It’s All Maya!

If Life is an illusion, then why do I keep banging my head against the wall?

Si la Vie est une illusion, pourquoi je n'arrête pas de me taper la tête sur les murs?

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No Love In Placing Locks On Bridges - Just Vandalism!

April 8th, 2014 · By Lynn

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The Pont des Arts before locks.

I’ve written about this problem two years ago and it’s time to write about it again.  The article I wrote was, If You Think Putting Locks On The Pont Des Arts Is Romantic - Think Again!!!  Tourists who come to Paris do not realize, or else they don’t care, how much they’re destroying this city by placing locks on bridges, lampposts, and monuments and then throwing the keys in the Seine.  It started out on the Pont des Arts and now it has become an epidemic that has spread to other bridges.  The situation has gotten out of hand.

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Locks on the Pont de l’Archevêché.

There was a report on the news yesterday (TF1) that the locks on the Pont des Arts now weigh several tons, the equivalent of three large trucks.  It’s destroying the bridge and costing the city of Paris (and the taxpayers) money that could be better spent elsewhere.  Instead, when the wire structure of the bridge breaks under the weight of the locks, the panel structure is replaced and the battle begins again as new locks are once again placed on the bridge by people who are unconscious of their acts, or who just don’t give a damn!  If that’s not bad enough, the Seine is being polluted by the number of lock keys being thrown into the river.

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Must people be like sheep?

Tourists were asked, in an interview, if it mattered that they were ruining the bridge; and did they know that their locks weren’t going to be there forever because they’re taken down every six months due to the weight destruction and security of the bridge.  One girl said, it just gave her and her boyfriend another reason to return to Paris and place another lock on the bridge.

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If this isn’t vandalism, what is? Even the lampposts aren’t spared!

It’s crazy!  Would those same tourists, who don’t seem to care, write on or vandalize a bridge or a monument with graffiti?  Would those same tourists throw plastic bags or containers into the river and pollute it?  I doubt it.  Yet, they have no qualms in defacing a bridge with a lock that they consider a romantic gesture and then throwing the key into the Seine!

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Hefty fines should be paid for this!

Maya Muses:  Wake up people!  Destroying the city’s bridges and monuments and polluting the city’s river is not romantic! The beauty that was once so evident in Paris is slowly being destroyed by these ugly locks.

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Spray painted locks on the Pont des Arts - need I say more?

Some people call them “love locks”, but I won’t even use that term in what is pure vandalism.  Please click on the link below and sign the petition to have the government bring forth a solution to get rid of this serious problem!

http://nolovelocks.com/fr/#petition

Photo Credits:  Each photo comes from a website that talks more about the problems in this post.

Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Photo #5

Photo #6

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Kids Say The Funniest Things!

March 14th, 2014 · By Lynn

I laughed so hard listening to these first two videos, I had to share!  They’re so funny!  The first one is about an 8 year-old Irish girl, Becky, who wants to demolish her school.

The second is by a 4 year-old little boy who calls 911 to ask for help with his math homework.

Et pour mes amis Français - Mec Si Beau! (Oui, je parle de notre cher président!) LOL!

Maya Muses:  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

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A Sunday Walk In Montsouris

February 23rd, 2014 · By Lynn

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Just a regular day in the park. You can’t get lonely here!

It was Sunday, sunny and warm, as Patrick and I headed over to the Parc Montsouris in the 14e arrondissement.  Well let me tell you, we weren’t alone!  There were people of all ages soaking in the sunshine.  Organ grinders, children, dogs, ponies, and swans were the entertainment for the day.  It’s hilarious when a small child goes chasing after a swan, the mother runs after the child, and a big swan decides to bite the mother’s butt to show her who’s boss!  Yes, you can find entertainment just about anywhere!

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Cute ponies!

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Having a drink in the park.

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There were 2 young organ grinders on the other side of the park giving this one competition!

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Careful! Those swans can be mean and nip you in the butt!

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Now this looked like an interesting street to explore! (And less people!)

After walking around the park and the pond, Patrick and I noticed a small street across the way and headed over to have a closer look.  The Square Montsouris is a small cobblestone street that was built back in the 1920s.

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When you don’t have a garage, you buy a Smart car and problem solved!

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Patrick checking out the bikes.

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This looks like an old Normandie house from the Middle-Ages!

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(Hmm! I wouldn’t mind owning that one.)

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A lovely library in a cozy setting to curl up and read.

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Le Corbusier pavilion. (And look at the terrace!)

Twenty-eight of the homes that make up this small street were built for families of modest income.  The HBM homes (habitations à bon marché) had to be built out of red brick or ocher.  The rest could be built according to the owners’ whims and fancies.  Famous artists, sculptors, doctors, etc., have lived here.  Today, each home is worth a fortune.  The most famous pavilion is the one built by the architect Le Corbusier for his friend, the painter, Ozenfant.  It’s the very last one which meets up at 51 Avenue Reille.

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I love red doors!

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This looks almost like a Hobbit door!

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One of the more modest homes? I think not!

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(Hmm! Or maybe this one.)

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Yes, what can I say? I love doors!

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I wouldn’t want to clean those windows!

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Stained glass above the door.

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Another modest house? Not in today’s market!

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Maya Muses:  It’s a gorgeous little street, but I’m sure it’ll be even prettier in the summertime when all the vines and the trees are in bloom.  (Patrick and I plan on returning then.)  It reminds me a little of the Cour Saint-Pierre in the 17e where I use to live.

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View of the street, Square Montsouris, from the park.

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View of the Parc Montsouris from their street.

Photo Credits:  Personal photos

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The Voice - Toujours Les Mêmes Habits!

January 29th, 2014 · By Lynn

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Patrick et moi aimons regarder The Voice et chaque semaine Florent, Jenifer, Mika et Garou portent toujours les mêmes habits!  Incroyable que l’équipe de production n’aie pas pensé à ce detail si important.  Ouais, je sais que l’enregistrement se déroule le jour même pour plusieurs émissions. Mais, ça aurait été tellement simple aux vedettes de se changer à chaque nouvelle emission pour au moins “prétendre” que c’est une semaine differente.

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J’en ai marre de voir Mika toujours habillé avec son costume bleu électrique qui date des années 80s et qui ressemble à un vieux petit garçon.

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Ce n’est pas mieux avec Jenifer accoutrée de sa mi-robe, mi-sortie bain de plage.  (Elle porte les même sous-vetements depuis trois semaines!  Dois-je en dire plus?!)

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Les choses se passent un peu mieux pour Florent Pagny et sa veste couleur moutarde. Cependant, il me fait penser au chef d’orchestre d’une fanfare, sans fanfare.  Garou, quant à lui, s’en sort mieux avec sa veste en cuir noir, c’est lui le moins tapageur.  (Étonnant, non?!)

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Maya Muses:  Mon plus grand souhait est que ce samedi les quatre vedettes seront habillées de frais!  Sinon, je vais demander au publique de faire une donation pour aider ces pauvres gens. 

(Ouais….!)

Photo Credits:  The Voice, Jenifer, Florent Pagny, Mika, The Voice

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The Dinner by Herman Koch Or Hell’s Kitchen – Bon Appétit!

January 19th, 2014 · By Lynn

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First of all, let me say I enjoyed the novel.  The writing was good and the plot somewhat intriguing.  A 309 page story that takes place in a restaurant over dinner.  And not just any restaurant, but a fashionable one to boot.  Of course, I had to buy it if only to see what was on the menu and the service.  Okay, and because the story takes place in Amsterdam and I happened to live there for a year.

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The book starts with the apéritif, then the appetizer, the main course, dessert, and last of all, the digestif.  All that was missing was the cheese course–not!  The author managed to have the protagonist order cheese instead of dessert.

The storyline is, two brothers and their wives go to an upscale restaurant to talk about their sons.  The two teenage boys were caught on camera in an act of violence that resulted in a death.  The story is told by Paul.  His brother, Serge, is considered a shoo-in for becoming the next prime minister of Holland.  The last thing the politician needs is for his son and nephew to be implicated in a homicide.

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The video that was shown nationwide on the news shows the two boys committing the act, but they’re not readily identifiable except to the parents.

As each course is served, we get the back story about Paul and his son Michel, as well as, Serge’s son, Rick and his adopted son, Beau.  Paul’s wife, Marie-Claire, who calls herself Claire and Serge’s wife, Babette round out the cast.  (I find it interesting that out of the seven named characters, five of the names are French instead of Dutch.)  Still, the parody about a four star (French) restaurant was amusing although the author never names the restaurant.  As a matter of fact, several times the authors prefers not mentioning important details that would have made the story more interesting.  Instead, he tells the reader, they’re details that are private and not necessary to reveal.  (Go figure!)

Psychologically there’s a lot to be said here.  How far would someone go to protect their loved ones even though they know they’re guilty?  What are the consequences of that protection, how will that person turn out in life when he suffers no consequences for his actions?  The problem is the author spends more time with Pauls ramblings and back story rather than the four parents getting into discussing the real issue which is the reason, afterall, for the dinner.  Instead, we learn about Paul’s mental disorder and inability to control his own violent behavior which comes off as an excuse for his son’s random acts of violence on helpless people.

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The main reason this novel didn’t work for me and it hindered the enjoyment of reading this book was the choice of setting.  Who in their right mind, especially someone who’s a famous politician as Serge is in the story, would go to a public place to discuss something so private?  No one!  The last place anyone would talk about such a secret as their sons being murderers, would be in a top restaurant with the maître d’ hovering and patrons sitting all around trying to eavesdrop on their conversation.

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Maya Muses:  Even though hardly anything was said during dinner about the event, I had a hard time getting past something that seemed to me so illogical, it just didn’t work. Don’t let that stop you from reading this novel.  After all, there are a lot of other books who’s settings defy logic, yet we enjoy them and are carried away without question.  I think the seriousness of the acts of violence, without consequences or remorse, is what kept me grounded and unable to completely enjoy the meal.

Photo Credits:  Google Images, Menu, and Maître d’

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The Epiphany Or All Kings Day!

January 6th, 2014 · By Lynn

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Our Christmas Tree before….

I always leave my Christmas tree up until the Epiphany, it’s a tradition that my family has had for years.  This year for some reason (I think because Patrick was ill and it wasn’t exactly the best of Holiday Seasons) I took the tree down right after New Year’s Day.  Then, of course, I regretted not leaving my tree up until today!

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Our Christmas tree after it lost all its needles!

Lucky for me I thought about putting up our little tree that we had bought one year for our terrace and was just shoved in the back of the hall closet.  I took it out and in five minutes I had my little Zen tree up and looking beautiful, if I do say so myself.  LOL!

Next year I plan on putting this tree up again like I did this year.  I think I started a new tradition!

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Maya Muses:  Speaking of traditions, the Galette des Rois is one I didn’t have as a kid, but every year it’s become a must.  Mmm…so good!!!

Photo Credits:  Personal Photos and Galette

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2014 - A New Year!

January 1st, 2014 · By Lynn

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The end of 2013 didn’t go exactly as planned.  Patrick got bronchitis the morning that we headed back to Paris from his parent’s home in Normandy.  It was the day after Christmas.  We thought he would be better by New Year’s Eve and we planned on partying with a bunch of friends.  Well it didn’t turn out that way.

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It’s New Year’s Day and Patrick still isn’t well.  We tried to make the best of a bad situation, but bronchitis is very contagious and it wasn’t easy to organize a dinner for two when one is sick with a fever.  The doctor made a house call a few days earlier and gave him antibiotics, which helped, but it’s been slow going to say the least.

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I made an onion tarte with goat cheese as an entree.  Too bad I didn’t take a photo, it turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself!  LOL!  The roasted veal with potatoes, onions and carrots weren’t bad either and the tiramisu for dessert rounded out the meal.  Still, when one has difficulty eating and can hardly talk, the other is practically dining alone.  Even our lovely Champagne Rosé or the nice bottle of Haut-Medoc didn’t help to make the dinner go down any easier.

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Patrick went to bed early (right after midnight) and I called my mom and wished her a Happy New Year!  I sat in front of my beautiful Christmas tree and I could hear cars honking their horns, and the neighbors above us having their own party and I thought of other New Year’s Eves.

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As a child my parents would wake up my brothers and sisters and I and we would bang pots and pans in the kitchen and toast in the New Year.  Still sleepy, we would go back to bed.  Then in the morning I would wake up and think, “Did I really parade around the kitchen with my family last night or did I just dream that?”

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My first réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre was in 1971 in the Latin Quarter at Place Saint-Michel.  What a night!  At first everyone was hugging and kissing and within minutes the CRS, wearing helmets and shields, came stomping down the street with their batons!  One minute I was kissing Jacques, the next minute we were hunched down in a store front as bottles were being thrown and the CRS were cracking their batons on anyone passing by.  It was a memorable evening to say the least!

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In 1979 again I was back in the Place Saint-Michel on New Year’s Eve, but this time we weren’t going to have our party ruined!  No, this time we celebrated at a café.  We sat upstairs by a window looking out onto the Fontaine Saint-Michel and at midnight the CRS made their appearance once again.  Funny though, we were nice and warm eating and drinking and toasting in the new year, but I was kind of nostalgic for the excitement of being down in the street.

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In 1984 I was living in the Cour Saint-Pierre and Eric and Anne decided to have a party at their place. They turned the basement of their atelier into an underground disco and everyone in the passageway was invited!  We danced the night away eating, drinking, and dancing!  One year later, in 1985, Jean-Pierre and I left the party in the snow and arrived just in time to see the new lights on the Eiffel Tower shine for the first time!

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The year was now 1990 and I had been back in the 6 arrondissement for a number of years. It was the part of Paris where I always lived except for the years I was in the Cour Saint-Pierre.  Jean-Pierre had made a reservation for dinner on the Eiffel Tower, but just like last night things don’t always go according to plan.  We never made it and instead stayed home at our apartment on the rue des Canettes.

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In 2003 Patrick and I were invited to Odri and Didier’s place in the 5th near Cardinal Lemoine on New Year’s Eve.  They were friends from back in the days at the Cour Saint-Pierre.  We left the party to go ring in the New Year on the Champs-Elysées with about 500,000 other people.  It was a crazy night that Patrick and I still talk about it.  After midnight we walked toward Alma Marceau looking for a taxis to take us back to the party at Odri’s house when we decided to ask someone to take a photo of us with the Eiffel Tower in the background.  It was the last picture in our camera.  (Yes, back then you still had to develop your film!)  We stopped a young couple and asked if they could take our picture.  The girl took the camera and snapped the photo.

It was then I realized, the angle just didn’t seem right, so I asked her, “You did take a picture of us with the Eiffel Tower in the background, right?”

“Ah, you didn’t tell me to take the Eiffel Tower.” she said.

Patrick and I looked at each other, like, “Duh, there’s the Eiffel Tower in all its splendor, so what did you take, a tree?”  Yep!  We have a photo of the two of us standing by a tree!!!  Now we laugh (not then) everytime we think about that photo!

Last year again we were invited to celebrate with friends, but we decided to stay home instead.  Patrick made a wonderful 4 course meal and after eating and drinking we danced until about 4:30 in the morning.  We were exhausted, but when Donna Summer’s song Last Dance came on we just had to stick it out and dance those extra minutes like we did in the good ole’ disco days!  I talked about it in a previous post here.

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So last night we were going to Eric and Claire’s house (same Eric from 30 years ago) to ring in the New Year!  It was suppose to be a lot of fun.  50 some odd people, everyone in white.  (Who wears white in winter?  Or better yet, who wears white in Paris except for the Dîner en Blanc every year!)  Well, not to be outdone, Eric and Claire also asked everyone to bring white food!  Oh yeah, that would have been interesting to see!  I’m sure there was a lot of cream in those dishes last night!  If Patrick and I had gone, I would have made Snowball Cookies!

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But alas, as I said at the beginning of this post, we were home, not because we wanted to this time, but because of circumstances.  And there definitely was no dancing!  So, I sat and reminisced about other New Year Eves and thought about my family and friends. 

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Maya Muses:  It’s the first day of 2014, a new year, a new beginning.  I hope this year doesn’t go whizzing by like last year.  It was here and then gone before you knew it.  I took photos of this year’s Christmas decorations.  In a few days I’ll be taking them all down until Christmastime comes once again.

I wish everyone health, joy, peace, and love for this brand New Year!  Cheers!!!

Photo Credits:  Personal Photos and  Champs-Elysées, Eiffel Tower, Place Saint-Michel, Dîner en Blanc

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Christmastime Is Here!

December 24th, 2013 · By Lynn

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Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!  Each year I find a beautiful photo to share for the holidays. This year I decided to take the time to post our tree.

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It’s my favorite time of the year, making cookies, wrapping presents, and singing along with the Christmas carols. You know, all the things that bring a little bit of Christmas cheer.

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On December 1st I start playing all the Christmas songs on the Bose much to Patrick’s chagrin!

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By the time Christmas day rolls around, he’s had enough of Karen Carpenter singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and I’ll Be Home For Christmas, or the Vince Guaraldi Trio and Al Jarreau singing Christmastime Is Here or Nat King Cole and Aaron Neville crooning The Christmas Song or White Christmas!  Hohoho!

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Every year I make Christmas cookies and of course this year is no different - except that rather than making my usual cookies of Walnut Tassies and Swiss Spitzbuben, I decided to make Reine-Claude Kolacky and Mirabelle Rugelach.  Of course I always make my favorite Snowball Cookies.  The same recipe as Russian Tea Cakes/Mexican Wedding Cookies, but snowball cookies sounds better during the holidays!

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Not to let me outdo myself this year, Patrick decided he would make Santa something sweet as well.  No not cookies (Patrick said that Santa must be tired of cookies!) so he decided to make Petits Choux and Macarons.

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Ah, really?  Cream puffs and macaron for Santa!  Well, why not?  This year Santa has a choice!

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Maya Muses: I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas with the ones they love.

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More than eating, drinking and opening presents, it’s a time for being with family and friends and going to Midnight Mass in the snow to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Patrick and I are lucky to be able to share this Christmas with his mom and dad.  I only wish my mom and family were here as well….maybe next year!  Merry Christmas!

Photo Credits:  Personal Photos

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Pasta Class With Chefs From Cook’n With Class!

December 8th, 2013 · By Lynn

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Me with my sleeves rolled up ready to work!

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Starting with the flour.  Tara and Preston are ready!

Chef Pino and his wife Julia from Sfoglina Parigina held a pasta class for the chefs at Cook’n With Class and I was invited!  Julia taught us how to make raviolis, tortelloni, tagliatelle and garganelli.  Her class was great!  It was hands on and she knew how to guide us perfectly.

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Patrick getting ahead of Julia!

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Keep stirring!

Who knew that making pasta would be so technical.  The ingredients are simple, flour and eggs, but it’s the way you stir the eggs into the flour that’s a technique all its own.

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Kneading and more kneading.

Next came the kneading, it reminded me of making tortillas!  Nothing better than homemade tortillas, except maybe homemade pasta!

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Let the rolling begin!

We had to let the dough rest, but since some of us were faster than others and some of us slower (uh hum) there was always something going on in class where we could observe what we needed to do next.

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Watch because we’re not making tortillas here!

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Okay, let me try! (Go Tara!)

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Studying that dough!

How to roll out the dough was very precise, you work from the edges and then the middle where you had to roll and stretch.

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Can we see through it, Patrick?  Almost!

Over and over the process was done until the dough was thin enough to practically see through.

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Cheese filling of ricotta and parsley for the raviolis.

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Don’t do what I did! LOL!

Each pasta was folded differently, of course.  The raviolis for instance had to be done in a specific way (one this way and one that way) so that air wouldn’t get into the filling which would then break when boiling.  (Who knew?!)  Okay, so I let a little air in mine because I forgot and thought I could go faster by doing straight rows.

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They look like raviolis!

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Bellissima!!!

See, I didn’t have to worry, when you’re surrounded by chefs, even chefs who are taking the class, you can’t get away with too much!  (Thank you Constance!  Lol.)

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Bigger portions for the tortelloni.

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Look at mine, look at mine!

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I put mine all in a row or a column!  Pretty!

I made up for it with my tortelloni.  Mine looked the best, but I did have a little help from Pino who showed me how to fold them.

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Chef Pino at work!

He made a bolognese sauce made with surprisingly a small amount of tomato purée and lots of carrots, onions, etc. and plenty of red wine.  It smelled wonderful!

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We were still working making garganelli!

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Cutting up the tagliatelle.

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Julia’s came out perfect.

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Ours, not so much!

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Work yes, but fun!

Now that the work was finished, the fun part could begin!  If you think I’m talking about eating, well you’ve guessed right!

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Pino’s delicious bolognese sauce!

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Cheese raviolis anyone?

Speaking of delicious, Julia’s cheese raviolis served with a butter and sage sauce were wonderful as well.  Patrick said, their pasta was the best he’s ever tasted!

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Enjoying our homemade pasta…

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…and the fruit of our labor!!!

Maya Muses:  I have to admit, it was great fun to share that morning class with everyone.  We all had a good time.  The best part was sitting around afterwards and sharing a meal of Julia’s raviolis and tortelloni with Pino’s bolognese sauce!  Not to mention a nice glass of wine and great company!!! 

Buon Appetito a tutti!!!

Photo Credits:  Personal Photos and thanks to Cook’n With Class

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First French Thanksgiving!

November 29th, 2013 · By Lynn

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I’ve mentioned before that Thanksgiving was always the one day I would get nostalgic for home.  Over 40 years later, it’s still a day that makes me wish I was spending it with my family.  This year I did the next best thing.  I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with my little Parisian family.  Friends I’ve known for over 30 years have become family and so it was fitting to finally celebrate Thanksgiving rather than ignore it as I’ve done in the past.

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Not everyone could take a work day off so we were a small group.  But if we postponed it until Saturday, it would have been, as one friend said, “….just another dinner.”  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving of family, friends, food, wine, and music…then Patrick and I Skyped with my mother and part of the family later in the evening.  It was great to see everyone and the Christmas tree already up and decorated at mom’s house.

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Maya Muses:  Another thing to be thankful for - the advancement in technology that 40+ years ago, an ex-pat would never have dreamed possible!  I hope everyone had a Thanksgiving full of love, health and happiness as well!

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