Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

Striped Basque – Espadrille Hunting in France

Shopping, Travel Tips


Artiga Linens

Artiga Linens

With the fever for the woven-bottomed shoe at an all time high, I couldn’t help but do a little Espadrille canvassing (pun intended) of my own when visiting France’s Basque region a few weeks ago. Derived from the Catalan name for the shoes, espardenya, the espadrille has been made on the French side of the border since the 14th century. Although many of the better known shops export globally (Pare Gabia, for example), I was intent on finding a boutique with a signature Basque flair, ensuring my shoes would meet stares of envy along with distinct ‘foreign-flair’.

What I found was the charming, colorful boutique, unlike many manufacturers that have taken their production abroad, Artiga still fabricates everything in southwest France, earning it the distinguishing Origine France Garantie label. Age-old Basque materials like pure cotton and a sturdy linen-cotton blend are now employed in everything from colorful striped table linens, deck chairs, and sun hats, tote bags and change purses.

But when it comes to the espadrille, ask and ye shall receive. Artiga makes three different types: the traditional peasant-shoe style, a newer ballerina flat with a shorter top cut as well as a heeled wedge. For the classic, I recommend the Castilian espadrilles, so patriotic in red, blue and white. For the modern lass, the ballerina cut has a more feminine feel not to mention a more flattering shape on the food while summery Menditte fabric is guaranteed to garner an envious second glance. When you want great design service, visit

Artiga Maison, St. Jean de Luz, 13 rue Garat, 64500, St. Jean de Luz

Posted in: Shopping, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Friday, May 11, 2012 No Comments

Annual Holiday Card Obsession



‘Tis the Season for HOLIDAY CARDS



IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR. And one of the things that makes it such are the daily arrival of Holiday cards in one’s mailbox. I readily admit, every aspect of this holiday tradition makes me giddy. From designing my own (a process I belabor for at least two and half weeks) to receiving (and silently critiquing) those sent to me by loved ones.  I love perusing the designs and hope to someday contribute, but until then, I live vicariously through these fabulous sites.

Below is a list of my trusted sources for online holiday cards:

1. MINTED Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 12.01.46 PMThis online paper goods store is populated with talented graphic designers, often recruited through the site’s monthly design challenges. The variety of options is wonderfully large – including the new Minibook and Yearline cards pictured above, while the company’s savvy online tools, such as the *new* FIND IT FAST” Holiday Card application, which allows you to upload a photo and then view it in an array of designs, are simply brilliant. I can’t say enough good things about this brand of stationary/card designers. I have been smitten since I was first introduced to them as an Editor at Town & Country Weddings and I continue to find their developments and mantra of “allowing you to discover design genius from all over the world, while at the same time providing an opportunity for designers to build their careers on merit alone”, as just the type of company the creative world should champion!  Thank you ladies!

2. TINY PRINTS This high-quality photo card company was started by three friends with “big dreams and a passion for beautiful paper” and specialized in baby stationery (I ordered my baby announcement from here and loved the design!). Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 12.12.16 PMNow a massive online retailer known for stylish designs for every occasion (weddings, holidays, personal correspondence, business cards and even corporate orders), Tiny Prints can be trusted for quality and prompt service.  Their popular ornament design’ pictured depression pills volume left was featured on the TODAY show and rightly so. It’s freakin’ adorable! I only wish I had seen it earlier! Is it ok to order TWO holiday cards? You may want to too after seeing these.

3. Pear Tree Greetings A more affordable card company, the five-year old Pear Tree company does stationery for weddings, holidays and other basic occasions/necessities though one of its calling cards (forgive, the pun) is its signature kids coloring cards. Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 7.16.56 PMIf your child is a budding artist then why not show it off to your loved ones this season. Check out these cards which allow your little Monet (or Jackson Pollock) to do his/her thing. *Also for the ECO-Friendly card sender, check out Pear Tree’s 100% Recycled card line.

4. Papyrus Granted, this shop is well-known, fairly ubiquitous in urban areas and often overpriced. That said, I still like to view their designs. They have some really beautiful classics – which, if your photo is really great – do not hesitate to go plain on the card! I also love some of their fun ones too, though as I mentioned above, they tend to be a bit pricier since you have to customize it and they tend to cater to those more in search of stock cards. Here are some particular faves:

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5. Purple Trail If mailing out cards is just too much this year (which, let’s face it, no one would blame you) then why not go online and email a personalized, photo E-Card to your friends and family. The thought certainly still counts. Purple Trail offers a myriad designs for an adorable digital mailing of holiday cheer.  Admittedly, I have not done this, so I’m not sure how the pricing structure works. It reads like its actually free to send them, but I would be highly surprised given the level of design quality! Either way, it’s worth checking out!Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 7.52.27 PM

For all those that I missed, please email me. I’d love to know about your designs. I’m a self-confessed stationery-addict.


Posted in: Shopping

Published by Meg, Tuesday, December 14, 2010 No Comments

Carrying a Tuscan Bun

Food + Wine, Italy, Shopping, Travel Tips


The Rolling Hills of Tuscany

March 25th – April 11th

Well, dear readers, here it is – my dream assignment – and somehow I’ve found it once again. I have been tasked by the wonderful editors at Indagare ( to canvass Tuscany and script lurid itineraries focusing on areas such as Chianti, the Maremma (the coast) and the beautiful Val D’Orcia including wine bastions; Montepulciano and Montalcino. In between all the touring, I will also stay at ten pre-selected Tuscan properties (some new to me, others already favorites) ensuring that every suggested hotel in the write-up is not only up-to-snuff, but also complete with detailed descriptions (and as always from me, strong opinions!)


As my first headline alludes, I am indeed 6.5 months pregnant and thus, this tour will benefit from an even more sensitive angle than ever before. I look forward to sharing my findings, insights and no doubt, limitless culinary indulgences in Tuscany with you all.

Stay Tuned!

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Posted in: Food + Wine, Italy, Shopping, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Thursday, March 25, 2010 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.