Meet Simone!

IMG_5328_2

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know by now that there is a new little lady in my life. I adopted a black kitten about three weeks ago and named her Simone. Her name comes from my desire to give her something French (as per my recent adventure in Paris) as well as this movie character, who leaves her dead-end life behind to follow her dreams.

black cat
IMG_5386

Simone is unusually big and tall for her age (like me!) so we are getting along great. She is almost seven months old (she was born at the shelter so they know her exact birth date) but looks older because of her size. 

IMG_5426
IMG_5447

Simone likes to play with absolutely everything, eat, and watch the pigeons from her various window perches. We’re in the middle of a very urban part of San Francisco so she will be an indoor kitty. Two city girls at Dronning HQ now!

République: My Favorite Paris Neighborhood

vintage paris scooter

If you’ve seen my Instagram, you probably know that last month I spent a week alone in Paris. Having never been to France before, I did some research ahead of time to figure out what Paris neighborhood to stay in. I wanted a place that was somewhat centrally-located, but not overly touristy. I also wanted to stretch my dollars and be kind to my budget. I decided to give the neighborhood of Republique (in the 10th Arrondissement) a try and found a great deal on Airbnb. I ended up loving the neighborhood so much that on some days, after exploring the whole city, I’d come back early with plenty of time to soak up the charming hipstery-ness.

paris shutter windows boulangerie paris republique

Republique can be found on the orange line (also known as the 5 train) either at the eponymous stop or the stop called Jacques Bonsergent.  My apartment (a large studio all to myself) was only a couple of blocks away from the latter.  Every morning I’d wake up hungry and head over to one of the pastry shops for a quick croissant before venturing out for my first adventure of the day. I knew almost no French but being able to say ‘Bonjour, une croissant, s’il vous plaît’ will squelch a growling stomach ASAP.

pastry shop paris

This was my plan if I wanted a grab-and-go breakfast. But sometimes I varied the routine.

le poutch paris cafe

le poutch paris interior

When I had more time in the mornings for more of a sit-down breakfast or brunch-y place, Le Poutch fit the bill. Cozy and bright, this cafe also has a nice French magazine selection, mostly of the design and fashion variety, that you can read at your little table at your leisure. A juice bar is right next door.

holy belly brunch paris republique

Down the street from Le Poutch (and next door to a kindergarten) is Holy Belly. They don’t take reservations and there’s usually a wait so don’t sleep in on the morning you plan to go. Very delicious food and worth standing around for.

paris bicycles french bikes IMG_5114

I often took this side street as a shortcut when weaving around Republique. Paris is not laid out like a grid at all, the streets go every which way but once I got my bearings I felt fairly proud of myself. I also once ran down this street in the middle of the night during a light rainstorm. The road was quiet and the cobblestones were lit by the hanging lamps overhead. I had forgotten my umbrella at a cafe and was hoping, hours later, that no one had walked off with it. I arrived at the cafe, breathless, a few minutes later. The umbrella was hanging on the back of a chair, just where I had left it.

paris french graffiti street art french parisian streetscape chez prune paris republique

I liked coming to Chez Prune if I wanted a lighter snack-type dinner. Typically I’d have the cheese plate and a glass or two of either Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. I’d sit at a little table in the very back so I could see the whole restaurant. As you can see, it is on a busy corner with people coming in and out to say hello to friends or smoke at the outdoor tables. The service is friendly but very laid back, so go here if you’re not in any hurry to get any place else right away. I’d just sit at the back, take it all in, and write in my journal. Bliss.

paris bookstore

Up the street from Prune is this utterly fantastic bookstore. Lots of books on photography, art, design, type, and awesome fashion magazines, too. It’s kind of crazy to buy books when you are traveling internationally because they weigh your suitcase down with a quickness. So I limited myself to one book, one magazine and three journals.

paris canal republique

The Seine River snakes through the middle of Paris. Many smaller canals feed into the river, and in Republique the local canal is the Canal St. Martin. Every evening (especially on the weekends) the banks of the canal are absolutely full of people. Although the atmosphere is still very urban, it feels like a park or even a beach.

paper stationary french paris store

This little stationary shop on Rue du Lancry has everything you need for writing long hand. I love stores like this so I was all smiles browsing the cards, journals, notebooks and all kinds of pens and pencil cases.

la pinata paris party supply store

La Pinata is a cute little party supply store. It skews a bit more kid-centric but it’s so colorful and happy inside that it just makes you smile to walk around and brainstorm. It’s where I bought those packs of extra-large sized confetti. They also had piñatas shaped like popsicles and ice cream cones. Too bad those are not suitcase-friendly.

IMG_4752 IMG_4984

My apartment was on the top floor of a six-story building. There was no elevator so many times I day I climbed the spiraling wood and wrought iron staircase. It was painted bright red, and I loved this detail. Paris is beautiful in places you wouldn’t even think to look.

IMG_5096

I had such a magical time in Paris (and Republique) that I bought some ‘thank-you’ roses for my Airbnb hosts at a florist on Rue du Lancry. I know I’ll return some day.

Joshua Tree Photo Diary

IMG_4132

IMG_4066

IMG_4107

IMG_4115

IMG_4060

IMG_4078

IMG_4083

IMG_4174

IMG_4087

IMG_4121

IMG_4127

IMG_4128

IMG_4092

IMG_4175

IMG_4183

old piano wurlitzer

IMG_4144

IMG_4157

IMG_4160

IMG_4156

IMG_4162

IMG_4167

IMG_4154

IMG_4151

Major wish fulfillment happened earlier this month when I finally visited the town (and of course the National Park) known as Joshua Tree. I stayed at a very cool Air BnB a couple of miles from the park entrance. It was a small, pale green homesteader cabin outfitted for a visitor on the go. Being out in the hot sun, among very foreign-looking vegetation and rock formations, played tricks on my mind. I felt slightly off-kilter, like I was on another continent altogether, instead of just the southern part of California. Every day, after coming back from the park, the quiet surroundings of this tiny home, coupled with what felt like the world’s most comfortable bed, were the perfect welcome back into high-desert civilization. It was four whole days away from the shop, and it’s great to be back and getting ready for spring inventory.

Oslo + Stockholm

norway fishing boats oslo

So last month I took a solo trip to the lands of my people: Norway and Sweden! Right off the bat, I need to say that because of time constraints (I had about two full days in each place) I can’t really say with confidence that I experienced the countries in full; it was much more like intensive city living and a lot of time spent on trains and in airports. Urban Nordic tourism. I only brought my iPhone to take photos with, and I’m sharing my favorites here on the blog. After all, my Norwegian and Swedish heritage played a huge part in the naming of the shop  – ‘Dronning’ means ‘queen’ in both languages.

sweden stockholm gamla stan

karl johans gata band oslo norway

roses

oslo

norway river

oslo flower mart

volvo

stories stockholm coffee paper cup doorknob

acne bag

purple flowers

bicycle stockholm

bakery stockholm

chocolate and bun