Tag Archives: Recipes

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.

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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…


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…

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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…


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.

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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?

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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

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Filed under Food, photography, Recipes, Stories, Travel

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!

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Let’s board the ferry and I’ll tell you more about the island on the ride…


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.

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Great view from our rooms! Love the bougainvillea…

Okay ready to head out? Let’s go!


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.

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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.

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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.


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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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Filed under photography, Recipes, Stories, Travel

Yogurt Face Mask

If your spring has been anything like ours, then you’ll know that your skin has had to deal with a number of crazy conditions. One day it’s warm, dry and sunny, the next it’s bone chilling wet and windy.

Hot and cold fluctuations have a negative effect on the skin and it often causes an imbalance in our sebum production.  The result: dry patches, breakouts, and oil slicks…ick.

Try this fabulous balancing yogurt mask I stumbled upon in Body & Soul Magazine:

1 egg white

1 tsp. steeped green tea

1/2 Tbsp. plain organic yogurt

2 Tbsp. oatmeal (finely ground)

1/2 tsp. organic honey

Prep: Whip egg white until foamy. In a bowl, mix 1 tsp. of green tea and 2 Tbsp. oatmeal. Combine with egg white, yogurt, and oatmeal; mix in honey. Apply to clean skin and leave on for 8-10 minutes, then rinse.

The Result: Soft, dewy, balanced skin. I highly recommend it.

Have a gorgeous Monday.

xo,

Ivy

Image via luisamöhle

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Filed under Beauty, Crafting, Recipes

Green cleaning

Good morning.

I am so over paying a bunch of money for “Green cleaners”. It’s so easy to make your own…here’s some recipes I like to use. I got these from a great organic lifestyle magazine that I subscribe to: Mary Jane’s Farm. My neighbor was reading it on her front porch one day and I asked to take a look. It’s very charming, vintage-y and full of great info and ideas.

Glass cleaner

1/2 teaspoon liquid Castile soap

3 tablespoons white vinegar

2 cups distilled water

Mix together and pour into a 16 oz spray bottle. I like to add lemon essential oil to further help cut grease and leave a fresh natural fragrance. You can find Castile soap at drugstores and health food stores. I usually buy the Dr. Bronner’s brand.

This cleaner works wonderfully on all your glass and counter tops too!

Dishwasher Detergent

This works so beautifully!

1 cup Borax (in the laundry aisle)

1/2 cup baking soda

6 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

Combine and add powder to your dispenser as usual.

Bonus: Fill your rinse dispenser with white vinegar for super sparkly dishes!

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Filed under Home, Recipes

Organic delivery day

My "Organics to you" delivery today

You gotta love having fresh organic produce delivered to your doorstep on a rainy Portland afternoon!

A while back, I signed up with Organics to you and every second Tuesday they drop off a cardboard box of lovely, local, organic produce right at my door. It’s full of fruits and veggies that I probably wouldn’t typically buy…which forces me out of my cooking ruts.

Take bok choy, for example…baby bok choy to be exact. I’m sure I’ve passed these cute little guys countless times at the supermarket. I’ve been missing out. Not only are these guys adorable they taste great and are good for you too! Bonus.

Couldn’t you use a little bok choy in your life? Need a recipe? here.

My little baby bok choys...aww

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