My bump, my bump

No, not THAT kind of bump. I mean the kind of bump that gets you a date to have said bump removed and biopsied.

It all started in June when I felt a little lump right behind my elbow. Long story short, by late November it had grown enough to be painful and limit my range of motion. It was on my right elbow and I’m right-handed, of course, so daily chores became difficult.

Last week I had surgery. My husband has been about two thirds across the country (will tell you all about that soon) so his parents were kind enough to help me out, drive me to and from the hospital, and drive my boys to and from school the whole week since I was not able to.

The incision itself ended up being about 2 1/2 inches, but I was bandaged from mid-arm to mid-forearm.

I usually do not like taking painkillers, but when it’s surgery pain, I don’t mess around, so I’ve been pretty good about taking my meds and keeping the elbow elevated. My mother in law kindly colored my hair and wrapped my arm in plastic so I could shower. She and a friend took me to the mall because I was going crazy stuck in the house.

My boys have been awesome, so helpful and sweet, and since our sofa has recliner chairs, we’ve slept on the sofa. They wanted to be near me in case I needed something in the middle of the night. Foxy joined us so it was a long sofa-ful of blankets all week.

On Thursday I got the news that the biopsy results were negative and there was nothing to worry about – WOOT!!! My husband came home last night and we had a fun evening with friends, chocolate, and port. The boys are now on holiday break and we can have a few days to enjoy as a family, and to see friends we haven’t seen in a while.

I hope this week is a wonderful one for you, whether you celebrate the holidays or not.

Paris Vacation – random #2

Our Parisian friend, F, had been posting pictures on my Facebook page for a while, pictures of vending machines. But these were no regular vending machines.

Oh no.

These machines were full of NAIL POLISH.

Yeah.

Like I needed another reason to love Paris.

Of course, we went to find one early on in our vacation.

I have been wearing the green color, Yumi, for about a week now. There is a bit of wear at the tips of the nails, of course, but it is barely noticeable. The formula is opaque in two coats and the brush is a dream. Suffice it to say that if I had to tell myself to just get three and walk away because I could have bought every color on the machine.

We’ve had a rough week with the boys having the puking plague and my husband being, uh, elsewhere (I will tell you about that in a few weeks), so when I get a bit of time later I think a change of polish color is in order. What do you think, red or blue?

Paris Vacation – part 3

The day after my birthday I had the most amazing food tour with a long-time favorite blogger — Clotilde Dusoulier from Chocolate & Zucchini.  I am a fan of Clotilde’s style of cooking and her storytelling, and when I found out she does these two-hour food tours around Paris, I had to schedule one during our vacation.

Our tour took place in Montmartre, we met at a Metro stop and began walking around, stopping at various bakeries and food shops, and ending with a cheese course that was out of this world.

Our tour started at Le Grenier à Pain, a bakery that won the top prize for best baguette in Paris in 2010. This means, aside from the title and prestige, that they get to provide the bread for the Elysee, the home of the French President.

Clotilde showed us what to look for in a good quality baguette compared to a more industrially made one. As with many things, imperfection or unevenness is a sign of a hand-made bread. Also the bottom of the baguette can show you whether it was machine or hand-made. Ours was delicious, of course.

Next we stopped at one of the locations of a celebrity baker’s chain. Gontran Cherrier makes an amazing croissant, and that is saying something in Paris. We also tried a roll made with squid ink — perfect to accompany a seafood meal — and I purchased some brioche for the next day’s breakfast. So good. You can see the croissant and the squid ink roll on the tray between Steve and Clotilde, and my brioche were in the bag.

Our next, delicious “lesson” was at another bakery where we sampled a rustic plum tart. Let me just say that I have tried making plum tarts since we have a plum tree in our yard and my creations did not come close to the crumbly, sweet and tart loveliness that was this one from Les Petits Mitrons.

We stopped at a fancy foods store, where you might get a gift for your Parisian hostess if you were invited for dinner. So many pretty and delicious things! I am a soup fiend and wanted one of each of these bottled soups:

Last but not least was the cheese shop, La Fromagerie Lepic. Cheese is a huge deal in France. Like Champagne, which can only call itself Champagne if it is made in the region of Champagne (otherwise it’s called sparkling wine here in the US), French cheeses can only be given their regional name if made in the specific region by a specific method. We sampled a cheese course’s worth of cheeses, from mild to strong, as you would present at the table.

Because I was too busy stuffing my face with baguette and cheese, I only took pictures of four of the five cheeses we tried, but Clotilde kindly sent me the list of what we sampled:
– Banon (the goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves)
– Moelleux du Mont Revard (creamy mountain cheese with small holes)
– Morbier (with a layer of ash in the middle)
– Comté (mountain cheese)
– Roquefort (blue sheep’s milk)

The one picture I missed is the one of the Comté, but in the collage you can see the other four in order of listing, clockwise starting from bottom left. My favorites were the Banon and the Comté, but they were all really good. Clotilde brought a knife and plates and we sat on a bench to enjoy our cheese course.

Clotilde kept up a running commentary on what we were purchasing, along with various tidbits on the shops and traditions in Parisian food life. Like her blog and books, her way of speaking is full of knowledge but approachable. There is no condescension here, you feel like you are walking around with a long-time friend. I would highly recommend taking one of her tours if you are planning on visiting Paris.

Paris Vacation – part 2

Ladies and Gentlemen, I humbly present to you — the Louvre.

I’m not even going to try and tell you about this museum because a) there is so much to cover and b) there are many, many places where you can read about all its treasures, where the narrative will do it the justice it deserves.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

THAT said, both Steve and I had been to the Louvre before and while I had spent a lot of time here, he had visited during a remodeling, so some areas had been closed.  We chose to only cover those areas since we’d both seen the rest and you can really spend an entire day, or more, just at the Louvre.

By the way, it was my birthday and my darling love was so confused about what day it was that it was only after I told him twice that it was November 12 that he went “oh hey, happy birthday!”  :D

Our place was really close to the Louvre, so much so that in fact we went through the courtyard a few times as a short-cut.  As you do.

Speaking of our place, we chose to rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel.  First, it ended up costing us much less than a hotel room for 10 nights.  Second, we had amenities like free phone calls to the US, a washing machine and drying rack, kitchen, etc.  The apartment was located super close to the Louvre, as I mentioned, and there were some bakeries and restaurants on the same street, plus a Christian Louboutin store.  Hello!

We also visited the Musee d’Orsay where there was a very interesting exhibition on the Marquis de Sade.  Ahem.  I was bummed that my favorite painting in the world – Cabanel’s The Birth of Venus — was on loan in Tokyo.

Despite that personal setback, it was a day filled with gorgeous artwork and our first full day in Paris, and we enjoyed it so very much.

More on our adventure soon!

Paris Vacation – random

As I’m editing my pics from Paris, I find little moments that I loved, that I want to highlight for you.

I’ve made no secret of my love for chocolate.  I’m completely happy with a cheap old bag of Hershey’s kisses or a cup of Swiss Miss, but I’d heard that in Paris there was a place that served some seriously kick ass hot chocolate.  So off we went.

Angelina’s has a few locations throughout Paris — we went to the one on the Rue Rivoli because it was the closest to us.  I paid my Euros and got my greedy little hands on a cup of delectable, smooth, velvety liquid silk.

My husband isn’t a huge fan or chocolate, or hot chocolate, but even he was impressed by Angelina’s hot chocolate.

One of the things I purchased to bring home was a bag (the big size) of hot chocolate mix.  They sell the hot chocolate in bottles, ready to heat up, various pastries, and dry mix.  There is also a restaurant where you can have lunch, but it’s pretty pricey for what you get, and let’s face it, I was only there for the hot chocolate.

That picture brings me to another subject:  my hair.  Yes, that’s all mine in its un-tame-able curlage.  I brought a hair dryer, curling iron, frizz tamer, smoothing cream, hair spray, etc.  The only thing I used during my trip was a BB product thing from Pantene to deal with the frizzies.  I didn’t see a single woman sporting the ubiquitous “beachy waves” or straightened hair.  Parisian women have pretty, polished hair and pretty, polished makeup, but don’t look like they spent half an hour on either.  So I didn’t, either.

And yes, that’s an Avengers t-shirt I’m wearing.  Even though I’m Team Loki.

Paris Vacation, part 1

Yes, I know, it’s been a long time and I’m starting to blog again right after we get home from Paris. Boo hiss.

This was a long-awaited trip for us, we’d both been to Paris before, but never together, so we’d been looking forward to this BIG TIME. We spent eleven glorious days on vacation, two of them travel days, and nine days left to explore this gorgeous city. We took our time, slept in when we wanted, and had a wonderful trip.

First things first, though – I’m sharing with you what I wore on the plane:

plane outfit

I layered a tank top under a light sweater and also had my coat with me on the plane, plus a super soft scarf. I wore comfortable slim jeans and riding boots, adding my “personal item” (crossbody bag) and “carry on” (an expandable bag from Stella & Dot) that held a ton of things and was still within the limits set by airlines. In my carry on, I had a change of clothes, leggings and a long sleeve top, underwear, bra, and socks, and basic, travel-sized toiletries. I’ve experienced lost luggage and canceled flights before and tried my best to plan for the worst. Thankfully, all our flights were on time and nothing was lost.

I will add this amazing trip we had to my list of things to be thankful for, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving if you celebrate it, and a wonderful week in any case :D

Right in the “feels”!

Okay, so I’ve shared plenty of my husband’s amazing creations for our boys – be it cakes, costumes, or piñatas. Something completely unexpected happened recently and I can finally share it with you all – one of our boys’ homemade costumes will be making its debut on the big screen!!!

This is the costume our youngest wore 3 years ago – he was obsessed with Godzilla and daddy obliged. Alex had some sensory issues at the time and didn’t want his hands covered, and he loved being able to see out of his costume:

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was contacted by a lady on behalf of Make a Wish Illinois – a young boy’s wish was to be Godzilla, and a movie would be made with him starring as “Madzilla”. She had found his costume and inquired about getting it for the movie. We donated it and have been waiting to see some pics of sweet Maddex wearing the costume. Now, you can see a series of pictures at the Chicago Tribune. People like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and football legend Mike Ditka will also be appearing in the movie.

To say that we are beyond happy is a complete understatement. It’s so gratifying to see the looks of wonder and the smiles on our boys’ faces once Steve completes a costume, but to have helped make this sweet boy’s wish come true? Indescribable.

Have a wonderful week!