Thursday, January 31, 2013

day three

This is the day that I learned to use the Metro.  I was very intimidated, despite hearing how easy it is.  I found out quickly that it certainly is that easy.  Paris opened up to me.  I could go ANYWHERE!  I texted Patrick that Paris was my oyster and set out. This was also the day that I decided to stay out after dark.  Very liberating.  I mostly hunted down shopping places this day as that felt safe.  Saw some amazing places, though, and walked a LOT.  Lunch at McDonalds.  packed & gross.  First and last time.  Used the free WiFi at the hotel.

I do!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

deux jours

Good morning!  Today is a snow day which surprised me initially but it is really coming down good out there.  It's so pretty and the snow crunches that perfect way under your feet.

I woke up this morning with one thought...croissant.  I googled a recipe and saw what a production it is, making those flaky crescents of goodness.  I'm definitely going to try it sometime, but not today.  Do you know it takes 2 or 3 days??  Crazy.  I went to the store thinking maybe I could score some frozen ones but no such luck.  Patrick woke up and reminded me that he works right next to Clausen's so there may be croissants tonight.  He understands this craving of mine.  He came home from the grocery store last night with goat cheese and eggs and made us a croque madame for dinner.  :)  (no ham.  we did seem to have enough ham for a while.)

Day 2 of our trip wasn't very photogenic, but it was an important day for me.  After breakfast at our hotel (a huge mound of beautiful croissants & baguettes was present every morning, along with dried & fresh fruits, yogurt, assorted cheeses, wedges of comte cheese (something else I am going to have to find), rolls of ham, individual packets of nutella & tiny jars of jam, coffee, tea and fruit juices...13 euro/day which is $17.60), Patrick went to work and I was on my own.  In Paris.  EEEEEEEK!  My eye was still twitching occasionally at this point, mainly when I had to speak to someone.  :)  I had Patrick's favorite little street map book of Paris (that he bought 8 years ago but was perfectly easy to understand and relevant today.  I don't think the streets have changed much in Paris in the last oh, 200 years or so.  ;)  ) and a list of interesting addresses relatively close to the hotel.  So, I set out!  (twitch, twitch, twitch)  We were staying in the 15th arrondissement, 15e on the map below, and the places I looked for on that first day were all in the 7th & 15th.  We weren't far from the Tour Monparnasse (Montparnasse Tower - hightest tower in Paris) which was helpful for navigation.) 

It was so exciting to be out on the streets during the day!  There were people everywhere, rushing across streets, smoking outside of cafes and going up and down Metro entrance stairs.  It was a gray day, as they almost all were, but not raining and fairly mild.  Perfect walking weather.  I think I walked an average of 4 miles a day, every day we were there.  (Thank goodness as I was no stranger to the patisseries, if you know what I mean.)

Patrick's little book was awesome.  It fit perfectly in my left coat pocket and stayed there the rest of the trip.  My camera was in my right.  I was ready.  :)  The book, like the city, is divided up by arrondissements so I could just flip to wherever I was and follow along as I walked. Instead of free standing street signs like we have, all Paris streets (rues) have their signs on the corner building/buildings of that intersection and show which arrondissement you are in as well. 

I was so happy to find my first address, a consignment store.  It was garbage day.  :)

I didn't buy anything there but it was so fun to have found it that I didn't care.  Plus, it was amazing to be walking around.  So much to look at...people and gorgeous old buildings everywhere you look.  Well, except in the photo below.  :)

There were actually a whole bunch of consignment stores along that stretch, all by the same company.  I bought nothing.  France is expensive, you guys.  The clothing was beautiful, name brand and pricey.  There was a children's store that had very cute clothes but 1) my kids didn't need any of that and 2) the darling european shoes were about $40 used.  For toddler shoes.  The toys they had were mainly the same as the crap we have here.  There are nicer toy stores, of course, more along the lines of Capitol Kids, and I did a bit of window shopping but it was all so much money....more along the lines of what I would spend for a large bday or Christmas gift...not a souvenir.

I did find one store that sucked me in but more on that later.

After wandering around this stretch (Rue du Cherche-Midi) and a creepy mall I found to use the restroom in, I found a Monoprix.

Monoprix is comparable to Target although it is, surprise, a bit more expensive.  Still, it was definitely in my price range and it was fun to know I would finally be buying something!  :)  I spent a lot of time looking at baby clothes because they were SO FREAKING CUTE.   This picture does not translate the cuteness.  French babies in general are so freaking cute and I saw them everywhere in darling strollers all bundled up against the elements in darling buntings and I just could have squeezed every one of them.  (but I didn't.)  I hope I'm getting across how perfect looking the french babies and their clothing is.  :)

 The one thing I found that is cheaper in France?  Bonne Maman jam.  These were jumbo sized jars and they were $3.81, with 25% off if you had a Monoprix card, practically double the jam for half the price you pay here.
 Also?  They are fond of Nutella and hazlenut butter in general.  I found Skippy on an endcap and it was very expensive.  Hazlenut butter is where it's at in Paris.  Also, lots of jam. 
 After shopping a bit and making my first purchases with only a couple of eye twitches, I had to order some food.  ACK!!  I was so nervous but so happy it went easily.  This was delicious and only $6.50.  The baguette had fresh greens, a type of salami, a soft cheese and some cornichons.  YUM.  I would like one right now.
After I paid I said, "Bonjour, madame" which is the customary greeting/exit line you say 5,000,000 times a day in Paris and she answered with an obvious "BonSOIR, madame."  Hmph.  Apparently I had missed the murky cut off when you switch from "good day" to "good evening."

I didn't care much, I had my sandwich.

I walked back to the hotel and dug in.  At first I got full and thought I wouldn't be able to finish.  I surprised myself a few minutes later by polishing that baby and the eclair off.  :)

It was late afternoon at this point, nearly dark, so I rested for a bit, checked my email and read some magazines.  As it got darker outside I became bored but was nervous to leave the hotel by myself even though I had read how most of Paris is very safe.  So I waited until Patrick got home and then we went across the street for another delicious dinner at Cafe Pasteur.  I had a salad with ham, shaved Parmesan cheese, rocket greens, toasted goat cheese croutons and a fried egg.  Delicious.  Patrick had a version of what I had had the night before. 

We popped some Tylenol PM and had a better night but still lots of tossing and turning for me even though our bed was very comfortable.

The next day was a big one.  It was the day I became BFFs with the Metro.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


We are home! We made it!  My mind is full of so much to say that I don't know where to start.  I guess I will start with Day One, since my camera so conveniently dates all my pictures for me.  :)  First, I want to say how good it was to come home last night.  It felt like we were gone for years.  My mom and Annie & Ronan took amazing care of our little ones and I didn't worry about them once.  (Honestly, I barely let myself think about them until we were on the way home.  Easier that way.)

So, here was the upper part of the train station in Paris.  We arrived, got our luggage and decided to take the train into the city.  It was snowing a lot (for Paris) that day and really pretty outside.  After we purchased our tickets, Patrick went through the turnstile first and I went right behind him.  And got stuck.  And it shut on my face, crunching my glasses into my nose.  Ha!  Welcome to Paris!  :)  I was taking too long to get my suitcase through and those turnstiles wait for no one.  So I went back to get in line and ask someone for help.  A very nice man got another nice man to open a door and let me through and there were gobs of people everywhere and I couldn't see Patrick.  I assumed he went downstairs to where the trains come so I headed down and he wasn't there.  I stood for a while wondering, "Would he have gotten on the train without me?"  I talked myself out of that and after waiting a few more minutes decided I better check back upstairs.  No up escalator so I hauled my 50lb suitcase up 2 flights of stairs and there he was.  :)  Yay!  We hugged and turned on our cel phones.  I'd like to mention that my feet were swollen like after birth so that felt really good.  
We had a granola bar and got on the next train.  After a lovely 20 minute ride it stopped somewhere and didn't start again.  They made an announcement that we couldn't understand and soon everybody was grumbling and getting off.  We followed suit and waited a while and got on the next train that seemed like it would get us where we needed to go.  After a bit, same thing happened.  We were at the Gare du Nord (North Station) and saw that we could get on the Metro at this point (the subway) so we headed out to find it.  Harder than it sounded at that point for us...exhausted and hungry and hauling 2 heavy suitcases.  We finally were just happy to find a sortie (exit) and get out on the street.

My first look at Paris:
The first taxi turned us down but thankfully the second took us.  We arrived at the hotel and did exactly what I said I didn't want to do...collapsed on the bed for a blissful 3-4 hour nap.  :)  It screwed up my sleep for a few nights but it was all good.  Being a parent preps you for long days after long nights of little sleep. 

We asked the front desk for a dinner recommendation and she pointed us to the Cafe Pasteur across the Blvd.  It was so delicious and the waiters were so nice that we ate there the next 3 nights.  :)  My first dinner was a Croque Madam with a Kronenbourg 1664.  (I was happy to try one after reading about Mikael Blomkvist drinking them all the time in The Girl Who series.)
We finished with coffee (mistake #2 but oh, so good) and nutella crepes, natch.  Yum.
After dinner we set off on a walk.  It was pretty warm out and sooooo pretty.  It felt so good to be outside and my feet were so comfy in my boots.
We made our way to this little beauty:
Here was our first view of all but the top, which we could see from our hotel.  We turned a corner and there it was!
Me at the Eiffel Tower.

A nice couple from New Jersey took this for us.

It was closed that night so we just walked around the base and the Parc du Champs de Mars (park near the tower), over to the Seine and enjoyed seeing everything.  There were lots of people out and everyone was enjoying the snow.

We walked home after a while and proceeded to stay up for most of the night.  We finally took some tylenol pm (not sure why we waited) and fell asleep around 3:30 or 4:00am?  :)  crazy but we had fun.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

my eye started twitching again yesterday

So, yeah. The fried egg. It was a big deal to me. :)  The last couple days have been tiring.  I am not feeling well and I have children and some of my children are not feeling well and you probably know how that goes.  I feel pretty good in the morning but by about 4pm I am ready for bed.  Unfortunately, my children aren't.  Ugh.  I am just exhausted by the end of the day so that fried egg felt like the best thing in the world.

Nicky is standing next to me sobbing because there is no more yogurt and I won't give him another banana until he finishes the banana on the counter.

le sigh.  (no bananas for you, sir!)


Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer, like 40, so I am planning some sort of outdoor excursion with Nicky.  (I am not sending him to daycare so as to protect him/us from any virus out there that we haven't already have, if there are any.)  Today we might do a few last minute errands.  Today after school I am making chocolate chip bars with James, first thing.  Then Ruby and I are going to color, hopefully in my bed.  Tomorrow night is family movie night and Saturday morning we will clean the house up and then we are off!

I finally made my big "places of interest" list and gave it to Patrick so he could plot it all out for me but then I googled and found CommunityWalk and did it myself.  A lot of the famous landmarks are already on there so I just added in all the shops I found.  A lot of the museums didn't come up under their name so I need to find the addresses and get them plotted and then it will be done.  It's nice to see (when you zoom in) how close places are to other places and things like that.  I guess the city is 6 miles wide.

I read that Paris only has merchandise sales two times a year and one of them is THIS month!  I kind of accidentally did our taxes yesterday and it got me thinking about this trip.  If I end up buying a lot to resell then I can deduct the extra baggage fee as well as the cost of the item, my metro tickets, etc.  Certain items might go for a lot on ebay so it's something to keep in mind.  There is a huge outlet mall on the outskirts of Paris that I could take a "luxury" shuttle to and from, deducting the cost of the shuttle, and maybe buy some high end merchandise on deep discount to sell here.  We'll see.  I like having lots of options.

Back to the salt mines.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

He didn't just fry me an egg at 9:30pm

He fried me an egg at 9:30pm and brought it to me in bed with a slice of buttered toast.  Toast that I wanted but didn't ask for.

That is a perfect moment in my book.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

no chocolate chips for you, sir

Hello dear ones.  I want to start out by saying thank you for all the comments, well wishes, tips and suggestions for my trip!  I am making lots of notes and starting to get really excited despite my best efforts.  (a lot could still go wrong in the next 4 days, you know.)  I am washing my coat, though, and doing 1,000,000 other things to prepare for this journey.  I do feel like our life is pretty much ready to be passed off to my mother (and seester and ronan) and that feels good.  Everything (on the business side of life) I can think of is in place in case anything unspeakable should happen.  (please Lord, let us come back to this amazing life you've blessed us with.)

So, too heavy?  Sorry.  :)  moving on.

I procured (at goodwill, natch) a larger carry on (it's just standard size, the one I had was smaller) and that eased up on some of the suitcase weight.  Things like umbrellas and such can now come on the plane with us instead of being checked.  I am also carrying my two pairs of shoes (also heavy) in the carry on.  The real issue isn't overpacking, I am doing so good!, but our suitcase itself is so big and heavy.  Nearly 17lbs.  ugh.  It's okay, though.  I'm no longer worried.  Our second suitcase is lighter and I am sure I will have plenty of room for "souvenirs."  Or, if not, paying $100 for an additional checked bag will not be the end of the world.  (though I would hate that.)  :)

As far as the nighties, it was original plan to bring a new one to wear every night.  I know I don't "need" that many but this is the first time alone I've had with my husband in a very, very long time if you know what I mean.  (brown chicken, brown cow)  I cut that amount in half and am okay with that.  I mean, I'm pretty sure he won't even notice.  It's not like they are on that long!!  TMI TMI TMI

I would like to say how thankful I am for free USPS Priority Mail pick up.  This means I put my packages out on the porch and they are picked up and I don't have to leave my house ALL DAY.  I started feeling really cat-dragged in yesterday and got a little nervous but I feel good again this morning.  I obviously have a cold but I am holding steady at cold and haven't slipped in to severe cold.  My left buttock is incredibly sore, though. 

I did a cardio kickboxing workout on Saturday and hurt a hamstring for the first time!  I actually thought my hamstrings were in my calves.  ha!  It hurt so bad that night but it was pretty much better by the next day.  Then my ass started hurting!  Whatever, backside!  Buck up. 

James was inspired by the kickboxing to make a punching bag in the basement.  He strung two pillows up in the basement ceiling joists and was having so much fun just going at it.  Patrick came down to watch and helped him make it better by stuffing just one pillowcase much fuller and all the kids have been having lots of fun with it.  There have also been lots of tears and "accidental" punches to the face but that is how these things go, no?

On Saturday night we had dinner at The Great Dane with Andrea and Ronan and kids.  I was there last week with Wendy and had such a delicious sandwich that I suggested we go again.  :)  (turkey club with coleslaw...mmmmm.)  It was so funny being there with all 5 kids as the place filled up with Packer fans.  We had a big booth upstairs (Fitchburg location if you're local) and we played a little pool and drank some beer and it was really fun.  On Sunday Andrea and I and her friend Sarah went to my friend's Lia Sophia party.  That was fun, too, and ended with Annie & I agreeing to host one together in April.  :)

I've totally stayed off facebook proper but did log onto my facebook running group after a couple friends told me there was something brewing about another 5K.  We are doing the It's Glow Time! 5K in May!  I'm happy to have something on the calendar to keep me going once we get home.  It will be interesting getting out there to run but even if I keep exercising indoors and just get out to run in March & April, I should be okay.  One of my goals for this year is to run an entire 5K.  It might not be this one but I am going to shoot for that at some point.  ("I am so incredibly grateful for the strong and healthy body that allowed me to run an entire 5K this year!")  :)

The other day Ruby, Nicky and I were sitting at the kitchen table and Nicky was picking the tiny chocolate chips out of his trail mix.  Ruby leaned over to grab one and Nicky said, in a very stern voice, "No sir!  No chocolate chips for you, sir!"  HAHAHAHA!  Ruby and I looked at eachother like WTH?  It was just so funny and now we can't stop saying it, about everything.  This morning she was all, "No blueberry yogurt for you, sir."  HAHAHAHHA!  Maybe you have to be here?  :)  Anyways, it's my new favorite inter-family joke.  (also, I love having inter-family jokes...a nice addition to inter-parent jokes, which Patrick and I have had from day one of parenting, 9+ years ago.  "whatever you do, don't look him in the eye."  Patrick said to me about a 6 hour old James.  :)  hehehehehe.)

I hate to do this to you but no pictures.  Pretty crappy of me, eh?  sorry, peeps.

(no pictures for you, sir!)


Monday, January 14, 2013


It has been a crazy 9 days on ebay! I started listing again a week ago Saturday hoping to build my store back up to 100 items before I put it on "vacation mode" while we are away. I think it was around 45 items after the holidays?  Anyways.  I've been doing 5+ listings a day (aside from yesterday) and am only at 79 because stuff keeps selling!  WOO HOO!  No complaints here.  This rush of sales couldn't have come at a better time.  (thank you, Lord!)

I've got a few duds this time but mostly I've been really happy with the sales. Also, that pile of stuff I showed you last week isn't all listed yet.  This might not have been a good time to do that "let's check back in a month" thing.  BUT, that in itself is the reality of ebay for me.  Sometimes it sits a while because life, or something you think might sell better, gets in the way.  :)

Okay.  The sales.  Here are some of the best:

Older Ralph Lauren embroidered Key West Jacket.  Paid $1, sold $38

full length Talbots skirt, paid $1, sold $44
Wool Starter cap, paid .25, sold $96
Junonia swim top (6X) paid $4 (last summer!), sold $39
Cheshire cat, paid $1, sold $17  (after I bought this I wasn't sure why I did.  There were tons of them listed so I was happy & surprised that mine sold.  It went to Sweden or Holland.)
NWT 7.5 Toms, paid 3.99, sold $42
Size 11 earth shoes, paid $4, saw that they had little holes AFTER I bought them, relieved to sell for $17.
Banana Republic belt, paid .99, sold $23.99
vintage Jockey boxers, paid .25, sold 24.99
Lot of 30 cashmere sweaters.  I've been collecting these forever for my own hoarding use but haven't used them in the last year at all.  My mom also found maybe 10 of them for me and I realized I had a pretty large group.  I listed them for $250 with free shipping and put them on sale this weekend for $225.00 and they sold!  Fed Ex shipping cost $15. I paid around $10 for all of them.  (These were listed as craft cashmere.  Lots of these sweaters had holes or pilling or had shrunk but quite a few of them were perfect, too.)
Men's Keens, paid $3.99, sold $38
Smartwool sweater with overall light pilling, paid $1, sold $29
Men's Lacoste white leather belt (UGLY), paid .99, sold $36.99
Vintage Arctic Cat mittens, paid $1.99, sold $34.99
Vintage Mickey sweater, paid $2, sold $40
Free People sweater, paid .50, sold $31.99
Christmas Peek A Blocks.  I had these listed as low as $13 before Christmas and no interest.  I sold them last week for $29.99 to a woman in Sweden.  Paid 1.69.
Guess belt, paid .99, sold $35.99

Holy cats, right?  I'm sorry if you have the sudden urge to go thrifting now.  :)



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