Friday, November 27, 2009

A favourite place…

I’m sure everyone has a favourite place that they love to visit.. maybe the lake, a park, a store, etc. One of my favourite places is a charming little shop nestled amongst a stand of very tall pine trees and beautiful, interesting gardens. Winter Wheat is located just outside the tiny village of Sparta, Ontario (Canada) and features artwork by Lucy Ogletree, who owns the store along with her partner Mike. They live in a restored home on the property, which you will pass by as you make your way to the store in the back. On the property are several little buildings… my favourite one is along the driveway just past the house. I love to sit in it and relax on a cold winter day when the stove is turned on.. it’s very relaxing; in the summer the back doors are left open on nice days and there is a lovely breeze floating through. There are other buildings as well, check the pics or their website.. :D

Each time I go to Winter Wheat I see something new that interests me. It seems that Lucy and Mike make changes to the grounds and stores on a regular basis.. which is one reason I keep coming back. I don’t always make a purchase, but customers are always welcome to come in, sit in one of the little buildings and relax a bit (there’s also an area inside the store where you can sit a spell!).. be sure to read the rules before you enter the property. There are cookies, coffee and tea offered for free but a donation box is set up at each station (for charity), so be sure to throw in some change, it could make a difference.

I’m attaching some pics that I took in the summer and last Sat.; Lucy and Mike don’t mind if you take pictures but I only take them outside, out of respect for their business. They have pictures of the inside of the store on their website, so link up and check it out.

Over the years that I have been visiting and shopping at Winter Wheat, I have brought friends out to see the property and everyone who has been there loves it. My daughter and I brought our exchange student from Italy out there and she absolutely loved it.. they don’t have anything like it at home. I even brought her back for a second visit just before she returned to Italy so she could buy a few things to take home. Then last year my daughter’s friend from Italy came to visit Canada and we took her out to Winter Wheat, and she also loved it. Lucy and Mike provide journals in the little buildings where people can sign their names and you can find people from all over the world in those books! Amazing!!

Enjoy the pics, first set was taken in the summer!

I thought I had several pics from our visit in January but could only find one. My favourite little building was jammed full of visitors on Saturday so I didn’t get any pics inside; it's the one with the blue door. The larger building with the Winter Wheat sign is the store.. love that porch!!

If you’re in the area, stop in.. you’ll want to go back time after time! Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

More trees…

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends (and those who just live there :D ).

I have one more tree done at home, this is my large alpine tree… just love these. The ornies were inspired by the ones that I have on my office tree…. which are for sale if anyone wants them. Pics of the home tree: note the little glass (but might actually be plastic!) pinecones.. I bought them at a yard sale in the summer.. I like the dark colour; I also have 3 little wooden tags, my candycanes, and some brown glittery stars.. can hardly see them but I like the sparkle.. I also “planted” this tree in a pail of joint compound. It weighs a ton, but I’ll probably just store this already decorated.. getting lazy in my old age.. lol. I have this tree sitting behind my love seat, between my two child’s rockers. Years ago I found paper mache deer, one sitting, one standing and I glued some dried flowers and raffia on them.. unpainted. I still like this look and someday if I don’t, I’ll have to prim them up.

large_alpine_tree 001 large_alpine_tree 002

large_alpine_tree 004

large_alpine_tree 005

Here is the office tree, as I mentioned all the ornies are for sale (if my coworkers like them:) .. but I only made the candy canes.. oh and the tree skirt, did that last year.

work_tree 001

work_tree 004

work_tree 005

work_tree 002

work_tree 007

The last one is the “topper” that I made up freehand.. lol. It works I think.

Have a great day all!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Swap finish & Christmas trees!!

Hi all…

I want to thank Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick and Barb of Dogmom Diva for encouraging me to try Live Writer.. so far so good!

Had a busy weekend, crafting my head off.. lol. I finished up my swap gifts for Sandy of For The Love of Prims and managed to decorate 3 of my trees! I can’t post a pic of what I made for Sandy.. fun for me and you but not for Sandy.. don’t want to spoil the surprise! I just hope she loves (or likes.. or tolerates) what I made.. and only one thing was store bought, but I know it’s something she’ll love.

Now on to my trees.. been so busy lately but yesterday I forced myself to decorate some of my trees.. I know, “forced” and “decorate” should never be in the same sentence but I’ve been procrastinating and feelin’ the pinch.. especially since my blogger buddies seem to be all decked out.. lol.. but I feel better now!

I have had a kitchen tree for years and although I keep most of the same ornies, each year I seem to add one or two or ten new ones so this year I ended up adding a 2nd tree.. haha.. all you decorators and crafters know exactly what I’m talking about! Here are some pics… (fingers crossed, trying this on LW for the first time!!)…

OMG.. seems to work!!!!! Never mind, I spoke too soon.. can't seem to get some of the pictures to rotate and can't edit the photo album... HELP!!!

Anyway.. the tree sitting in the crock is the original kitchen tree and the one on the floor (please ignore missing baseboards :P) is the back-up. It’s been set in joint compound inside a bucket from the dollar store.. and I placed red ticking fabric (coffee-stained and baked of course) on top. The tree inside the crock was also set in joint compound into a metal bucket.. I have several trees I’ve done this to.. works out well! The great thing is, they’re not overly big so I can put the lights on (leave them on) and probably even leave the ornies on, place them in plastic bags and they’ll stand up in the storage room, ready for next Christmas, when all I have to do is bring them upstairs.. good plan! Notice the Santa, Angel and Snowman teapots? Got a great deal on them years ago, they're teapots. I also have nutmeg graters, mini whisks (they were keychains I bought at a kitchen store a very long time ago, only got 2 and couldn't find them again), a blown glass frying pan with breakfast in it, a blown glass pretzel, blown glass Christmas pickle (google Christmas pickle, it's an old German custom).. the red & white striped stockings I got in the US last week.. faux gingerbread rocking horses, gingerbread candy canes I made last year, various cookie cutter ornies, etc.. I try to put things kitchen and food related or whatever I think will look good on this tree. The backup tree :D .. hahaha... has a gingerbread and candy cane theme. I just used striped pipe cleaners and primmed them up with coffee.. and baked them of course to get that crisp feel. The ceramic gingerbread were made by me many years ago when I took ceramics classes.. wish I could take credit for the eyes but they were done by the owner of the shop, she had amazing talent for eyes.. brings them to life!

Next is a tree that I found at a rummage sale, think I paid $3.. hey, it was for the orchestra so I paid “full price”.. lol.. anyway, it’s one of those tacky tinselly gold ones but I had a vision.. a Mardi Gras tree! I already had strings of lights (yellow, green and purple bulbs...official colours of Mardi Gras :) that I bought in New Orleans and I was so shocked to go into my local Walmart a couple of weeks ago and find masks in the ornie section.. it was like karma people!! I also found some small sparkly ornaments that I added, plus a mask on a stick ornie that my daughter and I picked up on our trip to NOLA last year.. it never really fit the themes of my other trees so it was perfect here. I also tossed on a bracelet in the traditional colours. I have a silk tye-dyed scarf I won a few years back so may place that under the tree as a skirt. Again, I think some of the pics are sideways.. sigh... and there may be duplicates... oh well, it's not like I'm paying for this blog right?? LOL

Now I just need to get my “red” tree and my other two prim (alpine) trees decorated.. oh and the one for the porch and one for my office (to feature ornies for sale :) … and my daughter still wants a live one… ugh, I’m so tired just thinking about it!

On a sad note, my laptop seems to have been fried (hope not, hope not, hope not.. say it with me folks!) .. so no computer at home right now. Comments will be approved tomorrow.. if I get any.. :DDD .. have a great evening.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another recipe!!! Easy Apple Crisp

My niece wanted a recipe for apple crisp. Having two small and freakin' adorable children, I knew she'd need something easy so I emailed her the following recipe. I've made this so many times, it always turns out amazingly well and tastes great! When our exchange student from Italy lived with us, we made this and she loved it. She asked for the recipe to take back home with her but they use only metric so I ended up buying her measuring cups and spoons... which she forgot! LOL... my daughter brought them with her for her half of the exchange and the people in Italy were finally able to enjoy this fabulous dessert!

So, without further ado, here it is! Please enjoy!! (sorry no pic)

Apple Crisp

5 or 6 medium apples
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour

Peel and slice apples, layer in a buttered casserole dish; pour water over, then sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg. In separate bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and flour. Tip: use a fork to mix it into a crumbly texture, then pour mixture over top of apples.

Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes, uncovered.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cross-border shopping.. oh yeah!!!


Ok.. so it's been a week already since I crossed the border to shop and pick up some orders from my cousin's in Michigan.. time is flying!!! I was headed to Windsor but I can cross into Sarnia (Port Huron) and drive to Detroit, then cross back into Canada. Much more interesting way of getting to Windsor!

I thought I'd show you a few pics of things I picked up while I was there. I found these oval bowls at a place called Christmas Tree Shops. Cool store! It's in the same plaza as the Target in Shelby Township and is across from Lakeside Mall, on Hall Rd at Schoenherr. I've been in this area many times over the years as my cousin lives nearby, but I have never seen this store. This area is really built up and depending on which road I take, I get turned around easily.. lol. These bowls would be great with Christmas greenery and votive candles (battery operated of course, I would not light real candles in this!) or a string of battery-operated mini-lights. They have both sayings that you see, one on each side, and were only $1.99 each!

I found this plate at Christmas Tree Shops as well, only $2.99! Not sure where I'm putting it, but I'll find a spot!

These felt pieces came from Hobby Lobby.. the only one in the area is in Port Huron. I love this line, Make it Christmas! Very interesting selection of things you can buy.. a lot of the line are craft items that you can make into something else. These were $2.99 each but I think they were on for 50% off.. gotta love that!!! No idea what I'll do with them, but I couldn't leave them for this price could I???
Of course I had to hit the Dollar Tree, and found this jute wrapped wire hanger and jingle bells. The ribbon will be replaced with homespun and I might add this to my door wreath.
Christmas Tree Shops again.. these adorable buckets were only $1 each!

This was a real deal at Hobby Lobby! Paper mache saltbox house, $3.99 and 40% off of that! I can see a hole cut in the back and a light attached to the inside, and the outside all painted, sanded and primmed up! Oh, and the roof is detachable .. I'm sure there are so many other ideas that my prim friends can come up with.. suggestions please?? :)

These cute stockings were also at Christmas Tree Shops. I've already coffee-stained and rubbed some ground cloves on them, but they are cute even if you don't prim them up. They were also $1 each. The spatula and whisk I found at Cracker Barrel.. aren't they adorable?? They look like something our grandmothers would have had.. full-size of course!. These are shown on my kitchen Christmas tree, which hasn't been decorated yet (time is seriously flying by.. oh my!!). Once it's done I'll post pics. These ornies were a bit pricey but oh-so-cute.. $3.99 each.

I bought tons more, but that's it for pics for now!! This is why Canadians cross the border to shop. You have so much that we just don't have over here, and if we do it's often a lot more money. Even if prices are comparable, we just love the variety.. it can really get overwhelming! But.. it's so much fun!!
Have a great day all :D

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good evening :)

Hi All,

Just a quick note. Had a nice few days in Windsor, the city I was born in and lived in until I was 11. Got to visit some family and friends (some I've known since the early 70's when I was really young) and just relax. I brought one of my swap items to work on.. lol.. and finished it up! Since I got home last night, I've been busy working on crafts and my swap... and loving it!! Things are coming together, will be very pleased when I can send my things off to Sandy.

Today my daughter and I went to see Cirque du Soleil's amazing show "Alegria".... it was just fabulous!!! I saw "Ka" in Vegas a year ago with my sister so I knew what I was in for... but my daugther had no idea how amazing this experience would be. I was so happy to be able to share this with her.

As I said, this is a quick note. I have more crafting to do tomorrow after work, so I may not be posting much at all this week.

Enjoy :D

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lamp makeover :~)

Happy Saturday!

Hi all!!! I've been away for a couple of days visiting family and friends in the city where I was born, and haven't posted in about a week! Before I left home I did a little project that you might like. My daughter had an Ikea hanging lamp that I bought her a few years back and she no longer wanted. Rather than throw it out, and since we need a lot more light in the living room, I decided to cover the shade. I chose tissue paper because it was a cheap fix and I figured I could re-cover with fabric if that didn't work.

Here are my main supplies: the lamp, spray adhesive and prim tissue paper in the crow pattern.

I started by dividing the lampshade into 4 sections and drawing pencil lines on the shade. The tissue paper would not wrap around the shade properly so I had to do it in sections. I sprayed the adhesive on one of the 4 sections and laid the tissue paper on top and smoothed it out. I then trimmed the sides, following the pencil line. Yeah, I know, wasn't really straight and the edges get a bit raggedy when you cut them since the tissue paper isn't on a flat surface. I didn't really care, so it was all good! If you want it to be exact you will need to cut it before attaching and spend a LOT more time on it than I did. I really wanted a very quick, easy fix.

Continue on completing the other 3 sections. One you're done, spray the inside rim at the top and bottom (do one at a time) and tuck the tissue paper into the groove if your shade has one. Trim the excess. Warning, this adhesive is very, very sticky and I spent a lot of time scrubbing it and pieces of tissue paper off my fingers. Might want to try gloves. Oh, another tip of course is to spray outside or in your section of the basement or garage where you use spray paint.. this stuff is stinky!!

This picture is showing me using a yard stick to copy the pencil line onto the tissue paper, in hopes of cutting it straight. Yeah, right (snorts)!!! lol

Ok, final product! Notice how the pattern doesn't line up and you can see the seam?? Don't care! This project was practically free and I think it's cute and will work for now. My dream of course is punched tin (so jealous of Lisa over at Primitives from Above!.. lol, just kidding, am very happy for her :) ... but in the meantime, this serves it's intended purpose.

Here it is hanging in front of my LR window, above the love seat. How lame am I? I left the white aluminum mini-blinds and white sheers (after bleaching them of course!) up; these were left behind by the previous owner! I can't seem to figure out window treatments!!! I do have something up my sleeve for the kitchen but what do I do here????

Hope you enjoyed!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bartering & a new "window"..

Happy weekend!

My window is finished!!! I'm so happyyyyyyy!

When I bought my house I wanted to open up the wall between the kitchen and living room.. I decided on a "faux" 4-paned window. My plan was to finish each section until someone pointed out how small the openings would be then.. which of course would close in the rooms.

Yeah, kind of ugly, isn't it??? I've lived with this for 2 years now!!

So a few weeks ago I did an organizing job for a contractor. Instead of paying me, I asked if he'd do the finish work on my "window".. he agreed and was able to confirm that the stud in the middle could be cut (one of the reasons it wasn't done before is because nobody could tell me this for sure!).. I was very excited to hear this!! So here is the window right after he removed the stud and cross-pieces; it looks so much bigger already!

Here it is with the inside trim installed and shims to make it level.. oh yeah!!!

Let's skip now to the reveal.. TA-DAAAAAAAAAAAA!! Ain't it cool??? I love it!! I just have to finish it off with a coat of my trim paint and it's completely done :D .. woot woot!!!

Daisy likes it too! Well.. actually it confused her because she was used to clinging to the edge of drywall.. lol.

So here is what I got when I bartered my time!!! How awesome is that? Has anyone else bartered for stuff they want? Leave a comment and let me know :)
I'll be here.. starin' at my "window" :D

Friday, November 6, 2009

Yard sale finds..

Over the summer, like most of you, I got up early on Saturday mornings after having scouted the local yard sale listings, and checking my wallet for small bills and change. I grabbed my umbrella (we had a wet, wet summer and most Sat. mornings were no exception) and headed off on a treasure hunt. I'd head to the areas of the city where I thought there'd be "good" stuff.. you know, the older areas, or the more upscale. In a lot of cases, the upscale had a lot of junk and children's items, which I don't need so would quickly retreat when I saw those, and head to another area; the older areas could be hit or miss, sometimes the antique dealers had already been there so there wasn't a lot of stuff left that I wanted. However, there were great things that I found in parts of the city that didn't quite fit into those categories of older or upscale; it just goes to show, you can't judge a yard sale by the neighbourhood it's in. I've attached some pics of things I purchased all over the city and even in one of the outlying towns. Enjoy!!

This child's rocker is in excellent condition, needs a quick refinish but in the meantime I just cleaned it and will put seasonal displays on it; paid $3 and I LOVE it!!!

This rabbit is made of some type of plaster and the ears had fallen off and had been put back on (but not secured!) so when I picked it up, the ears fell to the ground. They were asking $3, I offered $1.. and got it. I took it home, glued the ears back on and touched up the break. Cute!

This huge pile of treasures was at the same sale that I got my white dresser from. It was a fundraiser for a small flight school and they had many volunteers working there to make deals with customers. I had purchased the dresser and come back with a wonderful friend with an SUV to pick it up. We were perusing the many leftover items (it was raining and there weren't many people left!). The same man I negotiated the dresser with is the one I dealt with for this sale.. final price? $5!! Yeeeeeees... 6 wooden bowls, a wooden shelf, 2 baskets, a cutting board, 3 picture frames, a metal divided tray, a wooden spoon, 2 magazines and the coffee table!!

This pile of treasures was also purchased at the flight school yard sale.. it was my first set of purchases and I ended up paying a bit more than the treasures above.. it was also early in the day and the rain had not swept in quite yet. So my total was $8.50 for an old window frame, the dowelled frame thingy.. (ANY IDEAS ON WHAT TO DO WITH THAT.. ANYONE??), a whale tale holder, wicker picnic basket, small leather suitcase, wire basket and green excelsior.

This is one of those finds that I came cross in an older area that is tucked into a not-so-nice larger area of the city. I got that huge newel post plus 7 of the white spindles and 2 of the brown legs for $1 total!!! She was asking $8 then when I was asking her about them, just said how about $1 for everything? I love those deals, where they practically give it to you and you don't have to offend or grovel! lol...

At the same sale as the spindles, it turned out that there were a couple of ladies holding it but they were in one backyard and their stuff was mixed together.. how I wish the spindle lady was also the window lady! To me, these windows have an old farmhouse/thatched roof feel to them. She was asking $7 for each and wouldn't negotiate too much, so I ended up paying $5 each.. you can't get a steal all the time, right? She also had a couple of much larger, 16-pane windows but wanted $40 total.. can't justify that so I left my number in case she changed her mind or they didn't sell, but she never called :( .. at least I got these beautiful treasures!

I found this table (the things on top were already mine) at a yard sale that I happened upon when I turned off a main street. She was asking $3 and it's in great shape so I paid it. I gave it a very light sanding and then some stain over top.. that's it.. !

I found this awesome old Coleman cooler at a junk store that was advertising a yard sale.. basically moved stuff from inside to the curb.. lol.. paid $3. The copper teakettle (one of several I own) was probably $1, the green basket was $1, the wooden bench was also $1 and the red lantern I don't remember.. my coworker found it and brought it in for me... all these items were from different yard sales. The blue lantern I bought new years ago and the geraniums and holder are from a little shop.

That's all for now.. I just love finding treasures, but my house is getting very crowded! A lot of things that I plan to refinish have been relegated to the shed, to be dragged out and hopefully re-done after the winter.. maybe :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recipes?? ME?!?!?


As anyone who knows me can tell you, I can't/don't want to/hate to cook. It might stem from my mother who I inherited my talents from.. lol... or the fact that it's just been myself and my daughter for 17 years, so to make a big meal has never made much sense to me.

Having said that, there are some things I can do fairly well..... like a turkey dinner!! Yeah, I know, but it's not all that hard! So, in honour of my American friends, who will be celebrating Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks (a few weeks?? not sure!) .. anyway.. lol.. let's just say it's in November.. k?? K! Oh, right, so in honour (yeeeeeeeeeeess.. with a "U".. I'm Canadian, eh?) of that holiday, I'd like to give you a recipe for Crock Pot Stuffing. This recipe was given to me years ago by a former coworker, let's call her Karen. Cause, that is her name. I've tweaked it a bit over the years but it's basically the same as when she gave it to me. It tastes like it came straight from the bird, without worrying about the possible bacteria issues.. ewwwwwww! Here goes!!

Crock Pot Stuffing

1 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups each chopped onion and celery
1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup parsley, dried or fresh
1 tray sliced, fresh mushrooms (or use 1 can, drained, if you prefer), (optional)
12 cups croutons (I like to use 1/2 regular, 1/2 flavoured, I just buy the cheapo ones)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cans chicken broth (I use 1 regular and 1 with herbs in it)

Note - spices should be to taste, but you're still trying to get that savoury flavour! We eat pretty basic stuffing up here but I know there is a variety out there, just not sure of all the choices. Substitute or add what you want to make it your own.

Combine all ingredients in your crock pot (I have one of those rectangle metal ones that sit on a "griddle"). Cook on high for 45 minutes, reduce to low and cook 4-8 hours. I stir several times from the bottom, this could be because of the crock pot that I have, as it tends to stick to the bottom if I'm not careful. You just need to gauge what you have and adjust accordingly. This is a very simple recipe and quite portable, so you can bring the stuffing if someone else hosts the dinner! This also makes more stuffing than you'd think so you may have lots of leftovers.

If you're pressed for time, I would suggest chopping the onions and celery the night before and store it in the crock pot in the fridge. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside, then assemble everything in the morning. You may want to add 15 min. to the "high" setting if some of the ingredients are cold. This is really a recipe that you can easily tweak.. and it should still turn out great.

One final option to suggest if you are really, really pressed for time.. cook the entire recipe up the day before (or even the week before and freeze) and reheat in the crock pot or in a baking dish in the oven .. just remember to "fluff" it up.

Good luck, I would love to know what you would change about this recipe to make it yours. I'd like to have some new options to try out for Christmas this year!

Happy Stuffing!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Earth Rugs!

Hi all...

Yesterday I got home and the Earth Rugs that I had ordered had arrived... yippppppeeeeeee!! I've been waiting about 5 weeks so was very happy to see them!! I know, I know... oh what a gripping life I lead! LOL! There is one runner and one 8x11' rug!

Like a lot of homes, I have hardwood floors and although I like the look.... ok.. to be honest, I'd prefer wide-plank pine floors.. but you work with what you have.. anyway, I hate cold floors as I'm sure you all do!! So early last year I'd purchased a rug for the living room, but it was a tad too small.. see pic: The main colours are blue and burgundy which is a little past its prime now, what with all the "prim" colours that are so popular. In any case, it's what I bought and I liked it at the time, just wished it was bigger.

Earth Rugs came out with a new colour after I bought my other rug.. of course! lol.. the colours are mainly black, gray and brown .. so when I decided to purchase a new, larger rug, I got it in this new colour (for those of you who are interested, the colour is #99)... I think it works much better now, don't you??

As I was moving rugs around, I was also vacuuming, which freaked my dog out. When she gets panicky and can't get away from the situation, she starts panting.. poor baby! LOL

I began recycling my rugs to different rooms; in the kitchen I had a newer #99 rug but it was too small for the island

So the old blue/burgundy rug from the living room went into the kitchen in its place.. I like how it looks now and there is much more rug to stand on!

In my bedroom, I had this little hooked wool rug, which I like but again, it was too small... so...

I put the kitchen rug in here.. it looks great as the colours match my quilt and wall colour.. perfect!!

Sometimes one small change makes a huge impact. Don't be afraid to re-purpose an item into a different space!!

Note.... Earth Rugs are natural jute and very durable. My dog left me a gift one day and since I wear contacts, I can't see very well when I first wake up. Needless to say, I stepped in it. I could never have gotten it clean so I tossed the rug into the washer and it came out beautifully.. even though they don't recommend it. So check them out, they also have stair treads which I use as table mats, mini rugs which I use in a variety of ways, one is used under my dog's food and water dishes. Just have fun with them!

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

travellin' Tuesday - Paris!!!!

Happy Tuesday!!!

I just wanted to share with you a few pictures I took in June when my daughter and I went to Paris, France. In my younger days, I didn't really have an interest in going to Europe.. well some countries had always held a fascination, like Monaco and Greece, but France had never really held the same interest for me.

It wasn't until my daughter was growing up and expressed her love for Europe that I started to appreciate all it had to offer. In Aug/07 we welcomed a girl from Italy... the first part of an international student exchange that my daughter asked to be involved in. She did the work, learning to speak Italian in high school, in just 3 years (actually 3 semesters), so I agreed. In Feb/08 my only child boarded a plane to Italy.. it was the longest 3 months of my life, but I was so happy to be able to have a hand in making one of her dreams come true! While there, her host family took her on several trips, including Venice, Troia, Pompeii and Verona... and Paris! Yes, I was shocked and she was elated!! She does speak/read & write French also but is more fluent in Italian. So.. off to Paris they went; when she told me about it, she described it as "breathtaking & surreal"... I was converted!!!

In April this year I found a package to Paris that was an amazing deal, but even more so when I used Air Miles to pay for 1/3 of the cost!! The trip, including flight, hotel and transfers cost me just over $1500 ... for both of us! My daughter was so shocked that she was going back to this magical city just 14 months after her first trip (and it was her birthday gift to boot) and I was excited beyond belief!!!

On May 30/09 we boarded a trans-Atlantic flight to Paris, arriving at noon the next day. We had a free Seine cruise but had to use it that day... so we hopped on the Metro and headed down to the dock.. at the base of the EIFFEL TOWER!! Words cannot adequately describe what I felt when I saw one of the most recognizable monuments in the world.. so I've attached a picture!

This picture of the Eiffel Tower was taken during our cruise on the Seine.. isn't that an amazing colour??

As the week went on we visited A LOT of the tourist spots. The next picture is a beautiful stairway we took to climb to the top of Montmartre.. you can see for miles around up here!! This was my favourite part of Paris! If you look closely, you might be able to see that the steps resemble logs.. sweet!
Artist alley section of Montmartre.. there were dozens of people there drawing and painting.. very cool! Lots of shops and restaurants there as well. Loved it!!

Sacre Coeur (French for Sacred Heart).. one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. It was unbelievable inside!! There were so many people and hundreds of candles and shrines.. no pics allowed though. Breathtaking!!

Now on to culture... the Louvre!!! There's the famous glass pyramid on the right, this is actually one of the entrances. We entered below ground, as the Metro stops inside the building. This is a huge building with lots of gorgeous fountains outside.

Speaking of.. my feet were burning from walking for hours.. so I cooled them off.. lol..

Pic of the courtyard from inside one of the statue galleries at the Louvre.

This is a bit of a strange pic but the history of the Catacombs is very interesting.. it dates from the 1700's. Heart-shaped skulls... :S

Beautiful carvings inside the Catacombs. Probably a history of Paris centuries ago.

Yes, this is me, posing in front of one of the service doors... I checked very carefully first to make sure nothing was lurking.. LOL.

Another famous and beautiful church.. Notre Dame! There was quite a lineup so we didn't go inside. From here we could walk to the Latin Quarter, loved it there as well.

Most people know that gasoline is expensive in Europe and people who have cars usually have very small ones.. but I found these pizza delivery vehicles to be the coolest things ever!!! Oui, Pizza Hut!

My daughter and me, taken by a helpful stranger, so it's kind of on an angle but I thought it was interesting :) .. this is one of the pics in my bathroom picture frame. We were actually standing on the other side of the Seine.. quite a distance away but the Tower is huge!!! :DDDD

I hope this inspires you to fulfill your dreams, no matter how big or small they may be. I guess this is what the catch-phrase "the bucket list" is all about. Travelling is something we just love to do and I have more for next week. Do you want to see more Paris pics or somewhere tropical?? Leave a comment and I will post according to what you want. Thanks for stopping by!!