Paris Vacation – part 5

If you have ever watched the BBC show Merlin, then you will be familiar with this place:

The Chateau de Pierrefonds

My husband, Steve, had been here about fifteen years ago, when he was in France for work. The chateau is located north of Paris — we rented a car and made the drive over. The day cleared up as we reached the commune of Pierrefonds and it being a Tuesday, the chateau was nearly empty.

View of the Commune de Pierrefonds from the castle

We explored the chateau at our leisure



Our drive back to Paris took us through some gorgeous, picturesque villages. France is really such a beautiful country and we definitely look forward to taking the boys there someday.

Our next landmark visit was due to a request from our oldest, who wanted us to go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and take a picture of Paris below.

However, when we finally made it up to the top, after a 45-minute delay when the cars stopped working, it was so foggy that we could not see a thing out of the top floor – oops! So down we went to the second level and snapped pictures for our boy.

We spoke to him later that night (afternoon in the US) and explained what happened. He was a little bummed but he thanked us for trying.

Next post, I will take you twenty years back in time, to my first visit to Paris.

We are moving to . . .

No, not France. I wish. But no. Although it will be an equally dairy-friendly land.

Uh-oh. This Niners fan is going to be a little out of place, although right now I am very angry with the Forty-Niners front office for letting Coach Harbaugh go. But, Coach will now be just across the lake, and I will be cheering for the Michigan Wolverines.

You know what this means . . .

Hello Wisconsin!!!

That’s right. The big adventure of 2015 for our family will be our move from California to Wisconsin, or as I call it, from Sunny California to North of the Wall (GoT reference).

My husband is starting a new job after a horrific year and a half in a situation where our family was impacted financially, emotionally, my husband’s health was suffering, etc. We are looking forward to living in the midwest, to new experiences, to making new friends, to having white Christmases. Yes, it will be difficult to leave friends and family behind, to leave the house our boys came home to after being born, to leave the only lifestyle we’ve known, to live in the snow, but we’re determined to make a good life for ourselves, and of course, I will be sharing our transformation from Californians to Wisconsinites here.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Paris Vacation – part 4

Apologies for the delay in posting the next installment. I am almost 100% recovered from my elbow surgery, don’t have complete range of motion yet but every day is a little better.

While we were in Paris, we found out there was a Christmas Market going on, on the Champs Elysees. It’s like the Art & Wine festivals or Harvest festivals we’ve been to in the US, with lots of vendors from all over selling their wares, many of those were food items that had us drooling!

It was here that I had my first (of only two during the whole trip) Nutella crepes:

One of the vendors was selling these HUGE tiles of chocolate of all percentages – milk, dark, bittersweet, etc.

Several vendors were selling churros. Except they’re called by a different word in French:

So, um, this is a word we Latin people use for uh, something else. Two something elses, in fact. Females have them, and you wear a bra over them. As much as I wanted some churros, I could not muster up the courage — or the straight face — to go and order some.

Speaking of straight face . . .

I did order macarons from a vendor that had just about every flavor you could think of. We were having friends over to cook us a meal and we were providing the dessert.

In that box are salted caramel macarons, vanilla, double chocolate, orange cream, and Nutella. SO GOOD. I think I ate three of them before our friends arrived. MY BAD.

The meal our dear friends F & B cooked for us was a raclette. This is a traditional dish where melted cheese is poured on top of cooked potatoes, meats, and vegetables. In our case, the potatoes were steamed, then sliced, and we had a variety of charcuterie.

It was one of the best meals I’ve had in my life. The cheese was perfectly smooth and you just mix everything and eat it — or at least I did. We do not, as a habit, have huge meals consisting of potatoes, meats, and cheese, but that is changing, my friends, because I plan on trying my best to recreate this dish and making it our splurge meal. Good thing we will soon be somewhere with a reputation for good cheese. (More on that soon, I know you’re getting tired of hearing me say that)

And no, there are no more pictures because I was too busy stuffing myself.

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 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 πŸ˜€

Right in the “feels”!

Okay, so I’ve shared plenty of my husband’s amazing creations for our boys – be it cakes, costumes, or piΓ±atas. 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!

Patriotic Mani

Just in time for today’s soccer game AND for the 4th of July, I bring you a couple of red, white, and blue manis.

One is pretty awesome, full of creativity and gorgeousness.

The other one is mine.

Seriously. that ONE NAIL took me 45 minutes. And it chipped like, 2 minutes, after I took this picture. Thankfully, it was AFTER.

But enough of that, let’s look at the pretty πŸ˜€

Girlfriend’s just too critical of her art. I think it’s gorgeous. And glitter! I should have added glitter. Duh.

Carina is a dear friend from college, we got back in touch a few years ago and of course, then she moved to Seattle. Sheesh. On the plus side, it meant that I got to see her when we went on our recent road trip. She’s just awesome and does amazing nail work.

Thank you for convincing me to do this, even though I massively sucked at it! Love ya, C!!!!

40th Birthday Swag Bag Blog Hop

My sweet friend – and Brit lit author – Pauline, contacted me about joining a blog hop and, considering my love of putting things together, I had to say yes! The idea is that you’re gifting a few items to your best friend, sister, etc. and money is no object. That sounds right up my alley πŸ˜€

The categories are: book, beauty product, snack food, music album, and β€œmy choice.”

Book – It would have to be Outlander, the first in a brilliant series by author Diana Gabaldon. I gave away a copy a few months ago, and if you’ve been thinking of reading it or need something new to read, I urge you to give it a try, especially because Starz will be airing the miniseries starting on August 9! Here are the protagonists of the series, as portrayed by Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.

Beauty Product – I have been completely won over by Nail Butter, a nail and cuticle enhancer that has turned my nasty, dry, cracked cuticles into soft and smooth skin. Love this stuff, love the gardenia smell, and it’s all natural and cruelty-free, which is also a great thing. Here’s the gross before, and I apologize in advance:

And the lovely after:

Snack Food – Being the complete Hershey bar-loving peasant that I am, I cannot possibly suggest something like Pauline’s choice of Hotel Chocolat’s Chocolate Dipping Adventure, but I do have something from England – McVitie’s digestives.

Of course, being me, I prefer the ones with milk chocolate. They are wonderfully filling and during my first trip to England, often kept me fed and happy during long days of sightseeing.

Music Album – Hmmm. This one is kind of tough. I like all sorts of music, from Classical to Country, and what I listen to often depends on my mood. I absolutely love the voice of one Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, aka Lorde, so I will suggest her smash album Pure Heroine.

My Choice – Hmmm, trip to Paris? That would always be my choice, but if I had to pick a thing instead of an experience, I would choose something beautiful and endlessly versatile:

The Sutton Necklace in green.

Brain Dump

It’s been a while since I posted – life has gotten super busy but also, there was a bit of news I was dreading to share. Our sweet Willie-Boo, our Egyptian Mau, passed away a few weeks ago. We had the pleasure of his company for over a decade, and will always remember him as the most loving kitty we’ve met.
willie1

He brought so much joy to our home and is sorely missed. Our other cat, Bernie, also misses his buddy of 11 years, and has become a lot more active in wanting attention and love.

In happier news, I threw a small party for Steve’s 40th birthday – he’s a voracious reader, so the party was book-themed. If you follow me on Instagram, then you got to see various shots of the party prep:

I had Steve create a list of books he wanted to read in case anyone asked what to get him for his birthday. He got a bunch of new books and our friends were kind and generous in other ways as well. It was a fun afternoon with lots of good food and even better conversation.

The boys are almost done with school. Part of me wishes they would bundle all the no-school days at the end so they could be done a couple of weeks early, mostly because of Alexander. Autistic kids, especially, rely on routine, even more than regular kids, and having days off here and there really mess with him and make it harder to go back to school. We have been lucky with a group of teachers and therapists that have worked with us to help Alex get the most he can out of school.

Last weekend we had a wonderful time with Steve’s sweet cousin, she is an amazing riding instructor and was great with both boys, getting them to ride and trot, and do pre- and post- ride work on the horse:

Thank you so much, cousin T.!!!!

I will be bringing a “virtual swag bag” post next Monday, sharing with you some ideas for cool gift items.

Hope the rest of your week is amazing!