Over the July 4th Holiday our family took a mini vacation to Suttons Bay, Michigan. It is one of the small towns along the infamous M22– a 116 mile stretch of highway along the beautiful Lake Michigan coastline in the upper lower peninsula. Located in gorgeous Leelanau county, famous for its 27 Wineries, Suttons Bay is 20 miles North of Traverse City and is a small quaint waterfront town with specialty shops, eateries and it’s own beach.
I was able to snag a cute little 2-bedroom apartment for us that allowed dogs. It was located above an art gallery right on the main street. We arrived in the early evening and after getting settled in, we explored the town, ate a delicious meal outside at the historic V.I.Grill and then capped off the night with amazing ice cream from 22 Scoops!
The next day, July 2nd, was my husband’s birthday. Lucky dog– his birthday always coincides with the national holiday and we frequently do a little get away given the extra time off of work.
For that day we decided to check out Torch Lake. If you’re not familiar, this long inland lake is known as the “Caribbean of the Midwest”. Although it is quite deep in areas, it boasts an enormous sandbar where the water is only about 3′ deep — a haven for boaters and partiers! And in these shallow areas the water sparkles under the sun, even the deeper lake is a gorgeous blue!
While the main beach/park was closed, we found a small little outlet to swim. It was extremely refreshing after the 90° heat wave we were experiencing.
Afterward, B and I toasted his birthday with margaritas and we all enjoyed a Mexican dinner in Traverse City.
The last couple of days we did a bit of local shopping, drove along M22 to explore the other waterfront towns around us, visited the Grand Traverse Bay Lighthouse, went to the local Suttons Bay beach and ended each night with a giant scoop of ice cream from 22 Scoops!
Over the July 4th holiday my family and our close friends went to visit our other friends in Chicago. Us three ladies have been best friends forever, literally. K and I grew up together, since age 2; our families were next door neighbors. K went to MSU a year before me and roomed with B. When I got to State the following year, B and I became fast friends also. We’ve been like sisters forever and our children are all relatively the same age. As a matter of fact, we were all pregnant at the same time with our second children; they were all born within 5 weeks of each other!
In May we went to Indianapolis for the Indy 500. I was able to snag two incredible box seats for my husband and son D from Facebook Marketplace. The guy selling them was a year-round ticket holder but wasn’t going to be able to make it this year and was selling the tickets for a great price.
All my ‘boys” love really fast and really expensive cars!! My older son D is a walking encyclopedia of high-end and super cars. He has been in love with trucks, autos, semis, and construction— anything with four wheels and a motor, since he could barely stand up. So, this would be a huge treat for him. Since we only had two tickets, E and I dropped them off and went to explore The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
After my right Right Elbow replacement, I didn’t paint for for nearly two years! Partly because I pursued my other interests and partly due to injuries — which I’ll explain in a bit.
Instead of painting, I focused on another of my favorite passions: genealogy. It’s so easy for me to become obsessive when doing something I love. I find myself frequently getting lost in the weeds for hours. As my mom says, I’m “like a dog with a bone.” I always knew that I’m 100% Polish on my mother’s side but my father’s heritage has been more of a mystery. And with both of my paternal grandparents deceased, answers are hard to find. Luckily my grandma left some records and photos when she passed years ago. With these and some information from my dad, Ive been able to piece together a robust family tree.
I’ve traced several paternal generations and uncovered my relatives from multiple Southern states — some I can follow back to England and neighboring countries. I also had my DNA tested with both Ancestry and 23 & Me. As a result, I have been in contact with a few distant relatives, able to add several “cousins“ to my family tree, and most interestingly, resolve an old family mystery.
In addition to filling in my family tree, a friend introduced me to essential oils and I quickly became enamored with these plant products. I bought several books on the subject, scoured the Internet for credible and unbiased resources. I purchased several diffusers and filled our house with citrus’ for pick me ups, lavenders for calming, and Clove blends to fight off germs. Eventually, I began concocting blends for stomach/headaches and made foaming hand soap and face cleansers. My blends worked very well and smelled amazing. I wanted to understand more thoroughly how exactly these tiny, powerful essential oils worked.
Eventually, I discovered Andrea Butje’s online course at Aromahead Institute. You pay one fee and have access to hours of credible course material, online webinars, videos, and a forum to interact with all other past and present students and instructors. The best part is I can go at my own pace. Some people take a few months while others may take a couple of years. At the end I will earn a certificate that is acknowledged both nationally and internationally or I can go on to become a certified aromatherapist if I want to start a business. I’m currently about 50% done, but have taken a breather for a while. Looks like I might be on that “several year plan” 🙂
Over the July Fourth holiday we took a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico. On the 2nd of July (which happens to be my husband’s birthday) I had an awful fall. We were walking back from the beach, arm in arm, near the pool when my right foot caught some water and slipped out from under me. My knee buckled and I swear the tendon/ligament stretched like a rubber band. It was horrific.
I fell to the ground crying and yelling. In that moment, it was worse than pitocin-induced labor!! See the picture below? That’s my knee! I couldn’t really walk on it for a couple of days. I iced it, took my anti-inflammatories, and the following day I wallowed in misery in the pool and drowned my sorrows in way too many cocktails at the swim up bar — but that’s a tale for another day 🙂
Come Fall, I signed up to take an art class at the BBAC. Two days before the class began, I was purchasing a bike for my son. I took the bike for a quick ride to test it out. As I was getting off the bike, my foot caught on the bar and I fell hard onto the pavement. Because of my messed up joints and arthritis, I can’t put my hands out to break a fall like a normal person. My bad knee hit the ground first, then the back of my upper right shoulder and then my head hit the pavement really hard. I had a major goose egg for a long time!
I didn’t know it at the time, but I actually fractured the end of my clavicle. The bump on my head took a long time to heal and as such I had a black eye and my chest/shoulder was black and blue and sore! Needless to say I couldn’t really start art class in two days. I talked to the program director and was able get a credit to use in the future.
For the month of November, my Indian family came to stay with us. We had a family wedding to attend in Florida at the end of the month and decided we would all fly down together. My son Dylan was 14 at the time, and had met his Indian grandparents and aunt only once when he was just a baby. My younger son, Ethan, age 11, hadn’t met them yet in person; only through conversations via the Internet.
(I went to India with my husband back in 2000. He is from Mumbai or Bombay. We spent about 10 days in the city. The trip was one I will never forget. I can’t honestly say that I liked it, nor can I say that I disliked it. It was such a different experience than anything I knew; every sense is bombarded, constantly — it’s overwhelming and exhausting! But I am digressing.)
Probably due to stress, my colitis was acting up again. Thank goodness for medical marijuana; for which I had recently acquired a license. It really helps with my arthritis flares, headaches, G.I. issues, and for just plain chilling out.
All in all it was a great visit. I made lots of homemade Indian food – thanks to my Insta pot it was easy and delicious! We did some fun shopping, visited family and friends, and the best part was that the boys got to meet/know their Grandma and Auntie.
Near the end of November, we all flew to Florida. My husband’s cousin was married in Boca Raton. He was also born and raised in Bombay. In fact, the two boys went to school together as children. His Bride is American, like me. They had a predominately Indian wedding; since it was his first and her second. The ceremony and reception were just beautiful and we all had great fun; especially my youngest, who was gobbled up by his new extended Indian family!
Just prior to my oral surgery, mentioned in my last post, “Catching Up“, my family went on a mini weekend vacation to Niagara Falls. Originally we were thinking of doing a big vacation to California, but because I had no idea of how the recuperation would go and my husband’s work travel schedule, we had to nix it for now. So we settled on a long weekend over the July 4th holiday to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
A couple of years ago our family went on a Michigan vacation to the West side of the state, Ludington to be exact. It’s a great little coastal town on Lake Michigan with neat little shops and restaurants and a wonderful beach. And if you take scenic route M22 up the coast you reach the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes. We packed a ton into that trip and had a wonderful get away.
One of the places that has stood out in my memory is a great store called Maude’s Garage in downtown Ludington. The store is actually in an old garage that’s been converted and inside you find hand-made fine art pieces, up-cycled and reclaimed furniture, vintage jewelry, unique and wacky gifts, etc.; just the kind of place I can get lost in for days. And you can’t miss it: just look for the old vintage red truck out front covered in antiques and flowers.
I took this photo and it has to be one of all-time favorites! I knew one day i would paint it. Well, the day (or days/ weeks/ months I should say) finally came. This has been my latest project, between everything else going on, it’s taken a while, but I finally completed it last week and couldn’t be more happy.
It certainly presented a challenge because at the time I took the photograph I wasn’t thinking about a future painting project and so some views were missing – namely the front of the truck! A couple of months ago, when I began the project, I didn’t know the name of the store. It was only today when I was doing my research for the blog write up that I stumbled upon the name and some great photos of the entire truck that I was missing. Talk about learning a lesson!
Drawing_Graphite Pencil on Canvas Paper
Without my own photos I headed to the internet to find the missing piece of the puzzle. I researched 1930’s Ford pick-up trucks until I found one that looked exactly like Maud’s. I learned that it is a 1934 Ford Model V8 1 1/2-Ton Stake Truck. You can check out a brand new replica Stake Truck here (and it can be yours for only $93,6000!). I combined my photos along with what I found to create the initial drawing.
Putting in Darks w Oil
The next step was to paint in the darks. Then, I layered in the intermediate colors and began detailing the truck.
I continued by adding in the light hues, the flowers, and details. I must admit I really struggled with getting the front end of the truck and tire just right and repainted it several times until I was happy. It will be perfect in our home and will always remind me of that wonderful little vacation in Ludington!
The second day of our New York vacation, we decided to visit Lower Manhattan and take in all the relevant sites. It was a nice change from the super crowded streets of Times Square. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze coming off the Hudson – it was the perfect afternoon.
The first stop was the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, all the tickets for the interior were sold out and it didn’t make any sense to pay for a boat ride to the base where the view would be terrible, so we opted for a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry.
Staten Island Ferry Ride
View from Staten Island Ferry
The ferry didn’t come close enough to Lady Liberty and all my pictures were fuzzy at best. A bit disappointing, but the views of the harbor and city were spectacular on the way back.
View from Staten Island Ferry
After the relaxing, albeit chilly, boat ride, we wandered all over Lower Manhattan. One of very first unique buildings you come across is the national landmark, Fraunces Tavern, in operation since 1762!
George Washington Bids Farewell
Following the evacuation of British troops from New York in late November 1783, George Washington bid farewell to his officers on December 4th from the building’s Long Room. We stepped inside for a quick look around and it was as if we stepped back in time! I only wished we could have pulled up a large over-stuffed leather chair to the roaring fireplace, swig back a brandy and smoke a cigar… maybe next time.
I know it’s a bit cliche and an extremely touristy thing to do, but I really wanted to see the famous Bull Statue of Wall Street. The stock market is another passion of mine. I have been the family money manager for the past five years and have been overseeing our multiple retirement accounts. I must toot my own horn, for being self-taught, I’m not doing too shabby; and the expensive management fees are averted (except for my weekly Starbucks binges – after all, a girl’s got to have her Bucks!)
For some reason, we ended up walking in circles trying to locate that damn bull! The boys wanted to give up, but I pressed on. In the process we discovered some other great sites along the way; like the beautiful Episcopal church. Established in 1696, Trinity Episcopal Church stands out like a beacon smack at the end of Wall Street, against its contemporary neighbors.
Trinity Episcopal Church
Delmonico’s (Courtesy of Internet)
We also stumbled upon the famous Delmonico’s restaurant. Established in 1837, it is the birthplace of the widely imitated Delmonico steak and is credited with being the first American restaurant to allow patrons to order from a menu à la carte and the first to employ a separate wine list. I think they were on to something!
New York Stock Exchange
“I Got That Bull by the Horn”
Once we saw the New York Stock Exchange, I knew we were close! We asked a young man in a suit that looked like he might work on Wall Street if he could point us in the right direction. We finally found the statue about a block ahead surrounded by tourists. I eventually needled my way in there and B got the shot. Whewww… Now we could carry on.
The last and most important stop in lower Manhattan was visiting the 9/11 memorial. We spent quite a bit of time there, each one in our own thoughts, taking in the true magnitude of what happened on that day. It’s the “Where-were-you-when-Kennedy-was-shot” equivalent for my generation. And I’ll remember that day with clarity for the rest of my life. Seeing the space in person is truly something every American should do. It will have a profound affect on you.
9/11 Memorial Fountain, NYC
Tower One, NYC
Souls of 9/11
Ethan at Memorial
This post is dedicated to all of those who lost their lives on the fateful day. May you find peace. God Bless.
My family and I just returned from a five-day vacation in New York City. While my husband and I had both been there on separate occasions, it was the boys first time. Since our last year’s family vacation was to the beautiful, relaxing Dominican Republic, we wanted to change it up this year with more sightseeing and activities.
We stayed on the 15th floor of the Westin Hotel in the heart of Times Square, Manhattan. When we arrived our room wasn’t quite ready, so we checked in, stashed our bags, freshened up and ventured out for lunch.
Right around the corner we found John’s Pizzeria. It looked like any other place from the outside but once inside we discovered it was a huge, two-story renovated church with a beautiful octagonal stained-glass ceiling.
The highly aclaimed thin-crust New York pizza was delicious! In fact, the pizzeria has been voted one of New York City’s best!
Once we got inside our room, I opted to rest while the boys took the subway to SoHo for a little watch shopping. Weeks earlier, the boys had selected G-Shock watches as their New York souvenirs and had been feverishly researching the details online. We decided it was best to get their watches on the first day rather than listen to them whine all week!
In the evening, we headed out to explore Times Square and eat dinner. It was crowded, but being a Thursday, it wasn’t unbearable and the weather was also cooperating.
The massive high-tech LED billboards were amazing to see in person. According to a recent 2015 article from Investopedia, 360,000 people pass through Times Square every day, not including those in cars.
The Times Square Alliance estimates that between 40 and 50 million tourists visit the square each year. If you add in views from movies and television, Times Square receives more than 150 million “impressions” every year! So what exactly does it cost to advertise here? Between $1.1 million and $4 million per year! That’s over four times the cost per impression of Google Ads, but about one fourth the cost of a Super Bowl Ad. Like the old adage goes, “It’s all relative!”
We saw a few other interesting “sights” while walking around. (I think the man’s face in the photo to the left says it all!) But hey, it is New York after all, you never know what you’re going to see! I would have much rather seen the Naked Cowboy but I was out of luck.
We settled on Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, got back to our hotel around midnight, and quickly fell asleep. Tomorrow would be another adventure in the Big Apple…
By day seven in Paris, I was exhausted and starting to come down with a cold. Our last day was a Friday and my husband wasn’t working so we could finally have a full day together to explore Paris. Our plan was to visit a few sites and then visit La Louvre in the late afternoon because of their extended Friday hours.
We began our day at the local pastry shop in Grenelle with lots of sugary treats and cappuccinos then boarded the Metro headed for Rambuteau station in the fourth arrondissement on the right bank Seine to see Centre Georges Pompidou.
This enormous high-tech multicultural complex houses the Public Information Library, the Musée National d’Art Moderne (the largest museum for modern art in Europe) and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research.
It was named after French President Georges Pompidou who commissioned the behemoth. It’s doors opened in 1977 and has seen millions of visitors every year since. The Center sits on 5 acres of land, spans over one million square feet, and rises seven levels. The architectural team was made up of British and Italian designers who were awarded the project in a design competition. It was the first time that international architects were allowed to participate. In 1977, the building cost 993 million French francs and underwent renovations in 1996 costing 576 million francs.
Reaction to the building wasn’t always pleasant. The French newspaper compared it to Loch Ness and in a 1980 article, National Geographic described the reaction as “love at second sight.” More recently however, the architects have been praised for their unique approach and out-of-the-box design.
We wanted to sneak in a lot on this last day, so rather than spend hours inside the modern art museum, we settled for taking in its grand majestic exterior and kept on moving.
Just past Centre Pompidou we spotted some wonderful Parisian graffiti. One of the largest and most well known was painted by Jeff Aérosol in 2011. Chuuutt!!! (Shh!) is over 3700 square feet!
Next, we headed over to Les Halles which was once the center for the open air fresh food markets. Now, it is a massive construction site as the RER (French transit system) hub is undergoing a huge design overhaul. However, just past all the chaos you can still spot a few fresh food stands in the area.
Beyond the construction and food stalls lies the gardens of Les Halles and the beautiful catholic church of Saint-Eustache.
Considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture, its origins date back to the 13th century. Louis XIV received communion here and Mozart choose this church as the location for his mother’s funeral.
Saint-Eustache’s pipe organ is considered the largest in France with 8,000 pipes! Imagine the sound – it would surely be heaven on earth!
We ducked inside to rest for a bit and revel in all its glory. Directly in front of the church is a giant modern sandstone sculpture created in 1986 by French artist Henri Miller called l’Ecoute – Listen.
I love the ying and yang of Paris – the juxtaposition of old and new makes one feel more connected to each other; knowing that you are walking on the same earth as others who have come before so long ago.
After Saint-Eustache and Les Halles we headed over to the Louvre – our last major stop in Paris. I must say we were both exhausted by now but there was no way I could travel to Paris and NOT visit the world-famous art museum. We spent some time outside in the Louvre courtyard taking in the grand massive scale of the building itself. Once inside we made our way through only a few sections of the museum.
Of course we saw the Mona Lisa a mile away behind closed glass. I knew what to expect, so I wasn’t that eager to fight the crowds to get close enough for a decent picture. I enjoyed viewing the Rembrandts and I really wanted to see Vermeer’s Lacemaker and actually walked right past it. After asking an attendant we found it. It is so small I was shocked!
After only a couple hours we called it a night and took the Metro back to Grenelle. We grabbed dinner at our local cafe, dragged ourselves back to La Tour Eiffel and settled in for the night. In the morning, we said Au revoir and Merci to the lovely hotel owner and staff and caught a cab to the airport.
Saint Germain des Pres is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, along the left bank of the Seine. This upscale neighborhood has played a major role in literary and philosophical history.
Prior to coming to Paris, I had just finished reading a wonderful book by Paula McLain. “The Paris Wife” is a historical fiction book written from the perspective of Hadley Richardson, Earnest Hemingway’s first wife. It follows their relationship and Hemingway’s early writing career beginning in the states and moving on to Paris and Europe during the roaring twenties and turbulent thirties. So when I found out we were going to Paris, there were a few Hemingway haunts I knew I had to visit.
During the 1920’s young American writers, such as Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, traveled overseas to absorb the “happening scene” that was Paris: the roaring jazz music, the gathering of intellectuals, and the all-night parties were a major draw. The Brasserie Lipp was a favorite watering hole at the time and the site of an infamous “conversation” that took place between the two authors.
As Hemingway tells it, Fitzgerald invited him for lunch when it was called Michaud’s. “He said he had something important to ask me that meant more than anything in the world to him and that I must answer him absolutely truly,” Hemingway wrote. “I said that I would do the best that I could.” Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda had apparently been complaining about her husband’s plumbing. “A matter of measurements,” Fitzgerald explained. The two withdrew to the toilet. Fitzgerald dropped his drawers. Hemingway inspected. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” he concluded. “You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened. Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile.” “Those statues may not be accurate.” “They are pretty good,” Hemingway said. “Most people would settle for them.” (“Hemingway’s Lipp and Fitzgerald’s Penis” Pappa’s Planet Blog By David Frey)
Directly on the bank of the Seine sits a marvelous independent English-language bookstore Shakespeare and Company which has a rich history. It is actually the second bookstore by the same name. The first began in 1919 as a lending library/store by Sylvia Beach, an American expatriate. It became the center of literary American culture in Paris. Unfortunately, The original store closed in 1940 during the German occupation of France during WWII and never reopened.
Writers and artists of the “Lost Generation,” such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Antheil and Man Ray, spent a great deal of time there, and it was nicknamed “ Stratford-on-Odéon” by James Joyce, who used it as his office. (Wikipedia)
The second, and current, Shakespeare and Company was founded by American George Whitman in 1951. Originally called by a different name, it was patterned after Sylvia’s shop and became the literary hub in bohemian Paris for the “beat generation” of writers. In 1964, upon Sylvia Beach’s death, George renamed the store in honor of his friend. The bookstore has sleeping facilities, and Whitman claimed that as many as 40,000 people have slept there over the years!
Upon entering the store I felt like a little kid in a candy store. It’s mosaic floors, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, wood-beam exposed ceilings, twisty-turns, hidden rooms, narrow steps, old chairs that look like Hemingway himself may have sat in, and free-roaming house cats made me never want to leave, let alone step into a big-box-book-store ever again!
After WWII, Saint Germaine des Pres also became associated with the existentialist movement. Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir could be found discussing their views or debating the nuances of their philosophies at the corner cafes of Cafe Flora or Les Deux Magots.
Of course no trip to this neighborhood would be complete without visiting Notre Dame. We headed over that way before the sun set and captured some amazing photographs. After a wonderful day traveling through literary history, we strolled into an Italian restaurant for dinner followed by giant scoops of gelato at Amorino.
It seems a million years ago that we were in Paris; so much has happened in the past three months. But I feel the need to finish writing about Paris, if only to relive my wonderful memories.
My most favorite day of the vacation had to be the day I visited Montmartre. In another life, Montmartre was a bohemian hilltop haven, home to some of the world’s greatest artists, writers, and poets. The winding cobblestone streets, small boutique-style shops, infamous dance halls, and Place du Tertre, where local artisans paint en plein air, sounded like heaven to me and I couldn’t wait to spend the day exploring!
After a 30 minute metro ride from Grenelle, I finally landed at Abbesses, which I later learned is the deepest station in the Paris Metro system at 118 feet below ground! The ground-level entrance is beautiful! It is one of the last remaining Art Nouveau glass-covered designs created by French architect Hector Guimard.
Upon exiting the station, one of the very first sights you come to is “Le mur des je t’aime” (I love you: the wall). Here the words are written 311 times in 250 different languages and dialects. People come from all over the world to see the wall and declare their love for one another.
As I navigated the cobblestone streets, I wondered if Picasso or Van Gogh had walked these exact streets before me. I stopped into a few little quaint shops. I really wanted to buy a piece of local art, but the prices were outrageous!
Next, I found a funky little resale shop and knew I stumbled onto something. How cool would it be to own something once worn by a Parisian? I tried on a few tops, but nothing fit quite right. Then I spotted an adorable little rain coat and voila, perfection! The best part? It was only 5 Euros! I had found my little memento for the day.
I continued my journey climbing a series of steps-and-landings, steps-and-landings, steps-and-landings for what seemed like a mile to reach the “Place on the hill” (Place du Tertre). The square was covered by mostly portrait & caricature artists with their easels and surrounded on all sides by over-priced cafes and shops. Only a handful of people were actually painting.
Most were just trying to make a euro by accosting tourists. I held out for quite, walking around the square admiring some of the art, until one gentleman with a kind face asked if he could do my portrait.
I was sure this wouldn’t end well for my pocketbook, but after climbing all those steps, I wanted to sit down and take a load off. We struck up a conversation about art and family among other topics, and I actually enjoyed my time with him. When all was said and drawn, I came away with an adorable caricature, a twenty minute respite, a nice conversation, and only a minor dent in my wallet. It was well worth it!
Just past the square is the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. The Roman Catholic church was designed in a Romano-Byzantine style inspired by sister churches of Italy and was completed in 1914. The exterior was carved from a type of travertine stone whose calcite turns white when it mixes with rainwater. It was a beautiful sight.
The entire city of Paris is visible from the front court of the Basilica. The dome sits over 650 feet above the River Seine and you can see for 30 miles. It is the highest point in Paris after the Eiffel Tower.
After wandering outside the Basilica for a while, I continued on. I headed West on Rue Cortot and stumbled upon the Musee de Montmartre.
The building was built in the seventeenth century as The Bel Aire House and is considered the oldest in Montmartre. During it’s peak, it served as a meeting place, studio space and home for many well-known artists, such as Renoir and Émile Bernard. The museum houses many great works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Auguste Renoir, Suzanne Valadon, and her son Maurice Utrillo. I wanted to view the collections, but unfortunately, their credit card machine was not working and they would not take my American dollars. I was out of luck, so I kept on exploring…
Just around the corner at 2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir was the most quaint bistro, La Maison Rose. It’s bright pink exterior and green shutters stand out against the surrounding buildings and landscape. I was able to capture this wonderful image of a young couple dancing in front of the cafe. It is my favorite moment from the day.
Just down the street I passed by Clos Montmartre – the last active vineyard in Paris. It covers over 1,800 square yards and contains 1,900 vines of 28 different grape varieties.
After sightseeing for a few hours, I was famished and it was getting chilly outside; time to take a break and warm up. I wandered into a small cafe called Chez Ginet and settled in for a hot cup of cappuccino and a goat cheese/eggplant salad. It was absolutely delicious and so pretty. I had to take pictures!
It was starting to get dark now, but there was one more check on my “To Do” list before calling it a day. Relying on my trusty iPhone GPS, I followed the main streets to my final destination. Along the way I passed over the Montmartre Cemetery where countless well-known artists, playwrights, authors, and dancers are buried.
Making a left onto Boulevard de Clichy, I continued on. It was dark now, perfect for viewing the infamous dancehall. As I made my way, I passed by numerous “adult shops”. I clutched my purse a little tighter. Not once did I ever feel afraid or threatened, but it was dark and judging by the shops, it may not have been the best place to be a lone woman. Finally, there she was, the Moulin Rouge, lit up in all her splendor. What a sight! You could almost hear the music from inside.
Judging by the crowd of tourists taking pictures, I was not alone in my quest. I snapped several photos and then disappeared underground to catch the Metro. I settled in for the ride back, ruminating about all the wondrous sights, sounds, tastes, and memories of the day. Montmartre. My favorite day in Paris!
At the end of March my husband had to travel to Paris for work and guess who was able to tag along for a vacation? Before he had even finished telling me the plans, I emphatically said, “YES!” and had mentally packed my bags and made arrangements for the boys and the animals. Let’s just say he had me at, “Paris.”
We left on a Friday redeye out of Detroit and landed in Paris about 8 a.m. Saturday, albeit tired, so ecstatic to be in “The City of Lovers”, “The City of Light“.
We stayed at Hotel Ares Eiffel a quaint boutique style hotel in the Grenelle neighborhood of the 15th Arrondissement. We stashed our luggage and quickly located the neighborhood Starbucks for some much needed caffeine and European croissant. Once our room was available we unpacked whatever would fit into the tiny hanging closet and crashed for a few hours.
In the evening we hopped on the Metro and headed out for dinner across town to the historic Brasserie Balzar located near the Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter of the 5th Arrondissement.
The brasserie opened it’s doors in 1890 and has been frequented by philosophers, artists, and intellectuals ever since. The brasserie, according to Sandra Gustafson’s Great Eats Paris, “..remains a favorite of Left-Bank intellectuals and would-be bohemian’s of all types.” French existentialist philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus were regulars at the Balzar. Actually, it is said that they had their last great argument here in the summer of 1952 which led to the demise of their friendship.
There was no such great drama in the air during our dinner; to the contrary, we met a nice family from California seated next to us and the L’onion soup and Bordeaux was delicious!
On Sunday we did a whirlwind tour of Paris. By the end of the day I was thoroughly exhausted and my legs were sore. I kept thinking about and thanking my surgeons. Without my new ankles and back, none of this would have been possible! I was feeling truly blessed and grateful.
After croissants and cappuccino’s, we caught the Metro and made our way along the Seine to the iconic Eiffel Tower in the 7th Arrondissement. It was much larger than I’d imagined and more beautiful in person.
We followed the Parc du Champs de Mars East and wandered the nearby streets. I was on a mission to see the infamous building at 29 Avenue Rapp designed by French Art Nouveau architect Jules Lavirotte. On the way we spotted another one of his beautiful designs at 3 Square Rapp.
29 Ave Rapp, Paris, France
29 Ave Rapp Doorway, Paris, France
3 Square Rapp
3 Square Rapp Doorway
Next we headed over to view the Arc de Triomphe and shop on the world famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement. Around 9 p.m. we dragged ourselves into Pizza Pino for dinner and wine overlooking the streetlights of the boulevard.
Tuesday was cold and rainy – perfect for touring the Musée d’Orsay. After waiting in the cue for over an hour in the drizzling rain, it was a relief just to get inside and sit for a few minutes. The building itself is a beautiful piece of art. Set on the banks of the Seine, it houses art collections from 1848 to 1914.
The museum, which opened its doors in December of 1986, was installed in the former Orsay railway station built for the World Exposition in 1900.
The museum is home to some of the world’s most famous sculptures. The entire ground floor was sprinkled with giant marble monoliths from the past two centuries. Since I didn’t have too long, I started with the Impressionists’ paintings. To get there, you pass through the back of the museum cafe which is gorgeous! At the end of the cafe is an enormous clock window overlooking the Seine.
After hours of walking around the museum, I jumped on the Metro towards ‘home’, grabbed dinner at a local brasserie, drew up a steaming hot Hermes bubble bath back at the hotel, and called it a day – and what a great one it was!
Stay tuned for my adventures in Montmartre, Saint-Germain du Pres, and Louvre-Tuileries. Au Revoir for now.
I just completed another class at PCCA entitled, “Landscape Painting.” Our teacher, Anatoliy Shapiro, is a Russian-born professional artist. He is well known for his large mural works. During this class I only completed two pieces: the Dominican Republic pastel piece and this oil painting. I worked from a personal photograph that I had taken in the Animal Kingdom, Disney, Orlando.
When I began painting, I felt that I had bitten off much more than I could chew. With Anatoliy’s guidance I was able to break it down step-by-step and pretty soon it wasn’t as intimidating.
I began by drawing the image on canvas with charcoal, then blocking in all the shadows. Once the darkest darks were in, I put in the rocks, then the background and the nearest foliage last. As a newbie, I had to rework some of the areas more than once or twice…
In the end, I was extremely pleased with the painting. I hope others enjoy it as well!
Our family recently took a trip to the Dominican Republic. It was heaven on earth and I had a really hard time adjusting once we came back to the states. It wasn’t just the shear beauty and warm temperatures, the tropical island breezes and the blue ocean white sands right out our doorstep; it was the entire experience, the culture, the people, and the simple way of life that I really fell in love with! ‘Til we meet again…
One of our assignments in high school was to create a collage drawing. I used my recent trip to Chicago for inspiration. I composed an array of keepsakes and snapped a photograph. These included: a menu, a photograph, key chain, maps from Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute of Chicago, luggage tags, and boarding pass.