Thursday, September 28, 2017

Exploring the Bourgogne (Burgundy) Region in France--Post 7 of 9

J in the Beaune market
The sun is shining again today when we left to drive to Beaune which is located at the center of the winemaking in the Bourgogne (Burgundy) Region. The city has huge annual wine auction held in the fall and we saw the area where it is held. Near this building is a 15th century hospital which is now a museum. It had the most interesting slate roof. Also, there are a number of colorful geometric tiled roofs! (I missed getting a photo of these though!)

 When we arrived, there was a market going on in the town square so of course we had to check it out! There were table cloths and linens for sale at several vendors; but, each vendor's stock was different. You could purchase soaps, olives, chilies, bags, breads, cheeses and of course wine!
The tile floor design in the bathroom--
It sure looks "quilt-like!"
I noticed two children's clothing stores, but, they were closed for lunch. So we went for lunch and after lunch we shopped at that store. (Remember lunch takes two to three hours!!! The locals enjoy their lunches too so many business close over the lunch period.) We purchased two cute dresses for the grands. M purchased several gifts as well.

J thought that he had made reservations for lunch at a particular restaurant; but, when we arrived, we found out we didn't have reservations. Fortunately, the staff recommended another restaurant nearby and made reservations for us. Lunch at Jardin des Remparts ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. We didn't know until we googled where we had been that we had eaten at a one star Michelin restaurant!

This was the set menu:
Starters: Burgundy Snails Ball, Fried Garlic Butter or Tomato Salad in gelatin with a light mayonnaise dressing.
Main: Chuck Beef cooked 48 hours in a red wine sauce with light mashed potatoes or Salmon with Asparagus spears and cream sauce
Cheese: Light Sheep Yogurt with Wild Herbs
Dessert: Blackcurrant Cream, Shortbread, Gingerbread Ice-cream or Raspberry Soufflé and Cottage Cheese Ice-cream

Blackcurrant cream foreground
Amuse Bouch center
Raspberry souffle background
Once we ordered we were given a quartet of amuse bouche. Three of the four offerings lived up to tantalizing our tastebuds. One. . .well, we couldn't remember what it was; but, none of us found it favorable! Those of us who chose the snails as the starter were wowed; both in presentation and taste! Later, we found out this was a signature dish of the restaurant! It was a first for B to eat snails and he thought that this dish was one of the best of the trip. M liked her tomato salad.

For the mains, M enjoyed the salmon, the rest of us enjoyed the beef. It was the potatoes that were more cream and cheese than potato that made the beef really delicious though! We all thought that the cheese yogurt was a little too light and would have been better with more sauce and actual cheese chunks. The desserts were both over the top wonderful. The soufflé was so light and area and at the bottom of the dish was a little raspberry sauce which coupled with the cottage cheese ice-cream was amazing. The blackcurrant cream on shortbread with Gingerbread Ice-cream was wonderful too! We also received another savoring of amuse bouche and this time, we loved it all! YES. . . .it took us probably three hours to have lunch and it didn't "feel" that long at all!

The wine we purchased--all for gifts

When we received our receipt, we also received a box that contained two little cakes. . .another WOW!!! What an incredible experience and yes, the wine and bread was wonderful too!

After lunch and shopping, we drove to a huge wine tasting venue that N was excited about visiting. N described what she wanted to taste. We tasted three white wines. Unfortunately, that was all we tasted. Our staff representative who had been friendly and helpful, disappeared. When we inquired about tasting the other specific wines, we were told that we could taste something "comparable," but, not the actual wine that we had inquired about. J had quite a discussion with the staff person which changed nothing. I have noted that sometimes in France, one can be treated "differently." I'm not sure if that has to do with being an American or if it has to do with not fitting into the "box" that the business has set up for the customer. In Oregon, we live in an area where we can visit many vineyards and taste the products too! We left this picture book establishment.

The rules of the different games
The front of the game box
As we drove down the hill, we saw a sign for wine tasting so we stopped. It was a small tasting room, staffed with one person who also took payments in another part of the building! This winery only sold wines that were produced in the area. We learned that a particular level/rating of wine that was highly touted at the former establishment was not available for sale because they weren't produced in the area!

The game board
We tasted wine, talked about wine and repeated that sequence a number of times.  Pricing at this location was easily $20 euros less per bottle than the prices were on top.  Service was terrific!
We purchased wine and complimented her on how well she conveyed her knowledge to us. On our way out, J commended the staff person on her wonderful service and recounted a bit of the reception we had received up the hill. Her eyes grew wide when he shared some of the differing selling points we had learned top side. Then a happy smile lit up her face when he shared how many bottles we had purchased which was none!

We drove back to Tavaux and dropped M off at the family home and visited the SuperU (grocery store) for a few supplies for our trip back to Paris the following day. I wanted a little finishing salt, a jar of rillettes de canard to bring to Oregon. The rillettes de canard is delicious on a toasted baguette!

When we returned to the family home, M had dinner prepared--as if we needed another meal! We enjoyed her green salad, stuffed tomatoes, potato salad, ham, sliced meats, bread, cheese and wine.

After dinner M introduced me to Marabelle--this game was her parents'! She won quickly and I had to take a photo of the board and of the box because of how many different games one could play and M knew them all although this seemed to be her favorite. She probably thought me to be crazy that I was so interested in the story behind the game and box!

Then she and N played checkers. They each won a game and we celebrated their draw with champagne and chocolate!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pillow Cases--3rd Finish for Third Quarter Finish Along ( FAL) 2017

Close up of pieced band
As I write this post, the chicken is drying. . .it is not without issues. . .a red fabric bled onto a white fabric. Yes, I had rinsed all the blocks as I had finished each block to check just for this very issue. Synthropol didn't have much if any effect on the area. Dawn dish detergent helped lighten it; but, it is still evident to me that there was a problem there. Oh and there are other bleeding spots. Those areas are smaller. I'm sad; but, I plan to still finish and enjoy the quilt. I'm thinking about applying some paint to that area to see if the bleeding will be less evident.

This morning, I wrote most of the label. Then I tried to remember what fabrics I had planned for the facing and hanging sleeve. As I was looking at the fabrics, I remembered that I had planned to stitch a couple pillow cases from the extra chicken fabric as one of my Finish-A-Long goals for the third quarter of the year. You can read about my list here. 

Originally, I had purchased the feather fabric to be the binding the chicken; but, it was just too whimsical. I do plan to use a piece of it for the sleeve. When I cut the fabrics, I wanted the feathers to be up and down around the pillow case band. Unfortunately, the print went the other way and I only had a yard of fabric. You need 40 inches of fabric for the band. So I pieced it. I found that the print wasn't all that straight; but, I managed to get enough width.

Two finished pillow cases
It didn't take long to stitch the two pillow cases and perhaps, tomorrow, the chicken will be dry enough to stitch the facing. I sure would like to finish that project before the end of the month! One pillow case I'll give away and the other will house the chicken when it isn't hanging on the wall.

This is finish number three for the quarter. (Last quarter I only managed one finish so I'm definitely doing better this time!) These pillow cases were goal number 10 on the list.

I used two yards of fabric from my stash to make these pillow cases. I used one quarter of a yard from my stash to piece the back of the crib quilt I posted about here. I used a yard of fabric to stitch Miss K's halter dress. This brings the total of fabric used from my stash to 30 and one quarter yards this year. My goal is to use 50 yards. I'm getting there! :)

If you would like to participate in the FAL, go to this link and follow the directions. The first of October you will be able to post your intentions! I get inspired with the projects that others post and having a list helps me to keep working on those projects that have been in process in my sewing space!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chickens--on the Home Stretch

A sample of the French knots
I did finish stitching the leaves and stitching the brown vine where the leaves crossed over it. There were a lot of stops and starts which meant that I spent some time burying threads!

Next was stitching French knots in 50 grapes!
The purple perle cotton thread that I used to form the knots was a "gift" from a friend from my water aerobics class who said she "didn't need it laying about taking up space!" There was also an equal amount of green perle cotton which may speak to another project at some point!

Let me share with you, stitching French knots through three layers was a challenge and hard on my hands. It took me many sessions to finally stitch all the grapes. I like how you only notice them when you are close to the quilt. I also like the texture the knot created. I had about 18 inches of perle cotton left when I finished so I claim that the thread truly was destined for this project!
One of 16 flowers to stitch

All the time that I was stitching French knots, burying threads from stitching the leaves and the brown vine, I was thinking how I was going to quilt the 16 flowers. I had stitched some lines in part of a flower. After I did it, I didn't like it; but, after looking at it after a few days, I decided that there were parts of the stitching that I did like.

Lesson learned, it is okay to leave some quilting stitches in over time to see if the design grows on you!
One completed flower

I won't bore you sharing all the flowers. I did quilt them similarly; but, they are all a little different.

I used an organic style of quilting. I often used the shape and/or the fabric print of the flower to guide my stitches. Yes, I used a ruler to quilt the inner most petal. When I was finished, I loved each one!

So what was left to do? The two borders!!!
Last May, I had decided that I would quilt overlapping curves over both borders. . .now, I wasn't feeling like that was the best treatment.

"Squared" border
Why? The reason was that I had not stitched a contrasting thread anywhere else on the quilt.
I decided that stitching the cream over black squares would be taking the "easy" way out and also it could point to that area of the quilt.

In the end, I decided to quilt each of the inch squares with an X design. Then I tightly quilted half the squares so I had some "shadow" as Cindy Needham calls it. I like the squares on point design that resulted. I like how I managed the corner. Quilting black thread on black fabric was challenging; but, I did it.

Note to self: I need to invest in some almost black thread!

Now, how hard is it going to be to quilt the last two and 1/4 inches of the outer border? I first quilted a curved and then echoed that curve.

My plan was to quilt straight lines in the outer edge. What to do on the inner edge became the next challenge!

To be so close to the quilting finish and be stuck is NOT fun.

Drawing some options
I tried stitching various curves. I tried drawing designs. I stitched. I ripped. I walked away for a time. Then I repeated all of the above. . .more times than I'll reveal!

The gentle curve ready for embellishment
I doodled a plan for the corner. It is important that you plan how your design is going to flow around the corners so don't forget to keep the corner design in the mix from the beginning. (Ahh yes, there was a project that I left the corners to the end. . .that is a story for another post!!!)

Sometimes, when I'm stuck with one area, playing/stitching in another area, helps me get unstuck!
Corner, inner curve and outer curve designs

I'll share the corner and what I chose for the inner part of the curve. I stitched more pebbles!! It wasn't what I had in mind; but, sometimes it is good to repeat a motif in the border to help tie all the parts together.

I'm stitching straight lines a quarter inch apart in the outer curve. Once I finish with the straight lines, I'll stitch that little section between the inner and outer border as it needs a little something. 

I hope that the next time I post about this project, you will see a finished quilt. . .I am that close to being able to stitch the facing!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Local Tour of Tavaux, France--post 6 of 9

It rained hard last night and the forecast for the day is to have showers throughout the day.  J's uncle, Jo picked us up after our toasted baguette breakfast. We said good bye to J's brother Ju and his partner S. They were driving to visit her family in Brittany before heading to their new home in Normandy. They expected the drive to be five to eight hours depending on the traffic!

J's uncle drove us around the farming area of Tavaux. We saw fields of corn, soy beans and hay. He talked about how some farmers are growing a plant that fabric is made from and I thought he was talking about linen; but, the plant didn't match. It probably took me about 20 minutes to figure out that what he was talking about and what I was seeing was hemp!

While we were seeing the lay of the land on dirt roads wide enough for one vehicle, Jo talked shared stories about the area. We didn't meet any traffic so passing wasn't an issue! On one such dirt road, Jo stopped and parked on top of a bridge. He explained that this little bridge was important back in the day because the Cleu river that flowed under the bridge divided the north from the south. This river wasn't wide. The bridge was small. Actually, the length of the bridge was about the length of the vehicle!

Jo said that in Celtic times there was a lot of fighting between the Heduens (Jura people) and the Sequanes (Burgundy people). In fact, there was so much fighting that one of the tribes asked the Romans for help. Julius Caesar even invaded the area! So the story was that as the fighting would break out and people would say do we want Caesar to come back?? Over the years, lots of antiques such as tools have been found along the river.

Showing the cheese we purchased
We drove to the chemical plant where plastics and chemicals are manufactured. This plant is the major employer in the area. Jo said that at the turn of the century there were over 100 farmers working farms in the area. Now there are three to five. Some of the farmland became homes for those employed at the chemical plant. Some of the original farm homes have been renovated into more modern homes. Jo pointed out that when he was a child, the farmer lived in part of the building and the other part of the building housed the animals and the farm equipment. The big doors of the animal/equipment part of the building often have been preserved in the remodel. As we drove through the older part of town, it was fun to see how the new owner preserved that part of the building.

Jo and his wife S live in a farm home that they renovated. It is also almost next door to his mom's home where he grew up! We dropped in for a short visit and we also saw their daughter's L and A with an appearance by A's eight year old daughter Ao! After a glass of Jura wine, we walked about 10 minutes to J's family home.

For lunch we had left over salad from the party and we had chicken that was supposed to be served at the party; but, it was decided that we had too much food so the chicken was saved for this meal.  In the afternoon, we went to Arbois and walked around the town. We bought Comte cheese at the cooperative cheese factory. Comte cheese resembles gruyere cheese; but, it is even better tasting!

For dinner, we had M's green salad and party leftovers. It was a delicious meal. We played poker in the evening and I think that M ended up with the most chips! Walked 2.2 miles.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

40th Birthday Party, French Style--Post 5 of 9

B slicing the ham and N arranging it on
a platter
M cooked most of the day. . .AGAIN! Her organization and preparation for this event while touring about the countryside with us is amazing! B sliced the ham, prepared mint leaves to accent the melon/cucumber salad and helped with table set up. I snipped mint, sliced potatoes and cut melons. Then M made the melon/cucumber/mint/yogurt starter. She and N carefully put the salad in individual glasses and I did my best to clean the edge of each glass. S decorated the "party room" (AKA the garage) with banners that M had received for her 40th birthday! N placed photos of J on all of the walls. The photos were terrific and quite the conversation piece throughout the evening.

For lunch, M served meat stuffed baked tomatoes, bread, rice and green salad. The tomatoes were almost too pretty to eat! (Eat them I did!) We also had a cheese course with melon for dessert. Yes, lunch takes a couple hours to eat!!

Early in the afternoon, we met J's uncle Ja and his wife Ni when they brought over chairs for the party. Ja likes riding a bicycle for fun like B does so we had a common topic to converse about after we had met.

M and Jo looking at B's fish photos with Ma and A
playing in the background
After the chairs were in place, J, N and I went to the bakery to pick up the cake and of course baguettes. J said the cake had a little crunch and contained white chocolate. The baguettes--there were about 10 of them--came in the largest brown paper sack that I have ever seen!

The party kicked off about 6:30PM and included a visit to J's dad's gravesite. His dad died a couple years ago. While at the cemetery, I met cousins, spouses of the cousins and a child. Most everyone speaks English and all were so welcoming!

View of the table between courses
The party started with rillettes du canard on a slice of baguette as well as some other types of appetizers and of course there was wine and toasts to J! I met more cousins, J's uncle Jo, his uncle's wife and another child! Have you noticed how many of J's family members' names begin with the letter J?

J's Grandma and Uncle Ja
After about half an hour, we moved from the patio to the garage and M, Ni and C began serving the courses. The melon salad was a hit.  (Not a hit for B though as he dislikes yogurt!) Next came trays of sliced meats.  Salad followed the meat.

There was a tray of salad that contained at least four different types of salad, M's green salad and Ni (Ja's wife) had made two types of lentil salads. The sliced ham also was served. The sliced baguettes and wine were plentiful too.  I guess I was eating and talking so much that I forgot all about taking photos!! (Thanks, B for sharing your photos!) I don't even have photos of the birthday boy blowing out his candles as I was too caught up in the festivities!

For the kids, Cl age 2, Ma age 3 and A age almost 8, they ate at their own special table. When they were through with that course, they played. Often, an aunt or an uncle would take a turn chasing, swinging them and after a bit, another aunt or uncle would take a turn. Then back to the table they went for the next course.

Singing a special tune to celebrate J's 40th birthday
We were gifted with three songs from J's grandmother. At 94, her voice is still clear and melodic. One of the songs that she sang was one her papa used to sing to her. Around this time it was around 10PM and the kids were snuggled in to bed.

The cheese course arrived and M served J's favorite cheeses and M served her green salad. I sat between C and Jo, J's aunt and uncle. Jo farmed his father's farm; but, has now turned over most of the farming operation to Je, his son. We still talked a lot about farming. My dad farmed so I know all about irrigating and harvesting a variety of crops. It was fun to compare notes!

The whole crew
Jo spoke more English than I French. My French vocabulary is increasing; but, I am so thankful for everyone's graciousness to speak all the English they know!

The cake was served about 1AM. Yes, there was champagne and special toasts to accompany the cake. The whole family sang happy birthday and then they sang a song to a popular tune with words that J's brother had written. It was delightful and we all laughed when a police car drove by just as they had finished singing!

The party broke up about 2:30 AM. Parents loaded their sleeping kids into car seats and drove away.  In the span of about 20 minutes, we were down to the seven of us. We all helped turn the party room back into a garage. The dishwasher was loaded several times during the evening and around 3 AM we all went to bed.

There was food and wine the entire time!  Wow!!! The joy and love each person brought to the party was evident. Being welcomed to be part of the interactions of loving and caring family was so special.  Thank you M and J!!! What a special birthday, J!!!!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Party Preparation in Tavaux, France--post 4 of 9

B figuring out the best plums were the ones on the ground
This morning, we picked plums from the trees and blackberries that grew outside J's family home.

The previous evening, M had gotten a serving bowl stuck inside another bowl and many solutions were tried to separate the two bowls to no avail!

So. . .B broke the inner bowl with a hammer. The amazing part was that while the inner bowl was broken, the outer bowl remained intact!
Ju and J with part of the blackberry picking

The blackberries were huge and plentiful! They were also beyond delicious!!!!

M made a plum tart from the plums. She artfully arranged the plums and sprinkled a little sugar on the top before baking it.

The berries were huge and sweet

I peeled potatoes for M's potato salad that would be served for the party. M peeled cucumbers for the salad she would be preparing tomorrow. She cooked a couple hams in boiling water all day.
Ju, M and J with tart preparation

Je is showing off his mom's beautiful tart
With 20 people coming for dinner, a lot of preparation is involved!

Neighbors have saved space in their refrigerators for the party so as dishes were prepared, J carted them off to the waiting refrigerator!

M shaving the thinnest slices of cucumber
as part of the starter tomorrow

For lunch M prepared a veal, olive and tomato casserole served over rice which was one of J's favorite dishes. It was good and it was fun to eat one his favorite dishes! The plum tart for dessert was delicious.

The Reserve
Later, B, N, J and I walked to meet J's grandma--she's 94 and such a sweet lady. My French, thanks to the app Duolingo on my phone, is improving; but, I still don't understand much nor can I speak much. I'm best at asking for the butter or bread at meals!

Interactive signage for visitors
J and I had a wonderful visit while N conferred with B about annual review planning. We walked around the park that is nearby J's family home. The park hosted a Renaissance Fair. There were people dressed in period costumes and even a few vendors.

The best part of the day was when J took us to one of his favorite places. It was a wildlife reserve a few minutes drive from the family home. It was beautiful and quiet. There were meadows, woods and wetlands all within an easy walking distance. J said that school kids come for a field trip there. Positioned at various places were some interactive signage. J said for him, it was a good thinking place and that he and a friend often met here. I concur.

Dinner was stuffed tomatoes, salad, bread, cheese and blackberries. It was delicious! J's mom is a chef! I am learning that meal time is savored and enjoyed. Lunch at M's is at least two hours. Lunch at a restaurant--is more like three hours. J says that the French don't finish one meal until the next meal is about to be served!

I walked five miles today. The blister is about gone. Knee swelling continues; but, Aleve helps to manage the swelling and the pain. Tomorrow will be a busy day organizing and holding the party!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Touring the region of Jura, France--post 3 of 9

The sky at sunrise in Tavaux
Just one of the villages we walked through in Jura
On this morning, I awoke just in time to snap a photo of the sky at sunrise. I love sunrises and don't tire of seeing the beautiful color combinations. We had a typical French breakfast. J and B had walked to the bakery to pick up a half hour before breakfast to pick up baguettes for the day. This bread was the center piece of the meal.

J's mom toasted slices and put these in a basket until the basket was filled. There was butter and jam to put on the toast and because it was bread. . .there were no plates! We just used the table. There was a selection of fruit--apricots, peaches and nectarines--coffee and juice. The butter in France can be plain or salted. The salted butter comes with chunks of salt in it which I found to be really delicious on that wonderful baguette! Oh yes, we managed to eat all the bread that she toasted and she even toasted more!
Artists painting a river scene 
Ju and B showing a starter of mashed
potatoes in cream and zucchini

Green bean salad
After breakfast J's mom, M, took me to the SuperU market.

It is like a Fred Meyer store in that it is a one stop shopping except that it has even more items! You can buy washers and dryers there in addition to clothing, school supplies, plants, gas for the car and of course groceries. We left after purchasing cantaloupe, yogurt,  lettuce, nectarines, peaches, lemons, vinegar, mustard and cheese.

The vinegar and the mustard were for me to take home. The brand of vinegar I purchased has a little honey in it which makes great oil/vinegar salad dressings. The capital of the region, is Dijon, so of course I had to purchase mustard! Yes, you can purchase the same brand in the states; but, this one was cheaper! One of my favorite spots to go when traveling is the grocery store as I like to see what various items cost, what sorts of products are available and how the products are arranged.

J's entree trout with braised fennel
We then toured the region of Jura, although the French call the area a department. The area is mountainous with green rolling hills instead of  snow covered steep mountains which we have in Oregon. There are a lot of grapes grown in this region for wine which reminds me of a sherry. I also learned that every area that produces wine has its own shape of bottle. The Jura bottle does have a distinct shape and often has the name, Jura, stamped on it.

My pork tenderloin with ratatouille

As we walked through town, there was a neighborhood garage sale going on. It was fun to see what people were selling. We tasted some regional wine. We even saw a group of artists painting with watercolors a section of the river. The river had large trout in it which we could see from the bridge as we crossed. Then we had lunch. Once again, the flavors were wonderful and each dish was beautifully presented.  I really am of the opinion that one would have to work to find "bad" food in France!

Paris-Brest served for two
Many in our group had the froie gras as a starter, a couple people had the mashed potatoes in cream and zucchini and I had green bean salad with egg, red onion, lettuce leaves and bacon marinated in oil and vinegar. I hope to recreate this salad at home as it was not only pretty on the plate made with simple ingredients; but delicious as well!

Entree choices were chicken with three kinds of mushrooms, trout braised with fennel and pork tenderloin with ratatouille.

Ju, S, J, N, M, B and me after lunch

Of course, we sampled each others entrees so we were able to taste EVERYTHING! Let me tell you the braised fennel was wonderful and the ratatouille was so good that I didn't care if I ate any of the wonderful pork tenderloin! The three types of mushrooms were good too!

Then there was dessert. One of us had the apricot panna cotta and the rest of us had had the Paris-Brest. The Paris-Brest was amazing. It is pastry filled with layers of flavored cream and comes in the shape of a wheel.
J, S in back row, M, me and N front row

With all the eating, we still managed to stand up after lunch and head out for more touring of the region. We traveled in Ju's and S's newly purchased SUV which seated seven. J and Ju took turns riding in the back row. I was impressed with how S managed riding there the whole time!

We next went to Château-Chalon which was one of B's favorite places of the day. It truly was beautiful as the view from above was breathtaking. The amount of vineyards in portion to buildings is huge!
Back row: B, me, Ju and S     Front row: J, M and N

View of the countryside and green rolling hills
from Château-Chalon

We still had "day" left and J took us to two more places. The next stop was one of my favorite places of the day. J called it the Cascades.

The Cascades

Although it is summer, there were a few trickles of water flowing from the hillside. I have seen photos of it in the spring and the hillside is bursting with flowing water which is beautiful.
A view of the walking trail

There were people camping in the area. There were people hiking the hills and exploring the caves. I'll admit, I checked out one cave that was nearby. There were also people wading through the pools at the bottom of the hillside. Ju and S did a little wading and said that the pools were deep!

Me and N in one of the caves
N snapped a selfie so I can prove I really was there. My knees tolerated the climb and the descent okay although by evening I was feeling it! Aleve continues to be my friend morning and evening!
Stone wall that provided privacy to someone's garden

J took us to one more place and that was Baume-les-Messiures. It was an idyllic setting; but, I couldn't imagine in winter having to drive down the "hill" for bread because in this village, there were no shops like a bakery, grocery or butcher shop.

We visited the Imperial Abby which has an interesting story about its origin. You can click the link to learn more. Standing in the Abby and knowing human hands built the structure without motorized tools is astounding. Humans can find a solution to a challenge.

Imagine how old this stone wall is and how artisan it is with the layout of the stones. . .especially those that decorate the top of the wall.
A little vegetation growing from the stone
It was a wonderful day and I thank J for taking us to such special places which were not full of tourists; but, more the locals having an excursion. I walked three miles and the blister is almost healed! I also appreciated Ju and S going along and offering their car for transportation. Of course, it was extra special that M came too!

For dinner, M made one of her signature salads (lettuce, shallots or chives, vinaigrette dressing). We had fillets du canard, canned mackerel, cheese and of course, wine and bread! It was the perfect light dinner. The wine was great both at lunch and dinner!

Entertainment for the evening, well. . . we played poker! I wasn't the winner but it was fun anyway!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Back to School

K's back to school outfit
First, a shout out to welcome Judy to reading my blog. Thanks Theresa for sharing a post about my chicken project with Judy. Come to find out, Judy is married to Bert. I knew Bert when I worked at the Red Cross more than a decade ago. Bert was my role model because he always accomplished much with such an assortment resources and always gave credit to his team for making it happen when I knew he was more a part of the success than he was sharing! What a small world!

Remember, I love comments and love followers!!! Now, back to the subject matter for the post today!
On the school grounds for the first day of school!

Headed to the classroom
For many parents, September and the first day of school is filled with much excitement and anticipation. I was not one of those parents. The first day of school filled me with sadness as I was losing my playmates (daughters) to the rigors of education--homework, swim and water polo practices, yearbook, leadership and newspaper activities.

Consequently, the last day of school filled me with so much pure joy to have buddies back! My daughters didn't share my feelings though!

This year, the oldest grand, K, is a kindergartner. She has been excited for this day to come for at least a year! (She is so much like her mama, A!) She and her mama shopped for just the right lunch box and backpack. They even found the perfect first day of school outfit. K has talked about learning to read, making new friends and going to the new school. (Hers is the first class to start in the brand new building.)

I hope K has a wonderful year. She spent the day with us after her first day of school so we heard about what a fun year is ahead of her.

Pattern and fabric that K chose for her dress
Mondays and Wednesdays won't be the same here without her.  I thought being a grandparent, school wouldn't have the same effect on me. Well, I was wrong. Of course, K, thinks I'm silly! :) Last week, I asked her what she wanted to do during her last week with us. She said that she wanted to sew an outfit. So, I pulled a pattern--which
Stitching the trim to the hem
was more summer-- and a piece of fabric. K liked the pattern right away. The fabric? ahh. . .not so much.

So she chose this piece of pink (not surprised since pink is her favorite color) with a print of the Eiffel tower (not surprised since she wants to visit Paris someday!) She wanted to know not if I had purple fabric for the trim; but, where was the purple fabric for the trim! I loved that she "knew" I had the right stuff!

Finished dress
The first day, we prewashed the fabrics, cut out the pattern and stitched the ruffle. She gave me permission to stitch a few of the pieces together so that we could fit it to her the next time she came. (This pattern doesn't have chest or waist measurements so scheduling the fitting was important.) K likes the fitting part.

The leftovers
The second day, we stitched the halter dress. When we were working on the skirt, she wanted purple on the hem instead of plain--this was totally her idea. When I took a piece of the strap trim and folded it around the hem line to give her an idea of what purple trim would look like, she said it
wouldn't work.

What she meant was that the piece was way too small and yes, the purple trim was PERFECT! I had to chuckle to myself and then remind myself that it is important to continue to ask questions because what I think is being communicated isn't necessarily so!

Usable bits
She liked using the number 10 foot on Joyie (the Bernina) to stitch her trim. She thought threading the elastic with a safety pin as a bodkin was hard. She liked pressing the straps and the best part of the whole process was when the dress was ready to wear! Pinning is a hard task; but, pin removal is easy and it was fun to raise Joyie's pressure foot.

She told me that the best part of this dress were the pockets!  We are having an unusual Fall season in that temperatures are in the upper 80s and 90s so she'll be able to wear this dress for a few weeks. Once the weather cools, she can wear a t-shirt and tights underneath.

I like how well the pattern fit. I really like how K made this her own when she added the trim to the hem.

There was a pile of leftovers. I trimmed them into usable units ala Bonnie Hunter's scrap saving system. Doing this task while the bits and pieces were still on the cutting table, meant it was one step to put the 1 1/2" and 3 1/2" strips; 1 1/2", 2", 2 1/2" and 3 1/2" squares, into the storage bags for a future scrap project. That pile of bits sure takes up less space than the pile of leftovers!
Sister went to school; I can play in the park!

Since I won't be seeing K as often as I did last year, we talked about setting up one day a month so that she can come and sew more outfits.

I didn't realize how much she liked sewing clothes; but, now that I know, we will figure out more projects where she can play and create. I think her mom will support some Gran time!

While I'm sad that one playmate is in school, I'm ecstatic that I will have one on one time with Miss J! Hmmm. . .I wonder what we will be creating??? Time will tell!!!!