I did my first Podcast interview with Chelsey Curtis of Housewife2Hostess earlier this month. I could not believe how much fun I had talking in to a mic. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t in front of an audience, but just the two of us having a conversation.
As you know from my previous posts, I have been an insurance agent for the last 9 years. That is a really long time in one field for todays standards. I share about event insurance and business insurance in this podcast, there are a few WAR stories too.
I totally have the podcast bug now! I want to record more and more podcasts. I hope you go listen to this one, you can do it here.
If you want to listen to my second podcast you can to that here.
A few months ago I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner after church. I wanted something with sun-dried tomatoes since I had a jar I bought at Costco and hadn’t even cracked it open. Usually sun-dried tomatoes go well with pasta…. And chicken. So my search became chicken sun-dried tomato pasta… And wouldn’t you know I found a recipe!
I had all of the ingredients for this recipe on hand so I got everything measured out and ready to go so that I could cook when we got home. And this dish was to die for. Everyone at my house loved it.
Scott wanted me to make it again, and I thought I should try making a cream sauce to go on it as well to give it just a little more oomph! Back to Pinterest I went! And I found a simple recipe for a cream sauce that added just the right flavor and creamy goodness to the already amazing pasta.
For the Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta (click the link, I promise no disappointment) I do a couple of things different than the recipe calls for out of personal preference. I double the amount of garlic, I rinse the sun-dried tomatoes (I don’t enjoy that much oil on my pasta) and I do not use white wine. In place of white wine I use a blend of vinegar, water and sugar.
For the cream sauce I mix this and this recipe together. I love the garlic flavor (if you couldn’t tell), sometimes adding a little bit more cheese than it calls for!
When I am planning a trip my go to is Pinterest. I want to get all the blogs read and find all the things to see. As I read I write list after list. If something is mentioned that I already have down I put a star next to it. And that helps me to make decisions for what adventures we are going to go on. That is how I found out about several things on my list in this post.
Paris has been a dream of mine since I took my first French class in 8th grade. I fell in love with the language, I fell in love with the history during high school French, I fell in love with the art during college art history. I love Paris. Even now I am trying to talk Scott in to going back, but he wants to see more places (preferably with a beach).
Of course this is number one on the list. Go and meet Winged Victory, say hello to Mona Lisa, get lost looking at Venus de Milo. I seriously had so much fun getting lost in the Louvre with Scott. We found the area of the museum that had the remains of the medieval foundations. After a little longer we found the personal living quarters of Louis XIV. No one was in there with us. It was so quiet, so I got to actually spend time looking and taking photos.
When booking our AirBnB I knew I wanted to be able to see the Eiffel Tower easily. That was what Paris was. We would stroll by her daily. It was magnificent. On our second to last day we finally went up to the second floor. We climbed all 700 steps and took in 360° views. My brother took the elevator all the way to the top on his visit, but I was ok not going that high. A few months before we went a friend of mine had gone and he is a photographer. Casey let me know the best place to take photos of the Eiffel Tower is just across the Seine at Place du Trocadero. You can even ride the carousel there.
I NEVER would have known about this masterpiece without Pinterest. I saw it on one blog and never turned back. I knew I had to see it in real life. Words cannot do it justice and my photos don’t either. It was built to house Louis IX’s Passion Relics including the CROWN OF THORNS. The relic was moved to Notre Dame (which I wish I had known prior to going so I could have seen it there), obviously didn’t do enough research on that subject. Sainte Chappelle is so less known that it wasn’t busy while we were there. It is seriously just a couple of blocks from Notre Dame.
This is a restaurant. And it is a pretty place, decorated in Belle Epoque style. We went to the original on Rue de Rivoli (both times we went). Proust and Coco Chanel would frequent this tea house. When you go, please get the Hot Chocolate. You will not be disappointed. I brought home a small tin and a big box. Last summer my dear friend Debbie went to Paris and brought me back a box, and when my mom went at Christmas time she got me another tin. I save it for when I need that amazing pick me up!
This area of Paris quickly became our favorite. We went and saw Sacre Coeur and then got lost on those cobblestone streets. This is where artists would (and still do) gather and paint. We loved it so much we went back on our last day in Paris to just spend time there again. The shopping, the crepes, the atmosphere was so golden. It felt how I imagined Paris to be in my mind. Not that the rest of Paris wasn’t amazing, but this was the feeling of Paris my mind had conjured up.
Mont Saint Michele
This is not in Paris. It is up on the north coast. We took a train, rented a car (this should be a post in and of itself complete with videos) and visited Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. We then drove about two hours to Mont Saint Michele. This was another place that I saw on Pinterest and HAD to see it in real life. It is not a castle, although you would think it was from the looks of it. It is an Abbey and Monastery. It is on a small island just off the coast. I think had we visited more in the day than at night we would have enjoyed it more. My most memorable moment was seeing a woman (she was a nun) walking down the steps. Scott was walking ahead of me as I had been taking photos. He said “bon soir” to her and she smiled but did not speak to him. As she was reaching me I said “bon soir” to her and she responded in kind to me. I had never met a nun in real life, but the Abbey and Monastery are active and there happens to be many who live at Mont Saint Michele.
Like I said in Monday’s post, we decided 3 weeks prior to go to Paris. I got to work on Pinterest finding out what we needed to see and do while we were there. I was so excited to be in the city! I knew I wanted to hit up some of the museums and historic places. I found out when each of the “MUST SEE” places were closed so we could plan around that as well. We also got our tickets in advance so we didn’t have to wait in line for tickets. We still had to line up to get inside, but we didn’t have to wait in line for tickets first.
We got in on a Sunday. After some craziness trying to actually get on our flights. Our flight from Salt Lake to Chicago was super late which put us in at the same time our flight from Chicago to Paris was leaving. We were able to get off of the flight and ran to the Paris flight, but it was just pushing back from the jetway when we got there. Luckily we were able to get on a flight to London and then to Paris. We were just a few hours behind schedule.
If you haven’t travelled overseas most flights for Europe are red-eyes. Knowing this I planned for Sunday to be fairly relaxed. Our AirBnB was within 10 minutes walking of the Eiffel Tower. I knew that had to happen as immediately as possible. Scott really wanted to take a Seine River Cruise and that sounded like a perfect way to see the city for the first time. The River Cruise started at the Eiffel Tower. After we showered and got ready we were off on our adventure.
Prior to the trip I spent countless hours mapping and figuring out the best routes, best cheese and bread shops and sites to see. We scheduled out our days allowing for changes if we needed to. Example: Monday we went to Notre Dame which is on Île de la Cité, also on the same island is Sainte Chappelle. Just across the Seine from both of these is the Latin Quarter and Pantheon that we wanted to visit. So we did all of that in the morning. Getting lunch (Crepes, always crepes) and standing on the bridge and eating. That afternoon we found our way to Sacre Coeur and the Montmartre area. The Moulin Rouge is also within walking distance. We hit all of that up.
All of my planning was to make sure we could be the most effective with our time and pack as much in. Here is my little spreadsheet that we kept track of what we were doing each day, where we had tickets for a specific time. It was perfect. We were even able to make allowances and go back to places (Angelina, Arc de Triomphe, Monmartre) to experience them more fully!
Two years ago tomorrow my plane touched down in Paris! This was my DREAM trip. The planning for the entire trip started three weeks prior. The only mistake we made was not planning more in advance to get cheaper tickets. Once we had tickets purchased I set forth on my journey to find the best outfits to wear so that I didn’t stand out like a tourist!
Wear comfortable shoes. But don’t wear tennis shoes. Or sandals. The French woman is chic. She is understated. She is sexy. I knew I wanted to wear comfortable shoes for all the walking we would be doing. I also knew wearing tennis shoes is not true to how I usually dress and I knew that is how I would stand out at as a tourist. I found some incredibly comfortable black flats from Clarks. My feet never hurt from my shoes. One day they hurt from sheer exhaustion of jet lag.
Be minimal. I brought a lot of black and a couple of jeans. Black t-shirts, black cardigans, black and white stripes. Black. It was July, but still a little a little cool, so having a cardigan was perfect. I brought my khaki trench coat as well.
Let’s talk accessories. This is also a place to be minimal. I wore a single pair of stud earrings and a necklace each day, both were small and delicate. I took my cross-body coach purse with me to hold a wallet, my phone and lip gloss. I wore my purse under my jacket when I had my jacket on. It made it easier to take on and off as I went in and out of locations.
One day while I was wearing the outfit below a woman stopped us and started speaking to us in rapid French. I have a limited French vocabulary (thanks to various years in class between 8th grade and college), so I got a little bit of what she was saying. But not near enough to be able to help her. As I replied in broken French she switched to English and I was actually able to help her find the boulangerie that had the pretty breads (look at that bread!). But being mistaken for a Parisian was my goal. It was achieved!!!
Some do NOTs:
Do not carry a backpack. This targets you as a tourist.
Do not wear high heels. I know the Parisian woman does it, but those cobblestone streets will wreck an ankle. Plus you will be walking all day long. Be comfortable.
Do not have a big purse full of stuff. This will also make you a prime subject for someone to pickpocket. I know you may have your children with you, and then everything about a backpack or big purse. People will notice the child and see that you have stuff for them, not of value.
This is the third post about MY story, you can read one and two. (linked)
As time went on, I worked my way up as an insurance agent. To be an insurance agent you have to be licensed to sell insurance in your state. That means taking a state licensing exam. With exams comes studying. Most can get all of their studying done in one month to take their licensing exam, however I was going through a divorce, taking care of 2 little kids and trying to survive. The first time I took the test I had been studying for 4 months, and I failed. At a time in my life where everything was going wrong it was only fitting that I failed my exam.
I studied HARD for the next 6 months. I was not grasping the material. My brain was not absorbing. One evening I was studying when I thought, enough. This is not going well. This is not how I learn. So I took a long hard look in the mirror and realized that I need to be in a classroom setting with others learning the same thing and asking questions with real life examples. I found the in-person course and signed up. For four days I sat in that class for 8 hours each day. The Saturday after the course I took my licensing exam and I PASSED! This was a great moment.
In taking that course I didn’t realize my path trajectory was going to be changed for my whole life. The class was full of around 20 other who were getting licensed for insurance. One of them happened to be Aaron. He was super tall and I felt comfortable enough sitting next to him because he was married. Being newly divorced I still didn’t know how to handle my singledom. Aaron was buying an agency in Utah. We took our test together and passed together. We became facebook friends. I had several clients move to Utah and I passed his information along to them and vice versa.
I had passed my test, I called my boss, and I was fired.
With a new found confidence in myself I went to work updating my resume and sending it to every agency in a 25 mile radius. Within a week I had a position with a new agency and I was going to learn everything I could about insurance. Little did I know that the agency that I was working for was going to be the PERFECT fit for me. This office had 4 women that worked in it (including myself) from all different backgrounds. The agency owner was a woman that I respected so much and she taught me how to be a trusted advisor to our clients. I learned organizational skills that I would never have thought of. Two of the other girls taught me how to rely on others when you needed it. Together the 4 of us were able to increase our office sales, retain more clients than ever before and lean on each other when times were tough.
I learned so much about all aspects of insurance in this new office. For myself, I had to be the best to prove that I could make it in this world as a single mom. All of this was for me. Not for anyone else. However, I also wanted everyone to know that I cared, that I knew what I was talking about, and I wanted everyone to believe in me. In order for others to see value in me I had to believe in myself. And in order to believe in myself I felt that I needed to be the expert in insurance so I could take care of my clients.
Planning an event is not as easy as one would think! There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of people to communicate with and a lot of ideas!
I am so excited for the boutique I am hosting next week. There are going to be so many amazing vendors, delicious food, giveaways and shopping. In my mind it is girlfriends hanging out and enjoying a night out without kids. In my dreams there is a lot of laughter, memories and happiness.
I am still working on the decor and layout for the boutique. I have some gorgeous pennant banners I made that are white lace, I want to get more lights to hang, the table Scott made me is going to be perfect for food & drinks. I just don’t know exactly how I will make it all tie in. Scott will be amazing and make things work just how I want them to be.
I would love to have you come to the boutique! I have 5 tickets left to give to you my dear readers! If you are in Utah and would like to come to the event, click HERE and get your ticket with the discount code THENEST.