30 November 2016


We discovered the BHV (Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville) during our first visit to Paris in December, 1999. I'd read about it, obscurely, in a Traveler's Tales book. It was originally established in the early 1850s and has continually operated since. 

While purchased by Galleries Lafayette in 1991, in 1999 it still retained its chaotic, mysterious collections of individual and slightly odd merchandise, mish-mashed in with the usual mundane stock in the various departments.

I fell in love with the stationary department, the basement hardware, and the fabrics! The culinary department begged to be explored. I spent whole days in the BHV during our first few trips to Paris. Our grandchildren scored one-of-a-kind (in the USA) clothing and toys. 

While the BHV has been outfitted and merchandised into a grand shopping experience, it still retains much of its charm--if just a bit under the surface. 

Just opposite the BHV is the stunning architecturally magnificent Hôtel de Ville. And, one of the many beautiful carousels in Paris. 

This visit coincides with Christmas so we're enjoying both the traditional and the unusual decorations. Clever use of snow skis (0ème). 

The gift wrapping overflows the Stationary Department on the 3ème. Lovely. 

Glitter paper!

I especially love to dine in Le Kantine on 5ème--a buffet TDF. Cleverly, the house wines are dispensed here... While dining, you can enjoy a view of the rooftops of Paris. 

There's a recent trend toward using Post-It notes as art. Here the word "CAISSE" for cashier is emphasized in white. 

One last thought: I, sincerely, told CA that I could just get a pillow and a duvet and move into the BHV. Meant it. It feeds my soul with all its glittering goodness. I just like to see and to touch everything. I don't even need to buy any more. I've already squirreled-away goodies and given plenty of gifts from previous visits. And, truthfully, TJMaxx and Home Goods are a much, much better deal. It's the ambience I want to roll-around in.

28 November 2016

nous sommes arrivés

Marriott's Village d'lle-de-France
Allee de l'Orme Rond
Bailly-Romainvilliers, 77700 Franc

The townhouses. 

Our 2-bedroom is on the right. 

Our private entry foyer, includes a powder room. 

Sitting room and dining. Our townhouse has 2 French doors, a terrace with lovely views. A small kitchen and bar area to the side. 

Upstairs are 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. 

Simply lovely. A 9-minute SNCF train ride from CDG, plus either the No. 34 bus, or a short taxi ride and you have arrived.

27 November 2016

Dressed for Terrorism?

Security lines are the harsh reality of the 21st century travel experience.  Everyone has a story; most all of us can relate. Today, for once, my mood was very good; my expectations high. Generally, I face the dehumanizing necessities of airports, not stoically but, hypnotically. I rather automatically enter a trance-like state, possibly similar to the mindset of a low-security institutional prisoner. 

With perfectly measured civility, I follow the rules: que-up, inch forward, present travel documents, hand-over any checked luggage. Then, repeat the process in the security line while additionally removing any items of clothing, jewelry, ornamentation and footwear. (Dear God, I once had a brain 💨and wore barefoot sandals; requiring me to make actual physical contact with the airport tiles. I shudder.)

But, today I approached the numbing process with a slight smile, a touch of optimism. I'd been granted Pre-Check status. The free-falling wonder of short lines, less security. Keeping my shoes (with thick socks) on my feet. 

I must interject here that of late I've mostly flown no-frills domestic airlines. Flights between our home city and the one closest to our flat, and to our son's family. So, there's been no opportunity to officially sign-up for Pre-Check privileges. 

On arrival at Terminal 3, while mostly sailing through the various stations of air travel, I soon hit a wall. An impermeable, but gracious TSA barricade. 

My stroll through the non-sterilizing, screening machine lit-up the thing like a proverbial Christmas tree. 'Tis the season and all, but these twinkle lights were quite puzzling and somewhat noisy.

I'm a seasoned traveler. I'd foregone wearing a watch, bracelets, or a belt. In fact I was wearing a brand new, rather understated but tasteful set of casual- (or, athletic-) wear. No zippers, studs, brass buttons. No bells, no whistles. 

The potentially sterilizing, full-body, hands-up, X-ray machine also lit-up like a pinball machine. 

So... I was gently frisked. My hands and shoes were wiped and analyzed. Apparently, all tests ran positive. My personal items were searched, further wiped, re-screened, and eventually handed-out of the contamination zone to my ever-patient husband. 

A friendly and chatty TSA agent led me to a side room, where we waited a few minutes for occupancy. I was again frisked. And, wiped and analyzed. 

Three TSA agents conferred. Finally, with sincere apologies and a touch of befuddlement, I was sent on my way. 

So much for breezing through security today. 20 minutes can be devastating with close connections. But, CA and I had been packed and ready, and we'd called Uber quite early--always preferring extra time at the airport to a frenzied last minute arrival. 

Excuse me while I practice my hypnotic, trance-like travel state. Zoning out...

Winter Travel 2016

Home from our wandering. After 5-weeks in Colorado (with a side trip to Peoria, IL for dad's funeral), we traveled home via Thanksgiving in Omaha with JE's family. DM+MK also traveled to Omaha. 

We had less than 24 hours at home in Woodstock before catching an Uber ride to O'Hare for tonight's 7:00pm FinnAir flight to CDG and Paris!

After craving pasta the whole way to the airport, we walked right past Macaroni Gill to Rick Bayless's Tortas Frontera. And, fell flat-out in love with the Tortas Cubano and Fully Loaded Guacamole. Best airport meal EVER. 

Gotta charge my phone so that no detail goes undocumented.

25 November 2016

The Day After

CA and I started our day at Le Petit Paris French Bakery with some excellent coffee and sharing an almond and an apricot croissant. 

Some of the Fun Kids posed with the Lemon and Raspberry Tarts we made yesterday morning. Then, they decided that they wanted a silly pic. 

We managed some last minute gift wrapping in the driveway. Amazon had been busily shipping gifts directly to our daughter's home. 

No tree yet, so we dedicated this corner as the gift repository. Worked for us. Each family will be celebrating separately from us this Christmas.

JE had arranged a photo session for the entire family. We snuck into their neighbors backyard instead of going to the local park, as planned. Thinking we'll have some fine family photos to document this special holiday together. 

DM and I took the 6 Fun Kids to see Trolls at 4:00pm, and we finished out our time together with pizza and then gathered around the firepit with some Creamy Limoncello while the kids jumped on the trampoline in the dark.

We've had a wonderful Thanksgiving; time together as a family. Love, laughter, stories, photo ops, and lots of great food. 

24 November 2016

Thanksgiving Day

Our day began with a round of Pie Face. Much more fun than logic might suggest. Delightful for all ages. 

Early in the day, we decided to include GG in our celebration, even though she's hundreds of miles away in her sheltered-care home. 

A favorite pic of GG and JA from a few years ago. 

We took many more photos than usual to text to her, and we FaceTimed throughout the day. 

Here we're sending "cheers" her way. GG loves a good drink. 

The Fun Kids find a tight corner to play together. Where's JA?

There he is! Watching football with Uncle DM. 

Next, while the Fun Kids moms find spots to relax, the kiddos play another game together: Apples-to-Apples. 

Our turkey is in the oven. Looking rather angelic. 

The Apple Crisp with Oat Topping is hot and juicy. Recipe from allrecipes.com. The same recipe I made for CA in the early years of our marriage--from the red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. We ate this with vanilla ice cream. 

I sent this pic to family and friends to illustrate how I was spending my day. 

The beautiful 12-foot table that MA's dad built out of reclaimed barn wood is almost ready for our feast. Four generations of Carlsons and Smiths have lived on the farm in Waverly, Nebraska. This wood is from a barn that was recently disassembled and reclaimed in such a lovely way. JE and MA did all the finishing work themselves, and the table is beautiful. 

The instant-read thermometer said he was done. He wasn't, but we had enough meat for all. Next time we'll stick that thermometer into a variety of places before believing the turkey is done. 

Almost ready to eat. 

We had a wonderful meal, and a perfect family celebration of all the love and blessings our family enjoys. Our hearts belong to Jesus, our redemptive savior and Lord. God is so loving and kind to us. Great Grandpa died just 2 weeks ago at 95 years old. He's with Grandma now. (my parents). GG (CA's mom) had a close-call in September, but she's healthy and strong now, and truly enjoying life.