[Always] Inspired by...My Mom

Disclaimer: there are no recent pictures of me and my mom!  Seriously, the last picture was taken two years ago and it’s horrible so we’re just not even going to go there.  I am such a bad millennial because I can’t do that obligatory Mother’s Day picture post on Facebook, but I do have two things.  1) a blog and a challenge that is conveniently telling me to write about the most important thing my mom taught me. 2) This picture, taken in Bordeaux after my mom and I went to the mecca of all boulangeries and had the most incredible pastries I have ever and will ever have in my life.  How cute is she???

My mom taught me about dedication.  She worked from home while my brother and I were growing up so that, if one of us got sick at school, she could come pick us up. or so she could spend time with us on school vacations; so she could come to all of our various meets, performances, kindergarten graduations — you name it, she was there.  Never have I known a person who has given everything she has for her family like my mom did.  I remember the summer before fourth grade, for example, when my dad was away the entire summer at the FBI academy in Virginia, and it was just my mom taking care of me and my brother for those 10 weeks.  I was only eight years old, so I couldn’t really realise how excruciating that must have been for her.  She had always taken care of me, my brother, and my dad, but she still had my dad to lean on, and be the other parent.  That summer, it was just her.  And, while still working from home, she did it, and we survived the infamous summer of 2003.  There are a thousand more memories like this, but it would take an entire book, rather than a blog post, to go through all of the specifics.

My mom has been there for me in every sense of the word — the good, the bad, and the awkward.  She has been a part of some of my happiest memories, like when I came out of school in April of 7th grade and she was sitting in the car holding up a big packet from Choate Rosemary Hall with my acceptance letter to their summer program inside.  (Choate’s on my mind right now for several reasons)  She let me be homeschooled for my freshman and sophomore year of high school and spent two years driving me around to classes and co-ops and things and because of her I experienced another huge shift in my academic mentality.  She was there when I was in the middle of an abusive and manipulative relationship and struggling to fight my way back to the surface.  She held me as I learned to breathe again, still shell-shocked, and as I navigated “normal” school again.  She became my closest confidante as I entered happy times again, always listening to the stories from my day, no matter how late I got home.  When I fell in love and was terrified of losing myself again, she was there.  She had my first acceptance letter displayed on the kitchen counter when I got home from school one day in February.  She came to every single performance of Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang and Titanic, every track and cross country meet, all the little senior events…everything.  When I was a complete emotional disaster during my first year at Fordham, she would always answer the phone, even if it was the fifth time I had called that day “just to say hi.”  

My mom is my lookalike (seriously, the resemblance of our childhood pictures is a little scary) and we have been told a thousand times that we look like Molly Ringwald.  In fact, for my 18th birthday, I got the DVD of Sixteen Candles and we watched it together (a year and a half later :) ).  She is my style guru because I’m absolutely hopeless.  From her (and her mother), I inherited a love of all things food.  She taught me how to not just follow a recipe, but how to actually cook for myself.  She helped me come out of my shell and become independent, and has taught me — actually, she’s still teaching me — to accept and love myself.  When something happens, whether it be good or not-so-good, she is the first person I think to tell, because I know she will understand without me having to explain myself too much.  My mom knows me better than anyone else in the world, and that is an immense comfort that is impossible to put precisely into words.

So, my mom taught me not only dedication, but about immense love and devotion, both to yourself and those that you love, and I hope that I can come even a little close to doing for my family what my mom has done for the past 21 years.  Here’s to you, Mom.  I love you.

Inspired to be,


Inspired by...Final Days in Paris

My mom and I had one final afternoon in Paris, and she hadn’t been since she was in her 20s and flat broke while studying abroad, so I was determined to show her a different side of one of my favourite cities.  I’ve been to Paris three times now (I know, casual): once two years ago with my then-boyfriend and his mother, once last term with friends, and now with my mother.  Every time I go, I fall more and more in love with Paris, because each time is better than the last.  I have a friend who studied there last semester and she says that it’s much different when you’re living there, as opposed to visiting, and I’m sure she’s right, but for me, Paris is Paris and there’s nothing more romantic in the world.  

We started our afternoon near Notre Dame Cathedral at a cafe where my mom tried a croque monsieur for the first time.  It’s like a grilled ham sandwich, with cheese on top of the bread, and a fried egg on top of that, and it’s a beautiful creation.  

Also, it’s very French :)  We explored Notre Dame and all of its beauty before we moved on to the tiny side streets nearby.  We had wanted to see the memorial to the victims of deportation, but unfortunately, it was closed that day, so we just kept walking and exploring Ile de-Saint Louis, as well.  We didn’t realise how tired we were until we got to the Louvre, sat down for a moment, and almost couldn’t get up haha.  We couldn’t leave without seeing the Eiffel Tower, especially since it was getting dark and it’s gorgeous when it’s lit up, so we took the metro a few stops to Trocadero where the views are incredible.  As we got there, they were just turning the lights on, so we got to watch the tower slowly light up, which I had never seen before.  My mom had never tried a crepe before, either, so got one with nutella and whipped cream from a nearby stand, and just as we were taking our first bites, it was the top of the hour and the tower began to sparkle!  It’s always my favourite part :)

The next day, my mom was leaving from Charles de Gaulle, so I took her to the airport and had a quiet afternoon to myself — I was exhausted from two and a half weeks of travelling!  I got a baguette and a nice piece of cheese and some tomatoes from the Mouffetard market, came back to my room, and spent the evening watching Netflix on my bed with my treats.  My trip had come to an end!

Well, that's it for my European Adventure (or at least the continental part), but stay tuned for a reflection on my trip, coming soon to Katherinspired.com!

Inspired to be,


Inspired by...Bordeaux and San Sebastian!

We were only back in Paris for the evening because we were leaving for Bordeaux bright and early in the morning!  Our train was at 9:00, so we got up early and headed to Montparnasse Station to have a coffee and pain au chocolat before our train.  This ride was longer but we still got in with plenty of the day left ahead of us.  Our hotel was gorgeous and right near the train station so it wasn’t a long walk at all.  Once we were settled, we walked into the centre of the city to explore the markets and beautiful churches surrounding us.

 Right in the centre of the city, we stumbled across a boulangerie, because it had been quite some time since our last pastry, and we were so glad we found this place!  The croissants and pains au chocolat were gorgeous and screaming our names so we bought a few, and the moment we bit into them, we were in pure bliss.  Now, I’ve been living in Europe for quite some time now, but NOTHING I had ever eaten compared to these pastries.  

Every layer was so light and buttery and it was like nothing we had ever tasted before.  In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m dying for one of them right now :)  We strolled around a bit more and soaked up plenty of much-needed sun, before we headed back to the hotel to relax a bit before dinner.  

We got dressed up and had a glass of wine in the hotel bar before we went in search of our meal for the evening.  We found the perfect place that had on the menu something I had been wanting to try ever since I saw the movie Julie and Julia : Sole Meuniere, or sole cooked in a lemon butter sauce.  It’s even more exciting than your usual fish dish because it comes whole and you get to de-bone it before you eat it — fun, right?  After five long years of waiting, I finally got to try sole meuniere and it was AMAZING!  So rich and buttery and I was in heaven.  That, some chocolate profiteroles, and a stroll by the river with the lit-up buildings in the background and it was a beautiful ending to the day.

The next day, we were taking a day trip to San Sebastian, Spain, so we got up super early and made a 6:45am train.  This was a much longer train ride, but it was early, so we just curled up and slept :)  We got to Hendaye, which is a small town on the French-Spanish border, around 10:30 and waited to take the Euskotren to San Sebastian.  This is a tiny commuter train that would take us the rest of the way, by the way.  Finally, we were in San Sebastian, and it was gorgeous!  It was the quintessential Spanish town, with tapas bars everywhere and the beautiful blue ocean just minutes away.  

We got tapas, which are like tiny plates or sandwiches, for lunch since by that point, we were starving.  Then, it was just us and Spain for the rest of the afternoon.  It was a quiet day, mostly, since we just took in the views, poked around shops, and then relaxed on the beach until our return train.  We soaked up plenty of sun and were so relaxed by the time we got on the train to head back to Bordeaux for the evening.  Definitely a perfect little taste of Spain for the day!

Inspired to be,


Inspired by...Bayeux, Normandy!

I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I was by this point in my journey — not only was I with my mother and therefore not completely responsible for myself, I was also staying in a hotel (can you say showers with no flip flops!), and I got to do laundry and have actual clean clothes!  On the day I met my mom (Thursday), we mostly spent the day finding a good laundromat near the hotel in Paris and getting settled in our room before having a nice dinner and catching up.

The next day, we left from St. Lazare station to take the train to Bayeux, Normandy.  I hadn’t realised this before the trip, but Normandy isn’t actually a town — it’s actually a region of France made up of smaller towns, hence the name of our location.  The ride wasn’t very long and was quite scenic, so it was a pleasant journey.  We arrived in Bayeux around 12:30 and walked to the tourist information office so we could find our hotel…which turned out to be a lot closer to the train station than we had thought.  It was such a gorgeous day, and we were dying to see the Normandy beaches, so once we were checked in, we decided to rent bikes (complete with baskets!) and ride to Omaha Beach!

 I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical at first because we only had a map and obviously spoke no French, so a lot of nightmare scenarios were running through my head… We set out and took on the French countryside!  What made it even more French is that I was in a dress (guess who didn’t bring any exercise-esque clothes) :)  The ride to the beach was amazing — the sun was shining, we biked through small country roads, and I had the urge to break out into Do, Re, Mi (because how could I not when wearing a green and white dress and riding through the countryside?).  After about an hour and a half of biking, we made it!  We had officially stormed the beaches!  We stood in the sand for a bit and took in the sea air and the history that could feel seeping in with every wave.  We had a long trek ahead of us, so we got back on our bikes (a little less enthusiastically this time) and began to head back.  By this point, we were quite tired so the ride back was much harder, but we stopped at a cafe we found and replenished with a sweet treat and some water. Let’s just say we were quite relieved when we finally got to the last downhill that would take us into the centre of town :)

That evening, we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant in the centre of town, and I actually forget what I had for an appetiser, and I know the entree was some kind of fish dish, but I do remember the chocolate mousse I had for dessert- YUM.

We slept in the next day, thoroughly exhausted from all of our travels over the past few days, and spent the day exploring Bayeux.  The weather wasn’t as nice that day, so we were glad that we had decided to bike the day before.  For lunch, we had incredible escargot and a cheese platter and it was the perfect way to top off a fun trip.  Our train left that evening, so we walked around some more, explored markets and little shops, and then made our way back to the train station to head back to Paris for the evening!

Inspired to be,