Category Archives: life

a note from colleen

Hey all,

After five years of blogging on this site, I’ve decided to start over with something more personal: The Leenie. It’s a small affair, but fits me better at this stage of my life.

This site will exist for a little while longer. I’ll hang on to the domain, but I will stop hosting the blog soon. As consolation, I made a tumblr exclusively for house inspiration and updates: Maison Queens. It’s essentially instagrams of my house with better context, resources I’m using, etc. I’ll also back up some of my more popular decorating-related posts there. The tumblr won’t replicate the kind of posts I did here or be updated with any regular frequency, but it will be an informal way to snoop on my decorating, if that’s your jam. I’ll also add posts to a specific Pinterest board for the updates, if you like following that way.

I’m still on Twitter and Instagram doing my same old thing, and would of course love if y’all followed along on The Leenie. If not, no hard feelings.

So thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments throughout the years. It was a good run.



Bonjour! We’re heading to Paris soon to meet my parents for my mom’s 60th birthday. We’re spending a few days with them, then staying on for four more days to explore the city on our own.

Since this is my first time in Paris, I wanted to hear from you all on where to eat and shop. I’ve read the Gospel of Paris According to GOOP, but I want to hear from you all. What is amazing or unmissable? And please, do not spare any detail when it comes to desserts.


staffordshire vaseWe’re taking a trip to Paris in a few weeks, so I’ve been preoccupied with planning that trip, rather than doing a lot of things around the house. The biggest project I’ve tackled was replacing all of the plastic blinds in the living room with matchstick shades. I painted all of the window trim before we hung the new shades, so everything looks bright and clean. The new shades make a huge difference, but I can’t wait for valances I ordered from Etsy to come–I think that extra layer will look fantastic.

We did meet up with some contractors to talk about the kitchen and bathroom, but we’re still waiting on labor quotes. Since we don’t want to move plumbing in our kitchen, it’s a much smaller job and one we can arguably do ourselves, especially with the help of my dad. But our bathroom is a sorry sight and, more importantly, would function a lot better with a different layout. I might be returning to school for a grad program next year, so we’re trying to think in terms of what level of chaos we can stand before and after that happens. Redoing our only bath means renting another apartment for a week or more; redoing our kitchen means living on delivery food. Thus we may be switching the order of these projects!

Oh and it’s totally springtime! Which no doubt means it’ll be 90 by the end of the month. New York!

favorite mags

mag subscriptionsFor the past month, all of my subscription renewals for magazines have been rolling in, prompting me to decide what to cull from my herd. Harper’s Bazaar, my lone fashion magazine, I subscribe to mostly for its layouts and, since it’s only $5 a year, I see no reason to quit. As for my shelter titles, I’m on the fence about Elle Decor and Veranda–I’ll probably keep them because the subscriptions are fairly inexpensive ($15/year), but not every issue blows me away.

You know who is killing it in my book though? House Beautiful. I am so, so tired of black and white everything, so the fact that at least one interior in every issue will have color on the walls (the horror!) is refreshing. Plus, the market editors there strike a good balance between aspirational and attainable.

I’m toying with trading my Elle Decors/Verandas for World of Interiors. It’s a monster of a subscription, over $100/year since it’s an English title, but the issues that I’ve seen are gorgeous. Bloggers do a pretty good job of sharing notable photos from the other mags, and World is just so special.

So I’m curious: what are your favorite mags, or do you find blogs enough for inspiration?

our morocco itinerary

morocco guideIf there’s one thing I learned from our trip to Merida last year, it’s that I can’t handle super-packed itineraries. I don’t get necessarily cranky about it, I just basically shut down to the experience and instead find myself merely showing up for the checkmark. So for visiting Morocco, I wanted to be sure we spent quality time in each city, watching the people and hanging out, rather than racing off to various tourist destinations. This meant not going out into the Sahara on camels or driving out of Chefchaouen to go see a waterfall. We missed seeing some things this way, but in return we experienced much more of the cities.

This itinerary is not for everyone. If your travel style is go-go-go, I guarantee you will hate this. But if you love to explore cities on foot and simply soak up the experience, try this itinerary out.chefchaouen itinerary

Riad: Dar Zambra

Visiting Chefchaouen first was a stroke of genius on my part. It’s Morocco on training wheels–if we went to Fez or Marrakesh first, it would’ve been a huge shock to the system. The city is a very manageable size, things are slower, and everything is just low pressure.

We spent four nights here so that we could get over jet lag without feeling the compulsion to achieve a lot. Plus the first day was heavy on travel: arrived in Tangier in the morning then got straight into a taxi for a 2.5 hour drive. Having the luxury of time to simply relax and enjoy a view was essential.

Our riad was completely lovely and affordable. We loved heading up to the terrace after a hot day in the medina. The views were incredible. fez itinerary

Riad: Les Oudayas

Fez was a great primer for Marrakesh. Stepping off the bus, we were completely overwhelmed. Finding our riad was another stressor. But once we did, we realized what a complete oasis it was.

Our stay here was short, with only one full day in the city. We walked around and around the medina and chased after rumors of alcohol in a hotel that overlooks the city. marrakesh itinerary

Riad: Le Jardin d’Abdou, El Fenn

We took the train from Fez to Marrakesh, which is a 7 hour journey. We stayed at two different riads: the El Fenn, a splurge, and Jardin d’Abdou, an affordable riad that’s quite a bit further from the medina center. Given the chance to do it again, we would’ve spent all four nights at the El Fenn. The location was amazingly central, the service excellent, and the riad itself was jaw-dropping beautiful.

We stayed at Jardin d’Abdou first and that night we went out to La Mamounia for dinner, an absolutely palatial (in size and style) hotel. Utterly posh. One of Kirk’s coworkers was on our flight to Milan (where we transferred flights to Morocco), and we realized we’d both be in Marrakesh at the same time. So we met the coworker and his wife at La Mamounia, where they were staying on their unofficial honeymoon. Yes we crashed someone’s honeymoon.

The dinner was spectacular and such a welcome relief from days and days of tagine. We ate outside with views of the hotel’s gorgeous garden, had the most over-the-top mint tea service, and spent a ton of money. So worth it.

Marrakesh will get its own post soon, but if you have the opportunity to stay at the El Fenn, do it! Our hotel costs, when averaged out across the whole trip, were $125/night. I know that’s not completely budget-friendly, but so many of the in-country costs are low (cabs, food, and museum entries are all very inexpensive) that I think spending a bit extra on riads was worth it.

So that’s my low pressure guide to visiting Morocco. Enjoy!