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.

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.

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 😀

Road Trip, part 2

After a couple of awesome days with friends and family, we had a quiet morning and then headed out to the Space Needle. Somehow, all four of us were wearing black shirts ;D

At the gift shop, we picked up some fudge and a Seattle tree ornament — I love to buy ornaments wherever we go as a family — and went up on the Needle. The day was clear and the views of the city were just gorgeous:

We met up with some family members for a farewell dinner at Saffron Grill, where we enjoyed a delicious Indian meal. Alexander discovered that he loves Naan bread and ended up eating an entire platter’s worth. I had heard a lot about a local ice cream shop, Molly Moon’s, so we all went to a nearby location to enjoy some dessert:

Simply the best ice cream I’ve had in my life. I tried the salted caramel and vanilla, but ended up ordering the melted chocolate. My husband raved about the vanilla with hot fudge sauce, and everyone was thrilled with their tasty treats. I also bought a vanilla bean caramel lip balm that I swear I am tempted to eat. We had planned to start our trip down towards California on this evening, but our cousins kindly invited us to spend the night at their home. We woke up refreshed and ready to spend the next couple of days driving.

The next morning we started with some Krispy Kremes for breakfast. I honestly think it’s been years since we had donuts — Alex had never tried them — but we decided to have a vacation splurge and got a dozen for the day.

The Oregon coast is stunning, we cut over to start our drive down from Astoria (where The Goonies was filmed!) and began looking for lighthouses, since Alex had read a book on them and really wanted to see one.

When we found one, the boys ran giddily towards it:

We couldn’t get inside but the boys were super happy just to see it up close. Steve took a picture of a nearby rock with a few hundred creatures on it 😀

The last adventure of our trip was Wildlife Safari, a drive-through animal experience that a dear friend had recommended. It was SO worth it!

The boys loved seeing the animals up close. The bears were so funny, they were playing around and getting in and out of the water and generally having a great time.

With some changes coming up in our lives, this trip was a sweet way to close out the summer. Alex said “I love Seattle, but I am very excited to go home, mama.” We are so grateful to our friends and family for hanging out with us, feeding us, and showing us around Seattle. We will definitely be going back.

Road Trip: Pacific Northwest

On Sunday, the day after Alex’s birthday party, we left for a week-long road trip through Oregon and Washington State. We have family and friends in the Seattle area and it seemed like a nice way to (almost) end the summer with school starting on Monday.

On Tuesday, we did some sightseeing with relatives around central Seattle:

We also rode the Ducks, it was such a blast!

Our dear relatives prepared a delicious dinner of salmon, chicken mac casserole (supposedly for the kids, but we ate a lot of it, it was so good!), homemade biscuits, green beans, beautiful flowering tea, and for dessert, ice cream with blueberries. Needless to say, we all slept very, very well.

The next day it was time to hang out with our friends – they have three sweet kids and their boy and Aidan were friends right away. We took the ferry over to their house after spending the morning in the pool and at Pike Place Market – does this remind you of certain cell phone commercials?

We did not tell them to line up like that, seriously!

The views from the ferry were spectacular:

Then a viking welcomed us to town 😀

And our friend made the best. ever. vanilla. cake. Like, I will always make this cake whenever my boys ask for vanilla cake, it was that amazing.

We hung out for a while and then took the ferry back.

Thank you, Warcraft gang, for a memorable evening. We shall meet again!

More on our adventures next time!!!

Fifty Shades of Brown

We had a blast on our camping trip – but let’s face it, there were less-than-glamorous aspects that we had to contend with for four days. The first one was the aforementioned wasps; they got a couple of the kids, so we had to designate off-limits areas. The second one, or rather, uh, number two, was a most odorous situation. Meaning, no-flush toilets. Our friend P, who, along with my husband, decided to aim their headlight down the long-drop toilet to have a look, christened it Fifty Shades of Brown. That’s boys for ya, because I used those toilets as much as they did and not once, NOT ONCE, did I feel the compulsion to aim my headlight so I could see better. Bleargh.

ANYWAY, on to better things now.

The man tackling the wasp situation

The day before we came home we went to a river, it was such fun – the boys busied themselves with building a dam.

Friendly river duck 😀

Our youngest enjoys a jam session with our friend J:

See? This is proof that I was cleaning those boys up whenever I could ;D

The next morning, it was time to pack up and head home:

“Thank you very much, good night!”

And that was our four-day adventure at Yosemite. The boys love camping, playing around in the woods, and being manly men with their buddies. We love hanging out with friends and family and having great food. And wine. Wine is good.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Our trip to Disneyland: part 3

Our last day at Disneyland brought us back full circle – Dumbo was the first ride my boys ever rode. They were obsessed with elephants at the time and I think we went on this a good dozen times. Each day.

Alex chose to wear one of his pajama tops (made by me) for the day:

The carousel is always a favorite!

The boys tried their best to pry the Sword from the Stone:

In the end, my husband told them, “maybe next time”.

On Thursday, we started the drive back home, with a stop at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History — more specifically, their Dinosaur Hall:

The boys loved seeing all the skeletons and interactive features — their interest in dinosaurs is not as strong as it was a couple of years ago; now Godzilla and superheroes have taken higher places of importance, but still, dinos continue to fascinate them.

We drove home after our brief visit, with a few stops for nourishment and bathroom breaks — the sky looked like this for most of our drive back:

But it wasn’t too bad, even when it did rain. We got home late, tired, happy, the boys eager to play with new toys, us adults eager to fall into bed, but all of us very, very grateful to Gran and Grandpa for taking us to Disneyland. Again. My little man did so well this time around, he was very clear when it was all getting too overwhelming for him and he and I would go back to the hotel room so he could spend some time in more calm surroundings. My big boy is such a good big brother, always looking out for Alex and such a delight to hang out with. There were a few moments of crankiness, but hello, some of them were mine, too.

Good-bye for now, Disneyland — I am sure we will see you again!

Our trip to Disneyland, part 2

Our trip to Disneyland continues with some collages I made of the boys:

My boys LOVE Tarzan’s Treehouse – I went up that thing once and decided that was the last of it for me. My back started to kill me and it took two rides of the Indiana Jones Adventure to fix it. That thing is better than a chiropractor, I swear. I went on it once when my back was pretty locked up, and when it was done I swear half the pain was gone, so of course I went on it again. It worked like a charm. Worth the price of admission right there ;D

Ssshhh – don’t tell them it used to be the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.

If you liked Cars, you will love the new Cars Land opening in June, they’ve recreated Radiator Springs and have several attractions and shops almost ready to go – a friend of my husband’s is an Imagineer working on this project and s/he showed us the preview room (open to everyone) which includes some of his/her work. Don’t want to get anyone in trouble so that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Alex decided he was getting overwhelmed by it all so he and I went back to the hotel room after lunch and we just hung out, played on my laptop, and I caught up on a new cookbook I got.

More about our trip in the next post!

Our trip to Disneyland!

We were gone last week, and for a very good reason – Gran and Grandpa decided to take us all on a vacation to Disneyland!

My oldest made it clear upon arriving at the hotel room that he meant to have a ferociously good time!

He was also very happy to see the many Avengers posters around D’land and Downtown Disney 😀

Waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise – the boys’ all-time favorite!

My youngest loved looking out the hotel room window — we were on the third floor and he thought it was awesome being able to look down at all the cars and people 😀

My little guy wasn’t tall enough for Star Tours so Grandpa kept him entertained.

(yes, we are totally getting lots of ideas for a future birthday party or room makeover!)

More on our trip to D’Land in my next post!

5 Places to Go

When you dream of going somewhere, where does your mind take you? What places would you love to visit? What countries call to you?

I’ve been very lucky to have traveled throughout Western Europe a few times, I took my first Caribbean cruise last year and I am originally from South America — here is a map of places I have visited so far:

But of course, the wanderlust is always there and as my boys grow, there are more and more places I would love for them to discover. Off the top of my head, here are five places I would love to visit:

Source: via Freezi on Pinterest

Paris, of course, always Paris, beloved Paris, my someday-home, my favorite city in the world, the place I’d most like to retire to. Both my husband and I have been to Paris but not together, so it is #1 in our travel list. Some side trips to the Loire castle area would be included, bien sur, and I would bring an empty suitcase just to fill it up with various food and cooking utensils to bring home!

Being a history lover, I would love to go to Russia someday. The museums, the palaces, I want to see it all. The Hermitage alone would keep me busy for a couple of days. I love to buy museum postcards and prints, frame them up at home, and remember all the gorgeous things I saw.

This one would be for the boys – they love elephants and all sorts of big animals. A safari (not for hunting!) would be the trip of a lifetime. To see these majestic beasts in a more natural setting would be an amazing experience.

Source: via Julie on Pinterest

Wales – Like the original pic caption says, I would LOVE to go to Cardiff because I am a Torchwood fan (waaaa, Ianto!) but also this would be part of our British Isles trip. I’ve been to England, Ireland and Scotland, but my husband hasn’t, and neither of us has been to Wales, so it’s definitely on the list. I love to explore the smaller towns and rural areas as well as the main cities, so I think Wales would be a wonderful all-around destination.

Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

Last but most certainly not least, Japan. I would absolutely love to visit Japan and I know my oldest wants to go because “that’s where Godzilla is from.” The culture, the food, the customs, all so different from my upbringing and my daily life – again, I would want to visit the main cities and the small villages.

Someday, I hope.

What places outside the US would you love to visit?