there are over a dozen castles in this magical land. It makes my heart skip a little beat...

So where shall we stay you ask? We came here for fairy tales and I intend to deliver...Welcome to Chateau d'Urspelt. A castle fit for a princess right? This romantic castle has a 300 year old history and was terribly damaged in World War II.  In 2005, Mr. Freddy Lodomez came across this diamond in the rough, instantly fell in love and committed to having the Chateau restored to its original beauty. Thank you Freddy! What a prince!

Images via Chateau d'Urspelt

Lovely isn't it? That claw-foot tub will be a fabulous treat later on.  I will try and contain the girlish squeals...but isn't this place to die for!

Let's go for a stroll...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/39448__juletdomi__amb_rue_caumartin.mp3]

This is the Grand Ducal Palace and official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg - Henri and his lovely wife,  the Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.

A fairytale destination would not be complete without some Royalty, after all. As for Henri's heir - Guillaume (William)...

well he fits the Prince bill rather nicely...don't you think? Okay, enough Royal gawking...let's keep exploring...

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Ahh...here we are at the Place d'Armes or as the locals refer to it - Plëss. It is truly the city's living room and a fantastic place to people watch, listen to some live music and grab lunch at one of the numerous outdoor cafes. I've got the perfect one in mind...

Play to listen to the sounds of the plaza...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/49938__rossgk__take5contrescarpe1.mp3]

Here we are at Le Cafe Francais, one of the oldest brasseries' in the city. Are you ready for some delicious food? They prepare a mix of French and Luxembourg style dishes here.  Luxembourg's food is inevitably influenced by neighboring France and Germany, resulting in a rich blend - the delicacies of French cuisine artfully entwined with the robust, heartiness of Germanic dishes.  More recently the cultural influence of Luxembourg's Portuguese immigrants is also emerging within many of Luxembourg's recipes. You won't leave the table hungry, that's for sure. So let's have a taste...

To pair with our meal, I have selected a lovely dry white wine, typical of the region or if you feel like bubbles, we can toast to our adventure with the local sparkling wine, Crémant de Luxembourg! Cheers!

Let's start with a classic Luxembourg dish: Nettle Soup. Ever had this? I haven't! Often served in the Spring, Nettle soup has a subtle, grassy taste, sweet and mild made rich with lovely cream and potatoes.

On to our next course...oooh...I don't know about you but I am a total sucker for mussels!! So succulent, with all that buttery, wine sauce to sop up. Here in Luxembourg (in the French tradition) it is often served with pomme frites! Yum! This wildly popular dish is served in the months that have an "r". October works, lucky for us. Here's a recipe straight from the region. Recipe. Make sure you use a German or French Riesling for your sauce to make it truly Luxembourg style.

Okay dessert anyone? You know we can't leave that out. How about some Questscheflued? aka Plum Tart - a local favorite. And no, I don't know how to pronounce it. Dig in! It looks delightful and it's heart shaped! Too cute. Recipe.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Now that our tummies are full, I think it's time to tour a real castle! We are heading to Vianden. It's about an hour north of the city and is a beautiful medieval town, famous for its stunning castle and charming village. Let's hop on the bus, I for one, can't get into that castle quick enough!

*squeal* - sorry I couldn't help it! Look the castle is up ahead!!

Isn't it simply amazing? Straight from a storybook!  A little history: The castle was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and became the seat of the counts of Vianden. It was further developed until the 18th century but with the departure of the Counts of Luxembourg to the Netherlands combined with the effects of fire and an earthquake, it slowly deteriorated. The final blow came in 1820 when William I of the Netherlands sold it to a local merchant who in turn sold off its contents and masonry piecemeal, reducing it to a ruin. There were several attempts at restoration but these were hampered by problems of ownership. Victor Hugo lived in the castle for three months in 1871.Not until 1977, when Grand Duke Jean ceded the castle to the State, was it possible to undertake large-scale work, most of which has now been completed. - Wikipedia

Let's go take the tour!

Check out the view overlooking the town of Vianden...gorgeous...

Can you imagine cooking up a feast in this kitchen?

Here is the castle's chapel.

Oh, is that a wishing well?

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

What shall we wish for? World peace? A castle of our very own? How about free plane tickets to anywhere in the world? hmmm...

Alright my friends, I think I will have to leave you here. While you ponder over your wish, I want to wish all of you the best and thank you for coming along with me on these Vicarious Vacations. I hope you have enjoyed them. I know I have. Thanks to Flickr for being a wellspring of beautiful images and talented photographers. In the future, I will be doing more travel pieces. As you may have noticed, Grace and Ivy is in a state of evolution. Lots of changes are to come and I hope you will stick with me. I promise to continue bringing you beautiful posts that hopefully give you some inspiration. Thank you for all your input. I love reading your comments. Till our next adventure...

Have a gorgeous weekend.

xo,

Audio via freesound.org

http://www.vianden-info.lu/en/gallery/4/vianden-attractions.html?pageID=6

Vicarious Vacations #3: Hydra town, Greece

Happy Friday and welcome to another Vicarious Vacation. I can't even express how excited I am to travel with you today! Our destination promises beauty, relaxation and of course some amazing food. We are off to the Greek island of Hydra. A completely car free town, that is known for its magical architecture, stunning beaches and wonderful walking trails. Rental cars are so last year...let's use our feet and explore this gorgeous destination! We may have to forgo our stilettos but it will be worth it!

Image 1.

Let's board the ferry and I'll tell you more about the island on the ride...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/22508__gadzooks__carferry.mp3]

Fans of mythology will recall that Hydra was actually a nine-headed sea monster, sister to Medusa. Yikes! Don't worry though, no such beast inhabits this majestic island.  Of course, the word Hydra is also derived from the Greek word for water...which is a little more appropriate. The island of Hydra is in the Argo-Saronic Archipelago, between the islands of Poros and Spetses. Map here. Popular with artists, Hydra town, is home to quaint tavernas, chic boutiques and a gorgeous coastline.  Being completely car free, (except for the town's garbage collection trucks) one must get here via ferry. Donkeys...yes, donkeys and water taxis are the only forms of transportation once on the island.

Looks like we are approaching the island. Beautiful isn't it?

Yah! We're here! Let's go check into our hotel...change into some comfortable (but cute) shoes and go exploring.

Welcome to the Hotel Miranda. Nestled amongst the white washed cottages of Hydra town, this historical building dates back to 1810 and was originally built by a wealthy sea-captain. Its 18th and 19th century artwork and furniture only add to its nostalgic charm.

That's it up ahead...

I got us lovely suites, that are simple and elegant.

Isn't that white stone archway wonderful? I love the clean white walls with the contrasting dark floors and furnishings.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Great view from our rooms! Love the bougainvillea...

Okay ready to head out? Let's go!

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/22509__gadzooks__streetsounds1.mp3]

You will see this blue and white architecture all over the town. Charming isn't it?

So pretty! Let's stroll down to the harbor...I think there is an open market today.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

My tummy is a rumbling...so...let's go find some gorgeous place to have lunch and soak up some sun. I'm thinking ocean side...

Welcome to the Sunset Restaurant. Famous here and highly prized by the locals and tourists alike.

Don't worry...I got us a better table than that. Only the best for us vicarious vacationers!

Images via Sunset Restaurant

How's this? Not too shabby eh? Amazing view - check. Sunshine - check. Now for some food and drink!

Is it too early for Ouzo? No, of course not. We have to have a toast after all...and what better than ouzo to kick off lunch. Ouzo is Greece's national drink and has a strong anise or licorice flavor to it. You don't need much of this potent little liquor before you understand why the Greeks love it so! The expression "Opa!" is often used upon toasting, which translates to happiness and good life!

Let's start our meal with a traditional Cretan Salad...recipe here. So lovely, crunchy and fresh. I swear I could eat feta cheese all day...

Have you ever heard of Haloumi? Well, it's a Greek cheese that originated in Cyprus. It's made with a blend of goat and sheep milk, which gives it a mild, salty flavor and because of its high melting point, it can be fried or grilled. At the Sunset Restaurant, they serve it with tomatoes and pitta bread...shall we give it a go? (recipe)

When on the Grecian islands, one must take advantage of the fresh bounty of seafood! Lobster spaghetti is a true Greek delight! Recipe. Sweet, succulent lobster meat, freshly made pasta, tomatoes and fresh herbs. Yum!

On to dessert...although not on the Sunset Restaurant's menu, I couldn't resist including one of my all time favorite desserts (which also happens to be very Greek) - Baklava. I adore this stuff. Recipe.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Wasn't that an amazing Greek meal. I'm stuffed.  How about a hike up to an old monastery ending up with a nap on the beach?

We could ride this cute little guy...but I didn't spend a fortune on these hiking sandals for nothing. Come on, we've got calories to burn.

Almost there...

This monastery was actually built in 1813, by the monk Ierotheos. Of the four monasteries on Hydra, this one is the most famous and frequently visited. Four monks still reside here. What a peaceful existence it must be, nestled among the mountains, overlooking the town.

So beautiful...

I am ready for some down time. Let's head to the beach to work on our tan and have a little snooze.

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/83935__acclivity__turkishwake.mp3]

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

I think Mandraki beach will do nicely. Can you believe the color of the water! Stunning! Sit back, relax and enjoy the sounds of the waves.

Thank you so much for coming to Greece with me. I hope you enjoyed our little adventure on this jewel of an island.  Next week we head off to a new destination. It will be the last of this series (for now at least). Where are we going? It's a surprise! Make sure you come back on Friday so you don't miss it.

Have a fantastic weekend!

xo,

audio via freesound.org

Gallery of images can be viewed here.

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