About Me

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I am a wife, mother, and pet owner who loves to stay busy.  Just ask anyone that knows me.  I always seem to have some type of creative project on the drawing board.  One of my most favorite things is to take found objects and repurpose them.  Most recently I have learned to use power tools and that has opened up a whole new avenue for my endeavors.   I also enjoy sitting on the back porch with a cup of coffee, gardening, reading, blogging, crafting with friends.

Monday, June 9, 2014



Time to check out of the hotel and have one last breakfast.  The group from Louisiana will be flying on to Amsterdam.  Everyone else is going home.  There is a mix up with the boxed breakfasts and they are given to our group when they were to go to the Louisiana group.  Therefore, we get two breakfast meals.

We arrive at the Paris De Gaulle airport to Heathrow to catch our British Airways connecting flight home.  The weather is still a little stormy, brief showers on and off.

Boarding the flight is not until 9:30 am., we are too early so we go upstairs and chill.  I did not get what I wanted for breakfast and there is a McDonalds right across from our lounge seating.  I am suddenly hungry for a Egg McMuffin.  The ordering is totally automated.  You place your order at these computer stations, pay there too, and then wait until your number is called.  Faster, but very impersonal.

I get a window seat on this flight.  It should only take about 45 minutes, but because of the stormy weather we have to circle the airport another 20 minutes.  This delay costs us precious time.  We have a connecting flight to catch home.  

Security checks almost costs us that flight home.  My bag and another girl's bag were earmarked for additional security checks due to overage of fluids.  The security officer was slower than molasses, and I ended up throwing out all of my travel samples, just to get the heck out of dodge.  Lesson learned: whenever you are in doubt about these fluid regulations, just get rid of any unnecessary items before you fly, will save you a lot of misery.

We finally clear security and make a mad dash to the boarding terminal.  We had to get on escalators, elevators, trains you name it.  Even on the train we had to wait until each car was checked by security.  Minutes were ticking by quickly.  Prayers were being sent heavenward.  We all just wanted to catch this flight home.  

Two minutes to spare we arrive to the relief of the others in the group who were anxiously awaiting our arrival.  All seemed to be going smoothly until I get to the boarding area.  I am the last one in line and hear, Ma'am you cannot take that bag on board, it is too big, you have to check it in downstairs.  Panic goes through my mind.  Downstairs where?  Does she mean all the way back from where we came?  Thank God, no, there was a airline employee sent to meet me and take my bag as I was boarding.

Our group once again is seated in the tail of the plane.  I intact am in seat 36 D literally across the aisle from the seat I sat in coming to London.  One girl sat in the exact same seat.

Then over hear over the intercom comes the announcement, we are not able to taxi down the runway yet, due to a bag being loaded into the plane.  Oh I bet I know whose bag that is.  Well, I told my classmate, at least I know it made it onto the plane.  LOL

The flight home always is murder, just like a car ride.  Seems like you will never get to your destination.  There is no way to really make the 10 hour flight go faster, even watching movies and getting up are little consolation.  Another strange thing because of the time changes, the Monday lingers on 6 hours longer for us-a time warp of sorts.

We land and as we are leaving the plane I look at a passenger ahead of us, could it be?  There is a lady that looks a lot like my 28 year old daughter's 4th grade teacher, Dana Davis. We lock eyes and she recognizes me.  It is her with her 4 children-3 high school age and 1-junior high.  Small world.  We talk and catch up on life while we are walking to immigrations.  Her husband is a CEO for Texas A&M.  They have been living in France for the last 2 years, but still have a home in College Station.

All of our loved ones are waiting for us to get out of the security area.  Slowly we pop up and get to go home.  So good to see my husband.  Check in with our daughters and my mother by phone.  Good to hear their familiar voices too.

Looking back and reflecting, I had an amazing journey.  Challenges and all I would not have wanted to miss any part of this experience. 


Sunday, June 8, 2014


This is our last official day of sightseeing in Paris and the plans are very grand indeed.  It is a "Free Day" where the groups go their separate ways, and then meet up later for a dinner feast.

Unfortunately when I get up and check my phone and camera battery charges something went wrong and both of them are not fully charged.  Oh well, let's see how many pictures I can get today.
We have our typical breakfast fare at 8:30 a.m. in the hotel and then will be heading to the Louvre and later in the day to the Musee-Orsay.
Being that it is a Sunday, we are hoping that the crowds will be less than usual at these places.

Guillaume comes to our breakfast table to go over the directions to the subway stops we will need to get to our sites and visit a little.  I tell him my story about yesterday's bandaid miscommunication fopaux at the Pompidou and he laughs.  

I also ask him where the nearest pharmacy is located near our destination and to write the word bandages in French so I will not have any further problems.  By the way the word is Pansements for any of you future travelers to France.
Subway riding is not for the faint of heart.  Mommas in France and England must have to train their babies well, because it is a dangerous way to travel for little ones and pets. One of the ladies from the California group was being crushed by the doors as she was entering the subway train.  It happened right in front of me. She must have just hesitated a little bit and with no warning the doors were closing.  Her super adrenaline powers kicked in and she pushed opened those doors, just in time before the train took off.  Too close of a call and very scary.
Adorable little girl riding with her Momma on the Subway

We finally arrive at the Louvre.  

It is another one of those places you have to see first hand to believe the grandness and scale.  Because of the age of this building most rooms do not have air conditioner and it becomes pretty warm inside the exhibit rooms.  Still it is well worth the discomfort seeing these amazing works of art.  
The Pyramid that leads into the Louvre
A really cool optical illusion, looks like people are walking on water but is a hidden walkway

Our Group
(Left to Right: Dr. Melissa Mednicov, Gabby, April, Laurie, Michael Henderson, Chris, Cairus, Briana, Trey)

Venus De Milo
Most popular attraction-Mona Lisa
We are fortunate to see it so close

John the Baptist
Head on a Platter


Our next stop is to get some lunch.  We find a little free standing vendor selling sandwiches, drinks and pastries.  Then we walk to a park with beautiful flowers, large shade trees perfectly shaped with chairs to sit underneath.  It was one of those moments that I will cherish from this trip.  All of us just sitting cooling off from the heat and enjoying each other's company and having a real French picnic.

We finish our delicious lunch and make the walk to the Orsay museum.  I wish now I would have listened to my husband and brought my sun hat and some sunscreen.  Fortunately one of our group members has an umbrella and I being the tallest hold it over him, my roommate and myself to shade us until we reach the ticket counter.  As we are waiting our professor tells us that this building was once a train station.

We get to the ticket window, and once again if you are over 27 years old in this country you are not eligible for any student discounts.  Glad it is not that way in the States.  Security checks are next and then finally we are inside the galleries.

There is so much to see and not sure where to start.  Went to the 5th floor first so I could see the extensive collections of Impressionistic art.  Sit for a moment and hear a familiar accent.  The couple next to me is from San Francisco.  We visit for a few minutes.  The man tells me his daughter went on an EF tour last year.  They too were impressed that there were so many works of art hung by one artist.  In the states most large museums only have a handful of works by one artist.

After I finish looking at the art, find a large area behind the face of the building's clock.  It reminds me of a miniature Big Ben type clock, but we are on the inside looking out.  Such a view.  

There is a huge stuffed brown leather Matisse shaped chair for the public to lounge on and rest.  I find a spot right next to a father and his 4 yr. old son, Michael.  The father is a Business professor in a Chicago university.  The little boy is very smart and inquisitive.  I attempt to sketch him, but he is a wiggle worm so I abandon the idea.  It is a nice short visit.

Time to move on if I am going to see more before our group reunites in the front of the building by the gift store.  I see paintings and sculptures on several different levels.  I regret not seeing the Van Gooh exhibit.  The line is so long, but I am told too late that it is deceiving, only takes 10 minutes to get into the exhibit.

I do get a chance to briefly shop in the gift area, buy a guide book and a few souvenirs.


We make our way to the area where all of the groups will reunite for dinner.  There is a park with amusement rides, vendors, and food carts.  I sit on a bench with one student, while others do some shopping.  A French couple sits to my right.  Out of no where a Gypsy comes and tries to get money from us.  Guilliaume's good training of averting our eyes and ignoring soon gets rid of this man.

There are two ways to get to Montmartre, one of the tallest sites in France.  I choose not to walk the many steps, but take a short tram ride with two other ladies from the California group.  The tram is very, very jammed packed and with no A/C I am happy it is a very short ride maybe 5-7 minutes.

We arrive at a large outdoor restaurant called, La Cremaillere.  Our meal is served: appetizer-tuna on a shredded carrot salad, main dish-
Beef bourguignon Recipe.  Dessert is a type of cake: tart raspberry and blueberry mousse with a very thin layer of cake.  Once again it is wonderful.

We get a short shopping break before touring, I choose to go around the block and watch the portrait artist work.  Fun to see all of the different ways they work.  Groups meet up again and our first stop is to see the famous Artist community (Monet's Bar hangout, Matisse, Degas, Renoir's apartments next to the community wash stations) and see Moulin Rouge's location in the Red district.  We also see a building used in the French movie Amelie.  I understand you can watch these two movies on Netflix, will have to do that.

The groups once again split up, those who want to go with our guide back to the hotel, and those who want to continue sight seeing.  I choose the hotel.  We ride one of the roughest subway lines in France, but it is the quickest way to get where we need to go.  The guys in the group are told to watch out for the women.  No problems arise, although the subway smells of urine and some of the patrons smell like they have not bathed or used deodorant.  Our final stop is at the very end of the line, so we have about 20 stops in between.

We finally arrive at the hotel around 10:30 pm. As we get to the hotel, we see lightening in the area where the other groups are touring.  Our guide tells us in France seeing lightening is rare.  

I get to the room and soak in the tub, pack my suitcases, and elevate my feet.  My roommate doesn't get in until 1 am.  We have an early call, leaving for the Paris De Gaulle Airport connecting flight to Heathrow in London.


Saturday, June 7, 2014



The first morning in Paris begins with breakfast in the hotel around 8:30 am.  Our guide tells us not to expect much, but the food choices are very nice.  We have croissants, corn flake cereal, milk, orange juice, water, coffee, apples, ham slices, and various bread spreads.

Our group sits at the round table in the back of the room.  Table talk this morning is at a minimum, seems everyone is still sleepy.  Eating helps bring our energy levels back up which we are going to need because we are traveling to Versailles.  There will be lots of walking.

The skies are overcast and threaten to shower on and off.  We bring either our jackets or umbrellas.  Even though the sun is not beating down on us, it still feels very muggy.  This makes the walk from the train, about a mile to the actual estate grounds, harder than usual.

As I approach the estate grounds I see the size of the buildings are massive, and very impressive. It is one of those times where you have to see it to fully appreciate the experience.

click on More information and a slide show-Versailles Estate

Even the roof' tops have gold leaf

Our tickets are pre bought but we still have to stand in line for about 45 minutes.  Can't believe what happens, a young girl and boy cut in line in front of me and another student.  I make the comment that we were here first, so the female doesn't challenge me, but gets right back in line directly behind us instead of leaving the line and going to the end.  To my surprise they are not asked to move and laugh at not getting caught.

As I wander the halls of Versailles I can't help to be amazed that I am walking on the same stairways and areas that Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XIV.   To best describe what I see is their lifestyle was exuberance on steroids.  It seems as if it could be guilded in gold or made in some grand way it was.  No expense was spared in creating this palace.  

These pictures are just a small sample of the tour

One of my classmates tours with me and we have fun looking at the exhibits together and shopping at one of the conveniently located gift shops.  We stop there between exhibit halls. I see some Marie-Antoinette's replica perfume in cute little bottles and buy some for my daughters, and then find a Napolean Bonaparte t-shirt for my husband's Father's Day gift. Later we stumble on to the Cafe and stop in to have a quick bite of lunch, tomato and cheese wraps that were very refreshing.  When we finish we head to the Gardens.

Excuse the videography, I did not realize my camera was turned sideways, but it gives you a small sense of the sights and sounds of one area of this massive garden.

I am in heaven, finally get to visit a garden. What a garden it is!

Just one of the many fountains in the garden

The end of the pathway I looking back at Versailles

Entrance to one of the side gardens-A secret garden perhaps

Even the fountains are guilded in gold

One of the many beautiful garden features
I only get 30 minutes to explore the garden, definitely not enough time.  Would have loved to have spent the whole day painting in the garden.  Maybe one day I will get to visit again.

Time to leave and head back to the train.  When we get to town everyone is hungry and we walk around the market area looking for some place to have lunch.  Since I already ate earlier, I am able to take this time and do a quick shopping trip.  I spot a store where I can get my husband his French Father's Day card, a few skeins of yarn, and a coffee mug.  When I finish I rejoin the group.  Around the corner is a Gelato stand, this time I buy raspberry flavor.  So good and cold on a hot day.  Then I see my roommate eating a chocolate eclair.  I have to get one and oh my is it amazingly delicious.  Wish I could have more.
A market where you can buy sandwiches
Another treat one group member is eating-strawberry mousse filled pastry
First bite of my eclair was so yummy
Traditional French Chocolate Eclair Recipe
Now back to the subway and on to see the Centre Pompidou art museum.  

Art on a wall
Fun art objects in a large fountain outside museum
She has the right idea, soaking her feet in the fountain. 
street vendors and artist everywhere in front of Pompidou

Our first stop is the exhibit Atelier Brancusi

Constantin Brancusi (article) bequeathed his studio belongings to the French State on the condition that eh Museum would reconstruct it exactly as it stood on his death.  

Then we visit the Cafe giving us a chance to rest and get more refreshments.  I have my first French macaroon cookies (recipe), also delicious.  When everyone is finished, I split off from the group because it will be to difficult to keep up with them, my feet are really bothering me.

My professor tells me about a movie showing in the museum, have to admit it sounds strange to me at first, but my curiosity gets me, especially after he tells me it is a great place to rest.  

"Created in 2010 by Christian Marclay, the video installation The Clock is a mechanism regulated with a clockmaker's precision which tells the time in real time, minute by minute, for twenty-four hours.  It involves the virtuosic edition of thousands of film excerpts taken from the entire history of the cinema, inviting us to explore our own relationship with time and the way it is staged in cinema."  Centre Pompidou handout
                           20 Minute Clip of Clock Movie

I go inside the theatre where The Clock movie by artist, Christian Marclay is playing and the area is dark, cool, and lined with rows of white leather sofas.  My kind of place.  I really get into this movie, it was funny, interesting, clever.  I wish I could have stayed and watched the whole 24 hours.

Funny thing happened after I left the movie.  My blister on the bottom of my foot was really hurting, so I thought I would go to the information counter and ask if they had a bandage in a first aid kit.  Language barriers gave the women behind the counter the impression I needed serious medical care.  They said they would call the pompier.  I asked what is that?  They conversed in French and said uh, in English, Fire Department.  I was NO, NO.  I only have a blister on my foot.  Hobbled a little bit away and the lady called me back and said, Pharmacie, I said yes, yes.  There was one 2 blocks away, but no way I could make it.

Main Floor and shopping
I spot the book store and go inside.  I spot some decorative scrap booking tape with the words Paris on it and think, I can make this work. Artist are known for improvising.  End up using a Kleenex and tape for a makeshift bandage.  It wasn't so pretty, but did the trick.

I go back to the Cafe and people watch from the second floor.  See some performance art.  Sketch awhile.  Overhear a private conversation of two ladies about their husbands.  They speak in English and French.  One lady's husband apparently just came back from Dubai and is hooked on green coffee and now can't settle down, bouncing off the walls.
A human May pole performance 
Later on rode the outside escalator to the 5th floor. Amazing view from the outside.
5th Floor Modern Art

Escalator Tube
View from 5th Floor

Some of the artist's work I enjoyed were:Kanisky, Bauchant, de Senlis, and Man Ray.


Time to look for a place to eat dinner.  We cannot decide as a group on one place so we split into two groups.  My group finds a sandwich place and I settle on a tomato, cheese, and lettuce on a baguette.  This meal is satisfying especially on such a hot day.

Several in the group want to go back to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up at night and ride the elevator to the top.  I am not good with heights and the elevator is all glass and leaves you on the observation deck for 2 hours while waiting for a ride back down.  I am dog tired and we will have much more walking to do to get to the site.  

I am happy to discover several others in our group who are not interested in seeing the Eiffel Tower again and like myself would instead like head back to the hotel.

We discuss the route to take on the Subway, and agree to text our professor when we safely arrive. As we head back, our group decides to walk Flanuer style back to the hotel.  That is a casual stroll taking in the sights, especially since we only have one more day in Paris.  We laugh, and take more pictures.  A lovely way to end the evening.  Arrive around 10:30 p.m.  The other group doesn't get in until 1 a.m.  They had a wonderful time too.


Friday, June 6, 2014



Our alarm goes off at 5 a.m. so we can make the 6 a.m. breakfast and check out.  We have our typical food fare and then load our baggages onto the bus.  It is sunny our last day in London.  Leaving is bitter sweet.  It was so fun here, but I am excited to see what lies ahead in Paris on the 70th anniversary of Normandy Invasion D-Day.

The bus trip is not too long.  We arrive at the railway station, pass through security and wait with other passengers until it is time to board our train.  The lounge area is noisy, lots of excited school children in the area.  

Some of the group take this opportunity to get another cup of coffee, use the toilets, and relax a bit.  If we follow suit, we will not be idle long after we reach Paris and check into the hotel.

Tickets get shuffled several times before we finally get our permanent seats.  I am on Eurostar train 16 seat 46.  I am seated next to three other members of our group and we have the seats with the table in the middle.  Once the train gets going it moves quickly, we were told 170 m.p.h.  Our arrival time in Paris should be in just 2-1/2 hours.

The countryside is beautiful and the homes are larger than I expected to see in the rural areas of France.

AFTERNOON We arrive to the train station.  Adjust my watch 1 hour ahead of London's time.  Most of the ladies of the three groups need to use the toilettes.  They are not free and cost 70 cent Euro.  Since no one has any Euros except me, I fortunately saved some Euros from my Amsterdam trip and can pay for everyone.

Barely off the train one of the ladies from Louisiana was accosted by a Gypsy trying to take her purse.  She fought him off.  Our guide, Guilliaume, warns us about these people and other criminals.  He tells us how to avoid them.

It is definitely much sunnier and hotter in Paris than in London.  Don't need our jackets anymore.  The highs are around 90 and the humidity feels like back in Texas.  

The tour bus that will take us to our hotel.  First, we must get through the traffic congestion.  It amazes me how these little compact cars and motorcycles challenge our bus for the right of way on the road.  He ends up opening his window to yell at them to get back.  Have to readjust to being on the right side of the road again, just when I was getting used to the other way.

Our bus makes several stops on the way to our hotel, Mercure Paris Porte d'Orleans.  The Porte d'Orleans will also be our subway stop name.  One of the stops is the Eiffel Tower.  It is so tall over 1000'.  Paris does not disappoint with its' landmarks.  London felt like an American city, but Paris is definitely not like any city we have at home.  Most every building and monument is such a grand scale.

click on History of Eiffel Tower

Next stop at a park spend about 30 minutes there.  First things I notice different than London and US.  People are taking time to enjoy visiting each other, resting even out in public. The chairs are not locked up and no rental fees to use them like in London parks.   Also, the fashions in Paris are much more colorful than London, they are more grays and blacks, neutrals.  

a garden spot at last
love the red poppies
more travelers
Park scene reminds me modern version of the painting below
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884 is one of Georges Seurat's most famous works, and is an example of pointillism.
Park chairs and tables for all to enjoy
Finally arrive at hotel to quickly check into our rooms and get back down to begin touring. Only one problem the elevators are very small and slow.  So we are given 20 minutes.  Guillaume tells us that the subway system here is not the same as London.  The doors will not wait for you to get on, must really hurry and there are no signs posting what stop you are at so you have to really pay attention to the wall signs and the announcements.  Also the tickets are good for only one ride not passes for the day.  So we have to keep up with multiple tickets and make sure we have the right one.  That is nerve racking.

We head out and pass through busy streets on the way to see Notre Dame and Locks of Love Bridge.  Stop to get cold water, since it is so hot easy to get dehydrated.  I especially have to monitor this because of my heart condition and medication.  While traveling it is hard to find that balance of enough water, but not too much for frequent bathroom breaks. Street vendors are the cheapest 1 Euro for cold water, other places double the price if it is refrigerated.

 As we are looking at the smallest street still in Paris, I feel a man brush up against me.  The student next to me notices too.  This man has a strange look on his face as he passes looking directly at me.  If he was after my wedding ring, or something else his plans failed.  I decide to take my ring off while I am in Paris.  Too risky.  

Street Spray Paint Artist, interesting to watch his process

Small streets led to high crime in Paris before the wider Boulevards were built

At Notre Dame's Mass has started, you are allowed to take photos and sit in the service.  I take about 15 minutes to just soak in the environment and have time for silent prayer. Grateful for having this amazing life experience.  

Seeing the altar incense rise upward toward Heaven, smelling the fragrance, hearing the priest and choir chant out prayers.  Looking around at the beauty and shear size of the ceiling and building expanse, sensing God's Divine presence.

click on History of Notre Dame

Seine River crossing to Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Inside is massive

One of the beautiful stained glass windows

Virgin Mary and Christ statue
Quickly get a chance to see the Locks of Love Bridge.  This is the bridge that made the National news on Tuesday, day after we got home.  We just missed this event.  

EVENING:Time to eat.  We walk through the city and see lots of outdoor Bistro type cafes.  Flowers in window boxes just as I imagined next to wrought iron railings and brightly colored shutters on several story stone buildings.  So beautiful, a painting in the making.

We arrive at our destination.  This restaurant is a remodeled cave from the 13th century.  We go downstairs and it is instantly much cooler in this cavern where we will eat a duck dinner.  Our first meal in France is specially prepared for us:  duck shepherd's pie, organic salad that is grown on the grounds with a light vinaigrette dressing, and a papaya-passion fruit topped with kiwi creme desert.  I promised to have a glass of wine in France for a friend, I do so here.  I order a small carafe of rose wine.  All of it is delicious.  
13th century cave 

Organic Greens, white asparagus, pickled parsnip

desert, so creamy and light

Bon Appetite and Cheers dear friend
I could get used to French cuisine.  This duck is so tender and sweet
parmentier-de-canard-confit-Duck Shepherd Pie Recipe

When dinner is over we take a stroll for some Gelato (What is it?).
                                                 Deeply Chocolate Gelato Recipe  
Cannot believe I still have room, but don't miss a chance to have dark chocolate ice cream on a cone 3 Euro.
Looking for the Gelato shop
A common site along the Seine River, people laughing, playing cards eating and drinking wine

PDA is a common site for the City of Love
Pass by a Law University, this pic is for my daughter who is planning to attend Law School
A beautiful site on the way back to the subway that takes us to the hotel.  I am looking for a Pharmacie to buy some bandaids and epson salts.  My feet really are swollen in the evenings.  My breathing is more difficult too, especially on those inclines.  Our University campus' hills look easy compared to these.
The setting sun's reflection on these buildings is so beautiful
Wonder why all the stores are closed so early.  Well, it's almost 10:00 p.m. and as you can see the sun is still up.  The sun does not set here until 10:30 ish.  That really throws my internal clock off kilter. 

Get back to the hotel, but first stop to get some water at the front desk.  A miracle, I happen to spot some spa bath salts for sale in the cabinet next to the refrigerator.  At this point, I don't care how much they cost.  I am determined to soak my poor feet.  When I get back to my room, my roommate and I agree to sit on the side of the tub and do just that before bedtime and it feels wonderful.


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