South of France Trip

15 Jul

I’ve been a bit lazy about updating the blog lately. So when my mom told me my blog was broken because the last post was in April, I decided to get moving.

Sorry for the lag, mom, I’ll try to do better.

To reinvigorate my blog, I’m posting a recap of our recent vacation and will scratch my head this weekend for a post-able project.

We went for a driving vacation in the South of France, but since the area we wanted to explore was so close to Barcelona, my husband’s favorite city, we decided to start there.

We re-visited some of our favorite sites in Barcelona, including Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, and the pier, and explored some new areas like Plaza de Espana.

Barcelona

We walked around Las Ramblas during the day, and the Soho-area of Barcelona at night. My husband was in heaven, as we kept finding larger and larger merengues.

Barcelona

After a fiasco with our train from Barcelona to France (there was a train strike, and we ended up on a coach bus for 8 hours instead of a 2.5 hour train ride), we finally made it into France where we picked up our rental car, arguably my husband’s favorite part of this trip.

In total, we (as in my husband, not me) drove approximately 1,200 miles.

Rental Car

In France, we traveled along the South of France — Provence and the French Riviera/Cote d’Azur.

One of our first stops was Avignon. Avignon is an ancient town, where the pope used to reside in Le Palais des Papes.

Avignon

Avignon was my husband’s favorite city. He enjoyed the quaint streets all within the protective walls of the inner city.

Avignon

Nearby Nimes (the city where denim was born!), we stopped to see the Pont du Gard, the Roman aqueduct that was used to carry water from a water spring to Nimes. The site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nimes

Aix en Provence is known as a college town and supposedly, the “City of a Thousand Fountains” — although most of the fountains I saw weren’t functioning.

Anyway, they have this awesome gigantic book entrance to their library. Definitely makes you want to read “The Little Prince” again.

Aix en Provence

We picked up cookies called calissons, which are made of almonds, candied fruit, and “royal” icing. Aix is known for these cookies. Unfortunately, we forgot them in the hotel refrigerator.

Aix en Provence

My favorite place was Cassis, a small, picturesque coastal town. Every direction you looked, the view was amazing.

Cassis

We went on a boat tour to see the Calanques, which are coves/valleys formed within the rocks along the cliffs of the coast.

Cassis

My husband and I both loved Nice. When we arrived there, it had just finished drizzling, which left a nice sheen on the ground in addition to the misty fountain in Place Massena.

Nice

Nice had a great beach as well as a lively town. And, compared to many places that we went, there was a wide variety of food too.

Nice

We drove up, up, up to get to Eze. Eze is a medieval town located high in the mountains. Once you drive up there, walking through the town is still an upward hike.

Eze

Houses had a rustic feel with antique-like doors, shuttered windows, and often plants growing up and down the sides.

Eze

Le Jardin de Eze was the highest point we could go and offered fantastic panoramic views.

Eze

Along the coast, we also went to Cannes, Monaco, Antibes, St. Paul de Vence, Narbonne, St. Remy de Provence, and a few other small towns.

Then we headed northward towards the Gorges du Verdon, which is known as the Grand Canyon of France.

Gorges du Verdon

The Gorges were peaceful and offered expansive views. We  bought some lunch in a little village and had a picnic while staring into the vast canyon.

Gorges du Verdon

On the way out of the Gorges, we drove through Valensole, where there were fields and fields of lavender. We inhaled the aromas and tried to absorb some of the magical powers of the purple plant.

Valensole

And finally for our last stop, we got to Geneva, Switzerland — land of really expensive stuff. Regardless, we managed to rent some bicycles for a minimal cost and hit the Swiss streets.

Geneva

Vacation over. Must contemplate how much we enjoyed it (and how exhausted we were) while riding horsies in a Geneva park.

Geneva

French Dip Feast

14 Apr

On Sunday, while my husband was out for most of the day, he texted me, “Feast?”

Who am I to deny him a feast.

We all define feast in our own way. This is one of my many definitions.

French Dip

Since I was home all day doing things around the apartment, I made a minimal work, optimal flavor feast — French Dip sandwiches.

I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Drip Beef. It starts with melted butter and onions browned in the pot. On top, throw on your chuck roast. I fit as much as I could in a single layer in the pot. It was about 3.5 pounds of meat — a true feast size.

french_dip2

Then throw in your flavoring — 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 2 cups of water, and 2 cups of chicken broth (Pioneer Woman uses sherry). Plus some salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, oregano, plus whatever you like.

French Dip

Turn the heat to very low.

Go tidy up your apartment, read through your mail that you haven’t opened for the past month, call your bank, watch Superman on HBO Go, etc. You know the drill.

Let it sit for 6 hours.

French Dip

Take a peak every now and then. Inhale the beef-y aroma.

French Dip

After 6 hours, fish out your beef and shred it using two forks. Then place it back into the broth.

French Dip

Prepare your bread. Place a nice layer of Pepper Jack cheese on the bread and pop it into the toaster. Get the bread nice and toasty and the cheese nice and melty.

French Dip

Pile it up with the shredded beef and onions.

French Dip

Big sandwich. You might need to cut it in half.

French Dip

Serve each sandwich with a small bowl of the broth for a dippin’.

French Dip

Here we go. Feast away.

French Dip

 

Webbed for Sure

7 Apr

I felt motivated one weekend and made two bags. This is Bag #2.

Bag #2

I was inspired by an etsy shop I saw: Rachel Elise. Pretty bags. I really like the flaps with the angled color highlights she uses and the design elements in the extra webbing and closure.

To make this, I upcycled pants for the main fabric and decided to “embrace” the seams. So I stuck one seam straight along the front of the bag, and the other a bit crookedly along the back of the bag.

Bag #2 - Front

The bag uses a clasp, which is connected to the decorative webbing along the flap, to keep your items safe. It works well for security and looks great.

Bag #2 - Clasp

The bag isn’t too big, more on the small side, perfect for a book, wallet, phone, and a few other small items.

Bag #2 - Inside

There is one inside pocket for small items, and a loop for keys.

Bag #2 - Inside pocket

One thing I wanted to add was an easy to access back pocket. Since the front clasp is quite secure, this zippered back pocket is for things you want more easily accessible, like your phone.

Bag #2 - Back pocket

Since one size does not always fit all, I used some extra webbing to make a nice long adjustable strap ideal for crossbody, over the shoulder comfort.

Bag #2 - Adjustable strap

My sister-in-law’s birthday is coming up, so I’ll be giving this to her.
Happy birthday, sister-in-law!

Bag #2

Birthday Dinner, WW-style

24 Mar

Today is my husband’s birthday.

Happy 31st Birthday, husband!

Birthday Dinner, Walter White-style

I’ve been pretty sick lately, so I didn’t do anything for him. I know, lame. If I wasn’t sick, I would’ve made him a nice dinner and a cake or baked good of some variety this past weekend. But instead, I was lying on the couch asking him to pass me the tissues for the past few days.

So instead of a nice birthday dinner, we had our current most favorite, quick and easy dinner. It’s boring, but pretty good, and takes about 15 minutes to prepare – roasted asparagus, homemade hummus, sliced radishes, and flatbread.

Roasted asparagus

Hummus

Olive Flatbread

Since it was a pretty boring dinner, I fixed up the birthday boy’s plate just like Walter White would – writing out his age with a few spears of asparagus.

Birthday Dinner, Walter White-style

In another life, if my husband was a singer, he’d be a crooner:

Queens Linocut

24 Feb

Although I loved my dremel “Deal With It” sign, it was pretty messy and loud — two things non-conducive to apartment living. So I tried my hand at something neater and quieter – a linocut print.

Linocut Print

First I drew my design, which was reminiscent of this Amsterdam print I pinned.

Linocut Design

After making my design, I transferred it to my linoleum “block.” Ensure your writing is backwards in order for it to appear on your final print correctly.

Transferring Design to Lino Block

Next, comes the time-consuming part — carving out your design. Use a linoleum cutter and take your time. I also used an Xacto knife to help guide my carving. Carve it pretty deep if you don’t want paint to be on the “blank” areas.

Linocut Template

After you finish carving your block, comes the fun part. Grab your block printing ink, and put a dab (about a tablespoon worth) on your clean scrap cardboard. Using your ink roller, spread the ink out on the cardboard until it is an even coat.

Setting up the paint

Apply the paint to your template.

Applying the Paint

Roll your roller back through the paint to grab more paint for your template until it is evenly applied on the template. Cover the entire template.

Applying the Paint

Place your paper on top of your template, and firmly push it down, careful to keep it in place.

Making the Print

Keep pressing the paper down on the template over every single spot of the template.

Making the Print

Keep pressing. I used the back of a flat-ish spoon to make sure I got every spot.

Making the Print

Carefully unveil your print.

Unveiling the Print

I made two prints. The second one had more paint for a more consistent look.

Linocut Print

But I preferred my first print more, which used less paint. I think this one looks much more authentic and imperfect, which makes it less printer shop-like and more one-of-a-kind.

Linocut Print

Kale Pesto Pizza

13 Feb

Oh man, this was a good pizza.

Kale Pesto Pizza

My sister-in-law bought a ton of kale and gave me a bunch. I made pesto out of it and plopped the pesto on a pizza with tomatoes and fresh mozz. Oh man, I wish I was eating this pizza right now.

First, make your pizza dough. I like Pioneer Woman’s dough – it’s easy and doesn’t need a lot of ingredients (1 tsp yeast, 4 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/3 cup olive oil).

Pizza Dough

While the dough is rising, make your pesto:

Ingredients needed: 1 bunch kale, 2 medium-sized onions, 6-7 cloves of garlic, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 tsp red pepper, salt and pepper.

With a little olive oil in the pan, saute the chopped onions and garlic (through the garlic press) for five minutes until onions are soft.

Onions and Garlic

Add kale (de-stemmed and chopped). Cook it down for three minutes.

Kale

Put your onion-kale-garlic mixture into the blender, add olive oil, parmesan cheese, red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend.

Kale Pesto

Once your dough has risen, roll it out into a pizza shape. Spread your pesto on top, spread out a layer of fresh mozzarella, and then place thinly-cut tomato slices on top.

Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto Pizza

Bake at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Kale Pesto Pizza

Kale Pesto Pizza

Kale Pesto Pizza

Oh man, that was good pesto.

Some music for Valentine’s Day:

Etsy Art and My Etsy

6 Feb

For Christmas, I asked for this bear poster from Henry James Paper Goods on Etsy.

I love it. It’s a nice, fun piece of art for our apartment. And it fits in with the other big bears we have hanging around this place.

Bear Print

We hung the picture up in our dining space on the wall opposite the mirrors.

I also recently made bunting out of some scrap felt and hung it across the mirrors.

Bunting

The felt for the bunting is from the scraps of felt crowns that I’ve been making. See them at my Etsy shop: Crowning Around.

Crowning Around

The Etsy shop is for fun and it’s nice to make a little extra scratch. And, it works out well since I enjoy sewing but am running out of room to put my creations.

Crowning Around - crowns

The crowns are made out of felt, are adjustable in size (velcro on the back), can be made in different color combinations, and are perfect to celebrate birthdays, play make believe, or just for kids to hang out around the house.

Crowning Around - crown

And although, I called the shop Crowning Around, there are hair bows too!

Crowning Around - hair bows

So, if you know a kid who needs a crown (or hair bows), visit my shop.

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