Paris: Quick Favorites


We took a week long trip to Paris for our babymoon this February. I was 27 weeks along in my pregnancy and really felt it was probably the latest I'd be able to travel (somewhat) comfortably. I'm so glad we made the trip. Although the weather wasn't ideal with lots of rain - Paris will always be Paris and we enjoyed ourselves and our time being unplugged.

I want to share some of my favorite little gems and neighborhoods with you. I've been to Paris about four times now but am by no means an expert Francophile. Yet I am mesmerized by the city history, culture, art, food, architecture and just love digging in, researching, and discovering one-of-a-kind cafes, shops, streets, etc. A lot of you asked, so here's my list of recommendations!

If you have additions to this list, contact me and I can add! Let's share the wealth! P.S. - This doesn't really cover the standard touristy stuff. This is the stuff you have to dig a bit more for. I narrowed my list down to my top favorites so you're not overwhelmed, too! 

Also, had to paint this piece below, inspired by the getaway, which is available for sale in my shop.


Where to Stay:
Both of these neighborhoods aren't too far from the big attractions. Walkable and near metro stations.

Le Marais - More hustle and bustle, hip, but some of the oldest narrow streets in Paris.
Latin Quarter - Feels more residential, quiet, older, local crowd.

Favorite Breakfast / Brunch:

*or just hop into any cafe/patisserie for a cappuccino, fresh juice and croissant

Food Market:
There are so many of these and some with incredible longevity/history. However, this one was my favorite and near where we stayed in Les Marais. 

Le Marche des Enfants Rouge - The oldest market in Paris - over 400 years old! Go for lunch and eat at the Moroccan stall - Le Traiteur Marocain! Closed Mondays. Covered so go anytime of year.

My favorite neighborhoods to shop in were Le Marais, Montmartre, and Canal Saint-Martin. On Sundays, lots of stores are closed but open in Les Marais area. We learned that the hard way. 

Merci - I'm obsessed with this design concept store located in Le Marais district.
Fleux - Again, this place is a really cool design concept store in Le Marais.
Ofr. -  Eclectic book and art shop. Really rad prints, magazines, etc. here.

Bar + Nightlife:
I didn't partake much in the nightlife scene but if you go anywhere, get a drink here. Located in Canal Saint-Martin.

Le Comptoir General - African cabinet of curiosities, banana beer, small concerts and movies, delicious cocktails and the best Instagrammable scene. Like...Alicia Keys casually performs here. Very low-key, NBD.


Kunitoraya - I have been to this Japanese Udon noodle spot again and again. There's always a line. I recommend it for lunch. Great for a cold day spent walking around and you want a hot, soupy dish!


Les Enfants Rouge - Call and make a reservation. Traditional, formal French dinner yet Japanese chef inspired.
Derrière - From the creators of Sketch and Momo in London, an apartment style restaurant with traditional + inventive food. Try the beef bourguignon, creamy foie gras terrine, salads...

Touristy stuff:

Louvre - Spend at least 2-3 hours here. Get tickets in advance to skip line.
Museo de Orsay - Favorite museum for Impressionist paintings galore. Get tickets in advance to skip line.
Saint Chapel - Surround yourself in amazing stain glass. You'll be mesmerized! 
Notre de Dame

Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) Basilica - Make the pilgrimage to the church atop a hill with stunning views of Paris. Then wander behind it and through the old Montmartre neighborhood - home of Moulin Rouge and other brothels. Lots of shops, cafes near here. Skip the touristy ones and wander further for more low-key ones. Have an Aussie-inspired brunch at the Hardware Société  nearby. 

Linger + Wander here:

Monet's Gardens in Giverny - Take a train ride about 45 min outside of Paris to Monet's garden getaway. There's cafes and shops in the town, too. Go in spring, summer, fall.
Jardin de Luxembourg - I love this garden so much. Bring wine/cheese/bread and just sit. The statues encircling it are of 20 French queens. Go in warmer seasons.
Versailles - Worth it. About 40 min train ride outside Paris. Go in warmer seasons.

Don't Be a Tourist in Paris: The Messy Nessy Chic Guide
Airbnb Neighborhood Guides

Happy travels!


My Mother's Blessing

I’m 34 weeks pregnant now - feeling pretty HUGE, tired, yet hopeful. Her frequent hiccups and elbow jabs make me smile throughout the day and I’m in awe of this entire process. 

Before I take a hiatus to delve into this big shift and focus on nurturing this new life - I wanted to share my thoughts on having a Mother’s Blessing. Many of you asked about it after I previously shared. If you're interested in having one or hosting one, I highly recommend it! I encourage you to create a memorable event that marks the transition from woman to mother - one that is personal, intimate and celebrates your family lineage and culture. 


When I first asked my friends if they were willing to plan a Mother’s Blessing in lieu of a Baby Shower, I wasn’t quite sure what I was wanting or what it would evolve into. I was inspired by the Navajo tradition called a Blessingway which is a sacred pre-birth ceremony and I had also recently attended a Dia de Los Muertos ceremony to honor my relatives. What I did know for sure is that I didn’t want all the material gifts and the stuff to be the focus of our gathering. I wanted to create a reflective, reverent space where I could hear my friends and family’s thoughts on motherhood, openly ask for their support during this transition, and glean every piece of wisdom and insight I could from all these incredible women in one room. 


And I have to tell you this: having all the women in your life show up in one space, in one room, with open hearts and ready to contribute themselves to you genuinely, purely, vulnerably - it can create something so palpable and ELECTRIC. I really still can’t find accurate words to describe it.

All I know is that we need more of these gatherings everywhere and I hope you get to experience it, too - whether or not it's centered around motherhood.


My other intention for this gathering was to honor the legacy and lives of the women that have come before me - calling for their wisdom and support to guide me in this journey. I wanted to sit still enough to feel my mom’s presence, her mother’s presence, and my great-grandmother’s presence. At the blessing, their photos were displayed similar to Dia de Los Muertos tradition. My friends found ways to incorporate my heritage in special ways through the food we served - Mexican, Italian, Polish which made everything come full circle for me in celebrating where we’ve come from - generations of families with dreams - generations of tenacious women who lived and mothered the best way they knew how. I will lift them up in gratitude for every single opportunity they afforded me in my life now. And in my daughter’s life. 


In her poem “Our Grandmothers”, Maya Angelou wrote “I come as one but I stand as ten thousand” which sums up everything for me. We gain courage and conviction from the voices of those who've come before us. 


The event consisted of small bites, drinks and casual conversation at the beginning, then after about 30-45 minutes we moved into another room where we sat on pillows in a circle, an array of candles and flowers at the center. I had asked each guest via the invite to bring a poem, quote, or memory they wanted to share about motherhood. There was no pressure for each person to share aloud, but everyone did, including my 13 year old niece Kaitlyn, which resulted in full on water work tears for the majority of the time! Everyone shared such sincere, raw stories of their own mothers or those who mothered them - all while acknowledging that motherhood is never perfect - it is messy, tumultuous and a different experience for everyone. My dear friend Frances spoke powerfully about a greater divine mother's love that is available to each and everyone of us - one that can provide us solace during the imperfect, trying moments.

Thank you to my beautiful friends and family who joined me in an occasion I will never forget.

Other details of the event:

  • Small votive candles with Mother Mary were handed out. Each guest was encouraged to light their candle when they receive news that I'm in labor. 
  • Journal where each guest wrote small love note, left their poem or words of advice or whatever token they wanted to impart.
  • Flower crowns were made for me and each of the family members in attendance.

Florals and event design created by Frances of Prema Style.
Photography by Holly Hursley.
Invitations illustrated by May Engelstad of PocoPost.

Other resources on Mother's Blessings:
(book) The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou.


Why I Do This Work...

I've always thought I'm way better at communicating via writing and artwork. That is why I'm so drawn to painting as a mode to express myself. A common question I'm asked is "What's your story?" and I often ramble on sharing bits and pieces of my past without providing a cookie cutter elevator speech or "my story in a nutshell". I've felt pressure to work on creating one. However, there are so many intersecting layers of my identity and past that I feel condensing it into a quick, digestible story for you wouldn't be completely authentic. So I'll share some thoughts I wrote tonight - that of course struck me while in the bathtub - my time to shut off and check in with myself.

Why do I do this work?

Why do I focus on celebrating and empowering women and girls?

Because it took me so long to become who I really am. To love myself and in turn - to love other women. 

I feel like I am just now coming alive! Living in my true skin, in my authentic self, and I'm 33 years old! It's been a long, long road getting here and I'm a constant, evolving work in progress. I just don't want other women and girls to spend years of their lives denying and diminishing themselves, hiding their truths, doubting themselves, always thinking what they have to say is unimportant... the way that I did. It's a cruel, silent suffering that isolates us from ourselves and from one another. It keeps us from being truly seen and from stepping into our greatness. And it breaks my heart.


Up until my late 20's, I was the girl everyone else wanted me to be. Who my mom, my brothers, my boyfriend, my pastor, my professors, my husband - wanted me to be. I had no idea who Kimothy truly was. Growing up in northeast Ohio, I was socialized by my family, church, school, community, and media to fit the mold of a nice, polite, good girl. This construct was limiting, depressing and even destructive. My brother told me, "Girls don't listen to this. Here, how about this CD". My mom's remarks about my outfit choices - warning me that they might attract unwanted attention and implying it'd be my fault for wearing that. She told me to smile, squeezing my hand tightly at church, when I wanted to cry and yell. Their voices were so loud in my mind that I couldn't hear my own. I listened to them because my self-worth and value was contingent upon everyone else's approval. I felt so disconnected from myself. I was flailing and searching. My mom's death from breast cancer in 2009, when I was 25, only magnified my lack of self-awareness and identity. It sent me into a black hole of grief, self-destruction and eventually, on a quest to know my true self. Her death compelled me to fight for my happiness, because there weren't many pieces of it left. I was gutted. After a year and a half of marriage, I made my first move of speaking my truth (for once in my life) and told my husband I wanted a divorce. I was terrified. But then and there I decided I needed to start living for myself - listening to myself. I am so so proud of that scared, shaking, voice quivering 27 year old. I thank her everyday. Because she was brave, because she dipped into the depths of her darkest pain and came out anew - she has granted me the life I have now. I'm in tears thinking of her.


Through losing my mother and ending my marriage, I experienced a reckoning of identity. Instead of maintaining the hand-me-down beliefs of female identity, religion, politics, cultural norms that I was raised with - I examined them with new eyes.

I let go of the notion of already knowing and started to ask more questions, judge less, assume less. This resulted in me getting to know and love people who I might have previously shut out. And that's when I began to see a divinity and sacred love in everything. And in myself. A love that cannot be contained within church walls and cannot be claimed by only a certain group of people. It is inherent in everyone. 

I began to realize my own strength as I said no to people, projects, paths that weren't really for me. I started saying no to relationships and acts I did out of guilt, shame and obligation. I started speaking up more and asking for that raise, leaving that corporate job to start my own business, etc. etc. It was a muscle that developed over time and that I'm still developing.  

My inner voice became the highest frequency and that changed my life. 

When I fully embraced my creativity and sensitivity as my strong suit, not my weaknesses as I formerly thought, and found confidence in my own voice and beliefs - everything changed. 

After a break up three years ago, I hit pause on dating and took time to be alone. Essentially, to date myself! I travelled solo, read more, spent time with friends who energized me and eventually started painting with watercolors completely for my own enjoyment - without monetary strings attached - without purpose - because it felt good and it healed me. The old me would have looked at it as self-indulgent and unproductive. But it quickly became a powerful tool for self-discovery.



The more I honed in on my artwork and shared it with others, I became awestruck by how it was received, especially by other women. The impact of sharing my truths with art + community astounded me. It still does. That is why I do what I do.

And now that I see what can happen when a woman speaks her truth - I cannot UNSEE it. I can only forge ahead, remind myself to do the same and encourage others to speak up. I feel privileged to have finally had this awakening and feel called to continue creating and sharing.

I am honored to use my gifts to remind you of how wondrous and powerful you really are