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Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Brocante in Paris

At the top of my list of things to do in
Paris this time was spend some time
at a brocante or flea market.  I consulted
with the Princess of French brocante, Corey
from Tongue in Cheek and she told me Vanves
was her favorite market in Paris.
We planned to be at the market early in the
morning but after being woken up by the
revelers leaving L'Enchanteur at 4:30 and
5:30am we slept a bit later than expected.
Who would think that our little street in the
Marais would be at it's noisiest in the wee
hours of the morning???  A bit of a lingering
breakfast enjoying the beautiful art from the
local patisserie set us back a bit as well.
This was probably our nicest day weatherwise
for the entire time we were in Paris and we
took a stroll through our local park on the
way to the Metro.
When in Amsterdam we went to the Antiques
Market but we were disappointed to find
everything locked up in glass cases.
This was much more our style.  Stall after
stall of old stuff.  The prices were a bit high
for our American dollars.  For instance, we
saw many café au lait cups marked at 38 euro,
that's almost $50 US dollars ~ yeeps!
As we strolled along we saw many of the
dealers packing up their stalls, it was only noon.
Finally I came upon this stall.  Crates
filled with a jumble of stuff from old to
just junk.  A treasure hunt!  There is nothing
I like more than rummaging through boxes
of old stuff.  I said to Mr. Wonderful, "this
is my kind of shopping" ~ just then an elegantly
dressed woman looked up at me and said,
"isn't this the best, it is so much fun!"
This is what we ended up buying.  With our
hands full we asked the dealer how much,
he gave us a French shrug and said, "5 euro?"
Deal!  Why didn't I go back and buy more???
We also picked up this little gem
for the clock collection.
I think I'd like to drive through the
little French villages and go to the
local flea markets and then have a
lovely lunch.  Sounds like a nice way
 to spend a vacation...
What do you think Mr. Wonderful?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Neat to Eat ~ Stroopwafels

We are a Stroopwafel lovin' household.
Long before any of us had been to the
Netherlands we were all hooked on them.
And no one more so than Brennan, any
time we make a Trader Joe's run, he always
requests them.
On my first visit to Amsterdam I saw
this guy selling stroopwafels at the
Albert Cuyp Market.
Why didn't I try one of the chocolate
dipped ones?  I'm never hungry when
I come upon these great things...
Stroopwafels are two very thin waffles
with a syrupy caramel sandwiched
between them.  The best way to eat
them is to place the large ones on top
of a cup of a hot beverage.  This melts
the caramel and makes one waffle soft
while the other is still crisp.  Num!
When I was in Amsterdam a few weeks
ago I noticed many cute little stroopwafel
shops.  When I was in the big supermarket
behind the palace, I noticed a group of Asian
girls filling their baskets with these little bags
of the mini stroopwafels.  I guessed they were
buying them as gifts to take home.  So, I brought
a bag home for Brennan.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Never Forget

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.
A day to remember those who died while
serving in the US Armed Forces.  I consider
myself a patriotic person, I find myself tearing
up every time I hear the National anthem, I get
a bit choked up when far from home and happen
to see the stars and stripes waving in the breeze.
This is the 2nd Memorial Day I have celebrated
this year.  The 1st was quite unexpected, I happened
to be in Arnhem in the Netherlands to visit the Open
Air Museum that is located there.  After walking for
over 5 hours I was exhausted and went inside a
windmill to sit down.  A video happened to be playing
describing the time when the people of Arnhem were
forced to evacuate their town during WWII.
The people loaded up their bicycles, carts, baby
carriages with their belongings and headed out
into the streets.  They didn't know where to go
and 600 of them ended up at the museum I was
touring and stayed in the museum exhibits.
I was astounded ~ I didn't even know this museum
existed in the 1940's.  I went away thinking I had
learned an exciting piece of history.
When I had arrived in Arnhem the day before
I had posted the location on my facebook page.
An old friend contacted me and said his Dad had
been at Arnhem in the war and asked if I would
take a photo of the famous bridge.  Rob and I
headed out with a map to find the bridge.  On
our way we came upon a huge church with lots
of activity.  A policeman explained it was
Remembrance Day in the Netherlands.
We made our way to the bridge and found a
small memorial plaza with photos and a cannon
and memorials.  And that was when I found myself
completely overcome with emotion, I thought of my
Dad and Greg's Dad and so many of the Dads of my
friends fighting this war.  We are the baby boomers,
so many of us have some close attachment to this
war.  My Dad wasn't at Arnhem but he was in North
Africa and Europe for the war.
The church bells started ringing in Arnhem
and almost everyone stopped what they were
doing.  Young guys on motorcycles pulled over,
couples going out for the evening got out of their
cars and stood silently, it was very moving.

This is my Dad driving a jeep in Naples.
I'm struck by how young our Dads were,
very close to the ages of my kids now.
We can get distracted by the fun associated
with Memorial Day, it's a day off from work,
the kick-off to summer, cook-outs and parades
and fireworks...
But let's remember to never forget.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: Egg Salad

Today we needed a quick and easy lunch.
We were up to our elbows in gardening
chores and didn't want to resort to a
drive-thru lunch.
6 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayo
1 1/2 teas. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped scallions
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teas. paprika
Note: I use mayo with lime that I
discovered in Mexico and found it
is available in the International Food
aisle of my local grocery.  It gives an
extra kick.
Chop hard boiled eggs.
In a separate bowl, combine
the other ingredients.
Add eggs and stir to combine.
Serve on bread or lettuce.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Maille Mustard Boutique ~ Paris

I admit it ~ I'm a mustard freak.
I love mustard, I think it can add so much
to a simple sandwich, a delicious entrée or
a Bavarian pretzel.  Many Americans don't
go far beyond the ball park style mustard
and that is a shame.  There are so many great
mustards all over the world, from the sweet
Bavarian mustards to the tangy Mucky Duck
mustard from Michigan.  Is there any surprise
that Paris would have entire boutiques devoted
to mustard?
On our final day in Paris we headed to
the Place de la Madeleine to go to Maille.
Ringing the square are Fauchon, Hediard,
Caviar Kaspia and other specialty food stores
and from the look of things they are all busy.
But I was on the hunt for moutarde...
Maille has shelves filled with all sorts of
mustards, oils and vinegars.  You can also
sample various mustards.  Another fabulous
thing is they have mustards "on tap".  Why,
oh why, didn't I bring home a crock of the
Black Truffle mustard???  It was so good.
You can bring your crock back to the store
and have them refill it as well.
We always have an a la Ancienne style
in our house since we can buy this type
locally.  Brennan brought me this one
from his last trip to Paris.  On this trip I
got the Balsamic vinegar mustard (divine!)
and the Fig and Coriander which I have not
tried yet.
Oh, and look at what is just down the
street ~ ooh la la!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Month of May

I love the gardens at my American Homestead,
Avalon.  And... those gardens take a lot of work
each year.  This year we were away the first 18
days of May ~ prime planting time!
I knew I would miss the blooming of the
lilac, one of my favorites.  My sister knew
I would be disappointed so she emailed
me a photo of it in bloom while I was in
the Netherlands.
She also sent me a photo of the stunning
bloom of this crabapple.  I bought this tree
years ago at the end of the gardening season.
I felt sorry for this poor neglected tree, it was
sort of like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.
I took it home and planted it in the front garden
and it stayed there for a few years and pretty
much remained a twig.  I wasn't sure if it was
going to live so I transplanted it to the back
garden and it has been there for many years,
growing very slowly.  Over the past two years
it has really started to thrive, there are many
branches and it is filled with leaves.  And this
year, it bloomed!  It bloomed magnificently.
My sister called me in the Netherlands to let
me know since she knew I'd be so excited.
I was!
Today, these beautiful roses bloomed.
They are a delicious deep pink and smell
the way roses are supposed to smell, just
like the old roses I remember as a child.
So, if anyone is looking for me for the next
week, I'll be in the garden.  I just wish Mother
Nature would co-operate, everytime I put on
my gardening clothes, the raindrops start...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: The Rum Runner

The warm weather has finally arrived in
our neck of the woods.  We wanted to have
a refreshing cocktail to enjoy out on the deck.
Something fun and fruity.
We decided on the Rum Runner.
This is a recipe for a basic Rum Runner.
There are many variations, many call for
a banana liqueur and we don't care for it.
1  1/2 oz. Malibu Rum
1 oz. Blackberry Brandy
a splash of orange juice.
cranberry juice and
pineapple juice
Place ingredients in a shaker
with ice, shake it up and enjoy!
Just be careful, they go down easy...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Oh Happy Day!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to 
travel the world.  But there is nothing better
than coming home.  The joy and comfort of 
sleeping in your own bed (I call mine The Cloud),
having your best doggie friend follow you around
to make sure you don't leave again, touring your
garden to see what has changed since you were
last at home, and just being surrounded by the
people and things you love...

Today we are all home at the same time, a thing
that doesn't happen all that often any more.  We
didn't expect Brennan until next week as he is 
working on a special project, but we got a news this 
morning that he is sick and there is no better place
to get better than at home.  The homemade chicken
 soup is on the stove, ready for when he wakes up.
Dinner for the rest of us (vegetarian of course) is
being prepped and then for dessert we will celebrate
the holidays we have missed as a family.

A Happy Day!
I hope you have one as well!

Monday, May 13, 2013


This morning we hopped on the RER and
headed out to Versailles.

Officially, Versailles is closed on Mondays.

But we were here for the gardens.

We have already been to the chateau
and felt we didn't need to see it again.

Europe at this time of year has been
so crowded.  Even more crowded than 
when I have been here in June.  This is
why we usually never go to Europe at this
time but this year was Wonderful's big 
birthday and we also wanted to visit 

So to visit the gardens without the tour 
groups and throngs of people was a delight.
(For people from New Jersey in the USA, it 
was like going down the shore in the winter,
my favorite time.)

The Orangerie and the Swiss Lake.

We strolled through vast allees of trees
and viewed tons of statues...

and fountains...

Then, it was time for this:

My favorite part of Versaille is
the Hamlet.

It was Marie Antoinette's escape from 
court life.  She would go here to act like
a peasant.

Renting bicycles is a great way to 
see out of the way places that would
be too far to walk to.

The end of the Grand Canal looking 
back to the Chateau.

As we were leaving the sun finally
came out ~ Murphy's Law.