Friday, April 29, 2016

La Cuisine Cooking Class

For sure, one of my favorite things was the cooking class we did. I let Heather pick it since it was her idea but I had a great time. We did the market class which means we met up at a local market and purchased vegetables, meat, cheese, and bread and took it back to the kitchen to cook. 

I will probably never cook anything like it again but it was so fun and delicious.  We had artichokes, leeks, potatoes, duck, cheese and bread. Then for dessert we had crème caramel.

For all that though, I did learn a few things that I can use with my own cooking.

Truly, I only rarely enjoy cooking. Every once in a while I get quite pleased with myself for making something tasty and good for me, but I don’t feel that way a lot.
I had to laugh at the difference between my plate and the one the chef did. The art of making the plate look good is totally lost on me. Bet you can’t guess which is which.

After the cooking class we went shopping! Even though I wasn’t in the market for designer anything, the Galleries Lafayette was a fun place to go. I did buy some souvenirs there.

 I also bought a ton of French beauty products from Citypharma.
And soap from another little store in the Marais area. My suitcase was so full going home. I’m amazed what I pulled out of there when I unpacked. Three bottles of perfume! This is definitely the trip that I spent the most money on.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Art and Gardens

I like museums and art although I wouldn’t consider myself having more than a very basic knowledge of art or art history. But if you are in Paris, you have to go to the Louvre, right? It’s been on my list for years.

I had a good time there but when we left I felt like I hadn’t really seen much and started thinking about it and realized my problem. I spent the entire time trying to find the big items I wanted to see and didn’t really let myself just wander or truly look at some of the spectacular art they are showing. Low blood sugar was a part of the problem also. If I ever get to go again, I will just have whoever I am with meet me at the door in a few hours so I can wander by myself...and make sure I have eaten enough before I go.

I did love seeing Winged Victory and can’t help but wonder what she looked like with arms and a head.  

Liberty Leading the People was another I was looking for. We did see the Mona Lisa (you have to, right?) but it has never really been a picture I like. I don’t really care who she was or why the smile.
This was outside the Louvre in the Jardin des Tuileries.
We also went to the Orsay museum. Before I went I would have told you I don’t like the Impressionist art. Well, I still probably say that, but I recognized more of it than I thought I would and I actually do like some of it. And it’s vastly more manageable than the Louvre.

I do like Rodin, although we didn't make it into his museum. This is outside the Orangerie museum.

Since the weather was rainy the first part of the trip, we had a little bit of trouble seeing some of the gardens. Luckily, after a rainy Sunday morning, the sun came out and we got over to the Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s really a beautiful place.
We saw at least 3 Statues of Liberty. I've heard there are more.

We also got to the Pere Lachaise cemetery. I didn’t care so much to see where some of the famous people are buried but we did see Chopin’s memorial.  It was a nice walk on a Sunday afternoon.

This one could be sad or freaky, depending on how you look at it. I find it very interesting.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mont St Michel

When we started planning the trip, I was looking for ways to get out of Paris and see more of the country. I mean, what if it ends up being my only trip to France? We ended up deciding on renting an apartment and doing a day trip instead.

Mont St Michel is a little far to truly be a day trip but there are a bunch of people who do it and I knew as soon as I saw that I could, it's where I wanted to go.

It was a long day. We left the apartment around 6:15 am and I got turned around on the street we were supposed to be on so we ended up at the metro station trying to make the connections and be at the tour company meeting spot by 7:00. We made it with only a few minutes to spare, and only because the company was a little late. I am truly terrible at directions.

Anyway, there were 8 of us plus the driver/guide and we traveled in a mini-van. It's about a 4 hour journey. We had about 4 hours to tour the abbey and the village and then we met the driver and rest of the group about 4:00 pm and started the trip back to Paris. A long day, although it was nice to rest our feet during the drive. I wish I had thought to get some pictures of the fields of flowers we passed. Big fields of yellow flowers all along the way. It was a great sight.

I am absolutely happy that I got to go but there were a few things I couldn't control that made the day less than great.

First, we didn't know it was basically spring break for the kids of France. They were out of school and the place was packed with tourists and locals. It's not that big of an island and it was crowded. I just don't like being in crowds like that for a long time. The abbey was really beautiful and I'm glad I got to see it but it wears on me after a time.  Also, we didn't know the guide would take us straight to the abbey (we paid for an unguided tour so we could just wander, but he had all the tickets reserved at the main entrance) and I was hungry. I had planned on being able to eat lunch first. My sister and I always call it "low blood sugar". I really don't enjoy sightseeing when I haven't eaten enough and my energy is lagging.

The other problem was the café we picked for lunch after seeing the abbey. La Mere Poulard. We didn't eat at the main one right as you enter the village, but the café that was up a level near the ramparts. It was a little cold when the wind blew and I was pretty cold the whole time we were eating. The other problem was the service was really, really slow. They didn't seem that busy, but what do I know? It was the one time where the lack of knowing the language and culture was really felt. If I had been in a US café, I would have left and not cared. We waited probably more than an hour. They were actually closing the café for the afternoon when our food came. And it wasn't very good. At least I didn't like it. I tried the traditional omelet. I have to say it was probably the only thing I ate in France I didn't like but it was really bland and tasteless. The chocolate mousse for dessert was very tasty so lunch wasn't a total waste but overall, I would not recommend it.

When we finally got done with lunch we didn't really have time to see the rest of the village so I only got to see what we walked through to get to the abbey.

All in all, not the day trip I was hoping for although the views walking to the island were really fantastic in spite of everything. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to go. Just maybe plan a little better than we did... or have enough snacks with you.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Trip to Paris

I went to Paris for 10 days. I got home Saturday so I'm still dealing with jet lag. Tiredness aside, it was a fun trip. This was my first trip to France.

This time I went with a friend of mine instead of my sister. I missed traveling with my sis, but I had fun and did a few things I might not have if I'd been with her. Of course, the flip side of that is I probably missed out on a few things she would have done so I guess it all works out.

Except for one day, we spent the entire trip in the city, and we still didn't get to see everything there is to see there. I hate to think about the people that only get 2-3 days there.

We rented a tiny little apartment in the 3rd arrondissement. It was near a metro station and a good area to be able to walk around also.

My co-workers keep asking me what my favorite part was and it's been really hard to decide. In fact, I still really haven't made up my mind.

I did really love the gargoyles though. :)

We walked the stairs at the Eiffel Tower. We didn't go all the way to the top, but the views were pretty good all the same.

Another thing I liked was the Bastille Market. We went on a rainy Sunday morning and bought some fresh fruit. We stopped at a crepe stand and watched them make crepes for a while before we ordered our own. 

I have so many ideas for crepes now, I kind of can't wait to make some. This one was ham and cheese and egg in a buckwheat crepe.  Yum!!!

I have to start going through my pictures now to decide what the best are. I'm going to have another picture book printed up. I've decided I like doing that better than trying to scrapbook my own.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Nice Spring Weekend

Last Friday I attended the funeral of my uncle. I didn’t know him very well, but he did give me my first real job. The summer after I graduated from high school my mom got him to hire me to work at his fruit stand on Highway 89. I spent the summer selling (mostly) locally grown fruits and vegetables to people who stopped along Utah’s famous “Fruit Way”. I don’t know if it’s that famous but a lot of people still buy fruit along the side of the road during the summer.

Man, I was young. I was ready to go to college and grow up and get on with life. I still remember some of the songs that played on the radio that summer. The station was set to country music, which up to that time I had not listed to. It’s funny how I can look back at parts of my life and recall a soundtrack to go along with the memories. Or how a certain song will come on the radio and I can vividly remember driving in my car in a totally different time and place and remember singing along to that exact song.  

Anyway, going to the funeral just reminded me of that summer. I haven’t really thought about it in a long time.  After the funeral my parents and sisters and the nephew not old enough for school went for ice cream. The weather was finally absolutely gorgeous this whole weekend. I did a bunch of spring cleaning and still managed to get outside a little bit to enjoy the sunshine.