Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wrapping Up Our First Year

Although I didn't start living in Paris until November of 2012, my husband's five-year tour here began on July 1st so with my return to Alaska tomorrow for the summer, my first year in Paris is coming to a close.

I wanted to share a few more photos from Normandy.

The neighbors...

Taco, the Dutchman who teaches us French, with his lovely wife, Natalie.  

Dinner our last night at the chateau...Farmer's Lamb Stew. It was so delicious. Carrots, peas, potatoes, turnips and onions with the lamb in the most wonderful broth.

Back in Paris...more flowers to see on my walk.

I will miss the cheese! Comté, Roquefort, P'tit Basque and Gouda Cumin.

Just a little info to share...most of the old buildings are made from Limestone and are constantly being covered up in scaffolding for cleaning. The end of this building has yet to be cleaned...

The other side got finished about a month ago...great improvement.

Last night we had a friend in town and tried out a new restaurant with excellent reviews, Semilla. My main course was asparagus with egg, polenta on the top left and a yummy butter sauce at the bottom left. I licked the plate and bowls clean.

Our friend had a fish dish...wish I could tell you what the ingredients were.

And this was my husband's Osso Bucco...what? I know...not the kind of Osso Bucco you are used to...it was fish...not veal. The waitress told me many of the terms we read on the menu referred to the cooking style. It was not a classic French restaurant per say. We think they had a Basque influenced menu. (The Basque region lies between the border of France and Spain along the Atlantic shore to include part of the Pyrenees mountains.)

We are definitely going back to this restaurant and reserving the elevated table that sits in front of the cooks so you can watch everything they are making. The menu changes daily. Yes...very small portions compared to the U.S. but I'm pretty convinced this is the key to the low obesity rate here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Granville, Normandie

We were so lucky to have a third day of sunshine for our trip to Granville. This is a city right off the English channel with a bustling bay.

We spent most of our time in the Old Town which is a fortification built on a rocky headland by the English in the 15th century. (Yes....I got that right...the English built this fortification...they held this land on and off for several hundred years.) I love this look...the natural rock with a wall built on top of it...too bad we've already built our "dream" house because I would want a wall like this in my house.

A drawbridge would be so awesome to have also!!!

Just can't get enough of rustic walls...then mix in some lovely landscaping.

There was an old church close to the top-most section of town. Inside was a side chapel for the Catholic saint who looks over the fishermen...sorry I forgot to take a photo. The church has new stained glass windows (Installed in the  late 1950s) which were very interesting...mostly clear with a picture created with the stained glass. I have no idea why I didn't take a picture of some of them...they reminded me of Cubism artwork. The predominance of clear glass helped the church interior to be bright. Guess I will need to go back someday!

On our walk I spied so many quirky doors to the basements of buildings...these little things remind me of the Harry Potter books. Living in an older, European city has shown me where J.K. Rowling came up with her imagery.

Lucky us...an antique market was in progress in the middle of town.

This table would be perfect in my Alaska dining room...I'm only bringing back this image. Just for reference...it was $880 euros...$1145 in US. 

One more market photo.

I'll share more photos of my actual chateau experience next time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Neighborhood Walk

This is a round-about that is a block from our apartment.

Across the street is the park strip I walk which leads to this golden domed building...the Invalides...I'll have to cover that special place in the coming year of blogging. You can see the green fuzz on the trees...leaves are popping open.

Avranches in the Normandie Region of France

Avranches is geographically positioned on top of a rise of land that overlooks the ocean and the land around it. It has been inhabited since the time of the Romans with the Vikings invading and taking over between 907 and 937. As with so many of these historical locations we have visited...at the highest point...fortress walls still exist.

I love how the ancient structures are kept and incorporated into our modern world!

This town is adorable...flowers everywhere!

More flowers.

Another flower I have never seen before and found so pretty! I think it's an annual of some kind. The flower buds are a dark purple color and the flower petals are orange...so striking. I saw it in a yellow variety too.

Avranches has three beautiful churches. Saint-Gervais Basilica peaks from this alley.

This church boasts a collection of religious relics, the most important is the skull of Saint Aubert.

Maybe you can see the hole in the skull...that's where the Archangel Michael, pierced Aubert's skull with the vision to start the construction of Mont Saint-Michel. (I posted a photo of this island structure a couple of weeks ago...it's on our list to visit in-depth one day.)

As we made our way to through the streets of the town, we looked back to see three churches. Saint Gervais is the one farthest away.

The church in the forefront is Notre Dame des Champs. Yes...I took this picture! The weather was spectacular!

Inside was a photo of what the church looked like after it was bombed in WW II.

I think the photo below is the opposite side of the photo above.

This church is fairly new... constructed in the 19th century in the Gothic Revival style. I am guessing it had beautiful colored glass windows originally that were destroyed in the bombing. When that happened to many of the churches in Europe during WW II, the windows were usually replaced with clear glass due to the expense.

The next day we visited Granville...more about our day there tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meanwhile...Back at the Chateau

We just finished our second immersion weekend of French at the Normandy chateau. The weather was great! Flowers were blooming! And I did much better with my French!

It violates an Alaskan's weather-sense to sit inside learning French when the sun is shining. My husband made a request that we do some excursions and although we may have learned a little less French...we learned much more about our surroundings. My favorite site was a small but gorgeous public garden in Avranches.

This is a bulb...but I have never seen this plant before...very pretty. If you know the name of this flower please tell me.

There was a circular flower bed of massive daffodils...with poppies getting ready to open.

White daffodils!!! I wish  I could naturalize daffodils like this in Alaska but it just doesn't work.

Huge areas planted with heather.

This is a hillside with many varieties of azaleas on the verge of blooming.

And at the entrance, a giant Sequoia brought from California and planted in 1853.

More photos of the town tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Break in Silence

Our internet has been frustratingly slow the past few days so I wasn't able to post.  I have less than two weeks until I return to Alaska for a couple of months so I have a deadline now.

First up...I finished the top of the latest stocking...Santa's Catnap. The kit photo didn't show the third cat at the bottom of Santa's chair so that was a little bonus.

I think I will take the three stocking tops I made since January to Alaska and add the lining and backing. I buy additional felt to complete the stockings and haven't seen any place here to buy felt. Of course I have a nice stash of felt in my Alaska sewing room.

I finished a cross-stitch ornament, Painting Toys. I back all my ornaments with green wool felt...I have a stash of that in my Alaska sewing room, too.

I finished the blanket stitching on the last two blocks of "My True Love Gave to Me."

Many of these blocks need some additional embroidery but instead of making due with my current supplies I will wait and finish these next fall when I come back to Paris. I'll bring a small light box and a marking pen.  I also need to play in EQ with the layout...I have an idea that is different than the one from the pattern.

I have gotten the appliqué fusing done on nine blocks for another Nancy Halvorsen Christmas quilt, "I Believe." I might work on the blanket stitching for these blocks for the next two weeks.

The weather changed last weekend....it is warm! I must go shopping today...I'm roasting...I only brought cold weather clothing. I always expected to buy some new clothes for warmer weather. My Alaska stash of warm weather clothing is old and very limited so I didn't bother to bring any of it. There are MANY shopping areas in Paris but I think I will hit the Champs Elysees strip. I will find the typical American stores there...Banana Republic, Gap, Adidas...and some inexpensive chain stores from Europe. It will be packed...with the nicer weather the population seems to have exploded.

Friday, April 12, 2013

New Stocking Designs!!!

I get so excited when I see new Christmas stocking designs released by Bucilla...there are normally a handful released in the late fall and spring. Here are the four latest designs.

Traditional Santa. Love this...the 3-D rocking horse makes this stocking for me!

As an Alaskan who lives near the North Pole...penguins in Christmas settings bug me...but they are darn cute. I will be buying this kit...maybe I will add a sign for the penguin about missing his home in the South Pole.

Love and Peace Santa is groovy and comes with a matching set of ornaments.

Gingerbread Theme Photo Frame...not sure how I feel about adding a photo...

Here are the stockings released last fall.

Polar Bear...this has a matching set of ornaments.

Skaters...no difficult hair to make on this one...a plus.

Gifts from Santa...I like stockings with Santa.

Santa and His List....this is a remake from a older design.

Santa and His Sleigh. This has matching ornaments and a tree skirt. I especially like the little stocking Santa is holding...one can never have enough stockings.

Recently I have a little more activity on my YouTube tutorial videos for these kits...maybe folks are already thinking about Christmas.

All of these photos came from the online craft store, Herrschners. I order from them often!