Maya: Illusion. Obscuring the spiritual reality of absolute being with an illusory appearance of the sense-world.
Blog: A place to talk about life rather than to live life.
Blogger: A person who talks about life rather than lives it.
(So why am I blogging instead of living life, you ask?....I did a lot of living, now I want to talk about it, so get off my case!)
"Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering - and it's all over much too soon."
"I'm not afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens."
A beautiful rendition to the 1971 song, What’s Going On (sung by Marvin Gaye back then) that talked about all the problems that were going on in the world. Unfortunately, it’s even more fitting today in 2016. (Lyrics at the end of my post.)
What’s going on? It’s a question I keep asking myself more and more. Why are we going from bad to worse? How did we, as a human race, get to the point where we kill people by any means? Where we shoot, bomb, crash a plane, use a truck to run over and kill people who were doing nothing wrong. People who were just doing their jobs, journalists writing and poking fun, people having a good time at a rock concert and dancing, or people on their way home after watching fireworks, celebrating their independence. Why are people being killed simply because they’re black, a minority, have a different religious belief, gay, an officer…a child. My God, what is going on?
Yesterday, Patrick and I went to watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. There were over 400,000 people sitting on the grass at the Champ-de-Mars listening to a concert and waiting for the firework display. There was a moment while I was sitting there that I thought, how easy it would be for a terrorist to blow himself up and kill hundreds of people. I didn’t dwell on it, but the thought crossed my mind.
When we got home last night, we saw the news and what was happening in Nice. Ten children were killed among the 84 dead and over 200 injured; how more innocent can you get than a child? Tonight as I write this post, there’s a military coup going on in Turkey. Every day there’s more and more upheaval, or does it just seem that way to me?
Years ago we thought things were bad: political assassinations, the Vietnam War, fighting for La Raza (the people), for civil rights that should’ve been rightly given — not fought for. Our parents said their times were worse: the Depression, the Holocaust, WWII. Growing up, we were taught the future would be brighter and better for us than the lives our parents lived. The same was true for them with their parents, but what about young kids today? What kind of life or future awaits them when an evil cancer that began on September 11, 2001 has slowly festered over our entire planet? Will the young live better lives in the future? I hope so, because what we’re witnessing is a world that’s becoming a sad and scary place.
Maya Muses: Even so, I refuse to be afraid to live, refuse to not go about my life as I choose without fear that something bad can happen, because to do so would mean I am no longer living my life, no longer free. I hope everyone else is doing the same. We have to keep the faith that things will get better.
What’s Going On
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, eheh
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, oh oh oh
Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Ah, what’s going on
Father, father, everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply ’cause our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today
Oh oh oh
Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
C’mon talk to me
So you can see
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Tell me what’s going on
I’ll tell you what’s going on, ooh ooo ooo ooo
Is there a rehab where I can slowly withdraw? Or a Candy Crush Anonymous where I can stand up and say, “Yes, I’m addicted.” I don’t think so, but if there were I’m sure Patrick would’ve sent me to one of those places by now.
The whole addiction came about slowly. In the beginning I would play my five lives and if I didn’t pass a level, or my five lives were used up, it didn’t matter. I would wait a day or two before trying again. Back then, there were less boosters available so it was harder to advance. Once a day was all you could spin on the Booster Wheel and all you got was one bonus. Today, in addition to the wheel, there are Treasure Chests, 3 or 5 in One, Sugar Drops and more.
That pot at the end of the rainbow is pure gold.
Candy Crush is the most popular app game played in the world. Over half a billion people have downloaded it and 93 million people play every day on every continent in the world, even Antarctica. King earns over $850,000 a day, over a billion a year!
They haven’t gotten a penny from me.
That said, if more players were like me, they would be out of luck. I’ve reached their final level several times. Right now I’m on level # 1686 (there are 2515 levels at the moment) and I’m proud to say I have not spent one single penny on the game. Oh, there have been times when I was frustrated on a hard level and came close to winning with just one more jelly or fruit to get rid of, but I ran out of moves. Still, I wasn’t about to spend 99 cents to finish off the game. Why, what’s 99 cents, you ask? My thinking was, if I did that, it would become a habit…a very bad habit.
The only time I play is in the evening when Patrick and I watch television and it depends on what we’re watching. That’s reasonable, don’t you think? (Patrick, of course, has a different opinion.) He has a hard time understanding how I can multitask, but I tell him I don’t need to watch the TV screen every second when we’re watching a news channel or a documentary, I can do both. It’s one of those women are from Venus and men from Mars thing.
Okay, to be perfectly honest, that last paragraph may not be completely true. I do play if I’m in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or I’ll play when I’m standing in a long line at the grocery store. What can I say? It makes time go by so much faster.
Iblame it on these primary and secondary colors.
Maya Muses: Thanks to me, I’m not the only one addicted in my family. Oh no, I had to drag my (soon to be) 94 year old mother down with me. Just two days ago she told me over the phone that something was wrong and she had to wait thousands of minutes before she could play another game.
Mum playing Candy Crush on her iPad.
I had my brother fix that glitch right away and then he started laughing.
I said, “What’s going on?”
Bob said, “Mum forgot all about you being on the phone, she’s already playing her Candy Crush.”
Oh well, there are far worse things to be addicted to.
When Patrick and I decided to take a walk along the Seine this past weekend, we weren’t the only ones who wanted to see how high the Seine had risen. Half of Paris was out taking photos.
People standing on the Pont au Double.
And watching le Zouave du pont de l’Alma.
Bridge after bridge, there were people looking at the river. The last time it had flooded was in 1982. I remember going to a party on a péniche back then and the only way to get there was to take a small boat from the quai to get on board.
Still, flooding this year and and the one 34 years ago were nothing in comparison to the Great Flood of 1910.
Traffic signs almost immersed in water.
Why is everyone on the other side of the bridge?
Patrick was more interested in things being sold by the bouquiniste.
Do they need a boat to get to the boat? I think so.
Those weeping willows and other trees used to be above ground…
In all the years I’ve lived in Paris, I can’t remember a crazier year as far as the weather goes. We went from winter to summer without spring. You have to feel for the tourists who’ve come these past few months imagining springlike weather only to find it cold and raining day after day.
I wonder how long before I can sit under that lamppost again?
The sun trying to peak out and the Eiffel Tower barely visible in the background.
All during our stroll and taking photos, it was gray and cloudy, not the best scenario for snapping pictures. Then when we were leaving to go have a drink at one of our favorite cafés, wouldn’t you know it, the sun decided to make an appearance.
Maya Muses: I wasn’t about to go back and snap more photos, not when it was time to sit and have a before dinner drink. I know where my priorities lie.
Before leaving for our wonderful week in Uzès, Patrick and I went to dance with Matt Harding during his 2016 world tour. Matt had emailed me a week earlier to let me know he was going to be in Paris — one day only. He had chosen four sites around Paris: La Défense, Montmartre, Bellville, and La République.
Patrick using his selfie stick for the first time.
Patrick and I decided to go to La Défense. We arrived a half an hour early hoping there wouldn’t be a large crowd. In some cities there had been so many people in the video you couldn’t see anyone. That’s why I decided to wear my white knitted hat so I could be seen. Or, at least, so I could see where I was when I looked back at the video. Patrick decided to put on his Pittsburgh Steelers cap. When we got there we saw a small group of ten people standing around.
Right away we knew this was the group who had come to dance with Matt. There was a guy dressed up in a blue dog suit and a girl with a peach tutu on even though the weather was cold. We looked at each other and didn’t have to say a word, we knew what the other was thinking. There goes our smart idea of him wearing a Steelers cap and me a white hat so we could stand out.
Matt getting organized.
Matt arrived at noon on the dot with his videographer. He had matured in the eleven years since he filmed his first video. He was a lot taller and slimmer than I had imagined. He was around 6’2″ and a really nice guy. By this time our little group had doubled. It was lunch time and a guy stopped and asked Patrick what was going on. Patrick told him we were going to dance with a guy who had made his crazy dance famous on YouTube. The guy’s eyes grew big, “Matt, c’est Matt?” He was thrilled he had stumbled upon the scene and he could dance with Matt.
Let’s see, let’s see!
By this time we had doubled in size once again and were now around forty people in all. Matt told us, “I didn’t set the bar very high when it comes to dancing, so do your own thing.” They videoed us moving around trying to imitate him and then we did a little choreographed number as well. Before we knew it, the videographer said it was a wrap.
Oh, there I am.
Maya Muses: Matt hung around afterwards so people could take a video and photos with him. Patrick and I are glad we did. All in all, it was great fun. I couldn’t stop laughing and looked like a fool, but I didn’t care. I had a great time.
Now we have our fingers crossed he’ll choose the video we’re in to put on his main 2016 world tour.
Patrick and I recently spent a week in Uzès with Cook’n With Class and what a week it was. Imagine spending seven days in the south of France with great food & wine, good company, beautiful surroundings, fun and instructive classes, and plenty of entertaining and extra-curricular activities. Yes, they were all part of our week and more.
Getting ready to start the day.
Are you ready? Paulina and I are about to take off on a tour of Uzès with the school’s scooter.
On Sunday, Patrick and I took a train from Paris to Nîmes in the morning and 3 hours later we had a taxi waiting to drive us to Uzès, a lovely little town tucked away in the Languedoc region of France. There were four of us: Tara, a Canadian girl, Jake, a reporter originally from Texas, Patrick and moi. We were taken to Les Olivettes, a lovely bed & breakfast hidden in the countryside just minutes outside of town.
The view from my window.
Our home for the week.
Heated swimming pool, but it was still cold outside.
Our lovely room.
After being shown to our rooms, Patrick and I rested a bit before getting ready for the cocktail party that evening to meet the other students. Kat, a landscaper from Carmel, California was driving in from Marseille and Cat, a blogger who had a wonderful Irish brogue, was flying in from London.
My own private library/sitting room.
Getting ready for the cocktail party.
Tara, Kat, Jake, Me, and Cat (pronounced Kit).
Each morning we began our day early. Breakfast started at 8:30 and the table was set with freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat, nut bread, homemade fig jam, preserves, yogarts, ham and cheese, and a wide selection of teas and freshly brewed coffee. Who could resist? Not I.
The bread is rising.
How many hands does it take to make a baguette? Four if you’re just learning.
We were then picked up and taken to the Cook n’ With Class school located in gorgeous surroundings near vineyards and olive groves. A small museum and other specialty shops are also nearby the school.
Poached pears in wine anyone?
Voilà, lunch is served.
Kat seems to be having way too much fun deboning that rabbit.
This much wine, chef?
No, this much.
Classes were always hands on as we measured, chopped, and prepped our lunch menu each day. The time went by quickly as both chefs, Eric and Patrick, were amusing and made each class not only a learning experience, but fun and relaxed as well. Afterwards when all the morning work was done, we were rewarded for our labor. Yes, that means we got to sit down and enjoy what we made. The food, cheeses, wines, and desserts were heavenly and there were moments of pure food bliss.
Preparing salmon tarts.
Mmm, now the best part, eating it.
Come on, whip that cream.
Baking, then eating. Aren’t they done yet?
Eric and Yetunde who run the cooking school had arranged for other activities as well, so there was always something for us to do. Our visits included a trip to the marketplace, a vineyard, an olive factory, and a local farm. That in itself would’ve been more than enough.
Ready to attack the marketplace.
First stop, cheese.
But we were also taken to the Pont du Gard, an almost 2000 year old aqueduct, for a picnic and what better way to go than by a horse-drawn carriage. The view was spectacular.
Our horse-drawn carriage.
But let’s have some wine first.
Preston holding on tight to the food.
Now that’s a picnic basket!
Everyone get settled and look this way…
…now here’s the view. Oh yeah, and the Pont du Gard looks pretty good too.
There was a food & wine pairing evening with a sommelier. A six course dinner with 7 different wines. One of the wines was a Maury, Legend Vintage 1929. It was not only a pleasure to taste this sweet dessert wine, it was also a humbling experience to be able to drink a wine 87 years old.
What course are we on again?
Our 87 year old wine.
Our bottle was #48 in a limited production of 658.
At the end of the week, Eric and Yetunde organized a cocktail reception for everyone with gypsy music. If you love the Gipsy Kings, you would not have been disappointed. (It was all in the family, the young guitarist in the group happens to be Manitas de Plata’s grandson.) Patrick somehow included himself as the newest member of the group because he grabbed a pot from the kitchen and joined the musicians in a song. It was truly a fun and crazy evening.
Patrick no longer a chef; now a member of a gypsy band.
Impossible to sit still, everyone was dancing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the evening we dined at a one-star Michelin restaurant called La Table d’Uzès. The chef, Oscar Garcia, outdid himself. The 6 course dinner with champagne and 2 desserts (well 3, but who’s counting) were out of this world. Yes I thought I had died and gone to food heaven.
La Table d’Uzès, a Michelin star restaurant.
A wonderful evening of fine dining.
The lamb was exquisite.
Our first dessert was served.
And because one dessert wasn’t enough, our second dessert.
We finished off our dinner with an espresso or tea, so why not a little confiseries? Or what I call my little third dessert.
Maya Muses: All in all, it was an amazing week and yet we did have time to relax by an open fire in the evenings and just chat with the other food lovers on this journey with us. If you ever have the chance to take this food experience, I absolutely recommend it. You won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you bring stretchy clothes because you will put on a few pounds. I did, but it was worth it. And now a strict diet to lose that kilo and a half that so ungraciously decided to join me on my adventure.
Enjoying a nice fire in the evening.
Good food, good wine, good company, what more can you ask for?
Patrick taking his time tying his shoes. We didn’t want to leave.
Choosing a presidential candidate isn’t like the Bachelor/Bachelorette narrowing the competition down to two beautiful candidates, each one with a great personality and has all the things they’re looking for in a future mate. No, this year we have a bunch of candidates competing, that if this were the actual TV show the Bachelor or Bachelorette would be running for the hills screaming, “I’d rather stay single!”
The problem with politicians is they say whatever bullshit the people want to hear and then once elected, they do what their financials backers/lobbyists want them to do. It’s true for most of them. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, America is under a dictatorship and Americans don’t even know it. “Huh?” you say. Yes, I do. It’s a two party dictatorship that needs to go.
Americans need to stop voting along party lines and vote for a person because of what they stand for. Not because they’re a Republican or a Democrat. And the Electoral College and Super Delegates needs to go as well. What’s wrong with letting the American public vote for their next president directly?
Hmm, let’s see. Heads for Bernie, tails for Hillary, get it? It makes sense.
When you see caucuses deciding on a winner by the toss of a coin, we know we’re in trouble. Wtf, we’re not choosing sides for playing volleyball on the beach. The people who vote for one candidate or the other deserves to have their voices heard. Each voice, each vote, should be counted. How can Americans accept this kind of voting?
Watching television in this election year, I’ve asked myself more than once, is this all America has to offer? When candidates are acting more like children slinging mud in a school yard and calling each other names, are they worthy or dignified enough to be the next president?
Let’s look at the two front runners so far…
I’m the Donald. No one says no to me or else I don’t play!
Donald Trump. Here’s a candidate who:
1. Made fun of someone with a physical disability. Calls women, fat pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting animals…I can go on, but you see how he views women. Women like Megyn Kelly and because she’s easy on the eyes he couldn’t call her any of the names he would’ve used otherwise. So what could he do? He insinuated she was on her period because in his mind she had to be if she dared to stand up to him.
2. Speaking of Megyn Kelly, he was so afraid of her afterwards that he refused to show up for the following Republican debate. It begs to question, how is he going to handle tougher opponents like Putin if he couldn’t handle Megyn?
3. He wants to send all illegal aliens back to their own countries. Why didn’t he mind them being in the U.S. illegally when he was building his empire? Trump Tower was built by illegal aliens from Poland. They worked 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week, no overtime and many said they weren’t paid at all for the work they did. You can’t have it both ways Donald.
4. Trump wants to make America great again. Ask people in Atlantic City how great he made things for them. What is his platform besides building a wall? Does he really think other countries are going to pay for things he wants to promote? Just because he screwed business people over in Atlantic City and had others pay for his casinos, does he really think the same thing is going to work for him with foreign countries? Or will he get the U.S. further into debt/bankrupt like he did to himself?
I could go on, but let me turn to Hillary Clinton:
Do I need to answer, you’re all boring me?
1. Speaking of black voters, Hillary swept the South on Super Tuesday because of their support, but they seemed to forget her 2008 campaign. Then too when she was First Lady, she was anything but a black supporter. Talking about young blacks and them being incarcerated, she said, “They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we need to bring them to heel.”
2. And why has her email scandal being swept under the rug? Shouldn’t she have to be held accountable for her actions like anyone else? Or once again, is she above the law?
3. Hillary Clinton is backed by big money. When she gets paid as much as $335,000 for giving a speech, you know damn well deep pockets are spending their money for their own interests and not because she knows how to give a damn good pep talk. She owes them, or they own her. Same difference.
4. Independent woman voters don’t need to stand by her (like she stood by Bill) just because she’s a woman. Who cares if she would be the first woman president? You vote for a good candidate who will better the country. Not for what’s between their legs!
5. And speaking of Hillary and Bill, it’s scary when you think about how many unexplained deaths occurred of people who were close to the former president. Okay, you say, that was Bill, not Hillary. But don’t forget, Bill will be First Man and in the White House with her once again if she’s elected. Let me just say, I wouldn’t want to be a member of their inner circle if you know what I mean. https://www.truthorfiction.com/clintonfriends/
Maya Muses: So where does that leave us? As an independent voter all my life, I’ve always voted for the lesser of two evils. Yes, that’s how I see most politicians. In 2008 I voted for McCain against Obama. In 2012 I voted for Obama against Romney. In 2016 I’ll vote for Bernie Sanders. Why? He’s the only candidate who isn’t evil.
2. He doesn’t have lobbyist/big money backers and therefore he doesn’t owe anything to any of them. His supporters and backers have come from everyday people like you and me donating on average $27.
3. His platform for helping the average American worker is better than Clinton’s. So much so that Hillary has taken to mimicking what Bernie has been saying all along. He stands up for minorities, for the working class, for gay rights, for seniors. He’s fought all along for the little guy against the big corporations, against the rich getting richer (which both Trump and Clinton are a part of) and the poor getting poorer.
4. The polls show, in a race between Trump and a Democrat, Bernie Sanders comes out ahead of Clinton. That in itself is enough to vote for him.
5. People say Hillary has experience. Next to Bernie Sanders, she doesn’t compare. He’s been in public office for over 35 years. Check his record and you’ll see from everyone running, Bernie Sanders is the best choice for President of the United States. He gets my vote.
Some trips go without a hitch, others are a disaster.
When Patrick and I left in January to go see my mom we were optimistic that our trip would be as smooth as the one we took to Asia. There’s a saying in France, Les jours se suivent, mais ils ne se ressemblent pas. The days follow one another, but no two are alike. Well the same can be said about trips.
Hurry, we’re going to be late!
Patrick and I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We made our way slowly toward the ticket counter where we were stopped by security to answer a few questions. No problem, this was routine. When Patrick showed his French passport, they wanted to see his ESTA.
“We don’t need a visa to go to the States.” Patrick and I told them.
“No, but you do need an ESTA.” the security guy said.
Patrick and I looked at each other. “What’s an ESTA?”
How were we to know that travel to the US now requires a machine readable passport? The ESTA was so easy to do online, but without one we weren’t going anywhere. The problem was Patrick hadn’t renewed his American passport, but we hadn’t worried about it. We figured he would just use his French passport instead. It was a good thing he brought along his expired American passport because the people there were extremely understanding and helpful.
Who knew? We sure didn’t.
Long story short, they waivered the ESTA for him and let him fly on his expired American passport for one day. The only problem was, by the time we got all that straightened out, we had missed our flight from Paris to Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. The airline personnel at American were as nice as could be and they got us on a flight heading to Dallas instead with a connection to Pittsburgh.
When we arrived in Dallas, we went through customs and no surprise Patrick was stopped for flying on an expired passport. He was carted off to one of the offices and I followed. When we explained the entire situation, they weren’t too happy, but they let us go with a warning to Patrick.
“You need to get your US passport renewed ASAP! Understand?”
Yes siree, Bob, that was the first thing we were going to do once we got to Pittsburgh. I passed through security without a hitch, but for some reason Patrick set off the alarm and was subject to a pat down. I waited on the other side and decided to go sit down and wait.
Nope, that’s not Patrick. He was on the side being patted down.
Wouldn’t you know, I bent down to tie my snow boots and when I looked up Patrick was gone. I went over to security and was told he left. I looked everywhere for him, but he had disappeared. According to Patrick, he didn’t see me bent over tying my shoe laces, so he assumed I went running to the gate to let them know he was on his way.
No, our smart phones were of no service to us, as I had tried calling him without any luck. If you know the DFW airport, you know you have to take a train to get from an international gate to a domestic one. After walking all over the place without finding him, I left for the connecting gate.
Patrick who hadn’t seen me at the gate took the train back to where I was so we kept crisscrossing one another on the trains. Bottom line, we missed our connecting flight out of Dallas. Again the employees at American were helpful and they placed us on the first flight leaving for Pittsburgh early the next day.
Our bed for the night.
The way things were going, we weren’t about to take any chances of going to a hotel and getting stuck in traffic the next morning. Oh no, we decided to camp out all night in front of our gate. We did go to TGIF and ordered a frozen margarita for me and a beer for Patrick and had something to eat. When we got back to our gate we saw a bunch of cots and blankets for people to sleep on, so we found ourselves a quiet corner and went to snooze. Sleep we did not.
Hmm, I think that black one on top is mine.
The next day we finally arrived in Pittsburgh tired, but happy to be there. However, my luggage was nowhere to be found. When it was tracked, I was told my suitcase was still in Paris because we hadn’t gotten on the first flight we had been scheduled for. At least Patrick had his. Then too, we had left balmy Paris for the cold winter weather that is common in Pennyslvania in January. I got sick and ended up with a bad cold. Thankfully, I didn’t give to my mom, but I did give it to Patrick and then a few days later my brother Bob caught it as well. So our first week there was spent in bed and away from my mum so she wouldn’t get sick.
Cancelled. No one is going anywhere. —God
Patrick was scheduled to return to Paris before me. The day he was suppose to leave was the day the blizzard came through the Northeast and thousands of flights were cancelled. It was deja-vu all over again. There was no way he was going to fly from Pittsburgh to Philly and then on to Paris, but I finally managed to get him on a flight from (yes, you guessed it) Pittsburgh to Dallas and then on to Paris.
Maya Muses: Bottom line, 37 hrs for a 7 hour flight, 3 missed planes, 1 lost suitcase, and 1 lost husband for 2 hours. My return to Paris I’m happy to say was without hassle. Would I do it again the way it happened? You bet I would, the time I spent with my mum was priceless.
Lunch with some of the family at a Mexican restaurant.
Another Mexican restaurant with mum, my aunt Dolores and me. (We love our margaritas!)
Photo Credits: Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and Personal Photos
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and hoping that yours is filled with peace, love & happiness, and most of all, you’re able to share your day with those you love, near and far, if only in spirit. Joyeux Noël.
It seems my blog has become more of a phlog lately and it’s not a bad thing, just different. I mean why spend hundreds of words describing my adventures when photos will do it for me.
Candles and flowers for those who died at Bataclan.
After our trip to the south of France to see Jackie and Gégé at the end of September, it seems like we haven’t stopped. First of all, we went to pay our respects to those who lost their lives at Bataclan.
Patrick put out a flag from our office window.
I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with a market class at Cookn’ With Class. Patrick was the chef and it was a lot of fun. He gives quite an interesting lecture about all the different seasonal produce you can find at the street market and then everyone decides what they would like to eat and make for dinner back at the school.
Patrick entertaining the class.
You not only watch, but you get to cut, chop, and cook along with the chef before sitting down to eat your 4 course meal. It’s the second time I’ve gone and it was as much fun as the first. The bottles of wine are a plus.
Not turkey, but it was yummy!
A gorgeous hotel/resort in Bretagne.
A few days after Thanksgiving we took off for Brittany to surprise a friend for her birthday. Jackie hadn’t a clue that her family and friends were all literally going to the end of the Earth for her. Her son, Laurent, owns a 4-star hotel in the region of France called Finistère which is latin for, well you guessed it, end of the Earth.
Our lovely hotel room.
Patrick getting acquainted with his surroundings.
The view from our window.
Laurent, had asked her to go spend the weekend so they could have a little party for her birthday. Then she found out that the hotel was full and she couldn’t stay there, but had to get a room several hundred kilometres away. Needless to say, she was a little miffed and clueless that over 50 people were traveling to her son’s hotel and he had booked all the rooms.
When is Jackie going to get here?
The birthday girl finally arrives.
Anyway, everyone was there and when she finally walked in, she was taken completely by surprise. Laurent and his wife Sandrine, and Jackie’s daughter, Christelle, had done a marvelous job of arranging everything.
Christelle, Jackie and Laurent with her birthday cake.
I would be remiss not to say anything about the hotel/resort. Laurent and Sandrine took an old abandoned village from the 1600s and converted it into a gorgeous resort. The old stone houses with the fireplaces, the wooden beams, etc., were kept intact as much as possible. Only the plumbing, heating, and electricity were modernized for the comfort of their guests. My photos don’t do the place justice, I would suggest going to their website and seeing for yourselves how truly beautiful it is. Les Moulins du Ducs
A seafood tray for each table at lunch!
Dinner time with friends, what could be better?
We spent hours at the table eating and drinking. Laurent, who’s also the chef in his kitchen along with his brigade outdid themselves. From 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm we had a wonderful lunch and then by 7:00 pm we were gathered once again in the large salon for cocktails and amuse-bouches. By 8 pm we were seated once more for dinner that went on until 1 am. Everything was wonderful.
Stéphe, Jackie and Jos, the three sisters.
Someone with Polnareff, who could it be?
Patrick waiting for breakfast the next morning—hungry again?
If you’re looking for a place in France to relax surrounded by the natural beauty of Brittany, this is the place to do it. The food was wonderful and the scenery was simply beautiful.
Getting ready for our guest.
The very next day after we got home, I began putting up my Christmas tree and decorating the apartment for the holidays. It took 4 days to complete, but the result was well worth the time. We then began preparing for our Christmas party/sit-down dinner. Patrick took care of the menu; I did the table arrangements, music, and making my favorite holiday cookies. We said we’re getting too old for this, but when our guests were still having a good time at 3-4 am, we knew the party was a huge success once again.
I want some.
Soon after we got the apartment back to normal, we were already making plans for next year. Funny how quickly we forget all the work involved when we can share special moments with friends.
Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées.
Patrick and I went to the Champs-Elysées to see the Christmas lights and the marché de Noël as we do every year. We weren’t disappointed. The lights were a lot better than the past few years. The big ferris wheel has increased in size, but we still haven’t gone on. We keep telling ourselves one day we’ll get around to it. The market stalls have also increased in number, but there seems to be a lot more shops selling food and drinks than things to buy. I hear the Christmas market is better at la Défense, so we’ll have to go check that one out soon.
Fourme d’Ambert, a mild blue cheese I actually liked.
Is it time to eat again? I think so.
This past week, I did a Cheese & Wine Pairing class. We tried 5 different cheeses, a glass of champagne, and 4 different wines – 2 whites and 2 reds. I hate blue cheeses and Roquefort, but Preston, the wine expert, told me I would love the blue cheese he chose. I never say I hate something unless I at least try it once, so I gave it a go and I have to say I really did like the cheese. Fourme d’Ambert is a blue cheese, but quite mild in taste. Patrick loves blue cheese and Roquefort, so he now has one blue he can buy that I won’t mind eating.
Who wants macarons…
when you can have petits choux.
Mmm! This was my choice of little cream puffs.
Two days later I did a Paris Gourmet Tour with a few people from the Cheese & Wine Pairing class and from the market class. We visited some of the gourmet places that are a must. We then went back to the Cookn’ With Class school and had a light lunch with the goodies we got from the different shops we visited. We had a dry wine with lunch and a sweet wine to go with our desserts. Yep, we had more than one! All in all, it was great fun.
A vin chaud in Montmartre.
Walking around the quartier and listening to good music.
After lunch, I called an old friend that I’ve known for over 30 years. Marie-Agnès happens to live in the same neighborhood as the cooking school. We met and walked around Montmartre the rest of the afternoon and were entertained by three jazz musicians. We stopped to have a drink at a café before I headed home after a long day.
Time to shop before it’s too late.
Maya Muses: I haven’t even begun my Christmas shopping and to think Christmas Eve is only 3 days away. The weather has been warm, too warm for this time of year. A few days ago it was 17 C (61 F) in Paris and warmer in London than it was in Madrid. That’s a first I think. I don’t know if it’s El Niño or global warming. Either way, it’s a little disconcerting.
Hope everyone is ahead of me with their Christmas shopping!