Bonjour de Paris! (part deux)

Hmm, where was I? Ah yes. After drooling at the windows of Le Notre for a mere 2-3 minutes (and this was going on 15 hours since my last meal) I wandered around the Le Marais neighborhood for a bit, past Place des Vosages, pictured here.

While I'm in Paris, I decided I'd like to check out the craftsy places here as well so Wednesday morning I googled a whole bunch of them, and plotted their distance from touristy places and things I was planning to visit.

This is L'entre des Fournisseurs, on 8 rue des Francs Bourgeois, right down the road from Place des Vosages in the3rd arrondisment. It's a gorgeous shop but they had mostly knitting stuff and fabrics with only 1 table of cross stitch. Bummer. I didn't get anything besides their business card and this photo of the exterior.

I then backtracked somewhat since I wasn't sure where my next stop was... I ended up finding this completely wonderful secret garden, accessed by a completely innocuous door at one corner of Place des Vosages.

I finally found Victor Hugo's house... it was okay, but I wish there was more stuff on the walls explaining his life. Especially because he's not so important historically that the average visitor is likely to know his life story in detail. I didn't even know what century he lived in, and completely forgot he was French until I found his house in the guidebook. The house was pretty and had lots of interesting features and artwork, but I wouldn't recommend a visit because it's not very informative or educational.

After VH's place, I decided to skip the next bit of Frommer's walking tour and cut right to the chase, Rue de Roissy, aka the Jewish quarter. After poking around some shops, I ended up at a kosher (cacher en francais) falafel place. I made such a rookie mistake though and didn't order falafel. Note to self: ALWAY ORDER THE FALAFEL in a fal. I thought I was getting shish kebab in a pita, but ended up with pita and sausage - and it tasted like rubbery turkey sausage, too! It was a good sandwich minus the sausages, but in the future always follow rule #1. Falafel is soooo good, why mess with it?

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Paris and doing a little souvenir shopping. At about 6:30 I found myself halfway across Paris from where I was supposed to be meeting Josephine (the friend I'm staying with), and with the strike I wasn't sure if taking the metro at a peak time was a good idea... so I tried out this Velib thing. It is absolutely the best thing about Paris, we NEED to get the same thing going in New York! You'd worry about riding a bicycle in such a big city and on the same road as so many cars... but in Paris there are tons of bicyclists these days, and they travel clumped together in packs somewhat... so if I was on a busy street and worried about car traffic, I'd just pull over and wait a moment for another pack of bikes to come along, and then tag along with them. It was great!

Josephine & I went out for dinner to an Italian place near place d'Italie. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Today I had lunch with Jeanine and her husband Guy. Jeanine is my second cousin once removed - her dad is my mom's dad's first cousin. Long story short, when my grandparents & great grandparents were being persecuted by various European peoples everyone scattered to wherever they could... and some cousins ended up in France. This was my first time seeing Jeanine & Guy in 10 years, they visited NYC when I was about 14 years old and I think they stayed with us for a couple of days.

Jeanine & Guy's apartment is in a suburb of Paris, but it's apparently in the same direction out of town as Josephine's flat, so with the Metro strike making central Paris difficult at best they decided to meet me at Josephine's. Turns out Guy used to work in the area and knew of a restaurant nearby. I don't have a clue where we went, and it wasn't fancy or anything, but the food was AMAZING.

After lunch I caught a metro to the Arc de Triumph and walked down Rue Faubourg St Honore to window shop. That's the street with all the designers. I still have no appreciation for expensive designer clothing despite the best efforts of Project Runway, but I can at least recognize the brand names thanks to my job - all the major designers these days have at least 1 fragrance, if not a fragrance empire like Chanel or Hermes. Managed to get some chanukah shopping out of the way at Herve Chapelier where I found a nice purse for my mom. I wandered around a bit more, used Velib again (love it), and then met Josephine for dinner at a restaurant called Hippopotamus near Gare du Nord. It's a nice Parisian restaurant chain, I'd go back and even recommend it.

Today was the least Thanksgiving-y Thanksgiving day ever. Not only does noone in Paris know what Thanksgiving is or what a pilgrim is, but I'm staying with a Brit who also doesn't know from such things. Thank goodness for bloggers, I've been reading all about other peoples' celebrations and living vicariously through them. I also spoke to my mom on the phone, she's having Thanksgiving at the house (as usual) so she has to get ready, but still called to say hi :-)

Today I'm Thankful for my family, my friends (especially friends that let me visit them in fun places like Paris for a week), my ability to go on this trip, and my country/culture for having holidays about being thankful. I think it's one of the better reasons to have a holiday.


Bonjour de Paris!

Monday night/Tuesday is something of a blur... all I'll say is, considering that one has no toilletries while flying with which to make onesself look less terrifyingly gruesome, the absolute least that British Airways/Heathrow could do is give us real life paper towels in the restrooms instead of hot air! How else am I supposed to splash water on my face & wipe it off? Thank goodness for my inherent packratism and the spare paper napkin from breakfast.

The flights were decent otherwise. I watched Nancy Drew and even though I really liked it, I fell asleep for the last 10 minutes - argh! I need to find out how that ends on my way home. I only got 3 hours sleep but managed to make it through to my friend's apartment, and just an hour or so later than planned (long story).

France is big on having strikes, and this week it's the public transportation. This doesn't mean that all trains have stopped running, but now instead of normal service they have something akin to regular NYC weekend schedules - trains every 20 minutes - with crowds typical of rush hour in NYC - at all hours. Needless to say the metro wasn't an option with all my luggage - I hopped a cab - but since then we've been taking the metro no problem. Best of all, due to the strike it's free :) So far I haven't seen any crazy rioters - just a normal-for-NYC amount of crazies (1) and bomb-sniffing dogs (2). All in all, the metro on strike gets a B+ from me.

Yesterday (due mostly to my airport-related tardiness) we didn't have time to do much more than drop off my suitcases before Jo and I were off to my first experience of the metro. Jo works as a translator and luckily has very flexible hours, which she was able to rearrange quite a bit so we could hang out while I'm in Paris. Anyways, we took the Metro to Place D'Italie - no transfers thank goodness! - and I chilled at the mall while she went and did her work thing nearby. I tended to fall asleep if I sat down, a big no for a street-savvy, pickpocket wary new yorker, so I got very well aquainted with the mall and its environs. My shopping was limited to a grocery store where I couldn't resist a baguette, and I even found some kosher wines in a special cacher (=kosher) section! I bought 2 bottles of beaujolais nouveau, thinking one could be a souvenir for my wine afficianado middle brother... I just tried the second bottle, and I think I'll look for a different vintage for him.

Today I got a late start, spent some time googling places to stop along my way, and took the Metro down to Bastille for my walking tour of le Marais.

They tore down the fortress, but Place de la Bastille is still there, alond with the Juillet (July) column. Don't ask me what it's commemorating, my guidebook knows. The statue at the top is very pretty.

My next stop was a little square across from this store... I'm still not sure what the fuzzy white towers are for (the white is *snow* on faux pine-bough walls), but they looked weird & pretty - so I took a picture.


Monday update (II)

It's been a busy week since last Wednesday, so bear with me while I get you up to speed.

Wednesday night was the return of Project Runway! I usually don't like reality shows, but PR has difficult challenges, but nothing meant to humiliate or disgust people. Plus I love Tim Gunn, and Heidi Klum, and I even like Michael Kors. I've been a fan since Season 1 and it's been a while since season 3, so Wednesday's premiere was long-awaited - and it was worth it. I can't wait to see what design challenges they come up with this season.

Thursday I worked from home to get away from the construction at the office. Of course, it was pretty rainy all day so they probably weren't doing much work, but it was nice to be home. Some people came to fix our radiators. Unless it got REALLY cold out the radiators in the western side of the house didn't give off heat. I didn't mind - I love the cold - but it's probably not good for heating bills and such. So a plumber came and replaced a valve or something in 4 rooms and now the house is a decent temperature all over.

I picked up 2 pieces from the framer - the SamSarah snowmen design whose picture I posted ages ago, and a black-and-white design from Funk and Weber called Night Howl. Of course I forgot to take pictures of them but they came out great, I'll try to post some later. I love the job this framer does. Now if only it wasn't so expensive to frame them :-(

After the framer I had time for a quick stop at the not-so-local NS on my way out for the evening. I found 2/3 of the threads I was missing for the BC snappers - did I mention that I'm flying through the October block? I also found a nice Prairie Schooler pattern called Farmer's Alphabet that's going in my stitching rotation once I finish the Mirabilia fairy.

Friday morning we had a big departmental meeting - about 200 or 300 people - about how the company did last year and our goals for next year. Yawn, but at least there was breakfast. Apparently one of the projects that I'm working on with SF is being touted throughout the company as a major new initiative, so I'm going to pay closer attention to detail and make sure everything's perfect - big brother is watching!

JS stayed by me for Shabbos, she works on Disney on Ice and the show was at Nassau Coliseum last week so it was easier for her to stay by me than to schlepp back into the city. We caught up on sleep, and 2 friends walked over for lunch Saturday.

JS hooked me up with discounted tickets to High School Musical the Ice Tour, so Sunday afternoon my mom and I took my aunt, uncle, and 3 younger cousins. The three of them liked the movies, and they absolutely loved the ice show. So did the rest of us. The skaters are really, really, really good, and the movies adapted very well into the new format. The entire story of HSM1 was the first act, then there was an intermission, and HSM2 was the second half. HSM2 was better, and it's funny but some of the songs did better on ice than in the movies (most notably Troy's solo song). I have some pics, but I'll have to find them and post them later.

Last night instead of packing for my trip I flipped between the Princess Diaries and National Treasure and hand felted my monster hat. It went okay, I think the next time will go better - I've learned some best practices. I really felted it a lot but the hat was so huge to begin with that it came out a little too big, but maybe I'll felt it more when I get back from my trip.

Pics will have to go up later as I'm leaving for the airport in a bit over an hour to go to Paris for a week. BIG HD :) I'm going to visit an old friend from when I lived in London - old meaning we've been friends for 20+ years, we're both quite young. Actually we're a cross between penpals and friends because we were friends when we were very young, and since then have mostly emailed, imed or facebook-messaged to stay in touch with only one or two visits. I'm really looking forward to seeing both her and Paris again - big HD :)

Any suggestions on craftsy or cross stitchy places to visit in Paris? I've been and plan to return to Bonheurre des Dames, but I'm always interested in others too. Please feel free to leave comments with recommendations with what to do/where to go on my trip, I have 5 days and I've seen the highlights on past trips, so this visit I can spend some time hitting interesting/quirky sights/shops/cafes.

Gotta run, ttys!


Felting's not as eco-friendly as I'd imagined...

I woke up extra early yesterday so that I could pop my laundry in before work, since I was dangerously low on options. Well I'd been meaning to toss my hat in - the knitted hat I posted - in order to felt it, but I completely forgot it. Mornings are so not my thing, I end up forgetting tons of stuff I *meant* to do the night before. Turns out it was for the best though, when I got home last night I googled up some felting instructions, and apparently it's not as simple as just tossing it in the laundry... You need to put it in the machine by itself and after the water gets poured in, and then run the agitation part of the cycle a few times. It seemed very wasteful of both water and electricity, all to felt a little hat that probably won't even turn out right! Plus the odds of me getting the washing machine settings right (and that my mom would let me try it with her machine) are very bad. So I found some hand felting instructions, and tonight I'm sit watch the new Project Runway with a bucket of water and some sort of stirring implement. Wish me luck!

Last week for my birthday I met up with some friends for dinner & karaoke. My friend JS (the one who's getting married) was so funny, I don't even think that knitting came up in conversation but she turns to me at dinner and says, "You know Kim, I have a neck that gets cold." My response was like, "what the heck are you talking about?" and then she explained - "Make me a scarf!". It was the funniest way I've ever gotten a request like that.

JS likes blues and purples, so I found a pretty blue yarn with purple highlights. While I was at AC Moore I found this eyelash yarn for $1 a skein(!), so I bought some in silver and I'm using both. I'm doing a basic k2 p2 ribbing about 12 inches wide, and so far I've done about 8 inches. It's very sparkly and I'll try to post a picture for you tonight.

In other news, I signed up for a new needlepoint meetup. Needlepoint is far inferior to cross stitch, mostly because it's so mindless and exorbitantly expensive, but I dabble. I'm hoping that after the first session or two I can bring some other needlecraft projects to work on instead. To that end, I think I'm teaching the meetup organizer to knit. :-D

Backtracking to Monday's post, in the end I didn't get/make anything for the friend that I saw Monday night but over dinner I figured out what I'm going to make her - a beaded hair clip thingie - and I'll probably just give it to her for Chanukah instead of her birthday.



Construction destruction

The company I work for is doing expanding the building I work in, and whatever they're working on today is making the entire building vibrate. Every so often we get the odd rumble and shake thrown in for good measure. I'm hoping the construction doesn't destroy the rest of the building, it's shaking a LOT. I need to find a way to work from home the rest of the week!

On the plus side, I now know what to expect an earthquake to feel like.

I got a lot of stitching done this weekend. I finished the backstitching on my unnamed project and only have the saying and the border left to stitch. I think I've backed myself into a corner with some of my thread & color substitutions so I put it back in the wip pile. Instead I picked up the BC month snappers.

My only *finish* for the weekend was this is the hat I knitted with the Bernat felting yarn that I found at A.C. Moore the other day. It's my first *real* felting project, so I don't have high expectations for how it turns out.

I need to think of a very quick birthday gift for a friend of my mom's, I just heard that we're going to dinner with her tonight. Any suggestions? Hmm, maybe she'd like an oversized pink hat ;-)



Monday update

My grandma is home as of Friday and doing better by the day.

Last night dinner was with my other grandparents - Mom's side. They're also getting older in fun and funny ways, and the reactions of the rest of the family are equally comical. For example, there was Bison on the menu, I think in the form of Bison burgers. Grandma was trying to explain that deer are kosher, but she kept saying reindeer. It's that time of year I guess. Mom & C were having a hard time explaining the difference, so they decided to demonstrate. Apparently the universal sign for reindeer is this:

Yup, that's my mom. In a restaurant. It's okay, the rest of our group was the same or worse.

My aunt & uncle came with one of their kids, and they were very late - like an hour late. Like we waited for them, ordered and finished a bottle of wine, waited some more, ordered soup, ate soup, cleared soup, and still got to wait some more. That's typical for them, not due to clock changes. It didn't ruin the rest of our night or anything, actually we had more fun waiting and drinking, so they just missed out. But some people would've been less okay with the wait, and the restaurant might've gotten mad if it had been a busier night. Hopefully their new daughter in law will get them on the right track.

At the end of dinner we did the happy birthday thing. Grandpa can't have cake, so they stuck a candle in 1/2 a cantaloupe for him! It was funny.

Mom came into the city with me today so that we could go to a sample sale. I usually don't wear a jacket unless it's below 45 degrees or I'm walking around Manhattan, but I've been told by my dad and my more fashion-conscious brother that it looks funny not to wear a coat in the winter. So today we went shopping; I bought a puffy jacket and a lighter, wool jacket that will look good over work slacks. Now I have to remember to start wearing them :-( I'll try to post a pic later.

The Michael's trip yesterday was a success - they still had the color I needed. Now I've got to finish stitching the project so I can get back to my regularly scheduled stitching.

Time to get back to work. Have a good evening!


Another quick post...

I just finished up all the work I had to do today, and we're going out to dinner for my grandfather's and my brithday tonight, so this will have to be quick. My grandfather and I share a birthday of November 6th - election day this year :-) Usually my mom makes dinner at the house but this year we're going out to dinner. I'll let you know how that goes, but it should be fun.

This is the package I received in the mail yesterday from Mary Kathryn as part of my first exchange. I don't know how she did it, but she picked the perfect pattern for me - green is my favorite color, and after my trips to Scotland I really like thistles. The squares are beautiful. She also sent some linen, pretty green and purple silk to stitch with, and a care package from Celestial Seasonings. It was a great way to start off the week of my birthday, especially since none of my family support my craft hobbies.

Last night I went to see Bee Movie with my aunt C. Despite the overload of commercials and promos and all the hype, it was actually a great movie, very funny. There were multiple problems with the projector though, so don't go see it at Fresh Meadows. I can knit in the dark (and without looking) so I brought my hat to work on and finished almost an entire ball of yarn, which only made the night more fun. It also kept me from eating much popcorn. Hmm, I should start marketing the knitting diet...

Over this weekend I got very far on the-project-I'm-not-supposed-to-have-started, per my rotation and stithching goals that is, but now I'm out of one of the Kreinik colors I'm using. For those of you keeping score at home, that's right: I used up an entire roll of thread in under a week on this project. Luckily when I was in Michael's last Tuesday I saw that the color I need is one of the 3 that they have in stock, so I'm going to run over there and pick it up before dinner. But that means signing off, getting dressed post haste and dashing. So I'll have to owe you a longer post later.

Here's hoping that none of us run out of supplies in the middle of a project today, and
a good week to all.



Family stuff

I don't celebrate Halloween, so I don't have anything grand to post about on that end. Beatrice blogged about a piece she worked on with her mom, which started me thinking about family and crafting. Plus it's 1am, so this is going to be a very random post...

I learned how to knit because of and from my maternal grandma. When I was 11, my cousin and I spent the summer with my grandparents at a bungalow colony in the Catskills. My grandmother and her friends there used to sit in the shade of a pine tree and knit, crochet, and needlepoint, so before I spent the summer I asked my grandma to teach me how to knit, so that I could sit with the ladies and work on a project of my own. That summer Grandma and I knitted sweater vests for each of my 2 brothers... I'd work on one, and Grandma would zoom past me on the other, and then after a while we'd swap to even them out. That was also the summer I started calling the ladies there the Scary Ladies, since they all yelled a lot (they were hard of hearing), but at least the knitting part worked out :)

I didn't keep up with the knitting past that summer, but picked it back up in high school on a fluke. Soon after, my grandmother on my dad's side decided one day that I needed to learn how to crochet too. After one afternoon I'd learned all my stitches and we'd crocheted very non-functional orange-and-green purse. She lived (still lives) near my house, and we used to get together to crochet every once in a while. She made the nicest chenille pillows for her couches, and of course finished them herself. Grandma is old school, she can sew and everything.

I got my start cross stitching in the most random manner possible - a class at the library's after-school program for middle and high school students. I was in middle school. It took forever to finish that project, but it's one of the few things I've actually framed and hung on my walls (the rest languish in a stack).

My mom and aunts all learned how to knit, but it never stuck. I think my Aunt E even tried cross stitching once - she showed me her half-finished project - but she is definitely not a cross stitcher. Maybe crafting skips a generation in my family? My cousin I, who lives in Fairfax, VA, started cross stitching this past year, so when I go visit her this month or next the plan is to have a stitching marathon. And of course go shopping - can you believe she has like 5 stores in her area? My LNS is 45 minutes away!

My mom called me at work at around 1 o'clock today (Thursday) to say that Grandma (my dad's mom) fell, broke her wrist, and was in the ER with my mom. She didn't need me to rush over there or anything, it wasn't serious and my mom was with her, but I should stop by after work. Grandma is in her upper 80's, and her short term memory isn't working well at all. I caught up to her in the hallway, as she was waiting to get checked into a real room for an overnight stay *for observation*. My uncle had gone home, and she was just chilling out but very out of it. Her arm was wrapped loosely, but when asked where she was the answer was not "the hospital". The nurses and other assorted staff were very nice, they told me what was going on, moved her into the new room, and got Grandma all set up.

A little backround:
Up until about a year ago, whenever my cousins, brothers and I would go visit Grandma in her apartment we'd always have ice cream, that was the routine. She always had like 8-10 different flavors, sprinkles, and cherries - Grandma is German, so she does everything meticulously. And don't even think about politely refusing, the only option was 3 servings or just 2.

It's sad that Grandma probably won't remember much from today, and was very disoriented, thinking that she was at home. She also forgot that her wrist was broken. A couple of times. But it was really sweet that she kept offering the hospital staff (and me) some ice cream.