Friday, July 26, 2013


Mom, Dad, and I made many a fun shopping excursion on our trip last month.  I found gifts for others (yay for early Christmas shopping!), treats for entertaining, eggs for my wire chicken, and, of course, new scarves from Paris.

There are three souvenirs in particular that I especially like, one from each country we visited.  First, from a marvelous stall at Covent Garden in London, three antique wooden "ex libris" blocks:

I don't know who James Hoy is; but if ever I am going to be inspired to write a YA novel that rockets me to fame, it ought to be by finding an antique woodblock bookplate with a mysterious dedication in London, am I right?

Despite my drawer full of stamping supplies, I don't have the right materials to properly use them.  These were the best results I could get:

Not a problem, though, for they will be hung on the wall in my library soon.  

The market next to the Church on the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg gave me my favorite Russian souvenir.  Dad found a stall selling art prints, and I took to one artist in particular.  After much deliberation, I wound up with this piece:

And, as is appropriate with any art with exposed breasts, I hung it in my front hallway.

My home teachers' response:  "Oh.  You got a new painting?  It's... nice."

They liked my third souvenir better, although they still did not admire it nearly as much as any of these items deserve.  This last purchase came from Nouez-Moi, a store in Paris which is apparently well-known for linens.  I did not buy sheets, but I did buy a red lacquer ocean-themed tray:

I love it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fete de la Musique

Dad leaned over while we were waiting at the airport on our way to Paris.  "Let's see," he said. "We've seen two plays, a ballet, and an opera so far on this trip.  What else is left?"

"A music performance?" I offered.  I didn't feel too compelled to hunt down symphony tickets in Paris, but it did seem like we were leaving a gap in our performing arts exposure.  Fortunately, Jackie Smith had arranged everything.

Pictured here, in a photo I stole from my parents' blog

Jackie Smith is one of my paternal grandmother's good friends.  She lives in a charming apartment in the 17th arrondissement and invited us to meet her for dinner on our last night in Paris.

As we walked across the street to this restaurant:


Jackie explained that this was the night of the annual Fete de la Musique.  Restaurants all over town book bands for the evening, and all other aspiring musicians crowd the street corners and plazas to play.  Our meal was quite tasty, and the jazz band's music added nicely to the atmosphere:

Naturally, it was still light after we finished dinner, so Jackie whisked us off on the metro to enjoy the fete further.  Our destination?  The Place des Vosges:

To my literary delight, it turned out that Victor Hugo used to live in one of the red-brick apartments that line the square.

Can you guess which one?

As promised, the square was filled with musicians and Jackie led us around, giving us about 30 seconds to enjoy each one before dashing off to the next.  There was quite a variety of genres, from country to classical.

This group, led be a fellow with an acoustic guitar, handed out printed lyrics so everyone could sing along.

And at this point you can see how... relaxed everyone was becoming.

When we left the Place, we decided to explore some of the nearby streets to see what other music we could find.  Surprisingly, there were no pan flutes in sight.  We did, however, find quite the drum circle:

You can see Jackie grooving next to Dad.  She's a feisty and charming woman, and our evening with her filled the hole in our touring events and was an excellent way to close our trip.

Paris Food (a Photo Dump)

Breakfast!  (That would be hot chocolate Viennese style in the foreground)

Dinner Thursday night

Pate, cornichons, and bread



Steak and Salad

Dad's Shrimp

Chocolate cookie and raspberry sorbet

Dad's cheese plate

Rice pudding with caramel sauce.  Mom may never eat it another way again!

Bonus cookies!

A treat from Eric Kaiser

Vegetable soup, a sandwich, and macarons to share at the Rodin Museum

Chocolate globes

Dinner Friday night near Jackie Smith's place

Steak and Frites

Creme Brulee

Apple cake and chocolate cake

And finally, lunch at the business lounge in the airport:

Noodle bowls on demand!

with good views

Paris (A Long-Delayed Post)

Ah, Paris.


I do enjoy your familiar sights


with splendid red doors


and your museums

with piles of statues


and Cycladic fertility statues


and other Humanities references


and your artist mansions


with abundant roses and shushing bushes


and other sights from a good movie


and ornate lamposts


and medieval treasures


and giant chess sets


which are quickly overrun by hipsters, seniors, and school groups


and bustling arrondissements


and your delicious gyros


and chocolate shops


with shiny wall displays


which compete with glowing ink displays


in awesome stationary stores


and so many more delights that make you a city I'm happy to come back to again and again.