Our first Easter egg hunt in Wisconsin

The Easter Bunny found us! The boys were thrilled to see how much he left out for them, two dozen eggs filled with sweet goodness, which is now being rationed so that they’re not bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day.

Alex was very anti-Easter egg hunt at first, he said he was “too busy” but eventually he came around. Aidan had no such doubts and was only concerned that the Easter Bunny found us at the new house.

I think Alex is glad he changed his mind.

Aidan examines his loot.

We had fun watching our boys scouting around the backyard. Foxy chose to stay inside the house, nice and cozy.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter!

We are homeowners (again) !!!

Finally, on Friday, papers were signed and the house is officially ours. Well, officially the bank’s, for us to repay on a monthly basis, but in any case, we are happy to be homeowners in the fine state of Wisconsin.

My favorite feature of our new house is how bright it is. Our California house has always felt so dark to me, but this new house is full of huge windows and, added to the open concept floor plan, makes for a very bright home. This is the living room:

I have been debating two-story curtains, but I think I am going to live in the house for a bit before I make a final decision. If I do decide on them, they would be something very neutral, maybe a silk dupioni. I like the idea of neutrals with mixed metals for the living room, I came up with something like this:

I have the two peacock prints, which have warm teals, golds, and touches of rust, good starting points for a nice, cohesive palette.

We are in California for a few more days, packing up our home, and then we will be making a road trip to our new home. Stay tuned for more of our adventures!

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!”  😀

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.


I am grateful that this plague I’ve got held off until I could make sure that a huge change happened in my youngest’s schooling. If you want to know what else I am grateful for this month, check me out on Instagram.

Excuse me, I have to go cough up a lung now.

The last camping trip of 2013

In late September we headed out to a nearby campground for our last camping adventure of the year. The newest member of our family came along with us.

Foxy was a delight to have with us, she is so mellow but at the same time loves to discover new places. And what a protective little lady she is! One night my youngest woke up wanting to go to the bathroom, so he and I left the tent, and immediately, our sweet girl woke up my husband to let him know we were gone! Steve had to comfort her until we came back because she was worried for us. She’s also let us know when someone she doesn’t know parks in front of our house. We love our Foxy girl!

As usual, we ate like kings and had help making our breakfast burritos:

I also received a gift from my in-laws. They know how badly I suffer when I get bitten by mosquitoes – they all seem to head for me whenever we camp and the bites end up swollen and inflamed, so they got me this awesome screen tent so I can be safe:

Isn’t that great? Now I don’t have to worry about mosquitoes and can camp knowing my skin will be protected.

Our neighbor B. came along with us this time, and we all had a great time. We hope that 2014 will bring us many more camping adventures with friends and family!!!

Friday Five

1 – Check out this adorable fall printable from The TomKat Studio – isn’t it sweet? And it’s free!

2 – I am so happy that Luca won on MasterChef!!! According to my husband, I didn’t like him at first, but now I think he’s just darling! I was rooting for him all the way.

3 – Must remember to not rest my face on the doggie. I was petting her and bent down to give her a little hug and now I sit here with the left side of my face covered in welts. Steve put meds on it and I took some Benadryl, but I tell ya, it’s taking all my willpower to not scratch off my skin.

4 – We’re making pretzels! They will be awesome with the grape jam Steve made.

5 – My dear friend J and I have been going over what crafts we are going to do together this fall. A few of them can be found here – we also like to make cookies for each holiday, and get our kiddos to decorate them. Good times!

Have a wonderful weekend!