Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bucilla Stocking Construction #12

Another video about constructing a Bucilla Christmas stocking is ready...this one covers the fringe stitch.

Dorothy is headless...but not for long.

I finished up another "Village," block...Row Houses. I am going to finish all the house blocks as quickly as possible and then tackle the embroidery work. I don't want to risk loosing momentum with the paper piecing...it would be so difficult to start back up again.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Monday's Quilting Progress Report

I have completed the paper piecing for the church and school house on the kit, "Quilted Village." Now to work on the stitching the trees and birds.

Why all the DMC floss? I was lamenting the incredibly high prices for DMC floss in Paris on Facebook and a very thoughtful friend grabbed several colors at Hobby Lobby and handed them to my husband the morning before his flight left for Paris. He had been in the Memphis...the center of the Fed Ex universe, this past week. I think I will be turning to my friend there to help me out more often! We do get a very good shipping discount since hubby works for Fed Ex...time to start using it for international shipping.

I also emailed a French blogger to ask where she shops...and she buys mostly from the US. She did send me a huge list of quilt shops in France and recommended one in Paris I am anxious to visit...that is on this week's agenda. They have a website and bali pops from Hoffman are $55 in US dollars...but I will be able to see batik fabrics! I definitely won't be complaining any more about the prices at my favorite quilt shops in Alaska.

Stitching Sunday

I just posted a video showing how to make cording from DMC floss. This is a technique I learned from doing the Bucilla stocking and ornament kits.

I have finished the scarecrow from my "Christmas in Oz," stocking and ornament kits. Now it is time to start Dorothy...her hair will be the biggest challenge.

I am making progress on the "Woodland Holidays." I'm halfway through adding all the holly leaves.

And I have appliquéd the trunk of a tree on the school house block. I will be embroidering with floss and silk ribbon to finish the tree.

One of my neighbors across the street is moving. Our old apartment buildings did not get built with elevators 100 years ago so we have a tiny retrofitted elevator which barely holds two people. To move furniture a lift system is used to bring everything through the large windows.

I'm linking up with Kathy's Slow Stitching Sunday. There is always a nice variety of projects to see every week.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Doesn't Make Sense

Today was market day. I bought my four-day supply of veggies, fruit, cheese and some prepared meats. But...stocking the kitchen shelves always requires several stops. I also had to hit the bakery for my traditional baguette. Turns out bakeries here have strict government rules for ingredients in the traditional French baguette plus they are price controlled. It is $1 euro...pretty cheap. But you have to buy one every day because there are no preservatives...they are stale within hours of buying them. So...it's an everyday event to buy a baguette. We don't mind...they are in such demand that they are often fresh out the oven and still warm no matter what time of the day we stop at our neighborhood bakery.

I finally had an excuse to hit the craft shop on my way to the health food store. (The only place I can find regular oats is the health food store.) I needed a skien of DMC floss...any guess how much it cost? $1.70 euro...$2.21 US for one! 

Now here is the truly shocking part...DMC floss is made in France. THIS DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE!!!! Why is it SIX times more expensive here than the US?  If you would like to win a trip from DMC to Paris and tour their factory...here is your chance. Check out the DMC website for the contest...hurry...it ends January 30th. 

What a challenge to be a crafter in Europe at these steep prices. Let me know if you win and we'll get together for some great site seeing. Plus I  will need to give you a list of things to bring over to me...I'll reimburse you and even buy you a baguette.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Water Lilies

After yesterday's disappointing Paris quilt shop visit I needed a great day to end my week. I ventured to the Orange Museum, or as the French would say, Musee de l'Orangerie. This is a small museum close to the Louvre that houses two huge rooms of ...

Claude Monet water lily paintings. The display is incredible. (I feel pretty lucky today!) The building is at the west end of the Tuileries Gardens...which was the palace gardens of the French royalty. This building was used to store the orange trees during the cold months...hence the museum's name.

If you are entranced by Monet like I am...take this virtual tour on the museum's website, http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/homes/home_id25184_u1l2.htm 
To the right of the photo box is a diagram of the gallery. Salle in French means "room" so click on salle 1 or 2...then hold your mouse down and you will get a 360-degree view of the room. 

These paintings are larger than life...just over 6-foot tall and ranging from 30 to 55 feet long. The rooms  have primarily natural light...perfect for impressionist interpretation. This museum will require frequent visits to view the paintings in different lighting conditions and I am up to the task! Just wish there was a season pass available. It is an inexpensive visit...just a little more than the cost of a venti latté from Starbucks. 

Renoir's "Seated Bather Drying Her Leg" - 1914.
In the basement there is a nice display of many famous Renoir paintings plus the post impressionist-pre modern works of Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso. It is one of my favorite museums so far...can you tell?

The use of color in these water lily paintings is so inspirational...I could envision so many quilts as I sat looking at them. It's probably a good thing I haven't found any batiks to buy over here or I might go crazy...these paintings just scream to me to quilt with batiks. Might be time to finally load EQ7 on my laptop.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Paris Quilt Shop Visit

Why are there no photos? This shop is the size of my master bedroom closet in Alaska...pretty darn small. And it was dark. Here's a link to the shop's website...Le Rouvray...it looked promising from the website. None of the photos on the web are from this shop. They had ancient Marcus Brothers fabrics....very traditional for $13 Euros a meter...$17.32 in US dollars. And some slightly newer Marcu Brothers fabrics for $19 Euros a meter... $25.37 in US dollars. The upside is the gal tending the shop spoke perfect American English. I was in search of a tape measure. She didn't have one but she sent me to a shop a few blocks away that did. I should have taken a photo there...adorable sewing shop geared toward fabric for children's clothing. I did get my metric tape measure and a little French lesson...I did try to navigate using my pathetic French speaking skills.

My husband is on a trip without me...to Memphis...I don't want to go there. I am totally immersing myself in my Paris sewing room...it is great! I finished the Downtown Abby series...I was able to download it through iTunes...now I have every episode of the current season available at any time. Nice!

I also just got an Amazon order with some new DVDs. Years ago I read Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End," which were made into mini-series. I watched the first episode last night...excellent...so far it follows the first book beautifully. 

Working on kits is such a challenge...

I thought the instructions said the "green" finished squares measured 3 3/4" before being sewn together ....no...they meant after sewn so I trimmed them to that measurement...leaving me short 4" for the required size. A stupid mistake on my  part. Good thing there are two smaller borders that go around the "center green" before the houses are added. Those borders will now be bigger.

The paper-pieced houses are coming along...

I'm very unhappy with the fabric choices for the windows and doors...there is not enough contrast. Remember...I do not have access to any fabrics other than the ones in this kit.  I can fix the windows with the fabric I have....I think the door will get some embroidery to outline it. I sure hope the rest of the houses have better fabric selections.

 My Bucilla project is coming out lovely...which is why I am so addicted to these kits. I've almost got the Scarecrow done.

Our next trip is to London...anyone have any input on sightseeing? I am planning on doing two or three shows...however many I can coerce my husband to attend.  "Wicked," has been at the top of my list for 10 years. Not much comes to Anchorage from Broadway so this is a great opportunity for me! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday BOM

I actually sewed...on a machine today!

This is the "town square," of the kit I am working on...there will be houses around the square...someday!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stitching Sunday

What's this? Snow...in Paris? Nobody told me about this! It has been snowing most of today. We got about three inches of snow on Friday night and some of it stuck around through Saturday. No sign of snow plows in Paris...we just get to deal with it! Good thing we have the metro to get around...most of those trains are underground.

Last week we spent everyday at intensive French lessons. We get the next week off only because my husband has to go on a business trip. That means some sewing time for me.

A little bit of progress on this stocking, "Woodland Holidays." I need to appliqué about 40 holly leaves.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

And We're Off Again

There is so much happening everyday I'm finding it very difficult to keep up with blogging! My husband and I have started our French immersion lessons. We spend six hours everyday this week with our teachers. We take a week off and go on a couple of business trips (Vienna and London) then back for another week of French immersion lessons. If we actually get to where we can mostly speak in French...we get to spend a week at a chateau in Normandy where there will only be French spoken. I've seen a photo of the chateau...it's quite an incentive! 

But in the meantime...here are some great photos...most taken by Erin, one of my last visitors. Here's a look at our trip to the market that is a block away from our apartment.

See the Eiffel Tower in the distance...here's one side of the market.

An entire booth devoted to mushrooms, garlic, shallots, onions...

and more mushrooms.

Blossoms...a single,  gigantic orchid.

Bunches of flowers.

Incredible produce.

Look at these tomatoes...ribbed!

I had so much fun sharing my world...here I am with my BFF, Sandy.

Like olives? Got a few choices.

I don't eat things from the water but you can find plenty at the market.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stitching Sunday

I finished the Cowardly Lion on my, "Christmas in Oz," stocking and matching ornament.

And here is another installment in my video series about constructing these stocking kits. This one covers adding the stuffing to the appliqués.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dog Update

Jenny and Tonka's new mom says they are all doing great! On Christmas morning, Tonka ripped open his presents...remember those photos I posted of him "opening" mail packages for me unexpectedly? Jenny just snuggled in her mom's lap and waited for the presents to be opened for her...that's the princess I raised! Great to see how happy they are, in their scarves with their smiling faces.

I have finally gotten my morning latté routine down. This will cut back on my visits to Starbucks...more money for stocking kits! It was easy to get the espresso maker for the cooktop...they are readily available...but the frothing device was a major search. I found the glass Melior beaker in Germany...looked everywhere in Paris for it but no luck...I don't know why...you can get a cappuccino in every restaurant so why not in your home?

Other obstacle...figuring out the milk with my lack of French language skills. The first milk I bought was sour and it was sold that way on purpose! A little Google research and I realized my ignorance. Most milk is sold as a canned good (not refrigerated) and after trying it...I like it! I would love to have some of this for my pantry shelves in Alaska...no more worrying about running out of milk.

Firsts on a Friday

Lots of little things today that are a first for me since arriving. 

While my friend Sandy was here she showed me how to use "FaceTime," with my iPhone. Wow...great way to avoid international charges when calling my kids plus we can see each other at the same time.  I noticed the program is even on my new Mac Pro. I called Zack this morning to try it out...it worked so well. I love living during the internet age!

Today I also figured out how to rent U.S. movies while in Paris. Netflix is blocked in France...I didn't know that and was counting on being able to use it here. Today I rented a movie from ITunes!!! And of course it was...

Moulin Rouge. One of my favorite movies. I love listening to musicals when I am sewing.

And that leads me to the biggest first for this Friday.

I finally had all the power cords and adapters to turn on my Bernina! I am really going to sew something. Really!

To celebrate I had a handful of my most favorite discovery in the local grocery store.

Dark Chocolate Peanut M & Ms. If these are not available in the U.S. please let me know now so I can start hoarding a stash to take back with me!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Neighborhood

When my friends were here to visit...they introduced me to the travel guide about Paris by Rick Steves. It is now downloaded on my Kindle. We used the guide to pick a place to eat their first night here after our Musée Rodin outing. We tried a great little bistro within 15 minutes of the apartment. It is on a sweet street with many other great restaurants, Rue Cler.  

There is a market atmosphere on this street.

I need to hit this place in daylight. I was worried about the location because it is pretty close to the Eiffel Tower...sometimes the touristy places run a bit expensive...but this street is tucked a little off the beaten path so maybe that's why it doesn't have the usual gouging prices. Every place we went on the street had an English menu and all the waiters spoke excellent English. There is an American University in this area so I suspect the student population has a little to do with the slant toward Americans.

Here I am with my BFF, Sandy.

After dinner we headed to a Häagen Das Ice Cream store (it's right by the Starbucks).  My friend is an interior designer so we did some window shopping on the way.

And a bakery window...Sandy usually makes a Yule Log...Bûche de Noël in French.

The lovely florist...

And I like to start every visitor to our apartment off right with a walk by the Eiffel Tower on their first night.

The light show at the top of the hour...the clouds were not cooperating for photos.

And one more picture that I just adore...Sandy's daughter, Erin and my son Zack. Both 18. They spent  almost every day of the first two years of their lives together...then our husband's jobs took us to opposite ends of the country.

Day one completed. Zack headed back to Alaska the next morning. It then became a girls trip.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Musée Rodin

Just a few blocks from our apartment is a small museum devoted to the sculpture of Rodin. There are also changing exhibitions at the museum. It was a great pick for our first day. My friends arrived about 6 a.m. and by the time we were back to the apartment and had eaten...it was time for them to take a nap. I woke them up and we headed out the door about 3:30 p.m. which gave us plenty of time since the museum was open until 5:45 p.m.

I'm no art expert...this is just a glimpse of my world. This is the work I associate with Rodin, "The Thinker." Rodin was a sculptor who pushed outside the classical ideas of sculpture. Much of his renowned work is bronze sculpture. There was a special exhibit of his work in marble and his studies in clay. He is known for the technique, "non finito." Pretty sure that means...not finished. It was striking to see his smooth carving jutting out from a rough marble surface.

This piece is called, "The Hand of God," and is one I pulled from the museum's website. Spectacular.

Because Rodin worked in bronze there are duplicates of his work around the world. Many of the works in the museum were on display outside around the extensive grounds.  I must go back in the spring when the gardens are blooming.

We lost sight of my son and later found he went to the cafe just to the left of the reflecting pool and had a beer.  I thought it was funny to note...though the cafe I'm sure was not meant to be a diversion from the artwork at the museum...it was for my son who always seems to be hungry.

Many of the bronze sculptures we saw were repeated in the work, "Gates of Hell," which took Rodin 37 years to complete. I borrowed this photo from the internet. It was a dark, cloudy day when we visited the museum...my photos are a little dark.

Dante's Inferno is the inspiration for this piece. I greatly feel a lack of education when it comes to museum sites but I am enjoying learning. You can see, "The Thinker," sitting in the middle just under the top three figures. Rodin had over 200 figures in this piece...kind of like a compilation of many of his works.

This was my favorite piece...and I don't know who the sculptor is...I forgot...have to get the name next time. I know I'll be visiting this museum again.

Oh...and there were some bonus paintings inside one of the buildings. Some by Renoir and this Van Gogh. A nice little surprise.

And that was just the first two hours of my friends' five-day visit! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Visiting American Assault Beaches of Normandy, France

What a week! My son finished his stay with us and my great friend and her daughter came to visit for five days. I have been over almost every part of Paris...and beyond.

The last big trip we did with my son was to Normandy. It was an emotional two-day visit. It's a little over a two-hour drive from Paris to the beaches of Normandy. The first day we visited the American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach in Colliville-sur-Mer. The United States has procured land for U.S. military cemeteries around the world. According to Wikipedia,

"France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils.[1]"

This site is the resting place of 9,387 American military. Most died in the invasion of Normandy. Families of military were given the choice of burial places with only 30 percent choosing to have their loved ones buried in the country where they died throughout these international locations of American cemeteries.

There is a great museum at this sight with many moving displays. Most moving of all though, is the sight of all the grave markers on a bluff that overlooks Omaha beach. Here's a quick video of the view from the Memorial's statue, "The Spirit of American Youth Rising in the Waves," across the reflecting pool to the cemetery.

This is the cemetery where Steven Spielberg shot the opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan," where the WW II veteran is visiting the grave of John Miller, Tom Hanks fictional character. The real name of the brothers that inspired the movie is, Niland, and two of the brothers are buried in this cemetery.

The second day we drove farther northwest to Utah beach where there is a spectacular museum. According to the museum's website,

"The Utah Beach museum was created in 1962 by Michel de Vallavieille, mayor of Sainte Marie du Mont from 1949 to 1991. He spent a lot of his time and his energy in creating and maintaining this museum to preserve the memory of those who landed on UTAH BEACH. The museum opened inside a old German bunker known under code name WN5. It is today the historical and symbolic center of the museum.
The site of Utah Beach is in permanent evolution to thank and pay tribute to all the men who gave or risked their life for our freedom."

 Bring your tissue. There were so many moving displays. One of the most memorable was a letter American Naval Admiral Moon wrote to his wife prior to the beach invasion. He wrote so many loving thoughts to her and to his children. He even asked that she remarry should he not return because he wanted her to be happy. There were also video testimonials playing throughout the museum by veterans retelling that day in their lives. 

These were dresses made from parachutes for French girls to wear in victory parades. 

I wish every American could visit these two sites.