Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Paris Map Dresser Makeover

I have talked before about some of my trash treasures.  During trash day one month a friend of mine texted me that there was some furniture out on her street.  My mom was here so we headed in her direction.  This little dresser was abandoned on the side of the road.  It was pretty rough and dirty, but we decided to put it in the car any way.

The dresser sat outside for a couple of days and then my mom brought it in and scrubbed the whole thing down.  And then she did it again and I think she might have scrubbed it once more after that.  I didn't have a place for it so the dresser stayed in the basement all summer.  

Last month I decided to rearrange the living room.  I needed a side table for the couch and this dresser fit perfectly.  I moved the dresser into place, but I knew it needed some work. 

I was spurred to action when I found twisted iron drawer pulls at the hardware store for 50 cents each.  They were a little too big for the original holes so I drilled new holes and filled the old ones.  

I had this map tucked away for future use.  The map was in pretty rough shape and would not have been a good candidate for framing or most other uses.  I love this map thought because it shows the smaller city names outside of Paris that are where we live and spend most of our time.  

Here is the dresser all put together.  I fixed a batch of homemade modge lodge using glue and attached the map to the drawer fronts.  Then the drawer pulls went into place.

Here is my dresser in its place in the living room.  It is not a show stopper or the first thing you notice when you walk in, but it is a fun and functional piece.  For a total investment of 4 euros and some time I love it.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another Day Another Market, Les Andelys

A few weeks ago we visited Chateau Gaillard in a town called Les Andelys.  While researching that trip I found out they had a Foire a Tout planned for September 13 and 14.  I put it on the calendar and hoped that it would work out to head back out there.  On Saturday morning we woke up at our normal time, too early, and headed out on our 1 and 15 minute drive.  Can you believe we were ready and in the car before 8 am?  Me either.

We had to stop and fill up with diesel and I noticed this building for the first time.  It is a neat old building right next to the gas station.  This is part of the reason that I love France.

A good way to start the day.

Almost there, you can see Chateau Gaillard on the ridge just ahead.

We found parking for 2.50 euros and started walking.  We found the market and got busy.  This was a random sight while walking the streets.

Just a couple of the stalls that I shopped at.  There were not that many people when we got started, there were plenty of great treasures and good prices.

This Hotel is on the main road through town, it looks like a fun place to stay.

After several hours of walking and lots of treasures picked out we settled down for a bite to eat.  The hot dogs were RED, just like back in Maine.

There was a lovely park right in the middle of all the chaos.  We were able to play, rest and eat lunch.  

There are beautiful little parks like this in almost every village we visit.  

Of course there was a statue in the park as well.

On our way back to the car we had another view of the Chateau.  I love this town.

In the parking lot of the school they had made this table out of a tree stump, I knew this was something my mother would appreciate.

And now for the pictures of my treasures.  This is most everything I found that day.  

This basket was a giant pain to carry around, but totally worth it.  The buttons that are filling it were on my shopping list.  I bargained with the guy, in French, and got the price that I wanted!  

These were some of my tiny treasures, the light blue transfer ware espresso cup was my favorite find of the day.  My goal now is to spell out N O E L, I have one down and 3 letters to go.  The medal is from WWI.  You never know what you are going to find here.  

I think my find of the day were these copper pots.  There are 8 in the set, the 3 larger ones have the tinning on the inside, the smallest one is so cute, and about the right size for a measuring cup.

It is interesting to compare the two most recent markets I have been to, Lille's Braderie and The Foire a Tout in Les Andelys.  Lille's event is famous, but I much preferred the smaller, more community focused event.  It is always fun for us to explore as a family, the gorgeous weather didn't hurt either.

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La Grande Braderie de Lille 2014

This summer when I saw a post about Europe's largest flea market my junk loving heart skipped a beat.  I found another family that wanted to go with us, found a house near by that we could visit and set the plan in motion.  I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I knew I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Le Grande Braderie de Lille dates back to the middle ages in some stories, when the lower classes were allowed to sell the cast offs of the upper classes.  The event has grown over the years to include over 100 km of vendors and 2 million visitors.  There is a half marathon, a moles et frites (mussels and fries) festival and lots of fun shopping.  The zoo is also open for free that weekend.
I emailed the tourist office of Lille and they sent me maps the month before we left.  Those maps were very helpful.
The house we booked was in Kortrijk, Belgium.  For the number of people we needed to house and how much we wanted to spend, and what was available we were about 30 minutes north of the city, just across the border.  We knew that the city center was closed to traffic for the duration of the weekend.  We saw a lot of places where they would have lots near metro stations for you to park and ride in.  When we actually got to our house and started looking at our options we saw that we could drive a half hour, park at a metro and ride 25 stops to the city center!  That was a lot!  We looked at trains next and we found a local station that was 10 minutes away and then 30 minutes into Lille with only 4 stops.  A round trip ticket was 8 euros per adult.  There was a parking garage for our vehicle with in walking distance of the station.  We made it into the city without incident.
We started making our way across the city.  It was a little busy, especially with the half marathon finishing up.  It took us about an hour to make our way from the Gare Lille Flanders to the Champs de Mars, but we weren't really trying to hurry that much.  This was about 9:45-10:45.   We saw a few vendors setting up.  I did see a wine bottle drying rack about 3 feet tall, it was amazing, but it was also quite heavy and we were just getting started.  She was only asking 50 Euros, it still makes me a little sad to think that it went home with someone else.  Through the city there were only a couple of vintage vendors.  There were several table set up by Haribo, the candy company.  There were food vendors, and a lot of the stores had sidewalk sales.  We made our way to the Champs de Mars area where the zoo was located too.  This is also where the yellow road on the map for the braderie was located.  That was the part that was labeled Perimetre Brocanteurs Exclusivement.  We started at the Emmaus table, our favorite thrift store in Paris had their own set of tables at the Braderie.  This is where Jon took off with the kids to have their fun, and my friend Shelly and I took off and had our fun.  There was so much to see and so many people that wanted to see it as well.  We manages to each find some treasures.  I had my rolling market bag and a big shoulder bag.  We kept shopping and filling our bags up.  Some of the vendors were willing to bargain, others had higher prices, you never knew what you were going to get.  Shelly and I both got a couple of surprisingly good deals.  There were also a few things we were really excited to find and willing to pay a little more for.

By 2:00 PM Jon had already taken the kids back to the train and headed back to the house.  Shelly and I still hadn't eaten lunch.  We had brought some food with us thinking the food would be really expensive, but there were surprisingly reasonable food options.  I ended up buying a hamburger so we could sit in their little area.  It felt so good to get off of our feet for a bit.  We kept going until we realized that we needed other facilities and of course they were all the way back by where we had started.  It was so hard to turn around without seeing every booth, but our bags were full and the crowds were starting to fill in.
By the time we were done my friend had a full bag, a painting and a giant wooden cut out of Asterix, a French cartoon icon.  I had my rolling back and large shopping bag FULL.  There was also a road sign I had tucked under my bag.
From here we left the Champs de Mars and started back across the city to the train station, it was about 4 PM.  We eventually made it to the train station by 5:30 and hopped on the 6:07 train back to Belgium.  The journey across the city was pretty miserable.  The streets were PACKED in places.  We could not move.  Not everyone had been doing as much shopping as we had.  Our bags were full and cumbersome, but they were full of treasures so we pressed on.

Here is a picture of me at the train station.  That is one big smile because we were almost home!

We made it back to Belgium and my friend's husband was waiting at the train station to drive us to the house.  All of our kids were there waiting for us and having a great time together.
La Braderie is unique in that it goes all night long.  We read about people using flashlights to shop through the night.  We had our flashlights packed and we were excited to try it, but after seeing the city filling up, and talking to a train station employee, we were worried for our safety if we were to go back in.  It felt less like a brocante or flea market and more like a street party. So we made the decision to call it a night.  We ordered Thai food and it was amazing and then we got all of the kids situated and settled in for a quiet night.
The festival was not exactly what I was expecting, but it was a lot of fun.

Here is a picture of all of my finds.  The prices were pretty good, but not absolutely the best I have seen.  The selection was good, but still not complete.
I am really glad I went this year, but I don't think I will put it on the calendar for next year.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The End of a Season

This post is about breastfeeding.  It is not something that I feel the need to talk about often on the blog, but it is something that I have been blessed to do.  I feel strongly about supporting a Mom's right to feed her baby the best way she can.  I wrote the rest of this post last week.

Malachi, 10 months

This morning when Malachi woke up I changed his diaper and took him downstairs for breakfast.  This was the first morning that he didn't nurse.  I knew this day was coming, he has steadily been dropping his other feedings through out the day, but today I made the decision to be done breastfeeding him.  I think he was ready to be done, but I am still not sure how I feel.

Addison, Bennett, and Garrett each at 1 month old.

 Nursing a baby is a huge commitment and I am thankful to have made it 10 months with Malachi.  As this journey has come to an end Jon and I have been talking about the last 8 years since we became parents.  We realized how much of my adult life has been spent with someone else depending on my body for sustenance; whether pregnant or breastfeeding.  We counted up how many months and we figured out that out of the last 96 months I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for 80 of those months!  I know I haven't breastfed for as long as some, but that is a significant number to me.

When I first became Mommy, April 30, 2007

Weaning Malachi has been significant in the fact that he is our last baby, as far as we are planning.  I am always hesitant to speak in absolutes when it comes to our family because I believe God holds the plans in His hands, but as far as we are concerned Malachi is the last baby that I am planning on carrying.  To end a season of life that has been so precious to me is very hard, but it is time.
Our kids are growing up into great little people.  We have fun with them and we are loving seeing them learn and grown and develop their own personalities.  Keeping up with each of those personalities takes a lot of work too, work that is hard for me to do when I am carrying or caring for an infant.
Malachi is still my baby, and to some extant he always will be, but he is also ready to move up to the world of the big kids.  He loves to be with them, playing with them and doing just what they are doing.
I love our family and I am in awe every day that I get to be Mommy to these 4 amazing kids.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

10 on 10 September

I was so happy I remembered to take my 10 on 10 photos.  The idea is to take 10 pictures for 10 consecutive hours during one day.  I love seeing other people's posts, you get a glimpse into what a day looks like for someone else.  
This 10 on 10 was not a glamorous day in the life of an expat in Paris, it was more of a standard stay at home mom day, but it was still good.

9:11  Coffee, such a good thing.

10:23 Malachi is awake from his first morning nap.  He is such a happy little baby.

11:39, I know they are still in their pajamas, it was one of those days.

12:37 Lunch time included one of Garrett's favorites.  Knacki balls are like a hot dog in a ball.

1:48 Doing a little baking, banana muffins!

2:52 Malachi after his post lunch nap.  He loved the banana muffins as much as the big kids.

 4:25 Home from the bus stop with the big kids.  Ben is always happy to see his blanket.

4:42 Second grade means more homework for this girl.  She is smiling for the picture, but I don't get a whole lot of love most days.

5:28 Working on dinner, I know this is a ton of mashed potatoes.  I made enough for dinner and a shepherd's pie to go in the freezer.

7:01 Dinner without Daddy, it is as crazy as it looks.

7:40 The best part of the day, Daddy is home!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Enamelware Love

I love the look of enamelware.  I have a few pieces of American enamelware in storage back in the US.  Vintage French enamelware was on my list of things to look for while shopping in France.  Enamelware refers to the high temperature process of adhering paint to metal.  It made things beautiful and kept the things in them from taking on a metallic taste.  It was started in Western Europe and moved across the Atlantic to the United States.

This was first piece of enamelware, I bought it at the Foire de Chatou.

I have been collecting pieces ever since then and I have found some really fun pieces.  I have found these pieces at different places; Emmaus, Porte de Vanves, and other brocantes.

I found these three pieces at Emmaus.  I wasn't sure what their purpose had been, but I liked their colors, they were in good condition and they were a good deal so I brought them home.  I was pretty sure they had a medical background based on the stickers that are still on two of them.  When I went looking for their original purpose I found a lot of them repurposed to hold flowers and some with kitchen utensils.  I finally found out their original purpose and I will say I probably wouldn't use them to hold kitchen utensils.  These beautiful tins were originally used in administering enemas.  Collecting things from the past can lead to some interesting discoveries.

This blue pitcher is in gorgeous condition, it is also from Emmaus.  

This is the marking on the bottom of this lidded pitcher.  Most enamelware does not have a mark so this is fun.

Here are a few more of the pieces in my collection.  None of them are in perfect condition, but I love to think that the rust and bumps just mean that they were well used and well loved.  

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Walking Tour: Montmartre

Last year when we arrived in Paris I got an email from another mom at school saying they had room on their walking tour.  It looked like so much fun, but with a big belly and Garrett still home with me every day it just wasn't possible.  
At the end of last year, when we had our feet under us and I felt more comfortable arranging childcare options I jumped at the chance to be on a walking tour.  The tours are arranged by different experts, you meet about twice a month in different parts of the city and walk around with your guide while they tell you all kinds of fun historical information.

My first tour was this week and it was everything I hoped it would be.  I am not going to try and write out the tour here, my guide Dr. Kelly gave us so much information, but I would like to share some of the photos from a morning in Montmartre.

We started at the Abbesses metro stop.  Note to self this exit has the most stairs of any metro station in Paris.  The stairs are worth taking for the beautiful tiles and murals on the walls.

I took this picture so I could remember to get back to this shop, it looked like lots of fun!

I love random French buildings like this.  These streets have changed so much over the years.

It was a very hazy day, but you could just make out the golden dome of Les Invalides to the right.

This couple sat down at a cafe with their photographer.

This accordion player definitely added to the ambiance.

A Wallace well tucked in among the trees.

I love this street.

This is the only remaining section of a group of studios that once housed Pablo Picasso.

These types of homes were built as country homes for people to escape from Paris, back before Montmartre was a part of Paris.

This woman was getting on a motorcycle with another person.  I loved these shoes.

At the top of the 'mountain' you can just see the dome of the Sacre Coeur.

This is the church that sits just behind the Sacre Coeur.  This church dates back to 1240, making it older than Notre Dame.  

This is a column inside the church.  It was taken from a Roman temple that stood on this site originally.  This is old!

Back outside with another great view.

It was a little overwhelming with great views in every direction.  This is looking off to the North of Paris.

This is part of the Museum of Montmartre.  Renoir lived and worked here for a time in his life.

The old buildings really are stunning.

This house just looked so French.

As we stood at this spot I had a feeling of deja vu.  I realized that when I came to Paris in January of 2013 I stood in the snow and took a picture in this exact spot.  

And then it was off to the metro and a quick train ride home to Malachi.  He spent his first morning with a sitter and had a great time. 

Bonne Journee

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